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mrimer
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icon 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (+2)  
From the mouth of Patrick:

Call it egotistical, but most people who write columns in regards to gaming always like to make a "Game of the Year" pick. Usually, these people pick the same games....the Call of Duty's, the Half-Life's, and the World of Warcraft's. (My apologies to everyone for misspelling the expansion pack last Illumination.) It's a shame, really, because there are a lot of good games out there that don't manage to make the spotlight. This year, all of my favorite games were outside the spotlight, but they were all fantastic.

I mentioned last month that there weren't any major releases planned for the year that excited me. Yes, a couple of sequels to big games got released, but nothing new, exciting, or even all that innovative from the major studios. This is what gave independent game developers such a big break. That being said, let's look at my personal contenders for this year's best game.

*Disclaimer: I'm aware of the irony of picking a game that isn't DROD in a Caravel newsletter, but hear me out. We all love DROD, and if I were to spend every Illumination with the sole intent of glorifying DROD, you might get annoyed. The intent of my Illumination articles are to showcase independent (usually puzzle) games.

The Contenders

When I looked at the list I made last month of my favorite games, there was a universal theme for most of them: physics-based gameplay. That being said, I knew that my favorite game would most certainly be a game that used physics in a creative and ingenious way. This narrowed my list down to five games. Which ones? Let's look at these a little closer...

5. Trackmania Nations/United Forever:

(Just to clarify, these are essentially the same game, it's just that Nations has limited content and is free.)

As much as I enjoyed this game, I knew that it wouldn't be my favorite game of the year, but that it was at least worthy of a mention. I consider this to be a puzzle racer in many ways, mainly because of the pure difficulty of some of the custom made tracks out there. Sometimes, you need to spend a good twenty minutes on a 30 second track simply to figure out how to pass it. Of course, once you finish that, there's the grinding trying to get the timing perfect in order to get yourself that gold medal. Is the grinding too frustrating? Possibly, but even I was able to tolerate it, as the feeling of betting the time by milliseconds is incredibly satisfying. And heck, there's even an option to play the game in 3D if you've got those glasses lying around. I actually bought some just to try the effect out, and it works fairly well.

So what held this game back? I don't know if it was just me, but the track editor seems like you need a PhD to make a good track. That, and ultimately racing games do suffer from a bad case of repetition, and I'm more of a varied gamer. Still, you owe it to yourself to at least give Nations a shot. It's free!

http://www.trackmania.com/en/

4. World of Goo

If you went up to someone inside a game store and asked them to name an independent game made last year, I'd bet that over half would mention World of Goo. It's won various Independent Game of the year awards, and quite possibly the most popular independent game out there. It's a game that's simple in design, yet very complex in terms of objectives and detail. I had a hard time describing the game myself, so let me quote Wikipedia:

"The main objective of the game is to get a requisite number of goo balls to the pipe representing the exit. In order to do so, the player must use their various abilities to build bridges, towers and other structures to overcome gravity and various terrain difficulties such as chasms, hills, spikes or cliffs."

So why did the game rank so low? Honestly, it would have ranked higher, but I enjoyed the next three games more than this one. Nothing personal, World of Goo, but I simply enjoyed the next games more. I do suggest people give the demo a shot, simply for the sake of trying it!

http://2dboy.com/games.php

3. Crayon Physics Deluxe

Yes, yes, one could argue that this isn't a game that was released in 2008, considering the official release date was January 7th, 2009, but let's look at the facts - I probably will have forgot this game by the end of the year, and considering the game won the 2008 IGF main prize, I think it's fitting to put it on the list. Describing the game is as simple as saying "You need to draw objects to complete simple objectives", but that simplicity is what makes the game so difficult and interesting. You can draw pretty much anything. Will it help you? Probably not. But it allows for some creative puzzles to be made. And plus, with a level editor, you can find some very ingenious user-made puzzles.

So, with all the hype and excitement regarding this game, what kept it at the middle of the list? As nice as the user-made content is, the main content itself was fairly simple and quick to finish. As well, I felt the developers didn't use a lot of the possibilities well in the campaign. Still, it is an incredible game, and user-made content does fill a lot of the gaps.

http://www.crayonphysics.com/

2. Crazy machines 2

I don't think I've met anyone who can honestly say that they don't enjoy Rube Goldberg machines, which is what makes Crazy machines so much fun. Take crazy contraptions like those, remove a couple of parts, add some red herrings into the mix, and you're got yourself an enjoyable game. Maybe it's the physics nut in me, but this game was just so incredibly enjoyable and easy to get into. And, like most of the games on my list, has a level editor, but the ease of use on this one is probably the best out of all of them.

That being said, some levels will make you want to throw your monitor to the ground, and it doesn't offer you a lot of help when you get to that point. I was thankful that I bought the entire Crazy machines series at the same time, so I pretty much had a rotation of games that I played as I kept getting frustrated. As well, I almost found the original Crazy Machines a little better than Crazy Machines 2 simply for simplicity. The sequel starts to add some pretty odd elements to the mix that can get confusing.

http://www.crazymachinesgame.com/

So which one made number one? Well, let's look at some facts about the game:

This game is made from a relatively new French developer, and this is actually the second game they've made (I had never heard of the first one). This game is entirely about physics, and objects lying around can either help you out by making you stronger and bigger, or can cause you to shrink. And, of course, paper towel will kill you. What game is this?

1. I-Fluid

I could probably name more faults with this game than I could with any of the other games on the list (picky camera control is worth a couple of faults alone), but this game is so enjoyable that you forgive the game for them. In this game, you control a small droplet of water, and are assigned various tasks, ranging from knocking walnuts off of shelves to moving cherry tomatoes into fondue dishes. Doesn't sound like fun on paper, but what makes it great is the environment. All of the scenarios take place within a house, and taking a familiar environment and being able to look at it from a new angle is always an interesting approach. The graphics on a lot of objects are incredibly detailed (I think a lot of them are actual photos put into the game) and it gives the game a feel of realism.

While there are only fifteen levels, they are all fairly varied, and there are three different modes to each game, which should keep you busy for a while (I'm a big fan of the petal attack modes myself). Honestly, you owe it to yourself to at least give the game a shot. While the main website does have the game for $30, it's $20 less on Steam, so I strongly advise that you save money where you can.

http://www.i-fluid.com/

Personally, which games did you enjoy this year? Feel free to discuss your favorite game at the topic below:

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28290

---------------------------------------------------------------

TCB Deluxe Set "pre-orders" have become "orders"

Mike Rimer brings us good news that a limited-edition TCB boxed set has been shipped to everyone who pre-ordered one. Those on the TCB "blacklist" (you know who you are and what you did) will also be seeing something soon. And there's good news for everyone else too -- there are some boxed sets remaining to order. If you already have the download-only version of TCB, you may write Mike at Caravel for a coupon code to discount the price of your original order when purchasing a CD or Deluxe set from our web site.

http://caravelgames.com/buyTCB.html

The Winter 2009 Smitemaster's Selection is wrapping up

The finishing touches are being placed on two fantastic expansion holds by forum architects Jason and Rheb. One continues Beethro's adventures following "The City Beneath" and the other reveals the untold story of a clandestine job Beethro ran after starting up the Roasted Roach Grill. If you're interested in receiving the next Smitemaster's Selection on a limited-edition CD, you need to pre-order it from the Caravel Games web site before its release at:

http://caravelgames.com/buySS.html

Grading the Illuminator

In the past six months, I'd like to hope people have, for the most part, enjoyed reading these little Illuminations. Yes, I know I've had some issue, but once I realized that there were two topics I should stop bringing up, it's been a lot better. So, feel free to give your thoughts on the past Illuminations, and
comment on what you'd like to see more of in these things.

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28291

The Prodical Mycologist

agaricus5, our resident DROD know-it-all (and I mean that in the highest regard) has returned after a two-year hiatus. Be sure to welcome him back!

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28212

Topic Picks for January/February

After a holiday break, Robobob3000's back with some of the latest and greatest wisdom from the forums.

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28036
I want to learn programming
Something like 130% of the population of our message board possesses a masterís degree in physics, and as such, they are expected to know programming. Blondbeard poses the question: How quickly can someone go from zero to programmer? Well, this threadís a good place to start.

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28132
Mafia 3
The other -30% of the forum population lack esteemed physics degrees. Thatís why theyíve resorted to what they know best: thuggery and brutishness. The long-form forum game is blossoming on the Caravel Forum, and whatshiswhistle is working to get our third game of Mafia started. Sign up! Actual murder not permitted.

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=27921
Tower of the Sorcerer
The last 0% of the population (TFMurphy, to be exact), has put together an intriguing RPG hold. He has fully recreated the game "Tower of the Sorcerer", the inspiration for DROD RPG, within DROD RPG. Itís still a work in progress, but it sure demonstrates the flexibility of the engine. Check it out, and be inspired!

http://forum.caravelgames.com/viewtopic.php?TopicID=28098
Akella cover art for the Russian version of DROD: The City Beneath
And as always, Russia continues to be totally rad.

Have a fantastic rest-of-the-month!

-Patrick

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[Last edited by mrimer at 02-22-2009 02:47 AM]
02-22-2009 at 02:45 AM
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Ezlo
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
A new mafia? That could drag me back to the forums again!

In fact it did.
02-22-2009 at 04:31 AM
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Briareos
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
quote:
Ezlo wrote:
A new mafia? That could drag me back to the forums again!

In fact it did.

O Hai! :)

np: Neil Landstrumm - Old Rabbits (Lord For £39)

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02-22-2009 at 11:16 AM
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agaricus5
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (+1)  
quote:
Ezlo wrote:
A new mafia? That could drag me back to the forums again!

In fact it did.

I think I picked the right time to come back, it seems:

quote:
agaricus5 wrote:
coincidental influx arc


Welcome back, Matt. You've done a great job with the site since I left, and I hope I'll be able to help you work on it now that I'm back.

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02-22-2009 at 11:40 AM
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zwetschenwasser
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
*cries tears of joy* :) :)

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02-22-2009 at 12:56 PM
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Kwakstur
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Some of the information is slightly old, though.
quote:
Patrick wrote: The long-form forum game is blossoming on the Caravel Forum, and whatshiswhistle is working to get our third game of Mafia started. Sign up!
That's ovah.

Hey, welcome back, Ezlo!

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-22-2009 10:05 PM]
02-22-2009 at 10:03 PM
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gamer_extreme_101
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
quote:
Kwakstur wrote:
Some of the information is slightly old, though.
quote:
Patrick wrote: The long-form forum game is blossoming on the Caravel Forum, and whatshiswhistle is working to get our third game of Mafia started. Sign up!
That's ovah.
I formally blame Robobob300 for any and all errors in the topic pick section. :P

But seriously, it's my fault more than anything. He send the topic picks in at the beginning of the month, and I ended up finishing my article later than I had intended.

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02-23-2009 at 12:03 AM
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File: NoC4U.PNG (21.1 KB)
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Any guess as to why Crazy Machines 2 is so large?

349MB for a zip file of the installer for the demo version?


Edit: This is when I try to install it:
Click here to view the secret text


I'm telling you, my C: drive is maxed out. I keep on trying to put everything in E: and find stuff I can move off the C: drive, but sometimes it just isn't enough.
It complains about disk space on C: before it gives me a chance to tell it I want to use the E: drive.

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-23-2009 07:36 AM]
02-23-2009 at 06:18 AM
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Briareos
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It's probably running out of space in the temp folder...

Sorry, but totally running out of space on the system drive is all kinds of bad. Try freeing some (1+ GB) space there...

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02-23-2009 at 08:35 AM
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Kwakstur
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
I just went on a memory-freeing frenzy and I went from 600 MB up to a little less than 8 GB, simply by uninstalling The Sims 2 and its expansion packs, deleting the leftover installer files for MapleStory and Flash Studios, and uninstalling Word 2002. And moving a few videos to E: that I for some reason had not yet moved.

For a drive that only has 33 GB total, the fact that I was just able to free 7.4 GB is incredible. I'm set for a while.

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-23-2009 08:54 AM]
02-23-2009 at 08:51 AM
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slimm tom
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Heh. I've seen larger demos than that for sure. But people always seem to assume Indie = small. :unsure

Reminds me I need to clean my Hard Drive sometimes soon. I got a 750 GB one and it's almost full.
02-23-2009 at 08:57 AM
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
A full install of Crazy Machines is about 440MB, so 349 sounds about right if you consider the only difference between the two would basically be the puzzle files and a couple of backgrounds. It's well worth the download though....it's a very neat game.

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02-23-2009 at 01:48 PM
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Kwakstur
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Grah, it crashes every time I start it. Specifically, it crashes when initializing full-screen mode, when the screen goes white. It brings up a generic "XXX.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close" error message and terminates.

But I'm enjoying whatever free content is available of the other games here. Unfortunately, for as long as I need to go through Dad for any sort of online transaction, I doubt I'll get to see any of these games in their full splendor.

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-24-2009 04:33 AM]
02-24-2009 at 04:32 AM
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Syntax
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quote:
Kwakstur wrote:
Grah, it crashes every time I start it. Specifically, it crashes when initializing full-screen mode, when the screen goes white. It brings up a generic "XXX.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close" error message and terminates.

Have you installed Physx?. It's the engine used to handle the 3d objects. I seem to remember having a similar crash to yours and had to install Physx manually.

Your graphics card type probably needs 3D acceleration too or be Nvidia (though it works on my laptop which is using the Intel gfx chip).
02-24-2009 at 07:14 PM
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Kwakstur
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Bleh, it won't work. I guess my card just doesn't have PhysX. Or, at least, I'm 90% sure it doesn't, since I've had no positive results from anything yet. BTW, it's an Intel 82865G Graphics Controller.


You know what would be cool? Graphics cards that run on upgradable software, so that you can purchase a particular feature without getting a whole new card (or computer :fear). But I guess they would need a special, flexible sort of driver; one in which the support for the features are added and removed in tandem with the features themselves on the card.
And then such cards could bring forth a wave of new
screen-crippling viruses. Maybe it's not such a great idea after all... :P

I'll stop hijacking the topic. If you have any more suggestions on getting the game to work, PM me.

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02-25-2009 at 02:37 AM
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Banjooie
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Kwakstur sir I don't think you understand how hardware works.
02-25-2009 at 12:29 PM
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Kwakstur
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Banjooie sir I don't think you understand how dreams work.


In dreams, hardware can have software.

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02-25-2009 at 11:08 PM
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agaricus5
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quote:
Kwakstur wrote:
Banjooie sir I don't think you understand how dreams work.


In dreams, hardware can have software.

I am not sure you'd call what you're suggesting hardware, even in a dream. The term "hard" implies a certain level of permanence in terms of how your device functions.

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02-25-2009 at 11:42 PM
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Kwakstur
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Here's my definition of "software" and "hardware" in technology:

Any tangible component of a device is hardware. Each piece of hardware serves an inherent purpose depending on the category of hardware it is (e.g. a keyboard allows text input, a hard drive retains information), though different models may accomplish this task differently (e.g. there are cathode-ray monitors and LCD screens).
Software is any extrinsic function that can be added to or removed from any individual piece of hardware by changing its state.

So it's still hardware. It's just hardware with software. At least by my definition, it is.


Edit: Actually, there's another word for it. If hardware is reconfigurable like in my idea, the "software" on it is called "firmware."

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 03-07-2009 02:59 AM]
02-26-2009 at 12:58 AM
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Syntax
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Kwakstur, it's an free installable program. Worth trying to install it... it made the game work for me.
02-26-2009 at 01:50 AM
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Nope. I installed it, and the game still didn't work. Still crashes at the exact same spot.

I noticed how the installer for PhysX called it a "driver." It clearly isn't a driver (as those are just Library files)... but it isn't just any old program, either. I think it's more of a "driver program."
What I mean is that it appears to be a background process that gets your computer to recognize and correctly utilize the PhysX acceleration features on your graphics card. But still, if your card doesn't have PhysX, what good is that?

It's exactly how DirectX used to work. Of course, this isn't a problem any more (DirectX is pretty old), but back when DirectX 9 came out, not all computers could use it.


But just in case, link me directly to the page with the file you downloaded. I might have missed something.

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-26-2009 02:29 AM]
02-26-2009 at 02:23 AM
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Syntax
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
It definitely isn't activating something on you gfx card. I think it's a software driver which may require a 3D accelerated gfx card though. I certainly do not have a physX chip on mine (onboard laptop).

Maybe try the SDK version - it's bound to be the most up-to-date (but bigger):
http://developer.nvidia.com/object/physx_downloads.html
02-26-2009 at 02:46 AM
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Kwakstur
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I don't see what difference having the development kit would make, but I'll try it anyways...


Nope, still doesn't work.

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02-26-2009 at 04:19 AM
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Briareos
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You know, trying to get anything to run on an el-cheapo bottom-of-the-barrel integrated graphics chipset from May 2003 (which is almost 6 years old which is ancient history as far as PC hardware is concerned) is probably pushing it waaay too far.

Either get your dad to get you a new PC already as even the cheapest of machines on sale today will wipe the floor with your old one and are more likely to run that game, or accept that more and more stuff ISN'T going to run on that geriatric PC of yours...

Also - how about moving this discussion to it's own topic in Anything about 5 posts ago?

EDIT: CM≤ needs DirectX 9.0c hardware support, which I'm pretty sure your graphics chipset doesn't have seeing as it was released over a year before DirectX 9.0c...

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[Last edited by Briareos at 02-26-2009 02:42 PM]
02-26-2009 at 02:35 PM
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Kwakstur
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Well, what can I say, I'm not a PC gamer.

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02-26-2009 at 11:31 PM
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (+1)  
The physX software is a driver in that it's the same installed bundle whether it's actually a driver or not... If you have a physX chip, it acts as a driver for that chip. If you don't, it acts as a partial emulator, similar to running a 3d game in "software" mode.

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02-26-2009 at 11:37 PM
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Oh...

Okay then, the problem is DirectX 9.0c, as Briareos predicted. I have it installed and all the dxdiag tests work, but that's because none of those tests check any of the features exclusive to 9.0c. So I tried a test for PixelShader 3.0, and it didn't work.

I'm going to try SwiftShader and I'm checking to see if I can emulate other essential 9.0c features, but probably by the point I have substantial 3D capabilities, any game that uses them will crawl at 5 fps.

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[Last edited by Kwakstur at 02-27-2009 01:06 AM]
02-26-2009 at 11:55 PM
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Briareos
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
quote:
Sillyman wrote:
The physX software is a driver in that it's the same installed bundle whether it's actually a driver or not... If you have a physX chip, it acts as a driver for that chip. If you don't, it acts as a partial emulator, similar to running a 3d game in "software" mode.

Well, try running Mirror's Edge with PhysX turned on but without a PhysX or nVidia card - the ensuing framerate is no fun even on a Core 2 Quad, I can assure you.

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02-27-2009 at 07:19 AM
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gamer_extreme_101
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Out of curiosity, has anyone tried out I-Fluid yet?

Edit: just noticed this quote:
quote:
slimm tom wrote:
Reminds me I need to clean my Hard Drive sometimes soon. I got a 750 GB one and it's almost full.
Pfffft.....I have 2 750GBs, 1TB, and one 250GB drive, and collectively that's about 2/3rds full. :D

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[Last edited by gamer_extreme_101 at 02-27-2009 01:09 PM]
02-27-2009 at 01:07 PM
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Ezlo
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icon Re: 2008: The Year of the Big Splash (0)  
Yeah, I actually bought it when the big new year steam special came, it's fun. Not my favorite game but I play it.

02-27-2009 at 06:07 PM
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