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Quick Look: EXAPUNKS

The best fake hacking is done alone, in a dark room, with weird noises happening around you.

Sit back and enjoy as the Giant Bomb team takes an unedited look at the latest video games.

Jan. 16 2019

Cast: Vinny

Posted by: Vinny

In This Episode:

EXAPUNKS

57 Comments

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kevlargorilla

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Neat!

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Lannden

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Some pure Vinny goodness.

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bathala

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Never gonna play this but I like watching it

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wallrod

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Edited By wallrod

Holy crap, i literally finished the campaign this morning and was wondering how vinny and jeff were getting on. I love the hell out of this game, even though it feels like homework sometimes

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ice_queen

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Edited By ice_queen

awesome. thanks vinny :]

i preferred shenzhen io myself, but they're reasonably similar anyway.

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Aishan

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I need to know what cowboy's solution was that was like four times as efficient as vinny's.

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BBAlpert

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I'm normally in the "don't pre-order games" camp, but Zachtronics games are the exceptions for me. They usually have some fun pre-order/special edition goodies and Exapunks is no exception. It came with, among a few other things*, some nicely printed out copies of the 'zines.

*one of the other things it comes with is a pair of red/blue 3D glasses (not really a spoiler, as it was one of the advertised bonuses, but just in case)

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eloj

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Edited By eloj

@aishan: I don't know for sure, but maybe a duffs-device style solution. Requires some sort of indirect jump though; don't know if that's available.

Anyway, if you can do that, and know/assume that no input is greater than say 100, then you can write something like:

MARK COPYSLIDE
COPY 100 F
COPY 99 F
COPY 98 F
...
COPY 0 F

After reading the input value, you use it to calculate the offset to jump into the COPYSLIDE, which then effectively just writes all the numbers in order to the output.

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rocketfalls

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Zachlikes are my addiction and I will never be free

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Fezrock

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I don't think I'm smart enough for this game. I did pretty well at Opus Magnum, only got stuck in the final chapter; but this seems a little too abstract for me to wrap my head around.

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ice_queen

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getting annoyed at your friends high scores and sitting there trying to figure out how to do better is the real zachtronics experience :]

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ice_queen

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i also like how the further down the list vinny goes, the less names are on it until it's finally just him. powerful

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UnInvincible

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Holy cow this is an hour and a half, dope. I was kind of hoping that after a few minutes Jeff would "hack" into the QL and we'd get another cross-coast video, but a long solo Vinny QL is great too.

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tr0n

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Always fun to see non-programmers play games that resemble (in a way) how real programming looks and works like.

So you get a feel how hard it actually is to program games (or other types of applications). :)

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AndersWarming

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This is exactly what I need.

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InStInCt666

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That game boy is fucking wiiiiild !!!

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Bobulus

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I thought the difficulty curve of this game was very fair. I had to sit and think about puzzles a few times, but never really got stuck until the very last puzzle of the campaign, which required walking away from the game for a day, staring into space a lot, and two or three failed attempts before I hit on a working solution.

I'm now in the post-campaign, and the puzzles have gotten trickier, but in a way that still seems reasonable.

My only grumble is that none of my steam friends have played it, so the only people I can compete against are the 1st and 10th percentile, which can be humbling. Need to convince my friends to buy this!

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Ben_H

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Edited By Ben_H

Finally, the return of the solo Quick Look. SimAnimals and Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts are in good company with this game joining the illustrious "Solo Quick Look" category.

Also, this game is really good. I've been playing I on and off since it was released. It's much friendlier than Shenzhen I/O in terms of difficulty scaling. Shenzhen I/O has a fairly big difficulty spike part way through, whereas this game slowly nudges up the difficulty level. Also, synchronization is significantly easier in this than Shenzhen I/O, where it sometimes became a nightmare to keep the various parts of your electronic components in sync.

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sa_drone

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Man, I havent seen a Solo Quick Look.... ever? This is kinda cool.

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mrbubbles

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Edited By mrbubbles

@sa_drone said:

SA_Drone

Man, I havent seen a Solo Quick Look.... ever? This is kinda cool.

They did solo quick looks in the very early days of GB and kind of never went back to that

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Daavpuke

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Vinny yelling "How'd he do it??" as they already completed something that melts my brain is precious.

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cowbs

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@eloj: I've had solutions that resemble duffs but you quickly run into two problems: no relative jumps (only to explicit labels) and code size. Most puzzles have a limit of 50, some let you do 75 instructions, and labels count against that :(

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CristianARG

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Pls more solo QL!

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deactivated-5d955ffb554b6

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I've spent a lot of time in the last year or so watching Unity game development tutorials, and this Quick Look is a lot like those, in the very best way. If I could just have a series of instructional videos where @vinny teaches stuff, I'd be a happier person.

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dirtytea

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Solo QL is chill af. into it.

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billymaysrip

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It tickles me to see Naughty Dog's Cowboy on Vinny's friend leaderboard.

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Darkflight

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I've been thinking recently how I really enjoy Ben's game videos which are mostly solo and Jeff's solo streams because not every game is suited to a mess of voices and questions over it and people are more than capable of watching one person play something and understanding it from that and then solo Vinny hacking goodness

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LucidDreams117

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Edited By LucidDreams117

I have no idea what Vinny is even doing but I like Vinny so I can't stop watching.

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Mitch0712

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@bathala: Yeah it looks really satisfying to solve puzzles but I feel like I would get so lost.

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staplegun

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Edited By staplegun

@aishan said:

Aishan

I need to know what cowboy's solution was that was like four times as efficient as vinny's.

This is actually my biggest problem with the game (TIS-100 has a similar problem, but it's less pronounced), the biggest secret to optimized solutions is something called loop unwinding.

For instance, think about the fastest way you could write a script to write all numbers from 0 to 1000 inclusive. You'd probably write a loop to do this (x=0):

while(x<=1000)

println x

x++

Easy and readable, and for sure the most scalable solution if you wanted to print numbers to, say, 1000000. It's not the "fastest" way to do it though, since each time the loop runs the conditional needs to be checked whether or not it's still valid. So, a slightly faster solution looks like:

while(x<1000) {

println x; println x+1; println x+2; println x+3; println x+4; println x+5; println x+6; println x+7; println x+8; println x+9; $x += 10 } print $x

In EXAPUNKS, this code would run nearly 10 times faster than the single loop, as the conditional is being checked only once every 10 print statements. You can extend this thinking to an extreme, and the "fastest" solution to the problem looks like this, which completes instantly:

print 0\n1\n2\n3\n4\n5\n6\n7\n8\n9\n10...1000

It's not feasible in the game because of size limits but the idea is that it strips out the need to evaluate conditional statements or any math. The drawbacks are pretty obvious, though.

Unwinding loops requires you to have a more intimate knowledge of the inputs that are going to be thrown at you. You need to analyze all of the inputs that you will have to test, find out what's common throughout all the tests, then work backward from there. In this case, you could make code that kind of acts like a sieve:

Is the test value greater than 500? (print 500 numbers), else

Is the test value greater than 100? (print 100 numbers), else

Is the test value greater than 50? (print 50 numbers) And so on...

The annoying part is striking the balance between doing too many conditional statements (excessive overhead) and too little (excessive waste). If the test input were 499, for instance, it would miss the check for 500, have to perform the 100 test 4 times, have to perform the 50 test once, and still have to keep testing from there. So, what should your sieve look like? As said before, it all depends on what your sample inputs are. It might be manageable for something like 1-10, but optimizing cycles quickly spirals out of control when you're not working with such "friendly" numbers.

Here's the short of it. Going for optimized solutions is tedious in this game. Size and activity are the more interesting histograms. Also, if you *really* like code golfing, you might also want to check out hackmud, which is basically just that.

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Rosur

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I should really play this game being a programmer (web dev). It looks more my thing compared to some of the Zactronics games.

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digthedoug

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One of the "pro-tips" I picked up about halfway through was to use the T register to store indexes on iteration that count to zero because you won't have to run the TEST command explicitly.

EX:

COPY F T
MARK LOOP
COPY T F
SUBI T 1 T
TJMP LOOP

Once T hits 0 the TJMP check will be false and it will exit the loop automatically.

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edcase

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Yo Vinny!
You can run the test to a point in your code by holding "Alt" and clicking on the line.
Quicklook was great, keep at it.

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mikemcn

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This just reminds me i need to finish Opus Magnum.

I think i got to the 3rd set of levels out of like 10 on that one, sooooo...

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rustyfe

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Edited By rustyfe

Vinny looking at his old code and declaring it won't work before it proceeds to work is the most programmer thing I've ever seen.

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TGJessie

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Oh right, there's a SWIZ command

I finished this game and never used it

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stanleynipple

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vinny only-quicklook = GOOD. need more of that. reminds me of the pepper shaker robot game that almost made him lose his mind.

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RenegadeDoppelganger

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Holy shit that menu music RIPS

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YummyTreeSap

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I love this game, and I love all the rad physical stuff the preorder version came with. I did hit a wall where I couldn't figure out what to do, but I should really go back to it. Doing my first recursive solution to a puzzle made me feel like I was performing magic (maybe because recursion was always a weak spot of mine in school).

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DrBroel

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@edcase: yes. This. Hope he figures that out cuz it vastly increases the speed at which you can debug. Love that the in game chat is what tells you about this trick in game.

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wollywoo

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I love Vinny, but I have trouble watching a solo quick look for more than a few minutes. I really just come for the dorky banter aspect more than the video game aspect.

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glots

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Don't really understand much anything about this, but I do like me some Vinny and chill tunes.

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Jetlag

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Edited By Jetlag

This QL is very good.

I always want to play these games but then I get stuck halfway through. And it's hard getting help without just getting the solution.

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davivmcd

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Edited By davivmcd

Ah, the hacker's most trusted browser: Microsoft Edge!

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crashtanuki

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I'd like to see a Playdate with this where Dan is at the helm to see him legitimately try to understand and execute on this stuff.

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Syndrom

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I just bought the game, but no one in my friendlist is playing it :D so i can't compare scores :(

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darkjester74

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Watching this while updating my Kali box is weird...

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Dixavd

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Edited By Dixavd

I love how Vinny completes every puzzle with self-assured confidence only to feel immediately slighted by seeing John "Cowboy" Bellomy's better score. Instead of brushing it off as "He's an experienced programmer; of course he'll do better", Vinny's reaction is like "What? Tell me your secrets!"

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KnockingNick

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This looks like a really interesting game that I would be terrible at, lol. That Gameboy stuff WAS pretty wild.