Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: When Radioactive Zombies Attack

Over the past few weeks, the Posse has started a new game in 7D2D, since the stable version of the patch was released. We still faced some pretty game breaking issues, which pushed us to host from the dedicate server module rather that through Steam. But once Syn got all that set up, everything was running well again.

Almost every time we start a new game in 7D2D, we experience something we’ve never seen before. This game is the longest running we’ve had in a long time. I think we were pushing up on day 40 pretty soon.

The last couple hordes we fought brought something new… radioactive zombies.

Apparently, the fat cop zombie is always glowy and green now. They were always a bit intimidating before since they could puke long distance projectiles and would rush and try to explode to take you out. But now they also glow green.

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They’re not the only type of glowing zombies… I’ve seen glowing spiders and ferals as well. And the ferals have seriously increased in size.

It’s something else to look over the hill on a blood moon night and see something like this coming your way…

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There’s five of us, and we’ve had no problem holding our own against them. The concrete fort reinforced with steel spikes has also done its job well. So you get a pile of radioactive zombie bodies burning with flame from the Molotov cocktails that Vix likes to set herself on fire with.

Oh, and sometimes the zombies catch fire, too…

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Skyscraper Fun

The other thing we’ve discovered for the first time are the new skyscraper POIs. The patch notes said these were meant to be like vertical dungeons that your team could explore. And explore, we did!

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Lots of loot. Lots of sleeper zombies. Lots of floors to explore. Good fun.

Also, trap rooms!

The “Beware” sign on the screenshot at the top of this post indicated that the floor in that area would fall out under you! We also found this little spike trap room…

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Someone was angry…

The skyscraper is interesting because you really did feel like you were exploring a place that survivors had holed up into — from the top level penthouse to floors of offices where you found working cubicles and mostly businessman zombies.

And then, you find strange things like toilets hanging out on unfinished ledges.

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I have no idea. Random generation at its finest, I guess.

Our game is currently on hold for a little while since Syn won’t be able to host until she gets back from a trip. But I did want to post about all our newest discoveries. I swear just when you think you’re familiar with 7D2D, it throws a curve ball at you.

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Alpha 16 Release

So, while the Posse is fidgeting and waiting for Stormblood to drop, 7D2D released Alpha 16 last weekend… just in time to give us a little taste of it before FFXIV whisks us away. This update upped the stakes and increased the difficulty of the game, which was something we could tell instantly (even though we play on lower settings).

I say this as a positive thing. A16 keeps you on your toes, even if you’ve been playing the game for years, like we have. Sleeper zombies are a new thing — they lay there until you get close and just wake up out of nowhere. You can put them down if you sneak up on them before they wake, but man, do these things make exploring new locations a startle-fest.

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I tried to place these chests on the floor, but they attached to the fridge instead. They are our new “fridge magnets.” (We actually call them that in game, too: “I put the food in the bottom fridge magnet.”)

Also, new wildlife, such as wolves and buzzards are in. Wolves (and dire wolves) are almost everywhere, and attack much the same as the zombie dogs used to. At first, I thought this would be annoying, but then, when I realized you could harvest them for meat, fat and hide, they’ve become more of a good thing. Instead of running after pigs and deer, you can let dinner come to you!

It looks like the old roaming zombie hoards are back. I missed hearing the frightening sounds of running zombies at night. And these hordes are pretty sizable, giving a good challenge no matter the time of day.

Despite all these things, we were able to reinforce a starting location in time for the first blood moon. The 7 day hordes are now adjustable in size — we left ours at 8 zombies (per person, I believe), but you can make them bigger. With five of us playing, we had quite a lot of zombies rushing our base.

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We found a few bugs (zombies and wolves running in circles but hardly doing damage, short weapon range, falling through the world, way too many screamers), and a few changes… but overall, we had a good time with the new build. I’m looking forward to exploring the new painting tools and making our base look faaaabulous!

But, first… who’s going to clean this all up??

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Posted in 7 Days to Die, FFXIV, Gaming, Minecraft, MMORPGs, RPG Maker

Weekend Gaming Highlights: FFXIV, Minecraft, 7D2D, RPG Maker

This was a weekend of exciting announcements for FFXIV players, and lots of random gaming for me. There’s so many small things going on, but nothing huge, so it felt right to make a highlights post today. I may go into detail on some of these later!

FFXIV: Treasures and Tanking

This weekend marked our FC’s first organized Treasure Hunt night. We’ve been running the Aquapolis from time to time, when people remembered. Folks are having so much fun, and there are still some who have never tried it, so we put it on the calendar as a light event on Friday nights.

We had such a turn-out that we had to organize two groups to accommodate everyone who wanted to run. And while our group didn’t have the best luck getting the portal to open, when we finally did, we reached Chamber 7 again this time (as did our second group)!

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As I announced earlier this weekend, I also finally leveled my Paladin to 50! I got some Ironworks gear for her, and I have to grudgingly admit that I think Paladin looks good on my character.

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Paladin Wren!

This weekend I also co-tanked the Labyrinth of the Ancients raid in Crystal Tower, which is the first time I’ve tanked a raid of any kind. I was mostly playing the off-tank, just trying to get a feel for how things worked from a tank’s point of view. But it seemed less stressful overall than tanking a whole dungeon where all the pulls rest on your shoulders.

I didn’t think to get any screens of it since I was too busy figuring out my role, but I wouldn’t be against trying it again sometime. Aside from that, I’ve been doing beast tribe dailies and some random FATEs, continuing to level Paladin on the side. At this point, Beast Tribe quests actually give a good chunk of daily experience, while I am working on earning FATE crystals for my Paladin relic by activating the Monk Anima quest instead.

Minecraft: Finding Fishing

Minecraft remains that game that I play for short bursts when I have some down time or just want to chill. I have been working on expanding my island base with actual dirt blocks to allow the grass to grow there, as I mentioned earlier.

I also learned that there is fishing in Minecraft. Anyone who knows me knows that if there’s fishing in a game, I’m going to be doing it! Especially since you can cook the fish and use it as a food source. Even better, there’s a chance at reeling in treasure — I especially have my eye on finding a saddle.

I haven’t seen a horse in game yet, but when I do, I want it so badly! So, for now, I’m exploring fishing in the little oasis pond next to my Dune Village.

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7D2D: Tri-Biome Home

This weekend, our Posse decided to restart our game of 7D2D. So we seeded up a new map called “Spriggan” after my kitten, and that went just about as well as it sounded like it would. This map dropped us in a pretty harsh environment with a lot of mountains and desert. Not to mention, our trader quest took us two days away from our first house find.

Thankfully, there was a little house fairly close to this trader, and it has a very interesting placement.

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As you can see in this picture, I’m standing in a green forest biome. This transitions into desert, where the house is actually located. But to the right, both green forest and desert turn into snow biome!

This makes for very interesting weather patterns. If it’s raining in the forest, you can stand on one side of the base and get rained on, while moving towards the desert side makes the rain stop!

I had a horde approach the house from the back, where desert and snow met, while there was a snow storm happening in the snow biome. It looked like this:

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Snowing in the desert!

If I were to take a few steps to the left, you’d see the snow stop, replaced by desert instead. Very trippy! XD

RPG Maker Saturday

While this isn’t really playing a game, it’s a good chunk of time Syn and I put towards spinning up the beginning of our Nefol RPG. We haven’t put as much time towards this as I’d like, but I feel like we made up for that this weekend.

We scripted up the introduction, and I got to work on relearning how to script events in RPG Maker. I’d forgotten a lot, including how to properly use switches, which led to hours of time trying to debug events that did exactly what I was telling them to do, but not what I was hoping. I’ll write a longer post about this on the Nefol page… but in the meantime, I wanted to close with this demo screen of our heroes in a boss fight. 🙂

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Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Minibikes, Drawbridges and Greenhouses

While I’ve mostly been writing about adventures in FFXIV, the Posse has also spent a good deal of time in 7D2D over the past few weeks. We’ve gotten further than we have in a while — we survived the Night 36 horde last time we played.

Tales of a Greenhouse

Now that we’ve put this much time into one location, we’ve been able to experiment with building things we don’t normally get to in a shorter game. Much of this is trial and error based on how zombies respond to things that I build.

For example, I noticed that zombies could trash our garden if they got caught on the plants during a horde. So, I started fencing it in. But that hardly did anything to stop them. So I built a wood wall around the garden.

Well, for some reason, that prompted zombies to spawn on top of my garden wall! And because I connected the garden wall to the base wall with a catwalk, they were strolling right on in. Sometimes they fell down inside of the garden instead. Not good.

I decided to put a roof on the garden. But this has to still let light through, so it became a greenhouse.

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Inside the greenhouse

To stop zombies from strolling along the catwalk into our base, I destroyed its connection to our walls. I decided to experiment with the fancy new metal hatch. It looks really awesome!

So I put one hatch in the garden…

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Then I dug an underground tunnel to the base and put another hatch inside. We now have a secret passage from the base to the garden, and no more zombies seem to have spawned on top of the greenhouse.

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Minibike Chronicles

Another thing that the Posse wanted to experiment with that we never have before was building minibikes. Until this game, we never had the books and the resources, and just didn’t play the game long enough on one map to build a minibike. So, we made it a goal to make them, and we were successful!

But the thing about minibikes is that you have to store them somewhere safe. Since we use ladders to get in and out of our base, I had to devise a sort of protected garage for our new bikes.

I decided to be flamboyant and learn about drawbridges. That’s right. I built a garage with a drawbridge that spans over a pit of spikes for the curious zombies that come our way.

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Garage with a drawbridge

If you look, you can see the cement ramp located just under the hammer there. The drawbridge’s footprint is such that you can stand on the ramp and still open and close it. So you just drive your bike up, open the door, and ride inside the little garage to park!

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Minibikes inside the garage

The minibikes are a bit buggy and difficult to learn to drive at first, but they sure do speed up travel time. Of course, to ride the bikes, you have to have gas. So, Syn did her research and learned how to mine oil shale. She also learned how to make the chemistry station, which in turn, creates the gas.

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Chemistry Station

From there, we started getting gas production going. I think we’re pretty set on this…

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Against the Horde

Our base is slowly being upgraded to the first level of steel. But with the hordes we’ve been getting lately, we need everything we can get!

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Steel walls around the base

Even the screamer zombie hordes are getting harder. The last one spawned a zombie bear, which is the first we’ve ever seen. Syn discovered quickly that going 1v1 with a zombie bear with just a crossbow was not a good idea.

The bear then learned the superior power of our spikes and firearms.

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Dead zombie bear

The night 36 horde was massive. We had zombie corpses littering everywhere when it was done.

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Next to the garage…
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Along the wall…
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Syn gets restless and runs out to attack stragglers as we snipe them from the walls…

The base held up just fine under all this. A major success!

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PSA: It’s not polite to rob the only trader in your area… (Unless it’s Trader Rekt. He’s a jerk.)
Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: Zombies are Testing My New Video Card

As I noted, over the weekend, I installed a pretty significant upgrade to my video card. So far, it’s been pretty painless – just needed to get an display port adapter for one of my monitors and had to fight with my Cintiq tablet’s drivers as it’s adjusting to the new setup. But as far as playing games are concerned, it’s taken to everything wonderfully.

The Posse has gotten back into 7D2D over the holidays, and we’ve been playing it almost nightly now. On our current game, we’ve worked up to night 19 again. This was after restarting the game a few times due to the desire for a better seed.

We discovered that there’s a way to view the randomly generated maps based on the seed name, and we’ve used it to glance at maps to determine which ones are best . In a few of the games we rolled, we had a hard time finding a viable city near our base.

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We even have a deck with a couple chairs up there!

While I can be content sitting at home building all day, a few in our party are explorers. They need cool points of interest to explore, and the newest build of this game really places a lot of emphasis on scavenging for parts and recipes. I think our newest map has a pretty good balance of what we need, and our base sits on the merger of three or more biomes, and quite near to the trader, which is always a fun thing.

Testing the Video Card

Seeing that 7D2D is a voxel sandbox game with fairly realistic graphics and a randomly generated world that often throws hordes of zombies at you, I figured it was a good game to test out my new video card. I’ve always played this game for function rather than graphics, so I never even took notice of all the higher settings I could choose. I thought the game looked good even on the lower settings.

So I turned on all the fancy shadows, reflections, better trees, higher grass and even god rays. Gosh… I had no idea all that was there! I pushed all the textures up, and man, what a difference. I didn’t realize that all this time I was playing with anti-aliasing turned off! Oops.

The result? My team had to hear me squee about how “fluffy” the world had become.

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I don’t know! Maybe it’s because the grass is fuller and the graphics have taken on a softer tone, but “fluffy” is the best word I could find for it!

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And it all runs just fine. I’ve slowly adjusted the settings higher and higher to continue testing it. I’ve had no problem no matter what I’ve done with it so far, aside from some wonky water reflections (it’s alpha).

But anyhow, I don’t have any new pictures of the updated base, but we’re starting to upgrade to cement walls. I also have built some fortification around our garden after a sad setback that took out most of our seedling potatoes. Apparently, zombies can and still will destroy crops. We haven’t had that happen in a while, so I didn’t know it was a risk. Bummer.

We are way ahead of the blood-moon hordes in terms of fortifications, so I’m feeling pretty confident in starting to explore other builds and add-ons to our base. I’m thinking about some catwalks, towers and other interesting additions. Our ultimate goal of this game is to finally make a mini-bike, though!

I have no idea why, but as many times as we’ve started a new game in 7D2D over the past years, we always have fun. Clocking in at 570+ hours,  the most of any game I’ve played on Steam, this is one game I absolutely got my money’s worth from.

Posted in 7 Days to Die, FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

7D2D: Slaying Zombies & FFXIV: Making Friends

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The newest alpha of 7D2D is up on Steam, and our Posse has been back to building bases, exploring the world and beating down zombies. This game continues to do nothing but get better and better. This time around, it not only looks fantastic with its new further draw distance, but it plays very balanced.

We found a fixer-upper house in an absolutely fantastic location, tucked in between mountains in a forest next to a lake. Honestly, I think this is one of the best houses we’ve found location-wise in all the games we’ve run.

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By the time we got a few days in, and after the first blood moon horde, we had a pretty strong start on fortifying it against the hordes. And boy are there a lot of them in this version of alpha.

It keeps us on our toes since we’ve been used to not seeing hordes unless we had a blood moon or a screamer. So, a good change in pace. I’m looking forward to exploring this map some more and building up our base of awesome!

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Making Friends in FFXIV

It’s been a quiet weekend in FFXIV. Folks are taking a break and waiting for the patch to drop. I don’t blame them. In the middle of this lull time, I finally met up with fellow blogger and game developer Psychochild in game.

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Now, I knew that he was on our server. But me being shy, and not wanting to seem like a creeper, I never sought him out. In fact, I don’t think I’ve actually seen his character in game until this weekend when I happened to run into him in Idlyshire, and I threw him a passing /eureka emote before running away. 😀

Anyhow, little did I know that he’s been helping out some folks in our free company with runs, and that Zeb had even grouped with him in the past! It’s a small world on Midgardsormr, I suppose. I kinda like that.

We all struck up conversation, and he was invited for a Weeping City run that didn’t happen. But we did get a chance to meet up on Discord, and (I hope) we all had a pleasant time.

While waiting for the queue that never popped, he showed me one of his glamours + catbat minion. If you see this, Psycho, I hope you don’t mind I posted it. 🙂

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Other than that, I finally got off my butt and ran a CT trio with my FC that pushed my long-ignored Monk to level 55. I’d been at level 54 for what felt like forever. And then, when I did a Weeping run, I ended up getting a Monk drop. Heh.

Next month, I need to dedicate myself to leveling these jobs a bit more. I have two (three if you count the Scholar/Summoner duo) that are sitting at 55 right now. The rest of my jobs are just hanging out in the thirties. And I need leveling roulette for Lore tomes for gear and umbrite. Bleh… so much work to do! Too little time!

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Posted in 7 Days to Die, Black Desert Online, FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

BDO: Training Expert, Camp NaNo Writing, and Dat Funk

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I did, indeed, reach my goal of Skilled 1 Trainer in BDO last night. This gave me a new title, Training Expert, which I wear proudly.

I just wish it would give more female T4s when breeding, though. I’ve had absolutely no luck in breeding a single T4 female in four tries, and the horse breeding calculator says I should have over 50% chance at it given the levels I raised my horses to. It was right about getting T3 females… so either it’s just RNG hating me this weekend or something’s not quite right with the calculator.

So far, all my T4s look very much the same, too, which is a little disappointing. My painted T3 female remains my prettiest horse, so I think I’m going to hold on to her for cosmetic riding reasons. Maybe even try pushing her to level 30 before I breed her. Just don’t know if I have the patience to wait for all that, though. XD

Dat Funk

blah I don’t usually write about myself in terms of feelings and RL issues because folks have enough of that already. But over the weekend, I’ve been in a funk… that I have absolutely no reason or right to be.

Overall, things are going well for me. Work is fine, home life is fine, I have lots of great games to play and people to play them with, I just got my tax return money back (so money is fine), I’ve been working on re-writing Dreigiau and trying to stay inspired – I have no excuse for being in a funk.

I have, however, not been feeling so well as of last week. I’ve just felt the need to sleep and sleep and sleep, and have been dealing with flushed face and sometimes nasty night headaches. It eventually led me to just feeling unmotivated, unenergized, and restless over the weekend.

If you know anything about creative folks, one of the worst feelings is being restless… because it leads to all sorts of discontent and bummed-outness.

For example, I just wasn’t interested in any games I’ve been playing lately. I mean, I set my horses on auto-loop this weekend, but I had no desire to actually play BDO. I didn’t game at all on Saturday, but I had the itch to try something world-buildy or sandboxy… I just didn’t know what. I looked at my list of Steam games for inspiration, but nothing appealed to me. I resisted the temptation to buy something new (Stardew Valley was in my thoughts) on the restless whim because I already have enough games as it is.

I did end up playing some FFXIV on Sunday, mostly just finishing the Crystal Tower trio for the weekly. My monk is almost at level 53, which is something that should excite me a little bit. Just not feeling it. My zombie hunting troupe did sit down with a little 7D2D late last night, which did get my focus for a bit.

I’m actually feeling a little bit better this morning physically (though I’m still dragging and sleepy). So I’m hoping this will pass.

It probably doesn’t help that this is technically week two of Camp NaNoWriMo and I’ve been burning creative juices and inspiration hard to get this writing done. When I’m expelling more creativity than I can absorb, it often leads me to feeling burned out, so this could be part of it.

Camp NaNoWriMo

camp_nano_logoWeek two is traditionally the hardest week for writers in any sort of NaNoWriMo. You’ve gotten past that new story smell, have made those initial introductions to people, places, things and ideas in your fictional world, and now the burden of actually doing stuff with them is upon your shoulders.

For me, the challenge is re-writing a story I started writing in 2001-2002 without looking back at the source material. Even though I’ve edited the original story several times since “completing” it, my memory is pretty fuzzy as to what all I actually did write. This could be a good (or a bad) thing.

Overall, I don’t feel like I’m parroting the original story at all. Everything I’ve written has been from scratch and, though it makes reference to the original plot and structure, flows very differently. I like what I’ve done so far, but I worry that other people might not.

I finally got up the courage to show Syn the first 6 chapters this weekend, and she seemed okay with it. She tends to not like when I alter things too much, so I’m using her reactions to get a feel for how other people might respond to it.

I am at the point of trying to start writing a journey that needs to happen in the story, but doing so with logic and reason behind it. Then figuring out what all needs to happen along the way. Don’t believe it when people tell you the fantasy journey trope is an easy one to write! Nope. In my experience, it’s always been one of the most difficult ones, though rewarding if you do it well.

Posted in 7 Days to Die, FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Sims 4

Weekend Gaming: FFXIV, Sims 4 & 7D2D

Farewell Zero Fortune, my first racing chocobo!
Farewell Zero Fortune, my first racing chocobo!

This weekend was a mish-mash of gaming, which was actually quite a nice, relaxing blend. Despite piddling around in various games, I even knocked out some of my FFXIV goals.

Sims 4

One of the things I wanted to get done before it vanished for good was this year’s Sims 4 Spring challenge. Like last year, there are Easter eggs to find from gathering and harvesting. Two new ones are added to the collection this time, and new colors to the bunny plushie you get for completing the set.

Cute new bunny plush colors!
Cute new bunny plush colors!

There’s also a new Growfruit Challenge that rewards two new gardening planters. I fired up the game and focused on playing a family that has the Sim with the highest gardening skill I could remember, and got right on that. The first planter is rewarded for growing 20 Growfruit and turning them into the NPC. The second was much more involved and required you to evolve the Growfruit trees to Perfect quality and turn in one Perfect Growfruit.

New Spring Challenge planters obtained!
New Spring Challenge planters obtained!

I did complete them both, but it took a number of game hours to finally evolve the tree in the end. So, I got a good bit of Sims 4 time in.

7D2D

Last week 7D2D released Alpha 14, so the Zombie Hunting Crew has been testing and playing that quite a bit. They’ve had some trouble with the build that’s caused some CTDs, but we’ve found some work-arounds for it through installing the 32 bit version on those PCs.

I found a creepy floating graveyard, complete with raining zombies and floating coffins.
I found a creepy floating graveyard, complete with raining zombies and floating coffins.

Overall, the game’s introduction has improved a lot, and the beginning experience is much smoother and kinder to a new player. We’ve been building up a new fort and having a lot of fun fending off the hordes. I wish I had more pictures to share – like of our base and how incredibly real the skybox in the game looks now – but it seems the screenshot key is on the fritz, too, since the last few patches.

FFXIV

Though I haven’t made FFXIV my focus this weekend, I still got a good bit done in the game. First, I finished my first goal of leveling my Culinarian to 60, which pretty much entailed me making massive numbers of Ishgardian Muffins. I suddenly realized that this means I only have 3 crafting jobs left to level to 60. That’s pretty crazy!

The FC has also been running the Crystal Tower raids over and over this week, due to the fact that the queue times are much better now that there’s a relic item reward for finishing the weekly quest. We helped some newer folks through for their first time, and other FC members are practicing new level 50 classes in the raids, just like we used to do when CT was all the rage.

I’m using it to practice my monk rotation and level the job some. The experience isn’t overwhelming, but it’s there. I hit level 52 without doing much else, so my goal of leveling monk past 50 is well underway.

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Chocobo breeding for the first time!

My sister and I spent some time trying out the newly revamped Chocobo Racing in the Gold Saucer as well. I originally raced a bit when the Gold Saucer first came out, but the whole racing/training/breeding thing was so expensive that I gave up before I ever retired my first chocobo. Now that racing is much more profitable and the cost of training/breeding is more reasonable, we dove into learning about the whole system and raced into the early morning hours, a lot like we used to play old Mario Kart games.

It was good times!

I finally raced my first chocobo, Zero Fortune, to rank 40, retired him, and bred him for my first tier 2 chocobo to produce my newest chocobo, Ghost Odyssee. I also won my first chocobo challenge race, which had a really nice payout in the end. I’m enjoying these new changes and was happy to find a racing buddy who was enjoying them too! 🙂

Coming in first and second in the races.
Coming in first and second in the races.

The rest of this week I’m going to focus on getting my writing for Camp NaNoWriMo done. I’m sure I’ll be gaming some, but blogging might be a bit more sparse this month, or at least, a bit shorter. We’ll see!

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Gaming

7D2D: 34 Days of Progression

My sister looking awesome
My sister looking awesome

This past weekend, the zombie hunting troop got the itch to continue our game in 7D2D. This was pretty much the same game that we’ve been playing all of alpha 13, and the first time we’ve made it as far as day 34 in a while.

The game started out pretty rough with no shelter to be found, skirted by wasteland and desert. Usually by the first blood moon on night 7, we’ve established some sort of base, but that didn’t happen this time. We holed up in this little cave we found and luckily, the hordes passed us by.

After some extensive searching, we found this broken-down house, which we chose to fix up and reinforce.

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The first night in our new house – we’ve already taken out the windows on the bottom floor and started reinforcing

I’m primarily the main builder in the game as the others prefer to explore, hunt zombies and sometimes gather. I’m also still learning about the new block upgrade system. Starting with alpha 13, any house you find can be eventually turned into a fort through upgrading blocks. Use wood to reinforce a wood block. Then use metal to reinforce that up to three times for these nasty metal looking blocks.

I began building a fortified wall around our little house, with a full-round balcony for the nights we need to engage with the hordes.

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The turning point came when we finally discovered the concrete recipe, allowing me to mix cement and upgrade metal even further. It looks like with steel, concrete can also be reinforced. We don’t quite have the kind of resources to do that, and fixing concrete after a horde night is probably much cheaper.

We also discovered how to break down cars and craft this mobile spotlight, which is seriously, seriously bright. Nights outside the fort used to be pitch black, but a few spotlights has our house shining like a beacon on the hill.

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The newest update to alpha 13 has thrown many, many more mini-hordes at us than it used to, including the infamous dog packs. While dog packs are annoying and often deadly, little mini-hordes take me back to the earlier days when you could almost always expect someone to see a horde once every game day.

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And the blood moon nights when there’s so many zombies outside the fort that the roar is overwhelming? Well, we’ve survived without any deaths up to night 34. We’ve finally discovered things like iron armor and cross bows. We have the start of guns and ammo. Our garden is growing well and we aren’t too worried about food and water stocks.

Night 35 will be our next horde test. Hope that concrete holds!

Our house-fort on day 34
Our house-fort on day 34, with mostly concrete around the bottom

 

Posted in 7 Days to Die, Ark, Gaming

7D2D vs ARK: Survival of the Fittest

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After writing up an article yesterday on the 7D2D A13 release, Dahakha asked a fascinating question, which I’ve pondered over all of last night.

So how does this stack up to ARK: SE in the survival genre? Is it just a flavour swap (zombies vs dinosaurs) or is there a different feel to the gameplay too? I’d love to see a comparison post if you felt like doing one.

Well…

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7 Days to Die (7D2D) and ARK: Survival Evolved  are my two favorite survival games so far. They are both in early access, though 7D2D has been there much longer (Kickstarted on August 15, 2013). They are both developed by smaller teams of devs with lots of previous game dev experience. And they both drop you into the middle of a cold, hard game world with nothing but your fists.

But they are two different games, and games that I really enjoy for different reasons. Here’s some comparisons.

Player Vs. World

To start with, the environments are very different. Sure, you have to punch rocks, trees and grass to start out in both games. And sure, survival is based off of crafting, hunting and gathering. But, no, zombies and dinosaurs are not just interchangable dangers between the two.

ARK – The world of ARK is finite. You are dropped on an island with a lot of prehistoric (and not so prehistoric) creatures, and there seems to be some kind of overarching sci-fi thing going on (though we’re not sure just yet).

But every time I’ve played, the island was the same. There are different biomes within the island, but it has boundaries and is not procedurally generated. I’m not sure if that’s something planned for the future, but there’s a comfortable feeling of the known in ARK. Once you learn your way around, you can be sure you will find the same resources/creatures/land structures in the same locations.

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With the exception of this place, which turned into a swamp biome with an update earlier this year. RIP

Plus, the island setting is pleasant. You do have to deal with temperatures fluctuating depending on time of day and biomes. But you can also be pretty sure that the coastal areas are safer than the inland areas. So you can generally work your way into the harder content at your own pace.

7D2D – The world is infinite and procedurally generated. Based on whatever you name your map, it is vastly different every time. It has this gritty, rural mid-west American feel to it (the game was originally made to take place in Navezgane County, Arizona).

No place is safe in 7D2D. Zombies spawn everywhere, regardless of your ability to deal with them. The closer to civilization you come (small towns or large wasteland towns), the more zombies and more challenging it becomes. So, you can choose to stay out of the cities to be safer, but that won’t save you from the 7 night hordes.

This leads me to the biggest difference between the two games.

Player Vs. Beast

ARK is a different kind of survival game because you can turn what is dangerous to you into something you can use. A wild T-Rex can chew a player up. But a player can eventually grow strong enough to overcome and master that T-Rex, taming it and turning it into a tool for their own use.

I love ARK for the dinosaur taming, training, and breeding elements. ARK was created to highlight this, and that is what sets it apart from other survival games. Without the dino system, it would be just another survival game.

That’s not to say that 7D2D is just another survival game, though. In 7D2D, zombies will never be your friends. You can’t ever tame them or use them to make them something advantageous. While, you do get stronger and find better ways of dispatching them, zombies are always a danger.

7D2D is not just a survival game. It is also a fort defense game in disguise. If zombies hone in on your location, they will tear a building out from under you to get to you – including your base. So, part of “defeating” the zombies is learning what works in fortifying structures against them.

Checking the Damage After the Feral Horde
Checking the Damage After the Feral Horde in  2014

If you “heat up” an area by doing too many things that cause notice (mining, chopping wood, cooking, forging), a zombie screamer will scout out the area and call a horde on you if you don’t dispatch it quickly enough. So you have to balance your activity to prevent being swarmed.

Every 7 nights, the red moon rises, and you will get what I call a “7 night horde.” There’s no preventing this horde. You can only prepare for it (ie. hide in a cave somewhere far away from your base so it doesn’t get ripped to shreds… unless you think your base can handle it!).

At night, zombies can run. They are fast, and they will tear you and any structure between you and them to pieces. The danger is real.

Player Vs. Structure

ARK‘s building is more simplistic compared to 7D2D. You learn new building recipes as engrams that you unlock while you level up. While base building does have parts (there’s a foundation you place, then walls you place on that, then a roof on the walls), it’s mostly snap-on building. ARK focuses on building large, stand-alone parts.

Placing items can be restricted by the terrain, which you can’t change. You’ll also not find existing game-spawned structures within the ARK world (at this point).

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7D2D is a fully voxel world with a Minecraft-ish crafting and building system. You can destroy the world and shape it to be what you need it to be. You build your structures block by block, and make exactly what you want to make, anywhere you want to make it. There are realistic building physics, so if you build something not structurally sound, don’t expect it to stay standing very long.

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7D2D also has a block upgrade system now. Meaning, if you find a run-down house, you can use wood and metal to upgrade each block (without replacing or tearing down the original) and eventually fortify that structure against zombies.

Player vs. Skills

ARK’s skill system is pretty straightforward. You kill things or craft to gain experience and levels. You also gain bonus experience when you are grouped together with your Tribe, which is a nice perk.

When you level up, you earn points to spend on engrams (recipes), so crafting is gated by not just the materials you have, but your level. You also can put points into skills such as attack damage, stamina, run speed, vitality, etc. So, there is a bit of customization there.

7D2D’s new skill system is amazing. And this is the dev team’s first pass on it – it’s going to continue to evolve. You level up skills as you use them (reminds me of old skool RPGs and MMOs). So the more you use a bow and arrow, the better in archery you get. The more you craft certain items, the better you get at crafting.

On top of that, you gain experience in overall levels, which earns you skill points to put into any skill that you like. For example, I’m into building, so I get a lot of my levels through crafting and building. But, my archery was lacking, so I dumped some of my extra points into that, since I hadn’t spent a lot of time with the bow and arrow.

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Items have quality levels in 7D2D, so the better you are at crafting weapons, for example, the better quality the weapons you caft will be. I just love how much you can customize the direction of your character with this skill system – it always feels like I’m improving something, and that something is always important.

Player vs. Player

I don’t play on PvP servers, so I don’t have much to say about this aspect of the game. It’s in both of them, but ARK seems to allow players to hurt other players more.

In 7D2D, there are protective blocks you can put down that prevents anyone except people on your friends list from destroying structures that you place. So, your base is protected as long as you keep it within range of these blocks. It’s the zombies you really have to worry about tearing down your base.

In ARK, you don’t usually have to be concerned about dinosaurs flattening your base on their own. Sure, you might have a random wandering bronto stomp down stuff if you haven’t put walls up to deflect roaming dinos… but they don’t come in herds and purposely attempt to tear down your base.

Other players, however, riding their tamed dinosaurs, can and do flatten your bases and kill all your dinos. Which really sucks, and why I don’t play PvP.

Player vs. Time/Difficulty

Both games allow you to modify files to change the difficulty of the games. In 7D2D, I mod things so that it’s easier for the enjoyment of the different players on our team (though we still think it’s challenging). The game gets more difficult the longer you play, however. Time passes in the game and the 7 night hordes come every 7 nights, getting larger and more dangerous each time.

In ARK, the passage of time doesn’t effect anything, but the unmodded vanilla game requires a LOT of time to make progress. I don’t have time to spend hours and hours trying to tame a single dinosaur… I just don’t comprehend the why this game was developed to have an extreme amount of time to do things. When it only takes a few moments to kill the very dino that took hours to tame.

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That’s why our ARK servers are very heavily modified to make it more reasonable for a much more casual set of players. I appreciate the fact that both games allow this kind of tweaking, making it possible for the various types of players in our group to enjoy their experience.

Development

I’m quite fond of both development teams, though I’ve had a longer time and more experience with The Fun Pimps of 7D2D. That might be because 7D2D tends to take so much longer to release.

7D2D has huge systems that are being updated, and almost makes it play like a brand new game each time. For example, turning the world into a fully, infinite, procedurally generated map was a huge undertaking. Then polishing all the graphics for that, adding weather, adding a temperature system, adding higher quality zombies with motion capture animations, a full overwork of the gathering and crafting system, several overworks of the UI, and finally the new leveling and skill system.

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They do turn around hotfixes extremely quickly, however, even busting their tails through the weekend to get things done!

ARK, on the other hand, releases content so quickly I have trouble knowing when to update my server! Often, I see several patches in a week. Though, the content this team pushes is usually in much smaller chunks, and sometimes includes things like new dinos. I won’t say they don’t release any larger features – I saw new biomes and the whole dino breeding and raising system come out. It just seems the foundational systems are already in place and the team can spin out new content more quickly based on what’s already there.

Conclusion… Finally

In conclusion, these two games are very different, even though they are both survival games with crafting and building elements. Between the two, I have enough content to last me for so, so, sooo long. I’m the type who can build and build and build and just be happy building.

However, when I want to go zombie hunting with my team, loot some towns, and figure out how to build a base to withstand a horde, I can do that in 7D2D. And when I want to build a base on a lovely tropical island and tame, train and ride dinos around, I can do that in ARK.

It’s the best of all worlds!