Minetest Mapping

The MineClone2 "map" is basically just a compass, it shows a picture of the local chunks but can't be resized. So… where have I been? Where are my bases?

There's a couple cartography mods, but they seem to only make small maps for use in-game. There's a minetestmapper.py in the base game's distro, but it's python2, requires an obsolete version of PIL, 2to3 didn't fix it.

So there is this:

SIGH, C++ and libraries. I actually have libgd installed with MacPorts, gd2, but it wasn't found at first, adjusted my env vars and now:


Grinds for half an hour, get a full white image, because all the MineClone2 nodes are unknown, so copied colors.txt to my-colors.txt, and add this to the end:

Make a script, my-map.zsh (change mapname, worlddir to wherever yours are):

worlddir="$HOME/Library/Application Support/minetest/worlds"
d=`date "+%Y%m%d_%H%M%S"`
./minetestmapper --colors my-colors.txt -i "$worlddir/$mapname" -o "$mapname-$d.png"

Repeat, half an hour… I still get 227 lines of unknown blocks, but the base map generates OK now, and looks good enough. I hate the sand color, and I dunno what the dark areas are. OOH, what's that structure at the far west? I'm planning to skyrail far west, then go there and the unexplored village W-SW next time. And I'll add more to my-colors.txt file and post that sometime.

Scaled down image:

Quitting Elder Scrolls Online

I've been playing Elder Scrolls Online since 2014, beta. I have a monkey and a map made of paper (if you know what that means).

Today I hit the end of my sub period, and nothing's got better from the last 2 updates, or next.

ESO has become another bad card game on top of ruining my alts with "Account Wide Achievements". Can't clear some "easy" dungeons because they keep screwing my build over. New content is just broken.

So I'm on hiatus, maybe for a year or two, probably forever. Dunno what I'm doing for entertainment. Minetest, mobile games, there's a couple MMOs with Mac support and some potential but no decision making at all for a while.

I'm writing up a longer postmortem, where I'll talk about exactly what was good, bad, and ugly, and share many screenshots from years of it.

Nintendo Direct Switch

Presented by Yoshiaki Koizumi, not Yoshi.

Yesterday, Mr Mori the Animal Crossing youstuber predicted there'd be some AC news.

As usual, I bold anything interesting.

  • Fire Emblem N-Gage: Bringing back mobile gameplay from a long-obsolete phone/console. Seriously, 100% gachapon nonsense instead of a tac RPG, everyone involved in this should curl up and die of shame.
  • It Takes Two: Do you like jumpy puzzles and waiting on a switch for someone else to complete their jumpy puzzle? This is a game designed to cause two people to murder each other.
  • Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse: "The Forbidden Story Begins" NO! It is forbidden! Taking selfies to capture ghosts, remake of a 2001 game. This would be interesting if it was remade as an AR game set in YOUR HOUSE, but instead it's the most toothless Resident Evil-without-guns possible.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles DLC again: Pay even more up front, to get the chance to pay more every 3 months, for the game that should've shipped at half the price. Very much built on the mobile MMO model, not quite gachapon but there's no sense of a story or world, just battle to grind up numbers, pay more to grind bigger numbers. Shambling corpse of remake/sequels after remake/sequels from the original Xenosaga games which had art and philosophy.
  • Spoogeboob Squizzpants: I'm sure it's fine for 6-year-olds.
  • Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star: This is the opposite problem. FotNS ran in manga until '88, in English until '95, the appallingly ugly anime until '88 and almost immediately fansubbed & brought over. So the audience is basically, what, pudgy 40-60-year-old men with a (non-Lite) Switch? I mean, maybe.
  • Oddballers: Dodgeball was a horrible, traumatic experience for almost everyone except gangs of hooligans held back 2-3 years and ready to take out some violence on younger kids. Let's turn that into a super fun little game, says Ubisoft! Yeah, no.
  • Tunic: Small fox, isometric action adventure game. Hey, you made a game for me!
  • Front Mission: BattleTech ripoff.
  • Story of Seasons: Harvest Moon devs were fucked out of their title by American studio fuckwits, so renamed it. I love the idea of HM/SoS, but in practice the time-driven rush thru the day, and then thru the seasons, drives me insane with time pressure and I just quit the second I fall behind. I can barely handle Animal Crossing's 1 day per day, and have to time travel if I mess that up. If you're not neurotic it may work for you.
  • "Splatfest": Not actually a porn convention, but Splatoon event. Do not care.
  • Octopath Traveller II: Sequels. Why does it always have to be sequels? Same weird mechanic as the first. I might like these if they were organized traditionally, but I get annoyed at "optimal path" games.
  • Fae Farm: Animal Crossing but faeries.
  • Theatrerhythm: Beat match game with new soundtracks, mostly locked behind overpriced DLC. Did you know you can listen to music and play drums or air guitar to it yourself for free! Nobody can stop you! YET. Coming soon: Air Guitar DRM.
  • Mario+Rabbids Sparks of Hope: Mario in open world: YAY! Fucking rabbids: OH NO NOT AGAIN. Also has DLC/season pass nonsense. Can you just make a game?
  • Rune Factory 3 Special: Farming, fishing, fu… marriage in Rune Factory world. Obviously, Animal Crossing needs in-character marriage with small furry animals to keep up with this kind of amazing innovation.
  • More NES, SNES, N64, Genesis games, latter two only if you pay the super online fee. Goldeneye is fun, right?
  • Various Daylife: Previously reviewed on iOS. Not great, but less gachapon than most daily grinder games. Available now for $28.99! Wait for it to be marked down 90%.
  • Factorio: Grindy factory building/tower defense. Long available on other platforms.
  • Ib: RPG Maker CYOA with artpunk/just plain incompetent graphics for everything not from the RPG Maker tile set.
  • Mario Strikers Battle League
  • Atelier Ryza 3: "The Final Summer Begins": Well, yes, global warming means the world will at some point quit having other seasons, just endless dying in heat. BUT ANYWAY, the game looks really nice, running around a pre-apocalyptic island collecting magicky bits? No mention of DLC, might actually be a real game.
  • Sports.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto-San!!! Theme parks, eh. Pikmin Bloom is a smartphone Pokemon Go ripoff, great. I live in the middle of nowhere and don't go out, doesn't help much. Pikmin 4 on Switch in 2023, no gameplay video. Can't say if it's any good until we do see some video.
  • Just Dance: Just sit on my ass on couch.
  • Harvestella: JESUS GREEN THUMB FUCKING CHRIST why is every damned game a life simulation/farming/Animal Crossing ripoff? FATE OF THE WORLD FIGHTING DOOM / gotta get my carrots planted you know.
  • Bayonetta 3: Bay is wearing clothes. Has now done a complete heel/face turn, is a heroine and not a creepy assassin boob witch. Zero out of 5, do not want.
  • Raincode: Gloomy corporate dystopia. Adorable chibi child detective with sexy gothic lolita ghost sidekick. "Master detective", and even more goofy carnival-ride "solve the case" realm. WHAT. It's like they saw Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and thought "how can we make this even less plausible"?
  • Resident Evil Village Cloud: RE7 DLC but streamed from Stadia because the Switch can't run a high-res game, even if it's a really shitty, undeveloped game.
  • Sifu: Kung fu fighting game? Oh, this is the one where every time you lose, you get older and a compensation skill. Lose a few times because you practice that way, and game over of old age.
  • Crisis Core FF7 Reunion: Remake of a FF7 side story game on the PSP in 2007. Pretty lame, you basically got missions and ran down corridors, did a top view shoot-em-up, got a few bits of dialogue as Zack (remember Tifa's real boyfriend?) Not a bad little game, but it's been a long time.
  • Radiant Silvergun: Galaxian ripoff yet again.
  • Endless Dungeon: SF roguelike shmup ripoff of Diablo.
  • Tales of Symphonia Remaster: Absolutely unnecessary, and minimal effort, remake of a good PS1 RPG but cliché quest. Characters still look like LEGO minifigs with slightly better hair. Sets are not even that good, maybe Playmobil quality with badly-placed decals.
  • buncha remakes. Don't touch.
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe: Orko arrives on a spaceship and follows a local cute flesh-eating blob. "Everyone can play as Kirby!" I mean, it's a Kirby game. So fun but silly.
  • Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom: Sure, probably. Maybe you'll go kill the evil Queen and her whole country will shut down in mourning so you can break all their pots and steal their "rupees" (taken from the kingdom they conquered & robbed). All we see in this video is some hang-gliding and such, could just be an extra map for Breath of the Wild.

MineTest skins

So I hate the default adventurer skins, even if it's usually covered by armor and I use first-person camera. I have my own skin. But MineTest has no built-in config for skins! Mods to the rescue.

On your world select, hit Select Mods, Find More Mods, and search for skinsdb, and smart inventory, install both.

Back to menu, select each of those and Enable. Save.

Now in terminal:

cd ~/Library/Application Support/minetest/mods/skinsdb/textures
cp ~/Pictures/My-Minecraft-Avatar.png character_whatever.png

This only seems to work with MC 1.0 avatars, even tho skinsdb says it works with MC 1.8; if you have multiple layers, remove those and resave without them. I tried installing the 3d_armor mod, which might enable that, and it has broken dependencies. 🙁

Play Game, and in game, open inventory, click the skin icon, and at the bottom of the big new Smart Inventory screen, skin icon. Select, done.

(The skin was originally a Spider Jerusalem skin, which I wanted a Nine Inch Nails shirt on, but there's only room for NI, which makes it even better.)

What I'm Playing: MineTest, MineClone2

So, ever since Microsoft bought Mojang, they've been boiling the frog, and finally with the "Xbox accounts" and 1.19.2 the Java edition has reached surveillance state nightmare (however ludicrous that sounds for a game… it's still a game we play) parity with Xbox Live Arcade (aka "NAMBLA") and the inferior mobile/"Bedrock" edition, and it's really time to look for alternatives.

One such is MineTest, which is an open source blocky game engine, with easy modding in Lua. The base MineTestGame is a very simple peaceful/creative mode, which isn't that interesting, but mods change everything. One of the mod packs ("games") is MineClone2; it aims to recreate MC 1.12.2 with some improvements, while MineClone5 (I guess 3 & 4 fell into a swamp) is a much less stable fork that chases current features. Other games aren't concerning themselves with MC-like-ness at all, I'll look at some of those later.

Download the client from the MineTest page, then at the bottom bar hit + and type in MineClone, hit + on MC2. Back on the Main Menu, select the 2-grass-block icon from the bottom, the screen should change to show a MC2 logo, hit New to make a new world.

When I started testing MineTest, it was very laggy, the Mac display & input was completely broken. In 5.4, it got up to usable but not fun, with a really horrible input lag. In 5.6, just released on the 4th, it's actually playable! FPS rate is a little low (15-30 instead of the 30-60+ I expect), picking up/moving inventory can be sluggish, but the game is on par with any older edition of MC now.

MineClone2 can have some remarkable terrain, tho there's something a little off, I get broken Nether portals every few hundred meters in plains. The mobs are dumb but as dangerous as MC and I'm less skilled here. Villagers work, I don't have a proper screenshot of the village I've started trading with, I need to clear some land and fence it off, after I set up my next base near it. Animals are a bit odd, they're persistent but spawn in randomly on grass when you enter the area, there's a river below my base, and it's constantly splashing with sheep & llamas that fall in; I should build a lava blade trap for them. I've made a map, but it's uselessly small and can't be resized, but does point back home. The built-in minimap (hit M, repeatedly to cycle views) is very useful.

By default there's no access to debug. You can open the console, but no command shows coords AFAICT.

So edit ~/Library/Application Support/minetest/minetest.conf (probably ~/.minetest on Linux, WTF knows on Windows):

keymap_console = KEY_F5
keymap_inventory = KEY_TAB
keymap_minimap = KEY_KEY_M
keymap_mute = KEY_F10
keymap_screenshot = KEY_F2
keymap_toggle_block_bounds = KEY_F6
keymap_toggle_chat = KEY_F7
keymap_toggle_debug = KEY_F3
keymap_toggle_fog = KEY_F8

Or whatever keys you like for those. Now I can hit F3 and get a teeny text status of FPS & pos, hit it again and get full debug/lag spike data.

What I'd like is a bit more of Life in the Woods, or Super Hostile type modpacks, make survival hard and more complex, but with a gentler introduction than Feed the Beast etc. There is Exile in the ContentDB, and I kind of glazed over looking at the wiki, my one test of it I punched some sticks but couldn't make anything, then got blown up, but I'll run at it again.

There's not a lot of Youstubes or Twitches of MineTest yet, but there's a few "punch wood" demos, and a lot of what you know about MC just works in MineClone2.

What I'm Playing: Echoes of Mana

Click thru Pre-Registration at the bottom for App Store/Google Play links, you should still get pre-reg bonuses for this first week, but I don't know when it ends.

It's by Squenix and developed by Wright Flyer Studios, who previously did Another Eden and DanMachi, both of which got years-long runs on my devices, and I love the Secrets of Mana series, so I'm willing to give this a try.

The art and music are beautiful as usual. It's just nice to wander around and look at.

Gameplay, it's a mix of good and disappointing. The main game hub is a crappy^W beloved peasant village initially overrun by patchwork goblins, standard click-on-all-the-menus to collect coins/gems/whatever to pump up your party, summon from a gacha pool, combine duplicates to upgrade characters. The game so far is fairly generous with general-purpose "dolls" for upgrading anyone. Once you get thru chapter 2, you can "ascend" the dumb one-star main character and start upgrading them. Apparently every character can be upgraded to 6-star, maxed out, so there's no wrong choices, just faster or slower ones.

The quest system is very linear, click on the next box and do a visual-novel-like story or a fight scene, collect rewards, repeat forever. There's a big set of training/resource "dungeons" (just 1-2 rooms so far) for levelling and getting upgrade materials. The game forces a tutorial down your throat, so every so often you just have to do whatever obvious process it's teaching you.

I very much miss Another Eden's open world, wander as a cloud, random fights or giant world bosses in each area. That was a great game, this is merely good. DanMachi started great, but it had only linear combat quests, and then added dozens of alternate costumes to the chars (mostly girls) which all had to be collected and levelled up, which was a pain in the ass, and the PVP in it was very "get the new meta char and win". Let's hope this doesn't go down that money-making hole.

Characters from the gacha are a mix of new to this installment, and classic Mana characters, and some are guaranteed drops, you're not going to be pulling forever to get that one rare char. Your party is 3 main characters and 3 backups who take their place if someone is KO.

The fights are the good part. You control one of three in your party, drag around to move, there's several attack/skill buttons: base attack, powerup attack, group combo attack, and 3 skills. You can switch who you control at any time, the others work on very dumb AI, so make sure they're tanky and probably melee, because they'll walk up and melee anyway; there is a battle strategy control on each char, but it doesn't change much, so I leave it on Balanced or Damage Dealer for the front-liners, and I mostly run Popoi, the fireball-throwing sprite from Secret of Mana.

There doesn't seem to be any overly complex mechanics so far, the elemental mana board system is a stat powerup grid but it's pretty simple. One thing to be aware of is each character uses a different elemental "coin", so spread the elements out in your party. I currently have:

  • Popoi (Salamanda = Fire)
    • Quilto (Lumina = Light)
  • Duran (Gnome = Earth)
    • Hawkeye (Shade = Dark)
  • Serafina (Undine = Water)
    • Raxa (Sylphid = Wind)

I also have Primm (Sylphid = Water) who I like, but she'd conflict with Serafina, and isn't as damaging.

The backups are really only riding along for experience right now, I rarely die. I did have a few deaths, and then I used the mana boards to bump up HP, CON (phys def), and SPI (mag def). Almost everyone can use every stat, except STR is for physical attack, INT is for magical. Gonna be a lot of grinding in the resource dungeons to improve these, but gives you a clear goal to work on every day.

You can buy a few healing/powerup items from the shopkeeper every day, currently 3 candy & 3 chocolate (S & M heals), and assign them on your party Items to keep you alive a little longer.

The cash shop is pretty expensive ($20, $30, $40 packages!), and as usual I start Free-to-Play and only pay in if I'm still playing after a few weeks. We'll see, my patience with gacha games is limited.

I didn't record a fight, it's too chaotic to really show in screenshots. The demo video on the official site is pretty representative.

There's apparently a co-op feature, and friends, which I'll look at later. I don't think there's PVP.

On Reddit and elsewhere, I see people complaining about load times, and I don't see it on iPad. There's a 1-3 second load screen to get back to the game hub from any feature, otherwise everything is instant. I think this is an artifact of using emulators or really slow old Android devices. Get a device not in your box of Cracker Jacks, and it'll be fine.

MysticDungeonClub returns

I've been neglecting server maintenance for, uh, like a year now? Because <waves hand at everything>.

So anyway after much effort this week I got the MysticDungeonClub back up.

It's a bunch of web tech toys, but I plan to get back to posting more of these, I have a couple of "new"/old ones never published, and I'll be putting the long-neglected vrmicro there. I think I can get archive.org's emulators there, too, and then I can just put my ATR files and an emulator in a page! There's web-based Scheme interpreters, and they can go there, too.

The Stanley Parable Ultra Deluxe

One of my favorite videogames(?) of all time. It's literally wandering hallways of an abandoned office. And then not. And then there's some narrative about what games are. There's no point, because nothing has any point, life is meaningless and we just tell ourselves stories to stop/slow down going crazy.

Will I buy it again? Will I relaunch "Stanley Parable Classic" on Steam to get that 5-year cheev?! Maybe! Probably!

[immediate update: I can't run the 32-bit Steam version on my Big Sur Mac anymore! Guess I could unpack the old MacBook.]

I may get the Switch version, it's funny to have a Half-Life mod game on a portable device, so I could go wander hallways anywhere I am.

Nintendo Direct 2022-02-09

  • Nintendo Direct is all Switch games today, which is good, that's the only console I care about anymore.

What's annoying is, since Nintendo have stated Animal Crossing New Horizons has had its last update (tho they keep doing minor patches so far; and anyway I only check in once a week or so now), there's not really a strong reason to watch these. But maybe I'll find a new crack addiction?

  • Fire Emblem Warriors: So, Fire Emblem Heroes (iPhone/Android) is a gacha game with very simplified tac-RPG combat. Bored the hell out of me, tries to extract money by making you click on a bunch of things to get coins. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a semi-open-world-y RPG with a tactical combat system, but a lot of detail to it; I haven't played, but it looks competent. Fire Emblem Warriors is a dumb action beat-em-up in the same setting, with pompous stage-acting voiceovers that I don't think I could take seriously long enough to reach the next fight. Pass, but looks competent for the kind of junk game it is.
  • Advance Wars, Splatoon, Front Mission: Remake/sequels of lame games. Front Mission in particular A) Calls the mecha "wanzers", B) is all about aiming at a guy's nuts. No.
  • No Man's Sky: Yeah, sure. Been a little jealous of other devices that can run it, but not enough to get one, for years now. Gnome Anne's Ky is finally on a usable device. My experience with Quake, Skyrim, etc. on it is that FPS things can work on Switch, but they're awkward, but Nermanski is slow and awkward anyway so it should be fine. Summer.
  • Mario Strikers Battle League: Weirdly Soccer-like, but not: A) Soccer doesn't allow use of hands, Bowser is disqualified. B) Why are they wearing helmets? There's no helmets in Soccer and they're cartoon characters anyway, head injuries aren't a problem. C) They actually score goals and don't just fall down and whine like babies to con the Ref, so how is this Soccer in any way?! Anyway, least interesting thing you could make.
  • Disney Speedstorm: Racing with Disney characters. Very conflicted. On the one hand, I love Asphalt (tho mostly the earlier entries), and this game is made by them, and it looks really good. On the other hand, Disney is the enemy of mankind and I'd really rather not support them. On the gripping hand, this is free-to-play? So I'll at least get it and feel bad about playing Donald Duck or some other corporate-owned character stolen from the public domain by decades of bribing Congress. Fuck Sonny Bono forever, there should be a line to use his grave as a public toilet. But I'll see you in the game lobby.
  • Star Wars Force Unleashed: Remember when Star Wars Expanded Universe & videogames was the good stuff, and Lucas had mostly fucked off, Disney hadn't bought them yet? Well. Already played this but I surely didn't finish.
  • Assassin's Creed The Ezio Collection, Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece for Cloud (no relation), Klonoa Fantasy Reverie, Portal Companion Collection, Cuphead: Shovel shovel shovelware your old games onto the Switch. Extra credit to Klonoa for literally being a Mario 64 clone that says it's a clone, and is now a reanimated corpse on Mario's system. Portal was great 15 years ago, but dude, the gag's as dead as the Companion Cube. Stop.
  • SD Gundam Battle Alliance: Almost a proper mecha game, except it's the shitty "super-deformed" fantasy setting instead of the hard SF main Gundam setting. Hard pass with annoyance.
  • Chrono Cross Radical Dreamers Edition: Remaster, sure, but a fantastic game originally, and I'm willing to put up with a 3D remaster. Also, there's a text adventure in it! BUY ON RELEASE DAY, APRIL 7.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land: Kirby wanders post-apocalypse, overgrown city and eats everything. Level up a town of primitive mutants to shop for powerups. Horrific glimpse of our grim future. Probably good times, will at least grab a demo if they have one. March 25.
  • MLB The Show, Wii Sports: No. Watching the tired middle-aged Japanese executives doing the bare minimum to unenthusiastically play "volleyball" is so sad. Please do not.
  • Live A Live: Unreleased (in US) JRPG in a bunch of time settings? But I've already played Another Eden. Solid maybe.
  • Taiko no Tatsujin: No, and also requires a subscription service.
  • Triangle Strategy: As previously noted, NO. Actually looks worse now that it's closer to release.
  • Earthbound: It's an N64 game in the emulator, so you could already get this. But it's a great game, a little conga line of children take on horrible monsters in malls. You'll love it. I guess this is a reason to get a Switch Online Plus sub.
  • Demon Slayer: Looks like a cute jump-and-slash. Since it's in the quick no-comment section, I assume it's cheap.
  • Mario Kart: Let's take all the old levels and charge you more in DLC for them. No, and you are a sucker if you buy these.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: And now, Zamfir! Master of the pan flute! Lot of overwrought dialogue about friends and fighting and fighting your friends. I dunno. I go back and forth on these. Xenogears & Xenosaga I were fantastic, then they fired the entire team and fucked up Xenosaga II. Xenoblade Chronicles was meh, and I haven't played the sequels/remakes/expansions, confusingly numbered X, 2, 2: Torna, Future Connected, and now 3. Odds are I'm not playing this one, either.

What I'm Watching: G4TV!

It's 2005 again!

So back in the day, TechTV was kind of super-nerdy, and then it and a much lamer show G4 were bought by Comcast and digested and spat out as G4/TechTV, and they kind of hit their stride there, found a way to be nerd gamers but also flashy and dumb enough for the hoi-polloi. Tail end of me watching cable, but on holidays I'd see it and it amused me. Ah, Morgan Webb, how I miss you. Then in 2013 they got shafted by corporate network politics and buyouts.

For 8 long years we've had no G4. Well, today they've relaunched, on g4tv.com and twitch/g4tv. No more cable.

For some reason the launch stream was MC'd by some dumb "pro" wrestler; well, there was a lot of WWE (not the World Wildlife Fund, FYI) shit in old G4, too, especially towards the end. Adam Sessler is back, but he doesn't look good. He's turned from slightly balding nerd to schlubby last-season rock-collecting Hank Schrader. Morgan Webb's off doing PR for some game company. Olivia Munn's off being a movie star; there was a rumor she might do some cameos, but not so far. Kevin Pereira has been living in a rusted-out van under the train tracks, shooting up, don't ask what he's done to buy that smack, so he's come back and will do literally anything to stay on the show. I've never seen so much desperation waft off a dude.

The rest of the "new G4 talent" (and it gets funnier every time they say that on stream) are meh. The Black Hokage is OK, maybe. Once they said who he is, I recognized him from youtubes. He's a sometimes funny dude. I dunno Froskurinn at all, apparently she's a LoL (lol) ex-player/groupie/some bullshit. But 90% of the LoL fanbase hate her, so maybe she won't be too bad. Ovilee May is a noob with no skills but seems game for their dumb stunts, so maybe she'll improve. The rest are absolutely zero rep or talent so far.

Most of the launch stream was "what are we going to do" rather than doing, but A) The Space Cat DJ is the greatest prop they've ever had. B) The motorized stuffed squirrel is still very very sad and creepy. C) The "play Tetris on a giant Nintendo controller" segment was actually fun, like the good old days. Maybe they've got something in them this time around.