Kickstarter – MOAR FATE!

OK, technically it’s Fate More. Here is a link. Go give them your money. I’d give them your money but the courts seem to frown on that in this country.

fate more

More importantly, I’m posting here in an utterly shameless bid to be entered into a draw to win PHATE LEWT. Because lewt. Because Fate lewt which is always worth getting even if I’m already getting some from the Kickstarter and the various Patreon creations I’m chipping in for and my purchases here and there on the Evil Hat Store, DriveThruRPG (whose pension fund I probably kicked up a notch in the last month alone) and the evil, evil geniuses at the Bundle of Holding.

I? I have no need for a pension fund! I have lots and lots and lots of RPG books to read and huddle under when they come to take my house away!

Tabletop RPGs – Bundles of Doom

If anyone out there doesn’t yet know the Bundle of Holding folks, it’s time you did.

They are single-handedly responsible for depleting my pension fund and the college fund of the kids I don’t have. But hey, it goes to chariddy, so that’s ok.

Follow them on Twitter, or sign up for their e-mail alerts and you too can enjoy the luxurious feeling of having more RPG systems in your reading list than you can read if you live to be 120. Do it for nostalgia, new systems, or just plain nerdhood.

I hate these guys. Which in Ysh-speak means I love these guys. Can’t post more, I’m chewing up my crappy bandwidth downloading the latest offering. Click below for said latest offering.

never enough RPGs

Tabletop RPGs – Firefly

Burn the land and boil the sea

I’m jumping around all these shiny new-to-me systems like a flea with another flea up its butt, and I have to admit the idea of playing Firefly is super-hyper-duper-attractive, at least on paper. In RPGs like in so many other games, sometimes the idea of playing something is a lot better than the actual experience, but we don’t always know until we try it. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to try it.

The Clues before Snooze  group (oh yes please, get me a better name, I’ll pay you in free mints) is now two groups, cunningly named Left-Pondians (North-America) and Right-Pondians (Europe). We’re sitting at 3-6 players for the Left-Pondians and currently 3 for the Right-Pondians, and there are spaces left in the Europe-time group if anyone is interested; let me know in the comments or wherever.*

We have no idea what we’re going to play next, in either group, though I’m glad they all had a good enough time with the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtesting to want to carry on. I’m certainly not going to force a system or setting on anyone, though I will definitely argue for trying Firefly in at least one of them, likely the Right-Pondians because Brian, one of our Left-Pondian players, is *gasp* not a die-hard fan of the series. I know, right?! (Here’s an excellent post on how it’s warm and comfy as a childhood Saturday in front of the telly. And yes, Mr. Fillion is totes swoon-worthy as the complete smart yet stupid, slightly bumbling but strong almost-bad-boy, thinking girl’s crumpet package. Ahem. Where were we?)

Firefly

So, yes. Going to be trying this one out, even if I have to play with myself.

Play IT with myself.

Yes. That.

You can’t take the sky from me

In my quest to remember how to GM (which is roughly like riding a bicycle) and almost certainly as a desperate displacement tactic so that I don’t actually have to think about the upcoming don’t-yet-exist omg-what-shall-we-do campaigns — because I’m glutton enough to want to do it not once, but twice, for two different groups — I’ve been reading system books, GMing books, prepping books, GMing and gaming and playing and RPG websites and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! My brand-new download of Evernote is already brimming with things to read, remember, or consider.

I’ve even downloaded the demo version of Scrivener to see if it’ll help me manage my games more effectively, because my management technique is pretty much exactly like what I described my brain to be: an explosion in a gummy-bear factory:

gummybearexplosion

I’ve only run through the tutorial but so far it seems pretty awesome. It’s structured, which will help me, but not so structured that my brain rebels and goes FUCK YOU I’M JUST GOING TO USE POST-IT NOTES THAT WILL FALL OFF THE MONITOR AND GET EATEN BY THE DOGS AND THEN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHO THE BIG BAD WAS WHO TRAPPED TIMMY DOWN THE MINE.

My brain likes to shout at me. The meds should be kicking in any day now.

They also do an idea-jotter that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-quite like a mind-mapping program, called Snapple. No wait, Scrapple. No, that’s not it. Scapple!

Best of all, both versions come with a 30-day trial which is a genuine 30 days of use trial, not a 30-days-from-when-you-install-it trial. That’s the kind of demo I like, especially when it’s for a product that looks as though I might seriously want it. They’re giving me plenty of time to become irretrievably hooked… and then buying them isn’t even that expensive. Oh, they are cunning.

Anyway, to get back to the original point, I’ve added about a million new sites to the Feedly feed I don’t check nearly enough, because somehow in all the other crap going on in my life I’ll find the time to read 25 blog posts every day. (Said lots of people, perhaps, but not me, ever.**)

Here are two I found just today, shared because they cropped up in my search for Firefly reviews and I loved the style and tone of both of them: The Reef and Ed Plays Games. Also, as a French person and French-speaker, I can’t not like someone whose domain name is Nasty Anemone.

All right then. Since this blog post is itself a displacement activity that I’m doing to delay the time I have to sit down and try to brainstorm some campaign ideas (because I want to have a few ideas the groups can spitball off rather than starting in a vacuum and the inevitable awkward silence***), I’d best toddle off and do that thing.

Just like riding a bicycle…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* The groups are intended to meet for sessions once every two weeks, since even in my RPG-deprived state I don’t think I can run two sessions and attend another as a player every week. Prospective players will be asked to commit to that as best they can, or there’s little point in having a ‘regular’ gaming group. We’re currently using Roll20 as a VTT platform and it works rather better than I expected, though we haven’t exactly stretched its capacities so far.

** But I live in hope. I am going to give Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done method another shot in the new year. I’m half-hooked from my first read-through of the method some months back but have yet to apply most of the principles. But I will. Because as a chronically anxious person with real issues finding meds that work, anything that lets me empty the whirling morass that is my brain and occasionally actually relax, knowing that things are under some semblance of control, would be wonderful.

*** See what I did there?

 

 

Wot I'm Playing – September 2015

This is a total cop-out post because I’m not actually playing anything, hee hee, ho ho. So you’re about to be regaled with all the games I’m not playing, which has been a quarterly litany this year.

WARNING: Do not click the subheading links unless you want to watch extremely silly and definitely NSFW comedians on YouTube. YHBW.

A Compuder

I’m not playing WoW, even though the Draenor flying patch is in and whatnot. Not for lack of interest — well okay, partly for lack of interest — actually, wait, almost totally for lack of interest. And not just in Warcraft. Nothing is really calling my name these days. I’m also not playing TSW, though I keep both games up to date. I’ll have to log back into TSW soon, if only to take more screenshots. Easily the best game evar for moody and evocative screenshots — and for allowing me to make a character that looks the way I would totally love to look in that grindy-ass Real Life game.

It doesn’t help that MMOs are better with other people. But other people tend to play in the evenings, and in the last 6-36 months I’ve tended to conk out right around the time the sun goes down. (Turns out that’s almost certainly the medications I’m on and not just some weird mutation that’s turning me into a sloth, but that’s a whole other story for another time.)

I got all up in ARK‘s business for what, a week? … and haven’t fired it up since. (Playing alone probably didn’t help that one.) I played Shadowrun: Hong Kong and that was super fun, but when I thought I was about a third of  the way in it turns out I was almost at the end, and I finished it before I truly realised what was happening. Super fun but too damn short! Of course, it includes some sort of development platform so maybe there will be other adventures to play. It was never intended to be another Skyrim or Witcher, after all.

Speaking of the Witcher, been meaning to pick up the 3 that people are raving about but haven’t got round to that either yet. In fact, if you were to check my to-do list you’d notice I haven’t done a single item on it.

I haven’t played my new Sims 4 Legacy family in over a month — but there I’m not so worried, because I always go back to the Sims. After looking down my nose at that game for a number of years (and incarnations 1 and 2), I picked up Sims 3 on a whim in 2009 and have been pretty regularly hooked ever since. I don’t play it all the time, but I do play it several times a year for a month or so. So the Stylishes will be back, sooner or later, and I may even post about them someday.

What I have been doing is preparing for the impending parental visit. My mum will be staying with us for ONE. WHOLE. MONTH., so we have to brace ourselves and assume crash positions. And clean the house. Lots and lots and lots of cleaning the house.

airplane_crash_position

Me? Mobile games? With my reputation?

It’s also possible I’ve been *cough* playing a few mobile games. I never did get the point of those until I got a decent tablet; the only games I have on my phone are sudoku, crosswords and a Bejeweled clone and I hardly ever play those as it is. But on the iPad… hell, if it moves I’ve downloaded it. Well, not quite, but I’ve tried out a few games. And I spend a few moments every day doing whatever non-in-app-purchase moves I can do. Which isn’t many, but when you have about 6 games that’s about an hour’s worth.

I’m currently farting about with Happy Street (which fails to hook me but is super cute and so easy it hurts, and it’s all Syl’s fault), Paradise Bay (ditto with nice Disney-like graphics), Adventure Capitalist (seriously, making money to buy more stuff and make more money faster? I might as well be raiding), Best Fiends (which is super cute and kind of fun, since I like match-3 games), and the standard crosswords, sudoku and mahjongg.

Le tabletop game est sur la table

And of course there’s the attempt at a tabletop group and some games. There’s a G+ community going at the moment with a half-dozen folks, and we’ve met up a couple of times on Roll20. Yesterday we did some character creation with about half the group and will fit the other half in as and when schedules allow.

[Tangent-ish: speaking of which, because the schedules and time zones of the current dirty half-dozen are so hard to reconcile, I’d be happy to sort out two or even more groups – playing or GMing, I’m easy. So if you’re interested in playing something FATE-related, or even finding out what the big deal is about FATE, leave your Pathfinder books at home and holler at me in the comments, or on G+.]

Oddly enough it never occurred to me that scheduling is possibly even harder online than it is in person. I expected it to be the opposite… but we have 2 players from the UK, 4 from the US East Coast, and me in the US South-west, which gives us a 7-hour time-zone spread and makes things a little complicated. Add to that some odd work schedules (some folks have non-Sat/Sun weekeneds, some work rotating shifts, some have pretty hefty workloads, we all have other external commitments, etc. etc. etc.) and I swear it’s been harder getting us to our computers and keyboards than it would be to head down to my local game shop and kidnap a few callow youths.

Problem is, I don’t want callow youths. One of the best things about getting older and being an experienced gamer is that you get to play with other older and/or experienced gamers — gamers who don’t think a dungeon crawl with 10,000 gp as a reward is the best thing you can get out of tabletop games. (Not that I have anything against a good Monty Haul campaign, mind you, but I did outgrow those in the 90s.) Or, to be a bit more tolerant of the chronologically-challenged, I don’t want inflexible callow youths. I want to play with folks who don’t mind stretching their gaming comfort zone, as I am currently trying to do.

In fact, what I’m really doing is trying out systems that formalise how my RL friends and I played for years. We didn’t always play so-called storytelling or story-heavy systems, but we always played them as though they were. Character was paramount (possibly herded by a literature major who has very definite opinions about whether character drives plot or the other way around *cough*). And–

And so on. Since this is still nominally an MMO blog, at least until I change the tagline at the top of the page, I won’t froth about tabletop gaming. But the 2 semi-sessions that have been managed have been fun so far; here’s hoping we’ll manage a few more.

The Obligatory Comment-Inducing Question at the End

And you? What have you been playing or wishing you had time to play? Do you think the moon is made of cheese? Who really shot JR? And was the ending of LOST lame or what?

 

Blaugust Day 29 – Probably Foofery

So… I got nothin’.

Eh, that’s not entirely true. I got lots of stuff but I don’t want to write about it today. I have a post I want to do about how Blaugust was awesome (and exhausting) and how the community is awesome and about how EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. Even Princess YellowFeather thinks so*.

But that post is for next Monday (the 31st) or perhaps even for next Tuesday, as a post-mortem.

I have another post I want to do that’s all about frothing over tabletop RPGs, but that would take too much effort away from other things today — such as actually getting said tabletop RPG going. These things don’t write themselves, you know! (Posts or games.) I’m fairly certain this would only interest a small subset of my readership but, though I love you all, as always I also don’t care. You’ll read what I write and you’ll like it!

Or, you know, not read it. That’s cool too.

gaming geeks

I should do a post about my new Sims4 Legacy family, the Stylishes (pronounced Stye-LEESH with an outrrrrrageous French accent), because quite a few of the folks who have been reading here this last year are Sims4 players and I don’t want to completely ignore them — and because it’s been a fairly fun Legacy so far that hasn’t been plagued by Terminal Triplet syndrome or other mourning-excess or family-forgetting bugs. But I haven’t played the Sims all month and I’d rather write about it while I’m in it, so to speak. Maybe in September.

I want to do a post about how I have totally and utterly failed to live up to my Gaming To-Do List, because REASONS. Number one being that I usually totally ignore lists, so this was no surprise to me.

Hah! I just took a look at it and I haven’t done a single item on that list! To give myself a little bit of credit, I did try: I downloaded Torchlight II and was super keen to play that, but the Steam install keeps throwing out a Disk Write error and I absolutely cannot be arsed to jump through uninstalling and reinstalling Steam, as is their suggested solution. Screw that.

Well anyway, this was just to prove that I have tons of material, dammit! — I just choose not to use it today. And I bet I’m totally the best at writing about how I’m not writing out of all the Blaugustians out there. I said so on the internet so it must be true.

Last but not least, if you ever want to show support for a blog but don’t have time to say much or the words just won’t come, I refer you to @Wolfy’s suggestion, which I will adopt from now on. It’s friendly, cheerful, and super-positive:

I TOTES AGREE WITH YOU HIGH FIVE!

PS: Foofery is a word I thought I’d made up but apparently hadn’t. Not that I trust the Urban Dictionary to define shit (literally) as so many of the entries are entirely made up, but I can’t really throw stones there, now can I. I do come up a lot on Google searches for the word though, which I am quite unjustly proud of. On this blog, if nowhere else, it’s a word for general stuff-and-meaningless-nonsense — you know, like this post.

– – – – – – – – – –

* I sure hope that link works for people. As of yesterday I can no longer watch YouTube videos on my Windoze PCs. Only one in every 10 or 15 videos will load.

It’s not Windoze 10 as I suspected, because I have the issue on my Win 8.1 Laptop. It’s not Firefox, because I have the issue on Chrome and even on (*spit*) Edge. It’s not hardware acceleration, since turning that off has no effect on any browser. It doesn’t appear to be a Flash issue (my FF Flash has been broken for months but Chrome’s is not). It’s not AdBlock because I had the same issue on the iPad in Safari, which doesn’t run that extension — which means it’s not Windoze at all.

Oddly enough, the iPad YouTube app and the Android YouTube app appear quite healthy and unwilling to censor my binge-watching of Mishka and Laika videos. Anyway, I mention this only in case one of you delightful, smart and helpful people had the exact same problem and found a solution not already covered above. And to spread the Gospel of the Talking Husky, because CUTE-DOG.

Entirely too serious for a gaming blog

I’ve been on an internet jaunt today. Or more accurately since yesterday, when the RPG post I did prompted me to re-read some old posts on blogs I particularly like, which led me circuitously — as internet rambles do — to a new blog (which I’m surprised I didn’t encounter long ago), and from the comments there I ended up at another blog (ditto), and from that blog’s Mental Health Advocacy page I ended up at the blog I’m going to quote and link below.

dontlooksick

To begin with, the blog’s title is genius. “But you don’t look sick!” is something I told myself many, many times over the years in order to keep paying my property taxes on the best neighbourhood in DeNial. It’s also something I worried people would tell me if I ever dared mention that I wasn’t doing all that well. It’s something I still tell myself to this day as the aches and pains of growing older (arthritis, my Doctor reckons) sometimes make it hard to do things like, oh I don’t know, get out of bed. If I don’t look sick, I can’t be sick — for better or worse.

And here’s the post anyone who is chronically ill with anything, or who knows someone who is chronically ill, should read. It’s called The Spoon Theory. Go for it. It’s much more interesting than this post (which is almost done anyway) and this post ain’t going anywhere.

As I read, I couldn’t help thinking “I totally get this, but thank goodness it doesn’t apply to me! I have lots of spoons!” But the honest truth is, I don’t. I may have more than Ms. Miserandino does, but even when I was 20 my supply wasn’t infinite. Because Spoons aren’t just for doing physical things like getting out of bed, running errands, or going to work. They’re for mental, emotional and spiritual things too like interacting with people, worrying about money, or meditating.

spoonsGood or bad, physical or metaphysical, everything costs a spoon. And if you’ve spent all your spoons worrying about money (which I do a lot when I’m anxious), then you’re not going to have a spoon left to meditate and be less anxious, no matter how often a well-meaning outsider tells you to just “make sure you take enough time for yourself”. Part of the problem with anxiety and depression, by the way, is not feeling as though you’re worth taking the time for. Part of the problem with these mental issues (that often accompany long-term physical issues) is that if it were that bloody easy, don’t you think we’d be fit as fiddles by now, at least mentally?

So for yourself, don’t forget that your spoon supply may not be infinite, and apply them as best you can to the things that are best for you. I suddenly feel fortunate that all I have to worry about is applying them to good things rather than having to eke them out to apply to basic survival.

And for others, don’t forget that they have spoons too, and they may be running out. Lend them one if you happen to have one to spare.

Blaugust Day 21 – Anti-Motivation and Other Things

Well. I guess instead of moaning about it on Twitter as I’ve been doing for the last half-hour, I might as well moan about my lack of motivation here — especially since my lack of motivation includes the lack of motivation to write a blog post, so complaining about my lack of motivation with my waffly skills should use up at least 200 words, by which time I’ll be 40% there. (There being the Blaugust 10-sentence, 2-paragraph, to-my-mind 500-words-ish rule of content requirement.)

Twitter has been no help at all — well, except for TAGN, who alone responded to my plea for help — and maybe MrC, who totally enabled my displacement activity.

gotnotmotivation

Apparently some people actually have lives and jobs and things to do on a cool and breezy Friday morning other than post a week’s worth of Tweets in an hour. Or provide a desperate blogger with post ideas. Or, better yet, write them for her.

OMG there it is! I should have found myself a guest blogger! That would have been such a cool thing to do for Blaugust, too! Curses.

In the spirit of carpe diem, does anyone want to do a guest post on an incredibly high-profile, Jon Stewart reads this, up-to-the-second, content-stuffed bloggy mountain of infinite delights? If so, apply to the Huffington Post. If you’d rather an obscure cavern of confusion, apply here.

You’ll get acclaim, pride, self-confidence and the absolute guarantee of no free T-Shirt ever. And you’ll be the first guest poster here. (And quite possibly the last.) (Despite the tone, this is a serious offer.)

[Okay, 238 words, only 262 to go. I can do this!!]

TAGN inspires, I perspire

Under the Drunder You Go

Drunder Prison-World may be the most awesome thing ever… It’s basically EQ2’s answer to Lord of the Flies or Escape from New York* with 8,000 Snake Plissken wannabes. You can read the whole post for yourselves, but the basic idea is that the biggest asshats in EQ2 will find their entire account banished to an exile server from which they may never escape, as determined by Customer Service GMs. People can also opt for a one-time, no-refund, one-way transfer to Drunder if they think they’re hard enough. People also have to have a paid subscription account to EQ2 for this, which is just kind of weird. Because the rest of the scheme is totally not weird.

Aside from the obvious issue of let’s-just-make-a-new-account-they’ll-never-know-it’s-me-bwahaha, which I assume they’ve thought of (no of course I haven’t read the entire thread, what am I, made of time?), and the inevitable whining that will ensue when people transfer over for a lark and are forcibly made to understand the meaning of the term “one-way only”, does this have a chance of working at all? My guess would be asshat players will either find a new account to be an asshat on, or will find a new game to be an asshat on; of course if they pick the latter it’s no longer the EQ2 staff’s bailiwick so problem solved.

At any rate it’s a new idea in an industry that always needs new ideas, and it could lead to some interesting server-ruleset variations if this experiment works. And if it removes the worst offenders that’s a good thing. Not that I have any idea who the worst offenders are or what they have to do to earn that dubious distinction. Even in EQ2, which is one game where I follow global channels, I don’t follow the global-global channel because it’s invariably full of over-sharers, eejits, or crashing bores who think they aren’t.

My favourite MMO mount

Hrm. All of them. Okay, probably this one — as the mount you can’t actually ride except for 10 seconds in a specific zone with a one-hour cooldown. (Can you say L-A-M-E?)

Shinri

I’m terribly boring when it comes to mounts. I like to get the weird and wonderful ones but when it comes to actually getting around I’m 100% utilitarian. They need to move without too much jerk, wobble or bounce (yes, the mounts), they need to not fill my entire screen (Pandaclysm dragon-mounts FTW), and they need to match my outfits — by which I usually mean my pets. So here’s my most common mount in WoW, which probably counts as my favourite.

winterspringers

A crafting profession memory!

That’s easy. All of them. I’m a crafter in games, it’s what I am as much as what I do, and any adventuring that happens (including levelling, in most games) is an incidental by-product. Most of my EQ2 characters are max-level crafters — or were an expansion or 2 ago — but haven’t made it out of the teens or twenties for adventuring. I had no less than three accounts for SWG back in the one-account/one-character days so that I could experience all the crafting professions. I pick games based on their crafting options — and yes, I’ve been disappointed many, many times. Which doesn’t mean I don’t play games where the crafting sucks (WoW is an obvious example), but it does feel sort of like playing with half a game. And so we segue neatly into…

Why is there so much Cheese in WoW?

Because cheese is awesome. Because cheese is better than cake and better than pie, as I have stated before (see the no free T-shirt link above if you really want linkage). Because a world without cheese might as well be a world without air. My glorious leader said so:

How do you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?

Yes, I’m French. What of it? You wanna take this to Drunder? EDIT — WordPress is either Francophile or Anti-French. It ate my DeGaulle caption. But since it was about cheese, maybe WordPress just really likes cheese. Thanks for spotting that TAGN!

– – – – – – – – – –

* I totally made that reference before I’d read TAGN’s post about it. GMTA or something.

Blaugust Day 20 – Only Slightly Early

It’s only 2 hours till midnight where I am and it’s long past that in parts east of me, so I’m going to call this Day 20. That’s what the scheduling button is for (yes, the one I said I’d try not to use then totally forgot to use. Sigh).

This time you really are getting your image = 1k words post, because I have a crapton of work to do and too little time in which to do it. I’d like to blame ARK for this but can’t even do that; I spent a fair bit of my dozen hours of playtime so far sat at the main menu while work mail asploded. What I did manage to play I chronicled (except for the bits I forgot to chronicle) in screenshots, a selection of which have been posted to the brand new ARK page and its sub-page (+s, but there’s currently only one):

ARK screenshots from August 19th, 2015

I’ll add more as and when. Since I have gigabytes and gigabytes of unused media upload space I can add a great many more as uncommented screenshots somewhere if people are interested; as an example, I took 61 (quite passable) screenshots today but only posted 16 of them to the daily session page.

And that’s it for today. There are 1000 words in that screenshot page anyway. I just don’t know how not to babble.

(PS: Only 11 posting days to go. WOOOOOHOOOO! I love the initiative, but this daily posting thing is killing me. Srsly.)

Blaugust S -15 – Lost in the ARKger Games

I passed on ARK when it was on the Steam Summer Sale, and then regretted it — but regretting missed Steam Sale opportunities is like a twice-yearly ritual for me anyway — so when it was on sale again yesterday I went ahead and picked it up.

One of the reasons I passed on it before was the vast amount of ZOMGPVPganked stuff I read about it, until I realised that ZOMGPVPgank mode isn’t the only one available for the game. You can play solo, on a restricted server, or on other people’s servers. Which at least gave me the chance to dip my toes in the water (metaphorically – you want to be careful about actually doing that in ARK) yesterday and see what all the fuss has been about.

In case you live under a rock like I mostly do, ARK: Survival Evolved, as it’s officially called (because it’s not a real game these days if it doesn’t have a colon somewhere in its name) is… a survival game. In which you try to avoid dying from: heat, dinosaurs, cold, exhaustion, dinosaurs, lack of oxygen, dinosaurs, starvation, dehydration, swimming dinosaurs, the weather, dinosaurs, and (if you want) other players. And that’s only the methods I’ve discovered so far.

It’s less One Million Years B.C. and more LOST or The Land That Time Forgot, though given the costume similarity some confusion is understandable.

ARK_million years
Does my bum look bigger than hers in this?

Aside from the basic premise — don’t die — which is a fairly important one, there are more extended goals. Escape from the Island is the obvious one, though I’m not sure how achievable it’s meant to be and since I haven’t even left the beach I started on, it’s hardly a priority for me yet. Tame dinosaurs!! is another and yes, it must always be spoken or written with exclamation marks. Duh. I haven’t got to that yet either.

Heeere, dino dino dino!
Heeere, dino dino dino!

You’ll also find the standard game goals of exploration, character levelling and skills, building (so that you don’t die from being stomped on by a distracted brontosaurus), and killing shit so you can take its loot (so you can make more shit and aren’t so easy to kill when stomped on by a distracted brontosaurus). And last but not least, there’s finding out what the giant glowy towers are all about, which I suspect ties in with the whole survive-and-escape goal. Unless it opens up a Master Of The Dinosaur Island option, which I’d be okay with too.

Click for larger version
Click for larger version

For my trial run I decided to play in single-player mode, which means you can pause the game and the world doesn’t persist when you’re not ‘logged in’. After getting my ass handed to me a bunch of times by dodos, pteranodons*, some kind of giant turtle-thing and a whole freaking school of blood-frenzied megalodons before I’d even made a pair of shorts, I played in dumbed-way-the-hell-down-for-21st-century-slickers mode. In fact, the game lets you customise all manner of things from how tough you are, how tough the dinos are, how long the day/night cycle is (or how long day and night last individually), how quickly you go through food, and so on. You get 24 sliders to play with, not counting the basic ‘game difficulty’ one which I set to jeez-why’d-you-even-bother-buying-the-game?! Because death gets boring after a few run-throughs.

Thanks to Dracosaurian and the ARK wiki
Thanks to Dracosaurian and the ARK wiki

The very first thing you notice — other than being almost naked and definitely not alone on a beach – is that the game is stupdendously beautiful, at least on my spanky not-quite-new-anymore machine. I can’t run in ultra settings because I only have a ‘lowly’ GTX970, but the high settings weren’t bad at all.

Brontosaurus

The next thing you notice is that everything that isn’t you either wants to kill you or won’t hesitate to kill you if you are foolish enough to attack it — even the trees. Since you start with nothing, you literally have to bang your head fists against a few trees in order to get some basic materials and yes, you take damage every time.

After that you realise that time is passing, tick-tick-tick, that you’re near-naked, surrounded by dinosaurs, dinosaur-infested jungle and dinosaur-infested waters, observed by ominous structures in the distance (which almost certainly have something to do with the glowy carbuncle on the inside of your left wrist), and that you’re probably about to die quickly and unpleasantly (chomp!) or slowly and unpleasantly (brrr!) if you don’t start doing something about it. And all you have is your hands.

Which is fine, because it’s enough to start pulling up berries, leaves, rocks and whatever else you can fit into your capacious and invisible pockets. And soon enough you have enough to cobble together an axe-like thing, which makes you more efficient at getting more stuff to make more stuff to oh shit it’s dark and cold and raining and I don’t have a fire and I’m dyyyyyyiiinnngggg….

Dark night 1
The night *is* dark and full of terrors

So you find a tutorial, because it’s one thing to admire the landscape and quite another to realise that sundown will likely kill you. This one (written) and this one (YouTube) were both basic enough and helpful enough to get me past that first half-hour of frustration. If you’re more used to this kind of game and its UI/controls than I am, you might not even need those. I kept banging my head on the desk because I couldn’t move the mouse to the icons on the right-hand side of the screen (until I realised they’re status icons, not menu icons…). It was just a happy coincidence that the YouTuber chap started in the same spot as I did – or vice versa. But I can tell you that the S1 spawn (I think) on Footloose island, or some such name, is a good, relatively safe spot to start. Yes, even with all the dying I did, because most of that dying was self-inflicted.

Rebuilding
Rebuilding after yet another death

And so you make yourself a couple of tools, eat a couple of berries, kill a couple of dodos, and become cocky enough to investigate the actinic shaft of light shouting Oi! Come check me out! to every gamer within miles. Fortunately I’m the only one on this version of The Island, and when I investigate my first one I get a few goodies like a sling and a flare gun. A little while later (after having levelled, gained some new crafting recipes, and become engrossed enough to totally forget about screenshots) I spot another one a little ways around a headland to the south-west, and I hurry to investigate it before sundown. Being careful of my megalodon nemeses, who mostly avoid the shallow channel between my spawn spot and that other headland apart from the occasional foray, I swim and scuttle over and am rewarded with a thatch foundation, 3 walls, a doorframe and a door. Since I’d already built and placed four foundations at my starting point I was stoked, as this would be the start of a proper house…

Supply cache!
Supply cache!

And then the sun went down, the rain started, the temperature plummeted, and as soon as I stepped into the water to get back to my side of the channel the game warned me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t just cold, I was about to freeze to death. So — disappointed but smarter — I quickly placed my single-foundation hut just off the sand, closed the door behind me, lit a torch, and stood there waiting for daylight.

And that’s where I left it. Tune in next week for another episode of LOST in the ARK!

After a few hours of play, my basic impressions are that it’s definitely a fun game, if you like that sort of thing, which I do — and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I also think it’s probably a lot more fun with friends, so Mort and I may try running a local two-player version when we can find the time (and if I can drag him away from his renewed love-affair with EVE). After that, once we’re not as likely to be a drag on whoever takes me/us in, I may try to see if anyone is running a more-people server, because joining a tribe probably opens up a whole new dimension of fun, and who doesn’t want to be an Ooga-Booga? I probably won’t touch the PvP side of things but that’s ok, I don’t have to.

I even got used to the insanely annoying non-MMO controls pretty quick, though I’m sure I will suck at combat until the end of time. But that’s ok. I’ll find a dino or something to protect me.

– – – – – – – – –

* I’m lying about those. They actually flew away from me before I could hit them, with or without an axe-type-thing — which was probably the only thing that prevented me from impaling myself on their claws.

 

Blaugust Day 16 – Halfway There

TL;DR: Yay! Halfway! Animal! Stats! No Project: Gorgon play! But ARK! Yay!

I’m certainly not the only one to be doing this kind of post today/yesterday — and those were only a few of the links I could have done, because I’m shamefully behind on my RSS feed.

Point being:

halfway-thereOr screw calm and just:

animal smallEvery morning as I sit down at my desk I’ve been moaning and whingeing to myself about having to post. And then I’ve been moaning and whingeing to you lot about having nothing to write about. And yet every day I’ve produced around 800 or 1000 words of text (which, if you remove all my tangents and parentheses, probably comes to about 200 words a day but fortunately nobody said tangents weren’t allowed).

Odd how that happens, eh? Yoda was right. To do something, you just do it. And the flip-side of that is that you need to give yourself permission to also not do it. (I’m lookin’ at you, @hestiah! You’re not bad or a failure for not wanting to / being able to / having the energy to post every day!) Yoda’s such a Zen dude.

As many others have noted, however, this pace is a little excessive for me. I’m already noticing that sharing bits of myself every day is quite exhausting and that it’s costing me more (emotionally, creatively, whatever) than it’s bringing me, which is the opposite of what this blog was meant to be. It’s supposed to be a charming boutique-type outlet, not a Black Friday Sale. But it’s equally undeniable that just sitting my ass down and writing stuff (as I used to) is producing the results I’d hoped for: I’m recovering my sense of myself as a blogger.

Now that we’re two weeks into the initiative, it’s fairly obvious I am getting traffic from Blaugust, but the weirdest thing I noticed from glancing at my stats was that the more I post in a single day, the more views I get. Two weeks is hardly a representative sample, though it was a trend I noticed years ago on the odd occasion when I posted more than once in a day. (Maybe that’s not as weird as I think — but although I’m quite decent at some types of math, statistics are voodoo as far as I’m concerned.) The other thing of note is that Twitter traffic has increased significantly, which is no surprise as my Tweets used to be protected (i.e. limited to my friends) and now they’re not.

There will be no Project: Gordon today, because the launcher decided it needed to re-download the whole client instead of just the patch so I sent it to stand in a corner to think about what it did.

And now I’m going to try to end a post before I hit 500 words, because it’s Sunday. And because after not buying it in the June sale, I’m going to get ARK and try it out. Blame Aywren. Ooga-booga!