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Machinarium - A Tasty Gaming Treat

What would you do if you were thrown and locked out of town separated from your true love? You'd fight every obstacle to return and rescue her, of course. And that's your goal in Machinarium. As the hero, you must figure out how to out-smart the bad guys and to save your lovely girlfriend.

As the game opens you find yourself broken and discarded in the dump outside the city wall. Your first task is to reassemble yourself. Once that is accomplished, you can begin your quest to return to the city and your girlfriend. Your adventure unfolds as you solve puzzle-like problems in order to progress. For example, how do you trick the guard to lower the drawbridge? Or how might you enter a tunnel that remains sealed except for the few seconds when a train cart passes?

The back story is revealed through Josef's memories seen as thought bubbles as the story progresses. Some of the first memories recollect our hero and his love as children playing around in an oil bath laughing and splashing. Later, dirty deeds of the antagonists against our hero, how he came to be in the city dump, and how the girlfriend came to be captured are revealed. It's amazing how these small glimpses into Josef's mind, feelings, and motives start to build a three dimensional character and pull the player in from almost the start. You care about him and want to see him reunited with his girlfriend. The environment is as much a character as the robot. It's a mechanized world of greasy and rusting metal fallen into disrepair - dirty, dangerous, and desolate. It's like Dr. Seuss meets the Road Warrior. Yet ironically, there's something quite beautiful in the cold metallic smoggy maze.

The game doesn't waste much time before the puzzles become challenging. Fortunately, you're not all on your own. Each puzzle environment has a hint bulb that will give you one quick hint usually pointing to the one thing that will make the rest fall into place. But if that's not enough, there's a book of sketchboards containing almost the full sequence of steps. Although the book is locked by a side-scrolling Alien Invaders type of game you must complete before gaining access. This will prevent someone from seeking answers too soon and also avoids the scramble of trying to find a walkthrough full of spoilers. However, Josef provides help himself. If you try to send him somewhere or do something inadvisable, he'll shake his head and mumble, "uh huh." Sometimes he'll give you hints through his thought bubbles as well. It's just an utterly charming game.

The best thing about Machinarium is that it also runs on Linux. News of this game's existence almost missed the Linux community entirely. However, upon its official release on October 15, a Linux version was also released. Surprisingly, after remitting the small fee users are given access to versions for all three platforms as well as the background music in MP3 format. An online demo is available to try before you buy, but a word of warning, once you begin you'll want to finish.

The Linux version is packaged as a compressed archive, or tarball. Some users will be able to simply click on this tarball and an archive manager will open. At that point click "Extract" to unpack the files. For others, open a terminal and change directories where you'd like the game installed. Unpacking it and running it from your home directory is perfectly acceptable and many times preferred, but if you'd like it available to other users, su to root and change directories to perhaps /usr/local/games. Just extracting the tarball is all that's required. You can start the game in a terminal or you might wish to make a link on your desktop. In summary, for example:

1. cd ~
2. tar -zxvf ~/Downloads/Machinarium_full_en.tar.gz
3. To play: cd Machinarium/
4. ./Machinarium

To unpack the background soundtrack:

1. unzip ~/Downloads/MachinariumSoundtrack.zip

Machinarium is a Flash-based game and as such the gameplay might be a little different from other games you've played, but it's described as point and click. Cursor clues drive the game action. Tests here found it didn't play very well under the KDE 4 environment with only one gigabyte of RAM. However, under other window environments, it played well for the most part. Some areas of the game suffer a bit of lag, but those with more memory shouldn't experience any negative issues with performance. Some suggest disabling (or enabling) Hardware Acceleration in your Flash settings (right click anywhere on the game screen), but this didn't seem to effect performance here either way. However, disabling Fullscreen when encountering these "heavy" areas helped a bit1. There is an active user forum if you need assistance or just want to learn more.

Machinarium is an imaginative game with a beautifully rich environment and amazing details. You'll fall in love with the ineffable main character and become addicted to his alien world. It's well worth the small fee for the hours of enjoyment received in exchange. For us Linux users, it's an especially tasty treat.

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1. Adding another gig of RAM cured the lagging/hesitation issue.

(Update: If it begins to lag again real bad after playing and quitting a few times, eating up all CPU, try rm -rf ~/.macromedia - after moving your saved game file located at ~/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/<some random number>/#localWithNet/Machinarium/Machinarium.sol)







More in Tux Machines

Scrivener Writing Software has a Linux Version

In some ways, Scrivener is the very embodiment of anti-Linux, philosophically. Scrivener is a writing program, used by authors. In Linux, one strings together well developed and intensely tested tools on data streams to produce a result. So, to author a complex project, create files and edit them in a simple text editor, using some markdown. Keep the files organized in the file system and use file names carefully chosen to keep them in order in their respective directories. when it comes time to make project-wide modifications, use grep and sed to process all of the files at once or selected files. Eventually, run the files through LaTeX to produce beautiful output. Then, put the final product in a directory where people can find it on Gopher.

Gopher? Anyway …

On the other hand, emacs is the ultimate linux program. Emacs is a text editor that is so powerful and has so many community-contributed “modes” (like add-ins) that it can be used as a word processor, an email client, a calendar, a PIM, a web browser, an operating system, to make coffee, or to stop that table with the short leg from rocking back and forth. So, in this sense, a piece of software that does everything is also linux, philosophically.

And so, Scrivener, despite what I said above, is in a way the very embodiment of Linux, philosophically.

I’ve been using Scrivener on a Mac for some time now, and a while back I tried it on Linux. Scrivener for the Mac is a commercial product you must pay money for, though it is not expensive, but the Linux version, being highly experimental and probably unsafe, is free. But then again, this is Linux. We eat unsafe experimental free software for breakfast. So much that we usually skip lunch. Because we’re still fixing breakfast. As it were.

Details with Screen Shots Here

Anyway, here’s what Scrivener does. It does everything. The full blown Mac version has more features than the Linux version, but both are feature rich. To me, the most important things are: A document is organised in “scenes” which can be willy nilly moved around in relation to each other in a linear or hierarchical system. The documents are recursive, so a document can hold other documents, and the default is to have only the text in the lower level document as part of the final product (though this is entirely optional). A document can be defined as a “folder” which is really just a document that has a file folder icon representing it to make you feel like it is a folder.

Associated with the project, and with each separate document, is a note taking area. So, you can jot notes project-wide as you work, like “Don’t forget to write the chapter where everyone dies at the end,” or you can write notes on a given document like “Is this where I should use the joke about the slushy in the bathroom at Target?” Each scene also has a number of attributes such as a “label” and a “status” and keywords. I think keywords may not be implemented in the Linux version yet.

Typically a project has one major folder that has all the actual writing distributed among scenes in it, and one or more additional folders in which you put stuff that is not in the product you are working on, but could be, or was but you pulled it out, or that includes research material.

You can work on one scene at a time. Scenes have meta-data and document notes.

The scenes, folders, and everything are all held together with a binder typically displayed on the left side of the Scrivener application window, showing the hierarchy. A number of templates come with the program to create pre-organized binder paradigms, or you can just create one from scratch. You can change the icons on the folders/scenes to remind you of what they are. When a scene is active in the central editing window, you can display an “inspector” on the right side, showing the card (I’ll get to that later) on top the meta data, and the document or project notes. In the Mac version you can create additional meta-data categories.

An individual scene can be displayed in the editing window. Or, scenes can be shown as a collection of scenes in what is known as “Scrivenings mode.” Scrivenings mode is more or less standard word processing mode where all the text is simply there to scroll through, though scene titles may or may not be shown (optional). A lot of people love the corkboard option. I remember when PZ Myers discovered Scrivener he raved about it. The corkboard is a corkboard (as you may have guessed) with 3 x 5 inch virtual index cards, one per scene, that you can move around and organize as though that was going to help you get your thoughts together. The corkboard has the scene title and some notes on what the scene is, which is yet another form of meta-data. I like the corkboard mode, but really, I don’t think it is the most useful features. Come for the corkboard, stay for the binder and the document and project notes!

Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

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Did Red Hat’s CTO Walk – Or Was He Pushed?

He went on to say that some within Red Hat speculate that tensions between Stevens and Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, might be responsible, although there doesn’t appear to have been any current argument between the two. Cormier will take over Stevens’ duties until a replacement is found. Vaughan-Nichols also said that others at Red Hat had opined that Stevens might’ve left because he’d risen as high as he could within the company and with no new advancement opportunities open to him, he’d decided to move on. If this was the case, why did he leave so abruptly? Stevens had been at Red Hat for nearly ten years. If he was leaving merely because “I’ve done all I can here and it’s time to seek my fortune elsewhere,” we’d expect him to work out some kind of notice and stay on the job long enough for Red Hat to find a suitable replacement. Turning in a resignation that’s effective immediately is not the ideal way to walk out the door for the last time. It smells of burning bridges. Read more