Author Archive

Welcome to the Metagame

2011-04-25 by Macha. 0 comments

On the surface, the Pokémon games are deceptively simple – catch some Pokémon, level them up, fight eight gyms, fight the Elite Four, win. For the main story, that’s pretty much all there is to it. Ok, there are a few exceptions – no amount of work is going to make a Farfetch’d a dangerous Pokemon that’s usable throughout the story. But for the most part, probably because Nintendo are aware that kids play these games, the story is pretty hard to screw up in.

And then you go to the Battle Tower or you play a random wifi match after clearing the Elite Four, and your team that decimated everything gets wiped away as if it wasn’t even there. Hmm. The rules of the story, where everything is fine, and even something rubbish can be improved by just adding ten levels no longer apply there. So how do you improve here? And that is where the metagame comes in.

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OpenTTD Game Diary #3 – Collecting the Iron

2011-04-19 by Macha. 0 comments

While my Iron line is making a profit since the last entry, it’s not really carrying that many goods. The bottleneck is the lack of Iron being brought to the Steel Mill. While I could resolve this by just waiting for the Iron Mine I’m using to expand, I have a few other Iron Mines on the map that I could make use of. But before I can connect it up, I’ll need to replace that quick and easy drop off I used for the Steel Mill drop station. (A side note: The names of towns, like Fairypool, are created using the Silly language pack – the default is for more serious names if you don’t like them. Station names are based on nearby towns, but the player can rename them)

The old Steel Mill drop station - totally uninteresting

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Game Dev Story

2011-04-18 by Macha. 1 comments

Game Dev Story is a mobile game for Android and iOS that revolves around the running of a game development company. You start off in a small office with two staff members, and must work your way up to being one of the top game companies. The main goal of the game is to make as much money as possible in twenty years for the game’s high scores, though there are a few other options available to the player, such as winning the Global Game Awards or making the highest selling game.

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OpenTTD Game Diary #2 – Getting the Goods

2011-04-13 by Macha. 0 comments

Towns in OpenTTD take a few things to grow. The first is frequent, regular passenger transport. This will enable you to grow your first towns slowly, but it’s not enough for fast growth. The next thing they need is Goods. Goods represent the culmination of most of the other good chains in the default temperate maps – the two most notable exceptions being passengers, who just go from point to point, and coal, which while profitable, does not lead to any ultimate product.

Of my two towns so far, Sleepywig is the most in need of growth, but the town authority hates me, so I can’t do the necessary landscaping either to add in an additional entrance to the existing station, or build a new station to accept goods. I buy up the land for future use so the city doesn’t expand onto it, and instead focus on bringing goods to Kipperwood.

The obvious option would be to connect the farm and factory nearby to produce goods, but the short distances involved mean the service wouldn’t be very profitable. Instead I connect up an Iron Ore mine to a Steel Mill further away as the start of my industrial efforts. Again I go for some less than ideal station entrances for simpler placement. For trains, this time I go with the Floss ’47’ and 5 Iron Ore carriages. For economic reasons, I have again chosen to go with a Diesel train.

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QOTW #2: MissingNo

2011-04-11 by Macha. 0 comments

Back in an ancient era of video gaming, when a portable console was something risky and unusual, two games, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue were released. These games were focused on the collection of 151 Pokémon. However, through exploiting a common glitch, players were able to access some more Pokémon, ones the designers had not intentionally created. The most famous and easiest to access of these is MissingNo, the subject of this article.


MissingNo, and its counterpart ‘M, are the two that most people will most commonly come across. Usually, this involves the old man glitch. The cause of this glitch is related to the low memory environments that the Pokémon developers had to deal with. Each Pokémon in game is assigned a number between 0 and 255 (256 slots). This is not related to the Pokédex number. Each area with grass in it has a list of Pokémon that can be encountered, and the Pokémon are represented by these index numbers in the list. Of course, 256 – 151 means there are 105 unused slots. Under normal circumstances, these won’t have any effect – but there are one or two circumstances where they can.

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OpenTTD Game Diary #1 – the first passenger service

2011-04-06 by Macha. 0 comments

To follow up to my previous OpenTTD post, I am going to do a game diary of the first 10 or so years of a transport company in game. The game difficulty is a custom difficulty, equivalent to Medium with AIs turned off and breakdowns reduced.  I’m ok at this game – I’m no pro player, but on the other hand hanging around openttdcoop has helped me in a lot of places. My map settings are as shown below:

Map Settings are fairly boring

I am starting in 1980 rather than the default, earlier starting date as the default starting date leaves you with just steam engines which makes starting off that much slower.

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OpenTTD – The Gamer’s Train Set

2011-04-04 by Macha. 2 comments

It’s a sad fact that there are few successful open source games. The fact that Battle for Wesnoth continually gets pulled up as an example of a good open source game is proof of that. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it’s certainly no instant classic. However, luckily for OpenTTD, there are a couple of exceptions.

The basics of OpenTTD are the same as with every Tycoon game – you start up a business, build it up, make money, build it up some more, and repeat. However, after a while, your company is sufficiently successful enough that you will never have to worry about money again. It is at this point that most tycoon games become boring, and you either start a new game, or stop playing. However, with OpenTTD, the business aspect is a rather small part of the game. The main focus quickly switches to the network: How can I transport more passengers? How can I get more trains through this hub? How can I optimise this junction? These are the type of matters I personally focus on most during gameplay.

There are also many more ways to play than just connecting up more places to your network in single player. Some players focus on making picturesque realistic railroads while others combine together to make super-efficient behemoths capable of transporting absurd amounts of goods and passengers each month, bringing with it equally absurd profits.

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Earthdance year 1052, Autumn and Winter

2010-09-10 by Macha. 0 comments

(First of all, this is out of sequence, something which is entirely my fault for not writing this up in time.)

Upon examination of the fallen leader “Macha” Besmarilral’s possessions, it has been discovered that contrary to prior belief, he did keep journals of the latter half of his reign, and here they are.


Autumn has begun with a goblin attack on the fortress. I decide to sound out our militia to deal with them. This was a mistake. Our militia has now fallen, and the goblins are camped outside.


Here are the goblins, attacking our militia

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Earthdance year 1052, Spring and Summer

2010-08-31 by Macha. 1 comments

I'm takin' over!

(This is part of the Dwarf Fortress succession game that members of Gaming.SE are playing. This is the second turn. The first player has yet to write a post to publish here, but his summary is linked to)

So, I have recently been appointed, and by appointed I mean exiled, to this new fort called Earthdance. Which means that after finally making a name for myself and achieving a level of comfort at my last fort, Regoddom, I now have to go through the whole bloody process again. Luckily, the last leader kept a good record of his decisions, even if they weren’t great. I was told to keep quiet and observe at first, so I disguised myself as a Medical Dwarf. Now that I’ve got a good idea of the state of this fortress, I’m taking over.

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So, what is this Dwarf Fortress business?

2010-08-26 by Macha. 0 comments


A picture of Boatmurdered, a dwarf fortress gone over the edge.

A Day in the Life of a Dwarf


By Urist McBlogger

It’s not easy being a dwarf you know. Constantly getting ordered around “dig this, dig that”, “build a floodgate here, release the lava there”. Those nobles, they think it’s easy. They just have to map out an area, by pressing d, then selecting a few tiles. We have to dig it. Have any of them picked up a pickaxe like a real dwarf and dug their way through the rock? No. And the way they treat us… it’s like we’re expendable. Just because we don’t know which side of a floodgate is which!

Now, I know some of these nobles like to claim that managing a dwarf fortress is the hardest task they could ever have been given. But they have an illustrated guide, guiding them the whole way through running a fort. I mean, as long as you remember not to dig too far down through the adamantium, to brew enough drinks for us working dwarves by building your stills, and giving a few dwarves jobs as brewers by pressing q and telling them to brew a drink, life is fine.

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