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Rome, Total War

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Haven't done much today. For some reason i have some troubles keeping my concentration during week end afternoons. Watched TV a bit, a few series - 24, Stargate SG1, etc.. and played with my clouds shading code. The shading when the viewer is under the clouds is now near perfect, and looking very realistic.. but i don't like -at all- the way my clouds look when viewed from a high altitude in the sky.

A friend told me the demo for Rome: Total War had been released.. i didn't know. I gave it a try. 170 Mb to download, good enough, it only took 6'30 mins with my 3.3 MBits ADSL connection. That's a shame the upload speed is still so low (128 Kbits).

Installed the demo, it already started to get on my nerves. First, you must download the installation file on your hard drive, a 170 Mb file, okay. But it's a zip file: now you must decompress it in a temp directory. 281 Mb.. and what does it contain ? You guessed it. Some bloody setup files. Yes, the demo is not yet installed!. So now you must run the setup, which will basically only copy the files in a definitive location - 281 Mb again. So i must loose some time to do a manual cleanup afterwards.. now that's not too bad when your demo is 150 Mb, but i remember a few months ago when i tried to install the trial version of a MMORPG (what was it? Earth And Beyond, i think), and the same process was used - except it was with 1.5 Gb files! Hey, my hard drive space is limited, you know, i'd rather not have it filled by hundred' of Mb of install/setup files! End of rant.

I was really curious to test Rome: Total War, but overall i'm less than impressed. Technically it's close to a disaster. We are in 2004, near 2005 you know? The terrain is empty, the colors all badly chosen, vegetation rare (the grass billboards are horrible), everything's lacking details, and the water is a simple texture. Special effects are very limited: dust particles, wow. The units & characters are very numerous (thanks to LOD/impostoring) but there's a bit of popping, and their rendering is restricted to using a simple diffuse & vertex lit texture.

But it doesn't matter in the end - what's important is the gameplay, right ? But here you can forget any form of gameplay - you'll be constantly fighting against the user interface. Cameras are going mad everytime you click somewhere (and sometimes even when you don't click), units not acknowledging your orders. Or units sleeping while your army is being massacred. I uninstalled the game after completing the tutorial. I guess not everybody can be Blizzard.
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