System Shock 2 High Definition Cutscenes

INTRODUCTION
System Shock 2 High Definition Cutscenes (SS2HDC) is an attempt to bring some fidelity into aging low resolution video cutscenes of System Shock 2 game.

Original cutscenes arrived in 640×480 and 320×240 resolutions, the new HD cutscenes are all encoded at 1280×960 (4x original resolution) with special sharpening process applied that restores certain details (mostly texts and simple visual elements). It is technically impossible to obtain video quality out of thin air (except in C.S.I. TV series hehe), but this is probably the closest thing we can get with current technology and certainly far better results than with Bicubic or Lanczos resampling.

VIDEO QUALITY COMPARISON SAMPLES (click for full size)*

Left image is SD quality (original video, scaled with bicubic filter), right image is HD (optimized HD version)

CS1_0400_SD CS1_0400_HD

CS3_0120_SD CS3_0120_HD

INTRO_0180_SD INTRO_0180_HD

*Actual in-game quality may vary due to video scaling engine used by the game as well as screen size/resolution. But if you feed it higher resolution video, it will do less of its crappy scaling… I have also done resampling test on higher resolutions, but resampling filters basically just went nuts at that point, drawing things entirely out of place because you can only interpolate image details to some extent. And 1280×960 was the sweet spot. It’s still 4 times the original resolution, so there’s that…

MORE SAMPLES (sort them by name)
http://s14.photobucket.com/user/rejzor/library/SS2HDC?sort=3&page=1

INSTALLATION
Go to:
.\System Shock 2\Data\cutscenes

First backup all the original videos and replace them with new HD videos. They are named the same, just overwrite them.

LIMITATIONS
Latest edition of System Shock 2 is required in order to use HD cutscenes. Cutscenes were tested using GOG version. I do not own Steam version, but I’m assuming they are using the same build as GOG. Original game required Indeo video decoder which is old and crappy. New game versions feature FFmpeg decoding engine which can playback pretty much any video.

DOWNLOAD:
https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=94A12102E5094675&id=94A12102E5094675!955

Every time someone mentions System Shock 2, it gets re-installed and replayed. This law still applies and now is a good time to do that and try out SS2HDC along with other visual enhancing mods for this game like SHTUP and Rebirth, you can find more here.

Let me know what you think about it in the comments down below and make sure you rate it :)

Enjoy!

Secure Folders Free files and folders protection

I’ve come across program called Secure Folders on Wilders Security forums. But this one is a bit different from the usual bunch of programs that lock folders with password. This one doesn’t. This one protects files and folders in a different way. It makes files or folders invisible to unauthorized apps, it makes files non-executable, it makes them read-only, or it can lock them entirely. They will be visible, but you won’t be able to read or modify them unless you’re using a trusted specified application. The number of options to protect files is quite extensive and will give you ability to protect nearly any kind of files/folders without making it difficult for every day use.

Ok, what can I use this program for you may ask?

Well, it’s quite simple actually. Program has few limitations that I’ll discuss with the developers (like missing strict per rule trusted applications for even tougher, more detailed protection), but in a nutshell, I see it as an amazing tool to protect your important files and documents from getting stolen or encrypted (ransomware malware) by unauthorized applications. I see it as a great way to protect your browser user data folders so malware can’t simply read your locally stored bookmarks and passwords and send the data to a remote server. And just these two abilities give this tool an incredible value (yeah, even though it’s free!).

A simple example on how you can protect your music and photos from ransomware…

SF_Main

SF_TrustedApps

What does this mean? This means ONLY explorer.exe, musicbee.exe and paintdotnet.exe can modify the specified file types. All 3 apps are essential to use those protected files without any problems, but no other app will be able to modify protected files. It’ll still be able to read them, but not modify, which is crucial to defend from ransomware. You can even make it fully global using * so it doesn’t really matter where it is located. Just be careful so you don’t lock yourself out of the system by hiding system files or anything similar, making system unbootable!

Too bad I haven’t found this app sooner, but I’m glad I know it now. Kudos to the developer, it’s a really well made app with superb interface, something you rarely see with such “indie” programs.

DOWNLOAD:
http://securefoldersfree.com/index.html

Btw, if you want to protect something and you don’t know how exactly, just ask me down below and I’ll try to explain what goes into what list :)

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Redistributable Downloads

Programs often fail to work because of missing Visual C++ Runtime libraries, even more so without any error messages. Programs or games simply don’t run or they crash in a second or two after start… You can only see the real reason for these problems within Event Viewer which 99% of people never look at. By installing all C++ runtime libraries, you’ll most likely solve large majority of such issues.

IMPORTANT

For Windows 32bit editions, you only need to install x86 versions. For WIndows 64bit, it’s recommended to install both, x86 and x64 versions. Perform Windows Update after installation of all packages in order to fully update them.

If redistributable downloads never start, try downloading them with Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime 2013
x86 / x64 / ARM

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime 2012
x86 / x64 / ARM

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime 2010
x86 / x64

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime 2008
x86 / x64

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime 2005
x86 / x64

I will update this blog post in the future when new versions get released. If any of the links ever goes dead, let me know so I can fix it.

Change F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin FOV

Finally started playing this game and got greeted by a silly console FOV that made my eyes bleed. As you probably already know me I’ve rage quit instantly and searched for fixes. And here it is…

Open folder:
.\Documents\WBGames\FEAR2\[random_numbers]\

Open “settings.cfg” with Notepad and add line:
“FovY” “85.00000”

…in the end of the settings.cfg file. It should look like this:

FEAR2_FOVYou can change the value to anything you want, though be aware that FOV scaling is a bit funny here, probably because of the Y axis usage or something. I’ve used the usual 110° and it was really stretched. 85 kinda feels ok as it’s not as narrow as it was before and doesn’t distort the view depth

Make sure you set settings.cfg to “Read Only” afterwards (best to do this after you already adjust graphic settings within the game for obvious reasons). This will ensure that setting remains in the CFG file, otherwise it’ll be gone after game restart.

Enjoy!

My view on the #GamerGate, a post on SPJ AirPlay 2015-05-13

I’ve posted this on Michael Koretzky blog and I think it’s worth reposting it on my own blog to give people a feel on some basics surrounding GamerGate…

My message below…

After ~6 months that I’ve been in #GamerGate (yeah, late joiner), I still don’t understand how people are so narrow-minded that they don’t understand few very basic and easy to understand things:

a) #GamerGate is a hashtag. A group of people identified under a hashtag that has no control, no moderation, no council, no tribunal, no restrictions, no logins, no identifications. Anyone can use it, anyone can abuse it.

b) No one is denying that there were bad things done on both sides, because of the a)

c) Because of a), we also cannot and will not take responsibility for all the trolls, doxers, serious harassers and so forth. We have and will continue to condemn anyone doing that, but to be honest, there are things that are beyond our control because of a). Block the trolls and call the police for the rest of cases.

d) No matter how it all started, at this moment, we are concerned over the outcome of it and that is, ethics in gaming journalism and that is what #GamerGate is currently and very seriously addressing with constant condemning of unethical journalists, deepfreeze.it website (which is still evolving) and now talks with the SPJ. If that is not a good enough proof that we are in fact about ethics, then I don’t know what is.

e) Questions regarding alleged lack of diversity in gaming and “gamers are all misogynists” is still on a table and as a gamer I will fight that (because it’s NOTHING like what I’m experiencing in 20+ years gaming history), but not on the SPJ AirPlay or in any other way related to SPJ, because this is not a concern for SPJ. Unless journalists are the ones who are calling half of their reader base misogynists without a single trace of evidence. In which case, it does become an ethical issue and does become a concern for SPJ. Which further proves #GamerGate has been and still is about ethics. You know, gamers are dead and all that…

Registry cleaners that you can rely on

I’ve tested tons of registry cleaners through all these years. In fact, I’ve been testing them since year 1999 through Windows 98 up to current Windows 8.1. It’s kinda my obsession I guess. But over all these years, I’ve learned that in case of registry cleaning, cleaning less is in fact more!

Let me explain why. Large majority of registry cleaners want to show user how effective they are by finding massive number of entries to clean. And majority of users actually prefer cleaners that clean more. But the thing is, majority of these cleaners will mess things up sooner or later. You can trust me on that one. And if you’re not the kind of type of person who is willing to do a manual cleaning of registry using RegSeeker, RegScanner or old freeware JV16 PowerTools, you want to stick with easy to use, automated, but tested and trustworthy registry cleaners.

And out of all of them, only two got my “certification” for being absolutely problem free. I’ve been using both of them for years and never ever had a single error because of them being too eager at cleaning. And best of all, they are both free!

CCleaner

I’ve been using CCleaner for years and years and while it probably cleans the least out of all registry cleaners, it is probably the most reliable of them all. Very reliable tool that also comes with few other goodies like cookies cleaning, system startup control, junk files cleaning, but I mostly use it for registry cleaning.

ccleanerapp

DOWNLOAD: https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner

The second one that I’ve been using for quite a while now, might even be years already is Wise Registry Cleaner. It usually finds a bit more than CCleaner, but seems to be just as reliable with one important condition that I’ll describe below…

wiseregistrycleaner

It is very reliable, but only if you set it to search with “Safe Scan” mode. Those that are found to be potentially risky to remove are entirely ignored and I suggest you keep it this way. Otherwise I cannot guarantee for problem free cleaning. Open the settings and select “Safe Scan” option. Like so…

wisecleaner_safe

Best thing about Wise Registry Cleaner is that it also comes in a portable version so you can throw it on USB drive or if you simply prefer if registry cleaning program itself isn’t making the registry more dirty with its own presence :)

You can also use the Registry Defrag option which compacts the physical registry files, but I highly recomend you DO NOT use “System Tuneup” feature. While registry cleaning works amazingly well, the Tuneup part is something I’m not so sure about. Avoid it if possible…

DOWNLOAD: http://www.wisecleaner.com/wise-registry-cleaner.html
PORTABLE VERSION: http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/wise-registry-cleaner-portable

Paid game mods and failed logic behind it

So, Valve added option for modders to sell their mods. People instantly took it and mostly made bunch of stupid crappy reskins in a hope to make a quick buck. The main problem that happens here is that you get community flooded with stupid useless crap and causes proper modders to simply disappear in the flood of (below) average crappy mods, making it even harder for proper dedicated modders to earn a buck they really deserve.

Then there was an outrage that this would ruin the existing modding community that works just fine as it is and Valve took it down. Lets face it, majority of the best mods and total conversions are done absolutely free of charge as a hobby for someone who just wants to create cool new stuff and be rewarded with a “mod cred” as I call it. That sensation when people adore your creation and can’t stop playing it and talking about it. It gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling that you’ve contributed something to the community (and which feeling I know as a compatibility patcher who delivers compatibility patches for certain games free of charge).

But here is something I haven’t seen being mentioned by anyone, anywhere…

They’ve introduced the “BUY” button for the mods. Why haven’t they considered option “DONATE” instead?

Modders are scattered all over the internet under various communities dedicated to specific games. Unite them under one massive platform like Steam and give them simple foundation on which they can deliver mods to gamers and also get donations through it in an easy way without dealing with all the hassle to establish the “Donate me” thing on their own webpage?

Imagine, modding community wouldn’t really change much from what it has always been, but gamers would be able to DONATE any amount they desire to the modder (and a small cut from that to the Valve for providing the platform). Wouldn’t this be more convenient and fair for everyone?

Anyone could use the mods so nothing would really change from the current state of modding communities, but when you have a DONATE button just a click away, it becomes a habit for people to donate, especially if the mods are really cool (Black Mesa Source springs to my mind). And I think this model would work really well, far better than the one they just canceled…

What do you think about my idea? Would DONATE instead of BUY be a better option for a modding community platform?