Posts tagged ‘games’



The most important fact first: we made 170 dumplings this year (follow the tracks to prior years’ numbers!). There were five of us, because the little daughter brought along a gentleman acquaintance, so we had to limit ourselves to 34 dumplings each (hehe, joke, we had leftovers!).

That’s about it. Well, it’s been nice being off from work. And it’ll be nice being oncall tomorrow and Wednesday and Thursday, because I will do that from home in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Unless Something Goes Wrong. Which I’m sure it won’t.

I’ve been playing a lot (a lot) of the game Satisfactory, in which one is dropped onto a scenic alien world, and has to construct things to build machines to make things to build more machines and factories and power plants and eventually hoverpacks and monorail trains and things. It is great fun!

r/SatisfactoryGame - Overly proud of my West Coast oil-power station

That is an aerial view of a power plant that I built, that converts crude oil to fuel, and burns that fuel for energy. (It also generates “polymer resin”, which is carried by the conveyor belt at the bottom there to another factory, which makes that into plastic and rubber for other purposes.) It’s gotten quite a bit bigger since I took that picture.

This is my second time through the game; this time I am building much nicer-looking factories, and also vaguely intending to get to the end without mining any uranium or making any nuclear reactors, because those make nuclear waste, which is annoying either to store or to reprocess into something that can be safely disposed of. (I think the designers may be teaching a subtle lesson there.)

I have also been listening to various YouTubers in the background. The algorithm first took me from I think it was Paulogia (an ex-evangelical who now debunks various evangelical things) to Emma Thorne (who talks about creationist things, and also MLM and other general things, and has the most adorable British accent) to Rachel Oates (similar but different adorable accent) and eventually to Jenny Nicholson (no British accent, but very funny, mostly reviews of various bad movies, bad books, bad fanfiction, and other bad things, as well as a fascinating (and very funny) description of the history and status of Brony fandom). So I’ve been listening to those in the background more than my usual vaguely-cop shows like NCIS or CSI or Bones or Lie To Me or whatever.

Which is perhaps a good thing, because as someone pointed out probably on Twitter, not only are the cop shows obviously copaganda, but the medical shows are similarly an attempt to make it look like the US medical system is all good and wonderful and fair. While in fact it isn’t.

How about that worldwide pandemic, speaking of which? This Omicron variant may keep me from getting back into the city for another week or three, and I am not pleased! At least it seems somewhat less deadly than Alpha and Delta, and that’s good. I’m on the Review Panel or whatever it is on our local NextDoor (for my sins), and the number of delusional Covid Truthers that apparently live not all that far from me is truly saddening.

Ach, I think I will go build more factories on an alien planet while listening to people debunking creationism in the background for awhile. It seems to be comforting…


Entirely Satisfactory

So I’ve been playing Satisfactory a bit.

I fact I’ve been doing little else other than play Satisfactory, and do the work required to pay for the electricity and food required to play more Satisfactory.

In fact why am I writing this weblog entry when I could be playing Satisfactory? I need to make 1,000 more motors as just one small part of what the Space Elevator demands to reach Tier 7!!

It’s okay, though; through the miracles of automation, the Assembler that’s making the motors is automatically fed Rotors and Stators from two other Assemblers (all via Mk.3 and 4 Conveyor Belts), and those Assemblers are in turn provided with their parts by other Assemblers, which are in turn provided with Iron Rods, Screws, Steel Pipes, and Wire from my various Constructors, all powered by my seven power plants (two running off petroleum fuel and five off coal, all supplies entirely automated, including the cute little tractor that continuously ferries the coal from the automated mine), and those Constructors are supplied by the Iron Mine (Mk.2) and various appropriate smelters and things.

Except for the Wire, come to think of it, which is copper, and the copper mine being sort of far away I just keep a bunch of Wire in a Storage Container… omg what if it runs out???

brb going to run a long conveyor belt from the copper processing area to the Stator Constructor. Or maybe I should program another little tractor.

Sure, there is enough wire (bottom left) FOR NOW, but…

Anyway, it’s great fun. The graphics are amazing, all of the machinery moves in lovely and hyper-realistic ways (watch a portable miner come to life!), and the alien world it’s all happening in is gorgeous and exotic. Also lovingly hand-crafted, as I understand it; none of this haphazard procedural-generation stuff!

The oil processing area, in a cavern in a mysterious quasi-subaquatic area.

That second picture there is the oil processing area, in a cavern in a relatively distant area of strange aquatic-looking plants and rock formations. Before I ran a train line out to it, getting out there was an adventure involving significant getting lost and attacked by monsters.

With the train in place and automated, not only is there a constant flow of plastic and rubber and polymer resin into my main area, but it’s a safe and scenic ride out through the more and less Earthlike areas, along the edge of the infinite misty abysses for awhile (it’s a notable planet that way; what’s down there?), to the train station by the ol cavern.

It’s an extremely open-world game, in that you can build essentially anything anywhere. If you give the Pod and the Space Elevator the things they want, you’ll get cool new technologies that not only let you build new stuff for FICSIT, but also let you get around better and faster and safer. Which means that you’re both better at sending more and fancier resources offworld, and also better at surviving longer and more distant exploring junkets, which are great fun.

(The game is usually in a first-person view, although there are mods to enable more third-person. The character model of the player, the FICSIT Engineer, is probably female, and either quite pear-shaped or with lots of internal suit equipment located in that area. Or both. Which is kind of nice, there not being lots of pear-shaped representation in video games.)

Some people glory in making huge efficient factories; I’m sort of the opposite.

The fact that the game equally-well supports both (and all) styles, is one of the many excellent things about it. For a game in “early release”, it’s amazingly well-polished, playable, and visually amazing.

The oil-field end of the current train line, when the blue moon (sun?) is up.

There are about a zillion more things I could say about it (and I haven’t even joined the reddit sub yet), but there is production to oversee, and a train to ride! :)


January 2nd, 2021

I think that’s the first time I’ve written “2021”. Pretty weird number! Definitely doesn’t look much like a year

I’ve been thinking about various random things, and this will be a various and random weblog entry. I might not even post it on January 2nd, 2021, but that will probably continue to be the title.

I posted an entry over on the secret Second Life (and other virtual worlds (also WoW)) weblog, about the characters that I’ve run in the latest expansion, and especially how Spennatrix the Holy Priest is OP (“over powered”) for PvE (“player versus environment”, that is, puttering around in the general world).

It’s a new year, which is nice in a semi-metaphorical energy-release kind of way, and with people giving themselves permission to abandon old things, start new things, and so on. I will be happy, myself, if we get more or less back to normal sometime this year, going into Manhattan at least once a week, eating in restaurants crowded and otherwise, riding trains, cramming oneself into Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater for live music and random venue food, and so on.

The Republican Party has gone completely insane, outdoing itself every day or two in terms of pandering to the Orange Leader at the expense of sanity and civilization. I spend altogether too much time on Twitter (and, I have to admit, on Parler, where I got an account just to see what was going on, and hoo boy), reading things, and responding to various victims of the “qanon” and “Trump won” mind-worms. In theory I do this in small hopes of actually changing the minds of the people I’m talking to, and larger hopes of making sure that the crazy narratives don’t always go unchallenged. Quite likely I actually do it because of some pathological neuroendocrine feedback loop that has less to do with anything rational than one might hope.

I’ve been getting not enough sleep, in fact, because I stay up too late playing WoW, and then when I wake up early in the morning instead of stretching and smiling and drowsily going back to sleep, I’ve been looking at my phone, checking the state of the Trumpublican insanity, and trying to assure myself that it’s all just stupid clown theater and won’t make any difference to what actually happens. (And that, for bonus points, when Biden has been a perfectly boring President for a year or two, the mind-worms might start to dry up and fall away, if we’re very lucky.)

I am looking forward very much to sleeping better after January 20th.

a map of a number of connected roomsBack to WoW and things! The most recent expansion, Shadowlands, has this area called the Tower of Torghast (which I’ve referred to as the Tower of Gormenghast at least once), and it is to some extent randomly generated. Various standard modules with connection points are randomly connected together, and various customization points in each module are customized with random things, and random groups of bad guys and subgoals and treasure are put down here and there.

Something like twenty years ago, I had something like that, for the classic computer game DOOM. It was (is? interesting question) a little program called SLIGE (for “Space Lama Internment Gazelle Expert” haha I was so silly back then), coded as a single enormous C-language source file (who needs makefiles, eh?), and available on the web here. I was surprised to find that page still there! Many of the links on the page are broken, though.

I went into the Wayback Machine (give them money!) and found the documentation at least. That’s from “Build 485”, dated February 1st, 2000. I think that’s the last version that there was, as I found a couple of zip files on the 2TB drive on the home network here, buried three levels deep in directories named things like “old stuff”, and they had the source and compiled code and that same documentation file for Build 485.

I’m tempted to put it all up on somewhere (good heavens I’ve been neglecting that site; the front page even still says COMING SOON doesn’t it?), including the source and compiled EXE file and documentation and all of the various descriptive pages that I can find and things. Appropriately updated to not have any broken links, or maybe not? I dunno! Complications, complications! In the meantime, here’s the source code, just because I feel like posting a vast C program that I wrote twenty years ago and am still quite fond of.

There are other references to SLIGE here and there on the Web, all to some extent tattered with the years. This page on a DOOM Wiki strongly suggests that there used to be a Wikipedia page about SLIGE, which I vaguely recall. And here’s another one for that matter, based on the same source but somewhat different.

And good heavens look at this!

“The generator has been running since September 19th, 2002. This amounts to more than 6,500 WAD files generated so far, including more than 210,000 levels. I think this makes me the most prolific level author ever!”

That is delightful. :) I wonder if it is actually still running, on a computer somewhere…

And finally, for now, I’ve done a similar-flavored thing in Second Life. “Placemaker: Plazas” apparently came out just about ten years ago (zomg). And in recent weeks I’ve started vaguely working on the Houses version, which the post I linked to there notes was the original goal. Ten years, good heavens. No wonder it took me awhile to figure out again just how the code worked!

I do like these random generators of things. The main other category is the music ones, which I should weblogify about sometime also…



The Sims 2First the Urgent Thing! If you are a (Windows-using) Sims 2 fan and you don’t have absolutely all of the expansion packs, you can install EA’s “Origin” client and go to “My Account” or whatever and then “Redeem Code” or whatever, and enter (holding your nose) “I-LOVE-THE-SIMS” to get the Sims 2 Ultimate Whatever added to your list of downloadable things, and then you can download it.

Free! But This Month Only! Which is almost over!

Thanks to the reader who posted this information over on the About page, which we’d sort of forgotten we had. It sounds like some kind of scam, but apparently it is For Real, as evidenced by an official EA page saying it and all.

Some less-than-wonderful things:

  • Nothing for the Mac (all the Mac Sims 2 stuff was done by Aspyr, and doesn’t seem to be under any active curation),
  • EA are doing this because they are basically withdrawing and unsupporting all Sims 2 stuff, because they want to chug heartlessly ahead with Sims 3 and Sims 4, the meanies; and
  • The version of the Sims 2 Ultimate Whatever that you can get for free comes with the SecuRom DRM, installed also for free. This does not actually bother me much, but I can imagine it bothering other persons.

But anyway! Go and get it right now! If you want to!

It is likely that the person who posted the news to us found us in the first place because of our ancient obsession with Sims 2 storytelling, which apparently occupied lots of our time in like 2005 and 2006.

Having now gotten All of the Sims 2 Expansion Packs, and them having installed correctly onto the laptop here, I thought I would actually find the old Neighborhood One save files, and see if they would actually work.

It turned out that there was something very promising-looking already right here on the laptop, probably copied over from the previous laptop or something. I made yet another copy, from the Sims 2 directory into the Sims 2 Ultimate Whatever directory, and fired up the game, and there was Neighborhood One! As of some time or other in the past, anyway (see below).

Neighborhood One

(Click through for a description of the neighborhood per the image.)

I zoomed around the overhead view, and loaded up the Test House in Build Mode just to make sure that worked. Then I actually went into Joan and Peran‘s house, remembering vaguely that since there’s just the two of them, it might be a simple family to run for a bit to make sure it actually works.

I’d forgotten Joan is pregnant!

And then I very very vaguely remembered seeing Joan deliver a baby in that house, which if true would mean that there’s a more recent copy of the neighborhood save files somewhere. Yow! I might accidentally fork reality!

Places where such a newer old copy of Neighborhood One might be would include:

  • The hard-drive from the prior laptop, which can’t be powered up while in the prior laptop anymore (the prior laptop having a broken power-thing), but which is readable via a clever SATA-to-USB device. It turns out not to have anything that looks like the Neighborhood One save files on it, though, that I could find.
  • The old desktop computer in the playroom. It hasn’t worked for some time, and when the hard drive is removed and hooked up to the SATA-to-USB device, it doesn’t come to life. If Dad were around he could probably talk me through opening up the hard drive case and carefully giving the platter a little spin and then closing it up again; which he always said would fix at least half of all broken hard drives. I suppose I might find a YouTube video or something showing how to do that someday, but not today!
  • An old Seagate Free Agent external USB drive that we “backed up” some of the stuff on that old computer onto. When wired up, it just makes an unpromising ticking noise, and doesn’t present any data either. Someday maybe I will take that out of its case, attach it to the SATA-to-USB device, etc. But not today…
  • This 3TB Western Digital “MyCloud” (gag what a name) that I had entirely forgotten we had on the network here, and which contains a backup of tons of stuff that was on the old playroom machine, including a “The Sims 2” directory, but unfortunately the directory is empty, boo.

So that didn’t work out. Maybe this copy of the save files is in fact the most recent. Or not!

Not sure yet what I’m going to do about it; so far I’ve just been playing an EA-supplied character (Julien Cooke) in an EA-supplied neighborhood (ummm something Green something or something) to work on my Sims 2 skills a little. I don’t want to actually run this Neighborhood One yet until I’m satisfied that I won’t find a newer one sometime and be all disturbed by the forking (which one would be Canon???).

But one thing I could do without danger of reality forks is to post a few of the stories that are sitting in the save files as pictures, but that have never been posted! Joan and Peran moving out of Rooms to Let, for instance, and into this very fancy house that I built them:

Joan and Peran's House -- the Library

It is a very dreamy house (the upstairs is like solid library ooohhh), and it looks to me like the story of their moving out and into it (and Joan becoming pregnant) has never been told.

So I might do that!

But probably don’t hold your breath. :)

Just in case…


Psychology and micropayments

Ha, there, got that Oscars rant off my chest…

So I’m temporarily tired of Minecraft PE (the world is still fun to run around in mining and stuff, and I have lots of pictures to maybe eventually take and post again someday, but I don’t have any compelling New Project ideas at the moment), and WoW (there’s always lots to do there, but it doesn’t draw me at the moment, all seeming sort of same-same), so for my anti-social time the other night I downloaded a random free “app” for my “iPad”: “Eternity Warriors 2“.

It’s free, in that it doesn’t cost anything to buy, and you can play through the first few levels with just the armor and weapons and “coins” and “jewels” that you get for free or find lying around the dungeons or get after killing monsters (the usually amusing trope that some giant spider might be carrying around a nice pair of plate-armor gloves).

And then if you are me and you look further along in the Store, you notice that there are alot of things that cost lots of “jewels”, and that “jewels” cost significant Real Money. I did a little math and figured that buying a nice tough suit of armor and weapons to match would cost between US$50 and US$100 (real-live real-world money), and thought “haha I am too wise to do that, so I will just enjoy whatever happens if I don’t pay money.”

But these people are smarter than that! What happens if you don’t pay money up front is that you have fun killing lots of slightly-tougher monsters using the slightly-better weapons and armor that you find, and then suddenly you die.


You die because suddenly there’s a big monster that does lots of damage.

And after you die, the game pauses, and offers you the chance to “revive”.

And reminds you that if you don’t revive, you will lose everything you’ve so far gained on that level.

And tells you how many jewels it will cost to revive.

And, if you don’t happen to have that many jewels left, will kindly give you a convenient button to buy more, right there, so as to come to life again!

Which means that, having decided not to spend lots of money on the game in the store in advance, you are now offered the chance to spend a relatively small amount of money, right when your mental defenses are weakest.

Because you’ve been fighting monsters, so your adrenaline and heart rate are high, and you’ve just died, so you’re feeling vulnerable and angry and frustrated, and here is the chance to undo that dying by spending just a little money and maybe for a second you wonder hm is the price per jewel that they are offering me here really a good investment all things considered but then your id is all OH PUSH THE BUTTON WE DIED AND IF YOU PUSH THE BUTTON WE CAN FIGHT THE MONSTERS SOME MORE so you push the button.

Ages ago I was into Magic the Gathering for awhile (I think I collected a complete set of one of the expansions (and naturally it turned out that that was the expansion that having a complete set of was like the least valuable of all of the expansions)), and I noticed that they were very clever, selling you a game like a dollar or two at a time, seems very cheap, but then if you sat down and added it all up you would discover that you’d paid like US$75 (or more) for this silly game and if you’d seen it in the store for that much you would never have bought it.

Eternity Warriors 2 (and this flying-airplanes game Steel Storm or something that I bought awhile back, if to a lesser extent, and I’m sure hundreds of other “apps” in the general “freemium” category) takes this bit of psychological trickery to another level, by offering their many small-looking buying opportunities at times when your rational mind is more or less turned off, and your reptilian mind is in the lead, willing to push whatever button is sitting there on the screen IN THE WAY OF KILLING MORE MONSTERS KILL KILL KILL.

Which is damnably clever, and has fooled me into buying a few jewels now myself.

I am reminded of an old Internet Naughty Story from like the 90’s which explored this concept, only with slightly larger payments, and with sex rather than violence (and which impressively I was able to find on the web):

“If you liked that,” she said quietly, her voice melodious, “you’ll love our Adult Classics I series. And for a limited time you can get it for just twenty-nine ninety-five.” She took her left breast in her hand and raised the nipple to my lips, “Would you like that?” she whispered, “Would you like it right now?”

I’m sure that’s not the only story that’s explored that as an SF concept.

Maybe it’s a good thing that the Apple Store doesn’t allow Adult Content…

Anyway, I am off to play more Eternity Warriors 2 for a few minutes. I will of course resist any attempts to get me to spend money, now that I’ve figured out how I’ve been exploited.

Of course!


It’s Hard To Overstate My Satisfaction

(Note: this is all geeky in-jokes. Don’t worry if you don’t get it; it just means you are not obsessed with weird old console games!)

So I have one of these on the trunk of my car; here is a rather bad picture:

When I was driving out of the lot at work the other day to go home, I noticed a piece of paper had been tucked under my windshield wiper, so I parked again and got out and looked at it.

Here it is:

Needless to say, that made my day. :) Thank you, anonymous colleague and fellow Portal fan!

It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.