Minecraft: Terrafirmapunk

This week’s game obsession is a Minecraft modpack that blends Terrafirmacraft, a heavily simulationist mod conversion for Minecraft, with all things fantastical and steampunk.

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I’d tried Terrafirmacraft alone before, on and off.

While I was impressed at how elaborately it changed vanilla Minecraft towards something more akin to Wurm Online or Unreal World or A Tale in the Desert – that is, along the lines that longer, more complicated and realism-simulating something is, the more rewarding and desirable it is – I was always lacking that little bit of oomph to get me over the initial learning curve of hardcore wiki reading.

Ultimately, no matter how interesting the individual systems of chopping trees, making fires or preparing meat and food might have been to read about, the actual grind tended to be a mite too slow-paced for me and there was rarely anything to look forward to in these simulationist survival games of “everyday life in a wilderness, where farming and making shelter is a full time job.”

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TerrafirmaPUNK (emphasis mine) neatly sidesteps the unending tedium of survival simulation by sprinkling with a generous hand a heavy helping of the fantastical across the countryside.

Ruins dot the landscape, oftentimes filled with highly dangerous monsters beyond one’s capacity to conquer at present, but brave and sneaky plundering of them can yield rich reward. It’s not just the chests that are desirable in such a stark world, but I’ve happily plundered wooden -fences- with which to defend the perimeter of my home and -cobblestone- made of an igneous rock not present naturally around my base, just so I could make a brick oven out of the right kind of rock.

Yes, Terrafirmacraft has 21 types of rock, classified into sedimentary, metamorphic, igneous intrusive and igneous extrusive ones.

The definitions of which I have to admit were handed back to my geography teacher decades ago – all I recall is that some types of rock are formed by many little rocks squishing together, and some from volcanoes and the last type I couldn’t tell you offhand if you held me up at gunpoint, but a more leisurely skim of Wikipedia says they are pre-existing rocks that have undergone -changes-, which more brings to my mind the image of rebellious adolescent/teenage rocks than layers of rock changing under tremendous heat and pressure.

Bottom line, in Terrafirmacraft, some rocks can be used for some things and other rocks can’t.

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Pretty much all rocks can be used for knapping into stone tools, which is good because these tools are one’s very first stepping stones to better technology.

Yep, we’re recapitulating the Stone and Metal Ages in Terrafirmacraft (and Terrafirmapunk.)

Right-click on two rocks held in the hand, and you bring up a knapping UI of 5 x 5 small stone squares. Clicking on each small square removes it.

The idea, fairly reminiscent of smithing in A Tale in the Desert, is to take away all those bits that isn’t the thing you want and shape it into something as similar as it can get, given a pixelated 5 x 5 square.

In practice, it usually means a lot of wiki reading and memorizing of the correct shapes so that you don’t waste rocks with random experimentation that leads to nothing whatsoever.

Over time, some of the movements become almost natural, as making stacks of axe heads and knifes is very useful in fending off the multitude of monsters that want to eat your face.

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Yep, Terrafirmapunk keeps life -very- interesting, as compared to Terrafirmacraft with a slew of fantastic creatures.

Apparently, the devs of this modpack programmed all these various mobs with different behaviors and preferences and tendencies that one can learn. I’m certainly nowhere near that stage yet.

All I know is that while chopping trees, the leaf decay can generate Ents that can give you a nasty shock, but that they die fairly easily to axe slashing damage, which is conveniently the tool you’re most likely to have on hand while chopping trees.

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Most of the time, one tries to give them a wide wide berth while one’s technology level is still at the “sticks and stones” tier.

(Note the many many red hostile mobs that come out at night. It is a really bad bad idea to be wandering around in the dark. Half the time, this leads to a gravestone containing that life’s belongings, and the other half is spent in a frenzied fearful run, away from half a dozen red icons on the minimap, clambering up hills and plunging into freshwater lakes with the wild hope of slowing down and throwing off pursuers.)

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The risk-reward of taking on mobs is quite well done in Terrafirmapunk though.

This pack of swarm spiders simply would not get off my tail, and it led to an epic battle treading water and running circles in a freshwater pond, with wild knife stabs doing piercing damage (I ran out of slashing axes, and had no hammers for crushing damage, and frankly I have no idea what spiders are most vulnerable to.)

The fight ate a considerable amount of valuable daylight time (pretty much all of it) but I ended up walking away (barely) alive and with a bunch of string that the spiders dropped.

String I would not have been able to get elsewhere at my current tech level. Two string went towards a fishing pole, and the rest was put away for safekeeping to eventually work towards an Ex Nihilo sieve (which seemed to be one way of eventually transitioning away from the cruel scarcity of Terrafirmacraft.)

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The plains biome that I’ve set up shop in has a tendency to produce no monsters, a horde of minotaurs, a horde of zombies, or a bunch of goblin warriors per night, but I have no clue what prompts or causes this – if lighting up the area or being under a sheltered roof has any effect on mob spawns and so on.

There is apparently spawn protection that turns on and reduces the frequency of spawns if you hang out for Minecraft hours in an area – which mercifully makes home base slightly safer than the wilderness – but it can be hard to tell, especially after returning from long cross-country journeys to get resources.

Because I can’t let well enough alone, I sunk a little pit trap for zombies and minotaurs and other two-block high critters into one corner of my underground base. I had the vague hope of setting up some kind of mob trap to collect mob drops, but unfortunately there are no convenient punji sticks to inflict damage in this modpack, and creating a falling mob trap is beyond my ken at this time (perhaps in the future, with glass.)

This leads to the necessity of flailing away at zombie legs with some 4-5 stone axes every night with dawn helpfully setting them on fire (assuming it’s not raining) but well, tradeoffs. There’s also a HQM quest that offers a random reward after taking out 20 zombies, so that’s a bonus.

Mind you, an underground base and tunneling and mining is -not- easy in Terrafirmacraft.

A number of blocks are subject to gravity, including the standard cheap Minecraft building materials of dirt and cobblestone. Stacking them up in Terrafirmacraft merely results in them falling sideways and not cooperating. Wood is the usual initial building material, and -that- can light on fire when you’re working with pit kilns and firepits.

The little cheat that most Terrafirmapunk players starting out seem to use is to look for a field of Goldenrod flowers (which indicates a deposit of clay underneath.)

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Clay holds its shape, so leaving a block of clay as the roof allows one to tunnel out a shallow but cozy little den that will withstand indoor pit kilns and firepits.

Mining deeper is a whole different story. Apparently cave-ins can take place while mining through rock. There are ways to put up support beams that might or might not prevent most but not all cave-ins, and finding veins of ore is a whole minigame in itself.

Like in A Tale in the Desert, it’s something I’m quite content to put off learning till later, after one is much more set up.

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I already have my hands full working out pottery and the beginnings of metal, aka copper tools.

Clay is first molded into various shapes in a similar minigame and UI as stone knapping.

But clay is useless unless fired. So we must make a pit kiln (aka a one-block hole in the ground), place our unfired pottery inside, cover it with 8 layers of straw (cut tall grass with a knife), cover it with 8 wood logs (chop trees, lots of trees), then light it with a firestarter constructed from two sticks rubbing together.

If you’re having difficulty lighting it, tossing a piece of straw as tinder onto the pile seems to help. (Or maybe that’s just my imagination. It works for firepits, not sure on pit kilns.)

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The merry fire burns for 8 Minecraft hours, after which, you can retrieve your pottery for use.

Getting your first copper tool is an even more elaborate process.

1. Find 100 units of copper. At low tech levels, this usually means picking up loose bits of ore each containing 10 units over large stretches of territory.

One also marks the area that the ore was found in with a waypoint, because this is apparently an indicator of an ore vein below.

2. The copper ore bits go into a clay vessel (oh, did you have one already made and fired? if not, do so.)

3. The clay vessel goes into a pit kiln. Repeat straw and log piling, and lighting of the fire.

4. If done correctly, the clay vessel at the end of the firing should hold 100 units of melted copper. Don’t leave it to cool too long or you’ll have to melt it again.

5. Place your clay mold of the shape you want into the clay vessel UI slot to simulate pouring the melted copper into the clay mold.

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Oh yeah, you did already -have- a fired clay mold of whatever shape you wanted, right?

Pre-planning upon pre-planning. Of course, it would be much less wasteful of a fire’s resources if you put in more than 100 units of copper. That does assume, however, that one -has- more than 100 units of copper in ore to begin with.

Going further up the metal tech tree is mindboggling. There are anvils and hammers, the making of charcoal in firepits, forges that require chimney ventilation, bloomerys to handle iron… I honestly don’t know how to go about starting to learn about it, but I think my plan for now is to stock up more on pottery, wood and copper stuff first before moving on.

The procedurally spawning world in Terrafirmacraft (and punk) can be cruel with resource placement.

I ended up choosing a not-100% ideal location on the plains that had clay, was near to fresh water so that thirst would not be too much of an issue, but had very little food and the nearest trees about a half-day’s walk away in Minecraft time.

Fortunately, it is not possible to starve to death in Terrafirmacraft, or else I would be having an even more impossible time, but I spent quite a few weeks wandering around slowed with fatigue and mining weakness debuffs from starvation.

Moving some trees closer to home was a Project in itself. With a capital P.

Hell, even collecting logs from the semi-distant forests means a planned journey. I brought 2 clay jugs filled with water for thirst, and some wood planks to erect a temporary tiny shelter because I was tired of the midnight runs in the dark back home.

Now I overnight by the forest, watching mountain trolls outside, having at least a half-day or three-quarters of daylight to chop wood before returning.

The thing about chopping wood in Terrafirmacraft is that there are no weird Minecraft physics of floating logs if you hit the base of a tree, nor is there the kindness of a Minecraft mod with lumber axe or Treecapitator where hitting the base of the tree gives you all the logs and all the saplings that would drop.

No, if you hit the base of a tree in Terrafirmacraft, you hack away at it for some time under the indicator goes to 100%, and you get the logs. No saplings from leaves.

So if you want saplings, you end up punching leaves, which gets you sticks and maybe a sapling or two if you’re lucky.

In the metal age, you can use a scythe to go through more leaf blocks at once, but the tradeoff is that less sticks and saplings will drop. (I actually lucked into a wrought iron scythe from a zombie mob drop, which was pretty durned cool.)

After completing the Collect Saplings Project, it is time to plant the saplings where desired.

Mercifully, it is just a matter of right-clicking them into the ground like normal Minecraft, BUT these Terrafirma trees take days to grow. Literal Minecraft days. You can hover your cursor over a sapling and see how many more days before they sprout into trees. Usually it’s 7-10 days.

I suppose an eventual tree farm would involve staggered, controlled planting each day, so that each tree plot would take turns sprouting. That’s for another time. So far, it’s just stab them into the ground, walk away and do other things and be surprised when they grow.

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Oh, and fruit trees? They take Minecraftian months…

When I first planted this tree, there was just the thin trunk in the ground. I had to google to make sure it wasn’t bugged.

After a couple days, the little crown of leaves grew and it started to look more like a proper sapling.

I assume it’s going to be another Minecraftian year before this lemon tree fruits, because it’s supposed to bloom around spring and harvest late summer.

Talk about a long term investment. I suppose I’m going to feel every one of those days, because I’m not playing on a server, so I can’t log off and let time pass without me. (On the bright side, it also means food doesn’t decay while I’m not there, I guess.)

And yes, there are seasons in Terrafirmacraft. I am not really looking forward to discovering what Winter is like.

I hope it’s nowhere near as fatal and game-changing as Don’t Starve’s Winter. Trees change color and crops may not grow or mature, apparently. I’m not sure if all my crops will -die- when exposed to Winter, but I guess we’ll find out.

Oh, and domestication of livestock? Another elaborate minigame activity/system all by itself. Domestic-able animals in Terrafirmacraft do not respawn. That means if you kill a cow today, no cow tomorrow.

So I’ve been mostly leaving the sheep, cows and pigs in the vicinity to free roam for now until I have enough resources to pen them in and figure out how to get them breeding.

The Steampunk part of Terrafirmapunk? A long long way off in the distance. I have Havea trees nearby that apparently give latex. For rubber or something. I see fountains of Buildcraft or Railcraft oil in my wanderings. Those are for way way later.

But you know, it’s nice to have them around as part of the modpack.

Because that was the little oomph of motivation that plain Terrafirmacraft lacked for me. The ambition of reaching a steampunk age of fantastic machinery from literally the stone age.

And raiding a few shortcuts here and there from long lost ruins and zombies carrying post-apocalyptic magical relics doesn’t hurt either.

 

 

Digital Wanderlust, or You Can Never Go Home Again

So, what happened during “Top priority – Rest my wrist” week?

Well, there was the mildly amusing and somewhat painful observation that as the wrist in question healed, other parts of my body started to take turns aching.

Apparently, this is quite normal and to be expected, as one overworks the other muscles and tendons in compensation for the nonfunctional one.

First it was the other wrist (too much button pressing and door opening presumably), then the lower back protested, and yesterday the neck decided it hated life, committed suicide and went into rigor mortis for 24 hours.

I can only conclude that I’m getting old(er) and my posture is fucked.

The good news is that amidst this tag team symphony of minor strains, I ate healthily, slept earlier, stretched -very- carefully and whatever was bothering me that day seemed to heal itself up by the next day or two.

I imagine that within my body is a little ragtag cartoon group of muscle-repairing cells in an ambulance racing from locale to locate, going “Can things STOP breaking here for just a day, please? Sheesh…”

Or maybe that image just comes from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, one of the many games I’ve been sampling over the last 2-3 weeks.

As I was telling Syl in the comments over at MMO Gypsy, I think I’m done with MMOs for the time being.

GW2 has been becoming less and less of a home, beyond the obligatory raid night with friendly, understanding but not-my-generation people, and the lack of new and novel content is killing my interest slowly but surely.

Most of the achiever content that I cling to as a lifeline when the explorer isn’t sated is either done, or is SO long term that the anticipated grindiness stops me from even contemplating it. I -could- do it, but when faced with the question of whether to spend 12 hours incrementing tiny degrees of progress in GW2 or use those 12 hours to play other games, read and watch Netflix, well, the decision is a no-brainer. There’s no one I want to impress with herculean feats of treadmilling in a constructed game anyway.

See, the more I think about it, the more I think the allure of the MMO comes from two things. The first is the idea of a home and a community, a place you want to spend your virtual ‘second life’ in, surrounded by people you’re happy to live amongst. Hence the themes of longevity, of “I could stay here forever!” being an important consideration when people evaluate MMOs.

The second is the feeling of expanse, of openness, of discovery over a new horizon that a vast and deep virtual world that you don’t understand well yet and want to learn more about. Hence why people lament when any MMO world feels small, constricted, not open and go chasing after procedural sandboxes.

The tragedy of the second is that everything closes up and becomes smaller over the passage of time. GW2 was an immense bounty of new discoveries when it first launched, but now my perception of its world has shrunk to waypoints whose surroundings I can readily recall at will. Don’t get me wrong, the convenience is great for revisiting, but the point is that it was a lot bigger in my imagination when unexplored than after the fog of war disappears.

A mapped world is smaller, no two ways about it. A mapped world is great for everything that comes after, exploitation of its resources in fulfillment of goals and so on. But a mapped world means you already know what is coming up over the horizon as you get closer.

The more I think about it, the more I think the age of MMOs is past. An MMO cannot fulfill both themes at once these days.

How can it? A handcrafted world is finite, limited by the number of developers that can work on it effectively. The number of developers is limited by the number of customers and revenue it can generate. The age of the one single MMO where everyone congregates to is past, everyone is spread out to a million smaller online games now.

Even if we hypothetically assume a mythical game that attracts even more numbers than World of Warcraft pulled in its prime, there must be a limit to how many teams of developers can work effectively on its world without it becoming a Frankenstein mess that turns away players, dropping revenue, which drops number of devs.

A finite world will eventually feel small. It’s just a matter of time.

So then, let’s go for the infinite world. Let’s go for procedural generation on a way more refined and fantastical scale than any singleplayer game currently existing and do it well. Online. Massively multiplayer.

Assuming such a hypothetical behemoth works magically and perfectly, and we have a virtual world on the scale of Earth to explore and colonize and exploit… isn’t it likely we’re going to run into the problem of “Where IS everybody?” “Halp! I can’t find players to play with.”

Given limitless lebensraum, people are going to spread out. Sure, there’s probably going to be clusters of people forming towns and villagers because people are social creatures and like to be near each other, but how far are these towns and villages going to be from one another?

I think of A Tale in the Desert as a good small-scale experiment as to what this mythical MMO is going to look like.

At first, it’s going to look very nice. People will cluster in their towns and villages, forming little metropolises of trade and civilization, while the more adventurous wander out into the wilderness and start the exploration and mapping process.

But then everything around the civilized centers will be known, and the explorers will either venture even further away or grow bored and leave. People attrition from real life all the time in games, so these villages will wind up with abandoned house lots, imitating a form of urban decay. Other players look around, realize their community is breaking up and will either leave the game or accrete to another community in-game, preferably the largest and most populated one.

It will take an act of God for the most social and rooted to their homes to pack up and move from what-is-known and move to lands unknown. (In other words, not bloody likely. Even a dragon invasion on the scale of the Cataclysm is more likely to just chase the homemakers from the game when they’ve had enough of large scale change, or make them more stubborn to rebuild where they’ve decided to live.)

So at most, the ideal MMO of tomorrow is a small known world of established communities with some kind of connected interrelation with the more nomadic explorers that venture into the always-shrinking-once-mapped unknown.

There are so many things that could wrong in this MMO. If the communities don’t need anything from the explorers, there will be no reason to explore. If the explorers don’t need anything from the communities, there will be no reason to have social dealings with them.

Maybe -everybody- wants to explore, and so there will be towns but no one’s in them because everybody’s out in the wilderness. Maybe the balance of self-sufficiency is such that everybody just trundles out to find a nice spot of wilderness for themselves – RIP towns and social communities. Maybe there is too much inter-dependency and reliance on others for today’s players to accept, so few people want to play anyway – RIP MMO.

Anyway, such an ideal hypothetical MMO is years from coming into existence. Much less ambitious fare will come into the picture first, and I’m not at all sure I have any interest in those.

Anything with Fed-Ex fetch quests and collect 10 bodyparts after killling 99 mobs is right out of the equation. So done with those.

Tropes like holy trinity combat, raids, dungeons are pretty likely to show up in MMOs because that’s what most players are familiar with and used to. They do absolutely nothing for me.

To add a little insult to injury, region-locking for most smaller F2P MMOs is a thing. It becomes a principle not to pay any money to companies who are content with smaller pieces of pie in today’s globalized internet-linked world.

Innovation is expensive and dangerously risky. Not innovating produces stale MMOs that enough people will play to keep a small company alive.

Personally, I’m done with stale MMOs.

So over the last 2-3 weeks, this was what I did instead:

Games Played

  • Endless Legend – up to turn 85 of a Broken Lords campaign
  • Deathless: The City’s Thirst – finished a playthrough
  • Learn Japanese to Survive – Hiragana Battle – got up to 15 Hiragana word/letters?
  • Crusaders of the Lost Souls – lost count of the resets, idols in the 100-200+ range
  • Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten – in some spooky cave levels
  • Human Resource Machine – got to puzzle level 17 or so
  • Minecraft: Story Mode – playing on mobile, finished episodes 1 and 2
  • Reigns – also on mobile, finished a playthrough, didn’t manage to trick the devil, but not for lack of trying, gonna restart and try again
  • Minecraft: Simply Magic modpack – was doing good fulfilling my nomadic urge to wander and explore, until the last update crashed the client and I couldn’t move back a version. RIP.
  • Minecraft: BeeHappy modpack – so now I’m growing bees in a skyblock map!

 

Books Read

  • Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone (Book 2 of the Craft Sequence)

 

Netflix Watched

  • Van Helsing – binge-watched the entire season 1, the zombie apocalypse with vampires instead of brainless zombies
  • Bitten – got up to season 2, episode 3, based on Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld books, the books are way better, but it’s interesting to see the casting decisions and how like or unlike one’s image of the characters they are
  • Minority Report – watched again for fun, looks so dated now
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – made it through episode 1, which was like floating through a drug-haze of surrealism. I am convinced it will all tie together in the end, but it’s such a hard slog at the beginning that it’s hard to continue.
  • Trollhunters – binge-watching like crazy, up to episode 17. I am totally going to buy a ton of troll toys / collectibles when they finally come out. Got so many 80s cartoon and Amblin movie nostalgia flashbacks while watching – intelligent not-just-for-kids plotlines, what madness is this?

 

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In other words, I expanded inexorably through a fantasy landscape as a faction of fallen spirits encased in suits of knightly armor; juggled politics and morality as a necromancer lawyer negotiating water deals to prevent the desert city Dresediel Lex from drying up; and fought shadowy Hiragana warriors whose only weakness is enunciating the sounds they represent.

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Perhaps the most entertaining Spaced Repetition System ever created. This is ‘a’ – aka a man standing upright with two arms outstretched and a swirl of magic about him, going “Ahh!” Or maybe that’s just how I’ll ever remember what this word/character sounds like.

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Earned 7.79 tredecillion gold; summoned barbarians and rangers and knights to fend off a rampaging army of undead revenants;

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(while avoiding being traumatized by a ghostly barbarian’s manhood)

wrote spaghetti code to struggle to the next floor of a soulless office building;

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went on a Minecraftian animated adventure to assemble the heroes of the Order of the Stone in order to save the world; lived and died as a lineage of 63 cursed kings making tradeoff decisions to keep church, people, army and the treasury neither too low nor too high; wandered the wilderness, made a cave in the side of a mountain and started learning magic; and bred bees.

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Lots of bees.

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Industrial apiaries filled with bees. (The ugly yellow block things.)

Feels like the journey’s just beginning.

 

Gaming While Not Gaming

What game can you play when your wrist hurts and you start feeling a dangerous tingle up your arm and fingers?

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This game.

There might be some irony to this new year’s first game being an idle game.

It does, however, fit neatly into the interstices of my life at present.

Especially because I started experiencing mild carpal tunnel-esque / RSI-y symptoms two days back, possibly from too much posturally-wrong Pokeball flicking over the holiday season.

Voluntary enforced rest on the wrist to let it heal seems to be the order of the day/week/fortnight since I’m terrified of it progressing from not-that-good to worst.

This rather knocks off all action-y games that require heavy mouse clicking or click-and-holding from current consideration, as even ordinary work day mouse usage started to give my wrist problems after half a day in.

Fortunately, playing A Tale in the Desert way back when taught me the joys of Autohotkey and other such automation, so a quick download and one line text file later, and I am now using a spare key on the keyboard as my mouse click button for the time being.

Along this vein of keeping the strain on one’s hand minimal, this free Steam game that I downloaded on a whim comes in surprisingly handy (pun intended.)

Truth be told, I used to deride the idle game genre for being something akin to Progress Quest – ie. do nothing, watch numbers go up, feel oddly good for having done nothing.

The initial clicker/idle games I sampled did not buck this trend. You clicked all the buttons, bought all the upgrades, numbers went up exponentially, unsoweiter. No choice, decision-making or strategy came into play.

Apparently, the genre has moved on since that time.

Seeing a Steam friend “play” Clicker Heroes for days and weeks on end did not immediately change my mind, but did set it up for my eventual decision to *oh, what the heck* try out Crusaders of the Lost Idols.

I am glad I did.

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I am by no means a connoisseur of this genre, so I have no idea if other idle games these days are doing what Crusaders of the Lost Idols does.

What Crusaders does differently from my imaginary concept of “do nothing” idle games is offer choice and strategy through the interaction of various characters’ skills/gear/other factors in formations.

Some characters strengthen other characters if arranged in a certain way or when playing together. Other characters are happier being alone or not surrounded by humans and so on.

Crusaders can be played fairly happily (and sub-optimally) by clicking all the buttons and watching numbers increment while leaving the game running. (And you can also turn it off and check back in later to see what your characters earned while you were away.)

The key is that it also possible to play Crusaders with an eye towards optimizing, with proper consideration of multiplier buffs that send your team’s damage ever skyrocketing high, and best usage of the gold earned per hour – what should you spend it on to give the most progress bang for the buck.

Some planning and strategy is also warranted. One character is often designated dps-er, while the rest of one’s formation becomes centered around either buffing that character’s damage or buffing gold earning rate.

I’m on my second run through, and the rabbit hole goes ever deeper.

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When you hit a wall of where your current damage can take you, it is part of the game to reset and begin another run.

Each 500 levels of a character earns you an idol, which is kept throughout runs and buffs your dps and gold found.

This leads to ever so much number incrementing over time, and with larger number increments, you unlock ever more special objectives and formations that will no doubt shake up established strategies and encourage a different arrangement of characters.

I can easily see somewhat more dedicated than me math fiends setting up spreadsheet calculations to optimize every last drop of dps.

For me, it’s sufficient right now to just check in every now and then, setting stuff up with a few strategic clicks and decisions and then wander off doing more constructive and less wrist-intensive things.

Coming back to see how things have gone while I was away ticks off that MMO/RPG Progress Quest urge.

Actual gaming (aka choice and strategic decision-making) takes a couple minutes here and there.

The rest of the time, the game plays itself without me.

I’d previously thought this to be a rather ridiculous state of affairs, but you know what? Right now, at this current point in my life, it’s win-win.