Posts Tagged ‘PC’

Starting on my Hackintosh PC build

November 18, 2008

After a long hiatus, 32-bit Shell is back. Lately I’ve been getting more into using a Mac again, since the last time I really used one was in the computer labs at college. But I cannot afford a Mac computer at the moment. So I did some research into the OSx86 Hackintosh project and decided to make a PC that would be fit to run a version of Mac OS X properly. I continued my research in hardware and installation configurations and have almost completed my purchase decisions…

Currently I own a self-build AMD machine that runs on an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and an Abit AM-N2 motherboard. This is a pretty good setup for general purpose use, but not so great for a Mac install. The first time I jumped into experimenting with OSx86, I tried to use two distributions of OS X Panther, Zephyroth AMD 10.5.2 (revision 1) and Kalyway 10.5.2. The Zephyroth build is optimized and used for AMD processors only- I got it to install and after a few bios tweaks, it was able to boot properly and run. But the hardware side felt very crippled- I couldn’t use the onboard sound and ethernet, and aside from that, I wasn’t able to get a successful dual-boot configuration (I had to reinstall Windows after that). I wanted to run Mac on a PC in the best way possible.

So now I decided that to get the best setup possible (and to use a patched retail version of OS X) I must go with Intel. The last time I owned an Intel PC was back in the Pentium days- mine was a 100mhz beige box from Packard Bell. It turns out that the Intel D975Xbx2 (the Bad Axe 2) is a great motherboard to ensure almost everything would work out of the box using Mac. I went for the original Bad Axe, which is very similar, and cheaper too. It’s based off the 975 X Express chipset and one of Intel’s flagship boards when it first came out. I would only need to make two purchases for my Mac build- the motherboard itself and a processor. Everything else I already felt was adequate.

Intel D975Xbx

But I lied- I only need to make one purchase, as the Bad Axe already arrived a few days ago. I was a little worried about the revision number- some revisions do not support the Core 2 processors which would really put me in the stone age and I would have to return it. I’d need revision 304 or higher to use them. Good news when it arrived- it is revision 306 so I’m in the clear. All I can do right now is save up a bit more to buy a good Core 2 Duo and look through the motherboard package and its generous set of accessories. The manual is also very comprehensive and detailed- no funny Engrish text here. Even if the D975Xbx is somewhat dated (and I can no longer use my DDR2 800 ram to its full potential) it’s easily my best motherboard purchase yet. Next, I will actually start rebuilding my PC once I get a processor and go step by step on how I’ll get everything to work smoothly.

Balls to the wall: a review of four “-ball” games

December 1, 2007

While I was busy working on Roll ‘Em Out, it seemed fitting to do some research on any possible clones that might already exist, both for inspiration and to evaluate the competition. I have found four PC games that closely fit this “rolling ball” genre, and here are my reactions after giving each a try. They are Neverball, Hamster Ball Gold, Switchball, and Super Gerball. And this is also why I chose the title that I did for my game, because anything with “ball” in it already sounds overdone and unoriginal. Today I will be talking about Neverball and Hamsterball Gold.

Neverball

Neverball

The first game I tried, Neverball, was made by a grad student that actually attended the very same university that I am attending, and around the same concentration of interest (electronic visualization). How awesome is that! Never got to meet him, though, so I just know about him from his brief bio page and an interview he did (You can find more about him on his website, icculus.org).

Now for the game itself. Unlike the other three games, Neverball is completely open-source, allowing for tweakable levels and custom music, and it’s all freeware. Big points already right there! Control is what you’d expect to be for a keyboard and mouse. A lot of people would complain about motion sickness because the levels meander quite often as you move the ball. You get that in the Monkey Ball games too, but at least the movement feels quick and responsive. Neverball’s controls feel floaty and a bit too loose, and it definitely needs getting used to.

Aside from this issue, the levels provide a good challenge and the core game is divided into three levels of difficulty. Due to its open source nature, Neverball has gotten a loyal following and the dev community has made marginal improvements to the game, including new levels and features.

But the presentation is a bit lacking. While clean and simple, this doesn’t have the polish of a full-blown commercial game. Not to say that it’s ugly, but it follows the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mantra- sparse text menus, voices, and simple visuals- it’s all thrown together in a no-nonsense manner that you would expect from an indie game developer. Neverball still gets props from me, as it gives a reasonable learning curve, solid gameplay, and extensive customization from a developer’s point of view.

Hamsterball Gold

Hamster Ball Gold

Some games aren’t what they seem until you play it for yourself, and that’s what I got with Hamsterball Gold. Instead of tilting the level around the ball, you just guide the ball directly with the mouse, as in Marble Madness. The style of play follows that game as well, since all the levels emphasize speed over dexterity, in a mad race to get through an obstacle course in the shortest time possible.

This is a more polished, commercialized shareware game and it shows. The levels are very colorful and have some sort of theme to them, at least presented in a more illustrative manner than Neverball. And unlike Neverball, the music is mostly upbeat as well. The shareware value is acceptable- you can progress through the game until you reach a certain level, where the game freezes in the middle and asks you to buy the game. But the levels you do get to play are still pretty good, and fun to beat your own personal records.

That’s it for now. I’ll continue the reviews in the future, when I’ll be scoping out Switchball and Super Gerball.