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Tyler is away this week having a much needed vacation, so it’s up to me (Brian) to hold down the fort. I brought in one of our gamers, Glen, to fill in for Tyler for this episode. This week, we’ll be discussing the Nintendo 3DS, reviewing the popular card game Munchkin, and taking a stab at console-to-PC ports that never turn out as good as their console versions.

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For our listeners, here are some links that our mentioned in this week’s episode:

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One Response to “Munchkin Review and Guest Co-Host Glen”

  1. Bryan

    Great podcast, guys! Your comment about an ATI rep wanting to have games address the hardware directly reminded me of the dark days of the early 3D accelerator cards back in 1997-1999. Until DirectX 5.0 Direct3D wasn’t really very workable; its feature set was pretty bare, and it didn’t really work properly on ANYTHING let alone on all 3D hardware like it was supposed to. So, developers often wrote separate video drivers for their game engine customized for each particular chip; the most common was 3DFX’s Glide API, since the Voodoo series of cards was the most common and powerful at the time, but there were other games optimized for the Rendition Verite, PowerVR, and, yes, even the S3 ViRGE chips. If you didn’t happen to own one of those cards or the game wasn’t optimized for it, then you got to use a software renderer that shunted all the 3D to the CPU just like every other year prior to that. The Unreal engine was highly preferential to 3DFX cards; it wasn’t until late 2000 that it had a Direct3D or OpenGL driver that worked well, leaving owners of other cards putting up with either the software renderer that lacked visual fidelity or unstable, buggy 3D.

    In April 2001, Epic’s lead programmer Tim Sweeny commented about this in PC Gamer magazine in a preview for Unreal 2:
    “For Unreal and UT (Unreal Tournament) it helped to have a good video card, but we weren’t able to take full advantage because of the software renderer – though so many more people were able to play the games because of it. But in Unreal II we can increast the polygon count by a factor of 100 because there’s no software mode.”
    “Three years ago, the different cards made it hard. [This diversity] held back 3D going forward for a long time. Now NVIDIA is doing everything possible to accomodate gamers, and we’re already talking about DirectX 9.” (DirectX 8 and its basic pixel shaders had barely begun to be used at this point).

    So, moving back to card-specific APIs is simply a recipe for disaster; you’d immediately fragment the market for a game, and with AAA-level game production already taking 2 to 3 years and millions of dollars having to write the game code to work under multiple 3D APIs would pretty much torpedo PC game development in favour of the fixed platform of consoles.

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