Strong words there, Bethesda. Alright. First things first:
Well, as luck may have it, and through the benevolence of Bethesda, you can download Daggerfall right from their website! I still have a copy of the game around here… somewhere… but this link worked much faster.
Note: I’m not going to lie, the installation and altering of config files may be outside the comfort zone of some, but as long as you follow directions, you’ll also learn more about your PC and there is nothing wrong with that.
The next piece of software we’re going to need is DOSBox, an uber handy Dos emulator that singlehandedly allows sites like GoG.com to stay in business.
After installing DOSBox, the next step comes down to tweaking it’s settings, and installing the game itself. Thankfully, there’s a handy pdf doc inside the Daggerfall zip that details step by step instructions. I found that following the instructions worked flawlessly. After booting up DOSBox, the next steps involve mounting the hard drive, mounting a faux-CD drive, and installing the game itself.
I mean, who *doesn’t* love DOS?
After the game is installed (I suggest creating a basic folder direct on your C: drive, like above), then comes the tweaking of DOSBox’s config file. In a nutshell, keep following the pdf’s instructions, but then throw in a few alterations of your own. I suggest changing the screen size to something that is more comfortable on today’s monitors. For example, here is a Daggerfall screenshot at full-size resolution:
320×200. I imagine kids today wondering how we played games on such *tiny* screens.
The monitor I’m using now has a native resolution of 1600×900. Not exactly 1080 (1920×1080), but not too shabby, still in the high definition range. However, playing Daggerfall at a full screen resolution stops you from doing basic things like alt-tabbing out. I suggest playing in a window at setting 1125×900, which seems to work best for my screen size.
In fact, here’s a link to a copy of the entire DOSBox config file that I have found optimal to use. By all means, if you are installing the game, too, feel free to use it.
Now with installation complete, the next major step involves creating a character that isn’t completely messed up. Like many other Elder Scrolls games, character creation is so deep in it’s customization that you can seriously create a borked character right off the bat. I won’t lie, I’m on my fourth attempt trying to create one that I think I would really enjoy, and that will relatively get me through the game.
The first character I created, I based off of characters I have enjoyed in every Elder Scrolls game in recent memory: A leather wearing, shield and mace wielding powerhouse, slinging illusion magic and backing it all up with restoration magic when the odds turn.
Since there really isn’t a class like this of the group, I created a custom class, picked a whole bunch of stuff that sounded nice, Blunt Weapon, Restoration, Dodging, Illusion, Streetwise, Etiquette, Backstabbing, etc, picked an Argonian, and started it up. The game handed me a longsword as a starting weapon… I couldn’t make it past the first giant bat.
Alright, so… instead of creating something by hand, maybe the game’s question system would work? Similar to those Buzzfeed quizzes we see everywhere. Why not?
I’m all about the sweetrolls.
It said I would be a good Monk. A Monk is a pretty badass character… in theory. A monk uses their mental discipline, so your primary weapons are your fists and your only armor is your skin. Oh, and no magic, either. Sounds like a great challenge, getting through the game punching bears in the face and using only your fists as bad guys wearing plate and slinging magic come charging at you… but it’s not really my style. Thank you, but I like to actually USE the loot and magic I might pick up. Still awesome that it’s there, though.
Looking at the list of 18 classes, the closest thing that looks like it could work would be a modified Healer. I’d make Blunt Weapons a Primary, drop Medical to a Major, add Backstabbing and Stealth to the list of Minors, Boost Illusion as well, and then through the use of secondary character traits, force the game to start me off with a blunt weapon.
Onward and upward.
Daggerfall: Part 1
So after Friday’s post about The Elder Scrolls Online and how it doesn’t really “feel” like an Elder Scrolls game, I decided to start playing the only game of the Elder Scrolls series I haven’t played yet: Daggerfall.
Long ago I played the game Arena, my first foray into The Elder Scrolls, which was easy as it is the first title of the series. I loved it. As a role playing game, it was all about the exploration and was one of the first real games where I could just go off in any direction and find adventure. Sure, procedurally generated and nothing but dungeon crawl after dungeon crawl adventure, but adventure nonetheless. Story took such a backseat that I really didn’t know what the story of Arena was. There was something about finding staff pieces and putting them together, some big bad guy. That’s about all I remember. I never completed Arena, though, the most I ever got was three staff pieces.
But still, that taste was enough. The pure freeform exploration, the fantastic loot, heard about only through rumors near a local tavern, and having to hunt down the exact locations. The freeform magic, creating your own spells with a multitude of different effects. The absolutely staggeringly humongous world that was Tamriel.
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…
Over time, and with latest iterations, the story of The Elder Scrolls has turned front and center. Morrowind shaved down the land size considerably, and traded the full continent for one province and a handful of cities. Morrowind still had a decent number of guilds, though. Oblivion comes along and really ramps up the story, but at the expense of guilds. There’s only a handful now. Finally we have Skyrim, which has as much of a story as Oblivion and as many guilds, but rewards exploration a lot more as little side quests are everywhere. It also brings back the procedurally generated quests so that, technically, it never ends. In other words the series has shrunk over time, story has become a much greater focus, but the tenets of exploration, skill building, freeform character building, and open worlds still hasn’t left.
Daggerfall has a story, I’m sure. I’ve read the books all about the “Warp in the West” which refers to the events from Daggerfall. It retains a lot from Arena as far as dialogue with NPCs, towns, and the like, but then takes a huge number of steps forward when it comes to guilds. The number of guilds is stunningly ridiculous (There are 6 categories of factions, but each category has multiple branches). Also, this is the first game of the series to chop down the focus size to something smaller, focusing on the region of the Illiac Bay, High Rock and Hammerfell.
This map puts Daggerfall at 62,394 sq. mi. in size, so it is disputable the main size… but even this puts the game world at 3,900 times the size of Oblivion. (click to enlarge)
However, making the focused region smaller, they did NOT make the game world smaller. In fact, it is considered the largest game world of any game, only now being contested by games like Minecraft that can procedurally generate forever. Some stats on Daggerfall, by Bethesda: The size of the game world is similar to the size of Great Britain, 88,745 sq. mi., featuring 15,000 towns, cities, villages, and dungeons, and 750,000+ NPCs. Walking from one town to another in the game could literally take hours. Hours!
I don’t know how far I’m going to get, if I’ll encounter any real story or not, but I guess we’ll see.
P.S. – This also doesn’t mean I’m necessarily finished Game 1, Gabriel Knight, I’m just taking a break from it. You know how it is.
This has been my main thought concerning The Elder Scrolls Online recently. I’d like to think that I have a pretty open mind when it comes to games, and I don’t just offhandedly dismiss a game simply because it’s not one of my preferred styles. I play games from all styles, and all forms, and will try anything once.
So being a huge Elder Scrolls fan, when I received a beta invite for TESO I excitedly jumped in head first! What I saw in TESO, though, confused me.
See, if you’re going to create a game based on previous fantastic games, it needs to retain the same “feel”. Mechanics can change, for example, but the Final Fantasy games have always “felt” like Final Fantasy. Why was there so much flak about the new Dungeon Keeper game? The feeling changed, it went from a fun dungeon builder to a P2W time grind. Why has the Assassin’s Creed series been so successful? The feeling has stayed the same.
The Elder Scrolls Online simply doesn’t feel like Elder Scrolls.
I should know that feel, too. Of the Elder Scrolls games I have fully completed, there’s Arena, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. The only one I haven’t really played is Daggerfall. That’s always been on my list of games to play, though, and I do plan on eventually getting around to it. How could I not? It’s one of my favorite series.
So I went into TESO already having a loose plan about my character. I was going to be swinging a one hand mace, bearing a shield, wearing leather armor, and wielding a combo of illusion magic and healing magic. This combo in other TES games is wicked. The shield gives great survivability and control, the mace stuns, the armor is light enough to be stealthy, but can take a few hits, illusion magic confuses enemies, gives more control, and healing gives me an “oh shit” button. It’s a stealth character overall, very rogue-esque but in a “hiding in plain sight” sort of way, and awesome to play.
Well what did I find when I got there? Same old trinity. I was told my build would be most suited for a healer, and that it would be a bad healer. I’d have to get a staff, and ditch the leather armor. I’d be crippling my character from the start. Listen, I get it, it’s an MMO and has to come with the illusions of choice that gamers demand. MMOs “have to work” under “trinity guidelines” with “classes” in order to “work right”. Or something. It has to be just like every other MMO out there or it will fail… for reasons.
And the questing, although I hear it’s a little different when you reach the top, is still very linear. Right off the boat (or right out of jail, as most Elder Scrolls games work), I couldn’t just pick a direction and go, only coming back to the main story when I reach a “oh yeah, I forgot that was even there” moment. I’ve heard you can do this once you reach higher levels, but by then what’s the point? You’ve already been led by the carrot from ride to ride, and suddenly be given a different game. Well where was that game in the beginning? Consistency is much better than Bait and switch.
I physically have TESO currency! Maybe I could use it to buy more interest in the game itself… It’s awesome, though, given to me by Tushar from Technical Fowl.
In other words, it may have the lore and be dressed as Elder Scrolls but it doesn’t have that feeling, that spark, that makes the Elder Scrolls games a masterpiece of modern gaming. This difference is more than enough to kill it for me.
The sad thing is that if the game wasn’t using the Elder Scrolls IP and was using a totally new IP, I would probably have more interest. But this? This is a spinoff. Just like the show Joey was a spinoff of Friends.
Will it do well? Who is the primary audience? Elder Scrolls fans like myself, who see it for what it is? Or MMO fans who don’t see much bother in playing single player games, but want the powerful zeitgeist that is Elder Scrolls? I really hope it does well. I’m curious to see if ZeniMax can keep up the expectations of monthly, meaningful content (at least past the first three months). And who knows, down the line it may turn into a game that lives up to the Elder Scrolls name, and I may find myself picking it up when it goes on sale.
However, until it starts living up to that name I’ll be on the sidelines holding onto my wallet in the hopes of receiving a product I’ll be happy with.
Funcom, you can drop the act now. Those countdown tentacles? Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone.
Last night I logged in to our weekly meeting of The Secret World, and only two others had shown up, Syp and TenTentacles. We briefly discussed what we could do between the three of us. We could run a scenario since the Flappy fight wasn’t going to start for a few hours or we could just farm some AP. Each suggestion was met with a huge wave of “meh”. We’ve done the Flappy fight to death by this point, we’ve done so many scenarios that we could do them in our sleep, and grinding AP doesn’t really sound appetizing either as we’d just be doing content we’ve already done over and over again. The low turnout to begin with also shows that we’re all feeling generally the same way.
In other words, until The Secret World’s Tokyo expansion is released, interest in playing the game at all is very low.
We seem to be encountering technical difficulties. Please stand by.
Between all of us, our best guess consensus is that the first Tokyo zone is going to be dropping sometime in April, which disagrees with the tentacles. To release any later, though, would be crazy. Last time we checked Funcom still needs to make money and outfits and accessories (although some of them are pretty nice) just aren’t going to cut it. Unless they are just going to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch as The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar leech away all of their players, Funcom needs to start the hype train for Tokyo sooner rather than later, and start doling out information.
I mean, a more adult, gritty world where magic is real and you’re fighting demonic hellspawn are a few things that Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World have in common. There are differences, sure, but the feel is similar enough to draw from the same pool of players. There’s a chance Funcom might be banking on TESO’s failure, which is a bad thing to do for such a huge IP. Even if TESO does the stereotypical boom at launch and 3-month dropoff, releasing Tokyo 3 months from now to compensate you wouldn’t find too many players left that were willing to wait. TSW is not World of Warcraft! Players aren’t simply content to grind for months waiting on the new expansion! Why am I even subbing? Give us some more info already!
And those tentacles above the Flappy portal meant to show how much longer until the portal is cleansed? Yeah, we know they don’t mean anything. You can drop the illusion now. I haven’t checked recently, but in the beginning when the Flappy fight was in full swing, based on the rate that the counters were dropping, it was estimated that the portal wouldn’t be cleansed until around October.
So unless Funcom steps in and alters the countdowns, like they did with the last portal, or finally give a release date for Tokyo, we’re going to be waiting in this holding pattern for quite a while.
I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. In a way, I feel tricked but I don’t. I’m still working out my feelings on this one.
First and foremost let me just say that I’m not of the same mind as (it seems) some of my fellow bloggers, that we should treat our favorite game companies as charities. I fully believe in the process of natural selection, even for businesses, and simply put, if a company’s product isn’t worth the value, I’m not going to shell out more money to them just to help keep them afloat. No, my money needs to be earned by these companies. If I drop money on a subscription price and box fee, then that product better be heads and shoulders above the same entertainment I could get for a similar price elsewhere.
But one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. We don’t all have the same perception of value. To one person, having four concurrent subscriptions is a great value as they can drop into a game at any time, and the world will be waiting for them. For me, having any more than one time-based subscription is a waste of money that could be much better spent elsewhere. My time is valuable to me, a lot more than any subscription price, and if that one game doesn’t give me enough value to justify a time-based price, I’ll leave to another game that justifies my time & money more. Economics, in a nutshell.
But yet, I have now pledged up to the “Explorer” tier in backing Shroud of the Avatar, and it’s because of a very slippery slope.
I won’t lie, I’m a big fan of the Ultima series and Richard Garriott. So, an Ultima successor in feel (not in actuality due to copyright), without intervention from Electronic Arts, where the creators have a very open development? This makes me very happy, and I was more than happy to open my wallet to see this come to pass. But I didn’t want to open it too far… after all, I have a high perceived value of the finished product but the finished product doesn’t exist. So at first I kept myself in check.
The Slippery Slope
My first purchase was for the $33 “Pioneer” tier, as I had missed the 1st and 2nd Responder tiers. This would get me a digital copy of the game. I could access the alphas and betas, too, but I wasn’t so interested in them. I’m only interested in betas to get a taste of what the game is, and not to help them test. I’m a bit selfish like that, but realistically I’m not their employee, I’m a consumer. Betas have turned me off quite a few games, too, so I tend to avoid them if I can help it. Total Spent: $33.
But wait. This is just for Episode 1! There are more episodes! I did not realize this at first. Well, what tier has THOSE, too? It ended up being the “Royal Artisan” tier, with Episode 2 & 3. Now, if I’m reading this correctly, each episode of the overall game will use the same engine, but be entirely separate. Similar to Guild Wars. Cool. I like that. And having all of them put together is like having a Transformers of Ultima. Even cooler. I could see myself playing all of them and adding another $47 for the next 2 episodes ($23.50/episode), when the first was $33, seems like a good deal. Total Spent: $80.
That’s where I stopped for a long time until I found this page, which noted a promotion from Alienware to upgrade your pledge by $20. Sweet! Using the coupon (as easy as clicking the link and signing into Shroud’s page), suddenly I was bumped up to $100, which was now the “Virtual Collector” tier. Total Spent: still $80.
Shroud of the Avatar is going to come in *FIVE* episodes, though. So far, I’ve only pledged for the first three. So, looking once more at the tiers, to get all five would be the “Explorer- All Digital” tier, for only $20 more. So, two more at $10/episode is a much better deal than before, so I jump on it. Total Spent: $100
Just for giggles, and I’m already so well vested like a poker player deep into a hand, I check out the next tier. The “Explorer” tier, and see that it’s only $5 more, and I get quite a few nice tangible physical items, like a *cloth map*, a collector’s box, the soundtrack, a game manual, and physical media. I don’t really care about most of them, but those cloth maps play my nostalgia strings like a lute, and for only $5? I have to. I have no choice. Total Spent: $105.
Now the next tier is at $150, and that’s where I draw the line. A collector’s coin and a “mysterious trinket” are included, which starts playing at my curiosity, but I’m not an extra $45 curious.
Is It Worth It?
I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, I’m getting quite a bit. Every episode, a cloth map, and so many digital goodies I won’t know what to do with myself (no, really, the list is ridiculous… I added it in the postscript). On the other, Episode 1 hasn’t even come out yet! Let alone episodes two through five! Have some control, man! You just spent $105 on a game that you’ve only seen a very rough part of (and boy, was it rough)!
What a slide, too, from $33 to $105. As a previous salesman, I use to do this to customers all the time. “Oh, hey, you’re already spending $50 on books, how about a $5 bookmark?” It wasn’t even that difficult. As long as you kept the additions logical and less than 20% of the total, you could double a sale pretty easily. It plays off a lot of psychological tactics: overestimated future use, fear of a wasted purchase, the increase of the perception of value based on the more you spend, sunk time and costs, etc. and I feel I just had all of that psychology, that I am well aware of, used against me.
I guess time will tell if I am really happy about my purchase or if it was a waste.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
P.S. – If you want to get in on the Shroud of the Avatar Pre-order, that $20 Alienware coupon is good for new purchases, too, as well as current pledges. $25 for the first game isn’t bad at all if you’re an Ultima fan, story fan, or sandbox fan and are on the fence.
P.P.S. – By the way, here is the list of what the “Explorer” tier gets you (if you pledged during the Kickstarter itself)…
- Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 (Alpha and Beta Access, Developer Blog Access)
- Blade of the Avatar Novel by Tracy Hickman, “The Story of Mondain in the World of Sosaria” by Richard Garriott, Akallabeth Dungeons and Dragons Campaign
- Physical: Cloth Map, Collector’s Box, Media, Soundtrack, Manual
- Digital: Runic Translation Print, PDF Artbook, Soundtrack
- In-Game: Creature Taming Call Ability, Early Skill Access
- Teachable Emotes: Darkstarr Salute, Adventurer, Pilgrim, Immortal Adventurer, Founder, Royal Artisan, Virtual Collector, Explorer
- Titles: Benefactor, Pioneer, Adventurer, Immortal Adventurer, Founder, Artisan, Royal Artisan, Archivist, Royal Archivist, Cartographer, Royal Cartographer
- Items: Replenishing Snowball Box, Founder Shield, Immortality Fruit, Ankh of Virtue Necklace, Founder Cloak, Royal Elderberry Plant, Last Name, Star Citizen Cross-Promotion Item, Non-Combat Pets, Benefactor Tunic, Darkstarr Cloak, 1-use Crystal Sword, Founder Tunic, Starter Melee Weapons, Indestructable Artisan Tool, Starter Ranged Weapons, Iolo’s Lute, Darkstarr Metronome, Indestructable Crafting Tool, Starter Founder Armor, Family Crest (of your own design), Framed Cover Art, Framed Map.
It’s Pi Day, Pi Day, Gotta Get Round on Pi Day! Everybody’s looking forward to diameters! Diameters!
Alright, so this post isn’t so much about gaming. So sue me. However, it *IS* about Pi! And really, who doesn’t appreciate Pi? I’m a big fan of promoting the maths and sciences, and Pi Day is a great day to do so. So here are a few tricks, a few facts, a few nonsensicles, etc. all about our favorite irrational constant. (Sorry e, they haven’t made an e day yet)
A History of Pi
Pi (π) is, simply put, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. Pi is considered an irrational and transcendental number that never ends and never repeats. The exact person or date the ratio was discovered is lost to the ages. There are those that suggest that since the Great Pyramid of Giza has a ratio of the perimeter of the base to the pyramid’s height that comes close to 2π, that the Egyptians have known of pi since the pyramid’s building between 2589 to 2566 B.C. However, this may also just be a coincidence of the efficient design the Egyptians used.
However, a Babylonian tablet from around 1900 to 1680 B.C. *does* calculate pi to 3.125. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus of 1650 B.C. calculates pi to 3.1605. Pi is even roughly approximated in the King James Bible, in 1 Kings 7:23 in which is being described the construction of a temple by King Solomon:
And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
30 cubits (an ancient unit of length, the distance from your elbow to the tip of your middle finger) circumference / 10 cubit diameter = 3. Not bad.
It wasn’t until Archimedes, around 250 B.C. started using multi-sided polygons that it changed from being an educated guess to what we know it as today. Using geometry it became more and more refined starting with Archimedes, then mathematicians Ptolemy, Hui, Chongzhi, Aryabhata, Fibonacci, al-Kashi, Viete, Roomen, Ceulen, and Snellius. Pi was refined more and more until Christoph Greinberger, using the same polygonal method, came to 38 digits of Pi in 1630 A.D., which remains the most accurate approximation manually achieved using polygonal algorithms.
Then came the era of infinite series, or using the sums of terms of an infinite sequence, and more refinement by mathematicians such as Somayaji, Madhava, Gregory, Leibniz, and Wallis. Isaac Newton and Leibniz’s discovery of calculus in the 1660’s led to even more refinement. Abraham Sharp using infinite series calculated pi to 71 digits, finally surpassing Greinberger’s 38. Machin came around in 1708 with a new method that reached 100 digits, and his method culminated in Ferguson’s 1946 620 digits.
Then came the computer era. Around 1949, Wrench and Smith using a desk calculator, reached 1120 digits. Technology kept progressing and the number snowballed finally reaching 1 million digits in 1973. As of 2011, the number of found digits, as I’m sure has been beaten by now, is up to 10 trillion digits.
The funny thing is that as far as functional computations go, no more than 39 digits are necessary, as that is the amount needed to accurately calculate the volume of the known universe to a precision of one atom. We had that in the 1600’s.
So What Use Is Pi To Me?!!!!
That’s all well and good, sure, but what use does the average person need Pi for?!! Well, math is essential to all of our lives. Sure, you may not need it on a daily basis, but you know of it and so probably use it unknowingly. For example, here’s a favorite bar bet on mine:
A height of ~ 3.75 in.
Which is Taller, The Height of My Cup, or it’s Circumference?
Say you’re in a bar. Take your pint glass, or any cup, really, turn to the person next to you and say: “Hey, for the next drink, I bet you are terrible with distance.” If you don’t get punched, take your glass and ask which is longer, the circumference of the top of the cup, or the height. A person who isn’t fluent in math will generally say the height… and they are incorrect. A person who is fluent in math will say the circumference. And they’d be right. “Cool”, you say. And then start stacking. Put under the glass your cell phone, a pad of post-its, etc. and keep asking. Eventually, they’ll say “Okay. The height is bigger.”
The height of the stack finally matches the circumference of the mug, at ~10.5 in.
… and most likely, unless you really put a ton of stuff under it, they’d still be wrong. It’s funny like that, our brains tend to overestimate vertical height, and underestimate horizontal length. The circumference of my mug? ~10.5 in. (Forgive the inadvertent advertising, this is just some of the stuff I have around me… I like tea.)
Get More Pizza For Your Buck
So, pizza, right? Who doesn’t like pizza? Hot sauce and melted cheese over a thin, crispy crust is the thing of gods. So simple, and yet, so complex. But should you get a medium? Should you get a large? How much MORE pizza does an extra 4″ really giving you?
As it turns out, a lot.
I took the menu to a local pizza place and compared some prices, all inches listed are for the diameter of the pizza:
10″ Personal Cheese Pizza – $7.75
14″ Medium Cheese Pizza – $9.75
16″ Large Cheese Pizza – $10.99
Using the simple formula for the area of a circle: Area = π * (radius)^2, we can calculate the total area of the pizzas. And really area is what we’re going for, as that is a true determination of the quantity of pizza you’re getting.
10″ Personal Cheese Pizza – $7.75 – A = 78.5 sq. in. = 10.13 sq. in. / $
14″ Medium Cheese Pizza – $9.75 – A = 153.86 sq. in. = 15.78 sq. in. / $
16″ Large Cheese Pizza – $10.99 – A = 200.96 sq. in. = 18.29 sq. in. / $
Well damn. Look at that. If we use the Personal Pizza as a baseline, we see that the Medium pizza is almost twice the size! The large is not as big of a difference, and is only 2.5 times the size of the personal and only ~30% larger than the medium. However, even if you get the large, you’re still getting the most pizza for your dollar.
Your results may vary, depending on what your local places charge, but most likely the results will end up about the same. Also it depends on how hungry you are. If you’re only hungry for 78 sq in of pizza, by all means don’t pay more for wasted food.
Speaking of Pizza…
I’ve definitely seen this make the rounds, but to figure out the Total Area of a Pizza, you use…. PIZZA! Crazy!
We aren’t talking about the area of a circle, though, but the area of a cylinder. Afterall, pizzas have height, too.
The formula for the area of a cylinder is thus:
Area = π * (radius)^2 * height
If the radius = z, and the height = a (just roll with us here, these are totally legit substitutions) then:
The Area of a Pizza becomes: Pi * z * z * a
Test the Speed of Your Computer’s Processor
Occasionally I build computers. So far, I’ve built them for myself, for friends, and for family, but I definitely know my way around the interior of a PC box. Not too long ago, I upgraded my system to a nice, probably overkill, but wicked Core i7-3770 Quad Core processor. It is a thing of beauty. I had upgraded from a much older AMD Dual Core, and wanted to know exactly what kind of upgrade I had received. Sadly, the exact figures have been lost to time, but let’s just say it was a very healthy difference.
I found out, though, using a very simple benchmark program that involves, you probably have guessed it by now, calculating Pi! It’s called Super Pi, and it simply calculates how long it takes your processor to calculate to 1 million digits of Pi. In fact, you could even tell it to keep going, but most time 1 million is enough to get a decent benchmark, and with today’s computers it’ll be done in seconds. Go ahead and put your system through it’s paces, too. A medium-end system generally takes about 15 minutes to calculate 32 million digits.
Other Fun Pi Facts
π – The Alt-Code for the greek symbol representing Pi is Alt-227. Just hold down Alt and type ‘227’, and Pi will appear on your screen.
π – All in a bid to improve math and science in our country, in 2009 the United States House of Representatives designated March 14th as “Pi Day”. July 22nd is even designated as “Pi Approximation Day”, as sometimes 22/7 is used to approximate it, but we don’t really want to celebrate an approximation, right?! (Oh wait… since Pi can never be fully calculated, we use an approximate, huh? Ah well.)
π – Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s Birthday! The man, the myth, the legend.
π – My wife and I celebrate the day we started dating on February 7th. If we were to give other transcendental irrational numbers days, then February 7th would be “e Day”! How awesome is that?! (e ≈ 2.71…)
π – Salvadore Dali was a big fan of the irrational Pi and used a lot of mathematical principals in his art. The Dali Museum in Flordia even celebrates Pi Day in his honor with all kinds of events!
Longest post ever? Yeah, but so it goes. If you made it here to the end, please have some pie! Compliments of CSTM.
So go out, my awesome readers, and see the wonder and the majesty that is Pi. Appreciate the history, the search for knowledge, get more pizza than you can eat, check out a Dali painting or two, build a computer, and win a bet.
Happy Pi Day all!
P.S. – Pi Day Shenanigans has also been brought to you by Math Happens. Follow it on Twitter at @YouGotMathed. Why? Because You Just Got Mathed!
Happy Pi Day: Fun Facts About Our Favorite Irrational Number
Bible Gateway: 1 Kings 7
The roles of altitude and fear in the perception of height
Today I Found Out: The Mathematical Volume of a Pizza is Pizza
The Dali Museum, Calendar
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The other day I had a really rough day at work. I needed to unwind a bit but I was so mentally exhausted that I needed an easy game. A game that wasn’t a huge challenge, that I could play mindlessly but still get those nice, reassuring pings of accomplishment.
So I started playing Guild Wars 2 again.
I know, not exactly a glowing compliment but then this is the design they chose, they made their bed and now they have to lie in it.
I returned with the intent of exploration and gaining experience. Also, the complete avoidance of the living story. I still don’t have a character at level cap, and I feel I can’t really participate in the living story without one. Last time I tried, lets just say it didn’t go that well. So my goal this time around is to take my highest level character, a Charr Elementalist named Mabsy Mabs, and get her through the rest of the storyline and up to the level cap so as to be in prime position for when the story for Season 2 starts. Plus, it was one of my gaming resolutions.
So far the game has been very accommodating about gaining levels. I’ve only been back for a week, and I’ve gone from level 60 to level 75 in no time. Has it always been this fast or did they make it faster? I know leveling isn’t at exponential rates like in other games, and you do get experience for practically everything. But then it also doesn’t mean much either. In one zone, I went from level 65 to 70, and was still down-leveled to 60 the entire time. Nothing wrong with that, though, I still like the whole concept of capping the level of different zones, but it does just turn your level into only a number, and then I again wonder why there are levels in the first place.
I also take back some of my previous sentiments about down-leveling. Going from higher level to higher level zone following the story, I’ve found that the zones themselves are what are bringing the difficulty and not your overall level. Sure, I could go back to Plains of Ashford and roflstomp my way through it, but that’s a starting zone. I roflstomped my way through it at level 10, too. In what I initially felt was a very flat difficulty curve, I’m finding the higher level zones to be trickier than the ones before it so the curve does have an upward trend. This is good. Up-leveling, though, still leaves a lot to be desired.
Still, though, I’m really enjoying Guild Wars 2 again. The overall storyline of following mister big-time plant Trahearn around not so much, but it’s the little storylines and the small details that GW2 does so remarkably well that make the world feel very much alive. For example: the jumping puzzle for the Timberline Falls zone is in a quaggan nursery (so damn cute), so one would expect tiny quaggans running around. However, there was one adult quaggan singing cute songs to the kids. So adorable I *had* to stop and listen to them for a while.
That’s what I’ve heard about the living story, too. Sure, beating up on leafy Ms. Scarlet is the main point, but overall the consensus of her character is a resounding “meh”. The real gold of the living story is found in all of the supporting characters and all of their interactions with each other.
Scarlet was just the vessel for creating all of these side stories, for adding more depth to characters that were already there, and now I’m a little disappointed I didn’t figure that out sooner.
P.S. – Hey ArenaNet, I was thrilled when I saw a lockbox key fall as loot, but why can’t I sell it on the auction house? I can sell the boxes just fine, but not the keys? What gives? And what is up with new builds every hour? Bug fixes I’m sure, which maybe a little QA might help, but it’s a little disjointed to see that I need to restart my client every 5 minutes.