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Games

Dyson Sphere Program

Looking back toward my “home” moon and the gas giant around which both moons orbit. Part of my main bus visible in the foreground.

Build machines to automate building more machines to automate researching new technologies to build more machines and eventually build a Dyson Sphere around the local sun. Rinse and repeat in a new solar system.

There’s so much in this early access game but even at this early stage I can easily recommend Dyson Sphere Program if you are a fan of Factorio or Satisfactory. I got bored of the former and never played the latter. DSP hits the spot for me.

For help check out the related Steam community, the DSP subreddit or any of the numerous Youtube videos on the game.

Categories
Games

Creeper World 3 – Fortress Siege

This game is ridiculous. I love it. If you’re a fan of tower defense games you’ll love this real time strategy game. Wikipedia describes it as a,

mix of real-time strategy and tower defense, where there is only one enemy and it can only be repelled rather than destroyed. The player must hold back a purple mass called the “Creeper”, which has already destroyed most of humanity and is now attacking Odin City, humanity’s last bastion. This is done by placing towers onto the battlefield which shoot at the Creeper. The main goal of the game is to connect the player’s base to energy totems through the use of energy collectors and relays; doing so opens a jump gate which allows Odin City to teleport to a new planet and attempt to escape the Creeper again.

Steam says I’ve played close to 100 hours in the game, many of those hours in frustration or getting overwhelmed before figuring out how to defeat a level.

It’s like tower defense except that the enemy is a liquid that comes at you from all directions so you have to build towers to protect your assets everywhere. I find most levels have an initial “OMG Moment” at the start where it all seems too much, but by building up your batteries, and your towers you’ll soon be fighting back.

Sometimes it’s a slog, and the last level I just played is one such map. Fortress Siege by Blaze in the Alpha Sector is one to leave until you’ve had plenty of practice. 4 emitters spew out vast amounts of creeper. It’s hard enough just keeping it back but advancing is on another level of difficulty altogether!

I did eventually defeat the map and once one of the emitters fell it was plain sailing. I earned two achievements playing this one:

  • Build 25 shields in a mission.
  • Build 25 Berthas in a mission.

Maybe a little excessive, but I swear they were needed! For a taste of what it’s like have a look at this video.

Disappointingly only one of my friends on Steam has the game. Check out the reviews on Steam. Recent reviews are “very positive” while all reviews are “overwhelmingly positive”.

Creeper World 4 is on the way too, but there’s no release date for it. It’ll be done when it’s done to paraphrase the developer but I’m looking forward to it already. It looks great!

Categories
Games

You Have To Win The Game

What game? No, that’s the title of a free game on Steam and on the Commodore 64!

The C64 version can be found here on CSDb while the Steam version is here. The Steam version works on Windows, Mac and 32 bit Linux! A comment on the original announcement post links to what could be a port to something called FreeBASIC which is available here.

The game is a very hard platform game where you have to collect all the items in the game to complete it 100%. The CSDb page has some spoiler comments so beware of those if you want to avoid them. Then again, this game came out in 2012 so you probably know about it already.

The game is great, but the the stand out thing for me is the flawless C64 port. It looks very much like the modern Steam version, with the same sounds and graphics which isn’t surprising as they’re fairly basic. The game plays the same, at least as far as I’ve got to!

Many people love this game for the CGA colour palette but it’s a reminder that the PC had humble beginnings comparable to the Commodore 64. The Commodore Amiga released in the mid-eighties blew away anything produced on the PC for many years.

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Games

I guess I haven’t bought anything on Steam recently …

This is what happens when you have Humble Bundles and a backlog of games.

Speaking of backlogs, one game I really enjoyed that I bought got in a Humble Bundle ages ago but never played until recently was Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal. If we’re friends on Steam, chances are you don’t own this game but you probably should. Only one of my friends does. Hi Mark. 🙂

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Games

Creeper World 3: Arc Eternal – Farbor

Creeper World 3 is a sort of a tower defence game but it’s more a real time strategy (RTS) game. You move your pieces to combat the relentless Creeper as it flows over everything to consume the map. It’s a mostly easy-going game as you can pause and consider your next move and once you’ve set up your initial defences you can take as long as you want.

Usually it’s easy going and fun.

Not so In Farbor where you’re under a strict time limit as a ship is under construction and you must stop it before it launches. It’s so difficult for an early level that there’s a pinned discussion thread on the Steam Forums explaining how to skip it.. It took me many attempts to beat this level, and I had the help of the video above. If everything isn’t just right you’ll be found lacking near the end game. It was a hell of a feeling beating this level. Yes, even though I copied what someone else did. I managed to beat that level in just over 16 frantic minutes. As well as employing the strategy in that video I also used snipers to take down two of the incoming ships to slow down construction, and built a forge to make energy and ore more efficient. I think I wouldn’t have beaten the map without those two additions.

The game was in a recent Humble Bundle, and apparently I bought it a long time ago but only got around to playing it recently. It’s on Steam at a cheap price. Go get it, it’s a fabulous game!

Categories
Games

Delete the junk that games and apps leave behind in Windows

Use CCleaner and winapp2 to clean out the junk left behind by Steam installers, temporary files, cache files and more.

Before you run this make sure you play all your Steam games at least once or you’ll have to “verify integrity of game cache” of each which will force a download of the install files again. The UI is basic, you can click a box to select all games plus Desura and Steam install files so I went for the big one. I saved 17GB of space by deleting Desura game cache files I didn’t know I could delete. I found out afterwards that there’s an option in Desura to “Clean up MCF’s after use” too which is probably worth doing if you’re running short on space.

There’s also the Tikione Steam Cleaner but it’s written in Java and it’s 195MB when installed! Check out this thread on Reddit for more. I found out about winapp2 there.

While we’re on the subject of saving space, download Space Sniffer to see where all your space is used.

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Linux

Go on back to Linux will ya!

I’m back in the world of Linux on my desktop machine again. Well, mostly.

desktop

Desktop Linux has been a “thing” for so long now it’s a cliche but I used it as such for well over a decade and it wasn’t until I was lured away by the shiny games offered by Steam that I installed Windows on a machine. Well, time passes and Linux support for games improves. Many fabulous indie games now have Linux versions. I’m glad I can play Kerbal Space Program, Prison Architect, Papers Please, Luftrausers and more without booting into Windows!

I’m mostly back in the Linux fold. There are still apps I use regularly that don’t work in Linux. Lightroom and Ynab are the main offenders. Both run to a certain degree in Wine, and the latter runs quite well, but I’m afraid I’ll be cheating on Linux. I have a Macbook laptop here too that runs Lightroom just fine. My 1TB of photos (and some videos) resides on an external drive in my Linux box but with the catalog copied over to the laptop, Lightroom runs reasonably well.

It hasn’t been plain sailing either. I corrupted one external drive when I let Ubuntu try to resize and partition it. It was probably my own fault for not defragging it first. I thought I had lost everything as Windows couldn’t see anything on it. Luckily, after booting into Linux on a USB flash drive I could see everything I wanted copied off.

I have an Nvidia graphics card and I noticed ugly tearing in web pages in Chrome. I found a page that suggested enabling “Override software rendering list” in chrome://flags/ but while that worked it also stopped my cursor changing when hovering over links and hover actions on menus didn’t register. Luckily I found this thread that suggested disabling the “Composite” module in the X server. (That’s the program that displays things in Unix)
I couldn’t find the file, /etc/X11/xorg.conf in my Ubuntu 14.04 install but I found Composite was mentioned in /etc/compizconfig/unity.ini and when I removed it, restarted X and logged in again Chrome scrolled like melted butter on hot scones. (yum)

Unity is a lot nicer than I remember it, or maybe it’s because I have a better machine now. I have no doubt I’ll get bored of it and start installing Gnome, KDE, Xfce and everything else to play with, before coming back to it again. I fondly remember the days of Windowmaker.

So, Linux is back.

Categories
Games

The prisoners are escaping!

2014-10-10_00002

Prison Architect is a game where you design and run an ever expanding prison. It’s still in early access but the developers bring out a new update every month.

The latest update introduced random characteristics for new prisoners. For example, some will be volatile and cause a riot for no reason at all. Others will be stoic and pay no heed to any sort of punishment given. Imagine a prisoner who was volatile and stoic? They also apparently increased the chance of a prisoner trying to escape using a tunnel. That’s why my guards perform a shakedown of the prisoners every second night to catch these subterranean trouble makers.

In the screenshot above, a dog handler suspected a tunnel was being dug so I ordered my workmen to dismantle local toilets, and look what they found! Upon further investigation I found another two toilets compromised. Quite a stink.

You don’t see that in Orange is the New Black now, do you? (No spoilers please for those who haven’t seen season 2!)

Categories
Games

How well does Steam In-Home Streaming work?

Steam In-Home Streaming allows you to stream a game from one machine on a network to another. The idea being that your powerful desktop machine will run the game and stream the picture and perform input/output through a weak computer attached to a living room TV.

One of the problems it faces is wifi latency. Most homes won’t have ethernet cables built into the walls. I only know two people who are so prepared so the rest of us will have to use wifi. I’ve used power plug networking in the past but the resulting broadcast of radio signals makes me fearful for the sanity of any long wave radio fan or CB radio junkie in the locality.

The video above demonstrates a lot of latency and stuttering when Metro Last Light was played over a wifi network. However, ethernet worked fine with only slight lag. Here’s a thread on the Streaming Group forum looking for feedback and this thread that should be a good read.

Initially I was more excited about streaming than family sharing but the latter works just fine, and even works when the (slave) computer is offline (so the master computer can be used to play games too). I even went and bought a HDMI cable just so I can hook the laptop up to the tv. Much simpler than fiddling with streaming but then I might not be the target audience am I?

Categories
Games

Here’s how to use Steam Family Sharing

A few minutes ago I got an email saying I had been accepted into the Steam family sharing beta. There are detailed instructions explaining how to set everything up but in a nutshell:

  1. Sit down at the computer where you want your Steam library to be shared. This is not your own PC and login.
  2. Enable beta participation in the settings.
  3. After restarting Steam go into “Settings->Manage Family Sharing & Devices” on that computer. Not your own PC. Authorize this PC.
  4. Logout and login as your family member’s account.

So, you don’t allow other Steam accounts access to your Steam library. You give access to other machines. Unless you want to give out your Steam login details (which would be against the T&C) you won’t be giving your online friends access to your games.

It was painless to set up. Once I logged in as the second account my games had “shared by donncha” after each title and could be played. It makes the idea of having a Steam machine in the living room all the more attractive.