Tag Archives: Video Games

10 Forward: DS9 – The Fallen (Video Game)

As a life-long Star Trek fan, there’s a lot to celebrate this year: a new movie, a new TV series, and the franchise’s 50th anniversary. For my own small contribution to the festivities I’ve decided to do a series of posts (one every week or two), detailing little-known corners of the franchise’s licensed (and fan-made) works. This week I’ll be covering the Deep Space Nine PC video game – The Fallen:

FallenTitle

Plot: In the last days of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, a scientist named Terrel attempted to unlock the secrets of an orb of the Pah-wraiths, only to be forced to abandon the project when the orb became unstable. Six years later her secret lab is discovered aboard DS9 and forces within the Dominion, Cardassia, and the Cult of the Pah-Wraiths all seek to gather the three orbs of the Pah-Wraiths for use as a weapon, or to create a new wormhole. Playing as Sisko, Worf, and Kira, the player must find the missing orbs, and stop the forces trying to control the Pah-Wraiths before it’s too late.

Pros:

  • Well-versed in DS9 lore. The game itself takes place toward the end of the 6th season, but contains many references to episodes throughout the series including the mining operation on Jerrado (“Progress”), Kira assuming a Cardassian appearance (“Second Skin”), secret areas and defenses from the Cardassian control of the station (“Civil Defense”), the telekenetic abilities of the Vorta (“The Jem’Hadar”), and Dominion prison camps (“By Inferno’s Light”). The game also foreshadows the later events of the series including the final confrontation with the Pah-Wraiths, Dukat being possessed, and the Pah-Wraith cult.
  • The game is re-playable through each of the three main characters: Sisko, Worf and Kira. The storylines run in parallel but feature different levels and gameplay for each.
  • One mission involves exploring a crashed Miranda class starship. The level design for this sequence is excellent, climbing through a hostile jungle to see your first glimpse of the ship, fighting Jem’Hadar on the outer hull, then diving inside and having to work your way through submerged sections to a hidden lab.

FallenUlysses

  • Your default weapon is useful throughout the game and is good for almost all light combat encounters. This is good since the heavier weapons may not always have plentiful ammo.
  • Terry Farrell reprises her role as Jadzia Dax for the only time after her character’s death at the end of the 6th season.
  • The game uses a beta build of the Unreal Tournament engine, one of the first game engines to feature truly expansive environments. Both the Ulysses mission and the reveal of a buried Pah-Wraith temple move from tight confined spaces to expansive open levels. This engine was in a sweet spot for games of the era. Next generation engines would feature better graphics, but the level design was much smaller and featured more loading (see Deus Ex vs. Deus Ex: Invisible War). Even with its old and outdated graphics, the level design is on par with the best games of today. You can look out the window of Sisko’s office or the Promenade and see the rest of the station.
  • A mod for the game (titled Convergence) was created by one of the level designers for the original game, and includes another twenty or so levels of gameplay (on top of the 24 base levels). A lot of enjoyment for a shooter.
  • The music is atmospheric and chilling, and in MP3 format easily accessible in the game’s install directory. More than 90 minutes of DS9 game music.

Cons:

  • Avery Brooks and Colm Meaney were unavailable to provide the voices of Sisko and O’Brien. The Sisko performance is okay, but O’Brien is pretty terrible.
  • An early mission features an enemy that you need to scan with your tricorder before being able to shoot them. This can be a bit of a barrier to entry for someone just getting used to the game’s controls.

FallenCombat

  • The default auto-targeting doesn’t always work well. It removes options for destroying explosive containers to kill enemies by always targeting the combatants.
  • The story can feel disjointed and incomplete until you play through all three characters. Some missions, like the Ulysses aren’t explained well initially until you read through tactical briefings, and watch later cut-scenes.
  • Some people criticized the lack of multi-player, which would have been cool in a few places. For me the game doesn’t suffer without it.
  • The game isn’t easy to run on a modern system, though I was able to get it running pretty quickly by installing a program called nGlide. I’m re-playing on my ASUS Windows 8.1 machine with no problems so far.

Bottom-line: The game would be a reasonably good third-person shooter without the Star Trek trappings. Weapon balancing is pretty good, and requires a more considered and tactical approach. The level design is epic in feel, and there are lots of things for the DS9 fan to enjoy, including walking into Quark’s bar, talking conspiracy with Garak, and walking on the hull of a crashed ship (seriously, that is still cool 15 years after the first time I played it). The plot would have fit well as two-part episode of the show (and is partially based on the Millennium series of DS9 novels). Definitely the best DS9 game made for the PC and still fun today.

FallenOps

3 Comments

Filed under AGFV, Round-Ups

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.

chekov004

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under AGFV, Trube On Tech

Peripheral Writing Tasks

We all have evenings where we don’t feel like working on our main WIP. Sometimes we don’t even feel like stringing two sentences together. But being the neurotic people we are, we can’t always just take that as a day to watch television and recharge. Sometimes we have to convince ourselves that what we’re doing is still somehow contributing to the the whole writing project. Here are just a few of my favorite writing obfuscations:

Reading NetGalley Books – “Hey, I’ve got to review two of these things every week. If I want to spend the evening reading about the coffee drinking habits of bumblebees then that’s just research. Perfectly legit.”

Reorganizing my office – “A writer needs a clean workspace in order to be able to produce the best work. That, and I have no place to put my laptop.”

Talking about my book – “If I’m talking, I’m thinking, and if I’m thinking then I’m obviously talking about some plot point I needed to figure out and not just being neurotic about whether the book is any good and why hasn’t anybody bought it in two days.”

Reading Comic Books from the Library – “Glen Weldon of NPR said these are really good and therefore they can only benefit me as a writer. Plus we have to support our local libraries if we want to keep reader communities alive. And I support mine my checking out a comic no one else wants and renewing it for five months.”

Looking at Facebook – “I need to keep in touch with any of my writer friends by knowing what is going on in their lives. And they know I’ve done it, even if I never write anything or even press the like button. I’m not just looking for something funny to distract me.”

Creating a writing mix – “Music can have a profound effect on the brain and mood and I have to figure out just the right selection of tracks for this chapter.”

Watching YouTube – “I totally mention Big Chuck and Lil John for maybe a third of a page in Chapter 4. I obviously need to watch several hours of their videos to get a real sense for what they are.”

Playing a new video game – “Hey, I’ll probably review this if I ever finish it. Research again.”

Playing around on the internet while watching ‘The Bachelor’ out of the corner of my eye – “Research a third time. Need to understand the frailties of human nature and the things people will do for love. And watching the GOG insomnia sale helps build my patience for watching copies of a game slowly get sold. Obviously a discipline thing.”

Charging and updating my eReaders – “I need just the right assortment of reading material for when I go out in the world. And I need to make sure every device has an up-to-date draft of anything I’ve ever worked on, so I don’t even have to think about which one I should grab.”

Freeing up space on my hard drive – “I obviously need at least 30GB free to write, even though the largest any book has ever been is a couple of megabytes. But I might need space for thousands of fractal images again, copied three times on different devices.”

Watching TV – “If I don’t keep up on today’s pop culture, how can I be in tune with the now when I write?”

What are some of the writer-ish things you do? Why can’t we all just relax?

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Star Wars Games Giveaway (FINISHED)

UPDATE 2/8: Thanks to everyone for their interest. I gave away keys to Penelope and Punci. Thanks for writing in! I may do another of these in a couple of weeks so watch this space.

———————————–

Original Post Follows

Good afternoon everyone, hope you are having a pleasant day of unusual warmth. I’m sitting by a window in my local Panera, sipping on hazelnut coffee and working on Chapter 3 of The Sky Below, and hoping to be able to bang out 1250 more words in the next two hours.

In the meantime I’ve got something of a random treat for you guys. As you might have guessed, I’m a bit of a gamer, and with all these Humble Bundles, Steam Sales, GOG sales, and dollar acquisitions at Half Price Books, sometimes I get duplicates.

Rather than let these languish unused in my Humble Bundle account, I thought it’d be nice to give some of them away to someone who might actually play them. So from time to time I might do a special bonus post with a couple of keys for a game you all might like.

So here’s the deal. I’ve got one Steam key for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and one for  it’s sequel. If you want one or both of these keys send me an e-mail to bentrubewriter@gmail.com (you can use the contact form on this blog). I’ll give these out on a first come, first served basis. I’m using Humble Bundle’s gifting process so I know which keys I’ve given away, so you may need to create a Humble Bundle account (and if you haven’t you really should since that’s where I’ve been getting all these cool games, books, comic books and the like).

May the force be with you all.

PS. I’ll update this post when I’ve given away any keys.

Leave a comment

Filed under AGFV