Success

OK, I promise to end my geekiness after this posting, ok? 😉

Well, after downgrading the NVidia drivers to the latest but one version the Unreal II problem went away, so I’m a happy bunny.

As for the game itself, it’s reasonably fun but I’m not sure where all that
extra memory is going to as, in my opinion, the graphics aren’t THAT much
better than the original other than a little more refined (which hardly affects
gameplay). As for the game itself, it’s extremely linear with a tight story
line from which you don’t have the opportunity of diversion. I find this
rather annoying. It’s not even as if you have a number of ways of fullfilling
the missions, you have one route you can take and you have to take it. You
hardly have to use your brain, just your trigger finger. Give me open ended
play over this anyday and stuff the story. Of course, it’s harder to think
how to write an open ended game and probably even harder to sell it to publisher
execs.. “What do you mean it doesn’t have a story? How are you going to expect
the players to get into the game?” sort of thing.

Now, one such game with a totally open mode of play was the original Elite.
The goal of the game was survival and getting richer so you could buy better
ships and do what you wanted in the little Universe. Sure, there WERE a couple
of  missions which you might happen upon if you happened to be at the
right space station at the right time but they were a bonus.

Anyway, enough of this game critique… on with real life. 🙂

More Unreality

Well, I think I can definitely say it’s a problem with Unreal II itself now after spending an evening doing experiments.

I ran the program on its startup screen until it started to show the juddering
motion and timed it doing so. It took approximately 15 minutes.

I then tried downgrading various settings, such as video card clock frequencies,
AGP down to 4X and RAM speed down to PC2100.. None of these had any effect.
Also, exiting Unreal II at the jittery stage and re-entering it imeadiately
worked and the jitters didn’t reappear for another 15 minutes. If it was
a thermal problem the fault should have reappeared quite quickly.

I also did an experiment by running the program in windowed mode showing
CPUidle and the motherboard monitor programs in the status bar. The CPU was
never fully utilised (it peaked at about 93% utilised) and the CPU temperature
never went above 44C. (The case temperature was 37C, apparently).

Now, all I have to try tonight is downgrading my NVidia drivers to the version
3.x.x as in the Unreal II FAQ it mentions problems with the new unified drivers.
If this does nothing I’ll write a bug report.

Unstability

Well,
as for the question about the stability or not of my PC and Unreal II, I
think last night I tied it down to Unreal II as other high intensity graphics
games run fine for long periods. Unreal II will run for about 5 minutes or
so before crashing putting Windows into a state where the only active thing
is the cursor and the last sound sample is looping on the Soundblaster Live!
card.

I’ve tried the tweeking of the system as suggested on the support web site
and it made no difference whatsoever, it still crashes after about 5 minutes.

I’m guessing that the problem is likely to be partly due to the fact that
I have only(!!!!) 256MB of RAM in the machine. Unreal II managed to use over
400MB of virtual memory when running when I ran the Windows resource monitor
program. It’s monsterous! Not only that, but I saw an almost constant rise
in memory usage on the graph as time went on. Memory leak, anyone? I’m wondering
if they did any real testing of the program under Win98 at all. It’s most
probable that they concentrated purely on XP and did only marginal compatibility
testing on older Windows versions.

Splurge!

Well, after leaving a comment on wibblypig’s journal about always thinging and thinging before buying things.. I managed not to yesterday.

After finishing buying a duvet, cover, sheets and pillow covers at Debenhams and thinking about what I’d written, I got the urge to not be so responsible, so I decided to upgrade my games PC.

Basically, I popped over to Sinoco and bought a new top of the range motherboard (Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra, USB 2.0, Serial ATA, RAID etc. etc.), 512MB faster memory (2 DIMMS as the single 512MB DIMMs were out of stock), 80GB Western Digital hard disk (the 120GB one was out of stock) and Gainward NVidia GeForce 4 Ti4200 graphics card. Then I HAD to go and buy Unreal II from PC World to play on it, didn’t I?

Well, I’ve been having “fun” getting the machine working. I’ve installed Windows 98 twice.. and then found what the problem I was having was when I downloaded and ran memtest86.. One of the DIMMs had a one bit flaw in one word 164.1MB from the beginning. No doubt there are lots of 1 bit errors in all the software installed on the machine now and so it’ll need another reinstall. I’ve removed the didgy DIMM now, so I’m running with 256MB.

I did get to play Unreal II for a while.. but the program kept crashing half hanging the machine. I’m not sure if it’s Unreal II’s fault or corrupted Windows or just an unstable machine.

I’ll take the DIMM back to Sinoco next week.

Not a lot.

Well, what have I been doing recently?

Other than going to and from work and being at work.. nothing.

What plans have I for things to do in the next week or so.. nothing.

Life has got back into the dolbrums.. I’m becalmed.

The next potentially interesting thing to happen will be the start of jury duty which starts on Monday week.

Weekend.. is it over yet?

Well, I’ve survived a weekend visiting Rachel, Graham and little Christopher. I must admit to feeling rather tired now.

It was a fun weekend visit but I’ve been rather worn out by it with walks int eh countryside and playing with 6 years olds etc. Alec dropped by yesterday for a short period. It was good to see him again.

Anyway, I’ll not go into the details.

Friday morning

Here am I, sitting at home awaiting the arrival of my new sofabed from Argos Direct. I’m feeling very tired but generally content.

Last night’s outing went very well and was fun. The Moonlight Tandoori Restaurant was very pleasant, the food was excellent and there was a lot of it! I mean, how often in an Indian restaurant do you get a 12″, deep dish (not plate) of extremely freshly cooked, nicely presented main course and then the rice on top? Let’s say that those who had merely rice with their meal were bloated, those who took nan bread couldn’t finish. All this for the same sort of prices you’d get in the normal take-away where you get a meal served in a little steel dish which has probably been cooked 5 hours previously and been kept warm in a big vat.

Felicia, one of the 1st year postgrads I’ve got to know, surprised me by presenting a gift of a mini rock garden. She hoped it wasn’t too corny. She’d also wrapped it in paper with chinese writing on it. (She’s Singaporian.) That was a genuinely nice present.

The only downer for the evening was not to do with the company or the venues really, it’s that in the last pub we went to it was a bit smokey. This caused my cough, which had all but disappeared, to flare up again. It meant that I hardly got any sleep last night at all, which is why I’m so tired.

Anyway, I really enjoyed myself last night and so did all my friends who I invited, which is all you can ask for an evening out.