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All posts for the month October, 2012

Currently at over $3M US. Project Eternity is one of the largest video games ever Kickstarted.

As I write this, Project Eternity — by the creators of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and the Fallout Series (among others) — is fully funded with 15 days left on Kickstarter. I backed the game at the lowest game level ($25) just over 2 weeks ago, because I was a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate and successive expansions.

My “Credentials”

Coming from AD&D2 table top I had been playing RPGs of one form or another for decades: Dungeons of Doom on the Texas Instruments at my friend’s aunt’s house after school (religiously), NetHack on my father’s development 286 DOS machine, Ultima II and Pools of Radiance on my Macintosh 128 — swapping 3.25″ disks — in the wee hours of Friday and Saturday night as a teenager, and most recently, Dragon Age on the PS3. I have always loved the grand epics set in a fantasy world with sword fighting, archery, magic and the chance of running into a dragon. Part of this stems from elementary school book report on medieval arms and armor I researched and wrote, part is my fencing and archery training, while the other part is all video gamer. So, an RPG such as Project Eternity is right in my wheelhouse of games.

Blind Dual Preview Review

Given that, I thought I would write up my initial impression of the game as it stands, considering all of the updates the people at Obsidian have added the past week. I also contacted a fellow tech blogger, Josh C, about the game to let him know about it. In the course of conversation, we decided to do a blind dual preview review of the game, and release it at the same time. I do not know what Josh is going to write, nor does he know what I will write. After we will follow up with each other. This should be fun. “Read on Adventurer. Your Quest Awaits…”

Project… Obsidian

First: It’s about fricking time! It has been ages since the last proper party-based classic RPG was released for the Mac and PC. Once MMORPGs (which are great — don’t get me wrong) became a hit, it looked like single player RPGs were dead, and for all intents and purposes they were. The thing is, the multi-player RPGs have lost the co-ordination that true team based games allows. That level of coordination has gone to Team FPS games as long as the team members all have headsets. Project Eternity finally brings that back. And judging from the Kickstarter response ($2.2M & 50K+ pledges as I edit this), there are a lot of people like me that miss this style of game.

Continue Reading

I got a ton of flack from people on Ars when I commented that CD quality audio lost a lot of information that greatly affected a listener’s perception, and MP3 and other compressed audio formats simply made a bad situation worse.

I over-simplified my argument to keep it approachable, and had some wannabe audio experts quoting the Shannon-Nyquist theorem. They must have read ahead or did not understand the geek-speak for what needs to be true for the theorem to be valid. I figure they didn’t even read the prerequisites needed, and do not understand music enough to know that pretty much no music falls into the prerequisite category — having a constant frequency.

Apparently, Neil Young agrees. I was unaware that his hatred of MP3s is probably greater than mine until he announced Pono. Young has been on the road showing off and evangelizing better quality audio. There has been a lot of buzz about it — not just because he is such an iconic figure in music, but because the 3 big music companies (Warner, Sony and Universal) will sign up to support the better quality format.

In my post: 44kHz is not enough. I decided that a good compromise between file size and quality would be 24bit, 128kHz. But Young has decided that the studio quality digital audio woule be supported which is typically 192kHz/32bit. (Apple’s ALAC actually supports up to twice the sample rate, but it is probably future-proofing the format.) My hope is that this will not be yet another failed better quality audio format. The reasoning is two-fold:

  1. I want higher quality audio than what is currently available.
  2. I want the influx of bandwidth consumption to wake up consumers, and have them apply pressure to the communications companies* to increase speeds so that even a slow connection could stream 1–2MB/s.

See http://techland.time.com/2012/10/01/pono-neil-young/ for an article and video of Young and Letterman talking about Pono. So all in all, this is good news.

Update: I have since found bandcamp for the lossless CD quality audio, which will have to do until more albums from artists I follow are available on HDtracks.

*The telecoms monopolized our internet access landscape about a decade ago, after G.W. Bush overturned the laws that prevented de-facto monopolies. The laws that were repealed forced the telecoms to open up their lines (the cost of installation was funded by the government in many cases) thereby flattening the bandwidth speed increase curve. This lead to many smaller ISPs dying and fewer jobs in every region of the country. In turn, since there was little to no real competition, there was little-to-no incentive to increase internet speeds. The same 6Mbps connection has been offered for $40 or more the last half decade. But that is another topic.