The Wonders of Technology

Let’s say you’ve downloaded some (perfectly legal!) video from a website – one of the recent E3 conferences, let’s say, and it currently resides in a shared folder on your computer.

Now, being the savvy type, you’ve already set up your PS3 to play videos over your network, and it can see your box just fine.

But let’s say that the PS3 is downstairs and you want to watch the video upstairs.

Woe, woe is you.

Unless you have a PSP.

The PSP has an absolutely incredible feature that few people know about. It’s called Remote Play, and it will allow you to remotely control your PS3 over the internet. You must first link your PSP to your PS3 and then put your PS3 into remote play mode. Then, if both devices have an internet connection, the PSP will connect to it.

Once the connection is made, you will see a cross menu on your PSP. But this isn’t your PSP’s cross menu – it’s your PS3’s. The PS3 will stream its current video across the net to your PSP, meaning that you can watch any content your PS3 can access anywhere you have your PSP. You can even play games that are remote-play ready (though unfortunately, few of them are).

Let me re-emphasize this. Remote Play will allow you to use your PSP to watch or listen to content from your PS3 anywhere you have a wireless internet connection.

Add in a $20 cable that connects your PSP to a TV and things get even more awesome.

Last night I had a video on my computer upstairs. It would only play on the PS3 downstairs. But by streaming the video wirelessly to my PSP using Remote Play and connecting the PSP to my TV, I was able to watch it where I wanted to.

Crazy.

Linux Hates Me

So I had several people respond to my releasing the source of Planitia by saying, “Nice, but you should have used OpenGL instead of DirectX so it would be cross-platform.” And they are absolutely right, of course. Planitia started out as simply a way for me to learn DirectX (having already become basically familiar with OpenGL) and evolved into the game you see today. A good way for me to continue the learning experience would be for me to re-implement it in OpenGL, since my DirectX knowledge is now way ahead of my OpenGL knowledge.

So the best way to get the project cross-platform is to have another platform to cross to, right? It’s been a long time since I’d last dabbled in Linux and distros have come a long way since then. I’d also heard that booting off a thumb drive was now not only possible, but usually the preferred way to run Linux as a second OS if you don’t want to muck with partitioning your hard drive.

So no problem, right? I find a distro of Linux, install it to my thumb drive, then reboot from the thumb drive.

First I tried PuppyLinux, since it’s pretty much billed as the thumbdrive Linux distro – nice and small, the ISO is all of 130 megs.

But when I went to install it to my thumb drive, it failed to initialize video. I tried several different resolutions and bit depths and they all ended up the same way – with my monitor saying “No signal”. Irritating.

So I went in the exact opposite direction with Ubuntu. Got the netbook version off the official site and it installed just fine. I figured that everything would be hunkey-dorey because the installer is graphical rather than just text. Rebooted the system…when it tried to switch the video mode I got a screen full of purple garbage, then a spontaneous reboot. On subsequent tries to boot, I didn’t get the purple garbage any more but I did get the exact same thing I did with PuppyLinux – when it tries to initialize video, I end up with my monitor saying “No signal” and no choice but to reboot.

The only conclusion I can come to is that my video card is too new and distros don’t include drivers that are compatible with it yet. More than a little annoying. Linux advocates claim that Linux can resuscitate old boxes that are too slow for the most recent version of Windows; they are correct. But it seems like those are the only boxes that can successfully run Linux.

Now, I know what Linux zealots are going to say. They are going to say that it’s not Linux’s fault that it cannot support the latest gewgaws on my video card. But that’s not what I want – I just want it to support the most basic graphics so I can get to the desktop. And the really infuriating thing is that the Ubuntu installer was graphical, so I know it can be done!

So once again, my high hopes for getting familiar with developing in Linux are crushed.

Planitia Update 41: Meet the Gods

My original plan for Planitia was for it to have a campaign, maybe seven to ten chapters long, detailing how you come to the world as a god and how you defeat the (one) other, evil god to become the one true god. If any of you remember, one of my first trailers for Planitia followed this deadly serious path with rather dreadful results.

In the end, it doesn’t fit. Both Populous and Populous II had great senses of humor and a serious plotline sounds dull to work on. And indeed, having any kind of plot at all may be beyond my grasp at this point. So I’m going with something a little different.

Since there are four player colors, I’m creating four “god characters”, one for each. A campaign would still be nice, but if I can’t get that to work, just having these four personalities and having them interact with each other and the player (responding to what another does, etc), might make for a sufficiently interesting single-player experience.

I haven’t named them yet, and indeed I might not name them. But here’s what I’m thinking right now:

GREEN: Green is a hippie. Green is laid-back and tranquil. Green adores his followers and wants nothing more than a peaceful life for them. He will never initiate combat, he will only retaliate if provoked. On the other hand, he tends to stock up on mana and soldiers for that (inevitable) day when someone will try to do harm to his people. Prefers (duh) green powers, since they are mostly defensive. His speech colors are green-on-gold.

RED: Red’s just this normal guy, you know? His speech colors are red-on-black, so the other gods tend to view him as evil, but he’s not (no, really, he’s not). While not as laid-back as Green, he’s also not a warmonger. It’s just that…well, fire is pretty. I mean come on, isn’t fire pretty? Sure it is! Who here can say that fire isn’t pretty? And is it his fault that the things that seem to burn best are the other god’s villagers? Still, not a warmonger, so he only attacks unprovoked occasionally. Needless to say, prefers red fire-based powers.

BLUE: Blue lies. It’s what he does. Blue is all about gaining the upper hand through the use of dirty tricks; his favorite being to lie to the other gods to get them into a “let’s you and him fight” situation. Blue’s the worst kind of liar – he mixes his lies with enough truth to be credible, and sometimes he will actually tell the truth – but it’s always in an effort to manipulate. This is usually enough to convince most of the other gods, even though they know he’s not trustworthy. He uses all kinds of magic fairly equally in an effort to confuse the other gods about who did what. His speech colors are blue-on-white. He attacks unprovoked often, but only when he thinks he’s in an advantageous position.

YELLOW: Yellow is the crusader. Yellow doesn’t really understand the concept of “other gods”, and the concept of “other followers” infuriates him. He is single-minded in his goal and very shallow in his character. If you’re on a map with him, expect no hold to be barred and no quarter given. And the worst part is, the guy just won’t shut up. Will always attack, no matter what the situation. Prefers yellow and red powers, and is the only god that will routinely cast Armageddon (making the other gods despise him even more). His speech colors are yellow-on-purple.

So what do you think? I know yellow is kind of dull; I’m hoping some other character aspect will present itself as I go along.

We Got Beatles Rock Band…

I’m sure you already know this, but it’s a great game – a virtual love letter to the Beatles.

But playing “Paperback Writer” or “Day Tripper” wasn’t the best part.

No, the best part was when my five-year-old cocked her head and said, “This sounds like ‘Band on the Run’.”

She is so smart and I love her so much.