Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gabriel Knight in Windows XP

Thanks to this site, I am now able to play the original Gabriel Knight (the Windows CD version) on Windows XP! And in fullscreen, too, voices and everything...beautiful!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sometimes I don't like my writing, and wonder why I project the image I invariably do with a lot of my work. I am also a bit disappointed that I've actually noted in specific terms how I can improve, but putting it into practise has proven to be a difficult task, it would seem. Maybe it's time to close shop altogether!?!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The gentle lilt, oh so perfect! The secret boys' word? No, it is now yours to keep.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I couldn't help thinking while listening to "Eat At Home", just one of the effortlessly charming numbers on Ram, how lucky we are to have a melodicist like McCartney in our lifetime.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Did Jim Morrison reach his peak with LA Woman? Sometimes, I think so - the writing is very focussed, ain't it?

Probe launch successful

I've been playing a few oldie-games recently, for no real good reason. I guess it all started when I saw a screenshot of Eric The Unready on an adventure games forum, and read someone saying how it featured one of the greatest opening sequences in a (presumably adventure) game. Of course, offhand comments are pretty much all I go by in my whimsical decisions, and so it was settled - I would get every old game I could get my hands on. Or at least, I would get Eric The Unready, only to discover that my appetite would not be so easily satisfied...

Oh, and it is a fine intro, and the first "scene" if you will starts off looking like it is nothing particularly funny - in a slight twist on the fairy tale, you need to kiss a pig in order to bring it back to human form. But the scene does end very funnily; well, at least I think it was funny! It left enough of a good impression for me to continue playing.

I also tried, and to my surprise, finished Ringworld: Revenge Of The Patriarch. I started off really impressed with the game, as it features King's Quest V style graphics, except that it has character close-ups for important conversations where the portraits are usually quite pretty. However, I found this to be an unsatisfying game, for quite a few reasons. The first has nothing to do with it, and all to do with the vagaries of playing old DOS games on modern computers - it is simply that on DOSBox, I found the game to be too slow. I cranked the cycles all the way up, but to no avail!

With the gameplay, the story and depth was lacking, but then again this was made in 1992 (hmm, is that an excuse? Ultima VII...!). I didn't really feel like the story was explored in any great depth - the threat of the villain was very, very understated, and aside from your faithful companion Seeker, don't feel like you get to know anyone.

Anyhow, I still have a soft spot for this game, since I was really impressed with screenshots of Seeker talking. Who knows, maybe if in the future I can run it at true game speed, I will write about how it's a lost classic!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thanks to this post, I got Albion working in DOSBox without the right part of the screen getting cut off. One way to solve this is to not run the game in fullscreen; the other is to set aspect = true in dosbox.conf. Now the game runs fine!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A line from "Simple Twist Of Fate" seemed appropriate recently, and it gave me the incentive to listen to parts of* Blood On The Tracks again, after a long time. My old favourites remain, but I have been happy to find that I enjoy the other tracks more than I thought I did. Songs I remembered as sad, gloomy, and painful, but powerful, turned out to be anything but - well, sad and powerful, sure, but not without some cool sense of beauty. I don't know if that made much sense, but 'tis best not to try and analyze these things too much (especially when you can't write...!).

Incidentally, I don't know why "Lily, Rosemary & The Jack Of Hearts" is so maligned. I loved the song from my first listen! Repetitive in some sense, yes, but it is a lyrics song to me - "Desolation Row" could also be seen as repetitive, but I don't think too many people complain about the lyrics there. So I guess people don't like the narrative? Ah well.

Dylan seems to have sent shockwaves through his fanbase in Chronicles, where he claimed that one of his albums was based on short stories on Chekhov, while critics thought it was autobiographical. Naturally, the most obvious candidate for this album would be BOTT, which has always been taken to be about his marriage. Some people seem to feel that this means a lot of what has been written about the album is now wrong, but I don't think this is necessarily true. While I initially felt that this was a big development, on reconsideration I think it is more an interesting backstory. I don't know if I ever felt that the songs were explicitly about his marriage, in an autobiographical sense - as in, I don't think I thought, for instance, that the story of "Tangled Up In Blue" was based on what happened to him. But I did think, and still do think, that the underlying material itself was forged from what was happening in his personal life. For starters, it surely isn't a coincidence that he chose to write an album almost entirely about loss (loosely speaking) when his own marriage was dissolving? Even if they were based on Chekhov stories, the particular stories he chose seem to have a thread that is surely the influence of marriage! Or do I just not know my Chekhov...!?! :)

I guess what I am arguing is that even if, say, "Idiot Wind" doesn't necessarily imply that he was angry at Sara at the time, it doesn't make it any less of a powerful song (which I think most people would agree with), and it doesn't make it any less of a personal song (in a different sense, of course).

* I don't know if I have it in me, just yet, to listen to any of my old Dylan albums in their entirety, for some strange reason.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

For nearly four years, I thought that the riff from Yes' "Syberian Khatru" was in fact from Television's "Marquee Moon", for reasons not entirely clear to me. I know I've heard a sound clip of the latter a long time ago, and I might even have heard the whole song itself on online radio. The former, of course, was part of one of the first albums I ever heard. I found it very, very amusing when I found this out today, after my first proper listen of Marquee Moon the album. All through the title track (which on first impression, incidentally, is very pretty) I was waiting for that riff to finally kick in. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 8, and then...nothing! I had to seek the advice of an elder statesman in rock for identifying this mystery riff, and I was quite bemused that Yes' Close To The Edge should be involved in another curious incident (the first, if you remember, was where I got in my head a melody from "And You And I" some two years after hearing the album one late night). I wonder how many people can say they've mistaken Yes for Television...!?!

People rightly talk about how pretty the guitars on Marquee Moon sound; even in my first listen, I was able to pick up several really nice sections. But I can't help but feel like that riff reigns over them all!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I sometimes wonder whether I really am thick after all. There are moments when I try desperately to analyze just what I was thinking at a particularly stupid moment, and to the best of my memory, the answer is...nothing at all. Working on auto-drive is essential sometimes, no doubt, but only when the system really works. In my case, it seems to involve shutting down of not only self-awareness, but also thought (and the two, I think, can sometimes be disconnected).

A pivotal moment*

I always suspected that since my knowledge of Excel was entirely self-learned, and at that out of needs no more complicated than sorting a list of data, there were bound to be large gaps in my knowledge of the program. The fact that I only just discovered pivot tables, by accident in fact (I was trying to do with a macro what a pivot table does for you automatically) makes me quite worried - if such a powerful feature slipped by completely unnoticed, what else is there to the program that I am not aware of? Granted, all it buys me is more opportunity to create interesting lists based on my catalogues of books/music/games, which are hardly the sort of thing that I really need to do; but I can't help but feel that such knowledge will be of use when I have to use the program in the real world (hopefully I'll get there someday!).

* I should have tried harder to resist, I know. But at least I got it over with quickly.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's funny - all those years, I thought it was just me, that no other was capable of such thoughts, and certainly not given to expressing them. But seeing you deal with matters that I would have treated far more gravely, and poorly, with a few simple lines and a warm acceptance of uncertainty, I realized how much there is I still have to learn.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Conquests Of The Longbow before; it is a KQ5-style adventure game by Sierra, but one that has completely slipped past my radar. A quick survey of the game makes me think that it might have potential, even though, as I loathe to admit, but must, as I grow older I find it harder to play these types of games. I haven't lost the ability to appreciate them, mind you, but I think I have lost the attention span required to sit through and play a game like this. No doubt at the fore-front of my mind is the infamous "Sudden Death Sydnrome" that plagued early Sierra games, not to mention the surprising ease with which one could get stuck in the endgame after realizing you were supposed to pick up an item a good three hours earlier in the game. They make for great memories, no doubting it, but they do make me wary of attempting to complete a similar game nowadays, where time is scarce for any type of game.

Who knows, maybe it will just take the "right" game for me to get back into the swing of things? I did manage, after all, to replay Serpent Isle a few months ago, without so much as a second thought. This leads me to think that it could just be the adventure game genre that I find it difficult to get back into - although, through it all, I still firmly believe that such games should exist, and should continue to be made. I feel one must be vigilant to not call for them to become quicker at the expense elegance (no matter how nebulous a term that is), and so I guess my interest in these games is rather "theoretical", which I suspect is something of an oddity. I have been surprised how many people there are (online) who are still interested in adventure games; the internet is nice that way. The thing about most of them is, they all seem to be rather active in engaging with games, whether new or old. I wonder where they find all the time...!