Hugo Peixoto

More Fresh shenanigans

Published on July 07, 2023

Pokéclicker is one of those incremental games where you mostly idle and barely play.

I’ve started playing this thanks to Cyberscore. There are thousands of charts in the game, and I don’t like to work to submit things manually, so I started automating it. Usually I’d implement it in the OCR system we have in place, but taking 7k screenshots manually didn’t seem like the right approach.

Since the game allows you to download a save file, I implemented something that parses this file and extracts the scores. At first I was doing it in ruby, but the save file doesn’t have all the necessary information. It depends a lot on the game’s source code, which is available on github. Scores like “how many of each berry have you harvested” are encoded as an array in the save file, and you need the source code to know which position represents each berry.

The game is coded in typescript, and at first I was just half-assing parsing certain key files in ruby to extract the necessary information, but it became a hassle quickly, so I switched to working in typescript so I could just import the files directly.

I didn’t want to deal with npm modules or webpack or any of that stuff, so I went with Deno. This kind of worked, but I couldn’t import any files directly, because the codebase isn’t ready to be used like this: imports don’t have the .ts extension, so I did a quick replace to add those. Then I hit another problem: the project isn’t fully converted to proper typescript modules, and files in src/scripts don’t have any imports. I started adding imports to those files manually, but quickly hit weird dependencies, like some files trying to do DOM operations on initialization. Also, some of the typescript modules has circular dependencies. Instead of trying to fix these problems, I replaced some imports with fake declarations:

// instead of:
import Sound from "./utils/Sound.ts";
// I just did:
class Sound {}

Another dependency I had to handle was Knockout.js observables. I wasn’t going to deal with importing the real framework, so I built a few fake observable classes.

In the end there were about 86 files changed. This is probably going to be a nightmare to maintain: save files are for specific game versions, so I’ll have to keep updating this with every release.

With the save parsing working, I had to put this up on a webservice. Using deno, Fresh was the obvious choice. I already ported a nodejs service to Fresh, so I had an idea of what I was getting into.

Getting things to work was easy, I just needed a couple of endpoints: one where you’d upload the save file, and a second one where you confirmed the parsed scores and submitted them to cyberscore.

Cyberscore doesn’t have a proper API with authentication and all that, but I worked around it by asking the user to enter the PHPSESSID cookie, and passed that along to authenticate the request. The response isn’t even JSON based, it’s just the website’s HTML, which I ignore.

The issue I hit next was that submitting thousands of scores in one go took more than 2 minutes. I’m pretty sure our production apache would timeout before that, but even if it didn’t, I didn’t want to make a tool that would DoS our main site, so I had to work on that a bit. At first I optimized the multiple record submission code by removing redundant queries, but I couldn’t get it below 100 seconds. Each score triggers a chart rebuild and potentially sends notifications to users that get dethroned, so there’s a lot of work being done.

The fix for this was to queue these record submissions and process them offline if you submit more than 100 scores in the same request. I created a queued_records table with all the data that gets submitted and built a background worker whose code is basically this:

while (true) {

Each score takes around 50ms to process, so we do bursts of ~5 seconds of work, and then pause for another 5 seconds. It’s a very rude rate limiting system, but it does the trick.

To deploy this, I used Fresh’s sample dockerfile, which mostly works. It fails running deno cache half the time, and I don’t know how to deal with deno.lock yet, but no other big problems. I set up gitlab’s CI to automatically build the docker image and push it to their registry, and it was surprisingly easy to do it. I didn’t have to create and configure any credentials manually: the CI worker already has those builtin, apparently. The .gitlab-ci.yml file was generated using their web based wizard, with just a pair of clicks.

This all works mostly fine (I didn’t parse “achivement charts”, since they felt like it was going to be too much trouble), but the authentication part isn’t ideal. The next step is to add API tokens to cyberscore (and do it in a way that doesn’t compromise the whole website) and implement them here.

The tool’s source code is available on Cyberscore’s GitLab, soon-to-be AGPL (I forgot to add the file, oops). Our fork of the game’s codebase is also up there, and this one doesn’t have a license because upstream didn’t license it (probably because it contains a lot of assets and IP from N*nt*ndo).