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Spyder's Twisted Web

An "In Your Face" perspective about Online Gaming. Making People Sad & Angry Since 1996

Author: spyderbite

Four Days Windows Free - An Ubuntu Gaming Experience

Posted by spyderbite Monday January 11 2010 at 12:15PM
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Preparing To Take The Leap

I have been dual booting between Windows and Ubuntu (9.10 Karmic Linux) for a month now. Well, on Friday of last week I decided that I had managed to get all of the features that I use on a daily basis in Windows to work on Ubuntu. And, I took the plunge in to a 100% Windows Free Environment!

Now, a little bit of background first. I come from a very rich Microsoft background. I've worked with Microsoft in the past on several projects and with many teams on the Redmond campus. I love the operating system; past and present. In fact we have Vista, XP & 7 installed on 4 other boxes here in the office. So, please don't misinterpret this as a MS-Bashing, Gates hating blog post. I choose to reserve that type of verbal attack for Apple products!

So, on Friday morning I popped the Ubuntu ISO DVD in to the drive and waited for the partitioning screen to appear. It was my last chance to back out as my finger hovered over "Use Entire Disk" option. Click! And, 15 minutes later I'm staring at a fresh, newly installed Ubuntu desktop.

Making Linux Productive For Me

Installing the applications I normally use was not an issue as I had taken note of any problems I faced installing them while I was still dual booting between the operating systems. Xchat IRC client, Evolution (Email), Firefox (Web Browser), RSS Feed, Open Office (MS Office Alternative), TweetDeck (Twitter/Facebook) are just a few of the applications that I use every day. A couple of the applications I listed are pre-installed with most flavors of Linux. The only application that gave me a little trouble was TweetDeck which required that Kwallet Manager be installed and configured. Thanks to a very helpful Ubuntu Linux community, TweetDeck was up and running quickly.

The next challenge.. Games.

Games, Cedega And Wine! Oh My!

There are very few big name games ported out to the Linux platform. This is understandable. The user base is more comparative to the number of Apple users out there these days. So, the cost to develop a game for Linux, or Mac OSX for that matter, is not really cost effective for a game producer.

Second Life

Second Life has a beta Linux viewer for its game. It installed seamlessly. The only issues I ran in to were known problems. It is still in Beta after all. These include: Force Quit in order to shut down the game & various sound oddities. Otherwise, the game runs smoother on my Ubuntu system than it did in Windows 7 64 bit.

PokerStars

I absolutely love PokerStars! And, I feared that the game probably wouldn't run well or at all on my new baby Linux system. The solution? Cedega. Cedega is a Windows emulator designed to run native Windows games and applications in a Linux environment. There is a small fee to use this service however. But, at only $25 for a 6 month subscription it is well worth the money spent. Now, for those familiar with Linux; this is not a replacement for Wine. There are some games that will only run in Wine and others that run better or exclusively in Cedega. I crossed my fingers started the PokerStars installation. Voila! I don't think that the PokerStars client had any clue that it was running in a Linux environment! It certainly didn't behave like it! Smooth as ice on this years' Florida orange crops!

Free Realms

Free Realms was quite a challenge! In fact, it required that I dust off some long forgotten Linux finesse to finally get it working. For those interested in running Free Realms in Linux there is a fabulous walk through over at WineHQ. Click Here to see the article.

Free Realms is a browser based game only supported by the Internet Explorer and FireFox browsers but only in Windows. So, the trick is to get the Windows FireFox client installed in Wine and update a few lines in the Registry. It is also heavily dependent on the Adobe Flash add-on. But, there are guides for getting Flash installed all over the Internet.

EverQuest II And Star Wars Galaxies

Although my subscription for EverQuest II and Star Wars Galaxies expire at the end of this month, I was still curious if I could get these games installed.

The result was failure. Epic failure in fact. I tried installing in Wine, Cedega, from the CD/DVD disks. I searched the good old InterWebs for an answer but, none of the dozens of solutions seemed to work for me. After, about two hours of beating my head against the desk and approximately seven beers, I gave up hope. Obiwan will be displeased with me.

Eve Online

Eve Online seemed to almost install itself in Cedega. So, there was no need to attempt to install it in Wine.

Guild Wars

Guild Wars was a nightmare to install in Wine. So, I tried it in Cedega and it installed fine. However, I'm still battling with an issue with it hijacking my desktop after it launches. I've seen several solutions for this problem out there, but have only attempted a couple of them so far. I was running short on time as my master plan was to be up and running at 100% productivity inside of 24 hours. So, I've decided to postpone my efforts to get Guild Wars running for another time.

The Natives Are A Peaceful Bunch!

The native Linux games work as designed. And, I was surprised at the number high quality games that are available today for the Linux platform. Literally thousands of games of all genres. FPS, RPG, Classic and Racing just to name a few. This is quite a change compared to the last time I visited the Land of Linux back in 1997 when we had our choice of a few good XWindows games and a handful of ascii based RPGs. Impressive! But, that's to be expected from an Open Source community made of up of millions of enthusiastic developers whose only motivation is to improve the platform.

Me, Windows, Linux And The Future

Can I say that I will continue to use Ubuntu for the rest of my living breathing days? No. But, at this point in time, I have no reason to rush back to Windows as others have done when experimenting with the Linux environment.

Linux is not for novice or casual computer user. Especially if you are also a gamer or rely heavily on Microsoft products for your work. Open Office is a great solution, however expect some inconsistencies with document compatibility, primarily formatting.

Linux is also not for the impatient or those with no desire to do a little research and learn new things. A basic knowledge of the Linux file structure and many of the command line lingo is mandatory. You can slide by for a while by just copying and pasting commands from other websites and forums. But, if you don't have even a vague idea of what you're telling your operating system to do when you hit Enter on your keyboard, you are really asking for trouble. Backing out of a change to your Linux OS is not as simple as hitting "Last Known Good Configuration" after you reboot your computer. In fact, there are many occasions that you will find it easier to reinstall the OS from scratch rather than figure out how to back out of the bears' cave you just crawled in to.

Adopt A Linux Buddy

I have a friend who I worked with back in the 90s who introduced me to Unix/Linux and I still keep in touch with him via Facebook. He has been, and always will be, my Linux Guardian Angel. I am comfortable in an exclusive Linux environment knowing that he's just a chat window or private message/email away no matter how much trouble I get myself in to.

You should get a Linux Buddy too! Exploring Linux for the first time without a helping hand is as dangerous as taking tap dance lessons in an Iraqi mine field. Sure, there are millions of faceless, nameless folks out there on the Internet who are eager to help you at your darkest Linux moment. But, these people also aren't accountable for what they tell you to do to your computer. And, just like all Internet communities, Windows, Apple or otherwise, there are also people out there who find entertainment in instructing clueless people to do stupid things to their computers.

Linux Gaming Down The Road

As I had mentioned earlier, Linux has evolved at an unbelievable rate since I last dabbled with it. That includes Gaming. With the introduction of Cedega and the constantly improving Wine windows emulators, gaming on a Linux system is no longer a disappointing experience.

With the right resources and a lot of patience, there are very few games that you can not run in Linux. And, for those games which are currently unplayable on Linux, there are many people out there working daily to overcome those obstacles. I have faith that one day in the very near future, there will be no application for windows that can't be run on any flavor of Linux.

In Closing..

If you are happy with Widows or Mac OSX operating systems, then there is no reason to consider Linux besides perhaps curiosity.

I will never abandon Windows completely in my office or household. For the time being though, I am completely content with Ubuntu Linux on my primary computer. I have lost nothing in the transition that I can't live/work without.

Should I ever find myself in a situation in which I absolutely can not complete a task without a Windows computer, I have several computers within arms reach of my desk.

So, until next time.. from my Linux Terminal Console I bid you farewell!

spyderbite@STFU:~$ shutdown -h now

What Do Geeks Get For Christmas?

Posted by spyderbite Thursday December 24 2009 at 9:29PM
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Well, have a seat around the High Definition Yule Log which is On Demand on Comcast on my 42" TV and let me tell you all about a true Geek Christmas.

We decided to open gifts on Christmas Eve this year so that we could skip the process in the morning and make our way to the theater to see Avatar on Christmas Day. I started out by lighting a fire in the fireplace. A truly difficult task for a true Geek.

My fiance, Dr. Jenny was busy in the kitchen getting our Shrimp & Ceaser Salad prepared. Not the typical fare for a couple of Geeks, but hell, you gotta eat healthy once a year right?

Before we dug in to the gifts, it was necessary to put on something to get us in the holiday spirit.

So of course no Geek Christmas would be complete without a little Geek holiday spirit and an episode of Star Wars on the 42" television.

So we're ready to dig in to the pile of overpriced wrapping paper and bows with visions of PS3s and Blackberries dancing in our heads!

I gave Jenny this 2 weeks early. But it was her big gift of the Holiday. 25" LCD HD Monitor so she can continue to productively work like a child in one of Martha Stewart's sweat shops selling clothing to Second Life preggies and paying our rent.

Every Geek has a BMW right? Well, this one does. And, I've wanted these valve caps for a very long time!

What Bio-Molecular Developmental Scientist doesn't need a shirt that has the Molecular break down of "HOT"! XD

I can't wait to wear this to the grocery store and explain to the little old woman in front of me where I went to college!

My future Mother-In-Law knows me well. She can read me like an advanced version of C++ Programming!

What Geek doesn't need more USB hubs? My cat Hazel seems to think its the perfect addition for all her gadgets!

Does this make it official? Am I a true Geek now?! I did notice that the pockets were sized properly for a pocket protector!!

And Finally, the Grand Finale! What does every Liberal Democratic Geek want for Christmas?

Damn straight! Center stage tickets to Bill Maher live at the Shubert in January!

Hope everyone has a very Geeky, Merry, Christmas!

Remember.. those candy canes are for eating!

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

I Miss The Old Days

Posted by spyderbite Sunday December 20 2009 at 9:25PM
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I started playing Ultima Online when it arrived in a white cardboard sleeve which I had paid $10 for during the Beta Invite.

Back then in 1997 there were the Hunters and the Hunted. There were hundreds of people eager to run out of Trinsic and just explore this brand new world. And then, there were people like me. Those looking to prey on those eager souls.

So many targets that it was like an ADHD's dream. They came at us in unarmed, unarmored hordes.. like lemmings. And we cut them down with delight. Listening to them plead and cry for their lives on their way to Britian.

Where are those days now? The newbie zones in today's games I suppose. But, only for those too stupid to know what PvP stands for when they create a new character in a new game.

Why did we start catering to the "Age of the CareBear"?

I understand that people don't like being killed in an onlne game. But, has it become so traumatic that they need a Nirvana server for them to avoid the mental shock of being killed by another player? I realize that there are kids and adults (who act like kids) who do things to flaunt their kills. But are their acts really that upsetting? They emote or play animations in interesting positions to mimic tea-bagging and activities that take place in Cell Block C. How hard is it to just dust yourself off, hit revive and walk away?

I read forums daily. Almost religiously. And, when somebody brings up PvP (Player vs. Player), they always counter with an argument to the tune of "I play to relax in my free time and don't want to be stressed". This confuses me.

How is a Raid not stressful? You have an over zealous raid leader screaming in your ear telling you how you fucked up during a wipe. How is a PUG not stressful? You have 5 other people yelling at you and telling you how you fucked up and usually in more than one langauge. How is solo'n not stressful? You are screaming at yourself for not taking down that epic/heroic mob meant for 6 people and pissed off that you don't have any friends or a guild to do it?

MMOs are competitive. PvE, PvP or RvR. If you want to decorate your home or craft uninterupted and live in peace and harmony. Fine. You don't have to leave your home city. Its already an option in most P2P games.

But, when you subscribe to a new game and have a bad experience in a game that advertises that it is FFA (Free-For-All) PvP.. do us a favor. Quit. Don't QQ (whine) to the developers to acommodate your play sytle (smoke opium, grow flowers and listen to John Lennon tunes).

When you do.. God kills a kitten in a violent manner. So, its sort of redundant. I heard that sodomy is involved.

Until next time, pay your Mom some rent. She still claims you as a dependent for fucks sake!

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

Spyder's Random Travels - The Hater

Posted by spyderbite Sunday December 13 2009 at 8:36PM
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I have a lot of friends online. This is one friend that I found rather entertaining. I call him... The Hater. Enjoy!

TheHater: hey i kno u!
SpyderBite: You do?
TheHater: ya ur on the forums
TheHater: ur a dick
TheHater: hahaha
SpyderBite: Wow. That's a lot to swallow. Not the dick of course.
TheHater: u kno it
TheHater: ur a fanboi
TheHater: and a dick
SpyderBite: Which is it? Fanbois or Dick?
TheHater: both hahahahahaaahh
TheHater: u got banndz too ahahahahhhhha
SpyderBite: Yup. Sure did. What's your forum name if you don't mind me asking?
TheHater: i not telln u
TheHater: u wil spma me
TheHater: cause ur a dick
SpyderBite: But, if I'm banned, how can I spam you?
TheHater: hackz
SpyderBite: So, I'm a technically brilliant fanbois dick?
TheHater: no
TheHater: stoopid
SpyderBite: So, I'm a stupid fanbois dick that is going to hack the forums and spam you?
TheHater: ahahahahahhhhhahha
SpyderBite: I see.
SpyderBite: Just out of curiosity. Is your keyboard broken?
TheHater: no
TheHater: y
SpyderBite: No reason. Just wondering. So, do you have plans for Thanksgiving tomorrow?
TheHater: yes kikin ur ass
TheHater: rahhahhaha
SpyderBite: Will there be Chex Mix or Turkey
TheHater: vhahahbhbhacca
TheHater: no jus blood
SpyderBite: So, we're going to watch Ninja Assassin toghether?
TheHater: ima ninja ur ass hole n stuff ha
SpyderBite: I see. I'm not really in to that stuff. Just for the record though. Do you want to hit me or have sex with me?
TheHater: Ha ur gay 2
SpyderBite: Um. Nope. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course.
TheHater: c ur gay
TheHater: i gonna tel everyone on the forum hahhdhahahah
SpyderBite: But, that's likely to get you banned too.
TheHater: ..
TheHater: no cuz ur a dick
SpyderBite: So, if you're banned too, does that make you a gay, technically brilliant, stupid fanbois dick too?
TheHater: yes
TheHater: i meen no
TheHater: jus briliant
TheHater: hahdhaahhahahdahdasha
SpyderBite: I think I can see your logic now. So, should we set you a place for dinner tomorrow?
TheHater: were do u live
SpyderBite: You're technically brilliant and a hacker. I just figured you had hacked it already.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We spent our Sunday cutting down the Griswold Family Christmas Tree and shopping for homes.

Until next time.. don't troll the forums. Kick a kitten instead. Its much more satisfying and more dangerous!

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

What Value Do You Place On Your Subscription? Microtransactions And You.

Posted by spyderbite Friday December 11 2009 at 5:20PM
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Its an easy question. How much do you expect to get out of your $12, $13 or $15 per month from an MMO?

With the quickly increasing popularity of microtransactions appearing in games such as WoW & EQ2 it is pretty obvious that this is a revenue system that is here to stay. So, why are so many gamers suprised, upset and kicking puppies over it?

It seems to me that many gamers put a high value on their monthly subscription. Perhaps too high of a value. 10 years ago, $15 was nothing to toss at a video game which offered 720 hours of entertainment each month. Hell, even back then, going to the movies for 90 minutes of temporary entertainment cost $30 if you got the extra large popcorn and a soft drink.

Today however, our economy has changed drastically. We're seeing layoffs in every industry on a daily basis. And, the gaming industry is no exception. These companies have to find new ways to generate a revenue that can support the salaries of its employees, maintenence and development costs. That's not so easy these days.

So, what is a marketing department to do?

Today's gamers love instant gratification.  How better to create an influx of cash than to sell them a head start or advantage in game? Personally, I've never been one to rush to End Game. But, I do like appearance items and all kinds of sparkly fun stuff. Furthermore, I have no problem typing in my credit card number to get it! And, I'm pretty confident that I'm not the only one.

I understand that times are hard these days. But, seriously, if you are struggling to pay your monthly $15/month and can't afford a penny more; perhaps its time to ask Greg, your manager at McDonalds, for a raise or a promotion to Drive-Up Window.

Keep in mind that no P2P (Pay to Play) subscription based game has offered items that are mandatory in order to enjoy all the content in a game. Most of them are offering fluff items, some boosts in experience gain or customer services such as character transfers and character name changes. Hardly game breaking merchandise.

I'm not a rich man. However, I have spent a fair amount in micropayments. Ok, I've spent ALOT of money on micropayments. Allow me to break it down for you.

Everquest II

Station Cash - $400
Legends of Norrath - $600

FreeRealms

Station Cash - $200

PokerStars

Poker Chips - $100 (Ok.. not a MMO.. but just as addictive)

So that's $1200 spent on MMO's in addition to my $30/month subscription in just the past 6 months. Do I have too much money? Not really. I'm a kept boy and proud of it. Luckily, my bread winning fiance is also a gamer. So, my stays in the proverbial dog house are short lived. But, are there others like me fueling this revenue stream much to the chagrin of gamers everywhere who want everything short of a seat on the Board of Directors for $15? Absolutely.

In closing, you can complain about those "slippery slopes" and threaten the mass exodus of players who will quit if microtransactions find their way in to your game. However, there will always be people like me who have more money than you. And, I guarantee the bean counters at the game companies are more interested in my credit card limit than they are your values and ethics. Especially when people like me are spending 100x your monthly subscription in a single click of "Buy Now".

Until next time.. Remember.. if you are in Russia and stand on your tip toes.. you can see Sarah Palin in the shower!

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

Oh hai! Better Hide Your Teenage Daughters!

Posted by spyderbite Friday December 11 2009 at 11:05AM
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Long time follower of MMORPG.com here! I've been observing the evolution of MMORPG.com for almost 6 years. But, alas, I never had much time to really dig in and get involved with the community here.

I plan to remedy that now!

I've been blogging, writing for gaming/tech magazines, and hosting radio shows for more than a decade. I've interviewed developers, producers, players and presidents in the gaming industry on all three media outlets. Whether you recognized me or not, I've probably cut in line at registration during one game conference or another. And, on more than one occasion I'm sure I've stolen your drink after the bartender cut me off!

I've been pretty visible over the years, working for various gaming communities including Stratics, Allakhazam & UO Radio just to name a few. Some adore me. Most hate me. The rest have restraining orders and are non-relevant.

Everybody finds personal bios rather boring. Even more reason to share mine with you before I dive in and start spouting on about your favorite games and doing my best to irritate you.

I was born a poor black child. *blinks* Ok.. that line only works for Steve Martin I suppose.

I come from a rich online background beginning in the late 70's when my Uncle introduced me to an ASCII based online game based on Star Trek on his state of the art Tandy computer with cradled modem. A few years later my parents sold one of my siblings in order to finance a Texas Instruments TI 99-4A computer which they gave me one Christmas morning. 3 hours after I unwrapped it, they entered the room and shrieked in terror upon discovering that I had disassembled it just to see how it worked!

Flashforward to the 90's. I had a small ISP with a bank of 100 28.8 modems and about 500 customers in a small tourist town in Northern Arizona. As often happens, a big fish ate my little fish, so I bought myself a T1 line from US West and started a website hosting service. That did pretty well and subsidised my addiction to hookers and blow for almost 5 years. And then Microsoft took note of my handiwork and I began working on several projects with them. I did live testing for their first NT based web hosting service and had the first commercial IIS servers up and running. This endeavor required a lot of patience, anger management and beer.

I jumped ship in 2000 and did what any nerd in their early 30's would do and joined the Amateur PGA tour. I played the southwest circuit for about 2 years before they burned my tour card and asked me to burn my golf clubs. Since, I never won any tournaments, or even placed in the top 40 for that matter; I needed another income. So, I began shoving articles, reviews and editorials at various gaming and computer magazines. A few were foolish enough to publis my drivel and once again I had found a reason to avoid the time clock and work from my couch with beer in hand.

Today, I am freelance columnist for a syndicated news company. My fiance and I both work from the comfort of our ocean front home in Connecticut just a stones throw away from Yale University. We live the nerds life these days. Showering when the geek stink becomes too much for us to bear and scares the cats out of the room. We're both writing books and Jenny's is to be published next year with nearly 100,000 people eagerly awaiting its release. Mine on the other hand, will probably sit on the shelf next to "101 Tips To Get The Most Out Of AOL".

Well, if that wasn't better than Tylenol PM with a Nyquil chaser I don't know what is!

Looking forward to sharing my warped view of the gaming world with you in many blog entries to come!

Til next time.. Keep it out of yer bum,

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

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