haslo.ch – Guido’s Blog

We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.

glodjib.ch Photoblog Launched

Posted on | May 15, 2012 | 7:14 | Comments Off

I launched a photoblog over at glodjib.ch – the haslo.ch root became a redirect right over there until I do something with this site and / or this blog here again. Happy browsing icon smile glodjib.ch Photoblog Launched

“Debug the World” launched

Posted on | September 14, 2010 | 16:01 | Comments Off

Just a short note about a very awesome thing. A very good friend of mine had this great idea:

  • Fact, the world has many problems.
  • Fact, many of these problems have really simple solutions.
  • Problem, these solutions are usually only simple for people who don’t even know that the problem exists in the first place.

So he went and created a site that attempts to solve the world’s problems by making people aware of them. In the spirit of Stack Overflow and the likes, harnessing the community, he built this:

Debug the World

Let’s hope the site really takes off icon smile Debug the World launched It’s an awesome idea, very worthy of your support.

Oh, and there’s a blog, too.

Bad Company 2 Teething Problems

Posted on | March 7, 2010 | 18:58 | 5 comments

There’s this shiny new shooter game thingy, Battlefield Bad Company 2. It’s a really nice game and does oh so many things right. This, however, is not a game review. It is merely a rant about how bad the game’s launch goes.

There are quite a few problems that, for me, make it nearly impossible to play a game that I would really like to play – on a very freshly installed Win7 box that works flawlessly otherwise:

  • On the European launch day, the EA servers went down. And stayed down for several hours, making it impossible for quite some players to play their freshly acquired game.
  • Now still, days later, the EA servers regularly show “connection failed” error messages, some friends of mine have not got the game to work yet at all (hi Ratty and Mooseman).
  • PunkBuster – apparently, it consequently fails to boot up. I updated, deinstalled, reinstalled it, without effect. It seems that currently, I’m not the only one with this problem, as everybody seems to be kicked from the servers in regular intervals.
  • The server browser, while a neat thing overall, has quite a few problems:
    • It’s slow, very, very slow.
    • It lacks crucial filters (can’t filter by ping range, can’t filter by player number, or by whether the server is in hardcore mode or not).
    • Even those filters it has – it does not store which ones you set on your last search when you start the game anew, meaning you’ll have to re-enable them all again.
    • It regularly shows servers as having spots left when apparently, they’re full (and give an error to that end when you’re trying to join them).
    • Occasionally, the connection to the server you want to join gets lost in nirvana, just like that – with an appropriate error of course.
    • Regularly, when trying to join a server, the “please wait” popup box just disappears, and neither do you actually join the server nor is there an error message of any kind.
    • Once, it happened to me that after clicking to join a server, the game hung itself up and kept showing “please wait” for 10+ minutes (I went to get a coffee meanwhile).

My game also apparently got a minor case of file corruption at some point, which I had to fix with Steam’s repair feature (no errors anymore now), but that’s a minor issue compared to the things above and was probably my hardware’s fault (or, what I believe, due to a crash I had before this corruption thingy, and then causing further crashes). There’s other people who have regular total system lockups from the game.

Dear EA: If you release your games bugged like this, people like me will, when the next good game or expansion is released (in my case DoW2:CR), stop playing your game. They will no longer play your game by the time you release an expansion, and consequently probably not buy that. They will also not promote your game mouth-to-mouth.

Keep in mind that at some point, the PC version of BFBC2 had more players than either of the consoles it was also released on. But if this does not improve, things will change and yet again naysayers will believe that “PC gaming is dying”. Well, if things don’t improve, it just might. Us PC gamers like to have games that are actually playable you know.

While writing this, I’ve been trying to get into a game for 3-4 hours, without any success. You know what I think I’ll do tonight after dinner? I’ll play TF2. Because their multiplayer, including VAC (speaking of PunkBuster), just works, and did so on release day already.

Ubisoft DRM Already Cracked

Posted on | March 6, 2010 | 17:49 | 1 comment

As expected, there has been a zero-day exploit for Ubisoft’s new shiny DRM (see my last post), in the newly released game Silent Hunter 5.

Well, it was not totally zero-day, since it took slightly more than 24 hours, apparently. Still, indeed it is now the case that the only ones suffering from the whole “you have to be online all the time or we’ll kick you out of your offline game” thing are the legit customers, while pirates gladly ignore such silly limitations.

The source (on InfoAddict, via PlayNoEvil) states:

Now that the news has spread like wildfire, Ubisoft is finally issuing a response and it is predictably vague. So vague that I am inclined to believe their statement doesn’t hold much water or truth.  Is it possible some aspect of the game is missing? Sure. Is it likely? No, not given how Ubisoft designed Silent Hunter V, meaning it’s not an MMO and it’s world doesn’t exist on a 3rd-party server. If Ubisoft really wants to defeat piracy, may I suggest that your next game be called Silent Hunter Online? Problem solved.

Indeed. Yes, for online games, it makes sense that you need an online connection. For offline games, absolutely not so much. Worst case is that some encrypted content needs to be streamed from the online servers in order for the offline game to work, but even that can be emulated by a dedicated cracker as well (and it requires faster internet connections than mere keep-alive pings that are a more probable implementation of such a feature).

Anyway. Ubisoft of course claims the games won’t work at all anyway. We’ll see what the next days hold, I might update this post or even write a new one if fundamentally new things show up.

PC: The Platform with Rampant DRM

Posted on | February 21, 2010 | 13:55 | Comments Off

Yeah, it’s horrible. DRM is rampant on the PC.

Most recent example: Ubisoft. There is a good article on Rock Paper Shotgun about this. What they have announced to do is the following: With every future Ubisoft game, whether it’s single player or multiplayer, online or offline, boxed with a CD or delivered via download, you will constantly need an online connection in order to keep playing the game.

Ubisoft DRM 150x94 PC: The Platform with Rampant DRM

Ubisoft's DRM in action

In other words: Even if it’s a pure single player offline experience, you will constantly need to be online. If for some reason (shaky WiFi, ISP hickups, flatmate downloads too much stuff, Ubisoft’s servers have problems) you lose your connection for a moment, you are also dropped out of your game and (at least in some games) lose all the unsaved data. (Image source)

Ubisoft also does talk around the issue that in five or ten years, their licensing servers for a game might be offline. As a sidenote, in the case of EA, servers shutdowns happen nearly every year. Ubisoft do not fully commit to promising a patch that will remove the online shackles (Source):

PCG: So you can commit to saying that those systems will be patched out?
Ubisoft: That’s the plan.
PCG: It’s the plan, or it’s definitely going to happen?
Ubisoft: That’s written into the goal of the overall plan of the thing. But we don’t plan on shutting down the servers, we really don’t.

I trust the developers that they don’t want to shut these things down. But I don’t trust the management that they won’t. After all, they get nothing out of second-hand sales, and they can stiffle those if only more recent titles actually work at all.

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Upcoming Indie Game: Natural Selection 2

Posted on | February 9, 2010 | 11:52 | Comments Off

I just saw that Natural Selection gets a sequel: Natural Selection 2. A hybrid of first-person shooty stuff and real-time strategy game – reminescent of good old Sacrifice (a very underrated gem), at least as far as I can tell.

Now this alone might not have been news-worthy, particularly since it’ll take some more time before it’s ready (pre-alpha ATM), but the thing just did win the ModDB “Indy game of the year” award (where they lumped together current and upcoming indie games). It’ll use an unique engine with neat effects.

Have a look at some just-released footage:

What do you think? I preordered the special edition (directly from the project site) myself, if only to support indy development icon smile Upcoming Indie Game: Natural Selection 2

Update 2010-02-09 12:24: The development team is on Twitter, too. And an interesting business sidenote: Apparently social media (Facebook, Twitter, ModDB, Reddit, YouTube) drives roughly one third of the preorder sales, and dwarfs even the biggest gaming sites. A really interesting blog post about this can be found on the Wolfire Blog.

Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Posted on | February 5, 2010 | 15:33 | 4 comments

Yay, it’s done. Chaos in the Old World is fully painted now – in other words, the minis don’t look completely out of place on the awesome game board anymore.

My apologies in advance for the somewhat bad-quality pictures – my camera is not that awesome. I’m sure you’ll notice the color bleed from the minis to the white background.

tzeentch1 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Tzeentch Demons

I painted the Tzeentch ones first. Partially because, as I said before, it’s the one I like best in the board game at the time being, but also (admittedly) because I imagined the Horrors would have to be somewhat easy to paint – mostly a drybrush job.

lord of change 112x150 Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Lord of Change, Back

The Lord of Change on the other hand was tougher; I wanted his robe to be white-ish with blue hue, with the inner bit being darker than the arm pieces, and there were all the gold details. I added highlights by washing the lower edges of some trims with black, and it seemed to work out well – I continued that with the other models.

Finally, the Warp Stones (green-yellow stuff) took a bit of time and quite some iterations to get right. I wanted these as close to the game’s tokens as possible.

slaanesh1 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Slaanesh Demons

Next, I painted the Slaanesh demons. Arzo, my wife, pointed out that the Demonettes weren’t purple enough at first, so I washed their corsets or whatever-that-is with purple. I took some care to make the claws of the Keeper of Secrets a different purple than its (more pink) body, so they’re clearly distinguishable.

I’m not absolutely happy with the way the Demonettes‘ bodies turned out. The color is fine as it is, but the drybrushing strokes are too clearly visible, particularly to their left (as seen from the front).

khorne1 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Khorne Demons

Khorne came next. I googled a bit for the exact coloring of the Bloodletters; I didn’t remember the exact color of their horns. Turns out I couldn’t actually possibly remember it, as there’s all kinds of variations between red and black horns. Still, inspiration was a good thing, it made me color them slightly more orange to try and get some of that “hellfire” feeling.

While painting these, I had to resist the urge to stand up and shout something along the lines of…

Blood for the Blood God!

nurgle1 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Nurgle Demons

Finally, my favourite Chaos God, Nurgle. Lots of details on these models, with all the worms and blains and all – another reason (apart from me wanting to save the best for last) why I took them last, after having warmed up. The skin of the Plaguebearers took quite some layers until I was happy with the sickly-rotting green-brown mix.

Note how the Lepers, the Plaguebearers and the Great Unclean One all share the green base color, but have different color nuances themselves – giving a coherent picture while maintaining distinguishability. At least that’s what I tried to do icon razz Chaos in the Old World: Demons

Are you painting minis as well? Any comments or suggestions?

Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Posted on | February 1, 2010 | 9:11 | Comments Off

I have this new board game, Chaos in the Old World. And even though I still haven’t painted the last ones of my Doom demons, I started painting stuff for this one, for relaxing between sprees of working or learning.

The cultists are already done:

all gods 300x187 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Cultists of all Chaos Gods

I’ll upload the pictures to Board Game Geek as well of course. Here’s a few mug shots of each of the four groups:

khorne 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Khorne Cultists

Bloodsworn, the cultists of Khorne, the Blood God. He mostly lusts for battle, thus cultists (who do all the corrupting and pillaging for the gods) aren’t as interesting to him. Since the game really plays differently with the different gods, this means that it also provides less cultists for him (and more demons to beat stuff up with).

nurgle 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Nurgle Cultists

Lepers, the cultists of Nurgle, the Lord of Pestilence. Interestingly, he does most of his victories through corruption, which in turn is the main purpose of the cultists in this game – and he has less of them than Tzeentch. Ah well, he has more and cheaper demons instead. Nurgle hits a soft spot for me, I always loved his fluff. My all time favourite Chaos God icon razz Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

tzeentch 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Tzeentch Cultists

Acolytes, the cultists of Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways. He’s the god of magic and intrigue, a control type character. So I think the mage style robes work pretty well. The demons will be in a lighter blue. Tzeentch has most cultists, and he teleports them around the board in a pretty unpredictable way. Currently my favourite god to play in this game.

slaanesh 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Slaanesh Cultists

Seductresses, the cultists of Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure. It is interesting how these are the only cultists that are supposedly female. Not sure why “Seductors” wasn’t chosen. I added another layer of light (purple mixed with white) drybrushing here after thinking they looked too similar to the Tzeentch ones (before trims), I think they’re much more obviously purple now and it really brings out the detail in their robes.

teaspoon tzeentch 150x93 Chaos in the Old World: Cultists

Teaspooned Tzeentch Cultist

Interestingly, what took me longest with these cultists are the little trims around their hoods and sleeves; they’re just so tiny that it’s a lot of work to get these right. To the left here, you see one of the Tzeentch ones in a teaspoon for size.

The demons and greater demons will be next, I’ll do those one god at a time. With the cultists, I thought it made most sense to paint all of them at the same time: The steps I took with each of the Chaos god’s deluded followers were very similar, even though I tried to make them convey different moods through more vivid (Slaanesh) or muted (Nurgle) color schemes. Since the demons look really different for each faction, that approach really doesn’t make sense for them.

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