Getting Creative

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7 Days to Die is my second most played game on Steam sitting at just under 150 hours. Late one night me and a friend, Jay, were looking through multiplayer games and just happened to find this one. It also just happened to be on sale for under $10. Neither of us having played a survival sandbox decided to try it out. And we haven’t stopped playing since.

We get together at least once a week to fight off zombie hordes, scavange for crafting materials, and chop down trees for hours on end.  Believe it or not , that gameplay loop was pretty satisfying until recently. We’ve gone through 2 maps. The first one we played for almost 100 days and our most recent one we’ve played for about 40 days. The material grind is immense sometimes and after learning how to effectively dispatch zombies, there isn’t much of a challenge there anymore either.

So I had the bright idea this weekend to turn on “cheat mode” aka creative mode. This gives you access to the creative menu in a standard game offering every block and item in the game.  I never liked building in the normal game mode because the blocks take so much materials to made and if you misplace one you have to destroy it. Plus, how can you have time to build when there’s so much foraging and gathering to do.

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We set out to build a giant underground bunker because why not? Having access to everything makes building so much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, to make an underground bunker we had to first dig underground and hollow out a big enough space. . Once we hollowed everything out we got to work building the structure. I had a vision of a giant steril looking vault, complete with a ridiculous amount of ammo, weapons, tools and materials. A place that would have been amazing to stumble upon when we were actually playing. I must say, it tuned out quite nicely.

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I’ve been experimenting with the console commands much to Jay’s ire. Apparently filling our underground bunker with zombie vultures was not ideal.

Creative mode isn’t just great for building it’s also great for trying things you would never get to in the base game. For example, I wanted to find out if, given enough gas barrels, I could bring down a sky scraper. What followed was the longest explosion ever because setting off that many barrels at once destroyed the frame rate. I was almost certain the game was going to crash. After all of that, the building remained standing.

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Creative mode has given me a much needed break from the core game play loop while still playing 7 Days to Die. The plan for right now is to continue building and experimenting with creative until the next patch comes out. Maybe then I’ll feel like jumping back in to standard mode.

 

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Something Just a Little Different

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I left the Steam sale this year with less games than the last few. I scoured through my wishlist to see if there was a burning desire to buy anything, and low and behold there wasn’t much. My wallet was happy.

There were 3 games that I’ve wanted for a while that I always tell myself the next time their on sale I’ll pick them up. I finally pulled the trigger last week and am now the proud owner of 3 JRPGS: Tales of Zestiria, Tales of Bersaria, and Legend of Hero’s Trails in the Sky. That last one is a mouthful. I used to play JRPGs all the time, I guess I was feeling a little nostalgic.

For some reason I decided I also wanted to play a pure puzzle game too. So now I own the Witness. We’ll see how long that desire lasts

I haven’t sat down to play a game by myself in a long time. Gaming is usually a social activity for me and my friends and even when I play games alone online there is still that social aspect.

I can’t tell you the last time I played an offline single player game. It’s nice to have a game just to yourself without worrying about getting people together to play with.

But these last two weeks I’ve been sucked into Tales of Zestiria. I can’t tell if it’s actually good or I’ve been away from single player RPGs for so long that it just seems that way. I find when I step away from something for a while, wethter it be books, tv, or movies, the first one back always seems like the best thing ever. Nevertheless, I’ve been enjoying it, racking up 20 hours so far.

The story is pretty simple, cliche even. Our hero, Sorey, sets out on an adventure with his best friend to stop the Lord of Calamity from taking over the world. Along the way you gather a menagerie of characters to join your party to defeat evil. It’s all really light-hearted  which is a nice change. It’s not overly dramatic or grim. None of the characters take themselves that seriously. It got a lot of charm .

Then there’s the battle system. This being my first Tales game, I’m not sure if the system has always been this confusing, but I’m still grateful for the tutorial messages that pop up from time to time even after 20 hours of gameplay. It’s a action battle system based around skill combos.  You control one character at a time and can switch between them if need be. Each character has it’s own set of skills and it’s been fun testing out which characters work best with each other.

I’ve been enjoying myself and I definitely feel like I’ll see this one through to the end. This might also be the first time I’ll beat a steam sale game so soon after purchase!

 

 

The 15th time’s the charm

Every time I take a break from writing it takes longer and longer for me to come back. I could have sworn the last time I had posted was sometime in March or April but apparently it was the begging of Febuary…. and now that I’m writing I realize how much I’ve missed writing. It’s actually been so long it took me longer than I care to admit to admit how to insert a picture into a post,  but I digress.

I’ve been playing mostly Guild Wars 2 for the last month or so. I had some friends who were playing and hyped me up to get the expansions and now I’m the proud owner of Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire. Never mind that I’ve never beaten the main story or that the last time I leveled a character to 80 was about 4 years ago.

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I decided to try playing a thief. It’s the only class I haven’t seriously played yet  which is weird because my main character in Guild Wars was an assassin. Actually I have a little head cannon going that somehow my assassin has survived for 200 years and is now in modern Tyria. He’s  old and grey and has a very pointy beard these days but he’s still pretty nimble. I’ve also heard he can  sit in chairs now too,  younger Rave would have been so jealous.

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He looked so spiffy back in the day with that Vabbian armor

I’m surprised how much it has its hooks in me this time around.  I’ve started countless characters over the years and the same pattern emerges. Everything is going great and then there’s one skill or weapon I don’t like or I get an idea for another character and I’m back to square one. As a result I’ve explored the starting zones and the zones next to the starter zones more times than I care to count and that makes leveling brand new characters pretty boring. And yes I am too stubborn to just use my level 80 boost.

It’s a good thing to because I’ve been enjoying leveling and I just hit 50 last night.  In fact I’m almost disappointed I hit the next story chunk so fast, I was really enjoying completing zones that I haven’t been to in a long, long, time. Also that raptor mount really helps a lot so glad I was able to run my Guardian through the first Path of Fire mission.

I’ve been  less focused on completing the zones as quickly as possible and going from heart to heart and waypoint to waypoint. I’ve actually taken time to do events when they appear and follow the multiple stage ones, something I never really did before. It’s been way more fun this way because I’ve gotten to do new things and sometimes it’s led me to some unexpected places like the Forsaken Halls last night.

Right now I’m planning on at least completing the core personal story. I almost feel like if I say I want to beat the expansions too the spell Guild Wars 2 finally has on me will be broken. It’s taken 5 years for this game to click and it’s been a really long time since I’ve had that “wow it’s bed time already” moment with a game.

 

Anjanath Down!

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We finally got everyone caught up in our group for Monster Hunter. I was able to take down the Anjanath late Friday night on my own, barely.  After my second faint my strategy was to use the last life to obseverve its attacks to be better prepared for the inevitable second attempt. But I had a really good few combos on him and once I saw him limping away  I had to try for the kill. By the end of the fight I was down to my last faint and mega potion. The following day the two others were able to get through the fight relatively quickly. Saturday night was spent with all three of us going through the story.

We ended up in the Coral Highlands and took down the Paolumu and were immediately taken to the Rotten Vale. I really like the Coral Highlands their very colorful and I like the layout of the map. On the flip side I’m not a fan of the Rotten Vale so far and neither was the rest of the group so we did some expeditions and optional quests in the Coral Highlands for the rest of the night. I think we killed the Tzitzi-Y-Ku 3 or 4 times because the fight was fun and easy. We decided to kill the Anjanath one more time to see if we could get some pieces of its armor. I had a really cool screen shot of the Great Jagras, Anjanath, and Tobi-Kadachi all in one area but the ps4 decided not to save it. Sadness.

Now that we’re all caught up I’ll probably only be playing the game when the group is on which I prefer. As much as I like Monster Hunter, it’s much more fun with of group of friends. So for now progress will be slow going as far as the stories concerned. I’ll probably boot it up a few days a week to farm parts from things we’ve already killed on my own. I really want the Paolumu set the skills and stats aren’t great but it’s pink and fluffy!

 

 

Almost Ready to Explore

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One of the coolest features of Elite Dangerous is the scope of the map. A 1:1 scale of the Milky Way leaves a mind boggling amount of places to go. Every star I can see when I leave a station can be traveled to. That’s crazy. A

My first long term goal has been to purchase and outfit an exploration ship and make my way to out of the bubble of civilized space. After doing some research it looked like I would need around 18Mcr for the Asp Explorer and all the necessary modules. I started this month with 3Mcr so I wasn’t expecting to do this any time soon.

This all changed after last week’s Community Goal. After just selling the ore on the market last week I ended up with 10Mcr. Then there was the 15Mcr reward for being in the top 50% of contributors. That padded out my funds to 25Mcr and I set out to buy an AspX.

After splurging a little on outfitting my bankroll is down to 2.5Mcr again. Barely enough to afford the 1.5 Mcr rebuy of my shiny new ship. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, you never fly without a rebuy. So the Not Squishy is sitting in Lee city while I take the T-6, Trinkets and Baubles, out for some trading missions to pad my funds.

Once I’m back up to 5Mcr or so I plan to take a trip out to the Eagle Nebula. We have a gorgeous wall mural of it at work that I pass by every day. It’s 7000 light years form my home system. The Not Squishy can travel 33 light years per jump so that’s just shy of 235 jumps.

It’s definitely going to be an adventure!

Hitting the Wall

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The wall is something g every Hunter runs I to eventually. It’s that one monster who grinds you into the ground over and over, the monster where you see the dreaded “quest failed” screen more times than you can count, that one monster you just can’t quite finish off. In Monster Hunter Tri and MH3U it was the Lagiacrus. In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate it was the Gore Magala. This time around it’s shaping up to be the Anjanath.

My usual co-op buddy, Jay, had hand surgery right after Monster Hunter World released. Now that he’s healed up I’ve been helping him catch up to me in the main story. We were having a grand ole’ time hacking our way through the beginning monsters with ease. We both fainted once to the Tobi-Kadachi but managed to hang on for the kill.

Then we got to the Anjanath. The monster that the handler has warned me of every time it shows up in another quest. Feeling confident in my monster hunting skills I brushed off the warnings and was expecting a slightly challenging fight. And then we failed 3 times.

I think the problem is our positioning. Normally we try to get behind a monster as much as possible and cut the tails for the extra carve. Being away from the head is also a good way not to get one shotted when you miss a dodge. But the Anjanath is really tall making it hard to hit the tail all of the time and his feet cause our weapons to bounce so the next largest accessable target is the head. And he gets real angry when you poke him in the head. He spits fire, he tries to eat me, and if all else fails he straight up headbutts you.

But you know what? It’s still fun when you lose. It’s a learning experience and by the second or third fight you start learning the tells of the monster and how to avoid attacks. By our third hunt we had him limping back to his neat to sleep and then he barbequed us. But we had him on the run!

This is the first monster I haven’t hunted solo before grouping up. I don’t know if I could down him on my own but I’m going to try before we play again on Saturday.

Community Mining Madness

20180205003354_1Since the begging of the year there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t log into Elite Dangerous.On paper the game doesn’t seem all that compelling. Most of it is spent waiting. Waiting to jump to a new system, waiting to get close enough to a station to dock, waiting for collector drones to collect things, but here I am still logging in. I’ve put in 65 hours and I’m still learning a lot and trying new activities.

Usually my time is spent running missions for the Euboa Life Solutions Corporation in my adopted home station, Lee City. I’ve been trying to increase my reputation with them so that’d they’d give me better paying missions. But lately they’ve been stingy on the missions lately.  Most of them are requests to kill corporate competitors but I’m not that interested in combat right now. I can kill things in a lot of games, there aren’t a whole lot of games where I can play solely as a trader, explorer, miner, scavenger, or passenger transporter and be rewarded for it.

So I took off in search of something else to do late last week. I saw that there was a community goal of delivering consumer technology and domestic appliances to a nearby system where a station was trying to build a family restaurant. I’d wanted to get into bulk trading commodities between systems and this was the perfect excuse to start.

Seeing as my current ship could only carry 32 tons of cargo I needed to upgrade to something a little bigger. Thankfully I had about 6 million credits built up from my time doing missions. I was able to buy and outfit a Type-6 Transporter (pictured above) that carries 100 tons of cargo. It’s not pretty and not as agile as my last ship but it sure is an upgrade.

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Community goals are something I’ve been watching from afar for the past couple weeks.  Each CG run for a week or until they are completed. There are 8 tiers to the goals and as players turn in items to the station the tiers increase and so do the rewards when the event ends. Participating in the goal earns you a base reward of credits and depending on your level of contribution more credits are awarded.

The goals end on Thursdays and I started last weeks on a Wednesday. I managed to get into the Top 75% contributor bracket and ended up with about 4 million credits when the goal was over. This was on top of the 2 million I had made from selling the consumer tech and domestic appliances to the station. I made my money back from the new ship with a little extra for profit. Not bad for only 2 hours of hauling cargo.

This week the community goal centers around mining Osmium, Samarium, and Lithium Hydroxide. Judging by a few Reddit posts there hasn’t been a mining CG in quite a while.

I like how each goal has a little story behind why these materials are needed. Here’s this weeks:

The Alliance has announced plans to build an Orbis starport in the Synuefai EB-R c7-5 system, between the core systems and the Alliance’s outposts in the California Nebula.

Alliance official Torvan Dast issued the following statement:

“The remoteness of our California Nebula outposts makes reaching them a potentially dangerous proposition. This new starport will bridge the gap between the settlements and the galactic core, and lessen the risk to ships journeying to and from the California Nebula.”

The initiative is being overseen by the LP 128-32 Corporation, which has placed an open order for various raw materials for use in the construction. The organisation has also placed a kill order on all ships on it’s wanted list, to ensure that those contributing material to the campaign can do so safely.

I didn’t feel like going back to Lee City and the new goal was only a few jumps from the location of the last one. Lucky for me the T-6 can be outfitted for mining with just a few swapped modules and very little credit investment.

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Mining is another activity in Elite that just sounds mindnumbingly boring. You fly into an asteroid field and start firing prospecting limpets into asteroids. When the limpet lands it will tell you the ore composition of the asteroid. If it has the ore your after you fire your mining lasers at it until its depleted while collector limpets scoop up the fragments of asteroid the lasers are shaving off. Once the asteroids depleted you rinse, lather, and repeat until you either have a full cargo hold or run out of limpets.

That’s how I spent my gaming time this weekend. Flying around resource sites looking for asteroids with a good amount of Osmium and Samarium. Sometimes I would find a whole cluster of asteroids and sometimes I would waste 10 prospector limpets looking for something worthwhile to mine. I died twice while I was out mining. Once to an NPC pirate who wanted my hard earned cargo that I unsuccessfully tried to out run. And again when I got a little too close to the rotating edge a very large asteroid that totaled my ship in three seconds flat.

So far I’ve delivered 108 tons of goods to Bulychev Hub, enough to put me in the Top 50% bracket for now. The goal is on tier 6 and the payout so far will be 7.5 million if I maintain my current bracket.  I’m not sure if I’ll put anymore time into it this week. I did enjoy my time mining but the T-6 isn’t very efficient with it’s small mining lasers. On average it took about an hour to fill up enough to justify going back to the station.