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volume 1, issue 28

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

User Friendly: Updated daily!

T-Shirts: Stylin' loonygames t-shirts from Berda Compugrafix!

Artwork: Hey, dig the artwork on loonygames? We're selling some of the original art.

Feedback:

You've got an opinion...voice it! Drop a line to our Feedback column...you could end up with a free T-Shirt!

Random Feature :

Hey Half-Life fans! Looking for some good reads? Check out Valve designer Harry Teasley's guest editorial, our review of Half-Life, or our interview with Marc Laidlaw!

Search the Archives!

The grr...argh! dept:
MailBag for Issue #28

 

 

 

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman


On Penny Arcade....

 

I just read the Penny Arcade for the 3rd, and I found that the boys took on more than Linux (Red Hat rules), they took on User Friendly itself! If you don't belive me check this out: http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/99feb/19990215.html

That will explain the "I got your Windows refunds..."

-David "007david" Lee

Yup...I noticed that. Thanks for the direct link, David!

Subject: Whats up with Penny Arcade?

What in the hell was that? That was a poor excuse for the cartoon we ahve come to expect!

I am a huge fan of the cartoon, not because its all that humourous, but because of the style.

So why a lame ass cartoon this week? Games aren't the only things that need style ya know.

David

That WAS the style! Just reversed...that strip was drawn by Tycho, who usually writes. Very cool, I think...another look at the same talent.

 

Hrm.

Subject: dreamcast/psx2

while i found your bit about dreamcast/psx2 future very interesting, there was one part i thought i should correct you on. i just purchased a dreamcast recently via the internet and it was shipped without a modem. that is correct. instead of the modem, in it's place was a white plastic connector which i quickly opened to discover that it was nothing at all. it is just there to protect the contactors. sega is shipping dreamcasts without modems, more than likely to reduce the price of the system for people who do not want one. i opted to not get one because i want a 56.6 that would be released here in the states. whether or not sega ships dreamcasts with the option of a modem here in the states, i do not know. btw, i purchased my dreamcast system for $300 at www.buyrite1.com. with a modem, it is $350. the games sell for no more than 53.50! very reasonable and all items are new. they even have a puru puru(vibration pack)

I didn’t think Sega was shipping the Dreamcast without modems....anyone know if this is a thing being done by a distributor, or an official Sega thing?

How true it is...

Subject: Beaker's Bent on Game Ads

Oh my YES. This was a truly great article. Now if only the advertisers would read it... One thing Rich didn't explore nearly enough was what he vaguely touched on with "There have been some ads I have seen which are so hideously repellent that I have been unable to even leave the magazine flipped open to their page"... He forgot to discuss 'gross-out' ads. You know, like the one where somebody has a fork jammed in their eye, or where their eyes are peeling out of their face (because wow, this game's graphics look THAT good), and so on. These kinds of ads are getting more common and more horrific, and I really can't even bear to look at them. I generally don't know what they're advertising, because I can't leave my eyes on the page that long. Of course I thankfully no longer subscribe to Next-Gen, although that has more to do with "Surprisingly, this game is kind of decent even though it's not 3D" than disgusting advertising. But it is nice to be free from grotesquerie in advertising. Now all I need to do is get Fox to stop advertising the Guiness World Records show without putting up a warning first.

Mike Hommel
Hamumu Software
www.hamumu.com

And the winner of this week’s t-shirt, because, well, damn, I love learning things from the mailbag. :)

Subject: Pal / NTSC Article

Nick,

Nice article, It's good that someone has brought this problem up.

But things are not necessarily as bad as they seem. It is a misconception that PAL machines are slower than their NTSC counterparts. Sure, the frame rate is less, but the internal working of the machine run at exactly the same speed. There is consequently more CPU power available per-frame on a PAL machine.

On the theoretical example of a 1MHz machine. The number of CPU cycles per frame available would be

NTSC 1,000,000 / 60 = 16,666.66 cycles per frame

PAL 1,000,000 / 50 = 20,000 cycles per frame - ADVANTAGE

PAL

If you break that down to PER line basis

NTSC 16,666.66 / 525 = 31.74 cycles per line

PAL 20,000 / 625 = 32 cycles per line - PHOTO

FINISH!

This means 2 things:

1) A letter-boxed PAL port has MORE power available PER FRAME and should not suffer from more slowdown, apart from the initial drop to 50hz. Graphics could even be improved! (Less pop-up etc.)

i.e. A game which occasionally shows down ("chugs") in it's NTSC version, will probably run smoother in PAL.

2) Much more importantly, the processing power IS available to draw those extra lines, without any making higher demands on the machine.

Virtually perfect PAL versions are definately possible, if game logic were divorced from frame rate - This is emminently possible in 3D games, though would not work so well in old style 2D games.

PC programmers have been dealing with EXTREMELY variable frame rates, very successfully, for years. Doom & Quake (and even our own game Wetrix) automatically compensate on the fly for varying frame rates. By comparison, dealing properly with two different *fixed* rates should be a fairly trivial task for console programmers.

The real problem is lack of effort by US and Japanese developers who don't take PAL very seriously. Rare (who are, as you know, based in England) - simply make the extra effort.

If more people shout about this problem - it will eventually be a thing of the past.

Incidently, I have known several developers who charge publisher thousands of dollars to port a game to PAL, and do nothing more than change a few copyright messages!

John Pickford
Creative Director
Zed Two Limited
email: [email protected]
Wetrix "Buy two copies"
www.zedtwo.com

 

- Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman is an associate editor at loonygames. She's probably the most normal person on the staff. That's really sad.

 

 

Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1999 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.