Howdy, all.

I've spent the last little while doing a lot of different things—testing, lots of spreadsheet work, traveling to a press event, some photography and photo editing, more spreadsheet work, article layout—and none of them are writing. Now, it's time to write up a nearly completed article, and I can't seem to shift into that writing gear. I'm currently sipping a late-morning supplemental coffee and hoping for the best. We'll see how that goes.

I do have one random update for you. Last summer, I asked for your suggestions for FPS games that can be played with kids—that is, games that are free enough of gore and profanity that they won't cause any problems even for younger kids to play. At that time, my candidate of choice was Unreal Tournament 3, which I'd played some with my two oldest children. However, UT3 fell out of favor around here over time because the game offers no option to disable "mature" taunts like the older versions of UT, and it sometimes just ignores the setting to disable taunts entirely. I even looked into using the game's editor to remove the profane taunts attached to certain bots, but that proved to be more complicated than my limited time and patience would abide. Thus, we had no foolproof means of easily preventing profanity from bursting forth from the speakers during a UT3 game. Since my kids had taken to inviting friends over to play, this issue had the potential to become a little embarrassing.

Finally, after lots of prodding from my kids, my solution was to reach back and pull out my copy of UT2004. That game, it turns out, has a working option to "disable mature taunts." Also, I'm pleased to rediscover, it's easier to install, manage, and use than UT3 in a host of ways big and small: lightning-quick startup times, the ability to skip opening logo animations, lax copy protection that allows for an impromptu LAN party, no need to login to a user account associated with an e-mail address, a richer set of server config options in the GUI, and much more. Honestly, the difference with UT3 is night and day, even though I've never thought of UT3 as a particularly difficult or clumsily adapted PC game. We're able to start up a quick deathmatch in much less time, with much less complication—you know, kind of like an iPhone game or something. The whole experience has me thinking deep thoughts about the state of the games and the relative health of PC gaming over time. If things have gotten better in so many ways, why does this relic from 2004 feel like a time traveler from a golden age?

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