Monday, May 26, 2014

PSA: Play Factorio

I don't usually recommend games as for most part I feel like they're a waste of time. I still love games and the concept of it as an entertainment and art platform, but the problem is how stale they are nowadays. As once young avid gamer I saw games becoming stagnant over the years with the same rehashed gameplay that made no departure from Pac-Man mentality. Once what was a new, fresh gameplay got slowly replaced by QTE prompts and old unimproved mechanics. That eventually drove me to nearly stop playing games entirely. You play one, and you've played them all. Few games came around that was worthy of my audience, but then those games could be 'watched' from youtube gamers and that provided me with enough information I didn't have to waste trying to trudge through the boring, awful gameplay. Even with massive backlogs of Steam library I was almost all done with gaming altogether.

And all of a sudden this goddamn game appears out of nowhere. Still relatively unknown with only handful of people with their hands on it.

Factorio is it's name.

A small portion of my work after 10 hours. Click to enlarge.

The game's still in Alpha, but graphically and functionally the game's incredibly and completely playable. Of course, since I'm writing this, I highly recommend everyone to give it a try. It's dirt cheap too at 13 bucks. The game's not a problem for people with crappy old laptops either. It's a 2d game and probably will run on a potato if you tried.

So what's this game about?

You are a lone space frontiersman sent by your people to find a suitable planet and ready it for your people's arrival. Your job is to create chains of resources and process them for advanced production of items and goods. In essence, you are tasked with logistics of resource production.

First thing you'll notice off the bat is the game's INSANE scale. You start small with few furnaces and boxes, but the game quickly escalates to a massive scale full industrial production of goods and items of every kind.

And every single resource is visually represented as seen in the screenshots above. There will be literally hundreds and thousands of moving objects in any given time and while it looks complicated and daunting, it is absolutely intuitive.

At first, your character starts off with nothing but few metals, a mining drill and a furnace. You must harvest resources, craft buildings and items to expand your chains of supplies and factories. Your lone driller and furnace soon become dozens of them. After running around getting fuels and collecting resources you soon acquire the power of electricity that in conjunction with conveyor belts it automates the whole process you've been doing manually. Your operation ultimately ends up looking like a full scale production of Toyota manufacturing in the end. You can literally build cars and trains and flying robots from resource you gather from the ground - of course, after processing them into iron plate, copper wire, steel, simple circuits, iron gears, inserters, electric engine, robot frames and whatever the precursor you may be required to produce.

This game nails the one thing all the other games in the history of gaming never got right: The logistics. No "Industry Points", no "more gold/cash" and no bullshit. Every resource is accounted for and the efficiency of your operation is completely up to your wit and intelligence. If you are incapable, there will be production bottleneck which cripples the flow. If you play it smart, everything will run smoothly. You must balance between efficiently harvesting your current resource and seeking for new resources for further exploitation. It's a constant battle between exploring and exploitation.

The game's logistics mechanic is a huge departure from other builder games that we've all grown to accept as norm. It is this difference that drove me to get a near addiction to the game.

Oh, and also there's hostile native creatures that will attack you as you produce more pollution from all those gas-guzzling factories. Yes. Pollution is a factor in this game and you are also in direct control over it.

It's difficult to explain why putting down conveyor belts to specify the flow of resources and robot arms to pick them up for processing is so appealing, but just the fact that the game doesn't automatically do things for me and that I am tasked with creating complex of network of conveyor logics and inserters to "make" the automation happen is extremely satisfying and downright orgasmic.

As a closer, I'm gonna leave you with this playlist of gaming youtuber Arumba who's been religiously doing his Factorio let's plays which convinced me to buy the game.

If I didn't do enough to convince you, give this let's play a watch. It certainly got a sale out of me and it might do you too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Off my chest

OK, so my workstation has been getting some performance issues and I decided for reinstall.

Owning an imac mid 2011 on a bootcamp, I thought, "Hey, Why don't I install Maverick and see how that goes?"

Bad move.

The actual reinstall goes without a hitch. Soon after I am greeted with Lion's start screen. I set everything up and start. That's when I remembered why I just outright nuked OSX and put a bastard windows on an imac like a goddamn Frankenstein's monster.

I am met with an immediate annoyance. How the hell do Mac users live with their mouse acceleration? Seriously? Immediately I access the mouse setting. There is no way to check off the acceleration. I look up on the internet and there are few hits on forums.

Turns out, you have to access a TERMINAL to enter a command prompt just to disable the godfucking goddamn mouse acceleration.

Seriously, Steve? You couldn't even let people have the option of freedom of navigation? Were you so obsessed with smooth, butter-like movement you had to artificially choke the mouse by its neck?

Anyway so I had a bunch of shit to install so I moved on. It's not big of a deal, I thought.

So I heard of this Maverick guy, heard he's pretty cool. I think once my OSX has been upgraded to the latest and the greatest, I'm pretty sure everything will be easier and more streamlined for use. So where do I get the upgrade? Oh, the App store? Okay.

What? You want me to log in? Jebus. I haven't used the Apple id since iPhone 4, but okay. I guess I'll just have to look it up.

And then I naively thought I'd just simply access my NAS drive and retrieve my password document. Oh such innocence!


Yeah. Never mind then. I never wanted to use OSX anyway.

I'll go back to Windows with no mouse acceleration and login-free windows updates.

I'll go back to easy-to-understand file structure with visible root folder.

I'll go back to simple short-cut icons on the background instead of your shitty launchpads, mission control, dashboard, and bunch of other arcane-sounding useless overlapping access methods.

I'll go back to consistent UI scheme instead of your rage-inducing random app-dependent UI changes.

Seriously, Just opening CHESS, you can't just press X to close it. The app DISABLES X. You can enlarge it, or fold it down, but NOT close. You must right-click the Chess icon on the DOCK to open a menu and click close to close. But you know what? Hey, how about that X button you so wanted.... ON A CALCULATOR? Yes! Calculator gets that close button you always wanted! Why? I don't know! Can Chess get one too? NO!

iMac, when I bought you, I seriously thought I was gonna move around a helluva lot. Turns out that didn't happen and now I'm sitting with a shitty all-in-one computer that is temp throttled and has no bios support - which means I can never disable hyperthreading or overclock. I do like your monitor's color quality, liquid (like from wet tissues) easily leaking into panel edges from the side not withstanding. I even upgraded you where you allow it - Ram to 16GB, HDD to SDD and whatnot. But seriously. You have problems man.

Bootcamp not supporting fan setting left you hot for months until I found a third-party program to manually alter the fan speed. The drivers that come with Bootcamp seems to include a ton of bloat too - so eventually after days of experiment I installed only the minimally required drivers - wifi, ethernet, and gpu. Shifting through wifi and ethernet drivers made by different companies was quite a challenge but eventually I came through.

But seriously, everything about Apple cries dictatorship. I love you iMac, but you need help. Your company needs help.

I remember that night at my sister's trying to install windows 7 on her 2009 Macbook. It wouldn't update and the Bootcamp drivers only supported Vista. I stayed up frantically trying to find the manufacturer for the wifi module and I was ecstatic when I finally found and downloaded the driver DIRECTLY from the manufacturer's website. The sun was just rising, and the birds were chirping all that jazz and whatnot by that time.
It would have been much easier had Apple disclosed all their part's makers, but no, they wouldn't want that, would they? The truth was revealed only after searching through hours and hours of random denizens of the internet tech supporting each other on the forums.

'If I could revive Steve Jobs, I'd kill him again with his god damned fruit diet of his.' I thought at the time. Well, not at the time. I thought of it just now but if Jobs had died back then I would have thought it.

As a semi tech-savvy person who is not technically proficient enough to sudo this and sudo that, but not totally illiterate enough to not mind the blatant file structure obfuscation, Windows seem to really does it for me. It's okay. It's fine. It's usable. It's simple enough and quite sufficiently robust. It has enough options but not too many. Just right.

So, my beloved iMac. Windows 7 is going to violate you once again tonight. I will violate you so thoroughly I'm going to first disable the UAC, turn features off, and by Gods, yes! I AM SO GOING TO go to performance settings and DISABLE VISUAL FEATURES.

Just to top it off, you know, I'm going to check 'show hidden files' too. HEH HEH.

But yeah, I wouldn't go as far as installing Windows 8.1 on you. No, even I wouldn't go that far.

I'm pretty nasty but I ain't no Hitler.