Everybody’s gone to the rapture

Scene from 'Everybody's gone to the rapture' showing a car in a deserted car park, rays of sunshine through the trees

It looks like The Chinese Room, the games company behind the exquisitely beautiful Dear Esther, is working on a new game entitled ‘Everybody’s gone to the rapture’.

All the website gives away at this stage is:

6th June 1984 06:37am

Time since Primary Event 5 days 4 hours 37 minutes

Time since Omega Event 0 days 0 hours 37 minutes

This story begins with the end of the world.

As well as a few screenshots of the environment, which like its predecessor looks stunning.

One to keep an eye on, methinks.

 

The LEGO® Movie – official teaser trailer

I always loved LEGO® as a kid. I’ve often said that the LEGO Star Wars games pretty much sum up a large portion of my childhood: LEGO, Star Wars and computers.

I love the various LEGO games we have: LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, LEGO Star Wars: The Clone Wars, LEGO The Lord of the Rings, and LEGO Batman 2. I love the handful of other LEGO movies we have (mostly Star Wars)… so this looks great.

I can’t wait. Neither can the children. Erm… that’s what I meant, obviously, Reuben and Joshua are so looking forward to this film. And me too. A bit.

Installing Steam games on a second hard drive

Steam logo

About a month ago I took delivery of a new, much faster PC from PC Specialist. Now I’m getting around to reinstalling games, and I’ve just discovered a neat trick to install Steam-powered games on a second hard drive.

My last PC had served me well for about six years but it was creaking a little around the seams and was being pushed very hard particularly when gaming. It was time to upgrade.

And after upgrades comes the often arduous task of reinstalling applications.

dual-boot or not dual-boot?

On my last two PCs I’ve always set up a dual-boot environment. One partition (C:) was for day-to-day applications (email, web browsing, web development, image editing, etc.), the next (D:) was for games. My reasoning was:

  1. Clean installation of Windows with minimal, and only essential, drivers.
  2. Less distracting. If I wanted to play games then I would need to reboot the PC into the games partition.

However, in practice what it meant was:

  1. Twice as much work, keeping two versions of Windows up-to-date, with both Windows updates and driver upgrades.
  2. It was such a hassle to shut down everything and reboot that I rarely ever played any games. The only people to play were Reuben and Joshua when they played the LEGO Star Wars games.

So I decided on this PC to single-boot (Windows 8 Pro, 64-bit) and install everything side-by-side across two hard drives: my main applications are on C: (120 GB SSD); most of my data plus games are on D: (1 TB Western Digital SATA drive).

So far, so good. I’ve played games more in the last couple of weeks than in the last couple of years, but contrary to my fears it’s not distracted me from my main work on my PC.

However, this evening I realised after installing the Steam client for the first time that it was about to install all 7.8 GB of Call of Duty: Black Ops onto C.

No, no, no, no, no!

Moving Steam to a second hard drive

It turned out to be a pretty easy task to move Steam from C to D. I found the instructions on the Steam support website.

By default Steam installs to C:\Program Files\Steam (or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam on 64-bit editions of Windows) and the games install to C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps.

“During the installation of Steam, you have the option to install Steam to a location other than the default. Since Steam relies on the game files residing in the SteamApps folder, your game files will go to whatever folder you have Steam installed in. The game files must be in the SteamApps folder in order to function.”

So, here’s what to do, assuming that you’ve already installed Steam to C:.

  1. Log out and exit Steam.
  2. Navigate to the folder where Steam is installed (by default: C:\Program Files\Steam\; or C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\ on 64-bit).
  3. Delete all of the files and folders except the SteamApps folder and Steam.exe.
  4. Cut and paste your Steam folder to the new location, for example: D:\Program Files\Steam\.
  5. Launch Steam.
  6. Steam will briefly update and then you will be ready to play.

Conclusion

I’ve just done this and it worked.

Transfer saved LEGO games to another PC

LEGO Something

LEGO… something for Windows

In a few weeks time I’ll be migrating my data to a new PC and since my two older boys, twins Reuben and Joshua, love playing

  • LEGO Star Wars I & II: The Complete Saga
  • LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
  • LEGO The Lord of the Rings

I was keen to make sure I knew how to reliably transfer their current saved games to the new computer when it arrived.

Current v future setups

My current PC setup sees me dual booting between Windows 8 Professional 64-bit (on C:) and Windows 7 Professional 32-bit (on D:).

The first partition is my main day-to-day setup for web development, email, writing, image editing, sound recording, etc. The second is simply known as “the games computer”: it has a very clean installation of Windows 7 with only the essential drivers installed plus a few games.

I’ve yet to decide exactly how to configure my new PC, but I expect that I’ll drop the dual boot and simply run everything under Windows 8 Pro 64-bit.

So over the last couple of days I’ve installed these three favourite games of the boys and trialled copying the saved games over. And I’m delighted to report that it worked.

Process

What I did was:

  1. Back-up the files (as detailed below) on my Windows 7 installation.
  2. Install each game on my Windows 8 installation.
  3. Run the game, so that it could create new save locations.
  4. Back-up the default save location files.
  5. Overwrite the Windows 8 save location files with the ones I’d backed-up from Windows 7.

And it worked!

LEGO Star Wars I & II: The Complete Saga

Here is the directory that I found all the files that I needed to copy, where {USER} is the name of your Windows Vista, 7 or 8 account:

C:\Users\{USER}\AppData\Local\Lucasarts\LEGO Star Wars - The Complete Saga\

It contained the following directory and files, as we had used only one save slot:

  • \SavedGames
    • \SaveGame0.LEGO Star Wars - The Complete Saga_SavedGame
  • \Mappings.dat
  • \pcconfig.txt

As far as I can tell the SaveGame0.LEGO Star Wars - The Complete Saga_SavedGame file stores the actual game progress: characters unlocked, canisters found, bonus levels accessed, etc; Mappings.dat stores any customisations made to keyboard and gamepad controls; and pcconfig.txt stores information such as screen resolution, graphics and sound customisations.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Saved files for this game can be found in

C:\Users\{USER}\AppData\Roaming\LucasArts\LEGOStarWarsIII\

It contained the following directory and files again we had used only one save slot:

  • \CachedShaders
    • (1,100 files with hex address filenames, e.g. 0x00ae4b5d.shader)
  • \SavedGames
    • \Slot1
      • \GAME1.LEGOStarWarsIIISaveGameData
  • \Mappings.dat
  • \pcconfig.txt

I didn’t copy over the CachedShaders files, but I let the game build the cache again afresh. The other two files were the same as above: games controls plus video and sound configurations.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Lastly, I copied over our progress in the Lord of the Rings by access these files:

C:\Users\Games\AppData\Roaming\Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment\LEGO The Lord of the Rings\

which consisted of these files:

  • \CachedShaders
    • (278 files with hex address filenames plus .shader, .pcode and .vcode suffixes)
  • \SavedGames
    • \Slot1
      • \game1.legothelordoftheringssavegamedata
    • \Slot4
      • game1.legothelordoftheringssavegamedata
  • \Mappings.dat
  • \pcconfig.txt

Again, I didn’t copy over the CachedShaders files, but I let the game build the cache again afresh. The other two files were the same as above: games controls plus video and sound configurations.

FIFA 12

20110531-fifa12email

On Friday I received this email from Electronic Arts, advertising their latest football game FIFA 12.

The email subject said: FIFA 12 – are you ready to be taken to a new level?

FIFA 12 - are you ready to be taken to a new level?

But I can’t help thinking after hearing this on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Fifa ‘credibility completely shot’:

20110531-fifa12r4today

That it might not have better been titled: FIFA 12 – are you ready to be taken to a new depth?

Waxman chess engine with WinBoard

winboard

Many years ago, in the days of Windows 3.1 and just as Windows 95 was coming onto the market, I bought a copy of a computer magazine, I seem to remember that it was PCW (RIP), that had a 1.44” floppy disk on the front and on that disk was a chess program called Waxman by Ivan Bacigal.

The name comes from the fact that ‘Waxman’ looks a bit like the Russian word for chess: WAXMATbI.

I got an email from someone this week asking me if I knew how to get it running on Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit). I had to email back to say that unfortunately Waxman was a 16-bit application and 64-bit versions of Windows can’t run them.

WinBoard

However, this evening I discovered that Waxman is still going albeit in a slightly different way: as a game engine for WinBoard. It’s pretty simple to setup too:

  1. Download WinBoard
    Unzip it into a directory, e.g. c:\winboard
  2. Edit the winboard.ini file in Notepad adding two lines beneath the firstChessProgramNames and secondChessProgramNames lines, i.e. /firstChessProgramNames={“waxman xboard -h32 -r-900″ [...] /secondChessProgramNames={“waxman xboard -h32 -r-900″
  3. Download Waxman 2010
  4. Unzip the file into the c:\winboard directory
  5. Run the winboard.exe file.
  6. Select the Waxman engine from the drop-down options
  7. Click OK.

What’s nice is that you can setup a position; a feature that is surprisingly absent from a number of versions of chess for Windows; including the built-into-Windows 7 ChessTitans.