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Vintage computing, old video games

Finished 7 Billion Humans (PC) + all size+speed optimizations, all achievements

This is a programming-themed game, similar to Human Resource Machine, where you have a drag-and-drop interface to program in a pseudo-assembly type thing.

The big difference is 7 Billion Humans is “multithreaded”. You program the actions of not just one worker, but many (sometimes, dozens) that all run the same program concurrently. There are some instructions “tell” and “listen” which help synchronize. For example one worker can tell another “Coffee time!”, unblocking another worker that has stopped, and is listening for Coffee Time. Workers can be in eachothers’ way, and you may want to avoid them taking paths where they collide with each other. Certain workers have resources dedicated to them, that others cannot use or else BOOM they explode (literally).

Compared to HRM and most computer assembly languages, 7BH has some conspicuously powerful instructions.

When optimizing for speed you come to learn about how the game computes “performance cost” since it is not totally intuitive.

For example,
if (X == 5 and Y == 3) or Z == 12342
is the exact same cost as
if (X == 5)

Also,
“Take two steps to the left”
can (in, at least some circumstances) be the exact same cost as
“Find out where in the room the nearest printer is- it might be around a maze of hazards, obstacles, whatever- and go to it”

The latter, you’d think would be an expensive and complicated path-finding operation but the game gives that one to you for free. Maybe, with the idea that you’ve got enough other things to deal with and it is probably right about that.

My solutions are in this GitHub repo
https://github.com/clandrew/7bh

September 7th, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Finished Professor Layton and the Last Specter (3DS),
and the bonus game that the USA version ships with, Professor Layton- Little London

This is the fourth installment in the Professor Layton series. The puzzles seem, on average, easier (maybe too easy?) compared to previous installments. But there is enough variety to keep it interesting, and the side puzzles like the model train set are fun and worthwhile.

Little London looks and plays a lot like Harvest Moon, if you isolate it down to all of the cutesy character interaction and none of the turnip farming.

I have a big problem with Little London.

The mechanics of the game are as follows: you have two stats, Wealth and Happiness, whereby Wealth is accrued from working at jobs and fulfilling requests from the various townspeople; Happiness is acquired also by fulfilling requests, however– when you buy anything that costs X, X/2 will be added to your Happiness. Therefore, after unlocking the highest Wealth-giving quests in the game (and also the train ticket job), it’s just a matter of buying expensive things over and over and until you reach the Happiness desired. Optionally, you can sell things (for less than was paid for) and buy them again to streamline this grind late-game.

Is this the kind of value system we want to be broadly promoting to people? Materialism??

Your character begins the game with a home and basic needs met. The Wealth is just for buying frivolous things. New furnishings, new clothes. Cosmetic accessories. These are great, sure, but to directly, numerically link the resulting happiness they provide with how much they cost feels totally unrealistic. Am I going to be ten times happier with a $200 curtains compared to $20? Should I really spend $5000 on a golden stuffed animal? There are some material things I’ve purchased which made me *less* happy, for example the Lion King for Super Nintendo.

 

 

August 18th, 2017 at 7:36 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Got all size+speed optimization challenges in Human Resource Machine!
Some of them are HARD.
I have new appreciation for being able to std::swap (in one expression), or use, like, any literals
And the ending. The reward is a creepy cutscene…

March 10th, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

A task in Human Resource Machine.

The idea is to write a program that computes Fibbonacci numbers; the program is comprised of simple assembly-like instructions. The game gives you special bonuses for optimizing for speed or size.

This approach uses loop unrolling. The resulting program is really unwieldy and cumbersome to follow, but outperforms the speed goal by a lot.

February 22nd, 2017 at 11:03 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

November 28th, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Obtained Star Fox Zero and Mario Kart 8 for Wii U and gave them a try. I am not loving the Wii U tablet-remote for Star Fox, but I get they really really want you to use it. The controls will take some getting used to. There are a lot of nice graphical improvements since Assault and lots of homage to the very first one. I think they are being slow in learning their lesson from previous installments, that people want a rail shooter. Not a third person shooter, not Uncharted with furries, not a land vehicle driving sim. Please get it through your head Nintendo.

In other news, began playing Professor Layton and The Last Specter

August 30th, 2016 at 12:14 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

This might be the best game, ever. Reason: Can’t remember the last time I’ve come across a game with literally zero grind. No repetitive action. For the ‘meat’ of the game, solving puzzles- each puzzle is different with no repeats, nor any cheesy reprising the same puzzle with an only-slightly-different flavor. Shouldn’t be such a novel thing but it really is.

Also no puzzles that rely on pure anagrams, big-time number crunching, external knowledge of other languages / scripts.  Nice.

March 14th, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Braid for the first time.

The levels are really clever. Got all the puzzle pieces, got the ending/epilogue, and was left really confused.

What the heck is going on! I understand 0% of the lore of this game.

March 3rd, 2016 at 12:01 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Played an old one today. Apparently there is a low-color-depth Creation of Adam in Mario is Missing.

September 9th, 2014 at 12:23 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

A logic puzzle.

The Pillon Robbery

It was pouring with rain that Saturday when Glen Roberts searched his garage for the tool he needed to fix his convertible roof. It wasn’t there, so he decided to look for it later and went back into the house.
The phone rang. He picked it up and it was his friend, Paul.
“Did you hear about the robbery?”
“…..No.”
“The Pillon family across the street was robbed.”
“Really? Who did it?”
“The police don’t know yet. I bet the thief is rejoicing right now, though, getting away with something like that. That family has always been rich. I guess unless they find the criminal, the Pillons will turn out like my family, in financial trouble, I mean. We’ve never been too well off.”
“Well I know, but I can’t relate. Anyway I need to go, maybe I’ll see you later.”
He then heard the doorbell ring and went to answer it. It was the police.
“I’m officer Miller. I’m going to ask you a few questions having to do with the robbery at your neighbor’s house. First of all, do you know about it?”
“Yes. My friend told me.”
“Have you seen anyone suspicious around lately?”
“No, I haven’t seen anyone like that.”
“Where were you today?”
“ I was just driving around, shopping and running errands.”
The police officer paused and looked like he was thinking. He then went to his car and got another police officer and they arrested him. Why was Glen Roberts guilty?

November 10th, 1999 at 12:54 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink