Tuesday, June 28, 2016

SBCs: And so it begins

Over the past year or so, I have invested money in a number of different Single-Board Computers (that's Raspberry Pi-like things or credit-card size computers). I Kickstarted both the C.H.I.P. and the Pine A64. I also ordered an Orange Pi recently and ordered a Raspberry Pi Zero as soon as it became readily available. It seems the delivery dates all magically converged. While the CHIP and the Orange Pi are currently in transit, I received both the Pine and the Zero today.

Let's start with the Pine A64.

The Pine A64

I hadn't realized quite how big this board is. I mean, a Raspberry Pi (a normal one, not the zero) fits in it twice!

Raspberry for scale
It's a pretty powerful board that was pretty cheap as well (though once you added shipping it was comparable in price to a Raspberry). When I backed the project, I thought that I would perhaps be able to use its hardware supported HEVC decoding to my advantage, but I learned later that it will be a challenge at best to get a grapics driver with hardware support working under linux.

The case does look really good, if you ask me
And once again, it's big...
That pen easily fits on top of the case

But of course the better known product is the Raspberry Pi. I didn't quite realize how small this thing was! (Well, not until a coworker showed me his Zero this morning.)

The Raspberry Pi Zero
That's the same pen, by the way

I don't know what I'll do with the Zero, but I definitely had to have it. And besides, I have to add to the comparison I wrote late last year once my CHIP arrives.

Raspberry for scale. I just love being able to say that.

Alright, I guess I'm off to see if I still have two SD cards lying around. And, more importantly, whether I can still find my card reader.

The Raspberry Pi Zero and Pine A64 side by side

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Has a game aged well?

I recently read a bit on Reddit that talked about "video games becoming outdated". It said that it didn't understand the concept, since technology can go out of date, while art cannot. Today, I want to talk about the same general concept. However, I'll call it "aging well" and "not aging well".

So, the idea is that some games have aged well. What does that mean? It means that though it was made in a different time, it still holds up to the changed standards. It means that it feels like it could have been made more recently. It means that when playing it you aren't bothered by the signs that the game is old. It means that it doesn't feel like it was limited because of restrictions that are no longer there.

Other games have not aged well. The controls may feel wrong and even with some tweaking you aren't getting to what you're used to today. The story might not hold up to standards that are set these days. It may be that it simply looks really bad to someone used to more newfangled graphics. The pacing might not be what we've come to expect. Perhaps it's simply the learning curve that couldn't pass today.

It should definitely be said that this is a very personal and opinion-based thing. It's better possible to discuss why you feel that a game has or has not aged well than to debate whether red is more beautiful than green or not, but in the end it is still about an opinion. It's like how we can discuss why we like a game and whether it is a good game, but at the end of the day we're still going to have our own opinions (hopefully).

Of course, this whole concept is not limited to games only. The same terminology is often used when talking about film. Both tv shows (as well as their individual episodes) can age well or poorly. It''s all about whether or not it holds up today. Whether or not it feels antiquated. Both these media are rather young and still actively evolving. Music is also going through a lot of changes, so it could probably apply there as well, even if I don't see it. I don't know if it can apply to more traditional forms of art, such as sculpting or painting. I don't know so much about them, but at the surface it doesn't seem to be the same there.

That's my views on aging of games and a couple of other media as well. I'm not sure if I can really put a conclusion on it and if I try to summarize it, I just end up paraphrasing something from the second or third paragraph, so I'll just leave it at this: not all games have aged equally well.