A Philosopher's Blog

Fallout 3 Review

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on November 1, 2008

Like many gamers, I enjoyed the classic Fallout and Fallout 2 computer games. When I heard Fallout 3 was in the works, I was both interested and worried. Interested, because I thought it would be cool to play a new Fallout game with all the graphic coolness that today’s computers can provide. Worried because I still remember the dismal and blah nature of Master of Orion 3. When it comes to games, the third time is often not a charm but a curse.

Based on all the awesome reviews, I bought the PC version of Fallout 3. I installed it and then tried to play it. At first, it simply loaded up a black screen with some music playing. The lock up was so complete that not even ctrl-alt-delete could set my PC free. I tried it a few more times (reboot…reboot…reboot) and finally got it to run. Once. But, the game didn’t recognize my keyboard. Since it is keyboard and mouse driven, that was bad.

Naturally, I tried installing all the latest drivers for everything and hitting all the game forums and googling like mad. The main thing I learned is that despite the glowing, gushing and gooey reviews of Fallout 3, many users were running into the same problems as I. Some fixes have been found to some problems, but none of them applied to me. One of them is if you have ffdshow installed. A fix is posted here. Gamespot has a forum on these problems as well. Bethesda’s own forums are also awash with posts about crashes, freezes and bugs. In my desire to play Fallout 3, I made a classic error: trusting the reviews, not Googling for problems, and not waiting for a month to see what patches would be out. Normally I do that. Shame on me for deviating from my usual approach to the “hot new” games.

Apparently the 360 version has some problems as well. A fix is posted here.

Based on the screen shots and reviews written by folks who apparently could get the game to run, the game looks good and is supposed to be fun to play. However, all I get now is a black screen and some repeating music. That is somewhat less than fun.

Based on my experience, I have to give the game a 0 out of 10.  I’d post some screen shots, but I’m sure anyone reading this can picture a black screen in their mind. That has been my game experience so far.

Perhaps there will be patch for the game that will allow me to play it. If so, I’ll evaluate it again.

Obviously, some people can run the game fine, but there seem to be significant problems for many users. As such, I’d suggest not buying the game now (unless you feel lucky or know your system will work). If Oblivion is any indication, Bethesda will patch the game in the near future. Once the patches are out, then it might be less of a gamble to buy it.

ACORN

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 1, 2008

Recently, ACORN has become a focus of controversy. The main concern is that people employed by ACORN turned in fake voter registration forms (including one for Mickey Mouse and another for Jimmy John-the sandwich shop).  McCain’s campaign is accusing Obama of being involved with ACORN and Obama’s defenders are countering this attack.

The claim that ACORN has turned in fake voter registration forms is true and is not in dispute. It is, however, important to keep the following fact in mind: by law, ACORN cannot decide what forms it will turn in to the officials. After all, it is not up to ACORN or other such voter registration organizations to decide which forms are valid and which are fakes. That is the responsibility of the state. As such, if fraudulent forms are turned into ACORN, they must be turned in to the state.  Of course, there is concern about why ACORN has gathered so many fraudulent forms.

One possibility is that people in ACORN intended to engage in voter fraud by creating a number of fake voter identities and then using them to influence the election. This practice is not unheard of. After all, it used to be joked that the dead were a major voting block in Chicago. As such, it is reasonable to be concerned about attempts at voter fraud.

Of course, there is a big difference between turning in fake voter registration forms and actual voting fraud. For a fake form to enable someone to vote, the form would have to get past the verification process. Further, the person going to cast the vote under a fake identity would need the documentation to support this false identity. As such, if ACORN was going to conduct voter fraud, they would need to take steps to get the fake registrations through the verification process and then get the fake voters through the verification process at the polls. However, the fake forms turned in by ACORN were rather easily spotted and there seems to be no evidence that ACORN has taken steps to prepare the means for fake voters to cast their fraudulent votes. As such, either ACORN was not involved in a conspiracy or it was a rather pathetic one. Then again, perhaps there are fake forms that were cleverly filled out and managed to get through the verification process. This does remain a possibility.

As second possibility is that certain people employed by ACORN created fraudulent voter forms on their own and turned them in to ACORN. Since people are paid to register people to vote and going around to register real voters can be a lot of work, there is a clear incentive for some unethical people to simply fill out forms on their own. As a matter of fact, it has been found that this actually took place in some cases. As such, the fraudulent forms can be explained in this manner without there being a conspiracy on the part of ACORN. While this gets ACORN off one hook, it does raise concerns about who ACORN hires and what steps are taken to ensure that these people follow the law. Given the number of fraudulent forms turned in, it is clear that ACORN and other organizations need to take steps to deal with this problem.