Category Archives: Computers

Off-topic posts about computers, technology, and the Internet.

Desura is in Hot Water

Yesterday the news started to come out that Desura has not been paying some of the developers on their storefront. This is kind of a big deal. I’d wager that most of the devs on Desura—myself included—aren’t making enough on their games alone to pay the bills or put food on the table. But money is still money, and developers deserve to get paid for the work they’ve put into the games they’ve made.

A stylized dollar bill.

The almighty dollar.

One of the developers that Desura happens to owe money to is Vision Riders. Another Star crossed Desura’s $500 payout threshold during the Indie Royale Debut 100 Bundle. (For those not aware, Indie Royale and Desura, while not technically the same operation, are interconnected.) The money should have gone into the company’s account sometime around December or January, but this didn’t happen. It always gave the same “payment pending” status on my Desura developer’s account page.

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Major Computer Failure

Sorry for the lack of updates, but this has really been an all-around horrible week.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you probably already know that I’ve been having trouble with my desktop computer. Around Tuesday or so it randomly decided that it wasn’t Direct3d compatible anymore. On a Windows machine, this of course spells major trouble. Not only does it render most games unplayable, it makes it virtually impossible to get any sort of work done. Even browsing the internet can be a chore because Windows is chugging along mostly on CPU-generated software graphics. OpenGL appears works just fine, and the display is going out correctly to both monitors, the computer just refuses to interface with or even recognize Direct3d.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve reseated the video card (multiple times), uninstalled and reinstalled the video card drivers (multiple times), installed older versions of the drivers, started up with all non-Microsoft services shut down, even messed around with the Windows registry and system BIOS. Nothing. The only thing I haven’t tried is wiping the main hard drive and reinstalling Windows, but to give you an idea of just how long it’s been since I’ve had a good system upgrade, the only Windows install disc I have is for XP service pack 1.

The entire reinstall process will take days in and of itself. I’ll have to download install all the updates to bring XP up-to-date (well, as much as XP can be), find and reinstall all my work software, reconfigure all the settings back to how they were, troubleshoot all the new issues that inevitably pop up… I’m getting worn out just thinking about it. And, while this should fix the issue, if it’s a hardware issue with the motherboard/CPU or the video card, I’ll have done it all for naught.

This has been a long time coming. My computer’s failure was inevitable, and I knew it. I’ve only had minor upgrades to my system over the past decade, mostly with hand-me-down-parts, and the last one was five or six years ago. I’ve had lots of issues with my computer over the past few years, becoming increasingly worse, and I knew it was only a matter of time before it finally gave out. It’s part of why I put so much effort into getting Another Star finished before that happened. Sales from the game were supposed to help pay for a major overhaul of my system, but that didn’t work out.

Thankfully, I still have a laptop, which despite some minor issues of its own is functional. It’s not really designed for anything other than playing DVDs and surfing the internet, but it works at least. I suppose I’ll have to be switching over to it for my main system. However, with the lack of storage space and processing power, I’m not sure how long it’s going to hold up as a work machine, especially for a freelance artist.

Only time will tell.

The Deal With Steam Greenlight

I hate Steam Greenlight. I really do. I even wrote at length about why.

A lot of people are asking me if Another Star will ever be on Steam Greenlight. Back in August, I stated that I didn’t know the answer to that question.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I’m not sure I care that I’m losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I’d rather just say “screw it”.

The problem is, principles don’t pay the bills. They don’t put food on the table. They don’t fund future projects, or even help keep hardware and software up-to-date. Valve has a virtual monopoly on the PC games market with Steam. A large number of gamers will not even consider buying a game if it’s not already on the service. It’s a sad, sorry state of affairs, but it’s the way things are, and despite Valve’s continued, empty promises that they’re going to overhaul the system it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.

That said, Greenlight has improved since I wrote both of those entries, even if only a little. At this point, I can say with certainty that Another Star will eventually be on Steam Greenlight. I’m still not comfortable with the service, but at least it’s gotten to the point where I don’t immediately gag at the thought of it. (It’s more of a slow, delayed reaction now.)

The problem at the moment is cash. Steam’s horrendous $100 gate is effectively shutting me out for the time being. Moreover, it’s not a free ticket to success. The money I have right now is already set aside for things like bills and groceries, and my credit card is just about maxed out. I can’t justify buying what amounts to a lottery ticket at this exact moment in time. Later in the month, however, I should have a bit more money to work with, and I’ll try to get Another Star up on Greenlight then.

To be clear, I’m not asking for a handout. I’m just asking for patience. If you have $100 to pay for someone’s Steam Greenlight fee, please find someone who needs and deserves it more than me. There are a lot of struggling developers out there who deserve a shot. I have more money on the way, but a lot of them don’t.

Alas, Poor Update, I Knew You Well

My rich younger brother bought a new Intuos for reasons I do not comprehend and gave me his old one. This is nice and all, but having used my tiny 6×4 Graphire. Problem is, thanks to the size change, my work flow has been completely thrown off. It’s hard to explain, but basically I can’t judge the distance between objects on screen anymore. I’ll be looking at something, but I can’t tell how far or at what angle I need to move the pen in order to undertake what I’m trying to do.

Finally, I gave up for the time being and thought “Well, maybe I can plug my Graphire back in so I can finish off today’s page?” I tried this, and all I managed to do was crash my computer. :/

Guess I’ll just have to keep practicing with the Intuos so I can get the page up next week.

Monitor Woes

I ended up having to replace my 19″ CRT display (the screen was turning yellow) with an old 17″ one that I had lying around. Losing two inches may not seem like much, but… My goodness, everything is so small now! I’d take my resolution down, but Photoshop is hard to operate (for me, at least) at anything under 1280×960.

However, more importantly, this aged moniter has an awkward distortion issue. If I have a bunch of squares on the screen that are all the same size, the ones in the middle will be thinner than those on the sides. I can even drag things around the screen and watch them “magically” resize themselves!

…Yeah, this is going to be a problem. XD

I have a two moniter setup, so I may just switch them around and use this one as my secondary moniter, and the other one to do the bulk of my work in. Granted, it’s not like the other one is in that great shape, either. :/

My Computer Asplode

My computer continues to have trouble, so I’ll be giving it a much-needed upgrade, as well as a hard drive reformat. Hopefully this won’t be too troublesome… Oh, who am I kidding? This week is going to be miserable! I don’t expect to get a whole lot of work done, but I will still get Friday’s page up. Sketchbook Monday, on the other hand, may not apparear this week. A pity too, because I actually had several things to use! 😛

The Scanner Says “Buzzzz…”

I use an entry-level professional art scanner for Vision Riders, purchased for the mere fact that it was the only 11×17 flatbed scanner that was within the company’s budget at the time. Weighs a half a ton (well, almost) but it has a wonderful scan quality and, of course, it’s big! However, it is now the only scanner hooked up to my computer and, even scanning in low resolution, this thing is SLOW. S-L-O-W! Normally, this isn’t a problem. Swordmaster Odyssey pages come into my system at 600dpi, and I only need two or three at a time.

But for animation, where I need to scan many sheets at a time… Sheesh… It takes a great deal longer than it probably should. If I had room, I’d considering hooking up another scanner, but for the time being, I will have to learn patience (and multitasking).