Posted in Valheim

Valheim – Hearth and Home Exploration

This weekend, we updated Valheim and explored a little bit about the new Hearth and Home patch. We didn’t get to test out the changes to battle yet because most of our focus was getting crafting stations updated, specifically the cauldron.

I know there was a bunch of unhappy feedback about this patch initially and I also know that the team has already hotfixed the game to respond to this feedback. I expect there will be continued tweaks in the long run, but props to them for making quick fixes where they’re needed.

I am a little worried because I’m hearing the game is harder than it was before. We were just finding our stride in defeating fulings and had yet to beat the last boss, so it was at an agreeable difficulty, at least for us, before the patch.

Amoon also joined us for the first time in a while, so we helped to get him up to date on his gear. Thankfully, we had enough resources stashed away to create almost a full set of padded gear for him, though we need a bit more to get it all upgraded.

The most exciting item I explored is the Incinerator! Finally, we have a way to destroy unwanted items! And boy did we have a lot of them.

While Valheim Plus does allow items to eventually disappear after a while, we still had a little fenced-in part of our base where we basically just chucked unwanted trophies and other things into it while we awaited removal.

This is so, so much better! It only requires one cheap item from the merchant. Though I suggest that you put it well away from other objects unless you want the process of incineration to damage everything around it… (learned this the hard way).

OOPS! I guess lightning striking would cause damage.

Thor apparently bestows upon you a gift for offering up stuff in the Incinerator, though it’s not as glamourous as you might be hoping. Still, what you get is far more useful than what you put in. 😉

The cauldron also now has several upgrades it didn’t have before, and these upgrades gate the types of food that you can make. For example, you can’t make fish wraps unless you have a higher level cauldron. Things like pots and pans, butcher blocks and spice racks need to be placed near the cauldron, much like upgrades to workbenches.

Cauldron Upgrades

We messed around with the food stats and tried to find foods that would balance health and stamina. I’m not a huge fan of how they broke things out because fighting doesn’t just need health but the stamina to fight.

I know they’ve patched food to make it better, but stamina has always been a pet peeve of mine in Valheim. I do think that there needs to be a limitation on what you can do in the game, but even leveling up and using a slight boost from Valheim Plus, stamina depletes far more quickly than I feel it should. It makes the game more frustrating than challenging, IMHO.

Anyhow.

Complexity of making food has expanded. You have to have a special type of rack to cook certain meats now. And if you want to bake anything – such as pie or bread – you now have to make the pie at the cauldron, then bake it in the new oven to complete it.

I’m not sure how I feel about having an extra step just for baked goods, though it makes it more realistic than baking a pie in a cauldron. Also, it’s fun to watch the pie baking, and see how the pies fly out when you retrieve them once they’re done.

On the downside, I’m not sure if this means you can burn the baked items… which given the resources that go into making a pie, would be a bummer.

We haven’t looked into the new housing building pieces yet. But I am glad to finally be able to plant birch trees now. Fine lumber was becoming more scarce before this.

I’m sure there were other things I noticed about the update and haven’t talked about yet here. For now, I’m going to reserve my final judgement until we get out on the plains and see how our weapons and shields work against a fuling camp.

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Delubrum Reginae Clear, Into Zadnor

So the last time I played Bozja content, Syn and I managed to complete Castrum Lacus Litore (finally). I’m not sure why we took a pause after that, but we did. A several month pause.

Little did we know that one more solo instance and series of cutscenes would have opened Delubrum Reginae. This was another 24-man raid, similar to an alliance raid, but with less strict party makeup. In fact, you could end up running the instance without healers or tanks if that’s how the duty finder picked them. You’re expected to make up for the lack of other classes by using the Bozja Lost Action skills – which is a system I basically understand, but don’t fully have my head wrapped around yet.

I was happy to know that this was a duty finder instance, rather than waiting around a zone to hope for something like the Castrum to pop. My happiness in that is short-lived, however, as I’ve heard there’s another raid that’s exactly like Castrum later in the quest line.

I did watch a video on DR before I went in – and I was happy that I did because some of those mechanics would have been difficult to understand by just eyeballing for the first time. I did manage to make it through the instance without too much death – it was really the last boss that got me (but I knew she would).

Finishing the instance opened a new zone for me – Zadnor – which I joke looks a lot like a beta version moonscape. At least, the first part of it does.

Just cruising on the pre-Endwalker moon

Ranking up is fast here, especially if you have a few friends helping out. I started this whole unexpected adventure at rank 11 and now I’m rank 18 without too much time or fuss. I need a couple more ranks before I can open the next area of the zone.

While I do enjoy Bozja content because I like doing open-field stuff more than dungeon stuff, I don’t really have a goal of relic weapons or anything here. I’m doing it mostly because to put it off any longer will likely mean it’ll be much harder to finish after the new expansion, and I’d like to see the story through. However, I’ve heard that the story itself ends rather abruptly, which is sad.

I finally got to meet this Lalafell!

Since I have all jobs leveled to 80 on Ben, I don’t need Bozja for leveling or anything like that. This is, however, the first new content with cutscenes and character interactions that I’ve played since I’ve transformed my main into Ben. Though I’ve had a Ben character before this, most of what I’ve done with him was roulettes and story speed-through.

I need to play a character in story elements and cutscenes to really get a feel for them. I know that sounds odd, but something about watching my character (even if it’s just nodding) and seeing their facial expressions helps me feel more connected to them. I haven’t had the chance to do that with Ben until now.

I did put together a brand new glamour for Ben a few weeks back, and I’ve decided that the more I look at it, the happier I am with it. I also like the feel of playing Red Mage on Ben despite the fact that his gear is pretty rubbish for being my main character. I’m not too worried about this since this is the end of the expansion, but I would like to be more mindful of that next time around.

Some Thoughts Before Endwalker

I feel like going into Endwalker, I’m going to do my best to focus more on Ben as my main this time around. I really enjoy my alts, especially Amon, but I also feel like I’ve been stretching myself a bit too thin trying to do too much on too many characters.

This is specifically the case with my crafting jobs, where I have all level 80s on Ben and Amon (and another random 80 on Tad somewhere). I just don’t have the time and energy to try to gear up multiple crafters, earn the materia I need for (failed) melding, and try to do relic tools for all of their jobs.

I’ll likely still level Amon’s crafters because the leveling part is usually easy once a beast tribe drops. But the gearing up process will be left to scrips for him.

I know for sure that I’ll level at least three characters worth of gatherers, though. Maybe more, if I have my choice. Gathering daily maps has been my slow-but-steady source of income. Having more characters do this doesn’t take much time each day, and the gil returned for the time spent is more than worth it.

Anyhow, all this to say that I’m starting to get a feel for Ben and enjoy playing him as my main. I want to continue this into the next expansion where I expect to really get used to my choice of character transformation.

Posted in Steam Gaming

Hobo: Tough Life Survival Game

I’ll throw this up front: There’s probably very little about the Hobo RPG that is politically correct, so let’s just get that out of the way and talk about this as a video game, not as a cultural statement. In this game, you play a homeless man who has to survive on the streets of Praslav, a Czech-based city (this game was developed by a Czech dev team).

There’s bad language, shady situations, alcohol, smoking, drugs and much adult content. So if any of those things bother you in a game, it’s probably not for you.

All that aside, I’m enjoying the game for the gameplay itself. I’d looked at this game before when it was on sale, but it wasn’t until my sister picked it up and asked if I wanted to try it that I bought it last week.

The city is quite nice in some areas, and is neat to interact with.

Basically, it’s like a hardcore survival game version of The Sims, but you’re a hobo. You have to figure out how to stabilize your needs – food, energy, bathroom, happiness – as a baseline before you do anything else. My first few hours with the game was discovering how all that works – if any of your stats drop too low, they directly take down your health stat.

When you die in this game, the penalty can be pretty sharp. Your stats are docked and capped 10% lower than they would have been each time. The only way to reverse this is to use an item that costs 2,000 crowns. And in the beginning, 2,000 crowns is not easy for an inexperienced player to make.

It’s not a forgiving game. It doesn’t hold your hand. You will be struggling to figure out how to meet your needs. But once you get over that learning curve, and you get the hang of it… they throw snowstorm calamities at you.

The first time it snowed in game, it sank in what I was going to be dealing with.

Yeah. Every time I felt like I was finally getting a leg-up in this game, something would come along and knock me off my high horse. I’ve put 33 hours into it and have survived the first season – but I’ve heard season two and three are much harder.

But something about it keeps me coming back. Namely, the interesting skill system and the ongoing storyline you build as you explore and work up reputation with the NPCs in the game.

I really like the variety of skills you utilize to survive in this game. It’s unique.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, I favor talking, begging and crafting over stealing and lockpicking. I’ve only just gotten to the point where I can work up trading, but I’m enjoying that.

Dumpster diving is… I never thought I’d say this… fun. It’s like opening a treasure chest and trying to find something useful from it.

Lately, I’ve been able to fish out broken electronics such as keyboards, lamps, and headphones. Then I repair them with my engineering perk and take them back out on the street where I pedal them for crowns.

Perks are a nice system on top of the leveling system that unlocks deeper gameplay with more options. These are hard-earned traits that you learn by working up your trust levels with NPCs who then train you for a cost.

As you can see, I don’t have a lot of these just yet – I’m just starting to get to the point where I’m building enough trust for some of them.

Now that I have worked up to master begging at a high level, chatting and begging on the streets is my bread and butter. This is a neat system where you interact with normal passer-bys – they can refuse to talk at all if your charisma is too low – then engage in a game of balancing your talking with your begging, selling and stealing (if you choose).

The higher your level in all these things, the higher your percentage of success is. I’m at a point where when I beg, most of the time strangers give me items or food along with money. This is super, super helpful because things like coffee can keep you from needing to sleep, and any handouts save money on having to buy supplies. So it’s like a donation on top of a donation.

Of course, if you attempt to steal from a stranger or from a non-public bin – or lockpick bins that are locked – you can get caught and tossed in jail. There are also really annoying thugs that hang around the dark back streets who will jump you, take your money or smokes – or you can choose to fight it out. I’m not at a point where I’m strong enough in fighting to take them on yet, but I’m interested in seeing what happens if I train more in defense and offense.

And then there’s base building. Or rather, shelter building. There are four different locations within the city where you can build up your own shelter from objects you find and craft. You can also store items at the shelter, which can be shared with everyone in the game.

It’s not pretty, but it’s home.

We didn’t start to build or utilize our shelter until a bit too late in the game – we knew it existed but not how it worked or how it benefited us. Another case of the game not holding your hand there. It became a real game changer when we found the additional shared storage, not to mention realized we could put a sleeping couch next to a fire barrel and sleep in warmth. Plus, when you hit certain milestones with your shelter, you can opt for permanent boosts and buffs.

As the days go on, it gets colder and more challenging to survive. Once we hit day 30, we were slapped with what the game calls a calamity.

During this time, the city is hit with a blizzard at -5 degree weather. No NPCs are on the streets and all the shops are closed. This means that you have to hunker down, stay warm, and live off of what you have in your inventory until the storm passes. The ultimate survival test in this game.

This came at us completely unaware, but we managed to live through the first one. After that, the weather warmed up to a balmy 50+ degrees, which we’ve been using to our advantage. I hear calamities pop up randomly in the second and third seasons, though. So, we’re stocking up and hunting better gear.

The ultimate goal of the game is to become the Homeless King and unite the hobo community to lead them to a better future. At this point, I haven’t earned any votes towards this (nor do I really care all that much about winning this), but it’s neat to have a final goal for the game if you do want something to work towards.

All in all, this was an unlikely game to enjoy, but I have. I still have a lot of skills and perks to earn, so I’m looking forward to toughing it out in the next two seasons!

Posted in Steam Challenge

Steam Challenge: 60% Milestone Goal Met!

Back in 2014, I began what I called a Steam Personal challenge. I identified that I had a major issue with my Steam backlog (which was much, much smaller than it is today), and decided to make an effort to play more Steam games to get that number down.

Back then, the Steam Calculator determined the percentage of games not played. Now days, it does the opposite – it determines the number of games you have played. That’s a little less negative, it seems.

So when I started my personal challenge, I’d basically only played 29% of the games I owned.

2018 – Reaching the 50% Milestone

Back in 2018, I met my goal of bringing the games I’d played percentage up to 50%. Here’s what my numbers looked like back then.

Part of my goal was to cut back on buying games – no more bundles with unwanted games, for example. I also wanted to start playing games right after I bought them if possible.

Back in 2018, here were my most played games.

Steam Culling

Back in 2016, I started something that I call Steam Culling. Basically, I put together a list of games that I know I’m probably not interested playing.

This I usually used for games I got as part of a bundle when I was really interested in just one or two of the bundled games. I stopped buying these bundles due to this, but I still had a bunch of games I would just install, try out for a short time, then uninstall when I got the jist of it. Usually, I was right – I wasn’t interested in the game.

Sometimes, this list includes instances like the when you bought the original version of a game and Steam automatically gifted you the Game of the Year or Director’s Cut upgrade. Statistically, that counts as two games when it’s really just one!

Or when you get the Test servers stuck in your backlog for games that you bought. For example, H1Z1 – which is a game that doesn’t even exist anymore – counted as FOUR games in my backlog: Just Survive, Just Survive Test Server, H1Z1 Battle Royal, H1Z1 Battle Royal Test Server. These test servers were a pain because they are a huge download and take forever. Luckily, even though the game doesn’t exist anymore, attempting to run the test servers did count as having played the game.

I think I have the ARK test server on my backlog and just need to carve out a day to download it just to launch it and get it out of my stats. That’s going to be a big one.

2021 – Reaching the 60% Milestone

I’ve been doing a good job of buying less Steam games and playing the games I’ve bought. Some of this is because I’ve been shifting towards Xbox Game Pass for a number of games I might have tossed on my Steam wishlist. That keeps them out of my backlog.

I’ve also been working on actively culling extra copies of games, test servers, games that don’t exist anymore, games that are no longer developed/supported and games I know I’m not interested in playing. I’ve been sitting at 59% for a while now, and decided this week I was going to work at culling the big and annoying downloads I keep avoiding.

My goal for 2021 was to get to 60% of games played. I’m happy to announce that as of last night, I successfully reached that gaming goal for this year!

I know that it seems like I added almost 50 games to my backlog since 2018. I’d like to note that some of these were Humble Bundle games I got with bundles that I’d not claimed before – I reluctantly moved them to my backlog and put most of them on the culling list. The games I knew I absolutely didn’t want, I gave away on Steam Gifts. So that was quite a number!

Some of that number also came from what I described above. I bought Bards Tale IV. Then Bards Tale IV Director’s Cut came out and now one game turned into two in my library. That’s happened often (thank you for the free upgrade, though!).

And yes, I have just bought games, though I’ve bought a lot less than I did in the 2014-2018 period of time!

Here’s my list of most played games, just for curiosity:

Interesting how there’s not a huge difference in titles the past 3 years! Though I did add a number of new titles that I really enjoy playing.

Anyhow – my 60% played goal is finally achieved. Maybe if I cull enough and play enough I can go for 65% before the year is out? What do you think?

Posted in Valheim

Valheim: Preparing for Yagluth

It’s been a while since we’ve explored Valheim, but with a new patch coming just around the corner, Syn and I decided to pick up where we left off in our adventures. Last time, we were just learning our way around the plains, figuring out what we could and couldn’t handle when it came to battling the creatures out there.

As our garden in the plains became more fruitful, this time around, we were able to finish upgrading all of our gear except for the shields (we need more chains). Syn made herself a spiffy spiked Porcupine while I just opted to upgrade my black metal sword as far as I could.

Armed and geared, we decided to move towards exploring around the location the game marked as Yagluth. I marked all the Fuling camps as I went because we are still lacking on totems we need to actually summon the boss.

We overshot the altar since there was a camp right next to it and found a fairly safe location along the ocean to build a tiny outpost that could house a portal nearer to Yagluth. This was nothing fancy or large, but we did go with stone buildings just to make sure it was strong enough to withstand an attack if we needed to retreat to it.

We also experimented with making new kinds of food beyond fish wraps, and this helped by boosting the overall health cap quite a bit when it came to raiding the camps. The one star (and sometimes two star) Fulings still do a lot of damage, but with a bigger health pool, I was able to survive a few fights I couldn’t have before.

I know that food is going to change in the next patch, so I’m a little worried they’ll take away the higher health cap effects. Guess we’ll have to see!

That’s not to say we didn’t die a few times, but death was easier to recover from with an outpost located where we built it. I’m still learning how much I can survive with this new gear and how much damage I can do with the upgraded blade. Despite having what I think is the better stuff in the game, Fulings are still a big challenge and quite tough when they gang up on you.

Deathsquitos are thankfully not so much of a danger anymore, and in fact have become coveted as we need the needles to make new stacks of arrows – we go through quite a bit.

Not every camp we raid has a totem, which is making things slow going. We actually have more black metal than we know what to do with due to our efforts. Where we left off, we have four of five totems we need to summon Yagluth, and a couple more camps we’ve scouted in our explorations of the area.

So my hope is we can down him the first try (though I haven’t read up on any of the strats) and not have to go out hunting more totems if we should fail. I’m honestly not sure if that’s how it works if everyone dies at a boss seeing we’ve never had it happen, and I hope it won’t this time around.

I’m not sure that we’ll get this fight done before the Hearth and Home patch drops, but it would be nice to be able to focus on whatever the new content is going to be in the patch. I’m happy to see new stuff coming for Valheim!

Also, Valheim has become my second most played game in Steam, only second to 7D2D (which has an insane number of hours and probably won’t be unseated in first place anytime soon).

Posted in FFXIV, Uncategorized

FFXIV: Lalagans Visit the Crystalala Art Party

The CROWN Free Company of Malboro – a FC that the Lalafell versions of Amon and Scylla have been welcomed to – hosted a Lalafell-oriented art party earlier today. There was quite a turnout with all sorts of original characters and NPC representations in Lala form.

Like Amon and Scylla, these NPCs weren’t all Lalafell originally – there were characters of all sorts including Ascians, Scions, Zenos and even Nero. So much creativity went into a lot of these character designs – I was really impressed. Lots of fun for the NPC crowd!

There was bard music, lots of dancing, lots of summer glamours and just fun all around. I am always happy to meet up with these folks, some which I rarely run across in-game or get to see outside of events. If all goes well, once cross-datacenter travel ramps up, CROWN hopes to host another party to include even more folks.

Oh, and check out this adorable artwork of Amon and Scylla Lalas (and other great Lalas) gifted by my buddy Yuyuhase! ❤

Posted in 7 Days to Die

7D2D: Exploring Some Great Points of Interest

Our current 7D2D game is the longest running game we’ve played in a while. We’re moving in to the 30 days range in terms of game time. So far, the small war fort that I’ve fashioned has held up (more or less) against the blood moon hordes. So after making repairs from the previous horde night, I finally had some time to get out and explore with the Posse.

They’d already located a number of neat points of interest – most of which were created by other players and added using the KingGen add-on. I certainly haven’t seen all there is to see, but when we ran across some neat builds, I took some screens of them!

So this place is what the crew has been calling a medieval tavern. It certainly had its share of zombies and treasure to go through, but the inside was most impressively designed. Too bad that it was getting beat up due to zombies responding to our exploration!

After this, we found a full-on sprawling castle to explore, complete with moat and drawbridges. This seemed deceptively quiet when you first come in… until you alerted the mass of zombies and vultures that lurk in the towers!

We headed back into town where we ran across some more mundane, but just as cool, areas to explore. Like this casino – both outside and inside was pretty cool!

The cashout area with flashing colorful lights

We ran upon a shopping mall – it wasn’t so interesting outside but the inside was really cool. Several floors were connected by what were nicely replicated escalators.

Just don’t try to take the elevator, whatever you do.

I thought that the supplies in the Safety shopping section were absolutely a hoot!

We also came across this strange building that claimed to be a library.

And, it was – once you climb the towers there was a pretty nice library upstairs. Just don’t take the suggested exit (please use the stairs).

Complete with zombie dog carcass

And the final stop for the night was an absolutely HUGE skyscraper called the Omni. It’s pretty glitzy and boy was it massive. If it tells you anything, the floors started out being indicated by the letters of the alphabet until we ran out of letters.

We didn’t quite finish exploring the upper reaches of the tower, so there’s no knowing what we’d find at the top. I’ll be disappointed if it’s not a nice penthouse or something.

The Posse is having a great time with this build, and there always seems to be something new to find out there. We’re about to roll on to our next horde night, so hoping that the war fort continues to hold out for us!

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: After 7+ Years, Shikaree’s Doublet Comes Home

Now that I’ve officially finished my Blaugust posts for this year (yay!), it’s back to blogging as normal around here. I wanted to talk about something that happened on Friday of last week – I finally got Shikaree’s Doublet after almost 7 and a half years of hoping for it in FFXIV.

Shikaree’s set is a level 50 aiming set that came out in FFXIV Patch 2.2 – back in April of 2014. In the middle of the Darklight set drops, this looked like a shining jewel of glamour to me. Much like Amon’s Hat, I set my sights on getting it.

In fact, I even blogged about it in May of 2014. It was at the end of a post talking about working on my firs Relic (which I’ve never finished), but I did make put my hopes to get that gear in writing.

I never had it in me to farm for it much, even though it eventually became easy to clear as the years went on. My retainers brought me back pieces of the set, and eventually I had everything except the doublet in my glamour dresser.

I’d forget about it for a stretch, but then things like dyeable version in Heavensward would pop up. It’s a nice set, and I like that I can dye it. But that spring green sash that you can’t dye for the aiming set made it hard to use much variation in dye colors.

Hallowed Ramie Doublet of Aiming

The casting and healing sets came out a little better, but still have some undyable parts that are either stark red or bright green. So while options were out there, I preferred the lovely blue and white of the original doublet.

I got reminded of the doublet yet again when retainers brought it back to an alt of mine who doesn’t main an aiming class. I lamented the irony and decided it was finally time to farm for it.

My choice of farming was Halitali HM. At level 80 unsynced, I could run it in less than 5 minutes as a Red Mage. The doublet drops off the final boss – but has a 1 in 8 chance. For some reason, this boss fight even drops two belts – not for much longer though!

Luck was against me as I farmed the dungeon somewhat casually every now and then. I did even put it on my list of things to do before Endwalker drops.

I’d forget about farming it for a while when I failed to earn the drop repeatedly. Then something would bring the topic back up again.

This happened last week when I remembered it while chatting with my FC about glamour. That Friday, I decided to run the dungeon a few times, and sure enough, on my fourth try of the night, the doublet dropped!

Having the full set, I quickly kitted out Ben’s aiming glamour. My hope for the full Shikaree set has now been realized!

Posted in FFXIV

FFXIV: Crystal Kickback

Last night, there was a beach party gathering called Crystal Kickback for the Crystal Data Center. I was a bit late to the party as I only learned about it from seeing some Twitter friends tweeting pictures of the gathering. I’ve been wanting to hang out at the Moonfire Faire a bit more, so this was a good time to do it!

I met up with folks from Twitter, namely friends who play a Pipin and Nabriales in-game. NPC RPers often stick together at events for the fun of it.

There was a playlist of music (apparently I missed this), prizes, dancing on the beach and of course the event fireworks! All in all, we had a lot of good fun!

And more screens of Pipin and Amon, dancing but looking like they’re up to mischief!

Gotta love these community events! They’re pretty common on the Crystal Data Center, not sure what other Data Centers have. Often time you can find them announced on Twitter, but even then, it’s easy to miss events if you don’t know the tags.

Anyhow, I didn’t stay super long last night because the event was starting to wind down, but glad to have participated and met up with some friends!