Blog 384: Various Minor Things

Yes.

  • Drakensang: The River of Time is coming.
  • Microsoft killed Unreal II (and others?) by stripping out DirectMusic.
  • Soft Cell’s (only famous) album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

Drakensang: The River of Time

I fell in love with Drakensang last year, when Kilbirnie made me impulse-buy it to get two-for-one when he bought Mass Effect for the PC. I loved Drakensang so much I ported the review(s) to this new blog!

It gladdened my heart to hear that a follow-up was in the works, a prequel. Then my heart was dashed against the rocks when I could only find its website in German.

The problem is that Drakensang itself was released in German first, and only released internationally one year later. One year!

Of course the solution would be for me to learn German (ich habe eine bruder und eine schwester), but I haven’t touched any foreign languages since higher French so I’m a little bit rusty. And Kraftwerk only say “wir fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n auf der Autobahn”, so I don’t think listening to them more is going to work.

Anyway, it’s actually not a problem, because now http://www.drakensang.com has appeared (mostly) in English! Woo-hoo! A synchronised German/International release seems more likely now… Or at least an international release not so far behind.

So I’m rather looking forward to this. The website doesn’t list any release date (unless that fragment of German at the side with the number 19 and what looks like “February” in it means what I hope it means), but I have heard “early 2010” bandied about.

It is early 2010!

DirectWhatNow?

This is a bit of a follow-on from replaying Unreal II. Some of you on Vista or Windows 7 might also have noticed that the intro flyby thing is broken — you get to the end of a tube, the screen goes white and that’s it. Whereas, on XP or below you got the whole rest of the stuff.

Apparently this is because for Vista and 7, Microsoft have stripped out the DirectMusic system… Part of the DirectX suite. The DLLs remain, but apparently they just contain “lol deprecated” and that’s it. Unreal II seems to rely on this for synchronising music and visuals in the intro, among other things.

Following a dirty hack that involved replacing those DLLs with older versions, it worked again. I say dirty hack because instead of just plopping the better DLLs into the same directory as the EXE and it finding them automagically (as would be normal) to override the “real” versions, they have to be replaced in Windows\System32. The override method just didn’t work.

Apparently this also solves some crash issues with the Acheron mission, and I get the impression it might solve other music-related problems in the game.

I get the feeling, however, that doing this might also have fixed Little Big Adventure 2‘s music issues. It was having a terrible time trying to play music; it would often play a bit, then stop — just like what was happening to me in some of the U2 missions.

In a similar vein, LBA2 also has issues with DirectInput — have MS stripped that out too? Will I have to replace dinput.dll in the same manner? It might be worth a shot — if the stuff has been stripped out anyway, replacing it shouldn’t affect any new software… But if it hasn’t been stripped, shit could get real. Better do some research. Certainly, the symptoms are similar — you’re supposed to put an older dinput.dll into the LBA2 folder so it overrides, but it didn’t for me.

I can understand trying to get rid of legacy code in the name of streamlining, but couldn’t they at least offer some kind of legacy pack that reinstated everything properly for people that actually use their computers?

Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

No, it’s not the title of my big next Warcraft project, it’s the name of Soft Cell’s debut album. It’s an album that seems to be talked about with some reverence, but I don’t really understand that.

“Fans talk about it in hushed tones as the record that has changed their life, and bands cite it as the record they most want to aspire to.”

Richard Smith, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret digital remaster sleeve notes

Okay, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye is a brilliant and powerful song, but Marc Almond does the whole not-quite-singing thing for most of it and that’s a real downer for me. The man has a really good voice, which was far better evidenced by the cover version he did with Jools Holland and his posse more recently. Unfortunately, that was a rhythm and blues orchestral with nary a hint of keyboarding — if only we got the soaring proper vocals of that version, with the searing synths of the original, it would be so much more (I think).

This segment was originally going to be more negative, but then I confirmed my own theory that it was going to be a grower by more enjoying it on subsequent listens (who knows, maybe grappling with my uni project put me in a bad mood for the first listen); it is actually quite nice, if you don’t listen to the mostly extremely sordid lyrics. But I didn’t “get” Dazzle Ships or Morrowind or even Unreal II the first time round either, so that’s how good my first-impression instincts are.

Still, some of the bonus tracks appear to be better tunes; non-album single Torch and B-side Fun City are highlights for me, along with the closing instrumental … So.

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