Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comfort Food for the Gamer

No, I'm not talking about actual food or recipes inspired by games and SF&F franchises.

I mean in the same vein as what comfort food represents: something familiar and makes you feel like all's right with the world. Maybe for some people they have an actual meal that gives them that feeling (for a coworker, it's all about the Texas style brisket when they get back to Texas) or for others it's getting to play a favorite game (for my wife, it's getting her crossword puzzle done) or still others it's curling up with a favorite book (for my brother-in-law, it's his annual reading of The Lord of the Rings). No matter what it is, everybody has some sort of comfort food.

For me, there are certain games --or places within certain games-- that I return to when I want a helping of comfort food.

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is how the old saying goes, but when life gives me lemons I give life the finger and go play Sid Meier's Civilization IV.

Well, Hatshepsut isn't too bad a leader
to start with. And at least the random
location gave me a river with some resources.
I've been in worse starting positions, for sure.

It's a game I've been playing for over 15 years now, and it's the sort of game I can knock out anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on how the game plays out.* I can also get an early feel for whether my position is untenable or not --if I don't have access to Copper or Iron, for example-- and I'll just kill the game rather than die a slow death. 

But when I feel the need for gamer comfort food and I'm in an MMO type of mood, I return to the old standbys: create a new character and run through the areas I love best: the low to mid level zones.

Like, oh, this one:

Hel-lo, Ord Mantell.

For the record, the new on-screen map makes me look like I'm playing TERA** rather than SWTOR, so I'm grateful I can go into the Interface options and turn the damn thing off.

Or maybe start up a new toon in this game:

I'd never created a High Elf before, 
so I pulled out some of my Middle-earth
sourcebooks and started throwing names together.
I decided to not put umlauts over the last 'e'
like Tolkien would have; too messy to type.

There's something peaceful and pleasant about Ered Luin under starlight, just the way the Elves of Middle-earth like it. For all the quirks of LOTRO --such as trying to read those damn maps and the ability icons all looking the same-- the scenery, tone, and storyline are all highly evocative of Middle-earth.

And not to be outdone, I do have favorite places in WoW as well:

I always wondered what that Sentinel
was doing there.

I realize I'm in the minority, but I truly do love Teldrassil, Darkshore, and Ashenvale. They have that ancient Elven forest vibe down so much that you'd think you were in Lothlorien or something.  Yes, I do like Elwynn Forest, Westfall, Eversong Forest, The Ghostlands, and even the damn Barrens, but for pure atmospherics the Night Elf areas are dead on perfect. 


The more I go through some of these old original or vanilla areas on these MMOs, the more I enjoy them. You never get the impression that you're "the chosen one" or that you're there to save the world and/or galaxy --okay, the Jedi Knight story does somewhat sound that way-- but you're also not out there hobnobbing with all of the Powerful of the game world. Sure, you run into them from time to time, but it's not like they're saying "Champions! Meet me at the Town Hall! We need to take the fight to Mal'gannis!" At best they may offer counsel (Elrond, Gandalf, Satele Shan) or some quest direction (Aragorn), but nothing like what you find in later expacs in these MMOs. 

There's something comforting in the anonymity provided in these vanilla-esque zones. Even if you're on an active server, you're still not likely to run into many other players at all in these original zones because the latest and greatest zones are "where the action is". That is even the case in these megaservers in Wrath Classic, where most everybody has gotten multiple toons to max level and unless there's another 50% XP boost they're not likely to run another alt through the gauntlet. (I discovered this while waiting around for a Deadmines run in the past couple of weeks.) While those dungeon runs were active in the lead up to Wrath Classic launching, they're almost totally dead now. So, while you wait you go out into the world and quest. Or fish. Or level a gathering skill. Or explore. All of those sorts of things can be done on those three MMOs***, at your own pace without any concern for life, the universe, and everything. (Thank you, Douglas Adams.)


While these areas tend to be quiet and relatively empty, disruptions can show up when a high level toon rolls by and wipes an area clean of questing mobs. Perhaps they were going back and completing quests that were left behind, or perhaps they were farming for materials. Or maybe they did have a slightly cruel and/or trollish streak and did it just because. Whatever the reason, the effect was to basically throw off my cadence and I have to wait for respawns. If said high level toon zaps those, then I just abandon the area; arguing with idiots never ends well in my experience.

As a consequence, I've learned to do any low level questing on my high level toons when I know I'm not causing disruptions to people already there. On a (now) empty server like Myzrael that's not a big deal, because there have been times when I've literally been the only person in a zone for several zones in a row. But an "active" server, or a server where I'm new? Yeah, I'm sensitive to disruptions.


Okay, enough about me. Where do you go --or play-- when you just need a helping of comfort food?

*All about whether I've got a combat heavy game going. The combat heavy games are much longer than the ones where I simply out-develop the other civs.

**Minus the ridiculously sexy clothing (and the Elin), of course.

***Okay, so you can't fish in SWTOR, but you can do a lot of crafting and datacron hunting.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Meme Monday: Laggy Memes

We've all been there. We're in the middle of something online, whether it's Patch Day, a PvP match, a raid, or just questing or chatting. 

And then it strikes.


It's a truism of gaming, really: Death, Taxes, Lagging.

From imgflip.com.

I've come back from a bio break to
discover that I've been removed from the
group. "Oh, we thought you were lagging!"
"I SAID 'brb bio'!!!"
From imgflip.com.

Uh, yeah. At least I'll admit the last one.
From UNILAD Gaming.

And here I thought it was being ganked.
From 9gag.com.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Yuppies Redux

I was minding my own business, just mining a little ore here and there on Linnawyn, during the primary raiding time for the server, when the whisper came in.

"Hey," it began as it slipped into a practiced sales pitch, "We're a mid-core guild and in need of a Ret Pally for our raid team."

I kind of zoned out when I read the rest of the pitch --I think there was even a mention of helping Linnawyn get geared to join the team-- but I let the person finish before politely declining. 

The whisperer thanked me for being polite, wished me luck, and moved on.

It was only a few minutes later when the thought struck me: how did this person know Linna was a Retribution Paladin? Did I run an instance with them, group up for a quest, or do something else with them in some capacity? I mean, why whisper Linna when there are a ton of Ret Paladins out there on the server? The current Meta dictates that you bring only one Retribution Paladin onto a 25 person raid, so it shouldn't be hard to come up with a body.*

"Oh right," I muttered. "The Tacotip addon."

There it is in its full glory.
Kind of innocuous, isn't it?
From Twitter and AltertimeSK.

Tacotip is known colloquially as the GearScore addon; although there are likely other addons that will provide a GearScore (or GS for short), Tacotip is the most popular by far. While GearScore is the reason why most people will use Tacotip, it can also inspect a player's talents and determine what Spec they are playing as. 

I finally broke down and added Tacotip simply because I wanted to see why Linnawyn was not getting into to a lot of Heroic 5-person dungeon runs. As she was then a newly minted max level toon, the easiest and best way to get some decent gear was to run 5-person Heroic instances. It's not like they're that difficult these days anyway, compared to when we had to re-acquaint ourselves with Heroics in Wrath Classic. But outside of a few runs here and there, I was simply getting no takers, and I couldn't figure out why. 

Then I saw her GearScore: 2000 (ish).

Not exactly a surprise, mind you, given that she was still in gear from quests and some Wrath Classic Normal dungeons, but when people are posting in LFG GearScores of 4000 or more** for Heroic runs people will select the more overpowered player.

Since Tacotip allows another person to actually inspect a player to verify their GearScore and class spec, anybody could check me out to see if I was halfway decent --gearwise-- before they whispered me.

And there's the meta fueled Ret Paladin stigma.


Back when I ran Wrath the first time in 2009-2010, I never saw such a stigma toward Ret Paladins. I didn't raid back then, mind you, but I never had a problem pulling my weight in a dungeon. Even when I wasn't geared, and given that I only ran dungeons meant I was undergeared for a lot of Wrath, I never felt shunned over my class and spec combination. But now, in the era of the meta, Ret Paladins are like Frost Mages: Kryptonite to PvE group content.***

So rather than get annoyed even more than I was before, I decided to run battlegrounds to get some gear. And for me, "battlegrounds" meant Alterac Valley.

I figured the gear from running AV would be enough for a starting point, even if it wasn't the highest current PvP gear available. That gear was reserved for people who run arenas, but I knew that already. What I didn't know was that due to changes in how PvP works in Wrath Classic, PvP weapons where reserved only to those running arenas and with a set Arena score threshold. 

If I want a weapon and didn't want to run arenas, I had to either farm weapons via Heroic or Heroic Plus 5-person dungeons... or raid.

Sometimes you can't make shit up.

So I decided that rather than deal with the GearScore crowd I was gonna live with the frumpy ol' weapon I got in a normal 5-person dungeon. At least until the next Arena season drops and I can then get that PvP weapon from the consignment shop.

The thing looks like some sort of
weird cross between a viking/Vrykul
ship and a hacksaw.


I was mentioning this encounter to my questing buddy and she asked me if it was a guild she knew. I'm pretty sure she'd seen the guild name around, but I was reluctant to mention this particular guild name. I don't really have a beat on their reputation, and I've never really had any interactions with them before either. Finally, this hasn't been the first time since our little 10 person raid team broke up that I've been the subject of a recruitment pitch, but the only time I've mentioned it.

"If they tried to recruit you like that," she observed, "odds are good it's not likely a raid you want to run with anyway."

"That's what I was thinking," I replied.

My questing buddy has already joined another raid --our friend Jes' Friday/Saturday night pug raid-- and she made a desultory attempt to recruit me, but I turned it down. I know that Jes probably runs her raid the way I'd like it to be run, but I've seen who joins the raid and on more than one occasion that's included people from the franken guild that I don't care to group with ever again.

Besides, Ulduar hasn't grabbed my imagination, and the naked pursuit of gear and the meta has soured me on raiding in general on Atiesh-US. I lived through the 80s and the Yuppie culture once already, and I've no desire to relive it in a virtual world.


I think the crux of the matter is that there's no true sliding scale concerning raiding in WoW Classic. People gravitate toward either the hardcore or the "tourist" raids --embodied in WoW Retail with Mythic on one end and LFR**** on the other-- and raid teams that start in the "mushy middle" have the hardest time keeping personnel as they leave for both directions (mostly toward hardcore). Raiding in WoW Classic with Valhalla was a fortuitous turn of events for me as I got to see all of the content, but I also got to see it in a hardcore environment that didn't feel like one because I was in a class in demand (Mage). Once the veneer was stripped off in TBC Classic and I started over with a another toon with a different class I realized just what it meant to be hardcore, particularly when I no longer have the physical skills to be as hardcore as my class demands. 

"...So speed run practices become expert practices, and, well, over the course of years, that cooks your brain. Classic ought to have been our salvation from this; after all, the content doesn't demand the kind of optimization we've been discussing, not by a long shot. And yet it's gone the other way. Wrath of the Lich King Classic has become a nightmare of instrumental practices. Yes, it's not difficult, but the difficulty isn't the appeal, instead it's about going about this process perfectly. To be good at Classic is to learn and adopt the right practices. To play the right class as the right race, with the best professions; to level the quickest, get server first, to get that Shadowmourne you never got back in the day. In some cases, it seems really weird. It's like reliving high school. This time you're gonna pick better electives, be cooler, bet on the Cubs in 2016, and smash when you got the chance.*****

At the launch of Classic these practices existed but they were largely invisible. By definition it did not mean anything to you that some guys were in Molten Core while you were in Wailing Caverns. Whatever. But after you quit Classic at Level 47, these players, they stuck around. And they established the practices of what it meant to play Classic. This process of riding the curve to the greatest extent possible, it's not the exception, it's the rule."
--From It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft by Folding Ideas, at 1:02:37.

It's not just a matter of me saying that people who are better than me are "hardcore" or "no lifers" --although the effort it takes to really 'get gud' can be quite astonishing at times#--

This meme (from Pinterest and all over)
will live on forever.

it's more about the ostentatious lifestyle that this method of play promotes that makes me want to reject it. "Lifestyles of the Max Geared and Achievement Driven" hosted by Rhonin of Dalaran isn't what I had in mind when I went to go play WoW Classic, but wandering around Dalaran or Shattrath (in TBC Classic) and seeing the people showing off their mounts or their gear makes me feel... Hmm...

Well, not like high school, like Dan Olson of Folding Ideas suggested, but a high school reunion instead: you're showing off how successful you were, how awesome your spouse is, how great your body is via exercise and/or plastic surgery, and you have pics of your kids/pets/house/cars/vacation/whatever just to show off that you did something with your life rather than being the person stuck in a compartment marked "Loser" for the past 10 or 20 years.## Here you are, years after original Wrath, showing off your Time Lost Proto-Drake or Scarab Lord mount in Dalaran that you never got back then. 

Ah, Yuppie Drone. An 80s novelty classic.
"I love my car and house..."

I'm as guilty as the next person, since I'd like to finish the Loremaster achievement for the Alliance side and tool around Dalaran with that title. At the same time I very much prefer my anonymity, so even if I got my Loremaster achievement I'd probably never display it. I derive more satisfaction in completing the task rather than the trappings of doing so. Cardwyn and I are very much alike in that regard.  

Fair point.

Yet at the same time, becoming a tourist isn't exactly what I had in mind. I don't mind being in that mushy middle if I can find the right place for me, and where I don't have my in-game life defined by raiding. Or whether I like it or not, how other people in the raid define that raiding. I'm extremely wary of group content these days, not because of the content itself### but rather those who comprise the groups. I'm not so wedded to seeing the content that I'd do whatever it took to see the content --and no, before you ask, I wouldn't care to try LFR if it existed in Classic just to see the raids-- but it would be nice if the meta weren't so dominant in WoW Classic --and video games in general-- these days. 

If there was one thing that I swore I'd never become, it was a Yuppie. I haven't become one in real life, and I sure as hell won't become one in a virtual world either.

*And for a 10 person raid, you can forget about bringing a Ret Paladin at all. Paladins are already covered in a 10 person raid with one of two healers (Holy Paladin) and one of two tanks (Protection Paladin), so inserting a Ret Paladin into the remaining 6 DPS slots is... No. Not gonna happen. I tried to take Linna into our little social 10 person raid, and I was told flat out that they wanted Card instead.

**To put this in perspective, Deuce ran strictly 10 person raids in Phase One, which meant she only got gear from the 10 person version of Vault of Archavon, Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, and Eye of Eternity. She'd maxed out on her gear by the end of that Phase, and her GearScore was listed as slightly higher than 4000. That was more than enough to stomp her way through most "regular" Heroic 5-person dungeons. Neve, with a GearScore of roughly 3300, has no trouble at all dealing with either "regular" Heroics or Heroic Plus. So people throwing around GS of 4400+ for just running 5 person content is the equivalent of a dick measuring exercise. 

***The irony is that in the age of the Heroic Plus, a Mage's Frost abilities have come back into vogue once more. The instant cast Ice Lance spell --no world beater on the DPS meters-- is highly critical to breaking stuns, web wraps, and other "extra" abilities mobs now have in these Heroic Plus 5-person dungeons. Call me vindicated.

****I rarely invoke LFR on the blog, but it stands for "Looking For Raid". It's the automated raid finder built into WoW Retail --it debuted in patch 4.3 during the Cataclysm expac-- and it has an extremely poor reputation among WoW players. The hardcore look at it as "easy mode", and the fight mechanics are simplified to the point where a subset of raiders could carry the rest of the raid. And from what I've been told, that frequently happens. Preach of Preach Gaming once posted a video back in 2013 where he demonstrated that an LFR raid could succeed without him doing anything at all throughout the entire raid. 

*****Uh. smash when I get the chance? That wasn't gonna happen. Being a geek back in the 80s kind of sealed THAT deal, particularly at the Catholic schools I went to. And if I ever were in that situation, I'm sure that Catholic guilt that every Catholic kid was imprinted with would rear its ugly head at the worst possible time. Alas for my youthful horny self.

This! Which is why I'm happy we
didn't raise our kids Catholic.
From Twitter (duh).

#I've seen my questing buddy plot for her gear, and while she's not what I'd consider hardcore she revels in the plotting and acquisition of gear with a singlemindedness that can be awe inspiring. All I can say is that if this is how she went after her husband, he didn't stand a chance.

##I knew someone from grade school and high school who went to one of the reunions to prove that he made something of himself. He definitely didn't need to prove it to me, as he always wanted to be a doctor since he was a kid and became just that, with a loving wife and family, but all those people who picked on him or dismissed him were his target. I happened to run into him at a game store some weeks after the event, and he told me all about how everyone finally got the comeuppance he'd so wanted. He also added that my name came up more than once during the reunion, as in "I was hoping Red would be here so I could see him again," and he was very blunt with the people who asked: "You're never going to see Red at one of these. Red holds grudges for a long time, and he has never forgotten how he was treated in school."

###My opinions of Ulduar notwithstanding.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Meme Monday: Lore Memes

Typically this would cover World of Warcraft, but really it can cover RPG game (or non-game) world you want to cover.

If there's one thing that drives me absolutely crazy about the lore in game worlds, it's that we --as campaign DMs-- or a dev company as an RPG designer or an MMO designer-- don't think much at all of creating a game world with a history 10,000 or more years old.

(See: Middle-earth and Azeroth for two well known examples.)

Think about that for a minute.

What do we know of our human history from 10,000 years ago, or 8,000 BCE?

Well, we were just beginning the warming from the last ice age. There were neolithic settlements around the Fertile Crescent, such as Jehrico and Çatal Hüyük, and most of the rest of the world had paleolithic settlements. In the Americas, there's evidence of the beginning of agriculture. And... not much else.

It's not that we as a people don't want to know more of what's going on from 10,000 years ago, it's that we only have what we can find via archaeology, and that's not a helluva lot. 

But to a fantasy world, 10,000 years ago isn't a big deal: War of the Ancients. The Elder Days. The Crown Wars.* It's quite amazing just how much a fantasy world can stuff into such a time as if it were a short bit ago. 

For a semi-historical reference, the period of time generally associated with The Trojan War is 1300-1200 BCE, at the end of the Bronze Age. In an RPG, that's the blink of an eye.

I suppose we tend to forget just how compressed history can truly be, particularly how the acceleration of the pace of technology was in the past 200 years. My great aunt was born the year before the Wright brothers from Dayton flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and she lived to see the first landing on the Moon and the first space probes reach Neptune. 

So, keep all this in mind when designing your RPG, I suppose.

Yeah, kinda like that. And that's not
even covering what I mentioned above.
From 9gag.com.

If you're gonna go bonkers on lore, then
you'd better remember to tie up the
not-so-subtle loose ends.
From pinterest.

Yeah yeah yeah.
For some reason, Jupiter from Holst's
The Planets just started playing in my head.
From DnDMemes.

Then again, Azeroth has no monopoly
on bonkers lore. From ifunny.co.

And one bonus pic, if you think that the RPGs mentioned above have some bonkers lore/backstory, let me introduce you to Runequest's Glorantha...

From basicroleplaying.com.

*From D&D's Forgotten Realms setting.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

A Collection of Guild Names, Part the Third

It's been several months, but I keep running into guild names that amuse me or touch me in some way. 

Scott Andrews, in his book The Guild Leader's Handbook, recommends not picking a guild name "that could embarass or offend someone. No one will want to walk around with a name like that, and you'll have a tough time recruiting. Choose something that people will want to show off rather than downplay."* Scott also provides a helpful list of clichés to avoid, which would in most times be sound advice.

I'm glad that this bunch didn't necessarily follow said advice.

Well, Milwaukee does have
some big breweries.

This warmed the heart of
this Midwesterner, seeing
"Ope" in a guild name.

"We'll get there when we get there!"

And their companion guild...

Maybe I should have joined this guild
given the time differential.

The guild of college students everywhere!

Pretty sure I don't qualify, but if
by "Hot Dads" they mean "It's hot
outside", then... okay, during Summer
I'd qualify. Right now it's 32F/0C outside.

Three days later? Probably releasing
and running back would have been
quicker than waiting for a rez.

For ice fishing, maybe...

That's a guild name I didn't expect.

Alas that the bearer of this guild
name DID have a shirt on.

For some reason I had the mental image
of a bunch of box turtles trying to chase
after me.

Anyway, here's Wonderwall...

"Don't you forget about me..."

But my monitor is already on.

Found the Robert Jordan fan.

Of COURSE you're not addicted...

Uh... Yeah.

::insert moose call here::

First time I saw this guild name,
I read it as "Bananas ARE Large."

Mmm... Refried dreams...

Is Fargo, North Dakota really deep?

No comment.

And finally...


Monday, March 13, 2023

Meme Monday: Praise for the Healers Part Deux

In tabletop RPGs I tend to play Clerics. I started on that path when I was in college and we needed a Cleric to heal the party, and it kind of stuck. 

In MMOs, I have off-spec healed before, but healer classes and I don't often mesh. I leveled my original Paladin as Holy up until... Outland maybe? But before then, my very first toon was a Priest who I assumed would be like a D&D Cleric.

Oh, was I wrong.

Low level WoW Priests do not handle
hand to hand combat well.
From... Reddit, maybe? All over the net, really.

Still, I have a certain fondness for people who can play the healing classes well, and this Meme Monday is dedicated to them.

Pretty sure this does NOT apply to FF XIV.
From Pinterest.

It's not that I don't trust healers, it's
that I don't always trust other people.
There's a history to unpack there.
From imgflip.

I'm pretty sure I've made healers
look like Elrond before. My
questing buddy denies it though.
From Pinterest.

But sometimes the Healer actually
gets an "atta-boy" for their work
in a group. And their brains freeze up.
From Pinterest.

And one bonus Healer meme...

On those times when Briganaa healed
a 5-person group...

Thursday, March 9, 2023

How to Suck at Another Game Part 2: Minecraft as Survival Horror

Longtime YouTube RPG personality, Matthew Colville, put out a video 3+ months ago about how modern D&D is not really designed with a specific style of role playing in mind, in the same way that Call of Cthulhu is designed for Cosmic Horror or Paranoia for... Well, I'd call it "The Insanity of Bureaucracy", but "Something like the movie Brazil" works too. But what made me sit up and take notice was when Matt described Old School D&D as Survival Horror.

Matt's premise, that dungeon delving and keeping track of things such as torches and other minutae that make a foray into a dungeon an exercise in ongoing tension, puts the initial incarnations of D&D in the Survival Horror style of gaming. Your party isn't all powerful, you have limited amounts of critical items such as food, water, and light, and you have to balance your ability to delve deeper versus your ability to get out before your supplies run out. 

In that vein, I could call the Survival option of Minecraft "Survival Horror" as well.

And believe me, that thought has crossed my mind more than once these past few weeks.

If you've been watching Carbot Animation's
Elden Ring videos, this will look awfully
familiar. Just insert screaming. From gfycat.


The deeper I got into Minecraft, the more I realized just how similar Minecraft is to being on a PvP MMO server. Your head has to constantly be on a swivel, even in the daylight, because you're never quite sure when a Creeper or another monster will just appear --or be hanging out under a tree-- and can cut you down before you can say "What happened?"

I guess that leads me to the fifth revelation about Minecraft: Don't be concerned about leveling up, because you're going to die anyway and lose your levels.

Fatalism very quickly set in during those first several hours of game time, where I realized that if I was going to survive I was going to have to clear out some space and build above ground. I didn't really need to go above ground in general, but I felt that it made the most sense to be able to have a tall building where I could at least see if it's dark or not outside. But to clear that space, I had to live with dying a lot. 

Plus I had to cover up the "mine" I made, which was my first shelter. 

And every time a Creeper exploded in my general vicinity, a hole opened up again, which meant that the long term solution was to basically fill that damn thing back in. 

Which meant strip mining a nearby hill and using that dirt to fill in the mine itself.


Eventually, I built a tower made out of birch blocks and each evening I'd seal myself inside. I had little openings where I left gaps in the blocks for a cheap window, and I learned my sixth revelation about Minecraft: If you make your windows two blocks big, a monster can get inside. 

Like a @#$%-ing spider.

So that became my reality: hiding out in my birch tower in the darkness and the rain, and clearing the area some more during the day.

My long nights were spent trying to figure out what I could do next. Surely I could craft more items than what few pieces I already had, so I read some more of the How to Play section and noted that I could create a workbench --apparently without tools, no less-- and from there I ought to make more items. So I created a workbench and stuck it in a corner. 

Now, the instructions said to click on it, but... how close did you have to be to actually do that? I kept accidentally putting down blocks (which required me do break them down again) before I realized I had to basically stand right next to it. Then the builder's window came up with far more options than before, and I could create wooden items such as an axe, a shovel, and a sword.

Uh, a wooden shovel? And a wooden axe to chop down trees?

Me: "Sheesh. Can't you all give it a rest? I'm
not even playing WoW right now!"

Me: "@#$%-ing Paladins."

Whatever. I still built them, because even a wooden sword is better than a pointed stick.

Just ask Monty Python.

Okay, I thought. I've got this. I have some basic tools, I've cleared out enough space to survive walking out of my tower, and I even built a door for the damn thing. Now, what else to build?

It was then that the seventh revelation reared its ugly head: monsters will spawn inside your dwelling.

I discovered this when I went inside my tower for the night, saw darkness creep over the land, and I got up to get a drink. I came back to discover I was dead. 

"What the hell!" I exclaimed as I rezzed and ran (!) back to my tower.

I reentered to find a Zombie inside, who promptly killed me before I could grab my weapons and fight back.


Third time's the charm, right? I reentered and finally took the zombie down, then I had a chance to stew over what happened. 

Just what did happen? Did it come inside while I wasn't paying attention and left a door open? No, I'd been very diligent about that. So... What?

I guessed that it had to have spawned inside, maybe if I wasn't there when darkness closed in or something.

Reading the How to Play section again, I read up on Nightfall. The last sentence caught my eye: "Also be sure to light up the area with torches, it may save your life." I'd presumed that it was talking about outside, but what if it meant that monsters would spawn inside?

And how the fuck do I create torches?

Coal? Oh, for fuck's sake.

That meant I was going to have to dig until I found some coal and then I could make torches.


"I apparently suck at Minecraft," I told my questing buddy that night. 

She chuckled and mentioned that she happened to know some kids of hers who'd love to chat with me about Minecraft. 

"Oh, I can imagine," I replied. 

"Maybe you should try the sandbox mode."

"Sigh. My oldest said the same thing."

My mining adventure looked pretty grim, since all the digging that I'd done had only landed me some cobblestone and dirt. But in a rare stroke of luck, the next day I dug in just the right spot and found some some coal. I grabbed a couple of chunks, made some torches, then just kind of plunked them on each floor of my tower and hoped for the best.

If you'll note, I also made some stone
swords and axes as well.

So far, so good. 


Outside of behaving as if I'm some strip mining corporation with a penchant for mass deforestation, I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Now that I've got the basic tools down, I can now try to mine to find ore and gradually expand my capabilities. 

The unknowns:

  • How long items last. I know from sad experience --and truly bad timing-- that items will gradually weaken and break through use, but I don't know whether that includes wooden blocks. Or stone blocks, in much the same way as fencing in Stardew Valley eventually crumbles. That would kind of suck to login and suddenly discover half of my birch tower crumbling to dust beneath me. 
  • Just what other monsters are out there. I've already encountered Zombies, Creepers, The Drowned, Spiders, Slender Man (?), Skeletons, and Witches (?), I'm not sure what else is out there. I don't have any ranged weapons, so I run like hell from Skeletons and Witches who can hit me from distance with arrows and spells. I just have this bad feeling that some truly big monsters are out there, lurking, and I'll discover them the same way I usually do: by dying to them.
  • What effect things such as fire might do. I've played enough Rimworld to not be completely clueless, and I know that one of the worst feelings in the world in Rimworld is when a wildfire starts outside of your safe area. I would not be shocked at this point to see wildfires spreading like crazy because OF COURSE THEY WILL.
  • Whether I can ever actually see my toon from the front. I've tried the traditional MMO view of swinging around using the left mouse button to see what my toon looks like with armor on, but no dice. Surely there has to be a way to view my toon, but I haven't figured it out yet. Then again, The Outer Worlds never had an option for a 3rd person view, which is the main reason why I didn't play the game. 
  • How to eat. Maybe I'll start working on that part, given that I can actually survive for longer than a day. But campfires require coal for some weird reason, so unless a furnace doesn't need coal to cook I might have to do a lot more digging. 
One big question remains: now that I've got a functional shelter, a fence around it (not sure just how much it helps, but it's there), some tools, and some armor, now what? My immediate needs have been met, but I know I'm just tempting fate if I stay out in the rain or after dark, so I can't really explore very far. I may have to create alternate shelters if I want to go exploring, in the same way as any guerilla group has multiple hideouts. (See: the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War, or to use a Fantasy equivalent, the Noldor's hideouts in The Silmarillion.)

I guess in one respect, I'm a poor candidate for playing an open world sandbox game such as Minecraft. While I can appreciate what goes on in trying to figure the game out, and believe me, there's plenty of gaps for things such as "just how DO you eat food?" which isn't covered in the How to Play section, once I get past a certain point my motivation for playing kind of drops to the floor. I mean, I've got the house, the weapons, the armor, and even a freaking door, so why create anything more ostentatious? Maybe that's why my motivation for raiding and achievements in MMOs isn't really all that great: it's not that I can't put the work in, it's me questioning whether the work is worth it in the long run. 

Perhaps I should investigate that more in Part 3.