Friday, 20 July 2012

Link lost

I gave up on Uplink last night. For all my love of randomness, it's a randomly generated LAN that's caused me to quit. I played it for a while longer and finally managed to get one of the 10 files I was supposed to be downloading. That took me about an hour of constant hacking in to the system, trying to get to the file server, then getting kicked out. It was no fun, and I'm not going to go through that again for the other nine files - I'm not even sure I'd be able to get all the files, as they involve scrolling down a long listing to find and download them and that takes time, which I don't have. The problem is that the LAN is randomly generated at the start of the mission, and once it's generated it's set in stone for that username. The only way I can regenerate it is to start the game again from scratch. I'm not doing that. LANs are made up of connections between various computers with modems and wireless links in between some computers that mean you have to log out and log in again to the new point in the LAN in order to carry on your trip to your ultimate goal, the mainframe. Once you reach the mainframe, the sysadmin is notified and he begins to track you through the LAN. It then becomes a game of seeing how far you can push your luck and stay in the system before you're caught. You can see the sysadmin's progress on your screen, so you can disconnect at the precise moment before he'll find you. So far, so tense and involving, and when it works, it works well. As I say, LANs are randomly generated, so you never know what the route is going to be to reach the mainframe, but once it's been generated that particular LAN remains in place, so you can always log back in through the back door you identified the first time through. Again, when it's great, it's great. I hit an issue in my game, though. The final link on my LAN is a modem that's connected directly to the mainframe. That's great in the fact I just need to log in once and I'm right at the modem, but it works the same way for the sysadmin. As soon as I log in and hit the mainframe he's after me, and because he's only one hop away, it only takes him a couple of seconds to find me. The majority of those seconds are taken up with getting through the password and voiceprint access, so I get no time at all in the file server itself. If there was just one more link in the chain between the modem and the mainframe then this mission would have been easy, but as it is, it's nigh-on impossible. I've looked for help everywhere online, but the only solution seems to be to restart with a new character and hope for a better randomly generated LAN. I just didn't enjoy the game enough to go through that again, sorry.

Next game up on the randometer was Operation Market Garden: Drive on Arnhem, September 1944. It's an old hardcore strategy wargame from 1985. I've never been a big fan of these kinds of games - I've never had the patience or the inclination to understand them (or sometimes even to get through the manual), but I'd like to give the genre a proper go - and there are a lot of them on the list. Sadly, though, this isn't going to be the one to get my attention. It's a very old game, and the interface leaves a lot to be desired. I couldn't work out many options for each unit, so I was basically just moving around and attacking enemy units. I thought I was doing quite well - I'd killed 5 out of 10 German units and not lost any myself - but then the game abruptly ended because I'd failed to hold a strategic point in the allotted time. I didn't even know a) that I was supposed to be holding a point, or b) where any such point on the map was, so away to the done (or disgraced) pile it went.

So, next up on the randometer is...Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator! Ooh, fun. It's a game I bought on GOG way back when and I'd always fancied giving it a go. It's a console-style PC RPG, made in the JRPG style (but by Western devs). The graphics all look a little goofy because of it, but I loves me a good RPG, the goofier the better. Looking forward to this, and I'm looking forward to Gabriel Knight 3 on the series list...Ooh, I don't know which one to play first!

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