Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: The Great Main Switcheroo

Lately, I’ve had some motivation trouble in FFXIV – but it’s not for the reason you might think.

Let me start this post by putting things in perspective. I began playing FFXIV sometime mid September of 2013. In all these years, I’ve never dropped my sub once. There were a few months in early 2014ish that I didn’t play daily, but I can say that I’ve pretty much played FFXIV since 2013 without a true break.

Granted, I’m a casual. My idea of playing every day is to log in, knock out an Alliance raid, dig up some maps to sell and maybe play with glamour or housing or tunes as a bard. Part of what makes playing a game this long sustainable to someone of my personality type is the casual approach and the creativity that I associate with my characters.

As some folks might know, almost three years ago, I launched a writing/RP project that eventually led to me adopting the RP server as my home. Being able to find a creative outlet within the game that’s tied to my characters increases my fun and immersion manyfold.

As much as I enjoy FFXIV for what it is, I believe it’s my creative projects that have helped keep me in the game for as long as I’ve been.

So what does this have to do with my main?

Everything.

My main started out named Zuri Nimat back in 2013. While I didn’t have a background story for her, she was a separate identity from my own in every way. When I talked about my main during those times, I called her “Zuri” because that was her name.

Obviously, but hang with me on this train of thought.

Fast forward to 2017. This blog was really kicking off and I was identifying with my writing persona far more than the blue kitty I’d originally created. So, for the new year, I decided to recreate my main using my net name Aywren Sojourner.

Makes sense. I often use my net name as my main character in games. And this has been fine more or less.

But I’ve noticed something the past few months. Now that I’ve finished my goals of leveling all jobs on my main and got her to the stage I wanted for crafting relic tools, I really don’t log in with her except to grab a daily map.

In fact, if anything, I’ve felt bored of my main lately. She hasn’t even finished the newest MSQ. And this feeling is not a class issue seeing she has every job leveled – so I could take my pick of what to play, but I still love my Red Mage most.

I’ve started to realize that part of the problem is that I see this character as a representation of myself, which has started to ironically cause a disconnect and lack of interest. For example, when I talk about my main… I never call her by name. I mean, I’m “Aywren,” so it’s really weird to say “Aywren did this” or “Aywren did that” – even when I write blog posts, I just always say “My Main.”

It’s also very difficult to assign a backstory to a representation of myself. I tried. I really did. I spent hours deliberating over where this “Main” could have come from, what her family history was, what her quirks and skills were… I wrote up a character sheet for her and tried to make her as interesting as possible to me.

But in the end, it just felt forced. Like I was filling in the blanks on purpose because there could never be an organically developed story for her.

I once told someone in game: “I don’t RP or write stories with my main. She’s too representative of myself and that just feels weird to me.”

That’s still very true. It’s also where my trouble lies.

As I said, lately, I’ve been increasingly demotivated to play her. There’s still plenty I can do in game, so it’s not a lack of content. I tried a bunch of things to revitalize my interest in her, actually – looked for new glamour, looked at all the new hairstyles, considered another race change, poured back over the character sheet I made for her…

The truth was, I liked the way she looked. But unlike other characters that I’ve created for story purposes, when I logged into her, there just wasn’t the feeling of playing a character. She was just “The Main,” and that was it.

The Main

So…

I thought long and hard about what to do. This was my first and main character, with so many mounts, emotes, jobs leveled and accomplishments – tossing the character itself aside was not an option.

But maybe, I could recreate her as one of my story characters. That could work, I thought, and looked over my alt roster.

I knew I didn’t want to make her Amon, who is my RP main. There’s a lot of reasons for that, even if he’s the most enjoyable-feeling character I’ve created. Amon’s character has many emotes, accomplishments, gear, mounts and… well he rivals my main in terms of what I’ve unlocked and done with him. Plus he has connections to folks through the friends list and link shells, and I didn’t want to break those social ties.

Other possible characters – Tai & Tad – I enjoy playing these characters and Tai was actually a substitute main for me at one point! But they also have their own items and achievements that seem separate and specific to their characters. Not to mention Tai is going to transition into Reaper and Tad is a Machinist. I still want to main Red Mage.

The rest of my RP alts were a straight out no – even the one who inherited my original character’s name, Zuri. I like them, they’re just not main material. Again, none of them mained Red Mage, either.

That left just one option – Ben.

Now Ben is a character who has been in my life since I was a teenager. I consider him the first real character I ever created for my fantasy writing. However, lately, I’ve felt like Ben’s taken a backseat to a lot of my FFXIV interests.

Of course I’ve had a Ben character in FFXIV for years. I’d even leveled him to 72 Red Mage, but have been procrastinating on the brink of the first dungeon of Shadowbringers. I just haven’t had the motivation to push him through the expansion for a fifth time… despite Trusts and despite how much I like Shadowbringers.

Still, I’ve wanted to play him! I’ve wanted to catch him up! I’ve wanted to include him in my Eorzean adventures and somehow connect this character into my long-time MMO love in FFXIV. Especially with all the FFIV references we’re seeing in Endwalker.

And he mains Red Mage.

So that’s why he made the perfect fit. My “new” main is now Ben.

Transforming my main into Ben took some fiddling around, of course. I didn’t delete the original Ben character given all his progression and will repurpose him as another character sometime down the line, I’m sure.

I’ve wanted to consolidate the number of characters I have for quite a while now. And while it’s really, really strange to not have an Aywren anymore, I think this is for the better.

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: World Wandering

Last time I left off in my Valheim posts, Syn and I had reached the mountains and were making good progress on upgrading our gear. I was enjoying my time in the mountains, which I said was far easier than the swamp had been.

I’ve learned since then that this is only true during the day. At night, things get real. We’d already run across the Fenring that comes out at night in the previous play sessions, so that didn’t take us by surprise. It’s really the wandering wolf packs of 5-6 wolves, often with a one star wolf, that did me in.

Unless you can make yourself a cozy cave hideout – or you have a safe base in the mountains – staying overnight isn’t usually a good idea. Wood cabins don’t hold out against drakes or wolve packs for long.

That’s not to say I like the mountains any less. I just wish… the mountains would finally give up their secrets. That is to say, after searching for hours high and low in mountain range after mountain range, we still haven’t found the runestone that uncovers the location to the next boss.

See that picture at the top? That’s a Maypole.

There’s a toss-up if this structure even appears in a world at all. But I found it in our game… of all things. And yet, I still haven’t found the location for Moder.

This is slowly becoming an issue. Syn has upgraded all of her silver gear as high as it will go, and I’m getting very close to be fully upgraded. Not finding the next boss location is stopping our progress hard at this point.

See this?

In between mountain ranges as we were searching for Moder’s rune we find…

A rune that points to the Yagluth boss instead! I’m assuming that’s the next boss beyond Moder, and while it’s very nice to have this already on our map, it’s crazy that we’ve spent hours in the mountains only to stumble on the next boss location before we have found our current boss location.

Of course, this forces us out into the world to explore, especially since we’ve already exhausted all of the mountain biomes we’re aware of. Even this huge mountain biome below gave us nothing but silver, snow and my night wolf-pack death.

We also ran face to face with another Serpent in our travels. This time, armed with poison arrows and Draugr Fangs, we were able to kill it. It was still a close call as one more strike would have taken our little Karve out from under us.

In the meantime, the main base has continued to expand and thrive. We did end up building a more distant wolf pen to help with the constant howling sounds that started to drive me nuts. But then, we had so many wolves that they were somehow making it out of the pen by stacking on top of each other to do so (when they got riled up over a monster being outside).

Syn began to form wolf packs that she takes out and about for the fun of it since we have so many wolves… and after hunting through so many mountains, we don’t really need extra wolf parts anymore.

W

While exploring the world is fun (we even joked that we’re going to go to the north pole!), finding the next boss location would be even more fun. Eventually, we do want to explore more of the world, but it would be really nice to be able to finally break into the plains and have a wider access to whatever Moder will unlock for us first.

Until then, we keep searching!

Posted in Sims 4

Sims 4 Announces Cottage Living

-Releases July 22, special preorder items available

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Sims 4. But it’s also been a while since I was excited about the theme of a pack or expansion for the game.

While I don’t think the recent packs/expansions/whatever they’re called are bad, persay, nothing has prompted me to want to preorder or buy day 1 lately. I’ll read up on the forum reviews and usually wait for a sale if nothing in the reviews really wows me.

So when they teased the idea of living in the country, my mind went to one thing only: Horses.

Naturally, as a horse lover, the horses in Sims 3 were one of my favorite features. However, horses were were cut in the Pets expansion for Sims 4. So surely, an expansion about the country life would include the missing horses, right?

I was excited at the possibility! It was the first time I’ve been excited for an announcement in a while.

That was, until, the announcement came and again, horses got cut. For llamas, I guess. (Actually, no. It’s been confirmed the animals are tied to objects and aren’t part of the household, so they don’t act as “pets.” So, double bummer.)

Okay, I don’t want to be that person, but allow me to grieve the loss of my horses yet again. Everything else in this pack looks right up my gameplay alley. I love the idea of cottage living. The cute critters, the almost-farm theme, and the world looks lovely. I’m sure I’ll have fun with it whenever I decide to pick it up.

But I can’t help feel a little disappointed about horses being overlooked again. Had this pack included horses, I would have rushed right out to preorder it instantly. And that says a lot for my non-preorder mentality the past few years.

I’m going to hold out hope for horses in a side pack, maybe? With lots of neat features like stables and gear and racing? But I really kinda doubt it. I have a sinking feeling Sims 4 isn’t going to see horses in the end.

I’m really tempted to reinstall Sims 3 to get my horse fix right now. 🐴

Posted in Nintendo Switch

Dabbling with Monster Hunter Rise

When I mention playing Monster Hunter, sometimes I get surprised comments like – “Oh! I didn’t expect you to play Monster Hunter!” or “I didn’t know you played!”

I really can’t blame them because for all due purposes, Monster Hunter really shouldn’t be my kind of game. I can’t explain why I like games of this type, either, considering some fights can get really brutal and action type games aren’t usually my go-to.

My first and only Monster Hunter game before this was Monster Hunter Tri on the Nintendo Wii. Woo boy. I remember it being really tough.

But I also remember my first win against the Great Jaggi… and how I didn’t do so well in the beginning. I recall fighting and fighting and fighting until finally I got it down. Something about overcoming that first large hunt broke the difficulty curve for me, and while I never got all the way through the game, I hunted quite a bit!

I’ve heard a lot about Monster Hunter World, and have been curious about trying it. But seeing my time is often taken by FFXIV in the MMO realm (and because I’m not sure my friends would be into MHW), I’ve never played it.

Fast forward to Monster Hunter Rise for Nintendo Switch. I’ve heard lots of great things about it – even that it’s more accessible to new (or rusty) players! It’s on the Switch, which is a huge plus for me. So when I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday, I knew exactly what I was going to buy.

I’ve had the game for almost a month now, and I’m making my way very casually through it. While it is far, far, far easier than Tri from what I’ve experienced (I was shocked at how gently it eased me into the game considering how bad I am at it), I still feel quite a bit of triumph with each big hunt accomplishment. I’m sure things will get more difficult, but the difficulty curve has been surprisingly nice to me.

I’m not sure why I decided to roll an Amon character for this (hunting monsters is not his thing), but everything fell right in place for him, including a musical instrument weapon (hunting horn)!

I’m not very good with the wirebug system yet, and I still have a lot to learn about the controls of the game. But there’s just so much to do that I often don’t know how much I’m overlooking. There’s leveling buddies, crafting and upgrading armor and weapons, gathering materials, light crafting, unlocking more hunts, trading requested goods, quests for the folks in the town…

Yeah. I only unlocked three star quests last night, and suddenly my weapon crafting tree just expanded many-fold. I went out on an expedition run of a new area and ended up going head-to-head with a big hunt – the Kulu-Ya-Ku – due to running across it by accident. I’ll have to fight it again, I know, for the actual quest associated with it, but it was a fun hunt that gave me a good sense of where I’m standing in terms of gear and progression.

I love how the game doesn’t take itself too seriously despite the fights being tough. The translation is light-hearted, the music in the town always makes me smile, and I’m starting to like the folks who live there and interact with my hunter.

Not to mention the on-purposely cheesy movie-Japanese intro cutscene for each area and big hunt you undertake.

The one thing I haven’t done is play multiplayer – I never did it in Tri, either. I doubt that I’ll take the chance to do it in Rise since I heard the game can be beat pretty much solo, even the quests that are meant to be done in a group.

I’m just not skilled enough as a hunter that I wouldn’t embarrass myself trying to play with other people. I’m seriously surprised I’ve gotten to three start quests, to be honest.

Right now, I have enough to explore on my own. There’s still plenty of quests, stories and gear to work towards, even if I’m doing it quite casually. I’m just trying to move forward a little bit at a time, and sometimes going back to hunts I beat simply to practice what I’m learning.

I’m open to any tips about the game — and even though I have more than enough on my plate with Rise, I’m starting to side-eye Monster Hunter World as well. Maybe next time it’s on a Steam sale. We’ll see.

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: The Wolf Pack

This last post for the week will finally catch us up to the point we left off in the game the past weekend! Told you that we’d accomplished a lot!

Once the silver in the mountains started rolling in, we identified the bottleneck in materials to be the wolf parts. We knew that wolves were tamable – though we didn’t know that wolves followed when tame. So, we headed up to the small mountain biome near our base in search of wolves.

We found exactly two of them, and between Syn and I, we led the angry critters all the way back to our base. Looking back on it, if I’d known that tame wolves followed, I’d have done it differently. But what we did worked more or less. We just had to keep the stone walls of the pen we’d built reparied because wolves pack a punch!

In the middle of trying to tame the wolves, we got a new type of attack on our base – the smell of sulfur that indicates surtlings are on the rise.

Though these things move crazy fast in the open area (compared to the ones in the swamp), they weren’t all that difficult to fend off. I don’t know if their flames would have been bad news for things built out of wood, but we also didn’t experiment to find out.

Surtling cores are always welcome, so we didn’t mind this attack so much.

Finally, after appeasing our new wolf additions for a couple days, they became tame and began to produce cubs. I’m going to have a harder time using these wolves for what they were intended – parts for gear – simply because they do follow and stay and fight for you.

To help myself feel a little better about this situation, I picked out one wolf to be my pet and built him his own wolf house away from the others. Syn was gracious enough to let me take from our resources – and while it’s silly… I just want a wolf pet!

The only thing that’s annoying about having a wolf pack around the house is all the howling! I wish there was a way to lower the frequency of wolf sounds. We might eventually have to build a pen somewhere else so that we can sleep at night.

In the meantime, Syn had continued to cull the boar population until we had nothing left but two star boar stock. She also began to further extend the boar pens, eventually taking down the walls between the massive turnip gardens and the boars so they could roam free.

While she worked on her farming projects, I headed out to the mountains to mine silver, explore and take down monsters. I noted that I really could use an upgraded bow for the drakes – I was still only using the fine wood bow at the time. It got the job done, but butter is better.

So that started us on a mini-quest for guck, which is needed to craft the Draugr Fang bow. This led us back into the swamps for a short time, but it didn’t take too long to get what we needed to make a bow for each of us.

This was the first weapon that really made me go “wow” in this game. Just look at that glow!

Bringing back wolf parts from my expeditions – we haven’t started culling our tame wolves yet – we were also both able to create new wolf cloaks which look equal parts cool and somewhat disturbing with that wolf head on there…

That’s where we left off in last weekend’s playthrough. We still need to upgrade the gear we’ve made. We have lots of mountains to explore yet. I have found one dragon egg, and I know what it’s for.

Not a bad bit of progress for a long holiday weekend, indeed!

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: Into the Mountains

After taking down Bonemass and earning the wishbone item, we brewed up some frost resistance potions and headed out to the next biome – the mountains. Without the potion, the freezing effect will eventually whittle down your health, like poison does. Thankfully, the potions last quite a while and aren’t too difficult to make.

The only other thing you have to watch for is rain or water in general. Even with frost protection, if you try to go into the mountain biome while wet, you’re going to hurt! Of course, this means that Valheim had to storm just when we were going to set out to the mountains time and again…

There was a small mountain zone near our main base on our home island. So we decided to get our feet wet (well not really wet) and see how things worked. All we found here were a few wolves and no pings from the wishbone. This was okay, because this was actually something that would work in our favor on down the line.

We got our first wolf drops from fighting the wolves, got an idea of what the biome felt like and how difficult the creatures were there. After the big difficulty jump with the swamp, where we didn’t dare tread the area alone, I was expecting something just as challenging.

It turns out that mountains are my new favorite area. Not only is it really pretty up there, but the difficulty curve when first entering the biome is so much better tuned than the swamp was. Whereas the swamp was so oppressive and the death count was high – we almost quit the game from the frustration of the zone when it was new to us – I had no fear of walking into the mountains and exploring on my own after our first couple trips.

There was a larger mountain area near our trader, so we set out to explore there with our wishbones ready. Again, I really enjoy the treasure hunt mechanics, and I get so excited anytime the wishbone starts to ping!

Up on this mountain, we found our first silver vein.

I’d go on to find about four or five of these viens in this area. Silver has been far more plentiful than the iron was so far. In fact, we have so much silver that it’s really wolf parts that we’re missing when it comes to crafting new gear.

The very first thing we both went for was the new chest piece which has frost resistance built into it. Testing it somewhat warily at first, I confirmed that the gear did take the place of the frost potions – again as long as you’re not wet. There’s also a new wolf cloak that protects against the cold, and looks pretty cool as well!

I upgraded to a silver sword and we began working on getting a baseline of silver gear across the board. This has been helpful in taking on the new encounters – things such as drakes and golems.

At first, the golem was a bit intimidating, but once I figured out his patterns, I’ve been able to roam about the mountains solo whenever I wanted to. This is a huge step up from the swamp, again, where we were afraid to solo much (until now, of course).

While we haven’t totally dumped the frost potions (never know when you might need one), I’ve been much happier and feel much more free in the mountains. And as I already mentioned, it is really a pretty area and a nice change in scenery. I wouldn’t want to set up a base there, but it’s fun to explore.

Now, we just needed to get a whole lot of wolf parts for our gear and upgrades. That was not a problem at all, as it turns out. I’ll talk about that next time.

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: Taking on Bonemass

Due to Syn’s preference for the karve’s easier handling, I built a second karve at our boathouse. The nice thing about the boathouse is that it’s on the side of the island we’d need to launch from closest to Bonemass’ location.

So that’s what we did.

Not far into the expedition, we came upon an island. Since the map was still hidden from us, it was hard to tell if this was a small island next to the island that contained Bonemass or the island we needed to travel to. It was also hard to tell how far north and south this landmass extended.

Syn gave me the option – sail north or sail south.

I chose north. After sailing all the way around the island northward, I think I chose wrong.

Okay, yeah. We took the long way around.

However, that trip was not wasted. We found a good stretch of plains, for one. We also found a large mountain biome on the island as well. It will make for some good exploration in the future.

Not to mention, as we were sailing, I saw a strange island that contained what looked like barnacles at first glance. Syn and I had rarely stopped for anything in our expeditions, but I asked her to park the boat for this out of curiosity.

Mining the barnacles, I began to gather chitin. I also began to hear a strange whale-like sound, and took note that the island was rumbling – we became very suspicious that this island wasn’t an island at all. After mining three barnacles, the island suddenly submerged, leaving me in the water.

Thankfully, the Syn sent the boat my way and we were able to beat it out of there. After the run-in with the serpent, we didn’t know if this creature was going to come after us. Looking it up, I discovered this was not the case – it merely sinks. It was still a fun encounter and I marked the location in case it should rise up again.

Eventually, we came across to the west side and found some meadows to set up an outpost (we try not to make a base in the swamp). We were further away from the Bonemass location than I’d wanted to be. The last thing we needed was to die on the boss and have to try to make a long run through the swamp with bronze gear to get our corpses.

As we started to make our way northward, we discovered a thin strip of black forest that ran parallel to the swamp. So we decided to make a second outpost as close to Bonemass as we could, moving the portal to the new location.

Once that was complete, we set out into the swamp to take down the boss.

The summoning spot

Bonemass was fairly manageable as a boss. I’m not sure if there were any tricks to him other than to keep a poison resistance potion up at all times. That, and constantly being wet, were the two things that hindered the fight – especially since you can’t use a new potion until your current potion wears off.

There was a point where we each had to take a step back from the fight to wait for the potion counter to time out before using a new potion. With the amount of poising flying around and the adds Bonemass summoned, I think it would have been a lot harder solo. It was good to have someone to juggle boss aggro with throughout the fight.

Once we defeated the boss, we got a new special item…

I immediately liked the idea behind the wishbone. I was also glad that Hugin gave us a lot of information about the kind of things the wishbone could find – including the next step up in crafting gear – silver.

Returning to main base, the Meadows didn’t have silver to offer, but I did run across some of those treasure chests! Once I got to play with it some, I really like the treasure hunting aspect of the wishbone just as much as I thought I would.

Treasure!

Meanwhile, back on the farming side of our base, Syn found and lead a two star boar into our tamed pig pens. Taming this boar would allow us to start breeding two star stock into our current one star boars.

She was also hard at work with the turnip crops – expanding our harvest from the few starting seeds to hundreds of turnips! The meat from the boars combined with the turnips make for fantastic stew that has become a staple of our food source, along with sausages.

We were already very self sufficient – and even able to fight off the troll invasion that rolled down on our base – but increasing the quality of boar stock could only make it better.

The next step in game progression was to head into the mountains. We knew from past experience that walking into the biome started to freeze you. But we also knew that there were frost resistance potions to make.

Armed with our potions and our wishbones, we were more than ready to leave the swamps behind.

Posted in Valheim

Valheim – Dangers of the Deep

Syn and I spent a lot of time in Valheim over this past three day weekend. We’ve made so much progress – finally getting out of the swamp slump – that I’m going to have to break up our adventures into several posts.

We’ve mostly remained as spoiler free as we can, which leads to lots of fun discoveries and surprises. I say “mostly” because we’ve been a bit more open to looking up things when we discover them if we have questions or curiosities about them.

That lead to the realization that the plains were not the next in order for us…

So we finished upgrading all of our iron gear to as high as our forge would allow. Having done that, we turned our sights to locating Bonemass. We knew that this would involve sailing. We just didn’t know the adventures that sailing could bring.

Thanks to a comment from Bhagpuss, we knew that we could break up our little Karve that was on the other side of some islands to make an easier trip. However, there was a great big area of unmapped waters between the swamp island and our original home island.

So we decided to set out on a side adventure to sail between the islands and see what all was there. This didn’t seem to be an issue since we’d always had peaceful sailing before, but we also didn’t realize the dangers of sailing during a stormy night.

We weren’t too far from land in either direction, but far enough away that I knew we were in trouble at the first sight of the Serpent that was suddenly following our Karve. At first, we tried to speed away from it (in a storm) towards the nearest island.

This was the best shot I got of it before we had to try to engage and fight it off

We realized quickly that the Serpent was faster than our little boat, so we began to try to fight it off with swords and maces. This… wasn’t effective at all and was starting to damage our Karve instead. So, out came our bows.

We only had fire arrows on hand, but that did damage it. It almost seemed like we’d frightened it off at one point as well, but then it came back around. The Serpent made little work of destroying our Karve (it didn’t help that we probably damaged our own boat trying to swing weapons at the monster).

And while we were in sight of the shore, neither of us made it out of the shipwreck alive.

The one positive thing about all this was that we learned that dying on the ocean leaves a floating tombstone. I was afraid that death on the ocean meant the loss of everything as it sank to the bottom. I had opted to leave all of my iron gear back in the base for this expedition, so all that I lost was the old bronze set and my tools. But we still wanted to get our stuff back if possible.

The one negative thing – looking up information on the Serpent – we learned that the Serpent would probably be hanging around our death spot.

We took the new longboat out for this run – though Syn decided she didn’t like how bulky it was in handling compared to the Karve. So the maiden run of the longboat is probably going to be its last (I know it’s faster and it can carry more, but maneuverability is important too).

It took a while for us to sail back out to where our corpses floated. We were really antsy after our first Serpent run-in, and my eyes were ever on the ocean when it rained or was night. I know there’s just a small chance of one popping up but… hey… it happened once, right?

Between our new-found fear of the deep and struggling with controls of the bigger boat, this took some time to do. When we approached our tombs, the Serpent was still very much out there and in sight, but at a good enough distance that we were able to sneak in and sneak out with our stuff.

Once we got back to our base and shook ourselves out from that adventure, we decided to build another Karve and set our sights on finding the location of the next boss, Bonemass.

Posted in Art, Diamond Painting

GemsFlows – Diamond Painting Log Book App

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about diamond painting. In fact, it’s sadly been a while since I worked on my diamond painting – I’ve been caught up in so many other things in my free time.

I’ve meant to get back to working on the project I started over the holidays. I even picked up a new art desk a few months back just to have a diamond painting station separate from my PC desk.

Thankfully, I ran across this new app that has got me working on my diamond painting again!

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to keep a log of the diamond painting projects I completed. I’ve moved the pages a few times – once from my Sygnus.org blog to my Tumblr. Then I was considering moving them again to a Neocities site (I might still finish this).

Over the weekend, I ran across the GemsFlow app. Now that I’ve been using my Samsung tablet for exploring many apps that my tiny little iPhone has no room for, I hopped right into this and found it exactly what I needed in terms of keeping a personal diamond panting log.

So you can enter each diamond painting as a new project in this app. You can record things about it like the size, how many colors were in the kit, where you got it from, when you started and finished it, and a rating of how much you enjoyed it. If you want to do things like log hours, you can do that too.

You can also upload several pictures – such as in progress shots that you’ve taken of the project along the way.

Creating an optional account allows you to connect your data to the cloud where you can sync your logbook across several devices. This is a nice feature, though for now, I’m mostly interested in keeping it on my tablet.

GemsFlows as a company selling diamond paintings (including customs) is not one I’m familiar with. There is a storefront within the app, but I’ve never bought from them before. I might give one of their customs a shot somewhere down the line, though!

In searching, I did find another diamond painting log book app out there called AliDiamonds. I did download this and look at it a bit – it seems to be connected with AliExpress (a Chinese storefront that offers a huge number of diamond paintings).

When I first started diamond painting, I did order some from AliExpress. Though once COVID hit, getting non-essential imports from China closed down real fast, so I started turning towards more local options.

Diamond Painting shops in the US tend to be more expensive overall. However, the quality of kits from overseas can be a little iffy and they can take months to finally deliver.

When buying diamond paintings from US shops, you generally know that the cost goes into the quality of the kits you get. Also, many US shops work with the artists they feature within the kits and ensure the artists get a rightful royalty from the work.

So, all that to say that I’ve not purchased anything from AliExpress in over a year. And the AliDiamonds app, while it seemed to do about the same thing, also had ads strewn through it on top of a marketplace. This turned me off and made me settle on GemsFlow, which doesn’t have ads that I’ve seen.

I’ll probably still keep a log online because I just like having one out there to point to for those who are curious. But as a personal log, I’m happy to have a tablet app that I can pull out anytime and anywhere of my diamond painting projects.

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: Into the Stone Age

This past weekend, Syn and I dove back into the world of Valheim. When we’d left off, we were hitting up some swamp crypts to bring back iron and upgrade as much of our gear and tools as we could.

We did a little bit more of this, too, but then our gaming sessions went wildly astray in many different directions. This was especially due to the fact that we had a TON of stone lying around and could now work at replacing our wood structures with sturdier stone.

Boar Loves You

I don’t think I ever blogged about my tamed boars.

Way back in the original gaming sessions, I somehow managed to pen up a couple wild boars in a small abandoned farm just over the hill from our base and tame them. It was close enough that we could keep going over to check on them but far enough that sometimes we forgot to feed and breed them.

The original slapped-together pig pen

One of the major base expansions that Syn started working on was really putting to use the open space we have in our meadow. She set up some nice farming blocks and a new and much more improved boar pen.

We then built what we called a “boar highway” that consisted of a fenced road from the old pen to the new pen, transporting about 5 adults and 1 piggy successfully. I wish I’d taken screens of that, but for some reason, Valheim decided to bug my screenshot button for a while. It fixed itself on its own, so I have no idea what cause that.

After that, Syn managed to capture a one star boar. She’s been breeding that into the old stock and now we have a group of one stars to provide a renewable source of meat to go with the radishes she’s been growing for stew.

New improved pig pen with a stock of one star boars
New gardening area next to the pig pen

Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Since we have a lot of sailing ahead of us in the direction opposite of where our little karve resides, and we had the extra iron to do it, I decided to experiment with building our first longboat. But in order to do that, we needed a bigger dock out by the shiphouse.

These docks weren’t as frustrating to build as my original docks, nor did they take anywhere near as much time. While we’re not quite ready to sail off to the island where the next boss resides just yet, we now have a larger boat to make that journey on when we decide to explore!

Loooooongboat

Expanding the Main Base

Not only did we start restructuring the outer walls and garden area in stone, but Syn vastly expanded the area within the walls giving us much more room for portals and structures.

Then I took on a particular pet peeve of mine – the mish-mash of forge upgrades that were littered around the yard. When we first put down the forge, we had no idea that we’d need space near it for six or so other objects that further upgraded that forge. Same for the workbench to a lesser extent.

Since the forge was up against an outer wall, I’d started just throwing these things out in the yard as near to the wall as I could. And that became a cluttered mess.

So I set about tearing down the wood wall and expanding it out in stone so we could have a properly organized forge and workbench area. So much better!

New Forge Workstation Area

Syn also reworked the layout of the entire house – reorganized our storage chests, upgraded the floor to stone, and added a nice big hearth.

Much, much better!

The Swamp Stinks

We’ve started to get the warning “A foul smell from the swamp” popping up lately. The first time this happened, we were at our little docking outpost that was actually near a swamp. So we thought that maybe we’d built a little too close to the swamp and were being attacked for it.

But no.

They’re attacking our main base now, too, despite the fact there’s no swamp on the island that we know of! We’ve had no problem fending them off between the stone wall and our upgraded gear. So that’s an encouraging thing!

Phew! You need a bath!

Trying out Fishing

After raiding the crypts in the swamps, we’ve accumulated a big stack of gold and valuables. So, I decided to take it to the merchant, sell it off and invest in a fishing rod and bait. I know that the fishing system is pretty barebones right now, but I fish in any game that has fishing. Valheim is no exception!

I’d taken note that fish were around the longboat dock area when I was building there, so I settled in for a bit to see what fishing was like.

I learned that fishing is an active hobby in this game. It’s easy to lose bait (which costs gold – but we have plenty). You can also fish out an area quickly – I wish the spawn would last a little longer, to be honest.

It was fun to try, though I can’t really do anything effective with the raw fish I took from it. I know later you can make high quality food from it, but we don’t have all the materials for that just yet. So, for now, I’ll poke around at it here and there, but we have more important things to do!

Exploring the Plains

…Like exploring the plains!

Or, well, a little tiny bit of plains. Basically, now that we had some rank 4 iron gear, I wanted to see if we could take on deathsquitos. After being slaughtered by one due to accidentally stepping into the plains for just a moment, we’ve been avoiding the zone completely.

We’ve come a long way in terms of confidence in moving through the swamps now, so I was super curious to see how we’d fair in the plains.

Things we learned:

  • Deathsquitos still hurt, but with good food, we can take them down easily
  • There are huge scary beasts in the plains that can tear us up badly (I survived and ran away)
  • There are small little creatures in the plains that can tear us up, but we can kill them

The area of the plains that we explored was very small, just a corner of the island. So we didn’t really discover anything of interest out there aside from some cloudberries.

It was getting late at that point, and we’d played more than our fill, so our adventures into the plains will have to hold off for a while longer yet. We still have more crypts to dig out and a boss to find!