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Somebody ported Nethack to Steam!

I’ve posted about Nethack before. It’s one of the first dungeon slash-em-up games. It was the very first computer game I ever played and it ate a whole year of my life. Thirty four years later, it’s still the most fun game I’ve ever played.

Because even the very first PCs were capable of storing incredibly large and complex relationships between variables, which is “all” Nethack is.

Take the humble cockatrice. If you touch a dead cockatrice, you turn to stone. Fine, once you learn that, you never touch another dead cockatrice. You probably know better than to eat a tinned food ration that smells of cockatrice. Ah, but what if you fall into a pit on top of a cockatrice? Stone. What if you’ve been temporarily blinded and you’re feeling your way across the floor and suddenly, dead cockatrice? Stone.

But wait. But what if you have a pair of gloves? Can you run around poking monsters with a dead cockatrice and turn them into stone? Yes. Yes, you can. Just don’t trip and fall on it.

Under the hood, the formulae that create the dungeon and the monsters therein are incredibly complex. I could never work out some relationships from behavior alone. It wasn’t until I peeped at the source code that I began to understand how complicated a thing it really is.

Anyway, Steam reviewers are crying foul. Nethack is a giant cooperative labor of love and you’re not supposed to charge for it. There are plenty of places still to play it for free.

But I paid less than £4 for this version and, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not paying for Nethack. I’m paying for the dev’s effort putting it on Steam. It includes some light music and effects and a decent manual. And Steam achievements, if you care.

I paid for my very first version, too. It was technically to cover the cost of the floppy.

See? I play semantic games, too.

January 3, 2019 — 9:30 pm
Comments: 6

How bad is this thing going to kick my ass?

I know very few of y’all are gamers, but if there are any out there…while I’m waiting for this thing to download…how bad is The Talos Principle going to kick my ass?

It’s a puzzle game, see. And I’m not very good at those, and that makes me feel stupid, and that makes me feel sad. But it’s also really pretty and got good reviews, and Steam has the whole bundle at 79% off right now.

I didn’t buy the Portal games for years because I was afraid of the ass-whoopin’. (Also the fact that both protagonists in Portal are female made me suspect some kind of social justice shoehorn, but I was way wrong. Their bitchy relationship was one of the best things). Turns out, the puzzles weren’t that hard and the whole experience was one of my favorite works of fiction ever.

Anyway. Talos Principle. If I’m sad tomorrow, you’ll know it’s because I feel stupid.

November 6, 2018 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 11

Plus, you get a dog

dogmeat

Longtime sweasel commenter Ermine bought me a game. This astonished me, as I didn’t know anyone else could see my wishlist, let alone buy something on it. Thank you, fellow weasel!

Disclaimer: nobody else follow, pls! Most of the stuff on my wishlist isn’t stuff I actually want, it’s just games I’m keeping an eye on for one reason or another.

But Fallout 4 I really did want. Ermine is an open-worlds kindofa a mustelid, as am I, so he knew I’d like it.

And I do. I got frustrated the first few hours (I died and died and died), but eventually got a handle on it and am enjoying it muchly. It’s a shoot ’em up in post-apocalyptic Boston, which is fun. I can’t say I recognize many of the places, but I do the names.

I recognized part of the Freedom Trail, though, which really is set with red bricks in the sidewalk. I’d forgotten that!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Games, I realized, remind me of incredibly vivid dreams: they feel like real and amazing experiences at the time, but they fade away, leaving mere wisps of memory.

Oh, well. Everybody’s got to waste time.

November 8, 2017 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 4

Return to Skyrim

skyrim

So Bethesda Softworks just released a version of Skyrim for PS4, five years after the original PC version. As part of the new port, they updated the background textures and decided to give PC players the newly refurbed version for free. Which is cool.

The new version is hilariously buggy. Well, the crashing all the time wasn’t so hilarious, but that was simple (if strange) fix: disable the Touch Keyboard process using Task Manager. (How people figure out these obscure bugs so fast, I do not know).

The funny thing is, I can tell the difference between the old textures and the new textures, I’m just not sure I prefer either one. Scroll down this article to see what I mean. They should call it Skyrim: Vaseline Edition.

Anyway. Don’t care. Happy to be playing this old favorite again. Anyone on Steam who hasn’t friended me yet, feel free. AuntieWeasel. Gives me the warm fuzzies to see you guys playing games instead of doing anything productive with your lives.

November 1, 2016 — 9:15 pm
Comments: 8

Beta test!

gwent

CD Projekt RED, the Polish company who made the Witcher games, is hoping to break out the in-game card game Gwent into a standalone tournament game. I signed up for the beta, because of course I did. I love beta testing, with a special emphasis on breaking shit.

I’ve broken this one a couple of times, but I don’t see any place to brag about it. Perhaps because this isn’t even the beta — that’s scheduled for late October. This is a pre-beta effort to punish the servers and see what they’ll take. It’s not even keeping score. It’s no fun if they don’t keep score.

I’d say they have a ways to go to compete with Hearthstone — which I have also played since the closed beta. Though, to be honest, I’ve kind of dropped out of Hearthstone at the moment. One too many expansion packs have overwhelmed my limited ability to do sums in my head.

Oh, they said it was okay to post screenshots, but to bear in mind that a lot will change.

Me? Better by the day. Went in to work this morning. Still not fully myself, though.

sock it to me

September 27, 2016 — 8:29 pm
Comments: 1

Take care, big guy

geralt

Dude in the picture is Geralt of Rivea, a professional monster slayer and the protagonist of the Witcher books and computer games. I have spent a lot of time with this guy.

I know I’ve posted about Witcher 3 Wild Hunt before. It’s the last of the series and it is absolutely huge. Like, physically huge on disk (53 gigs, as opposed to Skyrim’s 14) and huge to play, with literally hundreds of side quests and places to visit. Which you can do in more or less any order you like, which makes it feel more like a place and less like a movie.

There’s even an in-world card game that you play against characters you meet, sometimes for important stakes.

The game has been an enormous hit, equally because it’s beautiful and because it’s well-written. Many of the side-quests are their own complete novellas. It’s won a shit-ton of awards. They announced from the beginning there would be two expansion packs (essentially, groups of new stories around a main story set in this world) and then that would be it.

I have just finished the second expansion.

And that’s it.

I feel surprisingly sad about it, the way I used to feel on the last page of a long book series that I enjoyed (I don’t read fiction any more; I’d almost forgotten that feeling).

Near the very end of the game, Geralt sits around a campfire drinking with one of his buds (he drinks a lot, which is fun) and shooting the shit about the future and he takes a big sip and says, “I think I deserve a rest, don’t you?” And then the sumbitch looks at me. Up there. That screen cap.

It’s supposed to be a bit of light fun, but I admit I kind of. Hm. Now I remember why I don’t read fiction any more.

sock it to me

September 13, 2016 — 7:09 pm
Comments: 10

Thou sank’st my longboat!

chess

There’s a paper out by Mark Hall of Perth Museum exploring the 36 ancient Northern European burials that have included board games. Two of the game burials were in the Orkneys, which were under Norwegian rule until Tudor times. I tried (and failed) to find the source paper online, not least because the article about it in the Scotsman was behaving oddly in my browser. Fair warning.

Two reasons, they speculate (I remind myself that any discussion of the reasons our pre-literate ancestors did things is always speculation). First, there was such a thing as gamer cred. Prowess at strategy games was regarded as a warrior skill.

Secondly, they wanted to keep the ghost entertained so he wouldn’t come back and mess with the living.

Eh. Who knows? The delightful chess pieces in the picture are real, by the way. They’re called the Lewis chessmen because they were found on a beach in Lewis, Scotland in 1831. Late 12th, early 13th C., carved from walrus ivory. There were 93 pieces found. It’s well worth following the link to read more and see them up close.

And with that, I’m off to play the vidya!

sock it to me

July 27, 2016 — 7:21 pm
Comments: 14

Sad weasel

witcher

I don’t mean to name-drop, but our new Home Secretary is the MP for nearby Hastings and Rye and, somewhere out there, there’s a picture of me standing next to her.

She’s a squishy, warmenist cow. *spit*

To celebrate my awesome new video card, I bought the last expansion to the Witcher 3, Blood and Wine. I haven’t played that game since February. Is it sad that I was really pleased and happy to see Geralt again?

Yes, that is definitely sad.

sock it to me

July 14, 2016 — 9:30 pm
Comments: 10

What a time to be alive!

justcause3

Calooh! Callay! Just Cause 3 was released today!

The (wafer thin) plot to the Just Cause games goes like this: you’re CIA agent Rico Rodriguez. You are dropped on a tropical island ruled by a tinpot dictator. You will best serve the cause of Great Justice by fucking up as much shit as humanly possible. You have a powerful wrist-mounted grappling device (like unto Spidey’s web spinners), a flying suit, a parachute and the ability to hijack any vehicle on the island, including jets and helicopters.

The only change from game to game: it gets bigger and prettier. This one is on an island chain of over a thousand square kilometers, with downright cinematic go-booms, flying sequences and — I shit you not — car chases through fields of sunflowers and lavender. Watch the trailer!

You know, you guys, computer games are the one area of popular culture where our team has prevailed. Big time. Rough justice, x-treme individualism, and lots and lots of lovely boom sticks and explosions. No kid who grows up playing this stuff will ever vote for gun control.

sock it to me

December 1, 2015 — 9:49 pm
Comments: 3

Everybody do the Glitch!

glitch

What’s a big game without a big glitch? I’m coming to the end of Witcher 3, sadly. Here we see Geralt of Rivia levitating three feet in the air with his legs tucked under him. He has just fought off a whole company of witch hunters, all of whom were also levitating three feet in the air with their legs tucked under them. nee-walked their way through the whole damn thing. It was like playing Marco Polo without the water.

Dude in the back there is dead and just hanging around in midair for no reason.

Known bug. It got better.

My favorite is still the Skyrim bug that made all the chickens in Whiterun repeatedly leap fifty feet in the air and then drift earthwards slowly. I finally worked out that the variable for #chickenheight somehow got crossed with the variable for the height of a stone loosed from a catapult just off screen.

And no, I’m not playing Fallout 4 like all the cool kids. My machine is under spec’ed.

sock it to me

November 25, 2015 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 15