[Babylon 5]

Nathan Mates' Personal Info Pages

Nathan Mates's .plan Archives

Plan Archives from September 1999.

Login name: nathan    			In real life: Nathan Mates
Directory: /home/nathan             	Shell: /bin/tcsh
Job: Network Programmer, Battlezone 2, developed by Pandemic Studios http://www.pandemicstudios.com , published by Activision http://www.activision.com [Note: in this, I am *NOT* speaking officially for either of those, I'm only speaking for myself.]

9/25/99: My (faster) machine at work just had video board #4 installed in it. Dunno if it's something to do with that machine, but video boards really start flaking out for me here at work after a few months. Sorry, to protect the guilty(?) parties, I'm not going to list what the bad boards have been (all different chipsets, I'll say that much) or the other system specs.

9/23/99: Network connection at work dead today in case anyone was missing me....

Later, another Top 10 list. By way of explanation, we've recently been overrun by insects... ants, flying stuff, etc in the office. So, I present a top 10 list: Why Pandemic's Offices are overrun with insects:

10. New People's Republic of California law: cleaning crews must try all-organic cleaning methods first.

9. After chewing through T1 line to office, the insects decided to add insult to injury by personally annoying us.

8. Andrew Goldman wanted to build a swimming pool in his office and fill it with Raid.

7. Industrial espionage by some dumb competitiors who thought they needed to 'bug' the conference room.

6. The insects thought it was the casting call for Dark _Rain_ 2, and were looking for that part.

5. Murphy's law of conservation of bugs: Fewer bugs in code, more insects in building.

4. Those gasmask pictures on the website-- they're from a documentary filmed onsite for how to fumigate.

3. Our freezer is the mythical Holy Shrine for ants: when enough of them die in there, they'll reach antvana.

2. After failing the casting calls for animated movies about insects, these bugs decided to head to the ocean and lemming themselves.

1. That's not ants; that's the coffee grounds from my 1st three pots of coffee this morning.

9/13/99: http://www.gamespot.com/promos/cgwtop40/index.html Not that I'm telling you which way to vote (wink wink nudge nudge), but take a look. :)

9/12/99: This is a *personal* project involving a friend from Church's (antique) computer, so skip this if you're not really good with *ancient* hardware.

--- snip, taken from my post to csiph.storage

I've been given a Seagate ST-225 drive and Seagate 8-bit controller card by a friend to get all the info off of it-- this was in a 286 that's now dead.

The problem is that when I've plugged this into a spare system of mine, on booting, I get this message: "Hard disc 1: Configuration parameters not found. This drive is not usable without this information. To install, run DEBUG from floppy disc 'A' and then g=C800:5"

After an interminable boot process (hitting the HD often trying to get params or something?) to a Win98-formatted 3.5" disk, and running debug as instructed, I get a "ST10 Hard Drive Utility 2.1" program, which asks if this is a new drive (answer: No), and then if a backup is needed pre-formatting. Answering Yes dumps me back out to DOS, telling me to copy stuff off pre-formatting. Well, if I *could* copy stuff off, I wouldn't need to format it. Catch-22.

Specs: Host system is a Pentium 200, 64MB RAM, with only 3.5", Diamond Stealth 64 VRAM VGA board connected. Drive is a Seagate ST-225, and the host adapter card is an 8-bit ISA card. One chip on that car has a sticker with "ST 10 BIOS 80032-003 2.1" and there's some numbers on the card where a 16-bit addon connector would be: "8704 Assy 20641 Made in Singapore EC 2533" and "D1088" silkscreened elsewhere on this card.

Poking around on deja.com, I saw one ref to wdc.com and found an 'easydiag' program, but all it could do is report "Cyls=16685, Hds=108, Precomp=25924 LZ=25970 Sec=98". I know that's quite bogus (right values on seagate.com are Cyl=615, Hds=4 Sec=17), but it didn't let me try and reset things. Seagate's "Seagate Format v4" was also tried, but it says "Drive 0: ST1057A cyl=1024 Hds=6, Sec=17" and doesn't seem to want to let me set anything.

So, my question is: how do I set the *right* cyl/hds/sec for this HD without a format? Pointers to a program to do that would be appreciated, or the "right" options to the debug c800:5 program would be most appreciated.

--- snip

9/9/99: As I posted to the BZ2 discussion boards recently to those expecting an answer immediately to every question posed, here's the Top 10 Reasons why Nathan doesn't respond to your questions:

10. Gotta win at Solitaire 45 times today to beat a previous record.

9. Request for feature #12,465 has been added to logfile todo.txt . If it gets handled before shipping, fine. If not, deal with it.

8. No, I don't feel like rewriting the game this weekend to make BZ2 some high fantasy turnbased RPG full of elves and dragons.

7. Believe it or not, there are some hours of the day I'm not in front of a computer.

6. And I'm not going to rewrite the game to support the SNES you've got in your basement either.

5. That's a feature. Honest.

4. 42.

3. Too busy playtesting MP Strategy games around the office.

2. And since this isn't a fantasy RPG, my response to a troll is a lockdown.

1. That's already been answered, but not in the way you'd expect.

0. The more you complain, the less likely I am to respond. Deal with it.


-1: That's been answered already; learn to use the search functions of the discussion board.

-2: There's hundreds of fans, and very few developers. Not everybody can get personal attention at all.

--- Later, another all new top 10 list

Top 10 things you won't see in BZ2 Network play

11. When your ship's damaged, realistic cracks appear in your monitor. And when your ship's destroyed.... well, your neighbors aren't going to be happy at the sight of fire trucks and ambulances.

10. Support for those golfball computer cameras to digitize players faces and texturemap them inside their tanks on the fly.

9. Ability to use that 286 with a 1200 baud modem you've been keeping around for years for this game.

8. Lag? Slow computer? Watch the engine drop to vector graphics and your computer morph into a stand-up arcade console.

7. The Monty Python FootOfDoom(tm) removing lagged players from the game.

6. Auto-compatability to play with BZ1 and DR2 games out of the box.

5. Don't just see your enemy, don't just hear your enemy. Smell them as well.

4. Auto-compatability to play against 2D RTS games as well-- got a siege tank or a a ballista in the way? Bypass them in the third dimension!

3. Gameboy compatability.

2. Auto-compatability to play with those Massively Multiplay Online RPGs so you can shoot a rave gun at those nasty trolls and whiners.

1. PBEM (Play by email)

[Yeah, so I can't limit myself to 10. Oh well, I must be a game developer, adding features up past 'ship dates' :) ]

9/3/99: Ah, the joys of PC hardware and how "compatible" it is. In tons of places throughout the BZ2 source code, we had statements like "c=(float)cos(ang);" which takes the cosine of an angle as a floating-point number. You'd think that such a *simple* line of code would execute the same on every processor. Nope. Depending on who the heck made that CPU, the results could be subtly different.

After talking with the guys who made the CPUs, a wrapper function which gets identical results was created, but I then had to modify 50+ files that had such function calls. Ugh. "Compatible" PCs ain't.

[And a bit later: the DR2 guys looked into this a little more (they must be further away from shipping than us), and found that especially in double-precision mode, different CPU makers return different values for transcendental functions. (The hack above of a wrapper function trims off the low extra bits and therefore things stay the same.) I guess the moral of the story is: if you want the same #s out of a set of calculations, run it on the same machine twice :( ]