// why am I so n00b?

Someone posted an image of somewhere they’re staying in “Qatar Doha” (no, I don’t know exactly where that is ;)) on the SGS Forums, mentioning how similar it looks to the Battlefield 2 map, Strike at Karkand.

I thought it might be cool to try to make the image look a bit more like the map, adjusting the colour balance, adding the orangey dusty air effect, etc. Further on, someone posted an image with some player characters and a jet overlayed, I though it was a pretty cool idea, so I whipped out Photoshop, my previously modified image, the official BF2 site (for screenshots of vehicles and characters), and got to work.

The end result is pretty cool I think :D. Click for full versions (original on the left, mine on the right):

Lost in time

Update; toned down the colours a bit, didn’t realise the monitor I did this on originally was so off :P.

A few weeks ago, the Serious Sam 2 demo was release, and my clan, the Avatars, and I were dying to try out the co-op, since we had played the previous game though together (although some shocking networking code made it near impossible), and were rather looking forward to SS2.

Unfortunately however, the demo’s internet play functionality was rather broken. After some digging on various forums looking for a solution, someone found a rather useful little utility - Hamachi.

Hamachi is basically a very simple VPN system, which behaves pretty much like an instant messaging client. When you install it, you’re run through a very informative little tutorial to get you started. During the process, you’re assigned an IP in the 5.5.x.x range - though I’m not entirely sure where the range starts or ends, we all got IPs like that - and a new Hamachi network connection is created under Windows. You may then join or create as many private or public networks as you like.

Members on the network can ping each other on their “Hamachi IPs”, they can browse shares, and copy files backwards and forwards (shares even end up showing up in your “My Network Places” eventually), send messages back and forth, etc. And of course in our case, it registers in games as a LAN connection, so you can easily play any multiplayer game with LAN support, without the need for the person hosting the game to mess with their firewalls, routers, port forwarding, etc.

There is a Linux binary available, however I couldn’t get this to work on my Debian Sid server, there were various tunneling problems, which are a bit beyond my networking skills to resolve.

In general though, the possibilities are pretty endless. Anything you can do an a LAN, you can securely and easily do with Hamachi, on a network spanning the world if you really wanted.

“Oops, I just printed my bank statement to Joe in Australia’s printer!”

Ever since installing BattleField 2, I’ve had a problem with taking screenshots. Basically, the game completely freezes up when I press whatever key is assigned to screen captures, and I need to reset my computer completely. Also, I seemed unable to use Fraps to make screen captures since the game seemed to be blocking all requests to whichever keys I assigned to Fraps’ capturing options.

I decided to rather just create my own utility. A simple application that hooks into the “Print Screen” key’s press, so when you press Print Screen, this app takes the image out of the clipboard, and will write it to a folder as a JPEG image. You can customise both the output location and the JPEG compression quality. The images are named after the current date and time.

It doesn’t work only for games, ANY time you press Print Screen, a screenshot will be saved. I think that could actually be pretty useful.

Yes, there are a million screen grabbers for Windows out there, but writing something yourself is both educational, and you know exactly what it’s doing. Also, I now have a single screenshot button for games, and everything else as well :D.

Note this may not work for all games, as some games tend to dump quite a mess to the clipboard when attempting a Print Screen.

This post also serves as a test for the attachment plugin for WordPress I recently installed ;).

Yes, so everyone’s obsessed with checking their BF2 stats these days ;).

Anyway, I wanted to give my Supybot IRC bot (“Nooblet” on Shadowfire) the ability to check my own and other people’s stats whenever they felt like it. I came up with something like this:

import urllib2
from string import split
from time import time

# the columns you want to request data for. comma-separated string.
info = 'per*,cmb*,twsc,cpcp,cacp,dfcp,kila,heal,rviv,rsup,rpar,tgte,dkas,dsab,cdsc,rank,cmsc,kick,kill,deth,suic,ospm,klpm,klpr,dtpr,bksk,wdsk,bbrs,tcdr,ban,dtpm,lbtl,osaa,vrk,tsql,tsqm,tlwf,mvks,vmks,mvn*,vmr*,fkit,fmap,fveh,fwea,wtm-,wkl-,wdt-,wac-,wkd-,vtm-,vkl-,vdt-,vkd-,vkr-,atm-,awn-,alo-,abr-,ktm-,kkl-,kdt-,kkd-'

# this is my BF2 ID. You can also query the stats server with "nick" rather than "pid", but I've had problems with some characters
pid = '43595724'

opener = urllib2.build_opener()
opener.addheaders = [('User-agent', 'GameSpyHTTP/1.0')]  # otherwise GameSpy's servers will block your request
webData = opener.open('http://bf2web.gamespy.com/ASP/getplayerinfo.aspx?pid=%s&info=%s&nocache=%s'%(pid,info,round(time()))).read()

statsData = split(webData, "\n")

cols = split(statsData[3], "\t")
data = split(statsData[4], "\t")

stats = dict(zip(cols, data))

# you now have a nice dictionary with a few hundred bits of stats data.
print "%s has %s kills and %s deaths and a score of %s" % (stats['nick'],stats['kill'],stats['deth'],stats['scor'])

Thanks to korpse and mithrandi for showing me the “zip” function. It takes the list from the first parameter, and uses those values as keys in a dictionary, the values from the second parameter are then used as values in that dictionary. I was using map(None, keyList, valueList), but zip seems cleaner.

Anyway, if you’re looking for more info on stats querying, try the BF2 Technical Info wiki, or check out SaladFork’s Guide to Creating a BF2 Stat Signature - although it’s in PHP, he does give a nice list of column names and their meanings, you can also grab lists of ranks, weapons, vehicles, etc.

Update: Also see: Battlefield Stats in PHP

Updated: Since this was written, some things changed with the stats system, and the GameSpy application requires you to pass a bunch of columns you want info for. This can help customise the data you get back, so you only request what you need. I’ve included all the columns in the info variable, which you can customise. Make sure it contains only valid columns, or you won’t get any data back at all.

As above, for info on what all the columns etc. mean, check out the BF2 Technical Wiki.

I sat down this afternoon and had a bit of a play with Gran Turismo 4’s Photo Tour option within GT mode. I must admit I’m rather impressed, and although it’s seemingly boring, it turned out to be a rather entertaining exersize.

It basically presents you with a couple of venues from around the world

  • Venice, Tokyo, New York, the Grand Canyon, etc, which are pretty much static scenes, with pre-defined car and camera ‘zones’ within which you may arrange things to you liking. You control the vehicle location, rotation and wheel rotation, and camera location, height, tilt, zoom, focus, etc. After you’ve got your scene arranged just right, you can fiddle with things like colour balance, saturation, etc to get the scene just right.

You then get to take your photo in a lovely high resolution, and save it to a USB flash disk! WOW! Someone finally found something useful to do with the PlayStation 2’s USB ports, aside from whacky controller contraptions. Anyway, once saved, you pop off to your nearest PC and offload your pics (which are saved in JPG format).

A few of my results (I only have cheap cars in my garage at the moment);

Images lost in time

So ja, it’s been reported that the games SWAT 4 (via the latest patch) and the latest Splinter Cell games both have ’live’ advertising, which download as you play and display stuff, basically no better than banners, on posters, vending machines, billboards, etc. within the games.

Both of these games seem to have been ’enhanced’ by what seems to be a recently launched ‘service’, Massive Incorporated, specifically set up to place advertising within games.

Personally, I have a few problems with this. Firstly, I’ve already payed around R400 for my game. Now as I see it, things like advertising are usuallly used to subsidise either free services (eg: banner ads on many websites), or relatively cheap services (eg: ads on TV and radio). Now why the hell do publishers feel the need to milk even MORE money beyond the R400 a copy they are selling?

Secondly, there is NO opt-out. If you want to play the R400 game you just bought, you have to agree with the fact that you will be downloading these ads and wasting bandwidth on every map/level change, that they will be defacing your game, and you will be sending the advertisers ‘usage statistics’ - how long you looked at each ad, what angle you looked at it from, how far away you were from it, etc. As I read elsewhere (forgotten the URL at the moment), it’s pretty scary that this is the ‘first generation’ of this technology - I can only imagine the kinds of things they’ll track about your playing habbits in the future.

And finally, it’s just plain intrusive. I like seeing often humerous made-up posters where they’re needed - which is normally seldom in most games. I don’t want to see darn Coke ads in my games. Also, I’m sure publishers and advertisers will start pushing developers to include even more and more advertising billboards/posters/vending machines/etc in their levels, until one day you’re sneaking/running/driving/strolling/handing/rolling around some kind of psycho colourful flashing whacked hall of nothing but lame-ass banners and shit. Piss off with that stuff, please.

Aaaanyway, you may have guessed this idea doesn’t appeal to me at all. Unfortunately once the trend is started and the standards are set by a few games, things will only go downhill.

What’s also scary is that both SWAT and Splinter Cell are Unreal engine games :(. At the moment though, neither Epic or Midway have signed on with Massive Inc. it seems.


This game (demo at the moment) is really sucking up all my evenings :D. The gameplay is absolutely brilliant. The whole Squad story is just ownage when playing with a decent bunch of players. Just a pity squads can only be 6 people big.

I can actually fly planes too. Managed to shoot down a helicopter and a plane last night (though the plane kill took about 5 minutes of frantic flying from my victim). Though there’s always someone else behind me waiting for me to fly straight for a half second too long :(.

If you like team games, with a rather unrealistic, yet somehow realistic feel, get this when it comes out on the 28th (South African release apparently).

titleEVE Online

date 14 Mar 2005

Well I’m back from JHB :P.

I just spent my entire weekend playing EVE Online - a MMORPG type affair based in space - if you’ve played Microsoft’s Freelancer, you’ll have an idea of what this game’s about. Only difference is that EVE is a million times bigger, has thousands of players online at any given point (all in a single, living universe), is nowhere near as linear or dull, and the graphics will blow you away.

The best way I can think of for describing this game would be “OMG”. It is absolutely massive. Over the entire weekend I trek’ed around maybe 10-15 solar systems at the most, yet there are hundreds available. Every time I arrive to dock at a station, or pass by a stargate (transport between systems) there are ships I have never seen before. There are NPC-based missions galore, there are hundreds of player-run corporations, doing mining, production, peace-keeping, bounty hunting, and who knows what else.

This is absolutely THE most open-ended game I’ve ever laid eyes on… You can do absolutely anything. For example, you could set yourself up with offices and a production facility in a station, then go out and mine for ore and stuff, bring that back, refine it, buy some blueprints for a ship, build the ship with the refined ore, and sell the ships to other players. You could even buy ore from other players who do the mining for you, or buy new blueprints from traders bringing them from systems 20 jumps away.

It’s quite amazing… Get someone with a full subscription to give you a 14-day trial, download the client for free, and give it a bash :).


How kewlies is that - UnWheel has taken it’s rightful place as the #1 voted driving mod of 2004 (across all games supported by modDB). Hehehehe.

Might as well list all UnWheel’s achievements to date for the fun of it ;)

Make Something Unreal Contest - Phase 2 (UT2003):

  • 1st place, Best Non-FPS Mod
  • 1st place, Best Vehicle
  • 1st place, Best use of Karma Physics

Make Something Unreal Contest - Phase 3 (UT2004):

  • 3rd place, Best Non-FPS Mod
  • 2nd place, Best Vehicle
  • 1st place, Best use of Karma Physics

Make Something Unreal Contest - Phase 4:

  • 7th place, Best Non-FPS Mod (can’t win em all ;-))

Make Something Unreal Contest - Grand Finals:

  • Finalist (results pending)

Other accolades and awards:

  • Bundled as one of 11 mods in the retail Unreal Tournament 2004: Editor’s Choice Edition.
  • 1st place in ModDB’s Mod of the Year - Driving category.
  • Awarded PC Zone UK’s Essential Choice, and featured on cover DVD twice (Sept + Oct 2004).
  • Featured Mod on FilePlanet’s homepage (EC/MSU Phase 4 version).
  • Featured on several magazines’ cover disks throughout the world, including UK PC Gamer (Dec 2004).

Not too shabby, hey?