Mastodon – Das wiederentdeckte soziale Netzwerk

Das Mastodon-Logo mit der Startseite von im Hintergrund

Seit der Übernahme von Twitter durch Elon Musk sehen viele Benutzer die dortigen Entwicklungen mit Sorge: Große Kündigungswellen; Angestellte, die im Büro über­nachten; mangelnde Moderation und Abschalten der Pressestelle; Hin-und-Her um das blaue Verifizierungshäkchen, welches durch Twitter Blue nichts mehr mit Verifizierung zu tun hat und so Identitäts-Imitation Tür und Tor geöffnet hat; das Killen von Dritt­anbieter-Apps … Ich habe bereits ein paar Punkte ausgelassen, aber solange es die Seite noch gibt, werden sicherlich weitere dazukommen.

Wenig erstaunlich also, wenn Nutzer stetig und besonders beim nächsten Vorkommnis abspringen oder zumindest parallel andere Social Media-Dienste ausprobieren.

Twitter-Gründer Jack Dorsey hat einen neuen Dienst namens Bluesky gegründet, der sich aktuell in der Beta-Phase mit Warteliste befindet, Meta hat kürzlich Threads gestartet, welches an Instagram gekoppelt ist – Anmeldungen sind innerhalb der EU jedoch bisher nicht möglich.

Und dann gibt es da wie üblich auch wieder die Open Source-Community, mit einer eigenen, nicht kommerziellen Antwort: Mastodon. Wobei dieses nicht neu ist, sondern jetzt aufgrund der Entwicklungen etwas vom Platz im Scheinwerferlicht erhält.

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Dead Cells: Unlocking the Daily Challenge blueprints in the bugged Linux GOG version

Dead Cells error message.

Dead Cells has a Daily Challenge or Daily Run mode, but it is just a minor optional part. Except that is required in order to unlock three weapons (“blueprints”) for the main game. Just by starting a Daily Run on different days unlocks the following blueprints:

  1. Swift Sword (internal name SpeedBlade) the first time
  2. Lacerating Aura (internal name DamageAura) after the fifth time
  3. Meat Skewer (internal name DashSword) after ten starts

However, specifically the Linux version on GOG has an issue where it is impossible to start the Daily Challenge. The Linux version on Steam is not affected. To use anything online-related in Dead Cells – which thankfully is not a lot as it is a local single-player game – the GOG GALAXY client is required. Which does not exist for Linux. Until a GOG GALAXY client for Linux is released, I probably should not buy games from GOG any­more and just go with Steam, because otherwise I cannot trust that all features will work. Which is a pitty because I really like GOG for being DRM-free.

The Dead Cells issue is known for years and by now it seems rather unlikely it will be fixed. At some point a note was added to the store page:

Additional Notes: Galaxy client is required to access Daily Runs and Streaming features.

Let's hack the game

The blueprints dropped in a level.

At the point of writing I was using Ubuntu 20.04.2 and the Dead Cells game version 1.14.0 / v24. You will need a hex editor which can handle big files of around 1 GB. I used and can recommend GHex. You can install it with:

$ sudo apt install ghex
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And then it was gone – Notes about developing my js13k entry of 2020

Start screen of my game.

This was the 3rd time I participated in the js13kGames game jam, so I was already aware of one thing: The size limit isn't my greatest problem, at least not to the extent of having to do code golfing right out of the gate. Instead I should make sure to have a good code base – multiple files for classes and namespaces as needed, named constants/variables instead of hardcoded values.

One really big advantage was, that I had already implemented things like an input system for keyboard and gamepad, and 2D collision detection in other projects of mine. I could just reuse some code with minor adjustments and save quite some time.

1. Improvement through little things

First some ideas on how to improve the general impression of the game, even though the player may not be actively aware of them.

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Changing the message language for Bash

The system language of my Ubuntu installation is set to German. Per default this also means that my command line output is in German if the application supports it. This can be a bit of a hindrance when developing, because error messages and warnings will also be in German which makes it harder to search for solutions – most discussions in help forums and blogs are in English.

So let's change the terminal language. In your ~/.bashrc file add the following lines:

unset LC_ALL

If LC_ALL had a value, it would overwrite the setting for LC_MESSAGES, so it has to be unset first. I first tried setting LC_ALL=C, but this had the undesired side effect of certain keys behaving differently. I have a German keyboard with QWERTZ layout, but keys like “ä”, “ö”, “ü” suddenly did different things. I can only assume I would have run into some other issues as well. So keep it simple and just change the messages.

The next terminal you open will have the setting applied. Also note that this only affects your terminal and no other applications – except those launched from said terminal.

To check your language settings you can use locale. My output using Bash looks like this:

$ locale

Side note: I also tried LC_MESSAGES=en_US.UTF-8, but that didn't work – no idea why. I also didn't look further into it since I have a working solution.


js13kGames: Tricks applied in Risky Nav

Risky Nav

From the 13th August to the 13th September I participated in the js13kGames competition. My entry Risky Nav can be seen here and the source code is on GitHub here. In this blog post I will explain some of the tricks and techniques I used in making my game.

The game is tile based, so everything – player, monsters, goal – is always positioned at a (x, y) position on a 2D map.

About the background

The background is a single image which is created once right at the beginning. It is drawn on a canvas and each tile is 1px big. In the rendering loop it is then up-scaled to the desired tile size. To avoid a blurry image, it is necessary to disable anti-aliasing.

context.imageSmoothingEnabled = false;

let w = bgCanvas.width * tileWidth;
let h = bgCanvas.height * tileHeight;

function renderLoop() {
    context.drawImage( bgCanvas, 0, 0, w, h );

About the fog/shadow

The fog/shadow around the player is done in a similar way as the background. The image is pre-rendered with each tile being 1px and then up-scaled in the main loop. But it moves with the player. The darkness is determined by the euclidean distance from the player.

for( let y = 0; y < fogMapHeight; y++ ) {
    for( let x = 0; x < fogMapWidth; x++ ) {
        // Euclidean distance from origin.
        let de = Math.sqrt( x * x + y * y );

        // Darkness only starts 2 tiles away from the player.
        // f has to be a value between 0 and 1.
        let f = ( de < 2 ) ? 0 : Math.min( 1.15 - Math.min( 3 / de, 1 ), 1 );
        fogCtx.fillStyle = `rgba(0,0,0,${f})`;
        fogCtx.fillRect( x, y, 1, 1 );
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