September 29th -- Previous Mailbag

Letters are edited for spelling errors only (occasionally), and may contain profanity. Commentary by Jason "loonyboi" Bergman.

Loyalty is a fickle thing.

From: Lawgiver
Subject: 3dfxgamers and New UT demo?

I think the big news of the day is that has still not mentioned the release of the new UT demo(as of 4:40 pm EST). Hmm am I suppose to believe they are a good source for gaming news with that kind of coverage? Or are they just choosing not to report this since its for other api's :)

BTW I'm a 3dfx user but not a loyal one


I think it's actually there now, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find it. Strange.

An open letter.

From: Allen Bryan
Subject: The Sierra Holocaust: The Deconstruction of Babylon 5

Dear Members Of The Gaming Press,

I (like many) have been horrified by the abrupt cancellation of the Sierra title, Babylon 5: Into the Fire. Only rarely are games canceled when their release is only months away. But Babylon 5 was more than just a game with a release just months away. B5:ITF was planning to break ground in a number of areas. These new techniques include:

* realistic 3-D space combat
* interactive AI on a scale never before undertaken
* a "dynamic universe"
* the combination of true computer gaming innovation with a proven franchise
* dynamic music
* and more!

If any other game companies are reading my message, I would like to tell them that a nearly complete game, complete with developers and staff, is available for them to scoop up and complete with minimal investment and maximum chances for profit.

Sierra has not only made many fans and gamers upset by canceling this much-expected and promising game: it has made a serious business mistake.

Allen Bryan

Anyone know what this guy is talking about?

From: mike scott
Subject: your banner




At least there wouldn't be any jet-lag...

From: Simon
Subject: Time Delay


I don't expect (or want) a reponse but did you know how it p*sses us off in the U.K when we read things from the U.S.....

I'm sending this mail at 02:48 U.K time (early Saturday morning) and it's still Friday in the U.S.

Let's all campaign for a standard time across the globe!!!!


P.S Please don't be offended, but when you get things like the UT demo, we are all asleep.

Keep up the rockin' site....I check it out every day....

Hey, we could all switch to Swatch Internet Time, but I don't think anyone really wants to do that. :)

You forget: I'm a moron.

From: Adam Kralic
Subject: rogue spear difficulty

Hello Blue,

I too recently tried the demo and found it to be quite easy actually. I used the HQ plan and sucessfully comleted it in about 4 minutes. TOTAL! (I never even played the first rainbow six game) I didn't use any strategy whatsoever. I just walked around shooting all the bad guys in the head. Then all the hostages followed me out and the mission was a sucess! I was kind of disappointed that the "revolutionary" AI was so stupid.

Have a wonderful day in the neighborhood-


Well, there's two possible explanations for that, the first one being that I'm a moron. I'm perfectly willing to accept that...but then there's also the possibility that the full game has more advanced AI than the demo (which is probably the case).


From: Ted Boone
Subject: Nocturne Movies

How about, "Blair Witch Project meets Video Gaming Hype?" Lots of footage, almost none of which if from the game. Blech.


Give this man a cracker!

From: Nick Sonneveld


>Gamers Central re-views Re-Volt (and no, I'm not tired of that joke yet).

I finally got the joke! I'm so happy. I thought you were just being frivolous with your dashes there. :)

- Nick

More on B5...

From: Michael Lesiak
Subject: B5


I have read with great disappointment about the cancellation the Babylon 5 based flight sim. This is a game I've been following for several months now, after hearing about it on a mail list. Much of what I've read about it has been rather impressive. Graphics, tactics, campaign scenario, and the involvement of the B5 creator - all this had the makings of an award-winning game.

The fact that B5 has been a ratings hit and spawned a large cult following really amounts to a base of guaranteed sales. There are official reasons for the cancellations, of course, but it all amounts to the same thing - the game got Dilberted. Why has this game been cancelled?


Michael Lesiak

Did he just say "Dilberted"?

Sayyy...where is that 22x patch?

From: Stacy Purcell
Subject: UT Demo Misses Ship Date

Wow, did anyone actually expect them to hit their target?

I know I didn't. The Unreal team must be the poster boys for lying about release dates. :)

Do you keep any stats Blue? Have they ever released something when they said they would?

Say, where's the 22x patch we were promised? Didn't they promise that the code bases were going to stay in sync???

Doh! :)

-Stacy Purcell

It's not particularly fair to single out Epic here...barely anyone in this industry actually manages to get releases on time (hey, just look at the lag between mailbags...even we're guilty of it).

Except Raven Software...but that's just because of that whole Wisconsin thing they've got going. Yeah, that explains it...

It's coming. No really!

From: The Pike
Subject: Daikatana - The Phantom Menace

Who's to say that the Gameboy version of Daikatana won't be out before the PC version? An ION Storm representative tells us: "As we understand it, the Game Boy version will not be available until March 2000, which will be decidedly after the PC release."

Yeah right. The way Daikatana keeps going, the PC release is gonna come in 2003.

Besides, does anyone give a rat's ass anymore? This game was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in FPS, both in terms of story and online play. Well, with Wheel Of Time coming out on the heels of HAlf Life and System Shock 2, I sincerely doubt Daikatana will even measure up. And multiplay? Forget it. TFC is better than the Daikatana DM. And now we have UT, and TF2 coming out... Romero should give up on Daikatana and move on.

Plus, with an NPC named Superfly Johnson... how good can the story be,_really_?


Some UT Impressions

From: William Robert Night
Subject: Unreal Tourney - Nice features

The bots move nicely. A bit dumb at times, but not so much that it hurts their performance, just a bit short on the strategy side, and a bit willing to stand still.

I like the variety of weapons, everything from spray and pray to beam weapons, etc. IMHO the basic weapon is a bit weak, at least compared to what I've gotten used to in Q3.

But, my biggest complaint is that weapons (and some pickup items) aren't very obvious. They need to be brightly colored and stand out. The way they bob and spin and all in Q3 is great. Not only are they easier to tell apart, but they're easier to see from a distance.

I also find Q3A's timing of weapon respawns to be better for free-for-all.

I haven't had a problem with UT yet as far as crashing or bad netcode. It seems roughly as stable as Q3. (But then I have a cable modem, so I'm not a good one to judge. :)

It's great to see Q3 with some competition. Especially with the different enough styles, they should coexist nicely.

I agree that it's nice to see some real competition for Q3 (TRIBES doesn't really count, and everything else is too far off as far as I'm concerned). But I think UT deserves real credit for being the first release with real solid bot code. Playing CTF with bots on your team isn't perfect, but it's pretty fun nonetheless. And of course, ngWorldStats, which just totally rules.

More on consoles vs. PCs.

From: Bruce
Subject: Mail bag article

This email is in response to something that I read in the mailbag regarding "Will Consoles Blow Away PCs?"


Consoles sit in a very cool/odd segment in the gaming sector. They are, in essence, specialized computers. They have processors that are specially designed to accelerate precisely those types of operations that are required to support the types of games that the console developer is hoping to foster ISVs to develop for their system. So what you end up seeing, in the current "next generation" of console specs, are extremely high FLOP performance and extremely high bandwidth for the graphics subsystem. Since the graphics subsystem doesn't have to support context switching (i.e.. Windows based platform), the real estate can be better allocated to supporting more advanced graphics algorithms which supply better pixel quality.

Couple that with the business model that the console industry gets to enjoy. Since the platform is single source (i.e., Sony owns the rights to Playstation, Nintendo owns the rights to the N64, Sega owns the rights to Dreamcast, etc.), they can actually charge ISVs for the "right" to develop titles on their platform. What does this mean? It means that, for example, Sony can afford to make the Playstation2 with a projected street price of $1000 and fit more gaming power in there than a PC can do for $1000, but still sell the system for $200. Why? Because Sony can expect to make the difference up in licensing fees from ISVs developing software for the machine.

This model doesn't exist on the PC market because there is no single platform source. The closest thing you have to the console industry on the PC is Microsoft due to their dominance in the OS market. And while there are no royalty costs, there are other "costs" to that relationship. In any event, the PC market requires support for more than just games on the machines. Windowing environments must be supported by the graphics subsystem, which requires a substantial amount of silicon to support. Also, the processors must be more generalized to support a wider range of potential applications. And the icing on the cake is that everybody in that market must make money to stay in business. So a $200 PC is a $200 PC, whereas a $200 console could be a $1000 machine in $200 clothing.

Why has the PC always been in the lead? Because until recently, mass storage and memory were too costly to trickle down into the console systems. Not to mention that the technology of graphics really has made a shift from figuring out how to accelerate windowed graphic requirements to accelerating 3D graphics. The latter of which helps out the console developers while the former does nothing for them.

The technology of the PC, since it is modular, can be upgraded. This means that the PC can make fairly radical technology leaps every 6 months or so. The console is stuck in a 4 to 5 year cycle, presently.

Another thing to note is that while the PC can make radical technology leaps, it can't lose backwards compatibility. This adds a lot of cost to the systems, but it does make more rapid technological advances possible. If Sony were to come out with the PSX2 a year after the PSX, and not have backwards compatibility, the PSX2 would compete with the PSX for sales, and the software titles would suffer. They would get no real net revenue increase while incurring greater development

The interesting development in the console market space is compatibility. The PSX2 will be backwards compatible with the PSX. This means that Sony can capitalize on revenues from popular PSX titles, while at the same time getting revenues from the newer PSX2 titles. Also, there will be less of a hesitation to buy the newer technology as there will already be titles available for it. If this trend continues, Sony could release a PSX3 six months to a year later which was backwards compatible and take away the PCs only advantage, while at the same time taking a loss on the
system price.

Umm, I have a hand cramp. Time to go..
- Bruce

Well, I really shouldn't comment on this, since I play everything on every platform imaginable (I'm actually not kidding here).But the ability of PCs to constantly evolve is both an advantage and a massive pain in the tuchus. The nice thing about a console is that (for the most part) once you buy a console, you're set with that hardware until it becomes obsolete (which in the case of the GameBoy is ten years and counting!).

I don't think PCs have anything to worry about from the PSX2, since PCs will always be needed for non-gaming purposes (and as long as people buy PCs for any reason, they're going to want games) but make no doubt about it: the PSX2 will be huge. Freaky-huge. If nothing else, it's a cheap DVD player (and a good one, at that!). It will be very interesting to see what happens.

On the 3D Prophet.

From: ?
Subject: Guillemot 3d Prophet

I just read that the Guillemot 3d Prophet is soon to be released or is released. Will you guys or have you guys done a review on this card? What other companies will be producing cards with the GeForce256? Is it really worth buying this card if I already have a TNT2 Ultra?

The last I checked (and this was yesterday, actually) Electronics Boutique was saying it would ship on October 5th (next week). Both Blue and I are getting one, so we'll have something to say about it, I'm sure. :)

Regarding the DC web browser.

From: coyoteblue
Subject: dreamcast browser info

The DreamCast browser is kludgy, but serviceable. No one's going to give up their PC and Netscape/IE/Opera, but if you don't own a PC it is not too shabby. Invest in the keyboard.

Implementation of javascript/ecma262 seems buggy. It does not recognize javascript urls (javascript:), and when going to Cut n Paste JavaScript (to test its javascript abilities, their detection page declared it javascript enabled, but it crashed loading their main page. Didn't try to find a JAVA site (wasn't feeling that brave). Maybe Opera or Mozilla will do a DreamCast port!


Yeah, it's definitely odd. I was one of the unlucky folk who got a defective browser out of the box (doh!) but I finally got one, and tried it out. I really don't like the way it handles frames (which makes this page pretty confusing at first) but it's a fun little toy, and Sega is finally starting to post VMS games for download (woo hoo!) so I'll be using it from time to time, I'm sure.