Hotel I spent the night in has what I have to assume is placeholder art in most of the frames: generic aesthetically consistent swirls (compare with the bed spread) that they could almost get away with if they didn’t have pairs of nearly identical images hanging together.

I’d alllmost entertain the idea that it was something intentional and abstract except they’ve also got a pair of lighthouse seascapes in the room.

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@charlesv @trevorfsmith that’s how you know BSG took place in the past; they still only had octagons back then.

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Flight crew is kibitzing five feet from me at my gate and pilot is mentioning that he “tore up the thigh support on the seat last night”.

All in all this is simultaneously kinda fascinating eavesdropping and literally just being stuck listening to coworkers make dull, uncomfortable shop talk to kill time.

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Looking out the cab window as it sends its way through the early morning fog; in the dim light I catch a glimpse in the parallax of something rounded and large and standing on four straight legs. Is it a horse, standing incongruously among the light-industrial brickabrack of NE Columbia Blvd?

No, it is a propane tank.

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@lichen your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they couldaloupe that they never....

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@mooncalf

ME: [trudging through a weird forest, chewing forlornly on my last Slim Jim and trying not to cry]
SOME RANDOM WOMAN, SUDDENLY: Hello there.
ME: Hi! Hi, have you got any Slim J--
WOMAN: Watch me kill a god.
ME: What--
WOMAN: [Shoots a nearby moose.]
ME: what the FUCK lady

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@davemakes Yeah, it was something special about the aesthetic of OM. I really enjoy getting to a working version of a clever/weird/optimized thing in this one too (and in all the Zach assembler games, really), so I'm still very much here for it. Just a marked difference in how show-off-able, and how hypnotic to just personally watch, the results are. In the ASM games the output is much more of an abstract thing.

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@jennatar Yeah, it's funny, at first glimpse I kind of thought the little EXA robospiders crawling around the various puzzle levels might end up being an equivalent to the Opus Magnum cycling gifs.

In practice not so much; they're mostly useful for debugging code step by step, where they're a useful visual mooring point for how some tasks play out. Some nice little flourishes of individual animations, but executing at speed it's all just a flickering blur.

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One thing I'll say I miss in EXAPUNKS from my time with Opus Magnum: those wonderful output gifs. OM was a beautiful game to play around in, and the fact that the solutions were themselves fun to look at was the cherry on top: even folks who didn't know or care about the game could appreciate them.

With EXAPUNKS and other "ASM = fun!" games, there's not much to *see*; it's mostly just code executing. So I just have to declare that I was very clever about this or that and leave it at that.

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And of course by default this is all working blind: I see my solution took e.g. 160 cycles to halt, and my friend's took 90 cycles, but I don't see their code. I just know they came up with *something*.

And so I sit and think and try to come up with what I haven't optimized for. Do I need to parallelize a task? Trim or unroll a loop? Assign a bot to kill the other bots?

You don't know what your friend's code says, but when you get to where they got, you *know* you both had the same idea.

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Brief EXAPUNKS update: I am getting up to some silly shit and I love it.

There is something pretty satisfying about seeing a friend's much lower cycle-count solution and working out a new approach that gets a score as low as their.

There is something absolutely horribly wonderful about then finding a way to trim a couple extra cycles off so that they have to start sweating instead.

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@rook working with the PDFs is totally doable fwiw, much as printing the zines feels cooler

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@rook But there is in fact a little robot war type thing lurking in EXAPUNKS, aside from the main Zachtronics stuff. I've only done one of those so far, a programmatic fight for control over a local cable companies' video feeds, but it's kinda neat and definitely different from the feel of the core brain-vs-puzzle gameplay.

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@rook Nice! I never got into any of the full-on programmatic combat stuff; I like the idea, just never quite clicked for me with my skillset vs. their implementations at the time.

One thing I wonder about with that sort of thing and the issue of, yeah, local maxima and strong designs: did any of them muck around with ruleset mutations as a way to keep it fresh? A need to adapt your war engine to different constraints/limits/etc to avoid a static meta.

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I DID IT it is stupid and ugly and i used up every single one of the 100 lines allowed, it runs six times as slow as my original parallelized solution, and it uses a terrrrrrible naive sort to get the job done, but fuck me if it doesn't cut the Activity metric by like 86%. Pretty sure it's at the theoretical minimum now.

Someone else is gonna manage the same solution but with actual elegance, but for now I am king shit of turd mountain.

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@mtknn @davemakes I've never perceived the Zachtronics games as having pretentions to being a true hacking experience; they are, as you say, puzzle games, and I think where they shine most is in creating an interesting possibility space that melds both satisfying straightforward problem solving with enough odd nooks and crannies of un- or under-documented language/hardware features to let you get up to some genuine nonsense on the outer edges of that problem-solving process.

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