Tag Archives: GOG

AGFV: Starfleet Academy – Chekov’s Lost Missions (GOG)

If you’re an avid Star Trek gamer like me, you were thrilled to learn last Thursday that GOG (Good Old Games) has started releasing classic titles from Interplay’s line of Star Trek games including 25th Anniversary, Judgment Rites and Starfleet Academy. Hopefully this is just the start of many great titles to come.

Fans of Starfleet Academy will notice that the expansion pack, Chekov’s Lost Missions, was not included in the initial GOG release. Hopefully GOG will update this some time in the future, but in the meantime I’ve got a procedure for those of you with a retail copy of the XP to add it to your GOG installation.

Step One: Install Starfleet Academy using the GOG installer (I haven’t tried this with Galaxy, but you may be better off with the stand-alone).

chekov001

Step Two: Rename the game folder. By default the game will install to C:\GOG Games\Star Trek – Starfleet Academy. Rename this to something else like C:\GOG Games\Star Trek – Starfleet Academy GOG. Do this after you’ve installed the game, don’t change the install directory.

chekov002

Step Three: Insert the Chekov CD. Don’t run the installer yet, we’ve got some files to copy.

Step Four: Copy the the “m” video folders from the movies sub-folder on the Chekov disk to the movies sub-folder in your GOG installation.

chekov003

These should be m03, m04, m10, m11, m24, m25 and m27. Don’t copy g00.

Step Five: In your GOG installation rename cdlist.lst to cdlist.lst.old. Rename movies.lst to movie.lst.old. Copy cdlist.lst and movies.lst from the setup folder on the Chekov disk to the movies folder in your GOG installation. You can overwrite these files, but it’s a good idea to back them up by renaming them in case something goes wrong.

chekov003a

Step Six: Copy the contents of the sounds sub-folder on the Chekov disk to your GOG installation’s sounds sub-folder. Again this will be m03, m04, m10, m11, m24, m25 and m27.

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Step Seven: Right-click on the Chekov install executable (probably setup.exe). Click Properties, then the Compatibility tab. Run in Windows 98 / Windows Me mode, and Run as Administrator.

chekov005

Step Eight: Run the Chekov install. It should detect the original installation folder, and copy the files to that location, not your renamed folder. The big thing we need is the data file.

Step Nine: Rename the Chekov folder (maybe append Chekov to the folder name), and rename the GOG installation back to the original folder name.

Step Ten: Rename data.dat in your GOG installation to data.dat.old. Copy the data.dat from the Chekov install folder into your GOG install folder. No other files should be necessary. Do not overwrite the EXE files.

chekov006

Run Starfleet Academy and you should see the Chekov missions in your missions tab. These don’t intersperse with the narrative as far as I know but you should be able to play them independently. Let me know if this works for you and feel free to send any questions.

UPDATE: Some of you are reporting getting an “Insert CD 1” message when you try to start the main campaign. The reason for this is that the sfa.cfg file has been modified to look for the movies on the CD instead of on your hard drive. For the GOG installation to look for the files on your hard drive your sfa.cfg file needs to look like this:

moviePath=.
voicePath=.

If your file is different, restore these paths, save the .cfg file, and your game should work. (Those are periods if it’s a little hard to tell).

UPDATE 2: GOG Galaxy replaces the data.dat and movie and sound lists back to the original if auto-updates are turned on. To keep Chekov’s missions, disable auto-update in GOG Galaxy by clicking More–>Configure and Disable.

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Review: A Mind Forever Voyaging

If you been reading this blog for more than few weeks or so, you probably know of my obsession for older computer games of the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve long looked at computer games as the perfect synthesis of my two main passions, writing and programming, and if I was more of an artist I probably would be trying to write my own indie games now.

A_Mind_Forever_Voyaging_Cover_FinalBut in the meantime I love reading about them, and for any of you who’ve been curious about why I love these games so much, you’ll be in for a treat with Dylan Holmes’ A Mind Forever Voyaging. Holmes takes an academic approach to gaming, examining both the ludic (play mechanics) of games and their narrative thrust (be it through text, cut scenes, actions of the player, etc.). But this is not a dry book. Holmes has explored every nook and cranny of these games and at times the book is as much his personal narrative of enjoyment as it is analysis.

While some might quibble with a couple of his choices (I’m not sure why we needed two Metal Gear Solids despite the shifts in tone), most of the games chosen are games I’ve played and loved. Each is an advance both in the way narrative stories are told, and in the way the player interacts with that story.

Holmes obviously loves these old games, and doesn’t automatically dismiss them because of poor graphics. But he does examine the ways in which these games succeed and fail at presenting moral choices (as in Ultima IV) apply cinematic techniques and a variety of game play (Final Fantasy VII and The Secret of Monkey Island) and the ways in which emergent game play goes beyond the expectations of the original programmers (Deus Ex).

Holmes takes a balanced approach toward games and treats them as a distinct medium. Often game analysis has either focused on the narrative elements alone (which can be lacking especially in sprawling epics like Final Fantasy VII or Shenmue) or only on gameplay (ludic) elements. While certain games definitely focus more on one than the other (the recent Unrest is almost entirely narrative driven, and games like the original Super Mario Bros. are largely ludic in their experience), the best games make good use of both techniques.

As with many video game books, Holmes is a bit of evangelist for treating games more seriously as a medium. Even in a society where games are played by people in their thirties or older, and where they make more money than some movies and books, they are still dismissed as something childish. And Holmes also addresses some of the ongoing challenges of technical requirements, and the ephemeral nature of games as compared to other media.

A movie from ten years ago can feel just as fresh (sometimes even more so if the filmmaker was particularly prescient about the future), but video games can age badly. I’d argue that anything made after about 2003 will still look good to a modern audience, though Holmes would contend this was actually a pretty fallow period for video game story telling (something I would tend to agree with given the richness of the previous decade). This makes writing sequels or ongoing series difficult, and why long running series like Final Fantasy will often reboot their narrative with each installment, keeping the same flavor of story, but not requiring experience with the previous game.

Ultimately I think this book has something to offer for both fans of games, and those curious about some of these great games they heard about growing up. While it might not convince those who dismiss games outright, Holmes does make a good case for the medium and its continued growth (and some of his own hope for the future).

You can buy this book (and others) as part of the Video Game Bundle V (on Story Bundle) for the next week or so. For $3 you get this book and three others, or for $12 you can get all eight books. I’m reading the Super Mario Bros. 2 book now and would recommend it as well.

And if you want to play any of the games Holmes writes about, fortunately they are even easier to get ahold of than they were when Holmes wrote the book a few years ago. Planetfall (as part of the Zork Bundle), Deus Ex, Ultima IV are all available on GOG (Ultima IV is free). Half Life, The Secret of Monkey Island (Special Edition) and Final Fantasy VII are available on Steam. The original Dear Esther is available on ModDB and the remake is available on Stream. Facade is available for free download here.

The Metal Gear Solids are a little harder to get a hold of and require original media (but used PS2 are still pretty easy to find to play them on). Heavy Rain is modern and should play on the PS3 or 4 and should be able to be easily found used. The original System Shock is a little more tricky (though I found my untouched copy for $1 at Half Price Books so you never know). The portable version Holmes suggests does work, though personally I find the experience is actually better from the original media. I’m really not sure about Shenmue though that might be one that is better to read about than play.

As for some of the additional gaming he mentions, Myst, Another World, Fallout, Thief, The Longest Journey, Planescape Torment, Baldur’s Gate II and Grim Fandango (next week) are available on GOG (I own all of these and like them all). Final Fantasy VIII and Half-Life 2 are on Steam.

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WASD – War Ain’t So Delightful

Apologies for the use of the word “ain’t” in the title. For those of you for whom this is a deal-breaker, I understand.

The American Red Cross is working with video game designers to incorporate the Geneva conventions into their games. In the latest Call of Duty if you go to third floor of the bombed out hospital you’ll find a copy in the administrator’s locked desk, though you’ll need a grenade to open it, which unfortunately destroys both desk and the conventions.

Just kidding 🙂

But the first part’s very real. For right now the actions are very simple, if you start shooting at civilians, your own men might start shooting at you, or you might lose credit for a mission if you torture a prisoner, etc.

This got me to thinking less about video game violence, which is a topic discussed ad nauseam, and more about video game ethics.

I think there are three kinds of ethical situations in video games:

1) I have to do this bad thing to advance the game. (i.e. Grand Theft Auto)

2) I can do this bad thing, but it might have consequences for me later. (i.e. The Witcher)

3) I can do anything I want with no consequences. (i.e. Postal)

Here’s a simple example of number 3. This last weekend I basically spent something like 12-15 hours casually playing Avadon: The Black Fortress, a Spiderweb software RPG where you control a party of adventurers in an isometric landscape and fight monsters and giant spiders and the like. There are lots of hidden objects in chests, closets or out in the open, some of which are marked “NY”. No, that’s not “made in New York”, but rather “not yours”. Meaning you probably shouldn’t take it, or at least not while the owner is looking. But if you have the opportunity to steal, you can, and with few consequences (except apparently one shopkeeper who refuses to deal with you if you steal their merchandise but I have yet to encounter this).

AvRatFight

Now on the one hand taking these objects really can make the game go smoother. And the ones you don’t really need, can be sold for coins which are hard to amass otherwise. But, stealing is wrong, and this game basically encourages it to advance (something that apparently differs from their earlier titles).

How should we feel about this? Should Spiderweb change their game to put back consequences for stealing (turning it into an example of scenario number 2), or just remove the “NY” label altogether to alleviate our guilt?

Let’s look at another example, The WitcherThe Witcher has some very sophisticated moral choices, and some shades of gray. Alliances are formed, enemies made, based on your choices.

And, it also includes a lot of dialogue trees that if successful allow you to bed more than a dozen beautiful women, and collect playing cards of your various sexual encounters.

Here’s one of the tamer ones:

Playing Card Triss

So there are consequences to your actions, just not any that prevent you from sleeping with as many as 24 women. Yeah, I know it’s faithful to the source material for this game, and it’s also a bit prurient (or deviant in some cases depending on how you feel about semi-demonic women) so let’s not kid ourselves. But I hear it’s got nothing on Game of Thrones.

Anyhoo…

A better example of both scenario’s 1 +2 is Fahrenheit (otherwise known as Indigo Prophecy). In this game you are trying to evade the police because you’ve been framed for a murder you didn’t commit. Well, kinda. Actually you did commit it, but you were possessed by some kind of demon. And you’re also playing the cops trying to find you, while at the same time hiding evidence.

Indigo Prophecy 4

The game is fraught with consequences. Your character has a general mood which increases or decreases based on your success in the game. Let this mood get too low, and they might commit suicide, or quit their job, go on a bender, etc. Here’s a scenario from early on in the game, you’re in a park. It’s winter and a boy has just fallen through a hole in the ice. He’s trapped and is going to freeze and/or drown if you don’t help. But, there are cops not too far away (not close enough to save the boy, but close enough to spot you when you drag him out of the water). If you leave the boy you end up feeling terrible, if you save him you risk getting caught. What do you do?

There are points in this game where you have to do the wrong thing. You have to hide the body, destroy evidence, etc. But there are a myriad of others where it’s not clear what you should do, and the consequences play out over hours, not seconds of gameplay.

I guess that’s the point I’m meandering towards, life does have some instant consequences for bad actions, but more often than not their impact is felt over a long period of time. Or not at all. Like any form of media, video games can explore these dynamics, and the best ones do. There will probably always be parts of games we don’t like, or that we think aren’t very moral, but games can also make us think, and play out different scenarios and see where they go.

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Bonus Friday Post (Social Writing, Fallout, Finally Organized)

Enjoying a nice day off where I can post to you from the comfort of my home office. Couple of things to highlight:

Baby You Just Got Slapped

Brian kept us going with an experiment gone wrong and possible future slaps, but there’s still time to make your contribution to the story! All you lurkers out there I’m looking at you (writers or otherwise)! I’ll keep the post open until 4/13/12. We’re already headed in an interesting direction, let’s see where it will go!

The End Of The World

For those of you gamers who haven’t heard, GOG is giving Fallout away for free for the next 24 hours or so. For those of you who didn’t know it yet, I’m a bit of a fan of DRM free and gaming in general (though I promise I don’t love nuclear annihilation even if I write about it).

New Category Cloud

As part of the things you learn about blogging only after you’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve gone back and recategorized all posts on the site. It should now be easier than ever to find what you’re looking for, whether it’s the latest publishing news, short stories, faith or simple randomness. For those of you new to the site I highly encourage you to check it out. And as always I’ve updated the Best Of and You Might Have Missed sections.

Have a wonderful and blessed day.

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