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Take an average game, be it an FPS, a beat 'em up, anything. Then add a Star Wars theme to it. The game immediately becomes a hit, and people enjoy playing it, even though it isn't a great game. The same applies to Star Trek games, replace Captain Joe Bloggs with Picard, and call the spaceship Enterprise, and you've got an immediate hit. Like Star Wars, Star Trek can make an average game good. The problem is fans aren't all stupid, and it's about time they got a decent game that did Star Trek justice. A lot of Star Trek games in the past have been just above average, but there's been nothing that has stood out. Have the tables finally turned, can Bridge Commander be the first classic Trek game? It's credentials are good, it's made by Totally Games, whose resume includes the great X-Wing space shooter series (yes, it is going back somewhat) as well as a lot of newer, good games. The game is basically a tactical space shooter, although the single player game does have some adventure elements to it. There are three main sections to the game, the single player mode, quick battles (i.e. you just choose a few ships and fight) as well as multiplayer. The chances are you'll have player a few space shoot 'em ups before, the likes of Colony Wars on the Playstation, the X-Wing series on the PC, or Descent Freespace on the PC. They're all fast, action based shooters which do work quite well, but Star Trek doesn't work like that. A starship is a massive beast, powerful and strong, but not at all nimble. Bridge Commander recreates this, and rather than having a fast moving sharp turning ship you control a large lumbering beast. Of course, in multiplayer you could take control of a fast Cardassian Scout ship, or even a federation shuttle. Large ships like the Romulan Warbird are massive, slow clumsy beasts, while Klingon Birds of Prey are much more manoeuvrable. All this add up to make the game more tactical than
action. When in battle you have to think about what you're doing. Most ships have phaser banks located at various locations on the ship. You have to be lined up with the ship you're firing at to use your phasers, but the phaser banks are depleted quickly and need time to recharge, so you must rotate the phaser banks you fire from, which means you need to move the ship accordingly. Torpedoes are the same, they are locates on the front and rear of the ship, so you need to be either ahead or behind a ship to successfully launch torpedoes. You have to be careful when firing them too, they only track their target for 4 seconds, so a fast moving ship can easily dodge them. Enemy starships are often well defended, so simply pummelling them with randomly placed shots isn't going to get you far. You can target their subsystems, for example taking out their engines or shield generators, leaving them vulnerable to a few well placed shots. You also have your own ship to care for - including managing power and assigning repairs. As the title suggest, you control the ship, and sit on the captains seat on the bridge. You can, if you wish, simply assign orders to members of the crew and let them get on with it. Much better, however, when fighting, to enter tactical mode, where the view changes outside the ship. You gain control of the ship, as well as the weapons if you like, you can do as little or as much as you want! Graphically the game is very strong, although you will need a powerful PC to play it at its highest resolutions. The ships all look true to the series, and inside the ship everything looks like it should. Other characters (including appearances from Picard and Data) look very good, using digitised faces stuck on the character. When in battle weapons fire, ships are damaged, and things explode - all in glorious 3D, to be honest on a top end PC it looks almost as good as the series itself. Inside the ship too, the bridge ro
cks and shakes as you're hit, the lights dim and panels explode. Another strong point is the sound. While not using music from the TV shows, it is certainly Star Trek inspired. All the sound effects are spot on compared to the TV series, and all the characters are audible (indeed, the voices for Picard and Data are from the real actors!). Technically the game is very good, and it's actually rather fun to play too. The single player mode links together battles to make more of an adventure. You have to fly to various planets, meet people, even save some ships sometime or destroy some asteroids, it's not all fighting, although that is the main section of the game. The single player mode could be thought of as being like an episode of Star Trek, it has a strong plot and the story plays a massive part in the game. However, the single player game is not all that long or a massive challenge, so sooner or later you're going to finish, so what then? I haven't been fortunate to play multiplayer, but it is basically the quick battle mode with human players in place of computer controlled ships. These modes let you set up your own battle, you can choose between various ships to both control and fight against, including ships from the Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans and Ferengi races, as well as a selection of Federation ships. The choices are endless, you can pit a large gang of shuttle craft against a larger craft, and can include starbases, this is in addition to a large number of normal ships, some large and slow and other slow, fast and manoeuvrable. You can change the AI level, as well as outnumbering yourself (or of course outnumbering your opponent). This does add a lot to the game, is very tactical, and very like real star trek battles. My only gripe - there is no Borg in the game! Multiplayer adds a few new modes, such as defend the starbase. This game is good, probably the best game to carry the Star Trek logo to date - i
t isn't perfect though. The single player game is short, and there are a few niggles. Nothing major, only that the single player modes is short and very linear - no room for exploration. It would be nice to be able to plan attacks too, if the game could be combined with a strategic section, say the Federation at war with the Cardassians, you could plan attacks on various locations, manage ships etc. Maybe that would be a bit boring, but if done correctly could add a whole new dimension to the game. As it is they've tried to shoe-horn an adventure game in to an engine which is designed for fighting, basically the story sections (which include flying to various planets, talking to people) are just interludes for the battles, and with very little freedom to do what you want it seems a little futile. My only other gripe is the lack of an in game save feature, the game is only saved at the start of every mission. The engines good, it has potential, and will hopefully be put to further use in future games. The online community could well take off, and I've no doubt new ships and mods will soon be available online, if not already. A great game, well worth getting, the first decent Star Trek game to date! Minimum specs Pentium 2 300Mhz 64Mb RAM 16MB Graphics Card 650Mb HDD Space DirectX 8
My PC is proof of Darwins theory of evolution. It constantly evolves, and operates on a survival of the fittest principle - the best bits stay in, while poor parts are replaced by better ones. Little of the original system remains, and although it's still massively underpowered by todays standards it's getting better - it's latest addition is this, a 40Gb Seagate hard drive. Normally I get things second hand from auctions, it's cheaper and I can get older components that are perfectly adequate for my PC. I sell all the bits I no longer want on the auctions, so it's a cheap way to keep your PC moving in the right direction, and makes it a rather personal piece of electronics as every component was hand selected then installed. Some people like to fiddle with cars, I like to fiddle with my PC. Simple. Anyway, for once I decided a rare things was needed. Something brand new! My old hard drive had given up the ghost, and even with 3 hard drives I found lying around I could only muster a few gigs. On last count I had 1553 mp3s and quite a few cartoons I've downloaded, as well as lots of other stuff. My other PCs (the one I leave alone for the family to use) has a 15Gb hard drive and I'd filled that, so I decided something bigger was needed. Looking around 40Gb drives seemed to offer a reasonable capacity at a very reasonable price (although I'd guess the best megabyte per pound figure lies around the 80Gb range). I saw this drive for £60 (approx. £54 + vat) on ebuyer.com, thought it was a good deal, so got it. Today it's specs are lowly. It only spins at 5400rpm, unlike most new drives which are 7200rpm, and it only supports ATA100 and not the newest ATA133. My motherboard only supports the 33 version of it anyway, so I'm not missing much there, but for most peoples needs this is going to be fast enough anyway. I would imagine that the differences between the two are very small, and given the price of
this drive, I'm not complaining! The drives uses the standard IDE interface, although if you do want to make use of ATA-66 or higher you will need a supporting IDE cable. Apart from that, you just swap it with your old hard drive and plug the cables in, or add it in another bay and use it with your original drive. Seagate provide tools on their website to allow you to copy contents of other drives over easily, as well as software which offers a whole host of other features, whether it be partitioning, formatting or diagnostics. My drive was the OEM version so it came bare in a Seagate (patented) Sea-Shell device, a plastic bpox basically, that was specially designed to reduce shock during deliveries and reduce the number of drives broken in transit. It also claims to be shock proof up to 130G. Which sounds a lot. In addition the drive is housed in a rubber wrapper, which also has the job of stopping shock to the drive, and preventing damage to the circuit board (by static). All really, really useful and apparently very inventive, but basically they put it in a plastic box to send it to you, and cover it in a rubber wrapper to stop it getting damaged. The wonders of modern technology; I wonder how many geniuses it took to work that lot out! So put it in, turn on your PC, and you use it like you'd use any other hard drive. Your BIOS should auto-detect it and all you will have to do is install an OS. Unless, of course your BIOS is old and can't detect the drive due to some size limitation. That's where the jumpers come in, as well as a bit of software from the Seagate site. A common limit in older BIOS's is 32Gb (which is what mine has), although older BIOS's may have limits at a range of other places. The trick is the same with each, you change a jumper on the drive so it reports as 33Gb to the BIOS, then Seagate software loads just after the BIOS is finished, and regains the remaining space for you. I won't go
in to the fine details, but it works fine, and lets older PCs use the drives full capacity. Apart from this there are the usual jumpers for slave/master/cable select etc. In use the drive is like any other, with one exception - it is silent. It cannot be heard over the sound of the system fans, at least I can't - it makes a change from the usual clicking and whirring, although it is strange at first to hear no noise, as you can normally tell your PC is doing something if it chugs away. Apart from being silent, it's just another 40Gb hard drive. It performs well, but then so do all new drives, so that's not such a big thing. The biggest thing it's got going for it is its price, at only £60 it's a steal!
Most of the PC hardware I buy comes from auction sites, it's cheaper and you can find a whole host of interesting stuff on there. My main PC at home stays pretty much unchanged, but my second PC is a bit of a project, it evolves almost weekly with a new component here or there. It's been struggling along for too long now on two smallish hard drives (a few gigs each) so I finally thought it time to upgrade. At first I would have settled for a 20Gb hard drive, but looking at the prices I soon realised that I may as well pay £10 more for a 40Gb drive over a 20gb drive. I don't know where the best £ per megabyte drive lies at the moment, but it's probably nearer the 80Gb range. Incase you wondered, the £ per megabyte is traditionally used to work out the best value hard disk drive, you take the size of the drive and divide by the cost, hence coming up the number of megabytes you get for £1. This is usually at a highest level in the middle of the hard drive range; for example, a 20Gb drive will never cost half the price of a 40Gb drive, due to material costs, while massive drives carry a premium as they're hot new technology. Anyway, back to the case in hand. I looked around, and the best price I could find was £60 for a 40Gb Seagate ATA-100 drive on ebuyer.com. This managed to beat the price of a 40Gb Maxtor drive on Scans today only section, which is a good indication that this was cheaply priced. The drive was only 5200rpm, and probably getting towards the end of its shelf life, but never-the-less, seemed like a bargain. So anyway, late Monday night I ordered the drive from the site, paying £6 carriage for 3 day delivery. They confirmed my order on Tuesday morning, and around Wednesday lunchtime the drive arrived at my house. Not a bad service at any rate! Looking around the site they do seem to have a lot of low prices, I had a look around and found them to be very cheap on a lot of items. They even have a bargain bas
ement section where they offer some end of line or second hand stock at low prices. The site itself is well laid out, if a little plain. It splits all the items up in to sections, then in to sub-sections (such as drives-hard drives-ide), and then you can filter the items by things like price or specifications. All the items are clearly displayed on a white background, simple but effective! Ordering is easy, you need to do the usual sign up and enter all your details, but once you've done that you're away. Postage is a little steep (£6 for 3 days) although it may come down if you only order a small item (all the items I thought about were big or heavy, i.e. cases or a hard drive, and when I recently posted a hard drive it did cost £4 with Royal Mail, so their £6 charge is justified). If they have the item in stock, then their postage seems fast, and the prices are good. The hard drive was well packed, and arrived undamaged. I like them, I suppose if you read other reviews someone will have a gripe with them, nothing is ever perfect, but on the one time I've dealt with this lot they were good, so top marks from me.
A gambling man I certainly ain't. Infact when my horse came home fourth in the grand national I had to wait until the website told me how much I'd won. But I still managed to make myself £15 on Saturday while only betting 50p of my own money. Wanna know how? Read on.... From time to time Blue Square offer a free £10 bet when you join up; they ran the promotion last Wimbledon, and again for this years Grand National. It's probably finished now, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they are a decent gambling site, although I can't say I've tried them all. Typing www.bluesq.com in to your browser takes you to the site, where you have the choice to register, log in, or browse the site as a guest. You have to be a member to gamble, but joining is easy and free, and only takes a few moments. It's the usual stuff - name, address, declaring you are over 18 etc. Once this is done, you can deposit money in to your account - this is done using either a credit or debit card, and thankfully they accept just about all of them. To claim the ten pounds free offer you need to deposit a minimum of £10 in your account, and then make a bet. The site remembers your card number for future deposits and withdrawals from your account. On the one hand this saves time typing in your card details, but I'm never happy to know that my debit card details are sitting on a servers hard drive somewhere. Anyway, crediting your account is instantaneous, so within about 10 minutes of visiting the site you can make your first bet. Withdrawing money from your account is equally as simple, although depending on which credit/debit card you have it may take a week or so to arrive back in your account. I had no real intention of betting lots of my own money, I wanted to have some fun with their free £10, but to gain this I needed to make a bet first. The minimum stake is 50p, so I had a quick check in the newspaper and put 50p on the nose on
a horse running at a race at Aintree. I had never had a real bet before, and watching the race on TV even for such a small stake was quite exciting. Unfortunately the horse I picked came dead last, but never mind, I'd only wasted 50p! Betting on the site is easy as everything is split up in to categories. The site concentrates on sport but does have limited betting on other events, and the stock market. Within the sports section there are all the sports you would expect, football, racing, rugby, snooker - it's all there. There loads of options available, you can bet either on the current price or the price at the start of the race, add bets together and make forecasts on lots of things at once. It's all rather clever, most is way above my head, but the site does make it as clear as possible. Simple bets (ie on one horse) have a returns calculator to tell you how much you can win, but more complex bets (ie. the ones that might take you a while) don't have this calculator, which is annoying. Anyway, when you've chosen your bet you select how much money you want to bet, click the button, confirm it, and then wait for the event to take place. I have little knowledge of gambling but I managed to understand it, it really isn't that daunting! Once I had placed my 50p bet the free £10 arrived in my account. They aren't as silly as to let you transfer this back to your bank, but I could transfer my original £9.50 (£10 minus the 50p bet) back in to my account. So I did. I was left with £10 in my Blue Square account, free to bet on whatever I wanted, and all I'd done was spend 50p. Good deal if you ask me! If you want to play it safe at this point you can bet on a snooker or tennis match (or something where there are only two outcomes, player A wins or player B wins). If you choose one with even odds, say both players are 5-7. Bet £5 on each, then whoever wins you will then win the same amount of money, plus one of t
he £5 stakes back giving you about £7.50 for free. But that would be boring - instead why not start off gambling for real, safe in the knowledge that you aren't losing your own money! Details of all your bets are available in your user account on the site, you can see previous bets, bets waiting to be resolved and how much you've won. I was very impressed with the sites update time, when I won on the national the money was in my account on the site within 10 minutes of the race ending. Speedy service indeed! Overall the site is slick, and easy to use for a newbie to the gambling scene. From what I saw odds are competitive when compared with high street bookies, and the range of bets available is impressive. It's also one of the biggest name online bookies, so you can have confidence in them. Still, I won't be staying. Gambling isn't my thing, and in the end only the bookies will win. Unless, of course, you're using their money!
What is it with these coffee shops that are springing up in almost every town and city in the country? Could it be that we have finally turned in to America? Has Friends really got that much influence that we think it would be cool to spend half our lives in a Coffee shop? And something else, if they charge as much in the USA I must question how Joey can afford to keep buying coffee! (After all his acting skills leave a lot to be desired!). Costa Coffee is probably not half as well known as the famous Starbucks, but it still pops up all over the place. And it sells coffee. Although to be honest, most of it couldn't be further away from some Nescafe and hot water if it tried. Everything's called latte, or expresso, or moca, or something. They don't mention the word coffee, that wouldn't be cool y'see. They have as many combinations of milk and different types of coffee as you could ever want, if you knew what the all meant that is. The worrying thing, I don't even know which one of them (if any) is a normal coffee. I should read the signs, but I don't, I just go for a hot chocolate. Better make that a large one though, as the smaller ones are just a bit small for me. Large is probably a normal sized mug (like you'd drink at home), only you have to pay around £2 for the privilege. My biggest gripe with this place is the prices that they charge. Most drinks they sell cost between £1.50 and £2 or more, depending on what you get. A pint of milk is what, 40p. Water is free. Coffee in the amounts needed for one cup costs little. They must be laughing all the way to the bank. Of course, they give you some sob story about how they use the best coffee beans (and I'm sure I saw something about fair trade too). Sure thing, the best quality beans that must be mass produced to provide every one of their shops with coffee. That £2 could buy me a pint (and I know which one I'd rather have) or for £3.50 I could go
down to the Whittards of Chelsea shop and buy a bag of their ground coffee, the stuff you use in cafetieres. They have lots of nice different types, with proper names, rather than moca-choca-expresso-latte with strawberry and chocolate. Fancy some food? Then you can get some. How about a nice cake or muffin, at only double its normal price. A £3 sandwich that costs £2 anywhere else? The food is nice enough, it just also makes a big enough dent in your wallet. I've been in a few Costas, and one of their good points is that they all look nice. They have a modern cool relaxed style (if that makes any sense). Gone are the days of generic seating in Bakers Oven, here we have comfy chairs, shiny bits and relaxed lighting. Service is also good, and the staff friendly, it's a nice place to drink a coffee. But then you could go the local cafe, have a standard coffee and a snack and only pay half the price. Yes, you may sit in a dreary cafe on uncomfortable seats, and drink not so nice coffee. All you gotta do is decide if you wanna pay extra to drink here, or save money and go to a local cafe.
DVDs are pretty cool. Much better than VHS as a format, that's for sure, but I can't help but think we've gone a bit crazy for this new fangled technology. Sure, DVDs offer a better picture quality and a whole lot of other stuff, but are they good enough to warrant a £150 player, and then £20 a DVD, as opposed to £10 (or often less) for the VHS copy of the film. Are they really worth it? Or are they just a hot new technology that we all go for as fast as we can? The DVD players we buy at the moment don't even record, which means we need our normal VHS video anyway. DVDs are undeniably good technology, at least they were a few years ago. They are basically CDs which can hold more information, and one use they are put to is to hold films. The combination of their large size and the MPEG compression they use mean they can hold high quality video and sound, much better than your standard TV picture, and VHS tapes. Being digital the quality won't degrade over time (although does a DVD really last forever?) like VHS tapes do, so they sound rather good really. All it takes is a modest PC (approx. 300Mhz CPU) to decode the video held on DVD, or a dedicated DVD player. So a new movie format is born, and seems to be good for everyone. Quality is good for the viewer, and for the film companies, they get to control what is released where (the region thing, I'll explain later) and also stop piracy (they thought). As it turns out DVD does give the high quality videos we all wanted, but it can be copied using nothing more than your home PC, and then if you want to be really flashy recompressed using DIVx (a better compression) and reduced to CD size, with around 80% of the quality of the DVD on a CD 1/5 the size. First round to the hackers. The second security measure, region coding, was designed to keep DVDs in their correct part of the world. So you couldn't watch American DVDs in the UK. Why, I'm not really sure, it
could be to do with exports, or the fact movies are released much earlier in some places. But it isn't a problem, there are workarounds for the majority of DVD players, and even some multi-region players that will play discs from anywhere. So I guess that's round 2 to the hackers as well. While the systems set up to stop DVD piracy and stuff like that may have failed, people do like the word 'quality'. It's a buzz word or something. As long as your product is better quality, people will buy it. Regardless of the fact that they're gonna watch it on the same 21" TV with two tiny speakers as they watch movies. DVDs may look and sound great, but they look and sound really great only with some really great technology. Like Dolby surround sound, and a massive wide screen fancy TV. Anyway, before I get in to a rant on DVDs, there is one area that they haven't taken off all that much. The PC software side of things. DVD drives for your PC are common place now, but I really don't think they were made to watch DVDs on your home PC. No, they were made so your computer good read DVD's that contained software too. Just like normal CDs can hold audio and data, so DVDs can hold video and data (and audio too if you want to waste some money on the new DVD audio thing). DVDs may now be commonly known as Digital Video Discs, but their original name was Digital Versatile Discs. They were supposed to be the new PC software format, with their increased capacity and all. While the odd game or Linux release now comes on DVD, there is also a CD version, the DVD software market doesn't seem to be going anywhere near as fast as the video market. Oh, and of course you can now get re-writable DVD drives. For £200, then about £10 a shot for the discs. Reminds of writable CDs in the early days, but look at Cd-RW drives now, they're commonplace! DVD-RAM drives are definitely the future, I just wouldn't buy one yet! An
yway, rolling back to DVD movies, which is what I meant to talk about. I do like DVDs, and I'd rather watch one than watch a VHS movie. It's like the difference between audio tapes and CDs, everything sounds and looks better, and you have instant access to tracks (or in the case of DVDs, scenes). And of course, the infamous DVD extras. Extras seem to be something they bolt on to a DVD. At first they make you go wow. I really wanted the Fight Club DVD because it had a whole extra DVD (yes, a few gigabytes worth) of extras. And the only time I ever looked at it? When I reviewed the thing on Dooyoo. Extras seemed good when DVDs were new fangled things, and I do watch the odd documentary the odd time. But watch the whole movie with the director talking over it? Some 2-bit band playing some music that's in the film for two minutes. Oh, and how about some cheap biographies of the people in the film. They're useless. I don't read them, and I bet 95% of you don't read them. Yet they seem to be the reason why they charge £20 for a DVD and £10 for a video. Y'see, at the moment DVDs just don't seem economical. Most DVDs are £20, some cheapy ones are £10. All videos are about £10, cheapy ones just a few pounds. I don't use the extras, so why go for the DVD? The extra picture quality. Personally I'd rather buy two VHS 'lesser quality' movies than one all shining all singing DVD that may look a little better. Personal opinion perhaps, or perhaps I'm not a perfectionist. I don't care, they're practically giving videos away these days, and I'm more than happy to take them. DVDs are certainly the technology for the future, especially when recordable DVDs become cheap enough for the masses. But for now I see no point in rushing in, I'm going to enjoy the cheap twilight years of VHS!
But saying as the master can't do it, I'll have to try instead. Being the category guide for the computers should make me have a pretty good idea of how to go about writing a good opinion. At least you'd hope so........wouldn't you? Whether or not I'm a computer-lyrical genius is doubtful, but I have read enough about computers to give you a few pointers on what to write and what not to write. I have a few things to say as a guide, things I've noticed when reading, then I have a few things to say in general, then I have a few unofficial things to say. So anyway, here goes Top Tips - From a Guides Point of View ====================================== First of all my biggest tip would have to be don't write about stuff you don't understand or haven't got a clue about. Cos its worthless. Would I write an op about a breast milk pump thing? Hell no, to be honest I didn't know what they were till I read someone's op on one (I was curious, OK!). So if you don't know your floppy gigabyte from your USB drive then don't bother writing about them. There's really nothing worse than reading someone's op on a PC component, only to find they just bought their first PC and have never even switched on one before. Please don't write a review on your Pentium 4 chip in your PC saying 'It's really fast, it is' because anyone seriously looking for help on buying computer parts isn't going to find it much use. At all. If you've just got your new PC then review it, as a new PC. Tell everyone how well it works, how easy it was to set up, stuff like that. Basically point number one is don't review something you haven't got a clue about. Next up are the reviews that list the technical specifications. You know, the ones that buy a new graphics card and write 'This card has a 350Mhz RAMDAC, a revolutionary NX-401 processor with a cor
e speed of 200Mhz, 64Mb RAM and is capable of Direct3d, OpenGL, with support for FSAA and resolutions of up 1600x1200 @ 90Hz'. Or something like that. And I'll tell you what, I really like to know that kind of thing. Everyone who's going to buy something likes to know that too. But that isn't a review, or an opinion, that is stating facts. Do state facts, but then state opinion too. Guess that goes for all of Dooyoo. Point 2 - Include opinions, don't just recite specifications. Leading on from that, are the people who go the other way, and buy a new graphics card and write 'It is really good and it plays Quake 3 really really fast and it is brilliant'. That it maybe, but then the same thing could be said about tonnes of cards. If you've paid £300 for a top of the range GeForce then I'd bloody well hope it was good at playing games! So point 3 has to be; don't just say something is great and leave it at that. Next up are a set of reviews bordering on needing deleting. I call them 'generic reviews'. Computer are the kinda thing you can do it with, say you have the same graphics card chipset (GeForce 2MX 400 for example), it may be made by 8 different manufacturers, but at heart be the same card. You get people who write amazingly similar ops on similar products, if you know what I mean. Like those forms you have where you just fill in the blanks. Borderline cheating in my books, so....... Point number 4 - Don't do generic reviews Which leads me swiftly on to the next one, please don't review things you don't have, as a lot of people obviously do. I know you can string together a credible review by reading a review of something in a magazine, but it's pointless and defeats the point of Dooyoo Point 5 - Own what you review. Top Tips in General =================== Ok. Quick few little tips on how to make your review better
. 1. Cover as much as you can. If I'm buying a graphics card I want to know what I get with it, how easy it is to install, and of course how well it works. Lots of people miss out the first couple of bits. 2. Say how much it costs. It's quite annoying to read a raving review, think 'I'd like that' and then not know how much it costs! 3. Make your opinion understandable to the masses. Not everyones a computer genius, so don;t baffle people with technical jargon. 4. On the other hand, don't make it too simple, find a balance. 5. I know Dooyoo's for personal opinion, but try not to get too worked up about a single experience. Say you bought a Seagate hard drive, and it broke, it doesn't mean they're all crap! Unofficial Tips =============== Things I probably shouldn't say as the guidey person. 1. NO MORE REVIEWS ON PC WORLD OR ELSE I'LL KILL YOU! Yes, we all know how crap it is, no we don't need one more person to tell us that the staff are stupid and that they always try to sell you warranties. Everyone knows that, at least 200 times over. Stop them, PLEASE I BEG YOU! 2. Don't pad. It's stupid. I've seen people write pages on a mouse. You can't do if you stick to relevant info. No one minds the odd deviation from the topic at hand, but people just set their sites on a long review and write tosh to get there. Do you really want to know 'The mouse comes in the standard beige PC colour, has 2 buttons on the left and right hand side and uses the traditional ball in the underbelly method of control. It connect to your PC via a beige lead about 1m long and uses a PS2 plug which connects to the mouse PS2 socket on the back of you PC' when you could say 'It's a bog standard mouse'. Some people even tell me what the GOD DAMN box looks like, colours and all. All in their struggle to write lots, and hopefully get
a crown. Well you won't get a nomination from me, infact you'll probably won't even get a VU! 3. I said before not to write on stuff you don't know about, but infact please do. It's hilarious to read someone writing, in complete confidence, about their new computer part, only to get it totally wrong and make a fool of themselves. Hilarious, really it is! And um, that's it, apart from the general use decent English, spell check and try to make it make sense, don't use awful grammar. That applies to everything on Dooyoo though, so happy writing! PS. Don't take offence if I've laughed at something you think you've done, I too have written an op on PC World, and the other stuff I complained about is usually done by the churners anyway. So it's not you I'm getting at! Oh, and good luck with anything you choose to write (I really want an op on a Seagate 40Gb ATA-100 hard drive cos I might buy one!).
Bensons World? Never heard of them? Me neither, till the other night that was, when my friend asked me if I wanted a free copy of 'Night of the Living Dead', you know, one of the great Romero Zombie movies. They're well cool, so when I got the chance of getting this free on DVD I leapt at the chance. It turns out that it isn't quite free, it costs £1.50. Still a bargain, although how £1.50 is free I don't know, they don't even claim it's for P&P. So if you fancy a free copy of this DVD head on over to, www.bensons-world.co.uk/freedvd.htm Oh, and don't complain to me if it's not there anymore, no doubt it's a limited offer while stocks last or the such like (and it comes in a cardboard thing rather than a DVD case, unless that is you buy another DVD, then you get it in a plastic box which I suppose is the real thing, although I don't know cos I'm cheapy and went for the cardboard one, awards for the longest sentence greatfully accepted). That's the main reason for me writing the review, see if any of you fancy a free DVD that costs £1.50, but knowing how hard you Dooyoo lot are to please I better tell you a bit more. Bensons World. When I heard that name I got an image of an old man selling beds. I don't know why, although I'm sure there is a Bensons World that sells beds, which would explain it. Anyway, whatever other enterprises have stolen the good name of this DVD site, accept no fakes, this site is rather good! I mainly like them because they gave me a nice cheap DVD, and to be honest I'll probably never go there again, because I don't buy many DVDs online (many = none). But if I ever did, which I won't, I think I'd go here. They have lots of DVDs, probably the vast majority of all the DVDs ever released, although that's a total guess. Lets just say lots. And most of them rather cheap too. They had a special offer which l
ets you buy a large choice of DVDs for under a tenner. Cheap that is. Really, it's the same price as videos. Which are the same as DVDs, apart from a tacky documentary about how they made the film, which no one watches anyway. But of course, DVD's are great, everyone knows that, being a new technological advance and all that. Only a fool would see a problem in ditching trusty VHS and our collection of tapes, then spending money on a DVD player, and DVDs, all to enjoy a new level of movie entertainment (oh, sorry, I mean documentaries on how they made the movie). Anyway, back to Bensons World. You choose a DVD, then you buy it. Simple really, like any other DVD site up until now. Ah, but I hear you cry, I don't own a credit card. Never fear, they take every type of plastic card you own, including Solo and Switch and probably even your Tescos Reward card. If you're unfortunate enough not to own one you can even post them a cheque, and I'm sure if you asked nicely you could post them a tenner too. For anyone suspicious of the internet, you can ring them too, and give them your card number that way (because phones are obviously much more secure - one time I must tell you the story of how you could listen in to phone calls on the old analogue mobiles!). When you order your DVD you get a nice email from the site telling you that you've ordered. Just like every other site, but the nice thing is when they dispatch your DVD they send you an email too. Which means you know when to expect it, which is good. Postage and packing is also free, which makes a change from those sites which charge you £1 for a CD then £10 for postage. And in keeping with the normal shopping procedure, they do send your DVD. Don't plan on a lie in thought, as unless you have a big letterbox the postman will probably knock on your door and wake you up. Bensons World, not a dodgy bed shop but a decent DVD shop!
Perhaps this game can't really be original, saying as it's a sequel, but it was the first game I ever played over a network, and to me is the original multiplayer first person shooter. The original Quake had multiplayer, even Doom did, but few were played on the same scale as Quake 2 was. Perhaps it was because it coincided with the time the internet got popular, or the time everyone bought PC's, or even because it was one of the first games to use a 3D accelerator and it looked great, but for some reason Quake 2 just had the edge in multiplayer. Throughout the years numerous FPS games have been popular with gamers, the biggest being the Quake series, Half Life (and the Counterstrike mod) and Unreal Tournament. Unreal Tournament and Half Life are still being played today, years after their original release, a testament to their greatness. The Quake series has now moved on from Quake 2 to Quake 3, which was designed as a multiplayer game from the start. Of them all Unreal Tournament has to be my favourite, but a close second comes Quake 2. Perhaps the reason I don't like Quake 3 so much should come in a Quake 3 review, rather than here, but for some reason Quake 2 seems a lot more gritty and life like than the often garish, more fast paced Quake 3. Quake 3 moves more towards an Unreal Tournament style of play, but it doesn't do it as well. To me Quake 2 is a lot more tactical than most of the other games. The weapons are more finely balanced, the aim simply isn't to find the best weapon and use it all the time - it is possible to win consistently with at least 5 of the 10 weapons on offer - each comes in to it's own in different situations. The game seems to be played at a slower pace than most of the others of its ilk. While in Unreal Tournament I rush in headstrong, shooting while jumping and strafing to avoid fire, in Quake 2 I would actually take cover behind a wall, then dash out to let off a few rounds befo
re heading back for cover. You know that one good shot from the rail gun will kill you, but as long as you keep moving you are much harder to hit, and you can release a burst of the hypergun and know that some will hit your target. It is perhaps because the game is so well balanced, because this doesn't happen with the other games where the tactics are to run in shooting and rely on your accurate aiming to win the day. Of course, Quake 2 is getting a little old in the tooth, can it really compete in the fast changing world of the FPS? Graphically Quake 2 hasn't suffered too much. New PC's can easily play it at the highest detail levels and resolutions, and although it lacks the latest visual sparkle it is still looks very clear and sharp, nothing to moan about at all. Everything else about the game is pretty much the same as you'd see in games like Half Life and Unreal Tournament - for example the controls are definable by the user (so you can have your usual layout). Back when Quake 2 was released it would have been unheard of not to have a dedicated one player mode, so Quake 2 also offers a challenge for the single player. This is actually a rather good game to play, as it has moved on from the simple level based 'collect red key card for red door' style of gameplay that Doom and the original Quake offered. You know play what is in effect one large game from start to finish, with a plot and objectives to carry out. The story line is simple (you've crash landed on a planet, need to escape etc) but you have various tasks you have to carry out, rather than just getting to the end of the level. It's a far cry from Half Life or Deus Ex, but it's still more enjoyable than the first games single player mode. Enemy intelligence is also increased somewhat, as enemies don't simply charge at you as they once did. They will duck under shots, and generally are a lot better than previous games. Weapon
s are (as in every fps) introduced one at a time, starting with the worst and working up to the best. Ammo for some of the better weapons is limited though, so proceed with care. You have the usual blaster, shotgun (and super shotgun), machine gun, chain gun, rocket launcher etc, as well as a few new additions like the grenade launcher, rail gun and hyper blaster. The rail gun (as in the film Eraser with Arnie) shoots metal slugs at near the speed of light, which basically means that when you see it fired, the bullet hits you. The weapons are greatly balanced though, for example the railgun leaves a trail of smoke in the air when fired, so if you miss your position is revealed to your opponent. Another example is the chaingun, it fires bullets at a massive rate, but takes a while to get going or stop, leaving you vulnerable for a fraction of a second. The machine gun on the other hand is rather powerful, so firing it makes your arm lift upwards, making it harder to control. Each weapon has it's strong points and it's weak points, you have to know when to use each one and how to make the most of it. At the time of launch Quake 2 probably was geared up more for the single player market, with the only multiplayer offering being deathmatch with human opponents, although the game did ship with a lot of great multiplayer maps. Over time mods (add ons) were released that can add bots to the game and add different game modes, such as capture the flag (CTF), and of course, lots of people made new maps. Online play is good, although ideally you need a good ping (which means ISDN or cable), but the game really comes in to it's own on a network. The good thing is that it doesn't need mega-fast computers to run, so there's a good chance you might have a few machines that meet the specs. To play you need Pentium 90 (133Mhz recommended) 16MB Ram Sound card 250Mb HDD space Although this estimation is woefully low.
You'd better add some of kind of graphics accelerator to that, although an original Voodoo 3dfx card will do (or even the original powerVR!). 32Mb ram would help too, the lowest spec PC I've seen the game on is on my old 300Mhz K6 with 96Mb RAM and a Voodoo 2, and the game runs perfectly. A few old computers, some cheap network cards and you could have yourself a great (and inexpensive) network capable of running Quake 2. In my opinion still one of the best multiplayer FPS games out there.
Sega's Mega Drive was perhaps the first games console to really capture the public eye and go mainstream. For the first time ever playing computer games was no longer the haunt of the 'geek'. It was Sega's finest hour, but sadly also it's last great success, after the Mega Drive things went downhill fast for the Japanese company, resulting in the company leaving the console hardware market (they just make games now). The Mega Drive had one serious rival - Nintendo's SNES. I remember at school there were two main groups, the people who had a SNES and the people who had a Mega Drive. It was akin to supporting a football team, you chose which console you wanted and that was an identity you had! The SNES was technically superior to the Mega Drive, and even played host to a version of Doom, but the Mega Drive won out in the popularity stakes, with it's cool ad campaign, better looking console and of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. Back in those days it seemed that a console needed a flagship game, or character to define it. While Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic the Hedgehog, and thankfully for Sega people seemed to prefer the Hedgehog. The Sonic series was always immensely popular, and even tended to come boxed with new Mega Drives, or even built in to some. The Mega Drive may be old hat now, but in it's day it was an advanced piece of kit. It had 16-bit graphics which at the time looked great, and as it used cartridges so games loaded instantly - a big advantage over computers like the Amiga. What really made the console great were the games. There were loads to choose from, some of them I still play regularly today (using a Windows based emulator). The Sonic series was naturally very popular, and rightly so, they were good games. The Shining Force series of RPG games was immensely popular too, as were the early FIFA games by EA. I remember many a weekend spent playing FIFA 95 with my friend, although
I seemed to lose more often that I won. One of my favourite games was MicroMachines 2. While the Mega Drive only came with two controller ports, you could buy 'multi taps' that let you plug in up to eight control pads. The MicroMachines cartridge came with two built in joypad ports, allowing 4 controllers to be connected. With 2 people sharing a controller (it was fun!) eight people could play at once. Although we only managed to get eight controllers and eight people together all at the same time once, I can still remember the fun had playing the game. Sega didn't stop with the Mega Drive though, they tried to release add-ons for it. The original Mega Drive was soon superseded by the remodelled Mega Drive 2, which was smaller and sleeker. A CD based add on, the Mega CD was released (and soon the Mega CD 2 to complement the Mega Drive 2) which allowed more powerful CD based titles to be run on the machine. It was very expensive though, and did not prove a massive success. As the console was nearing the end of it's life Sega announced the release of the Saturn, their 32-bit console which was to be the rival to the Playstation. At the time they also announced a 32-bit add on for the Mega Drive. There were all sorts of rumours that this add on would let the Mega Drive play Saturn games, but this myth was soon dispelled and the upgrade, known ad the 32X was released. It flopped, massively. No one bought it, and only a small number of games were released. Some were very good, but it was technically inferior to the Saturn and Playstation. The 32X could also be hooked up with the Mega CD to play 32X CD games, but this feature was even less popular as few people had both add-ons. The Mega Drive lived on for a year or two after the 32-bit consoles were released, but one can't help but feel that the 32X was the start of Sega demise. The Sega Saturn featured a cartridge slot, which at one point it was thought may have been able to accommo
date Mega Drive games. With the success of the Playstation 2 (and it's backwards compatibility) one can only think that omitting this was a mistake from Sega. The Mega Drive was a very popular console, and many people may have bought the Saturn over the Playstation if it were backwards compatible with their Mega Drive games. Sadly it wasn't, and most people moved (as I did) from a Mega Drive to a Playstation. The Saturn, and then the Dreamcast flopped, leaving Sega with no choice but to pull out of the hardware market. The Mega Drive was their finest hour. Nowadays you could pick up a Mega Drive with loads of games for peanuts, but then you need to hook up a TV and all sorts. Much easier to download an emulator (Gens is the best) and then the roms of the games you like! Overall the Mega Drive was a great console with some great games, and was instrumental in making games cool. Top marks to Sega.
Not so long ago I would've believed any conspiracy theory going. Aliens, Roswell, whatever you told me I probably would've believed it. As I've got older I've become a bit more sceptical, and I'm afraid before I believe something I want firm proof. No doubt of the many theories out there will have some truth in it, but the majority? Utter crap I'm afraid. I don't know what this category is really about, are the members of Dooyoo expected to know the truth about the JFK assassination, Princess Diana's death, or the moon landing? Surprising then, it may be, that experts have argued for years over the truth! Conspiracies seem to follow any big event. Perhaps it's a feature of the human mind, when something big, and often bad happens, we have to make up some weird and wonderful theory to explain it. Kennedy gets shot, and rather than except that the guy who was arrested for it did it, we have to point the finger at an inside government job. Diana dies in a road crash, but do we point the finger at the drunk driver? Of course not, it must be a Royal Family plot to stop her marrying a muslim. Get the idea? Most conspiracy theories are more readily explained by the official line, rather than the cock and bull story, that while more interesting, is a lot less likely. Of course, there are exceptions, but they're few and far between. It seems to me that conspiracy theories follow general trends, after the X-Files became popular there was a lot of interest in aliens. A coincidence? I think not! Perhaps the biggest conspiracy theory is all to do with Roswell, and the alleged aliens with their spaceship. There are all sorts of stories, which if true, would suggest that the officials at Roswell first told the public of an alien craft crashing, before retracting that statement and saying it was a weather balloon. Over time there have been many stories, allegations, so I haven't really got a
clue about what's true and what's been made up. Some people do try to find a conspiracy theory around every corner, blinded by their belief that the government is corrupt and will keep anything and everything they possibly can from us. No doubt in the interest of national security they keep a lot from us, but would they go out of their way to do it on purpose? Stop looking for conspiracies and accept the easy answers. You're more likely to be right!
The original Quake may have been superseded by it's two sequels, but thanks to a freely available graphics update it got a new lease of life (in my books anyway). I'd never played it and had no intention to until my friend introduced me to it in the form of GLQuake. It's a little strange that I never played it first time around, being the classic that it was, but for some reason I skipped from Doom 2 to Unreal Tournament. Anyway, as the saying goes, better late than never. Quake had a similar effect on the games playing world as Doom did. After Doom it was probably the biggest thing in PC gaming, and at the time was very popular. Of course now it's old and wrinkly and not worth playing. That is of course until you discover GLQuake, a whole new way to play the original Quake! GLQuake makes the original game look much better by making use of OpenGL. What you get is a game that looks more like Quake 2, out of the old fuzzy Quake 1. This does require a more meatier system (the original game ran on a 486!) but is worth it for the improved Visuals. It must be noted that Quake was probably the first game of its nature to use a true 3D world. This meant that you could look up and down, jump, everything you could do in real life. Before this Doom and Duke Nukem 3D were actually only 2D, giving the effect of 3D. However, even with the enhanced visuals Quake still struggles to cut it in to days FPS world. Things have moved on a lot since the days of Quake; today it's level design looks positively old fashioned. It's all based around the age old collect red key to get through red door kind of gameplay. You play through a few levels then fight a boss. It's basically Doom levels in a 3D environment. Back then that was a good thing, but now with the likes of Deus Ex showing us how good an FPS can be we all expect more. Serious Sam recently went back to this kind of gameplay, but took a less serious, more full on ap
proach. Nowadays were used to fighting against a few intelligent bots, not destroying mindless goons in our search for that yellow key card. The game is split in to 3 or 4 episodes, which you can play in any order, on one of a few skill levels. The episodes consist of a number of levels finishing with a boss level. The episodes do get harder as you go through them, so although the first one is easy the rest are more of a challenge! The weaponry in the game is rather standard, with shotguns, nail guns and rocket launchers all appearing. And of course the ever popuar BFG! Multiplayer was one of Quakes big successes, with the game paving the way for internet gaming over modems. Today Quake may not be the masterpiece it was once, but it's still worth digging it out and getting GLQuake (try http://www.planetquake.com for all your quake needs). It's still fun to play through the game, it's certainly not bad and if you haven't played it before it's actually rather enjoyable (or at least I enjoyed it anyway).
What do you do if your PC hasn't got any USB ports and you need some? Get a new PC? Of course not, simply add a USB PCI card and upgrade your PC to the modern world of USB plug and play. What happens if the PCI USB card you buy is made with a rather crap VIA chipset and it doesn't work? Then spend more money buying another one with a good chipset (i.e. Opti or Intel). And only then can you enter the modern world of USB plug and play! You see, I bought a USB PCI card with a VIA chipset, but as it turned out the VIA USB chipset is flawed and doesn't work with all devices, so I bought this card which comes with an Opti chipset. My problem with the other card was that my Lexmark Z13 printer didn't work properly, but when using this card it works fine. The card itself is PCI and rather simple to install. Open up your PC, slot it in one of the white slots and switch on your PC. Even a kid could do it! All the card does is add 2 USB ports to your PC, so you can use whatever USB devices takes your fancy. The card cost about £12 (I bought it from an auction) which is about the going rate for such a card. It has 2 USB ports which both have 500mA, it can support 12Mps and 1.5Mps transfer rates and can have 127 devices daisy chained to it although you'll need a few hubs for that. Ain't that great! Apart from that there's not a lot more to say; it's a nice green colour with a few chips on it, most likely they're made of silicon. In short - pay £12, get the card and give your PC USB capabilities. Nothing more, nothing less.
What do you do if your PC hasn't got any USB ports and you need some? Get a new PC? Of course not, simply add a USB PCI card and get upgrade your PC to the modern world of USB plug and play. The card in question here is made by Busby, and while you may think that they would all be pretty much of a muchness, think again, because this one is rather crap! It's a PCI card, so plugs in to the shortish white slots on your motherboard. Installation is easy, simply turn off and open up your PC (using an anti-static wristband is a good idea). Locate a free PCI slot (the white ones) and remove the blanking plate (the bit of metal that covers the slot where the card goes). Slot the USB card in the hole, make sure it is firmly inserted, then re-assemble your PC, turn it on and Windows will do the rest (it may ask for the Windows CD). The drivers are built in to windows as all USB cards use of of a few chipsets, made by people such as Via, Opti and Intel. This card just happens to have a Via chipset, which is where my problem with the card lies. It turns out (from research on a number of websites) that when Via implemented USB they got it rather wrong. Most things will work fine, infact I'm sure the vast majority of USB devices have no complaints at all. But some devices malfunction when attached to a Via USB controller, something to do with timing issues. Via try to fob this off as not being a problem, but it is, and it struck me when I tried to use my new Lexmark Z13 printer with the card. Basically it didn't work, it would print half the page then stop. Whatever anyone says, I bought a new card with the OPTI chipset and the printer worked fine. You don't need Sherlock Holmes like intuition to decide that the Via chipset was at fault. In it's defence it did work OK with my sidewinder joypad, so depending on what USB devices you have you may get away with using this card. I wouldn't recommend you buy it though, fa
r more sensible to pay the same price for a card with either an Intel or Opti chipset. The card cost me around £10 from Yahoo auctions, but I bought it from a retailer who sells the card for the same price on their website. Anyway, incase you care, the card has 2 USB ports each of which is supplied with 500mA. It's (supposed to be) USB 1 compliant and can work in 12Mps (full) and 1.5Mps (low) speed modes. You need to have a Pentium PC with Windows 98 (Or I'm sure 95B would do) and a spare PCI slot. Um, so that's about it - bit short I know, but what else can I say? It's a PCI, you plug it in and then you have USB ports. Except it's crap. Don't get this, get an Opti one, they work well!
Crowns. Everyone wants them. Everyone complains about them. So what's the answer? My biggest gripe with the crown system is the inconsistency. It probably shouldn't happen now, with the new guides and users nomination system, but it does. I got a crown not so long ago and I don't think I should have, there was a much better uncrowned op in the same category. On the other hand I write some opinions which aren't crowned which I think should be. It's the nature of the beast, or something like that, but if crowns are ever to stop being such a talking point then something must be done. To be honest I'm not even sure if the nominations idea is such a good thing. I mean, it's all to do with statistics isn't it. If one op gets read 100 time, and another 10, which is going to have nominations? It's a well known fact that a lot of people never nominate crowns. I know I rarely do (unless when I'm doing the computer guidey person thing), and it's also a fact that a lot of people who say they nominated you for a crown don't. If I were king of Dooyoo I would ban that 'Great Op, nominated for crown, please let me kiss you ass' comment that lots of people use. Don't see why you need to tell people you have, unless you want something in return. On to the role of the Dooyoo guide. I'm a guide, don't always like being one, but it cna be good fun too. Basically what I'm meant to do is read every op in the computer section and let Dooyoo know when I think one should get a crown, be locked, or if an op is copied. It's just my opinion, I can't say an op gets a crown and it does automatically - the final decision lies with Dooyoo. Still, most of the ops I do nominate get crowns, so I'll happily accept any bribes you may want to offer me! Or maybe I shouldn't have made that joke, no doubt some fool will take it the wrong way and run around shouting about corruption amongst the
guides, complain that we only nominate our friends, or some other tosh like that. I don't think Dooyoo have enough people to be guides, they may well still want some more people, so rather than sit back and shout abuse why no try doing it yourself rather than moaning. And remember, guides do it because they want to, they get no reward, simply emails begging for crowns and idiots complaining that their (crap) op should be crowned now. So far we have two ways of crown nominations, users and guides. The third way of getting a crown is by having your op read by a member of the Dooyoo staff. However, with no disrespect to the Dooyoo staff, I doubt they do this very often. They can't, they don't have the staff. JP and Simone (soon to become JP and Callum) can't possibly do it, not when Dooyoo once had about 10 people doing the same jobs. Doesn't quite work out to me. That's why us guides have come about, they needed someone to do what the old staff did. Granted the staff did a hell of a lot more stuff too, but reading ops was part of their job, and now guides do it for free. No wonder it makes a few of the guides a little annoyed. Back in the old days all crowns were awarded by those staff, the Category Managers. They gave crowns to the ops they thought were worthy. In my opinion that system worked better than this one (but only cos I got most my crowns back then). You could write a great op you thought might get a crown, post it, and within an hour it might have gained a shiny hat. It wasn't all god back in those days either, people still complained that it wasn't fair. But people still complain now, so the new system isn't working either. And I like it less cos I get less crowns (and after all, what else matters!). Should crowns stay? Should they go? Should they be replaced by something better? Or should all the extra rewards be scrapped? First off I think crowns need to stay. They are extra moti
vation to write good ops, a chance to get more than the 3p per read. A while ago the standard on Dooyoo was very high, when you got paid 10p per op and 5p per read. It was probably too high for the payments, but no one minded. However, when the rates were cut the payment for an average op that got 20 reads were cut by almost half. Did the standard drop by half? Should it have? I know that a lot of my ops aren't as good as they used to be. It makes more sense, in the interest of money, to write one or two shortish but still VU ops per day than one or two longer ones a week. Combined with the drop in people using Dooyoo (therefore reads were down) a lot of people got a little sick of it all. Crown rates at the time of the payment cut were upped to £1.50. No doubt a lot of people will say that they write for the joy of it. I do to an extent to, the monetary payment alone can't justify writing anymore. There are a few (well 2) other new sites, concentrating on students, whom I write for just for money. Dooyoo is the one I always come back to and I will continue to write until I either give up the whole online writing thing, or the site dies. Hopefully neither will happen. But anyway, back to crowns. As I was meaning to say before I got sidetracked, crowns are a necessary incentive to people. I don't know how many ops get nominated now, at one point I think the number was cited as 1 in 50 (or it could have been 2 in 50). A small percentage, if I'm honest. That could well have risen now, but there are still a lot of good ops that just miss out on a crown that get paid the same as a crap op. A better idea would be some kind of scaled system, where the best ops got the most, and the payments slid down till you got paid very little for churning rubbish. A Ciao like premium fund would be a good idea, but I doubt viable, due to the fact that to be fair someone (ie staff) would need to read all the ops to judge their quality. Whate
ver Ciao say I am convinced their system is based on reads and popularity of writers, but why bother if all you do is reward the most read ops with money, the ops that have already earned the most 3ps! I often struggle to get more than 20 ops per read, often because I write on the less popular items, and I am sure if a newbie arrived on the site they would find it difficult to break in to the limelight too. Any reward payment must be based on quality an quality alone. How about restructuring the rating scale, with VU getting 5p, Useful getting 3p and SU 1p. Or something like that. Some reward is needed for people to write good ops, because not all of them can be crowned. You could also reduce the crown payment to 75p and award double the crowns. Or have silver and gold crowns, worth different amounts. As long as the rewards were scaled properly it wouldn't cost dooyoo anymore money. Anyway, I doubt anything major will be done to the system, so at least the system at the moment could be improved. Adding a new rating 'VU and Nominate for a crown' has been mentioned before, and should be implemented, saving time when nominating. Also add a 'number of times nominated' stat to ops, to let people know whether the sucking up commenters have really nominated the op for a crown. I'd also try to get two guides in every category so that there are two opinions - everyone has different criteria for nominating for a crown. Crowns, a necessary evil, perhaps not evil, more a good thing not quite as good as it could be. I'm sure this won't be the last op on this topic, and I'm sure lotsa people will have better ideas than me. Please Dooyoo, listen to some of them.