Using a service like Dropbox as a convient way to synchronize your game files between two computers (such as a desktop and a laptop) is really pretty easy. Here is how to create a directory junction in Windows from your game's normal save game directory and a special directory created in your Dropbox folder. I suppose this will work for other file synchronization services such as Ubuntu One, SugarSync, or Wuala also.
In this example I am using the game Terraria. I am going to sync both my saved worlds and players data in my Dropbox folder instead of the normal folder set by Terraria. This will work for pretty much any game, though. I use this for my special single-player Minecraft map also (seed: gargamel), so I can have it wherever I have Dropbox.
1. Determine where your save game folder is.
In this case, Terraria saves its user data in the directory:
This is folder we will be working in for the most part. There are two directories in here, Worlds and Players. These are the two directories I want to relocate to my Dropbox folder. USERNAME should be replaced with your actual user name.
2. Recreate the directories in your Dropbox folder.
To do this, I just copied the "My Games\Terraria" folder to my Dropbox folder. Now I have the following folder:
This contains all the saved data for Terraria I want to keep synchronized between my two computers. The location of your Dropbox folder may be different than mine, depending on where you installed it.
3. Link the folders.
Now I go back to the My Games directory and delete the Terraria folder. Horreur! I know, but remember you still have the copy in your Dropbox folder just in case. What we now want to do is load up Windows' handy-dandy command prompt (ie, cmd.exe), and using it we navigate our way to the My Games folder with the following command:
cd C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\My Games
Remember, USERNAME should be replaced with your actual user name.
Now we create the directory junction to our Terraria folder in our Dropbox directory. In the Command Prompt, use the following command:
mklink /J Terraria C:\Users\USERNAME\Dropbox\Terraria
This will now make a "shortcut" to the Terraria folder in your Dropbox directory in such a way as to be indistinguishable from an actual normal folder to your system. You can play the game normally, and when you save it will use the "Dropbox\Terraria" folder as if it were the normal "My Games\Terraria" folder.
That is all there is to it. Repeat this process on your other computer, taking care not to overwrite your Dropbox-saved data with old information. Now, you will have access to the same saved game information regardless on which of your computers you choose to play it on.
Wow, looking back at my last post ... January 26. I guess that is what being gainfully employed does to a person. Normally I might grouse about not having enough time for my own projects, but then again I am at a point in my life where I can appreciate a steady paycheck.
What have I been up to?
- Using (and loving) the PHP framework Yii.
- Still planning a new incarnation of my web-based gamebook engine WOTAN
- Getting back to my roots with Civ V, SimCity 4 and the Might and Magic (RPG) series.
- Wearing weird socks.
- Raising a four-year-old who enjoys raising hell.
- Thinking about the possibilities of Android app development.
- Breaking my brain.
- Being addicted to reddit, as usual.
Speaking of getting back to my video game roots, Civilization, SimCity and Might and Magic were the go-to games for me when I was in high school and when I first started college. Granted CiV and SC4 are a lot different than their earliest incarnations, but thanks to the joy that is Good Old Games, I have been enjoying M&M 1 and 2 almost as much as when I did after stumbling into my dorm room at 2:00 am after a night of under-age drinking at the bars. Now if only GOG would release the old Infocom adventure games and RPGs along with the SSI Gold Box games, and my nostalgia for past pubescent video gaming will be nearly complete.
I reached an impasse where I just could not decide what exactly I wanted that would make WOTAN stand out. Inspired by Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress, I have kept to my original vision of WOTAN being not simply an online gamebook engine, but something where each user is able to create their own piece of the world.
The aesthetic is for it to presented in the style of a gamebook, a throw-back to the bygone 1980's. However, wiki-like, you have the ability to create new pages in the "story." Obviously, knowing me, the first thought was to be able to construct bases, fortresses, lairs, et cetera. The trick in designing it is that, while each is essentially just text written by the user, there are definite rules and boundaries to be followed in the creation.
For instance, you can't simple write that you have a chair in a room; the chair must be placed in the room, and the basic text for "chair" is inserted into the page. The user can enter adjectives to describe the chair, or even better that is done when the user is crafting the chair. The chair will also have default behaviors associated with it -- as an example, it can be sat upon by a user's character.
Part of why I waver between finding this incredibly interesting, and between being bored to death is due to the fact that I always end up thinking, "this is just like a MUD." I'm not sure that I want to make a MUD, web-based or otherwise. I want to make something different. MUDs are just fine by me, but they have been done to death. If I want a MUD experience, I'd rather log into a pre-existing (and high quality) world like Lusternia.
Of course, a big difference between what I envision and a regular MUD is that users will be able to create new portions of the world much easier and without any scripting. Theoretically, a user will be able to create a dungeon room by room by using only web forms, which will appear differently according to some predetermined boundaries, such as character skills, the trust level of the user, game tokens, or a combination. This is basically how crafting would work als0.
So I keep WOTAN in the back of my head and hope for inspiration to strike. The funny thing about that is, I spend most of my work time in Kana and my leisure time in Minecraft. Throw in a dash of Lone Wolf, and what kind of unholy abomination might that produce?
In the meantime, I have been examining PHP frameworks to see what I got right and what I got wrong in my own first steps at creating one. I got a lot wrong, to say the least. But I also got a surprising amount "right" (my opinion), so I feel confident that I will only continue to get better. WOTAN was also always meant to be a "framework" for text-based adventure and exploration games, after all.
I am currently working on a super-secret project at the moment that is gaming-related, but not an actual game. I don't want to say anymore because, hell, it may never see the light of day either. And I don't need this blog to brainstorm as it's a pretty simple idea, but one with potential.
For the past week, I have been hard at work building a full-featured Minecraft server, featuring the Hey0 Admin as well Google Maps-enabled web access to the server map through the c10t mapping client on an Ubuntu 10.10 virtual server in Virtualbox. Now I realize it was all pointless.
I guess I could host this sucker through our residential Comcast connection, but then I would have to buy a server, right? My desktop isn't terrible by any means -- I'm not entirely in denial if I claim that my Q6600/9800GTX+ is still in the high end of medium-range computers for a little while longer. However, running a Minecraft server over a wireless connection is not happening. Understatement, I know.
I figure in the short run, paying for a year's worth of a decent low-cost VPS is still going to be cheaper than building a brand new computer, and the Internet connection is going to be a whole helluva-lot better. So expect to see more about a semi-public SMP server coming this week.
I recently resubbed to Fallen Earth, but I am having a really hard time getting into the game. It is unfortunate, but I don't think I will be going past this month. I think my time with MMORPGs is almost officially over. Logging into WoW makes me want to vomit. I can't bring myself to log into DDO for whatever reason, and I feel to LOTRO as I do to watching paint dry. That's sad, because I really want to like them, I just lack the ability at this juncture.
Work on WOTAN has slowed to an almost standstill. I think it is just that time of year, though. That and virtually all of my time is accounted for, and what time I have had I have been doing silly things like setting up Minecraft Java/LAMP servers for fun and education. I refuse to call it quits, though. In all honesty, I am strongly considering changing the title to "Wotan Forever."
The main problem I am having right now with WOTAN, is rather bad, as it is not a technical or engineering problem. Rather, I am having a conceptual problem in trying to come up with different ways to present the game that will both set it apart from other online "story world" games and appeal to a wider audience. All of the ideas I have seem to indicate I should just set up a MUD server, but that is not what I want to do, either.
WAAAAA! It is hurting my brain. I would say I should drink more, but I have already developed a half-bottle-of-port-a-night habit. I like port wine the best, because it was the wine Saint James Episcopal served at communion when I was a child. Blood of Christ, baby - that's the real deal.
Regardless, work on WOTAN continues, but slowly, sloggily and lugubriously, in malasiatic fashion which, if you know me, will be entirely true to form. Boy, writing those shell scripts for CRON jobs to maintain a Minecraft server nobody visits sure is fascinating stuff, though!
I should probably just log into DDO.
So another month rolls past, the month of October in this year of Our Noodly One 2010. What did I do?
Well, I certainly didn't make any blog posts, that's for sure.
I made a feeble attempt to get back into World of Warcraft. Sadly, I just couldn't do it, though I may try again. Why? It's not that I like carpel tunnel syndrome or Barrens chat, it's just that ... oh I don't know.
Perhaps it is because I found a new virtual crack addiction in the form of Minecraft, or, as it must inevitably be called, Minecrack. Minecraft, I'd say, is well on its way to becoming the perfect computer game. Not to hyperbolize, but I fully expect it to cure cancer by the time it reaches beta stage. Then we'll have not one, but two cures for cancer.
I recently succumbed to the evil joys of gog.com, with a purchase and subsequent freebasing of Caesar III in the tinfoil shermstick which is my Toshiba netbook. No realli, you could fry an egg on the keyboard of this mother. Caesar III runs like a damn charm, however, earning it a place in the netbook hall of fame. If I ever decide to make one, but probably I will not.
I believe I realized why Steam and Good Old Games don't really bother me all that much as services, whereas iResist iTunes as much as possible -- the ability to redownload. Seriously, whilst testing out the iTunes service this past weekend, I decided to buy the season pass to The Walking Dead, and the thing that sticks out the most is that once I've downloaded an episode, that is it. No more. Nothing.
Now with Steam or GOG, I buy a game and it really is mine forever. Or at least as long as they stay in business. I think iTunes and their RIAA-MPAA-KGB-OMGWTFHAX overlords should take a hint from that model. If I decide to kick you $10 for Prince's misunderstood-classic Parade, the least you can do is allow me the ability to download it whenever I want.
Aside from all that, what else? Perhaps that I came to the realization that my game-buying habits are almost the exact same as the shoe-buying habits of crazed consumerettes? I buy them because they're on sale and they're "soo cute" and then put them on the shelf never to be worn. Or I suppose in my case I tuck them away in some obssessive-compulsively organized category in my Steam account. And butthole puckers just a little tighter.
So ends another week. Yes, I am aware I have not posted in more than a month. However, I have been terribly busy with work and other such worthy activities. Food and shelter and all that.
In fact, I write this now sitting one our fair city's filthy light-rail lines, making my two-hour trek back home, ending another week of toil. While public transit has lost the luster of cheapness and eco-friendliness that made it my favorite choice of transportation options, the great thing about spending so much time commuting is that, while I have gotten relatively little gaming in, I have been reading like a fucking mad man.
I have gone utterly overboard on a Gene Wolfe binge, having now capped off the whole Urth of a New Sun saga, and very nearly ending the equally great Soldier in the Mist series - pure crack for a wannabe classicist like yours truly. And while I have become such an ardent Wolfe-ophile, I have decided to take a short break and I am currently enjoying a little jaunt through the Elysian fields of Romanticism with some Friedrich Holderlin and his epic, Hyperion. Because I have the time. Because I spend four hours a day, five days a week sandwiched between the scum of our fair city and I have to block them out somehow. But I do not wish to be unkind, so I will lose this topic.
I would not imagine to leave out how good a month September has been to me in terms of nerdeo gaming: this month has seen the release of both Amnesia: Dark Descent and the much-anticipated release of Civilization V.
If you are in the slightest way a fan of gothic horror along the lines of Mary Shelley, you must immediately purchase a copy of Amnesia. In fact, if you are at all a fan of excellence in the craft of creating video games, you must immediately purchase a copy of Amnesia.
I do not have enough good things to say about this game. This is the sort of game that I wish defined the Survival Horror genre – no guns at all to speak of, but containing the sort of spooky ghost story moments that will literally have you jumping out of your chair to find the light switch. I understand some people even have a hard time playing through this game in broad daylight.
Amnesia has all the ingenious puzzles of a good adventure game, and all the piss-your-pants moments of a great horror story. You must get this now.
Despite my adoration of Amnesia, Civilization V has been occupying the bulk of my time since it's release on the 21st. Despite that, I am not entirely sure what to say about it, other than I am very pleased where the franchise has been taken.
I like the hex maps ... I like the abolishment of unit-stacking ... I like that navies actually mean something in any game with more than a puddle on the map. War is far more interesting to me in Civ V, which I will heretofore refer to as ciV, like any other feckless hack this age is ripe with. But I digress.
I actually like how wars have been playing out in ciV, yet so far it also the game design seems to have been created in a way that coddles the inner builder in me. It seems to me like making a Civ game that simultaneously appeals to war-mongers and their carebear cousins, the builders, quite a feat. But it is one that ciV has managed.
I would be remiss, if I did not mention I have completely fallen in love with the City States mechanic in the game. In my current game, I am playing as Alexander (Greece) and taking advantage of that civ's city state bonus to let the AI create both my massive army and my massive culture. All I have to do is run around and beat people up who step out of line. Napoleon, I am looking at you!
I will try to write more in coming weeks about ciV, but considering I haven't made a post in a month, I would advise you to not hold your breath.
Time flies when you are conquering Gallia, as the old saying goes. I think. Or rather, "tempus fugit" would be more appropriate to say, I suppose.
So what am I prattling on about? Well, the fact that the expansion to Grand Ages Rome, Reign of Augustus, has finally been put up for sale in North America. I didn't think that was ever going to happen, but happily it did. Now I can happily Veni, Vidi, Vici the crap out of the hordes of simulated barbarians and build huge metropoli. Good times to be had by all.
Of course, my DDO and LOTRO playtime have suffered. But that is OK. I am feeling that city-building crack flow through my veins and it feels good. Though I am not quite at the point where the little people running from their insula to the butcher are talking to me. Not yet, at any rate.
Of the changes, the one I find most interesting are the roads. I purposely stopped playing until I got the expansion because I figured that, like virtually every other city-builder in existence, roads would play a huge part in GAR:ROA. But no ... so far as I can tell, they add quite little. That doesn't really bother me, however, as I have long found the roadless gameplay GAR introduced a refreshing change.
Not that I would want to encourage future city-builders to take the same path, as I think those of us who enjoy these games love us some road building. However, GAR is one of those cases where something you might not think would work actually does work and works well. So it doesn't really bug me much that the roads in ROA appear to be more tacked-on and non-essential than I thought they would be.
Perhaps the biggest change to GAR that was added in ROA is the concept of Authority. Authority is a point system that builds over time and allows you access to boosts such as an increased supply of slaves or an emergency supply of building materials. It's not a huge life-altering game system that makes or breaks the game, but it works well with the existing game and is a welcome addition.
I'm not a very good game reviewer, if you couldn't already tell. I do think at this point it is worth buying the Grand Ages Rome Gold Edition (which includes Reign of Augustus) is worth the extra $10 over just buying the base game. If you already have the base game (as I did), then you might want to evaluate whether or not the $20 expansion price is worth it to you, as it does not add a lot per se.
Being a fan of the genre, and already a fan of GAR, it was worth the price tag to me. And now I get to plop down Odeums (Odea?) on every street corner for the sweet boost in Entertainment. One important thing to note about the expansion for those who already own the base game is that installing the expansion will wipe your existing save games.
So it is official. I haven't updated the blog in a couple weeks and I have decided to officially name Project WOTAN to WOTAN FOREVER (reference).
OK, not really, however I have had an interesting development lately in that I have become gainfully employed. I swore it wouldn't happen again, but who was I kidding? What this means, of course, is that my already-precious time just became even more precious and scarce. Which means that Project WOTAN will not launch this month as previously planned.
I am by no means giving up on it, however. But now we are looking at an ETA somewhat down the road. Perhaps December, perhaps January 2011, but I highly doubt it will be sooner. So I do not fault you, dear reader, if you consider WOTAN as vaporware. I probably would also if I were you.
But it is not! This past weekend even, I was hard at work on the continued refining of my template system. Like I have said continuously, Project WOTAN is very much a learning project for me and so I frequently go back and update the code to reflect new techniques I have learned or optimize newbishly-written methods.
No doubt, though, that on the whole WOTAN's codebase is still quite a newbish affair, however I hope to minimize that by adhering as strictly as possibly to the MVC pattern. I have to admit, though, that my other commitment to creating a highly-normalized database structure is leaving me a little befuddled when I find myself sorting through my fast-approaching-50-some tables.
I have no doubt, that WOTAN will also be better for the extension. Part of my recent effort to refine my template class and system has involved a lot of rewriting class methods to return arrays (rather than strings) in order to future-proof them for eventual use with JSON and thus AJAX.
So, yes, I hate to admit it, but I was not quite hitting my August release mark to begin with. And now with the advent of working a full-time job with a two-hour-each-way commute (I am a proud patron of Portland's public transit system), that is essentially guaranteeing I will not make my August deadline.
But I have already sworn an oath to finish this monstrosity, so you know it is going to happen eventually. Hopefully this year even!
Schleppery -- Muse, sing to me of the schleppery of Isis' son Fortuente,
lugubrious, doomed, that cost the Oregonians countless food stamps,
hurling down to the House of Fail so many fat bowls,
great kind-bud bowls, but made their buds ash,
feasts for house-plants and the compost,
and the will of Odin was moving toward it's end.
(With apologies to Robert Fagles, of course.)
Project WOTAN continues, however it does so in a rather halting and stunted fashion, as is my wont. I suppose I should have factored in the summer's inevitable doldrums when setting my deadline. I recall I did have the thought that July-September can be a trying time for a habitual computer user without air conditioning.
Essentially, I have gotten nothing done in perhaps two weeks now. I have done some, but very little and it mostly revolves around template-system code debt. Because the one I originally wrote was utter garbage, and so I spent the bulk of yesterday consolidating methods and refining the template class. Honestly, if I wasn't so far along, I would probably scrap MJOLNIR and start yet another iteration based on the frameworks Kohana or CodeIgniter. Using one of the twain is definitely the plan for my next project.
From the outset, I wanted to reinvent the wheel for WOTAN because I am still learning not only PHP, but programming in general. The unforeseen difficulty I have run into using WOTAN to learn basic programming concepts lies in the fact it is really quite a large undertaking for one newbish person. I am far enough along that I can already see this has been a very valuable experience. The next project will most likely be a smoother process and by using an extablished framework, I'll get to see what I did right and what I did wrong in my own.
I have decided to eventually make WOTAN open source, however right now I am just trying to focus on getting the core engine and features in a working state. As of now, I plan on showcasing WOTAN on The Wizard's Tower (rather than make that site a Lone Wolf-like gamebook series) and focus on developing that site with engine development occurring more as a side-product. Eventually I will release it on a public repository with an open license. I am not worried, however, in setting any dates for that release, as my first goal will be to make TWT a working WOTAN-powered site first, then prepare the code for public later.
So here I am doing my best to stay motivated. And I think I may take a cue from that post I linked and work on some icon art for the game now that I have tamed the template beast more to my liking. I plan on using the CSS sprite technique on them, so that is something interesting to do.
I am the father of a small boy. So I can tell you Lego Universe has been on my radar for most of this year, at least. I just came across a preview written by Jon Wood at mmorpg.com based on a LU presentation at E3.
I guess it makes sense it would be thought of thusly, but I don't really think of LU as a "kids" game, per se. Perhaps I only assumed it, but I was under the impression it was going to be an "all-ages" affair, after the same spirit as the physical blocks.
However, yes, it does appear to be marketed to kids ... check out the slightly-creepy subscription pitch:
What better way to give your kids the constant action and fun they crave than with some LEGO Universe game time? This universe goes on forever, and the possibilities are endless as kids can team up to quest together, or visit each other to see the cool stuff they’ve built on their properties. Find the subscription model that’s right for your child.
Because the constant action I want to give my kids leads to a life of repetitive-motion injuries. Why let the TV baby-sit, now we have virtual worlds!
At any rate, OK, it's a kids game. But I have a feeling I'll be getting it anyway ... for my son, of course. Of course, I'll have to figure it out in order to help him. Of course.