Tag Archives: DRM

The End Draws Near For The Media Computer

We have a computer set up as the media computer. It used to be my main machine, before I built my new rig. So far, it’s done all right, but it has been struggling a little of late.

Streaming shows on Hulu used to work all right Medium quality, there are now times when getting through the ads had been rather time-consuming so we can even adjust the quality. And Low has been starting to be the better option. A bunch of the shows, though, aren’t actually on Hulu, which links to places like CBS which host their own shows. And don’t have the Quality option. Watching stuff has been getting more awkward.

Now part of the problem could be that the OS hasn’t been reinstalled for a long time. Part of it could be the wireless reception, though as laptops set next to the computer haven’t had the same issues, it could be the speed of the wireless adapter. Could just be the machine getting old, which, to be fair, it is.

Perhaps evidence of this, has been trying to get Amazon Prime to co-operate. The kids watched the first episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the other day, and watching it using Silverlight on Firefox was painful. It played a few seconds fine, played a few seconds slooowly, and paused a few seconds to catch up. Repeat for the whole episode. Amazon put a popup saying HTML5 has faster loading and less buffering, and suggested a bunch of other browsers, specifying for most that they should be in Windows 8 or above. One that didn’t specify that, was Opera, so I downloaded and installed that.

Alas, the course of getting technology to work never did run smooth, and trying to run Amazon Prime videos in Opera threw up some error message. Apparently it was trying to run HTML5 video, but the error message said something about making sure that the WideVine add-on was enabled (which, on checking, turned out to be enabled).

So then a long search for what this Widevine thing is, and why it’s not working.

Long story short, Widevine is a DRM for streaming video, developed by Google. It’s not working because Widevine supports Windows 7 and up, not XP, which apparently would otherwise still run HTML5 video.

My machine’s not he most specced-out XP-running computer, so I imagine there’s still plenty out there that are good enough to not have the kinds of issues we’ve been starting to have. For us, the DRM thing might mean the end of the line of this computer for streaming purposes.

I think in this blog, I’ve established my dislike for DRM, and so you can imagine there’s an element of “of course it’s DRM that’s making me unable to fix the problem”. But as the problem was there, and we’d resorted to watching Supergirl via the old laptop-plugged-into-the-temperamental-TV trick, I suppose I can’t be too hard on it.

This time.

Some Musings On Star Wars Videogames

There have been quite a variety of Star Wars games over the years, and, as you would expect, their quality level goes all over the place. Here’s some thoughts on some outings I’m acquainted with.

Lego Star Wars
I’ve played the Complete Saga on DS, and tried out the Original Trilogy on PC before its DRM screwed me over. I like the Lego humour, and while not taking itself too seriously, still seems to have a fondness for the source material. Shame about the DRM, because on PC I could actually play with Oldest. After getting 100% on Lego Star Wars, then Lego Lord Of The Rings and Lego Marvel Superheroes on DS, I haven’t really been in a hurry to play any of them through again.

Dark Forces
Back in the days when the original Doom was all the rage, someone came up with the idea of a Star Wars first-person shooter. You, as Not-Han-Solo Kyle Katarn, are dropped off on a series of solo missions. The story is told between missions, and you’re often finding your way into Imperial bases. You start off retrieving the plans for the Death Star, then gradually discover the existence of the Dark Trooper project: battle droids that are actually tougher than the stormtroopers (the prequel trilogy hadn’t come out, yet). It did a good job of telling the story, level design was pretty good, I’ve finished it once, and played it a few times since.

Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight
Man! A lightsaber in Dark Forces would have been really handy. Kyle discovers that he, too, can become a Jedi. I recall it seemed like ages before you got the lightsaber, but it seems that it was only level 4 out of 21. Interestingly, the demo for the game was of level 9. I completed the game once, haven’t really felt the desire to go play it again, but I don’t recall it being bad. Perhaps not as interesting as the first one. I played some of the expansion, Mysteries Of The Sith. It seemed that some detail, texture or shading, wasn’t quite as well done as the main game. I stopped at some point, and never came back to it.

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
There’s a thing about first- and third-person shooters. If they’re not done quite right, you can get motion sickness while playing them. Or some sort of unwell-feeling. It’s worse for onlookers, who aren’t controlling the character, but it’s not good when the player gets it. I got a way into this game, but could only play for certain lengths of time before starting to feel a bit sick. Never finished this one. Kyle had given up being a Jedi, and has to get back into the swing of things for this game, so again you spend some time working towards getting Force powers and lightsabers.

Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy
This time round, it seemed like there was no dilly-dallying around before you go to the lightsabers and the Force powers, and I don’t recall feeling sick this time round. I think this was the best outing of the series with a lightsaber. Don’t remember much of the story, so Dark Forces gets the edge there for “best in series”, and I haven’t felt an urgent need to go play it again, but I get a better feeling about replaying this one than the other two Jedi Knight games.

Star Wars: Empire At War
Though still being miffed at its DRM saying I had Virtualdrive or equivalent installed when I didn’t (and not taking too kindly to a game telling me what else I can and can’t have installed on my machine), I played through this one and won. Controlling the Death Star and AT-ATs was, of course, fun. Got a feeling there may have been a unit limit, which I’m not too fond of in my RTSes, being spoiled on the Command And Conquer: Red Alert series. The effects of controlling certain planets, and the bonuses you get from that, were a good idea. Haven’t given any thought to installing it again, having been through a few OS reinstalls since I played it.

Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
I picked this up second-hand a while ago, such that I don’t remember exactly where. Finally got around to installing it last week, and have been trying it out. Took a while to get it working, there is some obscure shader setting in the Graphics options that needs to be turned off, otherwise the game will crash. Similar to Jedi Outcast, you’re an ex-Jedi having to get back into the swing of things. You can start getting Force powers pretty early, and I haven’t gotten to the point of getting a lightsaber yet. I’m running it with the Restored Content mod, and the extra level.
First impressions: It’s a bit RPG-ish, you level up, and when you do you can enhance particular skills and powers, or learn new ones. In theory, it adds a layer to any puzzle-solving you have to do. Also, how you talk to people can affect how much they like you, how you fit on the scale of Light Side to Dark Side, and there’s even dialogue that lets you choose early on, the gender of a character you meet later on, and whether they’re good or bad (and as I found that out, I don’t remember which I chose). Choices affecting aspects of the world around you is a great notion, though I don’t have an opinion yet as to how well they pulled it off. On the other hand, I’m very much noticing the linearity of the level design: so far you just kind of follow the path, then you’ll get your objectives and side-objectives done. Which is a bit of a contrast to those other aspects of the game where you actually make choices. I suspect this will affect the replay value, but we shall see.

Do you have opinions on any of the above games, or any other Star Wars games? I can think of at least 4 more that I’ve played that didn’t make this post, and at least two more that I own and haven’t got around to playing. anything I should put on my list to try?