A Weird Imagination

Devlog: Pacifist Factorio mod PRs (3 of 3): garbage collection

The problem#

Continuing from the past two weeks, in my work on the Pacifist Factorio mod, I noticed there were rich text icons for military-related entities that I thought the mod had removed from the game. By "rich text icons", I'm referring to the dialog that some text boxes in the game (e.g. for naming a train stop) have a button to bring up which shows icons that can be inserted into the text box which include all of the items in the game along with a few other things. In that dialog, there were icons for things like biter corpses despite biters having been removed from the game.

The solution#

This PR, which is included in the latest version of Pacifist, hides all of the icons related only to items that have been removed or hidden by Pacifist.

The details#

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Devlog: Pacifist Factorio mod PRs (2 of 3): butter slots, not gun slots

The problem#

Continuing from last week, in my work on the Pacifist Factorio mod, I wanted to remove the character's gun slots. They are always visible in the bottom-left of the screen with gun and ammo icons, making it clear there's an expectation of weapons.

The solution#

This PR, which is included in the latest version of Pacifist, replaces the icon on the slots and rewords some of the text shown in the game about them.

The details#

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Devlog: Pacifist Factorio mod PRs (1 of 3): strings, strings, strings

The problem#

I wanted to introduce Factorio to some younger cousins but didn't think the military aspects of the game would be appropriate for them, both because their parents would rather they not be playing violent video games and it's simply an additional distraction and added complexity in a game that's already fairly involved, especially for a child.

Due to Factorio's active modding community, often if you can think of a mod you want, someone else has already thought of it and implemented it. And it turned out I'm not the first person to a less violent Factorio: Pacifist already existed and did most of what I wanted. Like many Factorio mods, it's open-source and has a GitHub page. The developer was very friendly and helpful, so I was able to contribute changes get them into the next release of the mod.

My contributions weren't fixing bugs in the mod as much as nudging its goals in a slightly different direction: it was already removing the military aspect from the gameplay, but I also wanted to remove hints of it from the UI as much as possible.

The solution#

Play Factorio with Pacifist, which now includes my changes. I recommend also including my mod BackpackRename. Additionally, I found the StartAlt and Attention Indicator mods good for playing with new players.

The details#

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Devlog: Anagram Bagels: Part 2

There were two non-trivial aspects of the design of Anagram Bagels: puzzle generation, which I discussed in my last post, and how to handle saving and sharing puzzles, which I will discuss in this post. I wanted an intuitive design that satisfied the following constraints:

  1. It should be possible to easily share a puzzle with another person in the form of a link.

  2. The difference between a link to the game and a link to a specific puzzle should be clear. (So the user doesn't accidentally bookmark a link to a specific puzzle when meaning to bookmark the game.)

  3. The game should gracefully handle the common mobile browser behavior of reloading the page if it hasn't been viewed in a while.

  4. Opening multiple instances of the game in separate tabs shouldn't break anything. (This is the default for web sites, so it's true unless doing something to actively break this assumption.)

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Devlog: Anagram Bagels: Part 1

Introduction#

I have a friend who plays a lot of simple puzzle games on their phone. One of them is this word puzzle, which is variant of Bagels (also known as Bulls and Cows or by the trademarked name Mastermind) where the secret is an English word and the guesses must be valid words. Additionally, the alphabet of the guesses is limited to a set selected for the puzzle, and the feedback is given for specific letters as opposed to giving just a count of the correct letters.

While playing the game, my friend would often find that it would be useful to type letters out of order. For example, once determing that the word ends in "ing", it would be easier to simply write that in at the end and then fill out the beginning. As the feedback means the player often knows exactly what they want to write in the middle of the word, typing each word in order from the start to end can be awkward.

As the game seems quite simple, I decided to reimplement it and improve upon the UI. My implementation is in HTML5/JavaScript and should work in any modern browser. Play Anagram Bagels or view the source.

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