Posted in No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky: Settlements, Flying Mounts, More!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks since the Posse has gotten into near nightly NMS exploration lately. This started because Syn and I had picked it up again to see what was new, and when we talked about it, Vix and Xaa became interested in trying it out. Just a fluke, but the game suddenly went on sale for half off on Steam a couple days after, so they picked it up.

I pre-ordered NMS back in the day and played it quite a bit at launch. I was not one of the folks who were unhappy with the state of the game in those days – I hadn’t followed news of it before release and didn’t really have any expectations as to what it should be. I had some constructive feedback (most of which has been fixed by now), but overall, I enjoyed it.

I’ve popped back into it every now and then, but I never actually got all that far into the game’s questlines. The game felt quite large and overwhelming due to this, but Syn and I try to play it every now and then.

Even though I didn’t write about it, I think we started dabbling in the game sometime back in November of last year. We found a nice Paradise planet and set up bases near to each other. Trying to play it multiplayer got us all sorts of grief, however. There are far too many buggy things that happen (and shouldn’t happen) if you’re grouped up with someone and trying to go through quest lines.

Buggy Multiplayer

For example, there was a time when Syn couldn’t tame a pet on our home planet no matter how she tried. Until I disconnected from her game, then she had no problem.

Another example, when the settlements quest popped up for me, the game pointed me to the exact same location that it had sent Syn for her settlement, which she’d already claimed. Reading up on that, I discovered that had I tried to claim her site after she’d already claimed it, it could have bugged settlements for the both of us.

Instead, I just had to warp far, far, FAR away and use my navigational data to purchase a map to a new settlement. Then the quest found a different location for me and we were both able to “happily” serve the whims of a financially failing establishment and attempt to make it a better place to live.

The Posse meeting up in the Anomaly

Since then, we’ve all come to play the game solo for the most part. We sometimes connect on multiplayer to share a location, see a base, or to do missions from the Anomaly. But for our normal gameplay, we just keep it solo while connected on Discord for questions and communication, and that seems to work.

Settlements

Despite my grumbling about settlements and settlers grumbling about me, I’ve enjoyed this new feature of NMS. You randomly get a call to check out a settlement that’s not in good shape – they have terrible living conditions (I’ve not heard of one that’s spawned on a nice planet), a ever-rising debt, and a slew of things that need to be developed and fixed.

My settlement when first starting out

Sometimes you have requests to build new buildings – mine wanted a cantina first up – that help with happiness, productivity and population. You also have to listen to the woes of the citizens and decide outcomes to their disputes. Sometimes you get a visitor that can have effects on your settlement depending on how you choose to interact with them.

I hesitate to call it a city builder, though it resembles one. Placing new buildings is random and up to the game, but requires you to supply the materials for each stage. Once you supply the materials, the building takes real-life time to progress. Most of the time this is between one and two hours – though the first building may have taken a day.

A citizen resting in the new cantina

Once you finally do get your settlement out of debt, you can claim some of the items that the settlement produces at least once a day. There’s a timer on that, and it probably gets shorter as the living conditions get better.

I enjoy checking in on them and seeing what changes over time as a little project on the side.

Companions: Pets and Mounts

Another thing that I’ve been exploring in game is the companion system, which is also somewhat newer. You can adopt creatures you run across, ride them if they’re mountable, and “breed” them by taking their eggs to the Anomaly and messing with the DNA (I haven’t sorted through this system yet).

The very first pet I adopted was one of the flying butterfly/snake/caterpillar creatures that captivated me back when we first discovered our home planet last year.

I’ve since learned that they aren’t all that rare on Paradise planets. But I still really like them as a flying mount. In fact, I hatched an egg from my first adopted pet, and while she seems to be stuck in Infant state, whatever I did at the Egg Station made her a bright green with a potential to be very large.

This is Formista, and she’s my favorite companion so far.

She’s already larger than the others of her kind even as an infant, but I’d love to see her finally age so I can see how large she’s supposed to be in the end!

I’ve also caught some less useful pets over time, like this strange rainbow slime with eyes in it…

Eventually I did release it because you can only have so many pet slots. While it was a cool pet, it didn’t benefit me much to have.

I’m working on training up a ground mount because they can do a lot more than the flying mounts. And this is something I still haven’t explored yet.

Base Building

I also ended up tearing down the old prefab base I had begun because I was having trouble with powering it, the lack of space inside, and the fact that my terraformed ground kept coming back. I later learned there’s only so much terraforming you can do in a base radius before it starts undoing the earliest edits.

I’m much happier with my new base, especially since I’ve opened up building pieces such as windows and glass roofs. I now have a larger, more open wooden type base next to the ocean with great big windows and a green house area.

I wish I had a better shot of my newest build, but here’s an idea.

I’ve mostly been putting off the main quests for doing side quests, unlocking new slots for my suit, upgrading technology, base building… all that sort of stuff. As of last night, I’ve been working on trading in order to upgrade my existing ship. I have a decent B class Shuttle type, but I was hoping for something of a higher class before I spent the materials installing bigger warp drives.

Amoon did help me find a crashed B class Explorer which is a step up for me. It’s a free ship, though I have a lot of work to fix the broken slots within it. I’m not in a rush, though. I’ve already made a lot more progress in the side questlines in this game than I ever have, so I’m pleased with that.

A ship to fix

I’m done with most the base building quests, I have my farming station quests taken care of, my exocrafts going, and not too many other quests from the stations within my base. I did start the quest for the living ship, which I’m in no rush to complete either.

On top of that, we’ve been working on missions from the Anomaly that earn Quicksilver for various cosmetics and fun things. I got rainbow flame trails for my jetpack, for example. So there’s much, much more I can do in this game!

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: One Year Later Review

Back when No Man’s Sky launched a year ago, I wrote a post about my first impressions of the game. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. I even wrote up a list of suggestions that would make the game better.

I stumbled on this post and realized that a LOT has changed in NMS… so I wanted to do a round-up and take a look at how many of my concerns and suggestions were addressed. So, here we go!

My Annoyance List

Long… long… long… loading screens.

This hasn’t changed, mostly due to the fact that the game has to load shaders and stuff when warping and loading the game. I’ve learned to live with it.

Slow. So very slow.

Just walking (which you do a TON of) has two speeds: snail-slug slow and a little less slow. The “running” doesn’t feel like running, just a slightly faster walk.

Interacting with aliens starts to feel like it takes an eternity. You get something like a cut scene, then the alien takes forever to speak to you and then the relevant game text slowly fades in.

They’ve added ground vehicles to let you get around faster now. Walking and running are still slow, but at least there’s another option.

They actually fixed the alien cutscene and talking slowness pretty early one. You can choose to skip through the Milestones pop-ups and you can now click to speed up the loading of alien text. This was a huge improvement!

In addition to that, you can now insta-warp to space stations from your base, plus the use of portals (which I haven’t done yet).

Inventory constraints.

Just bad. I know you slowly increase your slots, but that seems to be the only real progression when it comes to ships and suits. There is never enough room for any of the things you find.

Inventory is still tight on ships and suits, however, now there is a designated section of slots for upgrades vs. cargo, which helps a lot. Also, you can put holding containers on your base and own your own freighter!

So inventory options have improved a lot, though you have to work to achieve it.

Lack of quest clarity.

I’m okay with a game that doesn’t hold my hand, but I feel like the the little bit of tutorial we do get is not very clear.

There’s still some wonkiness with quests, but the addition of a log makes the experience much better. The new storyline also works as an extended tutorial, and has been pretty solid so far.

Exploration starts to feel redundant.

You do the same sort of thing on every planet – find discarded ships, fix them up to upgrade your ship. Find new upgrades for your weapon and exosuit.

There’s SO much more to find and do now. Many more biomes were added over the last year, plus different kinds of points of interest and different ways to locate them. It’s much easier to be able to build your own signal booster to find what you’re looking for.

I also noticed that there are some things you can’t mine or gather until you have specific upgrades. Some plants require a hazmat type protection while some minerals require advanced mining tools. So, there’s a variation in all of that.

My one major wish is to see more variety in animal life now.

Constantly pacifying Life Support.

There’s no eating in this game, but you have to “feed” the life support to keep your exosuit systems online and not die.

This is still a thing. HOWEVER. They added a creative mode that allows you to play the game without this bothering you all the time. So, now, you have an option.

No way to easily toggle UI to take nice screenshots.

So there is a way to completely turn off the HUD in the PC version, but it requires you to go to the Options menu and turn it off in a setting every time you want to take a screenshot.

I’ve just recently discovered the camera mode, and it is fantastic! Pressing X allows you to toggle between tools, including the camera. When in camera mode, the world freezes and you can change several aspects, such as your camera view, the time of day, that sort of thing. It’s really above and beyond what I could have hoped for!

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My new base, taken with the camera mode, which allows me to see it from above.

 

Space Pirates.

They haven’t killed me yet, but man, they’re a pain in the behind.

They’re still there. BUT. You can now choose to call backup from the local space station, or even pay off the pirates to leave you alone. Shooting them down is worth a lot, however…

Ship navigation.

I like that you can’t crash your ship… or I’d be doing it all the time. But it bugs me that I can’t fly down lower over the surface of a planet, and how much a pain it is to estimate a landing on a planet.

Low flight was added in Atlas Rising patch! This is truly wonderful… I had actually been using a mod before this to achieve the same thing.

Static world.

No Man’s Sky feels like a very static world in that you never see aliens just going about everyday life. You dock in the space station or trade outpost and its always empty of activity… until you’ve been there a little while.

This is still a thing, though it’s getting better. It seems PoIs and space stations feel a bit more lively than they used to. There’s still no aliens to be seen outside of trade posts, or daily life, but having your own base and putting NPCs there helps.

My Suggestions

So I made a list of suggestions that would improve the game, IMHO. Let’s see how things look now.

Building!

I need to build things and make something of my own. Right now, I just drift from world to world, but nothing has any personal worth to me.

Bases were added last year. I am just starting to explore base building, but I like what I see so far!

Land vehicles!

Let me build a little moon rover or hover bike or something.

Yep. They added them. Again, I haven’t built one myself, but I’m looking forward to playing with one.

Give life to NPCs.

I love learning the alien languages and earning reputation with different races. But see above for all my complaints on how static the aliens are right now.

I feel like the game is moving that direction. The Atlas Rising story helps put names and stories to NPCs, which is a good thing. Recruiting NPCs for your base also helps.

Bookmarks, maps or quick return.

I need a way to be able to mark and return to places I’ve explored before.

You can create waypoints to systems you’ve explored before, though I haven’t messed around with that much.

You can also now warp between your base and the space station, which is really nice.

Portals were just introduced in Atlas Rising, but I’ve yet to play far enough to see their functionality.

Also, ships can now be summoned to certain locations. I was stoked when I saw that my ship portaled with me between my base and the space station!

Better inventory management!!!!

Separate upgrades from inventory.

Yep, they did this.

Online encyclopedia.

This is a pipe dream. But what’s the point in discovering all these cool things if you can’t show it to someone else? I’d LOVE an online encyclopedia of your discoveries — a webpage that you can pull up that shows the worlds and creatures you discovered. Something you can link to and send to other people.

While this is still a pipe dream for the overall game, the community is actually working on doing this through the Hub Project. Good work, guys!

So…

Well, dang. It sure does look like No Man’s Sky has either completely addressed or has improved on areas that I had issues with when I first played the game a year ago. That’s pretty crazy, if you think about it.

We all have lists of things we hope that our favorite games will do, but rarely have I seen a game turn around and actually handle almost all of my complaints and issues. Not only did NMS deliver, but it often went beyond what I hoped for… all in FREE patches.

Now, instead of wishing for improvements, I can start looking forward to being delighted by the development to come. Good job, Hello Games!

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Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: Space Adventure Continues

I’ve been in the mood for chill gaming lately, so I keep coming back to play No Man’s Sky. Thankfully, as of my last post, I did find a graphics settings tweak that fixed the blurry texture issues I was having. I can’t run the game on Ultra due to settings restraints, but at least it’s a whole lot better to look at than it was.

The team at Hello Games has been hard at work putting out patches for Atlas Rising, putting the game at version 1.33 now. I don’t know if all the major bugs have been taken care of, but they are certainly trying hard to fix what they can.

NMS Progress

I finished up some missions and raised my standing with the Gek to move on to the next part in the story line. This has me searching for help to pinpoint Artemis’ location from a lifeform named Apollo.

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I have to say that even though this story remains a tutorial so far, the writers continue to do a good job at keeping things mysterious and interesting. The story has me curious, and has started rewarding me along the way with things such as the Terrain Manipulator.

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I haven’t tried using it yet, but at least I can dig out the crashed freighters if I find one again.

The quest had me leave my previous star system, which was okay with me. Most of the planets there were either too hot, too cold, toxic or had terrible storms which prevented me from doing much exploration.

I was of a mind to head back towards my base planet, anyhow. Then, in the next system, I stumbled upon this interesting “bountiful” planet.

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It’s really a lovely place with bright blue skies, and bulbous grasses that gradient from deep purples to soft greens. I haven’t completely made up my mind yet, but I might be moving my base here. I’m a little concerned about doing that, though, because there still might be a chance I could mess up my story line (though they patched it, and that shouldn’t happen).

I’m not sure, but I feel like the story may have skipped the whole base building part, anyhow. One moment, they’re handing me the matter manipulator, another moment they’re telling me to strap in and look for a means to open a portal. Apollo even noted that I had a base, and that going through this portal might mean I wouldn’t see it for a long time.

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Gonna be very careful about this.

Oh, and remember how I mentioned I had this really cool carrier ship, but I’d forgotten to take a screenshot of it? Here it is!

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I’m still working on paying to unlock the slots on it, but finding a random 29 slot ship is pretty sweet (considering my previous ship was 17 slots).

The space adventure continues!

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky, Steam Gaming

No Man’s Sky: 1.3 Atlas Rises Patch

So while I’ve been talking a lot about GW2 this week, the truth is, over the weekend I mostly played No Man’s Sky’s newest 1.3 patch – Atlas Rises. This marks the game’s first year anniversary and it’s still on sale for $24 on Steam right now if any of this catches your interest.

This patch was really an incredible leap forward for NMS. Much of the community now feels that the game is finally at a point where it is what it was originally advertised to be. Yes, it’s bad this wasn’t out at launch. BUT – the devs didn’t abandon the game, and kept working until it was in a much better shape.

Now we have so much, from base building, rovers, low flight on ships, missions, farming, a new economy and trading system, and a brand new storyline. Really, there’s too much to list…

Oh, and yeah. The sorta-multiplayer was added, which really excited players. It’s very rudimentary, but it’s a foundation for something more, I hope.

Changes in the Universe

The universe was also restructured because many new and unusual biomes were added to the planets. This meant that your home base planet may have changed, for better or worse.

I did start to build a base during the last patch, but didn’t get super far with it. When I left the world, it was this pinky-purple planet, which was kinda pretty.

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Before 1.3

When I returned to my base planet, it had all turned green instead. Which is also kinda pretty.

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After 1.3

Thankfully, this was a positive change. I’ve read a lot of people who had a great home base planet that turned into snow or toxic waste biome. So, I can’t complain too much.

Texture Troubles

The one thing that did eat up a lot of my time was trying to troubleshoot the game’s texture loading issues. The last time I played the game, I was using my old Nvidia graphics card. Since then, I upgraded to a much more powerful AMD card.

I’d forgotten the posts that said NMS had issues with AMD cards. And, well, mine had issues loading the textures that I never had on the previous card. The game played well enough, but all the textures were on low quality, no matter what setting I put the graphics on.

I’d played the game enough to recognize this was NOT how it was supposed to look:

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Everything from the grass to the texture on the rocks to the building… yeah.

So I updated my drivers as a first step, and this actually cleared it up long enough to get those comparison pictures above. But after playing a bit, warping around, maybe turning the game off and back on again, it went right back to being blurry.

I started doing research.

Someone suggested a complete driver cleaning and uninstall/reinstall from a manual download. I did this, and again, it helped for a little while.

I went through several suggestions on the Tech Support forum. I got it to work partways, but still not 100% of the textures load. I may go back and mess with some of these settings again, but I eventually just gave up and played with mostly-loading textures.

It was better than none.

New Storyline

So, there’s a new storyline. It’s not super captivating or anything — mostly the story of an alien who has crashed and is stranded. You have to help them out.

But what the storyline does fill is the huge blank where a tutorial or guidance system was missing. In fact, it feels a lot like a tutorial, which is there to introduce the player to all the different features of the game.

It teaches you to build signal beacons, how to find specific locations, how to earn reputation, how to learn language, and (at this point for me) how to find the new mission feature. Eventually, I heard it prompts you to build a base (which gets bugged out if you happen to move your base’s original location, so be careful!).

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The game’s writing uses the illusion of mystery and grandiose language to try to make the story feel bigger than it actually is (a tutorial). It does cover this well, but the reality is, it’s just sending you on a bunch of menial tasks.

This is fine. I wish the story was a bit deeper than just a story masking a tutorial. But it’s better than nothing, and players seem to like it. I’m going along for the ride since it’s been so long since I’ve played that I don’t know most of what I’m doing anyhow. XD

It’s nice to have a mission-oriented journal type thing that helps you keep track of where you are and what you need to do, too. This might have been patched in back when bases were introduced, but it’s not until now that I actually started to rely on it consistently.

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Overall

The community has really rallied behind NMS after this update. Heck, even before this update, this game had a very dedicated group of players who even worked to create a whole Galactic Hub in order to meet up and map a common system. This is very, very cool, and you should check it out!

Even better, the recent Steam review ratings have gone from Mostly Negative to Mostly Positive as players give recognition where it’s due. There will always be haters, of course, but even I tossed in a positive review for the game (I rarely write game reviews on Steam) because I’m impressed by the dedication of the dev team.

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Despite the technical difficulties I’ve had, I also had great fun playing over the weekend, and hope that I can maintain a momentum to actually build my base this time around. I found this really cool crashed ship — I discovered it was a Hauler — that took me from 19 slots to something like 32 in one shot. (I wish I had a screen of it.)

I still have to raise the money to actually unlock the slots on the ship, but I was so stoked to repair it and get it flying. It might be a good introduction into learning how to haul and trade materials between systems. Maybe?

I’ll have to find out!

Posted in Gaming

December Goals in Review

The end of 2016 is almost upon us. That’s pretty wild to think about. Some folks are ready to see the year go. I’m just trying to figure out how to do stuff differently next year. But that’s a post for another time. This is about my December gaming goals.

I’m posting this a little early because I foresee myself being busy the next few days (I’m visiting and roadtripping, and won’t be home until next week). I don’t think I’ll be hitting any more goals than what I already have for the month, so it’s all good.

What did I accomplish?

Games to Explore

  • Civ 6 ✓
  • Skyrim
  • No Man’s Sky ✓
  • Minecraft
  • Sims 4 ✓

I did pretty good on this. Poor Skyrim is falling by the wayside again, but I hope I can pick it up next year. Minecraft might actually get a bit more exploration since I did pick up the Wii U copy as well to bring along on my trip. 

Aside from that, I won my first round of Civ 6, started building a base in No Man’s Sky, and my Sims family have reached the top of their career. I’m aiming to get them that nice penthouse once they save enough simoleons.

I still have a lot I want to do in No Man’s Sky, but I also have a few new Steam games that I want to explore next year. I also want to get back on my Steam Challenge in 2017 and knock out some backlog games that have been hanging around for too long! 

Pokemon Sun

  • Complete 3rd Island ✓
  • Continue to fill Pokedex ✓

Yes! I did this! Despite being sucked into breeding and trading for the holidays.  

I actually just reached Poni Island last night in Pokemon Sun. While I still have a ways to go, I’m happy to say that my Alola Pokedex is sitting at  76% complete. I have three teams worth of Pokemon training in Pelago, either leveling to hit an evolution or leveling before I give them a stone to evolve. 

Final Fantasy XIV

  • Gear Dragoon ✓
  • Work (harder) on Dragoon Relic ✓
  • Level Monk ✓
  • Do Monk job quests ✓
  • Do Summoner job quests
  • Clean up old quests
  • Gear Summoner
  • Gain reputation with Sahagin

I’ve actually been taking a bit of a break from FFXIV this month, and it’s been a good thing. 

I finished gearing Zuri’s Dragoon with Scripture gear, and while I have worked on the Relic, I’m just not feeling motivated about it. Maybe waiting until the 3.5 patch, which is coming on January 17, to see if we’ve got any much-needed nerfs is the way to go for now. 

I have leveled Zuri’s Monk a bit – slowly coming up on 58 – but it’s not something I’ve worked really hard at achieving. I’d like to get it done before the end of January, though, because the Monk and Dragoon share end game accessories, so that would help clean up some inventory space. That’s really the only reason I level jobs anymore! 

I’ve really done nothing to gear up or advanced my Summoner. I just haven’t had that much interest in it, especially since Red Mage has been announced. I don’t know if Red Mage will share weapon stats with mages or with the other ranged DPS yet. So it’s hard to make plans for it. 

My poor old-skool beast tribe quests. Every month I just ignore them. Maybe now that I’m done working on getting Tomes for gear through beast tribes, I can focus on cleaning up the rest of them before Stormblood. 

I don’t know what kind of motivation I have for leveling my other jobs that are just hanging out there on Zuri. That level 50-60 grind is painful… and might ease up once the expansion comes. I have a level 30 Black Mage, level 32 Ninja, and two tanks hanging around in the 30s as well. I’ve not unlocked Astro or Dark Knight, and I’m not sure I have interest in unlocking them aside from just for completion sake.

Before Heavensward hit, I made a push to level all my crafting jobs to 50. So I might get the same itch with my battle classes this year. Maybe just to 50 so that once the expansion drops, they’ll be ready for the bonus experience. Who knows.

Right now, I haven’t decided whether I’m going to keep setting monthly goals for myself in 2017… but from the sound of it, I have a lot I still want to do!

 

Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky

How to Build a Base in No Man’s Sky Foundation Update

Yesterday, I talked about the frustration and confusion I had in trying to build my first base in No Man’s Sky. I found a world I wanted to make my home planet, but I couldn’t find an outpost location to start building the base.

In No Man’s Sky, you can’t just build a base anywhere. There are limitations. You have to find an outpost site that allows for base building before you can begin. Sometimes you can find one when you scan a planet from space (target the planet and press “C” to scan). But more often than not, you’ll find nothing.

It took a bit of reading a few forum posts, but I’ve finally got it together. I wanted to write a quick guide for anyone who wants to build a base, but can’t find the outpost to start.

How to Build a Base in No Man’s Sky

  1. Find your dream planet and land on it.
  2. Press the Z key. This will bring up a new building menu that was introduced in the Foundation Update.
  3. Select the Signal Booster from the menu. I had to use the arrow keys on my keyboard to switch between the options. 20161205182935_1
  4. Press F to place the Signal Booster. Keep in mind that you must have the required materials to build it – you’ll find this information in a box in the lower right hand corner. From my understanding, these materials can change depending on which mode (Creative, Normal, Survival) you are playing.
  5. Press E to interact with the Signal Booster. It’ll give you a list of locations to scan for.
  6. Select Habitable Base and allow it to scan. It’ll show you the location of a nearby outpost that allows for building a base. 20161205182956_1
  7. Fly there and scope it out. If you like it, go inside and interact with the terminal to claim it as your base and home planet.

Keep in mind that there are usually more than one Habitable Base locations on a planet. So you don’t have to take the first one you find. If you don’t like the area surrounding the site, move along.

Just make sure that you first walk inside the outpost you don’t want to keep to discover it, then fly a distance away — this way, the signal booster will hopefully not pick up the same location a second time. Repeat the process: build a new signal booster and scan for another Habitable Base until you find one you love.

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Once you’ve claimed the base, building is super easy. You use the same Z menu to rotate through the different building parts, then place them with the F key. The game gives a little mini-walkthrough on what to do with your first base.

When you have rooms and stations built, you’ll need to go to a space station to hire NPCs like builders and farmers. Also, make sure that you locate the teleporter in the space station and use it to establish a link to your base. This makes quick travel back to your base possible.

I found the teleporter located behind the door up the stairs on the left side of the landing pad in the space station, which is directly across from the door where you go to access vendors and NPCs.

Hopefully this quick guide will help you get started. The rest is up to you, so reach for the stars!

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Posted in Gaming, No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky: My Outpost for a Base

Last week, No Man’s Sky released the long-awaited Foundation Update. It came out of the blue and took a number of people by surprise.

I know that in the back of my mind somewhere, I had filed away that bases and other improvements were coming to No Man’s Sky. But as the hype and ire faded away, other games took my interest and I stopped looking for the promised update. I did, however, leave the game installed on my PC just in case.

Looks like it was a good thing that I did, because I was able to install the update and jump into the new content straight up.

Well, more or less.

New Modes

One of the most talked about new features comes in the form of new modes. This update brought two new options – creative mode and survival mode. Any previous game you started remains as a normal mode.

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This effectively gives you three save files and three different ways to play the game. I personally have no interest in a survival mode — the life support on my suit is annoying enough without more complexities. However, I’ve heard a lot of praise from people who were looking for this kind of difficulty in the game at launch. People are having fun with the challenge, and that’s a good thing.

Other Praise

There was praise for other parts of the update. Namely, more varied planet structure. We’re seeing more variety in formations, like true mountains and beaches now. I’ve stumbled upon a world with a true desert. These are nice changes, though I still wish for multi-biome planets one day.

Others praise the improved graphics of the game. I’m not quite sure what they’re talking about, because the game was always pretty looking to me. Though, I just may not see what they’re seeing due to a aging graphics card. Something has changed, because I get a warning now when I start up the game that says my card isn’t up to snuff. It still plays just fine, though.

Creative Mode

Because I was rusty with the game’s controls, I decided to start over in a creative mode game. I hoped this would refresh my memory in a gentler mode… and it did. In fact, it started me out right next to a potential uninhabited outpost, which means I could make a base there.

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I guess it was  a good spot, and in retrospect, I probably should have taken it because you can always move base locations later. Or so I’ve heard.

But not having a chance to explore, and seeing it was a semi-desert “barren” world (though it had plenty of flora and fauna), I set off for greener pastures. It did have some pretty neat floating structures, though.

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I soon discovered that creative mode was truly creative mode. Your life support doesn’t go down at all, except in the case you run across a toxic or such environment. Your suit, weapon and ship upgrades cost no money at all.

At first, this was pretty cool. But after a few effortless ship upgrades, I realized this mean that money was worth nothing, which took a lot of the challenge out of the game. As far as a creative mode, I guess it was doing its job well enough.

I visited a flourishing green planet that I really fell in love with, but I couldn’t  find an option to build a base on it. I know that you scan a planet to find a uninhabited outpost, and only those spots are able to support a base.  I don’t know if every planet has that option, or if it’s just one per system or what. If so, that would be pretty crazy.

One way or another, that outpost limitation was enough for me to put the creative game down. I had found a world where I wanted to build my base, but I couldn’t do it. That was frustrating.

I might do some research on outposts and bases eventually and go back once I know more… maybe. Instead, I decided to pick up my old save and see if I had any more luck. It was a bit of a bummer when you got everything for free.

Normal Mode

Going back to normal mode after creative mode was a bit of a jolt. I’d forgotten how annoying it was to have to stop and feed your life support suit and fuel your ship all the time. In fact, I spent more time doing that than I did actually making progress on what I wanted to do — find a nice planet to build a base.

On top of that, I had some terrible luck in the quality of the star systems I found. I left the system I was in only to find an equally inhospitable system right behind it. The problem was, I needed to get the materials to make fuel to warp again. But either the world didn’t have the materials, there were frenzied sentinels, or the world itself was so hostile I couldn’t remain there very long.

I did a planet scan and found an uninhabited outpost on a really craptastic planet. After that, my scans didn’t show me any more options. Again, I don’t know if this is by design, or if I’m missing the jist of it. But there’s no way I want to make my base on a green slime planet of doom.

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At least I have a cool looking ship.

I left it off at this point, but I do plan on returning to it again this week sometime when I find the time. And time is what this game gobbles up by the score.

I really do want to find a base and learn about the building tools. They look well-done, though I know that there are limitations in place, especially on the console version.

I just have to find a world that I want to live on first!

Update! I did some research and found out how to build a base on any world. Here’s a guide for it! 

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, Minecraft, MMORPGs, Pokemon

December Gaming Goals

Welcome to the final month of 2016! It’s hard to believe the holiday season is here and the new year is just a month away. It’s going to be a busy month for me seeing I’ll be gone on vacation at the end of it, but I still wanted to organize a few goals for myself.

Like last month, these goals will mostly focus on nudging myself to play games I’m curious about due to new releases, expansions or updates. The picture above is from the new Foundation Patch for No Man’s Sky, for example. Minecraft also just got a new update that I’m interested in, not to mention there’s still a lot about the game I don’t know yet.

Games to Explore

  • Civ 6 ✓
  • Skyrim
  • No Man’s Sky ✓
  • Minecraft
  • Sims 4 ✓

Pokemon Sun

  • Complete 3rd Island ✓
  • Continue to fill Pokedex ✓

Final Fantasy XIV

  • Gear Dragoon ✓
  • Work (harder) on Dragoon Relic ✓
  • Level Monk ✓
  • Do Monk job quests ✓
  • Do Summoner job quests
  • Clean up old quests
  • Gear Summoner
  • Gain reputation with Sahagin

Let’s see how much of this I can do!

Do you have any gaming goals for December? 

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming, No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky: My Journey Begins #blaugust2016

This post is a part of Blaugust 2016!

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Now that I got my initial impressions of No Man’s Sky out of my system, I’m ready to talk about my journey through space. Sadly, all screenshots will likely have icons on them as there’s no easy key-press way to remove those from screenshots (without modding).

So my little ship crashed on a world that was full of radiation, which made it twice as difficult to survive on my starter planet because I had to constantly keep shields and life support up. I now know that I could have re-rolled for something better, but I took what I could get, not knowing anything different back then. It’s okay, though. It taught me about what I had to look forward to (a lot of annoying suit nagging).

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I also learned two important things when going to name my first planet:

  1. NMS likes to lag as you type the names of things, which results in typos
  2. You can’t change the name of something once you upload

And thus, I typoed my own name on my starter planet. Le sigh.

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Yeah, stop laughing!

I spent way too much time fixing my ship for launch. There were various creatures on the planet, despite the radiation, which I named accordingly.

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I also discovered rare and wondrous lifeforms, such as these Nose Walkers. Yes, they were walking on their noses. I did a double take, too.

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Anyhow. Once I fixed my ship and was able to get off the first planet, I spent way too much time stumbling through the quest to fix my hyperdrive and fuel it because I couldn’t find antimatter. Once I figured all this out, I was able to head to another star system.

The first planet the quest led me to was a crappy Lifeless Planet. I named this one Lifeless Bum. It didn’t have anything much of interest, but did have this cool green sky effect.

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I also found my first crashed ship, which I fixed for an upgrade and took as my own.

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But the second planet I discovered there was lush and green, so I named it Greenland. Yeah, I’m original.

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I spent a long time exploring all this world had to offer. I even earned 100% of creature discovery while I was here.

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I also learned that if you feed the friendly creatures, a smiley face appears above them, and they will go out and dig up resources for you.

Naturally, I spent a long time following these cuties around.

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Eventually, the call of the Main Atlas Quest pulled me away from my beloved Greenland.

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Though Atlas wanted me to press on to new systems, I decided to check out the rest of the planets in the system. They weren’t always pretty.

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I did find this ice world, which I named Winter Wonderland. I decided while I was there, I could search to see if there were any crashed ships to upgrade my inventory slots.

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And there was. Not the coolest looking ship, but inventory is inventory in this game.

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Eventually, I moved on to the next system, where Atlas continued to summon me. Why is it that Atlas sounds a bit like The Buzzing from The Secret World?

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I decided to follow the path of Atlas, wherever that will lead me.

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Aaaaand… that’s pretty much it for my first 18 hours in No Man’s Sky. Of course, there was a lot of learning alien languages, fighting space pirates and the like that I didn’t screenshot here. I haven’t had a lot of time to play since this weekend, but I’m looking forward to what I’ll discover in the next star system!

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Gaming, No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky: My First Impressions #blaugust2016

This post is a part of Blaugust 2016!
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NOTE: Many things have changed since NMS was first released — here is my re-review of the game a year later.

So my weekend has mostly revolved around No Man’s Sky. I debated whether or not to get this last week, then decided to take the plunge because I need some sandbox in my life. I knew what this game was and wasn’t. I’ve put a number of hours into the game and have enjoyed my experience so far.

That being said, I have a lot of thoughts for this post that’s going to sound like I have a more negative impression of NMS than I actually do. I like the game. I can’t recommend it for everyone. Not in this state, and not at full price, at least. I see a lot of potential and room for further development.

Let me explain.

Things I Love

20160813180030_1I’m a sandbox player, so I can handle a slower paced space exploration game. If you love space and exploration, then this game may scratch your itch. Here’s what I love about the game:

  • Massive randomly generated universe
  • Lots of space eye candy
  • Exploring new worlds (and naming them)
  • Discovering new creatures (and naming them)
  • Mysterious overarching story that doesn’t butt into exploration too much
  • Three different kinds of progression (exosuit, ship, weapon)
  • Relaxing exploration and resource gathering
  • Learning alien languages (woot!)
  • Discovering cool new ruins and locations
  • I’m okay with lack of multiplayer… glad I don’t have to worry about someone PKing me or something

Overall, the foundational systems are here. This is everything that you need to build upon and have a great game. I know a huge complaint was optimization and bugs, but I didn’t have any trouble running the game on my PC (and I don’t have the best gaming computer on the block). I guess I don’t fret about things like FPS, but I rarely saw hitching or lag during my game.

I ran across a couple annoying known bugs, but nothing that broke the game. However, for all the things I love, there are a lot of areas I feel the game can improve upon. This is from my limited time playing the game, so if there are things that “fix” the following issues at a later time, I don’t know about them yet – sorry!

Things I Don’t

Long… long… long… loading screens. Both at startup and when warping between star systems. These are the kind of screens that you get up and grab a snack because it takes several minutes just to launch the game.

Slow. So very slow. I’m not talking about FPS, I’m talking about the gameplay itself. I’m okay with a relaxed game, but NMS is almost too slow for even me.

Just walking (which you do a TON of) has two speeds: snail-slug slow and a little less slow. The “running” doesn’t feel like running, just a slightly faster walk. I’ve seen how I can upgrade stamina, but I don’t know if that just lets me run longer, or actually speeds me up. For worlds that are this huge with so much to see, it’s discouraging that we can only move through them at turtle speed.

Interacting with aliens starts to feel like it takes an eternity. You get something like a cut scene, then the alien takes forever to speak to you and then the relevant game text slowly fades in. Using things like scanning beacons, which I tend to do a lot, also feels like it takes forever to load in the text, select your search and wait for the beacon to find a location.

The first few times I interacted with aliens and scanners, I was patient. After that, I start to feel like saying “Okay, I’ve done this before. Hurry it up already.”

Inventory constraints. Just bad. I know you slowly increase your slots, but that seems to be the only real progression when it comes to ships and suits. There is never enough room for any of the things you find. To add salt to the wound, ship and suit upgrades also permanently take up precious inventory slots. So you’re always deciding between adding a cool upgrade and losing inventory space.

Lack of quest clarity. I’m okay with a game that doesn’t hold my hand, but I feel like the the little bit of tutorial we do get is not very clear. For example, I got stuck on the part where I needed to create a warp cell to fuel the hyperdrive. In order to do that, I needed an antimatter. However, I couldn’t craft one yet, and had no idea how to get a hold of one. I saw other people asking the same question on forums, so I wasn’t the only one lost on this… this cost me at least an hour of frustration during a rather early part of the game, which is not a good new player experience.

I ended up Googling it, and seeing that some folks said you could buy antimatter from time to time from ships coming into the space station. So, I spent a LONG time running from ship to ship trying to find one for sale with no luck.

I almost thought I’d need to restart (if that’s even possible), but then I got into my ship and randomly the game told me to use “C” to scan with my ship. Now, I’d hopped in my ship over and over, and never saw it tell me that before. So, I scanned, and the game indicated there was a signal from a nearby planet. Heading out there, I met an alien who just handed over the antimatter so I could finally progress.

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But why did it take an hour to find this in the tutorial?

From then on out, I paid a lot more attention to the random things that pop up in the bottom right corner. This usually leads you to the next objective you need to do.

But sometimes, even this seems really scrambled. Like, about 10 hours into the game, it was finally telling me to fix my lifeform scanner (which I’d done in the first 30 mins) and scan a new creature (which I’d already done on my first planet)… while on a planet with no animal life. Go figure.

Exploration starts to feel redundant. You do the same sort of thing on every planet – find discarded ships, fix them up to upgrade your ship. Find new upgrades for your weapon and exosuit. Scan for things. Gather resources. Sometimes the game surprises you, but it’s far and in between. You’ve seen one outpost, you’ve almost seen them all.

Now the exception comes when you happen upon a cool living planet with creatures to scan and things to really explore. But most of the time, the planets I find don’t have many lifeforms. The general consensus is to keep moving until you find a fun planet, then spend your time there. Makes sense, but it’s rather sad that the majority of randomly generated planets are bummers.

Like this one below. Hey, I name it like it is.

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Constantly pacifying Life Support. There’s no eating in this game, but you have to “feed” the life support to keep your exosuit systems online and not die. Depending on the planet and the situation, you may have more than one system to keep up with (life support and shields), which can get doubly annoying. No, life support, 75% energy is NOT “low,” so stop nagging me!

No way to easily toggle UI to take nice screenshots. So there is a way to completely turn off the HUD in the PC version, but it requires you to go to the Options menu and turn it off in a setting every time you want to take a screenshot. I don’t have that kind of patience. For a game that looks this good and has so many special on-the-fly moments to snap pictures of, not having a keystroke toggle is a crime.

This would have been a nice screenshot if the icons didn't get in the way!

This would have been a nice screenshot if the icons didn’t get in the way!

Space Pirates. They haven’t killed me yet, but man, they’re a pain in the behind.

Ship navigation. I like that you can’t crash your ship… or I’d be doing it all the time. But it bugs me that I can’t fly down lower over the surface of a planet, and how much a pain it is to estimate a landing on a planet.

Static world. No Man’s Sky feels like a very static world in that you never see aliens just going about everyday life. You dock in the space station or trade outpost and its always empty of activity… until you’ve been there a little while. Then other ships start landing, but you never see aliens get out and do anything. No one else is walking the ramps or in the reception area (aside from the standard NPC receptionist).

You find some aliens in outposts, but they’re always huddled inside a building. Always just one at a time. Never interacting with each other.  They’re never out in the world. They’re not gathering resources or food. They’re basically just lifeless objects for you to interact with.

My Feedback

So, again, I know that list of negatives make it seem like this is an awful game and I hate it. I don’t. I’m looking forward to loading it up when I get home from work this afternoon.

I feel like there’s a number of things the devs can do to improve this game, however. Here’s some thoughts:

Building! I need to build things and make something of my own. Right now, I just drift from world to world, but nothing has any personal worth to me. I know base building is coming. Depending on how it’s implemented, this is a step in the right direction.

Land vehicles! Let me build a little moon rover or hover bike or something. Anything that speeds up exploration. These planets are HUGE and I’m not going to run out of content if you let me travel a little faster. This will also fix the issue of not being able to fly down and skim over the world in my ship.

I currently just jump in my ship for any POI that’s more than a minute away by foot anyhow. I want to explore, but the rate of travel is painfully slow.

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Give life to NPCs. I love learning the alien languages and earning reputation with different races. But see above for all my complaints on how static the aliens are right now.

Bookmarks, maps or quick return. I need a way to be able to mark and return to places I’ve explored before. Right now, the game encourages you to just explore new worlds and forget the old discoveries while moving on to the next, which is a bummer.

There’s no mapping system for each planet, so once you leave a POI, good luck in ever finding it again. We need a way to map our discoveries and visit them again if we want!

Better inventory management!!!! This is in dire need. Come on. In a game that gives so little inventory space, at least let trade items stack. Make stacks bigger than 250 units for resources. It’s silly that 50% of the “progression” in NMS is focused on the fact that you have so little inventory space… so that ship and suit upgrades are mostly about getting increased slots (one at a time)!

Separate upgrades from inventory. Not only do you have so little space in your inventory, but if you want to upgrade your suit or ship, this also takes up an inventory slot… permanently. This is not cool.

Online encyclopedia. This is a pipe dream. But what’s the point in discovering all these cool things if you can’t show it to someone else? I’d LOVE an online encyclopedia of your discoveries — a webpage that you can pull up that shows the worlds and creatures you discovered. Something you can link to and send to other people.

This is probably too big a feature for the size of the game, but in a perfect world, I’d love to see this.

Again: NMS has changed a lot. Did it address my initial issues? Find out in my re-review of the game a year later.

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So, do I recommend No Man’s Sky?

Only to the right sort of player. This isn’t a game for everyone. This is a game for the extremely patient space explorer.

I don’t know that I feel $60 is worth the price of admission. I feels like an Early Access game that’s missing a lot of content. It’s hard to suggest this when compared to much cheaper and deeper sandboxes like ARK or 7D2D. As a matter of fact, playing this made me want to pick up Starbound again (and I did).

It’s got a foundation, but it needs to expand. If they can do that, then this could eventually become something very awesome. I hope that it does. I want to see massive living worlds with active, buildable space bases and land rovers and all sorts of cool things!

I plan to post some of my NMS experiences in upcoming days. So stay tuned!