The Tao of Gaming

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Archive for the ‘Artificial Opponents’ Category

Factorio Resurgent

So — my first rocket launch over the holidays took at about 35 hours (game time, not real. Game time pauses on some menus). Actually building the rocket took ~7 hours. I took a break but then tried again (this time with Aliens not peaceful) and got around 15 hours. I had the rocket researched at 10, but it still took me 5 hours to build.

I’ve never really watched Twitch (or whatever the videogame stream is), although my kids and nephews did (Minecraft, Five Nights at Freddy’s, etc). But hearing about a sub-two hour (real time) launch? That seemed worth watching.

Watching a World Record run is interesting. To be fair it’s a stacked game, but this was the record for a ‘seeded’ board. A map with ginormous resources and a friendly layout and he’s replayed the same map hundreds of times, so he knows the exact layout he wants to build before hand. Still, even with all those advantages? Impressive.

Hypnotic, even. Like watching an organically grown circuit diagram. Every few minutes (after about the 30 minute mark) he zooms out to make sure nothing is wrong, and it reminds me of a VLSI layout. To be sure, this is of much more interest if you play the game, because you can get a lot of strategy advice by watching.

After watching that I decided that:

  1. I needed a lot more straight lines in my factory
  2. I need a lot more resources
  3. To not crowd things together, unless I had a good design layout. (The speedrun was chockablock full of interesting design decisions. Particularly the Blue Circuit layout). Obviously this had a hyper optimized (space) run, but you can’t plan out every rock or whatnot.

Anyway, after watching I decided to try a map with ginormous resources. I’ve almost researched the rocket 5 hours in, but I need to get blue circuits started. Petroleum was a bottleneck: the nearest crude was quite far away. I’ve got much more spaghetti — but I didn’t tune the map besides a few restarts for bad ones.

The TaoLing wants me to continue post rocket, and I may try to build a megabase that can launch a rocket every X minutes (instead of X hours). We’ll see. I did take a break for a week or so to get in ~40 games of Jump Drive, but now I’m back to Factorio.

Written by taogaming

February 3, 2017 at 12:22 am

Posted in Artificial Opponents

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It is over!

It is over!

Finally!

Actually building the rocket only took five hours, which involved two power outages, an entire rework of the chemical factory network, and an iron shortage that meant that I was running the last few hundred steel from a hastily rebuilt smelting plant. I may start up a ‘real’ game (with non-passive aliens) after this weekend’s bridge tournament.

Or, you know, before.

Written by taogaming

January 6, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Timewasted

After 30 hours of Factorio gameplay of the current campaign, I have finally discovered how to build a launch silo! Almost there. Then I read the equipment. Building the silo itself takes the following:

  • 1000 steel pipes (which I have around) and some pipes (ditto)
  • 200 Electric motors (not easy, but I do have a single factory making them, and most of the precursors built
  • 200 complex electric circuits (I have a chain for that, I was pumping those out for speed modules)
  • 1000 Concrete (which I’ve never built, sigh)
  • Some modules

Then once the launch silo is built I have to feed it:

  • Ridiculous amounts of rocket fuel (which requires petrochemicals, my supplies of which are meager just wiped out a hive to grab more crude oil, but now that oilfield is under attack).
  • Ridiculous amounts of solar panels
  • Ridiculous amounts of everything else, including stuff I hadn’t ever heard of (like “Low density matter”)
  • Ridiculous amount of rocket parts.

Why do I get the feeling I’m only halfway (if that) into the game?

Written by taogaming

January 3, 2017 at 8:53 pm

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Factorio

As my comment to R.R. indicates, I’ve been playing Factorio as my timewaster. It really does start to get obsessive around the time you need to build green science. There’s a lot to hate about the game:

  1. It’s an alpha. I abandoned it during the demo (and almost again after purchasing it) because there are some very subtle interactions that aren’t well explained or tutorialized. It’s on the wiki and online, but it’s frustrating. (In particular, a steam plant flashing a power symbol is working, but not connected to an electrical grid. Also, robotic arm inserters are programmed with automatic queueing and inventory management concepts related to just in time demand, but that makes it look like they work once and then break).
  2. I haven’t mastered the hot-keys and so inventory management is a pain
  3. The games core concept is basically the worst part of Civ III — the grind.

Point #3 is also the selling point.

Factorio is a game of management, and even micro-management. But when you build a logistical chain, if you do it correctly you won’t need to micro-manage it (past the design). Good luck with that.

When you can’t quite figure out how to get the copper wire to your electronics factory (“why did I build them so far apart, and with a steam engine between them?”) you may just do adhoc warehousing of wire into boxes and then hand-move them when the factory needs more.

Surprisingly (not intellectually, but its a shock to learn something you only vaguely knew) you have to manage a lot of non-tangible items like space, transit, time (ugh, time. Stupid Steel mills, be faster!) as well as inventories and resources. And then I get so caught up in optimizing my supply chain that I realize I’ve lost the scenario because I wasted resources on scientific research and depleted my iron stockpiles before I built what I really needed (trains).

All of which is to say, I’ve literally dreamt about conveyor belts the last two nights.

On a more cogent level, there are valid criticisms of the game. Especially early on you can hit real show stoppers when you research something then discover that new Factory Foo needs a pipeline of petroleum, coal, and sea-shells from a foreign coast? (OK, I made the last part up, but you get the idea). I’m sure that people who play it more can pre-plan for supplies. And — of course — you have to deal with the native life-forms, who destroy your equipment. Resiliency is hard, something I’ve barely touched.

Rating — Aiiee, why do you haunt my dreams? Is no moment safe? So — anywhere from enthusiastic to avoid, depending on what I want to be doing.

Written by taogaming

December 27, 2016 at 11:18 am

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Keldon, Google, Evolution and Language

I have — with no malice aforethought — been near some great inventions. While I’m not an expert I think this year has been a simply stunning technically and after reading the NYT profile on Google Translate I can’t wonder if it is the inflection point. (Not in a “SF Singularity” way, but something softer).

Ever since Keldon I’ve appreciated that neural nets can handle more than you expect — after all, we are neural nets and sometimes clever. But seeing some of these translations and the quality involved is still stunning.

Anyway — its worth a read.

 

Written by taogaming

December 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Artificial Opponents, Non-Gaming

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Like a Lovecraftian Tale

I feel that I am learning deep knowledge, and yet the price I am paying is great.

After downloading rulebooks, tutorials, and Talmudic commentary totaling a thousand pages, I’ve spent dozens of hours pouring through them, searching for arcane knowledge long forgotten by the Modern World — a world which no longer believes in section dot subsection dot subsubsections, a World which demands games be approachable and simply provide knowledge and confess their secrets.

Lo! They are fools who have forgotten the old ways and no longer fear the unknown.

So I struggled through the Lemarchand’s Puzzle known as Magic Realm, cross referencing apocrypha with novitiate commentary and eventually stumbling onto Realm Speak and poking at it (carefully… oh so carefully). And I can now report that after playing through several fast games, I may have a basic grip on the first two encounters (Movement, Hiding and basic Combat).

I died fighting two trolls.

Still, I would have won if I hadn’t gotten confused by the the GUI and inactivated my sword, and then later misread a chit speed. With my sword inactive, my first killing blow found me hitting with …. a dagger. After a hasty fumbling I offed the first troll and would have killed the second, except for being undercut by speed (my armor having already been destroyed in prior rounds).

At no point did I gibber maniacally, aware of the drip drip drip of my sanity leaking away.

Realm Speak makes the process of learning much more enjoyable, not least of which because it does the entire setup process (which I will have to learn once my set gets here).

Written by taogaming

November 6, 2016 at 11:22 am

Field Command: Rommel

I math traded away some stuff that I haven’t played in years and given my current situation a solitaire wargame seemed like a reasonable trade. So, I picked this up.

There’s a lot to like in the system. Combat is a simple d6 affair, simultaneous fire and if you roll under your units value you score one hit (some units have two numbers, so you can score one or two hits. 5^1 (Superscript) means on a 1 on you score two hits, on a 2-5 you score one, and a six? Well, that’s bad strategy.

On your turn you move and fight. The combat system shows some cleverness. The allies draw battle chits based on their forces (and supply state) and you get to see them. Chits may:

  • Cancel a hit
  • Cost you supplies
  • Provide bonuses to combat (extra shelling, etc)
  • Cancel your chits
  • Have another unit show up
  • Etc

So even though you can see everything on the map, a reasonable fog of war. After you see the enemy chits, you can buy yours (with points based on your units, and then you can buy more with supply). Do that, roll the battle (the AI uses fairly simple rules). Units improve based on killing, and then you can do some non-moves and then its the AI’s turn. Draw an objective chit …. if it’s go time the reinforcements appear, and if not you follow some simple charts for the allies movement and fighting.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I’ve played five games so far … now here’s the downside.

The first scenario just seems brutal. Like — “Oh, you got some bad luck on T1 so you lose 1/2 your units, and then the Allies kick you again on their T1.” I wasn’t around at the time, but I’m pretty sure the initial blitz into Europe was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Axis, not vice versa. But in reading some other session reports, the first scenario has been decried as “a puzzle to be solved” more than a game.

Apparently I have not solved it yet. I have some ideas.

All of which is to say that I’ll have to try the Africa campaign and the defense of D-Day (where you are expected to lose, but get points for how long you hold out) and see how I like it. There are rules for a linked campaign, and objectives to make each scenario different, but so far I seem to be negotiating a peace on T3 at the latest.

Rating? We’ll see after I try the other scenarios.

Written by taogaming

October 31, 2016 at 7:37 pm