Wednesday, May 6, 2009

hey neat!

So I plug my Nokia phone in to Window 7 Beta, hoping it would find something interesting.  Well, it was interesting.  I plug it in go to the Device Stage and there are warning icons over several unknown devices.  (One of which it’s worked out is a “generic phone”.)  So I choose Troubleshoot, Windows thinks for a few seconds and up comes this gem:


I’m not quite sure what drivers it thought it had installed successfully, but I like it letting me download PC suite easily.  I didn’t proceed, so I don’t know what will happen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Half-Life 2 on Intel Graphics (continued from before)

Continuing the theme of writing this blog as I do stuff, I’ve decided to download the most recent drivers for my laptop’s graphics adaptor.

Before I go to far though, I should probably state that most of my surprise at HL2 even working to the extent that it did, was due to most of the games from 2004 requiring, (that is, explicitly checking for) Hardware transform and lighting, which Intel graphics then performed on the CPU.  There were notable exceptions, Unreal Tournament 2003/4 being one.  And thinking about it more, Half-Life 2 was after all released in late ‘04, and Valve especially doesn’t want to alienate large percentages of customers.  So I guess for those two reasons I wasn’t expecting it to run at all.

OK then.   I’ll try installing these newer drivers. ( for 852/855GM, from Feb ‘06…) .  Wow, that was quick, something’s wrong, it won’t let me install them.  I’ll try something else.  So I try the automatic driver checking applet, and it says I have custom drivers installed from the manufacturer and to look there instead.  They don’t have anything.  So I have just tried installing the drivers manually using the Device Manager.  Am restarting.

So, back to City 17, AKA Half-Life 2 to see if anything’s improved.  I’ll start a new game, to see if I get the G-man. Yay, I can see him now. Though, could it just be because of a restart? 

Annoyingly the first screen with Breen still has some transparency issues.

d1_trainstation_010003 d1_trainstation_010004

In the game there seems to be a metal support behind the texture projection which is showing through somehow.  Oddly, when I alt-tab to the desktop and back again I don’t seem to have the issue anymore.

Unfortunately, I still don’t hear the Breencast, no idea what’s causing that, I can hear other sounds.  Maybe I’ll look into that as well.  The other thing I want to do is see how much performance I get, but that will be later.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Steam on a 5 year old lappy?

My friend suggested I try out Half-Life 2 on my old laptop so we can play LAN games at his house, I didn’t believe HL2 would even be able to run on Intel graphics.  But I thought I try it and see.  I’m writing this blog in real time, the tense change.

Understandably the Steam install is going fine, it’s currently updating itself which is nothing interesting particularly.

94%, 95%, 957%… I’d better close down my current copy of Steam on my desktop before I go logging in again….

It’s very slow to load, and download the Store… It finishes after a few seconds…

My first problem is getting any game content onto my laptop.  Trying to connect a Windows 7 machine to an XP Pro machine might be difficult…. Ahh right, easy when you know how: Disconnect lappy from wi-fi, manually configure W7 to the same Ethernet subnet as the lappy is on. Type in IP address in Explorer bar.

So I try copying Audiosurf over and see how that goes. (Because Audiosurf has minimal requirements in comparison to Source games.)  I copy over Audiosurf from its location in Steamapps/common to the same.  Steam doesn’t think it’s installed, so I get it.  Luckily it’s smart enough to realise that most of the files are intact and is currently updating to 97% in the time taken to write these last two sentences.  98% now, looking good Steam.  (BTW, it’s now 11:07 pm and I started the whole experiment at about 10:30pm (including unpacking my laptop)).

Audiosurf is ready! I click play.  It’s slower to load I’m first noticing. Though that’s to be expected. In the game, the cursor is less responsive than my desktop (obviously), but it doesn’t have any trouble calculating the level geometry from the music.  Actually playing a song – well, I really have to turn the graphics detail down to minimum and the resoulion to 640x480 to make it playable.  I don’t have any framerate measuring tools on that machine anymore, I’ll try to get some later.

So now, I’ll try HL2(!).  Wish me luck… OK then, Steam’s good enough to detect that it’s installed, all I did was copy the gcf files and rerun Steam client.  Apparently I need more hard disk space, I check it, and there’s 836MB free, “Yeah, I agree”.  So I delete about 400MB, and try again.

The moment of truth!  So, far it’s about twice as slow for the first dialog box that says loading.  Oh boy! It’s loading the main menu! (And the Valve video was ok-ish, a bit delayed though.)  Still loading the main menu… Wow!!!! It’s actually in the main menu! And these menus are real levels too.  It’s 640x480, but the mouse seems quite responsive.  Still keeping this blog in real time, following are the advanced video settings.

  • Medium - Model Detail
  • Medium - Texture Detail
  • High - Shader Detail
  • Simple reflection - Water Detail
  • Low – Shadow Detail
  • Disabled - Colour Correction
  • None - AA
  • Bilinear - Filtering
  • Disabled - Vsync
  • None - HDR

I’m starting a new game… Well, I can’t see the G Man, but I can hear him.. Odd.  That bit’s finished, ooh I can see the train, walk around even! Responsive enough, though I can’t hear the first Breencast for some reason.  I did hear the Scanner click though.  As I proceed through to Barney’s security room, I can hear him, and the CPs, but not Kliener on the monitor.  I wonder why I can’t hear sound on monitors, only coming from NPC's?  The most obvious graphical difference at the moment would be that objects are only rendered from a few feet away and so fade in as I approach. (And the lack of AA of course.)

Sometime later I hope to do further experimentation with HL2 to get the sound working properly, G-Man video, see if I can get it to run at the native resolution of the LCD.