Weeknotes 66 - Loop Hero Adventures

I've been "playing" more Loop Hero this past week, although "playing" really means editing the game.ini file and then seeing what happens.

When I was a kid, way back in the olden days, computer games were somewhat limited, generally short and either over fairly quickly once you'd beaten it, or they'd extend the playtime by making the ending ridiculously hard.

But, once they started adding the ability to save the game, you could begin to have some fun.

One way was to look at a resource, say, the amount of ammo you had left, the amount of gold you had, or the number of lives, and make a note of it, saving the game as you did.

You'd then make a copy of the saved game, do something in the game such as some shooting to use up ammo, gaining or losing some gold, or losing a life.

Then you could load up the saved games into a hex editor and compare the two, looking for which bits were the same and which parts had coincidently changed by the same about as the thing that had changed.

Say you had 90 bullets and 523 gold when you started, which in hexadecimal are 5A and 020B, respectively. But now had 20 fewer bullets and 75 more gold, you'd hunt around for values that had gone down by 14 (hex), or up by 004B, hopefully to 46 and 0256.

After a bunch of elimination and some trial & error, you'd find the values that gave you more of the good stuff and potentially less of the bad stuff. For me, this allowed even more fun beyond the original design of the game. Having beaten it once, you could then tool around like some super-rich invulnerable godlike hero, and who doesn't want that. Especially when this is the only game you may get to play for a few money.

Later in the evolution of games, it became pretty common to have cheat codes and even a console to enter them in. Beaten Doom once, then you get to do it again without all the hassle of dying, pew pew pew!

Then we got achievements and online elements. And as soon as you get those, then it's unfair to have cheat codes, infinite bullets, and so on because everyone needs a level playing field when other people are involved.

And just as suddenly as we had cheat codes, consoles commands and mods, they went away again.

So not only was I super pleased with the rather relaxing hands-off nature of Loop Hero, with all its retro vibes. It was also fun to find it has a bunch of .ini file, which define all sorts of fun things.

My favourite three things to change are...

  1. Making the game speed much faster
  2. Setting the ability that has a 10% chance of not using up an land card, to 100% of not using one up
  3. Letting your hero tuck away 100% of the resource each time you pass the camp fire, instead of just 10%

Those second two abilities don't always come up, but it's fun when they do.

You could make things even easier for yourself, but the fun part is just adjusting some of the values to tweak the game in such a way to make it more interesting.

I particularly enjoy trying out different land combinations and placements, mainly for aesthetic reasons, so being able to plonk down a whole bunch on one type of land in one go rather than waiting for the cards to pop up is great.

While adjusting aspects of a game to change how it plays isn't that uncommon, there was something about playing this retro game while opening up files in a text editor that was particularly satisfying.

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An opposite.

Occasionally I'll play Elite Dangerous, again for nostalgia. I don't play it enough to make any significant amount of money. Certainly missing out on the all get rich quick schemes that pop up when a new update is out, and they haven't balanced things yet.

I always play the game in solo mode, because, ugh, other people in computer games.

The game has some lovely space ships that I'd love to fly around, especially in VR, where it's kind of relaxing. And I own the game, all paid for and everything, I have everything built into the game, the ships are there in all their ones and zeros.

But, because what I do could affect other players, I can't just edit my save game, give myself all the money I need to buy the other ships and noodle around on my own having fun.

Elite Dangerous doesn't take me back to those olden days and various other Elite versions because I can't just cheat with a text editor.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to occasionally hauling my Cobra Mrk III around because, at the end of the day, I guess that's all younger me wanted to do.

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