Posted in Fiddle, Fiddle Progress Report

Fiddle Progress Report – February 2021

Just a short progress report from last month – a few things have changed!

It was the first full month of logging my practice into a Google Calendar system, and I think this is working just fine. It’s also the first month of hosting my fiddle content here on this blog. I haven’t been posting a lot about fiddling, I know, but at the same time, I don’t feel a big loss in not having it broken off into its own blog.

Another change is in the tools I’m using for practice. I picked up a new Samsung tablet with the intentions to replace the 7-year-old laptop that I’d been using as a dedicated practice machine. I moved all the practice files, music and sheet music to this tablet, along with the apps and programs I’ve been using. This has gone off seamlessly, and the tablet has 100% picked up doing everything the old laptop had done.

My new tablet used for fiddle practice

As for actual materials, I have moved on from a couple of songs during February. I felt like I’d put more than enough time into Liza Jane, and decided to work on a new tune from the Fiddle Primer: Blind Mary. I had no idea until I looked into it that it’s actually a song written by Turlough O’Carolan – one of my favorite traditional harpists. I eventually wanted to try to play some O’Carolan tunes, and didn’t expect to find one this early on!

I also finally moved on from EEI: Bingo after having played it for several weeks. It was simple enough that I felt I had a good grasp on it at this point. I’ve replaced it with a song called Variations on a Familiar Song which is actually just a couple of variations on Skip to my Lou.

I’ve been a lot more flexible with my practice this past month, especially on weekends. It seems like Saturdays are difficult days for me to swing a practice in particular. Despite not being as consistent as before, I don’t feel like it hurts my focus on practice on the days that I do. I also don’t feel like I am moving towards missing practice more consistently – I generally practice far more than I do not.

Posted in Gaming

March 2021 Gaming Goals

Welcome to March!

Spring is coming and it’s time to think about what goals I want to work towards this month. I think this time around will be pretty open and light seeing most of the more intricate goals are already taken care of. So let’s see what I can find.

FFXIV Goals

  • Finish crafting relics on Main
  • Continue leveling Amon’s White Mage
  • Start Shadowbringers on Ben

As I noted in my previous post, I’m going to finish up to last patch’s crafting relics on my Main, and maybe some on Amon. But beyond that, I don’t think I’m geared enough to finish the tools up.

I’ve been working on leveling Amon’s White Mage for the past few months. I might finish it up this month, but if I don’t, I’m not really in a rush. Just making progress there.

I’d like to start making progress with Ben in Shadowbringers. He’s right there at the start and it’s part of my goals to try to push him through the MSQ before the next expansion. So it’s a good time to get that started!

Really, not a whole lot of stuff to work on, but that’s okay because I have other goals I want to achieve!

MISC Goals

  • Switch: Progress on Link’s Awakening 
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week 
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game 

I’d really like to be ambitious and say “Finish Link’s Awakening” this month. But I’ll give myself some wiggle room instead. Just making progress on it is a good thing.

I’ve been making lots of progress on cleaning up my “Clear” games in my Steam backlog, so I’m going to continue doing this, trying to play one new game from that category each week.

I also downloaded a new game to try from the Xbox Game Pass for this month. Nothing that’s on the Leaving Soon list really caught my eye, but I have lots that are sitting in my Try it Later list for sure!

It feels like these goals are pretty vanilla this time around and I could even get by without having any goals at all. But I’m just going to set them anyhow since I have been progressing through backlog and things like that nicely the past couple months. No need to break the momentum!

Posted in Gaming

February 2021 Gaming Goals in Review

Wow, February has already come and gone. Hopefully that means there’s warmer weather in store for folks out there.

It was also Febhyurary, where I took part in posting a picture a day of my Hyur (like the one above). You can find that collection at my Spot of Mummery RP blog or my Instagram if you want to take a peek!

Now on to the goals for this month! I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

FFXIV Goals

  • Work on crafting relics 
  • Clean up Rak’tika quests
  • Finish up to patch 5.4 on Tai 

I did work pretty diligently on my crafting relics for my main – I still have two left to go from last patch, but that was gated by need of yellow scrips. However, in seeing what I have to do for the final step of relics, I don’t think I can get any further, which is rather disheartening seeing the amount of time I put into them this far.

I don’t think I have the melds, for one. And for another, they’ve locked it behind this new Expert crafting rotational stuff that I don’t understand one bit. Sadly, this means that I probably won’t finish these relics until I outgear them next expansion. I’ll still finish up the step I’m on now, but man, it’ll be a pain to have to stash all of them until level 90.

I struck out the clean-up quest goal this month because after the FFXIV announcements, I realized I’d have two more jobs to level from 70-80 that could use the experience when the new expansion hits. So I’m holding off cleaning up quests to earn something from them on new jobs.

The announcements also fueled my motivation to push Tai through to patch 5.4 this month. Seeing that we might get a reaper/scythe-wielding type job in the expansion, which is perfect for Tai, I want him to be in a good spot when Endwalker comes out.

MISC Goals

  • Switch: Progress on Link’s Awakening 
  • Play at least 1 new Steam game a week 
  • Play at least 1 Xbox Game Pass game 

I also did really well on these goals! While I didn’t complete Link’s Awakening like I hoped, I did make progress. I’m now working on finding the bird key to open the shrine. I think I have a couple shrines left to go.

I’d like to get this finished up because there’s lots of Switch games on the verge of release that I’m interested in this year. I can’t justify picking new stuff up until I finish some of what I’m in the middle of playing right now.

Even with Valheim rocking into my weekends, I still managed to play 1 new Steam game each week from the “Clear” list. This is a list of games that I picked up as part of bundles, were left unfinished in development, or just somehow ended up in my backlog that I feel like I won’t invest a lot of time into. I’m “clearing” them to mark them as played, which means I sit down with it and play it for a bit of time just to see if it’s something I actually enjoy. If not, I’ve “cleared” it from my list and move on.

So far, I’ve been pretty correct about the games I wouldn’t generally care to play. The one exception to this list is Beat Hazard 2 – I’m curious about it, so I’ll put more time into that one before I clear it off. But what makes me happy about having met this goal is that it’s actually moving me forward towards my overall backlog progress goal of 60% played by the end of this year.

I started out at 54% played in January, and as of now, I’m currently at 57% played! What a big jump!

Of course, eventually, I’ll run out of games on my “Cleared” list – which is actually a goal anyhow. All I’ll be left with are games I actually want to spend time with and try out. So backlog progress will slow down significantly at that point.

I’ve also been pretty good at putting time into Xbox Game Pass games. For example, I spent quite a few hours trying to muddle through Crusader Kings III this month, which I wrote about here. Sadly, I’m still having no luck with it… and seeing I have more games than I know what to do with, I can’t justify throwing yet more time at a game that keeps defeating me. I also realize I already own CKII which I played a bit of long ago… so I’m going to shelf CKIII for now.

However, the fact that I was able to play CKIII through Game Pass saved me about $40, if I’d bought it at full price on Steam. So, I’d say that Game Pass is working out for me as I just got billed for it the first time this month – I had a three month free trial up until now.

I’ll be picking up another game next month for sure. I really want to play Spiritfarer, but the launcher seems to be broken on Game Pass, which is a shame. Waiting to see if they fix that. For now, I’ve downloaded a game that was at the top of my wishlist on Steam to try – Yes, Your Grace.

Got a good month coming up! See you in March!

Posted in Gaming

Crusader Kings III: The Game I’m Not Clever Enough to Play

Actually, let me rephrase the title: Crusader Kings III is the game that I’m not clever enough to play well.

It’s the game that I spent so many hours in the tutorial… which handed me my head by the end of it. Then, I spent hours watching videos to try to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Why am I so fascinated and drawn to a game that I’m so terrible at playing? I don’t know. Even as I’m about to give up on it, I tell myself: Just try another ruler in another kingdom on an easy game and maybe it will be different this time.

The bright side of this: CK3 is part of the Xbox Game Pass. It’s a game I’ve wanted to try for a while, and decided that this month, it would be my Xbox game goal. I’m thankful for being able to try it on Game Pass, because as many hours as I’ve put into it now (I’ve lost track and Game Pass doesn’t record this), I’m still not sure if this game is for me or if I’ll eventually “get it.” The two hours try-it-out on Steam, which prices it at $50, is simply not enough to decide if this is a keeper (the tutorial lasts longer than 2 hours!!). So, this month, the Game Pass has certainly saved me some cash.

CK3 is an extremely overwhelmingly detailed tactical medieval strategy game where you play a ruler’s dynasty in the Middle Ages. In this global sandbox, there are no set goals – you decide what you want to achieve and how the story unfolds. The only real failure is if you end up losing all your titles (which I’ve done).

I guess the game says I didn’t do too terrible for my first try.

I later learned that many CK3 players use “console commands” (aka cheats) for their games, and having used no cheats, I understand the reasoning! Apparently there are folks out there who do know how to play well, or maybe I’ve just gotten bad starts – which is why I’m thinking about trying a third time as a different ruler.

As much as I may sound like I’m ragging negatively on this game, I’m absolutely not! The reason I’m having such a time with it is because of how absolutely huge the game is and how much can happen depending on every little factor – from your ruler’s personality, traits and skills – down to each individual vassal under your rule. I can’t begin to explain how MUCH there is to this game. Just when I think I have a grasp on one thing, something else creeps up and takes me by surprise.

It makes for excellent storytelling if nothing else.

For example, the second-to-the-last king from my first game was having a terrible time of it. When his father died, the kingdom split between himself and his brother – which I didn’t know was thing until that point. His brother was a powerful and ambitious warrior who then started waging war and chipping away at my king’s holdings.

In the middle of it all, some infatuated courtier tried to make some moves on him. One of the gifts she sent him was a cat.

I chose Meone.

Interestingly enough, this cat was a source of pleasure for my poor king throughout his waning years. Something about it was touching in the middle of all the horrible things going on in his life. That cat brought him happiness and even reduced his stress score!

In fact, though I didn’t screentshot them all, Meone interacted with the poor king far more than anyone else did in his late years. Something about this part of the story made the game worthwhile to have seen this… and those are the kind of things that drive me to keep trying.

Ugh. I guess I’ll roll up a third attempt after all.

Posted in Gaming, Valhiem

Valheim: Building a Raft

I interrupt this post series progression to write a short bit about my raft in Valheim. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually go back and use it, but I learned some important lessons from the experience.

Our very first base was built right on the shores of the ocean. Out the front door was a bit of wetlands that led up to rocks and then the ocean beyond. We had Necks at the gates for quick eating and enough flint to get us started in the beginning.

I got it into my head that because there was water, it was a good idea to craft a raft. After all, I had the materials and our workbench influence stretched out into a bit of the wetlands. I had a pickaxe for digging out a short channel to deeper water, too.

This seemed like a great idea until I actually did it. The water gave the sneaky appearance of being deep enough to sail a raft, but it wasn’t. I also learned that rafts need a wider area for navigation (which is still a mystery to me) than it seemed at first.

Grounded raft

So, here I was with a beached raft. If your feet can touch the ground, the raft cannot sail in that water.

What I should have done from the start was plunk down another workbench at the edge of the ocean so I could build the raft there in water of a proper depth. But I didn’t think about that when I was doing it.

Instead, I stubbornly began to dig out the shallows and make a channel deep enough for my raft to break free. Only, due to the strange stamina usage and swimming in this game, that was also easier said than done.

I learned quickly that not every place on the shore that looked like you could jump up out of the water was actually that. And swimming is apparently hard in Valheim. It must be all the armor.

So this became not just a structural challenge of finding the spots that were too shallow and digging them out with my pickaxe, but also the challenge of staying alive in water. I also learned that you can shove the raft around a bit, which became helpful as I herded it out of the shallow towards the deeper water.

I’m not sure how long I spent digging, struggling to swim and shoving my raft around before I finally got it where it needed to be. I messed around with the sailing controls a little once I had the freedom of movement, but didn’t want to get too far from the base.

At that point, most of the interest had begun to shift to the new outpost we’d built near to the Black Forest. With the growing realization that the original base wasn’t going to be a main home base anymore, I decided it was best to dock my raft for the time being and head where everyone else was going.

So I nudged it up into the shallows of the wetlands and said my farewells to the little raft.

Now that we’ve progressed much further into the game, we have the option to build a larger boat. I doubt that I’ll have much use for the poor little raft that I spent so much effort digging out, but it was still a fun day in Valheim.

Posted in Gaming, Valhiem

Valheim: Eikthyr and Beyond

I wanted to write more about our first weekend in Valheim last week, but stuff came up and my topics got changed. While we didn’t play anymore throughout the week, over the weekend we clocked in at about 28.5 hours now.

Some of that, on Sunday, was starting a new game so that Xaa could join us and we could teach him the game. So actual progress going forward hasn’t been leaps and bounds.

When I left off in the previous post, we were about to tackle the first boss, Eikthyr. The stone near the altar gave a cryptic message of “Kill his kin” or something of the sort, so we knew due to the deer imagery we needed to be killing deer for this. In order to upgrade to leather gear, we’d been doing quite a bit of that already!

In order to summon Eikthyr, you have to sacrifice the proper items on the altar. This was deer trophies, which sometimes drop when you kill the deer. Two trophies (per summon) to be exact – we accidentally only brought 1 the first time and had to run back to the house to grab more.

Eikthyr

This was the first really flashy battle we’d seen. It was also the one that taught me the importance of blocking with a shield. I’d crafted myself a tower shield just on a whim, and had no idea how useful it would be until about halfway through the fight.

I didn’t have a bow and arrow (though Syn did), but once I discovered shield blocking, I quickly became the tank and aggravator to the boss. Even the huge lightning bursts and blasts can be mostly mitigated using the tower shield.

Once we figured that out, the fight went much smoother. We even cleared him a second time to have more antlers for the new pickaxe we could make.

And from there, Hugin was nudging us to move on to the Black Forest.

Trollrific!

Syn had already discovered the Black Forest just from exploring around a bit, so we had a good idea where it was located. However, our attempts to mine ore from the forest quickly went south due to one little… actually rather large… catch.

The trolls. I’m not talking Internet trolls, either.

Big and blue, these fellows look like something out of a kid’s storybook. Only they HURT. BADLY! And they chase you forever.

Not to mention the Greydwarf swarms that come at night in the forest. You really don’t want to be there when the sun goes down until you’ve got quite a few gear upgrades under your belt.

We quickly came to the conclusion that our little base all the way across the meadow wasn’t going to cut it. We started to set up a quick temporary location fairly close to the Black Forest, but far enough away that Trolls usually turned back before reaching the house.

We also learned how to use map markers (double-click on the map) now that we had more than one base going on. This is super useful!

See that death out there? It was either trolls or skeletons.

About that time, it was late Saturday night, and Amoon bought the game to join us. So we headed back to the first base and helped him get through the start of the game, including defeating Eikthyr just for the experience of it.

With one more Viking on the roster, we continued to expand the second base on Sunday, quickly realizing that it was becoming the Main Base instead of just an outpost. Everything we needed was in the Black Forest from here on out, so it only made sense.

Next time around, I’ll talk about some of our adventures in the Black Forest! At this point, we’re just on the edge of moving on from this zone and hunting down the second boss. But there’s still a LOT of content within the Black Forest itself to be aware of!

Posted in Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online: All the Pretty Little Horses

Yesterday was the day that I bred my first Tier 7 horse in BDO – as seen above!

I know this is nothing unusual as there’s lots of T7 horses out there now, but it’s special for me. The origins of these horses date back to 2016, where I bred this line up from T1, T2, and T3 horses I tamed from the wild.

I’ve been training a group of T6 horses over the past few weeks, and so far 1 of 3 breedings of fully leveled T6 horses has resulted in increasing to T7. That seems about accurate based on the Horse Calculator.

Not every horse I’ve bred has been all that pretty, though. My first round of T6 breeding gave me one of the “ketchup/mustard” horse coats – though thankfully a T6 female.

I did breed out a rather pretty light-colored horse with a funky mane who eventually trained in Two Seater – allowing two people to ride her. I’ve decided to keep her now that she’s done breeding, and pass her to one of my other leveling characters to use a their main mount for now.

I’m still living the wagon life, and have almost a full team of T6 horses that I’m training up right now. Hopefully I’ll see more T7 come out of this team as I move my way up towards (hopefully) T8s in the future. I’m not too worried about working on Dream horses right now, I’m more interested in seeing how far I can breed the line of horses that I started back all those years ago.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Castrum Lacus Litore Clear

So after yesterday’s post about our terrible time trying to clear Castrum back in November, I saw a number of encouraging things about it – including a nice comment from Murph – thank you! I passed them along to Syn, and to my surprise, she came home from work ready to give Castrum a go on patch night.

This made sense. Folks were likely to be most enthusiastic about it on the first night.

So we headed out to Bozja and after hopping instances, thought our best chance to get in was in a fresh instance. We popped around doing some skirmishes while waiting – had to recoup the lost mettle from the previous Castrum fail.

The instance chat was on fire about Castrum, counting down to a possible pop time. When it came time for the run to go, we had more fear about not getting in than not having enough!

Syn and I kept telling each other: “If you get in and I don’t, you need to run it!”

Thankfully, we both got into the run, though we had to split up because we needed to join existing groups. I was a little nervous about this, and about the fact that my team chose to battle top boss, because I really have very little knowledge of mechanics of the place, even after running it once before. I mostly just followed along after everyone else and generally stayed alive.

When we got to the final boss, I was a tad worried. The boss fight within the boss fight was what wiped our previous attempt over and over before. However, before we even got there, one of the teams spoke up and claimed the Lyon team, and they sounded pretty confident about taking him.

When that part arrived, they absolutely melted Lyon with no trouble at all. I was beside myself at that point! Even though we had a few close calls with massive death on the final boss, the run went smooth. About 7-8 people (including us) were getting our clear for the first time based on the achievement earned.

Afterwards, Syn and I finally got to progress to see the rest of the story that we never had a chance to see last patch. Overall, I think the story is pretty good. I’m actually liking some of these side characters, including Lyon (despite him defeating my first attempt at Castrum).

What I find curious though is the placement of this story within the game overall. I get that FFXIV didn’t want to stick a war story in the middle of the MSQ (we’ve been there, done that) and wanted to give it a focus through a side-story like this.

However, considering how central the Empire’s threat has been to FFXIV from the very beginning, there’s some super important things going down in the Bozja storyline that you don’t see anywhere else. Even through character commentary in skirmishes, you get the idea that things are not going well for the Empire. That it’s actually on the brink of collapsing, in fact.

We know this to be true due to images we’ve seen of 6.0, but the story in Bozja hits it home in a much more interactive way. I’m glad that the fix to Castrum is doing what they intended and bringing folks back to play the content for those of us who hadn’t cleared it before. But it’s also a shame that such an important part of the story and history was locked behind this content.

Let’s be honest… eventually we all know that once this patch cycle is done and people have their relics, this story will be locked away again in the future unless something changes. This very much feels like timed content with an expiration date. I don’t know how many people still run Eureka, but that’s another example of content and story I’ve never done and will probably never do because I don’t think there’s enough folks out there to get things done.

Anytime a game gates story due to raids or instances, I’m not a big fan. FFXIV does this often, especially for someone like me who chooses not to do trials or raids in a timely way. It is what it is, I suppose. I just feel like the story in Bozja is pretty darn relevant to the overall struggle with the Empire and should be reflected elsewhere in the game. It might be later on, who knows.

Anyhow. We got our clear and we’re now working on the current patch story. I guess relic is the next step, though I’m not all that eager to farm raids to get what we need for upgrades. Especially since we’re behind the curve on getting there. I’ll see how it goes.

Posted in FFXIV, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Bad Day in Bozja… No More?

Last year, I wrote about having fun in the open-world sections of Bozja. Sadly, early November, our fun in this area slammed against a hard wall… a wall called “The Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore.” We got one attempt in before the patch rolled out that allowed many rewards from Castrum to be obtained outside of Castrum after you finished the instance once.

What this patch did was reward those who already ran the instance, but left anyone who hadn’t finished it yet floundering to even find a party for it. Because of the massive amounts of mettle lost due to failure, people just didn’t want to run it once they’d beat it. There wasn’t enough reward for the pain.

Needless to say, the one run that we participated in failed to complete the instance. So, we were a part of that group of floundering players who were basically cut off from finishing the original Bozja storyline because people just didn’t want to run Castrum anymore.

The instance itself was frustrating to me. There are many ways for the whole thing to fail if you don’t have anyone guiding you who knows how to succeed. This is especially the case because you kinda just get dumped into the instance without any job checks. You could technically have a group that had no healer or tank, for example.

The first fight is a two-prong push that requires these mis-matched groups to beat two boss encounters at nearly the same time. Or else… fail. The second part has you rushing around trying to save prisoners… or you fail. I was totally lost at this point, and just followed along with what the others were doing. I still have no clue what to do there.

I think I remember another fairly challenging boss fight after that. And then the final boss.

By the time we got here, I was feeling like our team was going to succeed since we pulled through the previous fights, and were doing well facing this boss. Only, it didn’t happen that way.

Bitter Failure

This fight is actually two bosses in one fight. For the most part, you attack the beast, but there’s a specific point in the battle when 8 folks break off from the main fight to attack Lyon. This is what ended up killing our chance at completing this instance.

The team urged 8 folks to form a “Lyon team.” They did this, though, from what I gathered, some of them were new to this instance or had never fought Lyon before.

They failed to take him down. This wiped the entire encounter. They tried again. They failed again. Another wipe.

People started to get antsy because time was ticking down and we had just enough for one more try at the fight. So the team decided to send a different group of people in to fight Lyon.

Guess what? They failed, too. And we ran out of time in the instance.

And so, our first attempt at Castrum was a huge let-down for us as we watched all that mettle just drain away on top of the sting of a failed instance. The next week, the patch dropped that made it so folks who’d already beat Castrum wouldn’t want or need to run it again. If you got very lucky, you might get enough people in a team to run it, but since most of them would have been new to the instance, chances of failure was high.

Our fun with Bozja ended there, and I haven’t been back in since. We couldn’t progress, so there was no point in going back. This really soured our experience with the whole thing. And come this patch, this gated our ability to even start to work on the next phase of relic.

Hotfix To The Rescue?

I’ve been meaning to write about my frustration with how this all turned out. Why the heck would they put in a patch that completely killed participation in an instance that was required to progress through the story as well as the rest of the relic line? This was just bad design!

However, during the last Live Letter, Yoshi-P noted that they were aware of how Castrum had become a bottleneck for content in Bozja. They announced a hotfix coming that would “increase rewards” for Castrum and encourage people to come back to play it again.

I was a little dubious. Maybe adding mettle rewards would help, but I couldn’t imagine what they could do to encourage people to run this thing again.

Last night, this hotfix dropped, and while the difficulty of Castrum wasn’t lowered, the rewards were indeed increased:

・ The number of loathsome memories of the dying obtained upon completion of the critical engagement “The Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore” in the Bozjan southern front has been increased from 1 to 5.

・ The maximum number of Bozjan coins that can be obtained from personal spoils in the critical engagement “The Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore” in the Bozjan southern front has been increased from 26 to 100.

・ Completion of the critical engagement “The Battle of Castrum Lacus Litore” in the Bozjan southern front will now reward mettle and Allagan tomestones of revelation or experience points.

* Characters whose levels are 80 outside of the instance will receive Allagan tomestones of revelation, while characters below level 80 will receive experience points.

The response on Reddit has been overwhelmingly positive, and it sounds as if there are now too many people queuing for the instance. This gives me hope that we might finally get our shot at clearing it, perhaps this week!

So hopefully this story will have a happy ending (if we don’t fail again). I’ll post an update if/when it happens!

Posted in Gaming, Valhiem

First Impressions of Valheim

I call this a “first impression” post, but seeing I’ve put 15.5 hours into the game this weekend, I’m not sure if that’s legit. I’ve heard about Valheim from various bloggers who were trying it out last week, along with a few game sites that reported on it. Seeing how highly it’s rated on Steam on top of that, and for a fairly cheap price, I pitched it at Syn on Saturday and we decided to pick it up. The hope was to eventually introduce it to the Posse if we liked it and they were interested.

While I’ve played my share of survival games, this is the first time I’ve played a fantasy themed survival game, one that’s based on Norse mythology. It’s a nice change of pace from zombies, and also nice that it’s a flavor of fantasy that I don’t usually play.

You may have already heard about this game, but just in case you haven’t, I’d say it’s a nice blend of a lot of different survival and RPG mechanics. It feels a bit Minecrafty with a touch of Landmark, and a smidge of ARK. But on the RPG side, you have a nice skill learning system similar to Ultima Online or Dungeon Siege (oldie, but that name got tossed out there over this weekend). Syn also likened it a bit to Diablo, though less about the hordes of monsters and maybe more about the monster design.

I know that some people rag on Valheim because of its graphics, but I found it quite lovely in its stylistic way. The character model leaves a lot to be desired, but after playing 7D2D for many years with a lower quality character model, I can be patient about such things.

Overall, despite being early access, the game plays fantastic. Not to mention that it clocks in under 1GB in size – which was a selling point to one of our fellow Posse members – and it does so much with such a small footprint. What a huge improvement over survival games of poor optimization and huge download sizes (ARK, I’m looking at you).

I’ll just say… if this is what Valheim’s early access release looks like, I’m super excited to see how this game will continue to develop in the future!

If you’ve played any survival games, the beginning of Velheim will feel similar. You get dropped in the world with nothing but the clothes on your back. From time to time, the raven Hugin appears and acts as a light tutorial, giving you clues and hints about what to do next.

Aside from that, there really isn’t any hand-holding to speak of. The game focuses on discovery and experimentation, which I like quite a bit.

Like most survival games, you’re tasked to use resources around you to craft what you need. These resources, however, are somewhat gated by the tools you have. For example, we learned quickly that unlike 7D2D, you can’t just go up to a big tree or rock and punch it with your bare hands to get stone or wood. Instead, picking up stones from the ground and punching smaller saplings was the way to go to make your first tools.

As you pick things up for the first time, or craft items from resources, you discover new recipes linked to the tools or resources. It took us a little bit of time to sort through how the crafting menu worked, and then to figure out how to make the workbench functioning.

We discovered the workbench has a radius which is outlined in white whenever you have the hammer tool active. Within that radius, you can build the larger structures such as walls and roofs and floors… You can craft additional workbenches to extend that radius if needed.

We then discovered that until the workbench is properly “sheltered” that it doesn’t function as a crafting station directly. Thus, my first attempt at a shoddy little structure was born.

Poorly crafted roof, but it worked for what we needed

As you might note in the picture above, I was walking around in my skivvies for a bit. I died the first night to several boars who gored me as we were making our way out of the dark forest into a more open stretch of land in the Meadow biome. I was able to make the run to get my stuff back (this game has corpse runs – what a flashback!), but it took a while for me to figure out how to equip armor.

I kept looking for a paper doll system that didn’t exist. Instead, I discovered all you had to do is right-click the tunic in your inventory to put it back on. You do have to do this every time you die and make a corpse run, as a note. It’s a simple system (like many systems in this game), but that also means that gear takes up some of your inventory slots and adds to the weight you carry (you can get encumbered if you carry too much).

Anyhow, once we’d figured out the basics of building and crafting, I set out to build an actual house. I knew from some of the tips I read that you needed:

  • A fire inside to keep warm and get a rested buff
  • Beds somewhat near the fire, but not too close – you can set yourself on fire if you don’t take care
  • An opening to vent the smoke from the fire or you will start taking damage from breathing smoke
  • A wall surrounding the base because I heard there were enemy attacks

I tried not to spoil too much for myself before playing this game, but I’d already run across that kind of knowledge and put it to use.

The start of a new house

From there, we were kinda on our own for a bit. We knew that we could craft better gear and tools from things like leather scraps and eventually bone fragments. We also started looking into what it took to upgrade the workbench – that allowed us further upgrades to our stuff.

I experimented with different weapons, collected flint and learned to take care when chopping down trees. Physics is a thing in this game and trees can kill you if they fall on you (or bounce back and hit you). I’ve died to trees more than I’d like to admit.

The battle system is really straightforward, too. One button to attack, one to block and middle mouse button to do some other kind of attack (I rarely use middle mouse button for anything, so I didn’t think to use it often). I discovered I liked the axe the best starting out.

There’s also a sneaking skill. While I rarely use sneaking in games, I discovered it was very handy when hunting deer. Deer are super skittish and will run off at the sight of you, so while you can hunt them with a bow, I had more fun sneaking up behind them and taking them out with one blow.

You learn really fast that you need a lot of leather from boar and deer in the early stages as it’s used for just about everything. And the meat that they drop is also much needed.

We learned that the food system in this game was different from others. You can eat up to three different kinds of food at any given time, which expands both your health bar and your stamina to max. Without the food buff, you don’t starve, but you have a very limited health bar until you do eat. You certainly don’t want to stray too far without food buffs.

In the meantime, I worked on getting a wall around our outpost. I’d heard that you could get attacks on your base, though we didn’t actually see an attack until much later into the game. Oh, and the storm/rain weather is pretty epic as you can see below:

About that point in the game, Syn had discovered two other things: a nearby biome called the Black Forest and an altar to what I knew was our first boss fight. Though I knew of the fight, I wasn’t spoiled for any mechanics on it. I just knew we needed to make sure we’d upgraded as much as we could before taking it on.

Seeing that this post has gone on long enough, I’ll talk about that adventure in the next post! We’ve spent enough time in this game that I have had lots to write about, and I’d like to break it up some! See you next time for our boss fight!