Daniels’s Friday Thought 02.13.04


They Give You the First Hit for Free

Right around Christmas, I told myself that I wouldn’t buy any more games until I finished the massive backlog of games I have partially completed. This list includes, but is not limited to, Icewind Dale 2 and the expansion, Neverwinter Nights, Super Mario Sunshine, Zelda: Wind Waker, Turok: Evolution, Amped 2, Lunar: Silver Star, and Morrow-wind. Most of these games are some percentage toward completion, but I have either gotten bored with them or just got something new and back burnered them.

Then, about a month ago, a good number of my college friends picked up Final Fantasy XI. Now, some history on me I’m a huge RPG nut, in both console (Yes, Eric, you can have an RPG on a console), PC, and Pen and Paper. In fact, I just recently ended about a year long campaign in new Dungeons and Dragons which saw my character graduated into god-hood in a good little knock off of the Forgotten Realms’s Time of Troubles storyline.

When I found out about Everquest way back when, I purposely never bought it. I could live my whole life without the addictive properties inside of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs from here on). Of course, it was always made easier by the fact I never had friends who were into them. What’s the point of jumping in a game of Diablo or Evercrack when you don’t know anyone? My friends in high school were into Magic and D&D, and my friends in college were into going out drinking and playing Beirut. Then I went to a techie school for my Master’s and I met THOSE type of people.

So, after about a month of listening to how cool FFXI was, I made the executive decision to bite the bullet and make the big purchase.

The first thing I should point out is the system requirements for this game. I grabbed it off the shelf and the dude behind the counter stopped me. The following exchange occurred:

EB Games Kid: Did you look at the requirements for that game?
Daniels: Nah, I just bought my computer last week (which was true. I had just bought the Gateway 505XL.
EBGK: Seriously, did you look at the requirements. The required graphics card probably isn’t on all new systems.
Daniels: *reads the requirements* Holy shit.
EBGK: Told you.

Besides the six (yes six) gigabytes of free space you need, it requires at least an 800 Mhz processor a 32x CD-ROM drive and an UBER internet connection. The graphics card it requires, for anyone considering the game is NVIDIA GeForce or ATI RADEON 9000 series or better. For reference, these cards go about $200 at Best Buy. Luckily, my new computer, since it is the Gateway laptop specifically designed for personal DVD playing and the like, had a RADEON 9600, so I was just barely OK.

So, I pop open the box and there are four disks. No biggie Baldur’s Gate had six. I pop in disc one and I get my first of many error messages that being I hadn’t installed the online software yet. OK, no big deal. I pull out disc one and put the online viewer disc in and sit there for about 15 minutes while it installs the viewer. OK, once the viewer is in, I install the game. Install all three discs, which takes about an hour which isn’t bad considering it’s installing SIX GIGS OF SHIT ON MY COMPUTER.

After Restart Number One, I install the expansion pack. This may or may not be necessary, but it was in there, so I thought “what the f*ck.” Another half hour or so, and I’m fully installed.

All right, ready to get to playing, right?

Not quite.

I fire up the PlayOnline viewer, ready to get my groove on in Vana’Diel with some of my buddies. Not quite yet. The viewer, once it connected to the Internet, had to update itself. So, the viewer begins to pick up some 7000 new files it begins to download install.

Rage-o-meter starting to push it’s way out of the zero range.

But then, thinks I, it’s better they patch the viewer here than have it crash on me in the middle of a game, right? Right. The 7000 files download, install, and Restart number 2 is required. Works for me.

So now we’re all logged into the viewer, it’s all patched and ready to go. Well, first you have to make an account. OK, that’s fair, I can give them that. Little did I know how fuggin long the registration process is, with about a million requirements and things to read. So after this, which included sending my credit card info to Square (since, of course, there is a monthly fee to play MMORPGs), I’m finally ready to play. A good two-ish hours after I started the installation process.

So, I get set to go, set up the email and instant message accounts you get with them, and FINALLY get ready to start the game. Ready to make a character and start kickin ass and taken names.

Not QUITE yet.

FFXI finally started to connect to the server, and began “checking my software.” Turns out IT has to patch itself, too as 17000 files begin downloading.

I stared at the monitor.


What the f*ck.

Rage-o-meter: all the way to the top of yellow and pushing into red.

At that point, I knew my first night of playing would not be happening so I gave up and went to bed.

The next morning I came downstairs to see what evil had occurred overnight and there was an error message on the viewer, saying it had timed out for being idle.

Luckily, it had apparently finished patching all it’s shit the previous night before logging itself off. I left, figuring I’d get back to it that evening. And I did.

I finally got to begin creating my character. Shortly, I would be tearing some shit up with my friends in no time at all, right?


Of course f*cking not.

There’s about 25 or 30 servers that run FFXI. The entire world exists on all these servers. Turns out, you are assigned a server at random unless someone who is already on the server buys you a world pass. Hey, and guess what? No one was available to buy me said world pass which left me shit out of luck for the second night running.

So, long story short, it took my just about three days to go from installation to play. Even without the gaps, expect to set aside about four hours to get this game installed. Which is just that side of ridiculous. Now, as to whether or not it was all worth it in the end, the jury is still out. I will let you know.

Someone’s In Trouble

Probably the biggest tech geek news in the last couple months just on the heels of the new Doom virii circling the Internet (and, if you haven’t gotten your patches yet, you’re a dumbass who deserves to get their bandwidth shut off) it appears that someone has leaked the entirety of the Windows 2000 and NT4 source code on the Internet. In a story that was picked up by Neowin, then picked up by /., and finally onto Fark, someone has posted the entirety of the Window source code (14 million lines of NT and 55 million lines of 2000).

Let the Bit Torrents begin.

Due to Microsoft’s Piracy policies, I’m not going to link anyone to the source code or tell you where to find it, nor am I going to say whether or not I have it or have looked through it, but I will say this.

It’s bad very bad.

Why? Because Microsoft has shotgunned everyone into XP as quickly as possible, going so far as to try to discontinue support of 95, 98, and ME. XP is based on the NT code-base. Now, not only the people who are smart enough to Reverse Engineer Windows to find exploits have access to them but EVERYONE has access to them.

This leads to the primary problem with Windows it’s inherent instability. When you install a copy of Windows on your machine, you’re basically Beta testing it for Microsoft. A good, stable operating system should never crash. My Linux box on which I run a web server, has been up and running for about six months now without a restart. That is stability. Whenever a program crashes and you send an error report to Microsoft, you are putting a ticket in with their bugs department. A ticket that will get addressed, probably, in one of their service packs.

Microsoft has been lucky, to this point, that they have managed to convince most of the world that system failures, blue screens of death, and general failures are just normal life in the computer world. The fact is, in well designed, code they’re not. Good OS’s don’t crash ever. They have also been very lucky in the fact that almost no one cares to go through the trouble of reverse engineering their code into source. Well, now everyone in their brother can pore over their source. They can look for every little thing that Microsoft’s engineers didn’t take into account. They can look at every buffer overflow error. Every null pointer. Every stupid “they’ll never find this” problem ever left in.

My suggestion download Red Hat 9.0. Install it and figure it out. Keep your windows partition for games only. Hunker down and try to weather the storm because it’s coming.

Do you know how long it will take them to patch 55 million lines of code? A really long time. I’m also really sure XP is bigger than that, with a lot of the same bugs still existing.

Get ready for a show.

Till next week.