I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
Stepmania and Transport Tycoon
I was in Sydney last week, will be in Perth next week, and in Adelaide the week after that. As such, I've been savouring my brief time between courses. Part of that savouring has been enjoying the lovely weather and reading the Nightwatch series of novels. I very rarely read fiction, so this is a peculiar treat for me. Part of it has been spent improving my mechanical skills, as I've had to make repairs to both our washing machine (I now know what happens to the lost socks), and lawnmower (blocked air filters are bad). However one of my favourite hobbies is that of games; or more specifically, modifying games.
I suspect that I enjoy modifying games much more than I enjoy playing them. I had a great time modifying Morrowind to work on high resolution displays. My Sims 2 installation has about 110 patches installed, not including the official expansions and patches from Maxis. However this week I've had two most enjoyable steps forward with my games setups.
The first is the arrival of the last Playstation to USB adapter needed to complete my StepMania rig. I've got a dual-adapter system working perfectly, and I'm looking at playing with the quad player setup soon, although I only have adapters for three mats.
My second achievement this week is a return to one of my favourite games of all time, Transport Tycoon Deluxe (TTD). On the surface, TTD looks like yet another Tycoon game where one builds up an expanding business, but this time in transport. However for anyone who's played the game seriously, one realises that it's actually a tutorial on transport network planning. If you have an eight platform station, used for both freight and passengers, and you have trains coming in and out in all directions, how do you get everything working smoothly without a bottleneck? How can you make sure that everything still works when you need to add another line to a new city or industry? I find these problems an awful lot of fun.
To play Transport Tycoon Deluxe, you'll need the original game, which is hard to buy these days, but easy to find on-line. It's then worthwhile getting TTD Patch, which makes the game much better than the original. I suggest grabbing the latest beta, or one of the nightly builds if you want all the latest and coolest features. One then adds new graphics and features to make the game suit your tastes. Another option is OpenTTD, which is cross-platform and has a cleaner design, but is still lagging behind on the features which I really love (such as new industries and cargoes).
However I haven't actually been playing Transport Tycoon all that much. Instead, I've been modifying it. Not the core code, but still writing long strings of hex into files, building them and applying them to fix bugs I've found in some of the game extensions I've been playing with. I've started with simple things, but now that I'm starting to get the hang of things I'm tempted to do something cool, almost certainly with the Extended Cargo Scheme that's been growing in popularity.
I've got some notes on how to build an absolutely awesome TTD setup; which programs to use, which patches to apply, and which GRFs to install, both for new and more experienced players. These will go into a separate blog post, possibly with an easy installer and/or compatibility layers so you don't have to spend so long fiddling with the system.