NetHack / The NetHack Learning Environment

Reminded of NetHack this morning after hearing of Facebook’s release of The NetHack Learning Environment.

“NetHack is one of the oldest and arguably most impactful videogames in history, as well as being one of the hardest roguelikes currently being played by humans. It is procedurally generated, rich in entities and dynamics, and overall an extremely challenging environment…”

I’ve only played this casually, but it’s very complex. It might be a fun project to learn a little bit about artificial intelligence. Or, you might simply wish to play the game yourself.

Worth a look. It’s free and runs on pretty much any computer you’d want to use. Almost everyone will want to get a version with graphic tiles.

GOG Games on Linux, Featuring Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a point-and-click adventure, a genre that was still very popular on PCs at the time of its release. Games like Beneath a Steel Sky had already used the format to tell Blade Runner-inspired cyberpunk stories. Given the usual state of movie adaptations, a Blade Runner adventure game wouldn’t necessarily have been anything to get excited about.‘Blade Runner’ really does make you feel like a detective

What Westwood did with the license, however, was inspired. The game isn’t a straight retelling of the movie. (Harrison Ford’s Deckard is nowhere to be seen.) You play a detective named Ray McCoy on the tail of replicants linked to vicious animal murders. While the story takes place at the same time as the movie and involves some of the same locations and characters, it plays out in parallel without intersecting too strongly. This was a great decision for a narrative adventure, allowing the game to evoke the movie without feeling predictable.

-Sam Byford, “The resurrected Blade Runner game is a genuine classic.” The Verge. December 18, 2019.

Blade Runner is currently on sale for $8.99 until January 2nd, 2020, at 2 PM UTC. And, if you are into free (as in beer!) games, and who isn’t, you could also download the previously mentioned Beneath a Steel Sky for nothing.

But, there’s a catch. GOG doesn’t provide much help getting these games installed on a Linux system. I didn’t see any instructions, but let me save you some time. I documented what I did to get it to work, and now, you have the very instructions that should be on the GOG website, but are somehow, inexplicably, not there. We’re going to use Blade Runner as our example, but while I was looking into how to get this thing running, it was apparent that these problems happen on the Linux platform with many of GOG’s games.

Installing & Getting the Games to Work

Before starting, let’s make life easy for ourselves and get an outdated audio library that is needed in order for the game to launch.

$ dpkg -i libsndio6.1_1.1.0-3_amd64.deb

You’re also going to need Simple DirectMedia Layer 2, which you can install the standard way, through the repository:

$ sudo apt-get install libsdl2-net-2.0-0

Now, with those preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the task at hand, shall we? Download the Blade Runner file from the GOG website. Open a terminal:

$ cd Downloads
$ chmod +x blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 
$ ./blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 

After installation, it should be in your Show Applications, which is in the bottom right corner for people using the standard Gnome window manager, and then, select the game you’ve just installed, if it isn’t Blade Runner.

Or, maybe you’ve learned to love the terminal, you could launch the game from the command line by opening a terminal:

$ cd GOG\ Games/Blade\ Runner/
$ ./start.sh

The game should launch from this point. If not, contact GOG and …Good Luck!

Relicblade

Relicblade combines the action of tabletop wargaming with the flexibility of tabletop role-playing games. Each player controls a group of characters as they battle in the ruins of the sundered world. Characters are represented by finely detailed 30mm miniatures accompanied by Character Cards that detail the character’s unique abilities.

From frozen ice caves in the far north, to vast coastal keeps, the adventure is limited only by your imagination.”

Relicblade

80 Days (Game)

“The year is 1872…

…Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the globe.

Hundreds of journeys, thousands of routes. Travel by steamer, express train, airship, hover-car, hydrofoil, gyrocopter, camel, horse-back, hot-air balloon…

Can you make it in 80 Days?

80 Days

Control (Game)

“After a secretive agency in New York is invaded by an otherworldly threat, you become the new Director struggling to regain Control. This supernatural third-person action-adventure game will challenge you to master a combination of supernatural abilities, modifiable loadouts and reactive environments, while fighting through a deep and unpredictable world.

Control

Steam Game: TIS-100

TIS-100 is the Guitar Hero of high-level assembly language programming. A restrictive set of commands, storage capabilities and other constraints that make this very challenging. My favorite review:

“A great game to play for when I want to feel stupid.”

If you are a programmer, nerd or enjoy logic puzzles with not much hand holding, this game is for you. Recommended.

Freedom Finger

“Featuring a giant, flying, fist-shaped, middle finger-giving ship embarking on an intergalactic rescue mission to save lunar scientists taken hostage by terrorists, Freedom Finger is the game we didn’t know we needed, a special opportunity to travel through the wonderfully weird imaginations of Jim Dirschberger [creator of Sanjay & Craig] and Travis Millard.”

—”Freedom Finger is a Bat$#!% crazy space shooter from the minds of Travis Millard and Jim Dirschberger.” Juxtapoz. April 25, 2019.

Vanity Fair describes the game as Yellow Submarine meets Adult Swim. Freedom Finger is available in steam, and they are actively looking at a Switch port.