PC Gaming

Dark Forces

As I mentioned, the storyline is pretty solid. Empire develops a new kind of troopers, called Dark Troopers, which resemble T-800 Terminators the most.

Those are unleashed on a Rebel base, and we are sent to investigate.

We find a weapon, so we look for a weapon inventor that hides in sewers.

He tells us about a research base, so we go there a find a strange metal. We then fly to a planet where that metal is mined to thwart Dark Troopers production, and fight our first Dark Trooper there as well.

In the meantime, Empire officer that was providing intel to us is captured, so we go and rescue him from an Empire prison.
There is some in-game dialogues, which doesn’t have captions. Since I mostly played pirated versions in the past, I wasn’t even aware of that.
You then get captured by Jabba the Hutt that is smuggling stuff for the Empire. Not sure why Empire needs anything smuggled. They are the government! There must be better, more efficient ways to do this.

As a kid I was terrified of that episode. You get stripped of all your weapons, and have to fight that huge lizard you’ve never seen before with your bare hands. Hell, I still died once in that episode even as an adult.

What I didn’t remember is that there are two lizards (they are called kell dragons) on that level. I was wondering about that, because I looked at the game sources, and there is handling of explosions for kell dragon. I thought that there are some grenades laying around in the arena, but no. It’s for the second encounter.

PC Gaming

Diablo retcons

Diablo Immortal also made me aware that Diablo lore was quite heavily retconed.
Now the Dark Wanderer in Diablo 2 is not just your anonymous warrior character from Diablo 1, but Aiden, son of Leoric and elder brother of whatever the name of son of Leoric was.

PC Gaming

Dark Forces and Force Engine

It’s no secret that some games from the 1990s are easier nowadays to play on an PSX emulator. Emulators allow key remapping (and proper gamepad support!), higher resolutions, and also there are some nice shaders available that emulate what the game was supposed to look like.

But in case of Dark Forces, this isn’t the best way to play this game. Raising internal resolution doesn’t improve the visuals much, and running this even on my top-of-the-line CPU is very taxing. There is a better solution though. Someone has been working on a complete engine rewrite for Dark Forces, and it’s still actively developed and works really well:

I’ve almost finished the game some 20 years ago, but for some reason lost all of my progress. So I do remember it, but quite vaguely.

The game requires you to be quite intentional in what you do. At one point you need to pick up codes, and read them in your inventory to get the combination.

There is actually a quite good story to the game. And that’s from the age when storylines weren’t common in shooters at all. You don’t just shoot everyone. There are characters, like an Empire officer that gives away information to the Rebels, and you may need to rescue that character at some point, for example.

There are some quite challenging acrobatics, even with WASD. That’s taking into account that there’s no save/load system in this game.

Was surprised to see ricochetes from walls.

I also didn’t remember there were powerups. There’s one akin to quad damage from Quake that supercharges your weapons, making them fire twice as fast, and another that supercharges your shield.
In the prison level, I vaguely remember the ingenious elevator puzzle (the one where you have to align the elevators to jump on their roofs), so it wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was to figure out that a blinking force field means that it’s active, while a still forcefield means that you can pass through it. I bumped into a blinking one a few times, and thought that I need to find a way to disable it, because on another floor there was a force field that you had to disable (for no good reason, that is, beside a few pickups).


Math Duel

If this video is to be believed, in 16th century Italy mathematicians dueled by sending each other problems to solve.

I wish someone had explained me algrebra that way some 20 years ago.

PC Gaming

Amid Evil

Arcane Expanses is one of the most interesting episodes, with some truly lovecraftian architecture on one hand, and some of the longest and hardest levels on the other. The most interesting parts are the huge water bubbles hanging in the air, than you need to traverse. Only natural that the fight with the twin bosses of this episode occurs in one such bubble.
In general, the game is very good at not abusing mechanics. For example in the Arcane Expanses you meet snakes spitting acid. Stepping into an acid puddle damages you slightly. This is the only place in the game you will meet those.
The Forge episode with levels such as “Gauntlet of Torment” is probably the least favorite of mine. The only positive thing I can say about this is that the boss looks inventive.

Solar Solcitce is probably the most tactical episode. I also like how the Sun sets once you kill the Solar Saint.


The final episode is hard, but interesting. The geometry is against you, you fight on tilted platforms hanging above the abyss.
The final boss looks like a mushroom trip, but a short one, and in a good way.


PC Gaming

Diablo Immortal

Diablo 3 for the poor from the authors of Diablo 3? Not necessarily a bad thing, really. I mean, Diablo 3 wasn’t especially technologically advanced even when it first came out ten years ago. And nowadays some phones have 12 RAM. So it shouldn’t be surprising that they are able to run the game just fine. After all, Diablo 3 was running great on Nintendo Switch back in 2018, and it’s actually my favorite version of the game. Also, it seems the game runs in a low resolution. So the camera on PC feels very close to the character.
Item stats are super-basic. Every item has just one attribute: attack for a weapon, HP for armor.
Once you get past the training quest line, the game begins to resemble MMO. You’ll see other people around you running and killing monsters. But I managed to ignore them mostly. A couple of times I had to go into dungeons with other people, but those end pretty quickly.
The way most of the quests work is usually that you need to kill X enemies to progress.
There are no rolls. Not sure if there ever were rolls mechanic in the PC version of Diablo 3, though. Tried PC version now, and there’s still no support for gamepad in it.
It’s really impressive that they voiced all the dialogues. And there are even some cinematics.


Attack of the Clones

Somehow it turned out to be even worse than what I’ve imagined.

From Obi Wan jumping through a window to clutch to a drone, to awkward dialogs.

And why Natali is dressed as a dominatrix?

It is incredible how unimaginative that thing is. Including diner from the US sixties.
The CGI has improved, but it went into that uncanny valley.
The only good part is the final battle between droid and clone armies. And it comes at 2:00:00, which means a lot.

It’s a WW2 kind of battle, with two rows of tanks and infantry clashing together. But at least this is not the awkward middle-age battle from Episode 1. There is a breef moment of clones fighting in a dust cloud that still looks good to this day. But it is brief and fleeting and a moment in a 2-hour long horror.

What else did they manage to ruin? Sword fights. Yeah, you know, one of the staples of Star Wars. Well, those were never actually good. Bust somehow, Anakin and Count Doku waving their swords above the heads made it even worse. Worse that CGI Yoda jumping around.

I’m happy I’m done with it. But wouldn’t wish this to anyone else. It’s very hard for me to decide which is worse: Attack of the Clones or Phantom Menace. But I would say based on the horrible acting that Attack of the Clones takes the lead for now.



Yesterday we went on a circular hike from Waldingham. Had to take 3 trains instead of usual 2 and make a change at East Croydon. Luckily, there are trains there every few minutes.
Spotted another fox by the tracks on the way there.

The most excitement I’ve got from that hike was from passing through the farm and the start of the trail. There are pigmy goats, and alpacas (we learned that they are used to protect other animals from foxes, and can even trample a fox if needed in the process), and a cat.

Seen a couple of rabbits. The first darted into the Bush, but the second one was just sitting there eating grass like a total maniac.

Lots of cattle:

There was a bench with a view in a shade in the middle of the trail, which is rare. Even more so that it was free. Actually, we haven’t seen many people on that trail at all. Mostly cyclist passing above us.

There was a promise not to see dormouse as well:

All in all, enjoyed this hike greatly. Not the easiest one, but the weather was on our side, as most of the walking is in the shade.


PC Gaming

Amid Evil

Certainly a powerful homage to Hexen, or maybe even Heretic series, as there are no classes, and more than four weapons. There are no Tomes of Power, but you still power up your weapons using souls of enemies. And Blue and Green mana crystals are straight from Hexen.
Choosing difficulty and episodes is done in Quake 1 style, where you walk around jumping through different portals.
The only part that really surprised me is how overpowered the starting weapon is. It fires magic missiles at a good pace, and those are homing, and I mean extremely homing – they can follow jumping enemies and still hit them.
Speaking of weapons, another really fun one is a Star of Torment. Combination of shotgun and nail gun that looks like a morgenstern. Corpses remain stuck to walls, similar to Messiah.


Getting back to old format

The war sure threw a wrench into my writing style. I was trying to publish post per day for at least five years in a row. Mostly about my hobbies: videogames, emulation, sometimes movies.
But then the war happened.
First, I lost respect for most of my Russian speaking readers. And second, it felt wrong writing post a day about something as trivial as a videogames or movies as the war in Ukraine rages.
Although the war still occupies most of my thoughts, I do manage to escape them from time to time. But I’ve found that writing once I complete something, be it a game or a series loses the context of time. Instead of reading about my progression, I now read just the final snapshot of it. And I don’t enjoy it as much.
So, I plan to start writing notes as I did in the past, as they come. But also publish them now right away, without caring about readers retention at all, since there were never many readers to begin with.


Back to Windows 10

Spend the weekend going back to Windows 10.
Unlike upgrades, which are quite straightforward and preserve everything, downgrades are hard.
Had to install it from scratch, first time in maybe 10 years. Until now, I was always just upgrading, from Windows 7 to Windows 10, then to Windows 11, preserving all of that junk. It migrated probably between a few HDDs and SSDs. Not anymore.
What broke me was strange UI freezes, as if it was trying to read something from a slow disk. Couldn’t find anything concrete about that problem: Internet is full of “7 ways to fix your Windows”, with suggestions to reinstall mouse drivers 🤦‍♂️
Also smaller things: no previews on folders, dumb taskbar and useless websearch instead of working local search.
As part of the migration, I also moved from Opera to Firefox. I was on Opera by inertia, really. Same as I was on this copy of Windows.


Pyrolytic cleaning

Pyrolytic oven from Miele does wonders. Had some drips of fat at the bottom of the oven. Turned on the pyrolytic function, and the oven is almost as clean as new. The only part that you need to clean yourself is the glass.


Dublin, Saturday

Walked out of our apartment right into a bunch of homeless junkies arguing about when a shop will open, to get some food or booze more likely. What’s not to love about this city?
The bus to the airport is cheap, but takes only coins. Had to miss one and get change in a coffee shop.
The airport is packed and quite chaotic. You drop your baggage on one end, then go all the way back for security. Security was long. Even my laptop got checked, which never happened before. Not sure what they were looking there.
Some cafes at the airport are running out of food. We literally got the last two toasts. No more porridge as well.

Ryanair is late by an hour. Again. We decided that it would be a shame to visit Dublin and never taste Guiness, so we ended up sharing half a pint at 12PM in the airport.


Dublin, Friday

Guiness is all around Dublin.

As well as social housing projects we’re familiar with from the UK.

Visited Henrieta 14 museum. It’s a Georgian mansion turned into a horrible tenement building, and reclaimed only some 40 years ago.
Surprised to learned that the first owner of the mansion remarried when he was 62, and his young wife gave him 8 children, which means he managed to stay somewhat sexually active until his seventies at least.
Also, while the family moved to their summer residence, some servants stayed behind to clear the cesspit in the garden, that accumulated shit from September to May.
After 1850 or so the mansion went into disrepair, and each room was divided into smaller rooms to accommodate a whole family.

Life was very hard in those tenements with some 7 to 15 children. Oh, I don’t know. Have you tried having less children maybe?
In general, it seems it’s the same tale everywhere. Urbanization of the 20th century created slums, and living in slums sucked big time.

The old lady that left the housing last actually had it alright, because she had the whole apartment for herself. If we forget about the fact that she didn’t have nor bath, nor working toilet in the building.

We then went to the Little Dublin Museum, which is just a few rooms. Again, the tour was packed, some 30 people. But this time most of them were from the UK. Almost local tourists.
The interesting bit of history was that the park in from of the museum was once a private park, and only the rich people living I the mansions around it had the keys. Reminds me of present day Edinburgh and some parts of London.

Had a farewell dinner in a nice local restaurant recommended by our host. At first we got a table by the toilets again, despite me making a reservation ahead of time. But after we asked nicely, they moved us to another table.

The food was delicious. Enjoyed every bit of it.
Taxis in Dublin work “sometimes”. There’s Uber, Bolt, Free Now. But sometimes you would get a taxi that is 15 minutes away. Sometimes you wouldn’t be able to get one for 15 minutes at all.


Dublin, Thursday

Today we went on a hike from Howth. It’s just some 30 minutes from Dublin on a local train.

It was cloudly, so we didn’t get any sunburn. The trail along the cliffs was very well developed.

Saw a huge hairy caterpillar, maybe a Woolly Bear.

When we went through the heath, path became slightly less obvious. Saw something like a legless lizard, or maybe just simply a fat lizard, but didn’t have time to photo it.

On the way back from a train saw two foxes. One was just sleeping there in the bushes, despite the train. Another was unfortunately dead, probably hit by one of the trains.
Back in the city, hit a couple of local cafes before we managed to find one still serving brunch. One turned out to be more of a restaurant, and they had only a table for us by the toilets, while the other was serving brunch only on weekends, and just some focaccias on regular days.
It would be a shame to visit Dublin and not to try out a good Irish coffee. We went back to Irish Whiskey Museum for that. They serve it with Power’s Three Swallows. And it’s a good one, very warming.

Again three girls from the States sitting the in the bar. Barman asked one of them which whisky did she like the most, and she said “the sweeter one”.
Busses in Dublin are somewhat finicky. Had to wait for the right one for maybe fifteen minutes. It would be faster to actually walk, but we had enough walking for the day.


Dublin, Wednesday

The traffic lights in Dublin is absolutely horrible. It’s easier to just cross and hope for the best than to wait. Otherwise, you can wait for a couple of minutes easily.
We went on a Historical Walking Tour, with a real history professor.

Learned that Temple Bar is not a temple, nor a bar. It’s named after Temple’s barrier, Temples being a wealthy trading family, and a barrier is the one used to dry parts of a river.

Also learned that there was an actual war between England and Ireland between 1919-1921.
The tragedy of Irish language is that it’s a spokenanguage that has remained only a written language.
I didn’t like Dublin streets that much. No trees, just rows of those four-story buildings:

Had a fantastic coffee:

Then we went on a tour of the Irish Whiskey Museum. It was packed, some 20 people, most of them from the States. It was so full, in fact, that during tastings they had to move us around just for everyone to fit in, as there was not enough place at the bar.

Tasted The Irishman, Powers and some Castle (Knappogue Castle), which turns out to be Bushmills in disguise. Nothing particularly blew me away as Aberfeldy did a couple of years back, though.

The stories they tell on the tour are completely false, though. “Dead ringer” has nothing to do with drunk people being buried alive, nor “saved by the bell”.

After that we went back to the apartment to rest. There is GBK in Dublin as well, so we ordered some burgers for dinner.


Dublin, Tuesday

I love midday flights. They allow me to sleep well.
On the way to Gatwick seen two foxes. One was simply walking along the railway, and another peacefully sleeping despite the trains passing by.
Arrived at 11:10. Despite warnings to come early, we got past the security by 11:45, and that’s with just a single attendant handling the baggage. No self dropoff on Ryanair. Departure got delayed some 30 minutes at first, then 30 more.
Rynair seats are weird. The look like some garden chair, made of cheap blue plastic. There isn’t event a holder. So even if you take the magazine, you have nowhere to put it. Luckily, the flight is just an hour.
The Dublin apartment has the tiniest bathroom I can remember. I can hardly turn in it.
Dublin is full of gypsies. Not sure if those relocated here after UK made it less monetary attractive, or they were always living there and only going to the UK for “work”.

Everything feels a bit like the UK. Same language, same time zone, same type G sockets, same double decker busses.
Most of the restaurants in Dublin are closed Monday and Tuesday. Found a nice French restaurant that is open, though, called Pichet.