Monday, August 30, 2004

Weekend that was !

Now , my definition of an ideal weekend would be the one that just passed by !
For starters , I knew it was going to be a great one at end of friday itself.
My friend Aparup got back from US that day , and got with him Civ 3 Conquests their latest expansion pack.
I am kind of crazy about this game and have been eagerly looking forward to this pack (kind of like Sid Meier's games !)
To add more fun to the whole thing , /me finally decided to get Doom3 !!!
The latest and greatest from Id - the hype around this game has been huge and even though I have been majorly excited by the trailers and the rest , frankly was not sure whether the game will leave up to the expectations.

Decided 'not' to play them friday night - postponed the fun to saturday, instead was fooling around with my chess engine.
Improved it a bit , fixed some bugs , patched/improved/reimplemented lot of evaluation patterns and was having a nice time :)
It is much more stronger and less buggier - and if it can survive the endgame , tends to win against commercials too ! (I have only very primitive evaluation code - this is a TODO and a tough one at that :( )
Then , at around 6ish , Sood mentioned valgrind (ya both of us had a night out :P - common for me in weekends - first for sood at erudent).
Had to try it out after the glowing review by Sood ;)

Now comes an interesting part , 'cos of which I mention valgrind.
When I ran it with the "Memcheck" tool - it indicated 33xxx number of errors (This was some code inside a function that was getting called in a loop - program startup thingy).
Interesting part is that when I looked at this code , everything looked perfectly fine.
I almost gave up and thought that valgrind sucked and was giving incorrect errors :P
But something in me did not believe this explaination - so went through the documentation of valgrind on how it worked , then looked a bit at their source.
What I saw was interesting - it looked like for this partcular case it was reporting , there was no way in hell valgrind could be wrong !! (unless there was a tool bug which I discounted for the timebeing)
So spent another 45 mins and in the end came up with the flaw !!!
A cursory - even a bit detailed analyss would not have unearthed it !

The logic that was implemented was normally correct and yet inadequate for a corner case (A corner case for which I had explict code - which unfortunately was insufficient !).
And it took me good 45 mins to see the flaw - that too for a piece that was not so complicated , which I had written just 5 months back !!

This immediately convinced me on the potential of valgrind in general for this sort of debugging !
Cachegrind tool did give some very interesting data - have not yet completed my analysis of that - way too big to complete in a single sitting :D

Hence my full recommandation for valgrind ! Pretty neat tool to use to find possible bugs in your code.
Note : Error reported indicates , there is possibly an error , no error reported does not mean their absence !!
Note1 : valgrind did report a bunch of errors in glibc :P Hope the gnu folks are listenning ;)

Saturday night (slept the whole day ;) ) I started off with Civ3 (Aparup had borrowed Doom3 when he gave me Civ3 on friday - he wanted to check it out) - pretty neat game !!!
The default conquests that come with the pack are very well designed and really really good (only the drawback I saw was the timeout :( ) - even in the normal mode , the number of new options and modifications are cool ! Make the game very challenging to play in >=semi-demi mode (I find the lower levels too easy ;) )
These guys are good and make some really quality games ! Eagerly waiting for Pirates (their next game).
Spent a lot of time playing and exploring the expansion pack.
Found it to exceed my expectations in most cases - needless to say , I am going to spend a lot of time in the coming weeks/months playing this :)

Sunday , tried Doom3.
I am hooked.
They have not only met , but exceeded my expectations !!!!
The game is just too well designed and scary ! It is scarry and spooky to an extreme - you will be afaraid to move to any new place - and open places ? No way !!!
In the game , you meet a guy who refuses to move out of his hiding place - trust me , through the game I felt like doing the same !!!
I found that there are two ways of playing the game - a) The normal fps style - complete mission as fast as possible : that is kill , kill , run b) Really enjoy the game - look around , listen to conversations , explore the place , "admire" the monsters - that sort of thing :)
I was trying b) - the creatures are just too good (renderng , kinetics , ai , sound) , the ai is good and the sounds and shadows are brilliant - needless to say they have made this game spooky and scary to an extreme !
The audio clues are so clear that you get scared of any new sound ! - and trust me , any new sound (from my expierence that is ), cant be good !!
It is almost like being there yourself - health is soooo precious !!!!
Lot of times , I know there is going to be someone around , just by the sounds or shadows , or (believe this !) 'cos I 'feel' that there is a difference in the place !
I played it out of pure instict - this game is a true masterpiece I must say !!!

Now to be fair to other fps's in the market , it has been ages since I played one seriously - just never liked this mouse based navigation too much - have tried most if not all leading titles , but they are too 'shallow' in my opinion.
Add to it , the lowering priorities for gameplay and gamedesign in fps shoot them up games and more focus on the 'kill' factor , fps (frame's per sec here - not first person shooter) and the like and you get a perfect recipe for me to shy away from these sort of games.

But I didnot feel any of these coming into consideration whicle playing doom3 !
The storyline is just too good - have not completed the game , but throughout the game I am curious as to how , why , where and what is happening !!!
The accidental converations that you overhear in the kitchen , the murmering in the hall , the mails and audio clips that you view in the pda - all give you clues and keep you wanting for more !!
There are some puzzle solving elements in the game too (though positively aneamic as compared to say Myst and the like - but hey , this is after all a shoot them up game !! ;) )

This game is a really really worthwhile investment of your time and money - do try it out !!!

PS : For people who want to buy it , Doom3 it is available in Brigade road , Bangalore - so grab your copy today !!! )

PS1 : No , I am not paid for byId for writing this about Doom3 - though would love to work there - even as a janitor :D Those people are the visionaries in this field !!


Anonymous aparup said...

I miss those old days man :(


5/14/2006 05:17:00 PM  

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