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Homebrew Channel


I personally think that Nintendo screwed up with the Wii. Sure, it has a revolutionary interface, but the possibilities for end user experiences with this console were endless. If they only could have released a Youtube channel, a movie trailer channel, ... It would have lifted the Wii up from the simple game console it is now, to a multimedia Home Theater interface that could have been a smashing success. But instead, Nintendo chose to reinvent Mario Bros for the 10^6th time; Virtual Console ? Come on, Nintendo, was this all you could give us ?

So maybe your Wii has been resting too much time at your TV side too ? Do you want to give it a second chance ? Then the Homebrew Channel might be something for you. It is an application loader to run unofficial Wii software, which behaves as a separate channel. Most of the software provided are simple games, but with some, you can transform your Wii into a FTP or web server or transform it into a home theater solution with MPlayer CE, which runs on top of a slim Linux distribution.

Unfortunately, the Homebrew Channel isn't delivering what Nintendo failed to do : I would love to see Youtube support get provided as a simple application, or get better integrated into the MPlayer CE app. And most of the gaming applications are emulation softwares for eg Nintendo64 or Sega games, which mostly provide ... Mario Bros games. Sigh...

A word of warning before you head over to the HomeBrew website : it uses hacks and bugs in the Wii software to run these kind of softwares, and with the installation, there might be a slim chance that you brick your Wii.

From now on, you can call me Kristof Wiilen


When playing games, having fancy graphics ain't enough : I had the chance lately to play a game of Quake 4. I didn't like it : after 15 minutes of gameplay, you just know that there's a monster after every 5th corner, the weapons suck and are uninspired, and the pauses in which you get new assignments just break the gameplay and get on my nerves. Seems that ID tried to create a Doom 4 clone, and failed miserably. No, then I prefer Alien Arena on Linux : a crossing of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. Graphics and sound are shite, but still fun to play somehow.

Fun factor is where the Wii really shines : the interface with the Wiimote is indeed revolutionary, and this alone boosts the fun factor that the Wii is. Even my wife likes it alot, which is a remarkable achievement. The fact that the console includes Wii Sports gives me the extra excuse of working out while playing games :) I really like the tennis game, but still have to try the others.

I was surprised how easy the Wiimote interface really is. It took me a minute to get used to it, but using it as a pointing device in the excellent News channel ('just' a neat RSS reader) really feels natural. Unfortunately, getting a Wii is a difficult task : it's everywhere out of stock, and when some are released into the wild, most stores get a limited supply of 10 to 15 consoles. So I missed the lot that was on sale in the Makro, but luckily I noticed the promotion in the Fun toy store. The store already contained a warning message that the stock was really limited, but luckily I got one. Finding an extra Wiimote for dual playtime will be the next task.

The Book of Quake


Quake was the first true 3D game; therefore the game graphics engine was a revolutionary piece of software. In the online book Ramblings in Realtime, Michael Abrash describes the theory, techniques, and the generally working atmosphere at ID while programming on Quake.

If you're interested into graphics programming, do take time to read the Black Book of Graphic Programming, by the same author.

Monstrous manual


Planet ADnD has an online version available of the AD&D Monstrous Manual. Quite handy if you've forgotten your copy on a D&D party, but also a nice online reference book.

Old games never die - they just don't have sound anymore


What are the games you played when you started out with computers ? On my XT not much fancy games were available, but once the 386 machines were there, most games were astounding. The first ones, I guess, where Wolfenstein and Prince of Persia, quickly followed by Doom. Of course there was Moria, Omega and Nethack, but these couldn't compete with the first person shooter games out there.

Duke Nukem is my all-time favourite : heavily bashed in the DukeNukem vs Quake popularity battles, it still holds the trophy for most addictive and thrilling game I ever played. I quickly changed the sound effects in the game by 'Aliens' samples, which made the creepy atmosphere complete.

But all these were 2D sprite based games. Quake was there to change all of that. I never found the game as compelling as Duke, and the first game was overall critisized over its too dark environment, but the game set a standard for its extendibility : the number of add-ons were impressive. New areas, new skins, and especially : new gamebots. Playing a gamebot is like playing another person, that is if you had a bot with some decent AI, and definitively beat shooting grunts. Other things were complete revamps of the game, like Future vs Fantasy Quake, which transformed Quake into a role playing game with new races and new weapons.

I recently installed Quake onto my desktop, for nostalgic sake. GLQuake runs quite good, if you count that the game is about 10 years old. Unfortunately, the game doesn't provide sound. GLQuake is compiled with OSS support only, whereas modern Linuxes have ALSA on board. The FAQ mentions the OSS emulation module snd-pcm-oss, but loading this one doesn't help much. Has someone else tackled this already ?


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