Crom’s Terrace #5: Is Vista on Your Horizon?


Hi again gaming fans! Urfang of the Snowhawk Clan here.

Well, my vacation in Las Vegas is behind me and I’m back at the keyboard. Right now I’m on the veranda of the WarCry writer’s ranch just outside Taos, New Mexico. It’s a place WarCry sends writers so they can avoid the daily hustle and bustle of city life, avoid being mobbed by fans and concentrate on their columns.

The Writers Ranch is actually a working ranch too. There’s a staff of a dozen people. About half of them work the horse ranch that WarCry runs here. The other half are kitchen and cleaning staff.

The sun is just about to set and the sky is really something. I can smell steaks cooking over a mesquite fire. That’ll be Juanita making diner. Man oh man, that woman can cook! Last night we had New Mexico style enchiladas! You haven’t lived a full life until you’ve had New Mexico style enchiladas made with Hatch chilies!

Yup… Steaks on the grill. A beautiful sunset. And other than the sounds coming from the kitchen and the buzzing of a fly a ways off…quiet.

I would be completely content…if it weren’t for one thing.

Windows Vista.

Now I’m an old guy and like many old guys I’m sort of set in my ways. Except for the games, I could still be using a Kay-pro computer running CP/M and I’d be set. World processing. Email. No problem.

Games are where you need the powerful new stuff.

Fine. I don’t mind that. I like playing the video games and if more powerful hardware and software is what it takes, so be it.

But here’s the rub: I like to get value for money. And over the last few years I’ve felt that Microsoft has gotten a lot more of my money than they deserve based on the value I’ve received. But that’s just me. Your milage may vary.

Now I know what you’re about to say: Doesn’t WarCry supply all of it’s writers with the latest computer equipment and all the latest software?

Well, yes and no. At all twenty eight of WarCry’s compounds around the world they have state of the art equipment and isolated, soundproofed game chambers with 60″ displays and really amazing sound systems. They even have the feedback chairs, control gloves and all the latest VR stuff. Here at the ranch, all of that stuff is over in the gaming building.

So, yes. That’s great as far as it goes. But what about when I get home? Granted, with the schedule WarCry keeps me on, that doesn’t happen often, but even so, it’s the principle.

Every time Microsoft comes out with a new OS, it’s a good 18 months before the bugs are worked out, which means I’ve PAID them for software and now I’m beta testing it for them. And for what? The ONE thing that new versions of Windows gives me is compatibility with new games. Face it…is word processing really all that much better for 95% of users than it was 15 years ago? Uh…no. Are spreadsheets more spready or sheety than they were in 1990? Nope. Oh, sure, I understand they have all kinds of cool little features they didn’t have then, but I don’t use them and I’d bet most people don’t. And hey, I write for WarCry! And any feature not needed to write for WarCry is just plain not needed!

You’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law? Roughly speaking, computer power will double every 18 months.

But have you heard of Gate’s Law? By the time computer speeds double, Microsoft will have an OS that slows them back down.

My point is that I really, really don’t want to go out and buy YET ANOTHER new Microsoft OS (Vista) just to play a new game (Age of Conan), no matter how much I want to play the game. I’m not blaming either Microsoft or Funcom for what they’re doing…I understand it from a business point of view. But as a consumer, I’m looking for alternatives.

Funcom has provided the first and most obvious alternative: Play with DX9 on your current OS (Windows XP for most of us).

But I’ve been looking around a bit and there MAY be other alternatives. Anyway, at least things to check into.

For example, these folks say they can get you DX10 on Windows XP:


Ok, I’m not a big contributor to open source stuff. But I know folks who are. They tell me that Alki is “ok” and you can try this without much fear of virus or trojan. Mind you, I’m getting that second hand, so try it at your own risk. (Thanks to Fingaar of the Snowhawk clan for finding that!) But also remember that this stuff is in beta and even if it’s free of malicious code, it may be buggy.

If you’re a hard core cleaning woman at heart (ie. you don’t do windows) you can also try DX9 on Linux:


Mandriva Linux is recommended by some IT folks I know. It’s a for-pay version of Linux, but it’s less expensive than Vista. And it’s Linux. Which means no “Gate’s Law”, no (or very few) virus attacks and so on.

Mandriva Linux comes with Cedega:


Cedega by Transgaming is also a for-pay piece of software, though it’s part of the package when you get Mandriva Linux. But if you feel up to installing and running the open source stuff, you can get Linux for free and Wine for free and even open source support for DX9 on Linux for free.

For me, I’m going to give the Windows XP / DX10 hack a try. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I have to rebuild my PC? Big deal. I do that from time to time just to impress girls anyway.

I may also try the Linux/DX9 option just to see if AoC will work in that environment, though I’ll probably go with the for-pay versions. I’m not a Linux expert and having that extra service could be handy.

So don’t go running out and install this stuff just on my say-so. I DON’T KNOW if it’ll work with Age of Conan. If this kind of thing interests you, read up on it. Check it out. And if you try it, do so at your own risk*. I think I might just give some of these alternatives a shot.

If YOU decide to try any of these alternatives (or others I haven’t listed here), I’d be interested in hearing how it goes.

But if you’ll excuse me now, Juanita just rang the dinner chime and I’m hungry!

So Sayeth Urfang
Bar Shaman of the Snowhawk Clan
(No, it’s not a typo…)

We at WarCry are more than halfway convinced that Urfang is in serious need of therapy. The only reason we haven’t authorized it at company expense is that his stuff is more fun to read when it’s about three tics past the hour. Oh…and we don’t pay for therapy anyway.

We would, again, like to point out that we DO NOT have a secretive and influential worldwide organization. Really. Move along. Nothing to see here. There is no Crom. We don’t send our writers to Las Vegas. No ranch in New Mexico. No estate in Hawaii. No secret submarine base in the Mediterranean.

Considering Urfang’s obvious “issues”, we strongly suggest that you DO NOT try any of the things Urfang mentioned above.

Thank you.
The Management

* As I said, try any of these things at your own risk! Neither I nor WarCry is recommending them in any way. If your computer melts into a smoldering pile of plastic and you come crying to me, I’m just going to laugh at you and suggest that your computer needs a smarter user.

Dear Readers,

In an effort to convince everyone that the stuff Urfang has been writing is pure fiction, we at WarCry have decided to include pure fiction around Urfang’s articles. So now YOU can submit your fan fiction to the following e-mail address to be considered for publication on WarCry as part of Crom’s Terrace.

Here are the rules if you would like to submit a story:

  • Write a piece of ORIGINAL fiction based on the world of Hyboria.
  • Send it to [email protected]
  • Promise us that it IS original and we have the right to publish it. For free. Unless you’re Robert E. Howard, we’re not going to pay you for this. And Robert E. Howard is dead.
  • Understand that we will probably laugh at what you’ve written and then round file it.
  • Accept that if we publish it, we may still think it’s pure schlock and say so publicly.
  • Understand that from time to time Urfang may publish parts of your stories as examples of just how bad some people’s writing can be for the amusement of people more literate than you.
  • Do not TRY to write bad stuff. You don’t need to try. Do you.
  • Now, have fun and we’re looking forward to your submissions! 🙂

Disclaimer: The opinions are solely those of the author and not those of WarCry Network, its staff or management.

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