Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gamer's Diary - 2009-05-28

I really haven't had any time for games per se since my last entry, save for a demo (Space Invaders Extreme) and to use a game to test new video drivers and hardware (Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, GUN, Peggle Extreme, Half-Life, Half-Life 2) . I spent little more than five minutes with each.

Space Invaders Extreme was more than the same old game with jazzed-up graphics; actually it changes a lot about the way the game plays. It's more of a re-imagining than a remake. This one goes on my buy-later list.

An update to Linux broke both the proprietary and open 3D drivers for my two-year-old ATI graphics card. ATI is no longer updating the proprietary driver, and no fix would be coming any time soon for the open one, so I was stuck with a 2D driver. And the prospect of playing my games in the Windows partition for some undetermined number of months or years until the open driver was fixed and enough functions added to it to match the proprietary one.

Not acceptable.

So I said goodbye to ATI and replaced the card with an upper-middle performance NVidia one. The result? Easy driver installation, easy configuration, performance improvement, and glitch-free graphics. By contrast ATI driver installation and update was a nightmare, configuration was confusing and inconsistent, performance was poor, and there were always graphics glitches, problems and failures.

So why is ATI lauded by Linux advocates and NVidia castigated? Because the ATI hardware specs are open, making possible the (mostly useless) open-source driver.

A man walks into a butcher shop and asks for a pound of hamburger. The butcher wraps it up and says, "That'll be two dollars." The man says, "That's outrageous! The shop down the street has it for one dollar a pound." "So why not buy it from him, then?" asks the butcher. "He's out," comes the reply. "Well," says the butcher, "When I'm out mine is fifty cents a pound."

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