RotMG: Oops #1 – Snakes in a Pit

You just KNEW that was coming after I quaffed those 2 speed potions, eh?

In the vein of all Roguelikes, Realm of the Mad God celebrates YASD, Yet Another Stupid Death, with a big summary screen of all your exploits before you bite the big one, as well as the mistake and the mob that got you.

I’m nowhere near the leaderboards of dead characters, whose fame runs in the tens of thousands. But frankly, I’m relieved not to have one of those to lose yet. Losing those would probably hurt quite a bit. This guy? I can treat as just a throwaway, marked for inevitable death.

On the bright side, I did get some more Gods dead before that death, yielding 1 more defence, and an Oryx run, which yielded 1 attack and 1 defense and all that was safely ensconced into the belly of the archer recipient.

Then I dived into the Snake Pit dungeon on a whim, started musing on a blog post I was going to write about the pit, got more and more forward when I should have been playing safe, and dug myself into a corner literally. One long tunnel with nowhere to run out, and two greater pit vipers decided to camp the entrance with a hail of bullets before I could dig the exit hole.

Sighs. Next time, we will -try- not to panic and dig some shelter down, or dig out, anything but running towards certain death trying to kill it. Didn’t work.

I do have some screens from the last time I went into Snake Pit with a little more success… So we will use those instead to illustrate the fiendishness of this dungeon.

The Snake Pit is entered through a portal entrance dropped by various Lesser Gods, Ghost Kings, Ogre Kings and Liches.

You can always exit from the entrance, with the amusingly named Portal of Cowardice, or just decide to Nexus out. (Which I really should have done when cornered, but my brain froze and I didn’t react appropriately in time. Pretty much the cause of all RotMG deaths…)

Rooms are circular, and joined to each other by these filled in tunnels. You dig them out with bullets. Normally I dig a two or three square wide tunnel, and often skew it in the middle to provide a sheltering wall. (But obviously NOT in the case where I died. I went for one square, trying to be fast, and got caught out badly. *grumbles*)

You see, in most dungeons that I’ve tried so far, you can take your time when you’re solo and clear out room by room. You push for speed when you’re very comfortable with the place, statted out enough to do so, and want to go for maximum efficiency getting to the end boss and end reward.  But you CAN take your time and wait for all your hp to regen back before moving to the next room, it’ll still get you there, etc.

But Snake Pit has a design that tangles up this philosophy of slow and steady.

In these rooms with grates, the tiny snakes keep respawning. You will -never- clear the room permanently. If you shoot fast and deadly enough, you might gain a couple seconds breather, but then the snakes come back.

Now they do about 10-20 a shot. If you’ve got defence over 20, then they simply do 2-3 damage (I think) and are a fairly ignorable threat. If you are like my farming wizard and only have 9 defence, then they can do up to 11 hp a shot and a little less laughably ignored.

So there’s this weird back and forth balance you try to manage. Back enough not to get blown apart, forward enough to shoot them up, and forward enough to push into the next room, or you’re never going to get anywhere.

One of the tricks is to just push ahead and run around in a big circle in the room, shooting down enough snakes to create enough breathing room to dig into the next room…

Except there are bigger snakes.

And the bigger snakes hurt. So you run back away from them… into the smaller snakes, which shoot you, and forward into the bigger snakes to shoot them while not getting shot (thankfully, the big snakes can be killed and not respawn) and all the while trying to make it into the next room.

Which will hopefully get you closer to the end boss, Stheno the Snake Queen, assuming you didn’t guess the direction wrong and take a wrong turn and dead end somewhere.

If you’re lucky or good enough, you’ll get past a chain of snake rooms into a room with no grates, in which case you can have a slight breather once the room is cleared. But watch out for the neighboring rooms’ tiny snakes, who -will- eventually wander their way into your room to harass you.

And then you reach the dungeon boss Stheno. My still picture looks very calm, but trust me, it’s not. She has a number of fast circling snake guardians (one of whom you can see in the picture) making it most inconvenient to stay within a good firing range of her.

She has a number of phases and is only vulnerable during certain periods, which are often the most dangerous and hectic to get up close. Diagonal dagger spam, spawning of snake mobs, and an AoE bomb attack. Personally I’m still trying to learn and get comfortable with her phases, so I can’t say much beyond that. There are some walls at far away range to hide behind and regain hp, so there’s that at least. You can patiently wear her down while trying to get used to her phases, and she drops a speed potion (plus some rarer drops if you’re lucky.)

Well, in the second case, I never even got there. New farming wizard, here we come.

ATITD: Kilns, Forges, Ovens and Alloys

Continuing the saga of the Raeli Oven Project, the 3000 Wet Clay Bricks needed firing. I went ahead into even further expansion on the kilns, mostly because I couldn’t bear the thought of 17 or 25 repeated firings.

A bit of serendipity happened: I had left some space in front of the kilns for other kilns, but there was a chest on the left in the way of stacking the kilns in a perfect grid formation. I could have jumped one kiln and proceeded to stack them, but I suddenly realized that offsetting the front row of kilns meant that I could kinda peek around them to check whether the back row was filled. More easily than I could have done with them perfectly stacked anyhow.

So I went ahead with the offset, and put in enough to total 25 kilns. Now I just needed to fire them 10 times, and chuck the bricks into the warehouse. Done.

Next up, lots of forging:

Forging itself is simple. Have forge. Select forge. Fill with lots of Charcoal. Light forge. Forge eats some charcoal (4o for student’s) to begin with. Forge continues to eat charcoal at 1 a minute (more for the master versions.)

Select whatever you want to make from a long list.


Wait some more. Depending on the type of item, it can take 1 minute to 15 minutes to more.

Again, economies of scale. Some people make a lot of forges to finish faster. I’m not much of a metalworker and don’t like the initial burn-off of so much charcoal per forge. So far I’ve been able to get away with less. Tradeoff, I wait longer.

Typically, I just fill the forges with a couple hundred of charcoal, not bothering to calculate how much I need precisely, set them to whatever item I want, and go off and do something else until the little forge chime to say my item is done, next item.

I did need charcoal for the forges though, so a’ charcoaling we went.

By the period of this telling, we are using charcoal ovens, which return 200 charcoal per 209 wood + extra wood used to burn them. In the early game before the technology is unlocked, charcoal hearths are used with lower return (100 charcoal per.)

Making charcoal is an active minigame. The goal is to keep the heat bar over the halfway mark for faster progress on the charcoal, while not letting the danger bar hit the maximum, which would set all the wood and charcoal aflame and burn them to nothingness. Successfully reaching the end of progress bar yields charcoal.

Like most things in ATITD, it’s deeper than it looks on first glance. Novices are mainly concerned with being able to operate one oven to success, until they get the hang of the minigame at least. Then you can start getting complicated in search of efficiency.

One can ramp up by increasing the number of ovens you operate at one time. With practice, 3-4 can be handled. To be honest, it took me a while, until this telling to try 4 ovens. I find it most comfortable and less hectic with 2-3.

One can macro the ovens. One kind of macro just duplicates your clicks across all the ovens you’re running, so essentially you manage one oven and the macro clicks the rest for you. If done quickly, within the tick, all the ovens match up. Another kind of macro strives to automatically run the oven for you based on the color and pixel positioning of the progress bars. Personally, they don’t work well for me. Maybe it’s my geographic location causing extra lag/latency but I can never get all the clicks between ticks, my ovens always desync after some time. And the automatic macro either breaks, or eats so much wood over manually controlling the ovens that I end up wincing and being that guy who snatches the controller and says “Let ME do it.”

Y’see, there is one more thing to consider in making charcoal: wood efficiency. The main way to raise heat is by clicking the ‘wood’ button to add 3 wood per press.

Obviously, the more wood you use in making charcoal, the more costly your final 200 charcoal becomes in terms of total wood consumed. The efficiency ratio ranges from ~1.25 (very good) to 1.3 (decently good) to 1.5 (somewhat wasteful) and higher.

This becomes a trading opportunity for those who have mastered the technique and enjoy making charcoal. If they are certain they can maintain 1.2-1.3 conversion efficiency, it is quite common for them to offer 1:2 charcoal:wood trades. Bring them 2000 wood, and they’ll return you 1000 charcoal, and keep the extra wood for themselves to convert to charcoal.

Opening and closing the vent to alter oxygen levels can also affect heat, as well as danger levels – only practice can tell you when it’s appropriate to play around with those, to maintain or alter heat or danger levels without adding wood. There is a more in-depth description as well as video demonstrations available on the ATITD wiki for those new to the process to learn. I’ll just comment that the method shown is not the only way to do charcoal, so don’t be afraid to just play around with the oven. Their technique demonstrates a very wood efficient way of burning charcoal – when I tried it, I got 1.25 efficiency, but I found it hard to sync multiple ovens and I found it slower than the method I commonly use.

Mine involves maintaining wood and oxygen levels to be as even as possible, and both tend to hover near the 1/4 to 1/3 mark. This can send danger levels flying high if you’re not careful, and either lower the oxygen to lower the danger (if it’s not rising too quickly) or dump one click of water into the oven (which drops danger and heat considerably).

To get the heat back going again, I’m not afraid of clicking twice on the wood button, or more. Which is a bit wasteful on wood, but it works for me.

One other trick I learned on my own to jump start a failing oven whose heat seems to be dropping beyond repair. Open the oxygen vent to high, dump in about 3-5 clicks of wood, and then switch the vent to low immediately without clicking on the middle option to cut oxygen dramatically. This typically gets the heat roaring back up, but again, wastes wood.

Sometimes though, after sitting for 5-6 minutes and seeing the progress bar -almost- there but not quite, you’re willing to squander the wood rather than the time. I’m not terribly fond of the ovens, I rather go collect more wood with the time I saved, so that’s another tradeoff to consider besides wood efficiency.

I made a couple thousand odd charcoal or so, and started the forges making the random assortment of shovel blades, iron bars and so on. Casting boxes were lit too, to make medium gears. They operate the same way as forges, but require beeswax in addition to the metal raw material.

To kill the waiting time, I started work on alloys. I needed 10 Bearings to be cast after the medium gears, and Bearings require bronze, an alloy of copper and zinc.

Alloy making is another interesting minigame in ATITD.

Alloys are made in Reactories. Which again can be done in multiples. I like to have two Reactories going at once. People really into alloys might run 4.

The goal is to get all the white circles overlapping with each other as close as possible to have a perfect result. Something like this:

One of the things that was hardest for me to grasp about alloys is letting go of perfectionism. I don’t know if it’s learnt from other MMOs, that so-called “sense of entitlement” that says I should be able to do it all and do it perfect every time, or if it’s just a character flaw. I would spend a long time on alloys, searching for that 100% crystallization, and get very frustrated every time I hit 10%, 20%, 30% – 60%, 70% crystallization.

I eventually thought about it in this way. Attaining Perfect Crystalization of a particular alloy is worth an Achievement in-game, so it’s meant to be a relatively infrequent event. Sometimes the tradeoff of time spent is more important than maximum conversion efficiency of the raw materials (especially if the raw materials are cheap.)

To make things more interesting, the return rate of each alloy can vary, there is a floor below which you get nothing. In this case, 30% crystallization yields 1 bronze,

And 50% gives 3 bronze.

One deals with it by setting yourself an acceptable conversion efficiency for the metal, in this case, I settled for 70% crystallization yielding 5 bronze, effectively 62.5% or higher efficiency. Any time my crystallization hits that amount, take the alloy that is formed. If not, then re-heat the metal (using up charcoal) and repeat. This allows a balanced tradeoff between time, amount of alloy produced, and conversion efficiency.

So how in the world do you move the white circles anyway? By clicking. The wiki explains this far better than I, and also includes a diagram of suggested places where to click or not click.

But essentially, wherever you click, the circle nearest to your mouse cursor (as defined from its centre) doesn’t move, and all the other circles will jump towards that circle with a distance determined by how near they are to that circle.

If two or more circles get near enough to overlap, it congeals and the whole thing crystallizes according to how many circles overlapped with the last click. Generally, any two circles overlapped at a distance nearer than 1/4 the diameter will end up congealing the whole thing.

Here’s an animated gif of the process: (I very nearly thought it was going to end up a disaster, but lucked into being able to spread out the circles far enough)

Not every layout the Reactory gives you is solvable. More often than not, it’s not. Like this below, which has 5 circles far away from the main mass, and will never come close enough to make the result worth anything. The trick is to not get frustrated that the stupid reactory gave you this, nor rail that it’s not fair, nor waste time clicking at something that won’t yield good results. Just shrug, and re-heat the thing to reset the layout.

And sometimes you end up clicking yourself into a corner, if you’re not that good at it, like me.

In the case above, all the circles are too spread out to overlap neatly into one final circle, yet near enough that they will likely congeal on my next click no matter where I click. Again, once you see this, there’s not much to be gained from brooding over it, click your best shot, see what the result is (probably not satisfactory) and re-heat.

70 copper, 10 zinc, some charcoal and resin and time later, I had 59 bronze. That’s about 73.75 metal conversion efficiency, not too shabby.

20 of the bronze went into the casting boxes for Bearings, and a short stock take later, my Raeli Oven warehouse was sitting on the following list.

Two more major things left. I’m going to need Moon Steel Sheeting, which involves more alloys, and likely some mining as I don’t have some of the rarer metals on hand. Mining will be another nice minigame to talk about, it was changed for Tale 5 and Tale 6. I’ll be forging copper wire at the same time as the moon steel sheeting, because I forgot to do this session.

And I’m going to have to worry about cement and plaster. I am most likely going to take the social solution out for now, and join one of the scheduled digs and cement stirs this Saturday that is organized by a very friendly and helpful veteran – He runs them for newbies who would not be able to get a hold of them otherwise. This community service probably plays a strong part in retaining the new players who might otherwise give up.

The only thing is that it’s set at 3am, 5am and 7am my time. 🙂 So we’ll see if the alarm clock functions… or we’ll go back to Plan B after Saturday.

Why You Game – Think About It

Today, I’m going to advocate the unthinkable, I’m going to suggest that more people should emulate griefers.


In one important aspect at least: to have examined your own motives for play, and be clear about your own objectives.

We get angry with griefers because they spoil our fun. They’re not playing the way they’re supposed to. They’re not “following the rules” of the game, and their objective is often diametrically opposed to most other peoples’ goals in the game. They’re out to make people angry, frustrated, ragequit, or get some manner of reaction in some way, because they find it fun to mess with people like that.

But one of the things they subconciously (or purposefully, if they’re the type to think through and articulate their reasons) do  is become very clear about what they want to get out of “playing” the game (their way,) and defined their own victory conditions (number of people getting angry or ragequitting or comment threads or attention paid to them or whatever.)

Of course I morally disapprove of griefers for two main reasons – I don’t think their chosen behavior is healthy for themselves, and certainly not for other people either. It doesn’t seem like a long term strategy for getting along, just a short term “one-upping” that has to be constantly repeated for kicks, and turn into a bad habit or addiction. For me, it’s a real world philosophy seeping in – I think it’s dysfunctional and small minded for people to be happy when they are making other people unhappy. I meet some people in the real world like this – they need to put others down in order to make themselves feel better, they demand attention and get loud and strident when ignored – and it just leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

Essentially, they’re playing a very zero sum game. I win, you lose. In their minds, they can only get ahead of others if you’ve lost. If they lose and you win, then they just get more furious and pissed off and try even harder to shift the balance to the other side of the slider.

Thing is, the world isn’t so two-dimensional. There’s another side of the matrix. Too much of the above kind of fighting and it all becomes “I lose you lose.” In which case, no one wins, no one had fun or a good time, and the net misery level of the world went up (which is all very well if that’s specifically your goal, but I’m not that nihilistic, even if it’s 2012 and the Mayans tell us we’re doomed.)

The old prisoner’s dilemma thing – which we will touch on more in ATITD related posts – and the trust factor.

There’s also “I win you win,” the last corner of the matrix,  and “I get by, you get by” which is sort of the middle path, an emergent property from the win/lose matrix.

Griefers are an extreme case. If we dial back several notches from chaos (from not respecting other players or the game’s rules) and into lawfulness, we land in the territory of competition.

Now competition is a necessary and healthy counterpart to cooperation. Without that drive to be the tiniest bit better, to improve one’s self, we’d probably be back in the Stone Ages or likely dead as a species. The force of evolution works by only keeping those that are a bit better than the rest, so it’s no wonder it’s ingrained in us to not be the last guy that gets eaten by the sabre tooth cat.

Looking at the amounts of Achieving going on in MMOs, of  in-groups of raiders or PvPers, matches and tournaments and leaderboards, suffice to say that competition is well and alive in MMOs, reflects much of our real world competitive psyche, and is a source of fun for many people.

But I’d like to ask everyone to pause here and reflect for themselves if this really is the case for them specifically.

Why am I so obsessed with this? It has to do with my prior history in games.

When I first began playing online games in the form of a MUD, I fell hook line and sinker into the stated premise of the game. Get more levels and hit max level. The faster you can do this, the more “pro” and hardcore you are. The more characters you have at max level, the more respected you are, you must apparently know so much about the game and have so many tools you can use to overcome game challenges. Join newbie guilds to get to know people, and you might get invited to a more elite guild type known as an “Order” if you are a promising young padawan. At max level, and with groups of people, you can go on “runs” to defeat big bosses (essentially raids in simplified form) for better gear, which would help you to kill bigger mobs until you get to the (current) ultimate big bads of Seth and Merlin.

In addition, the MUD had ‘quests’ which were human-created, they were essentially competitions run by volunteer player staff known as “immortals.” These often comprised of answering trivia knowledge questions about the MUD and its areas and mobs and lore, or running around the world killing special quest mobs or picking up special items – whose locations you would put together from given clues and also tested MUD knowledge. Again, I fell into this by chance. It so happens that I type quite a bit faster than most people, and maybe pay a bit more attention to the words on a screen that formed MUD ‘rooms.”

As a newbie, I started winning these competitions, and started gaining a reputation to the point that some people would see my name appear and go, “Dang, there goes my chances of winning.” As I got into more runs and joined an elite Order, my gear got better and better, making quest mob kills easier. I learned from my idols and heroes at the time, veterans of the game who were better than I, and strove to emulate them. I started leading runs for newer players, then leading quests, and even leading a guild (while maintaining my connection to the elite Order so that we could feed in the promising players into the Order.)

Our Order in turn took off from the ground up to become pretty much the ultimate (or penultimate, there was one more secret Order that never let on what they were up to, and contained a lot of old immortal player alts – they kept themselves to themselves, and stayed out of the MUD grapevine, possibly because they didn’t want accusations of cheating with their immortal characters) guild. We had our own ‘server first’ by being the only guild that could get to and kill Merlin for quite a long period of time.

I basically bought into the fame and the image that others had and expected of me. I had responsibilities, and expectations to live up to. And winning has its dark side.

This article in particular – How to Lose at Golden Demon – spawned my post today because it resonated so much with me.

After you win, and have a series of wins under your belt, comes the fear. The fear of one day losing. Of not being good anymore. No one wins forever. One day, some new and younger person turns up to upstage you. Your limelight is gone. Your self-image, which you constructed from the surface impressions of other people, shatters or at least takes a heavy beating.

Every loss makes you more focused to win once again. And danger of dangers, you end up focusing on the goal and the end results, rather than the means or the present activity. Therein lies “grind.” Therein lies the threat of not respecting anything or anyone other than the altar of first prize. I turned pretty ugly in those days when a guy showed up who managed to upstage me a few times. Though I tried to control it, I have been guilty of lashing out once or twice at fellow guildmates whom I thought “slowed me down” at the time and let the other guys win. Temper and obsession do not a pretty picture make.

My ruthlessness even shocked a fellow guildmate when we were having a friendly in-guild PvP tournament, and when there were three of us left, I concocted an alliance with the other person to defeat him first because we knew he had the best gear of us all. He never quite got over the revelation of how calculating I was and focused on “playing to win.”

Competition can change you. Take a look at these Neptune’s Pride epic diaries from Rock, Paper Shotgun and Electron Dance. It’s interesting to see how different people react to competition. One or two simply shut down and become avoidant (Me, I don’t think that’s a fair way to go about it, because I would respect the rules of a game if I decide to play it, but hey, it worked for them.) Some just do their best but balance their real world and game time. And a few gamers (and I empathize with them because I have those tendencies) get really deadly obsessive and they can even frighten themselves in retrospect.

There are positive aspects to competition, don’t get me wrong. It makes for high drama, and good memories and a grand story to be told at the end. There is an adrenaline rush that can never be replaced. It makes you push yourself further than you would go on your own, left to your own devices. It offers a good challenge, the opportunity to test one skills, etc.

But it’s also easy to glorify competition in our society. Which then leads to getting carried away by competition – it’s the nature of the beast. There’s a very male monkey hierarchy thing going on.

And in the end, it behooves us to take a step back and examine ourselves to see if that’s really the way we want to keep going.

We don’t have to go to extremes either way. I’m not saying that oh, all competition is bad, and we should become communists and hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” together. That way doesn’t work either, not all of us are cut out for hippy commune living.

But we aren’t -just- monkeys all the time. Life works on a balance of competition and cooperation. Human society succeeds with a fair share of altruism, connected groups may get ahead better. (In later posts about ATITD, we’ll touch more on this, ATITD reflects life in microcosm really well.)

Brian Campbell from the Escapist Magazine suggests we might be able to let up once in a while and be a little altruistic even in our competitions (as long as it’s not a professional tournament where folks have to be serious and such.)

Even Sirlin quantifies that playing to win doesn’t have to be ALL THE TIME, ALL-OR-NOTHING. There’s also putzing around for nonproductive fun or experimentation with strategies that can be a balance point to being competitive.

And he also acknowledges that for many people, playing to win isn’t everything in life. He writes his stuff for those who have decided and articulated the goal they are striving for, to improve themselves and win tournaments, which to me is fantastic – all power to them, and it gave me insight into a way of thinking that is personally quite alien for me.

I finally realized this, based on examining my experiences. When I bought into the goals of the masses on the MUD, I became another person. It was someone with all the trappings of success and had reached the top, but secretly, inside, I was not happy. I was proud, fearful, and most of all, lonely. There’s awfully rarefied air at the top. You push away connections or they push away from you. They put you on a pedestal to be admired and become distant. Your in-group becomes very small, as you stomp on others to get up there, and everyone else is out-group to be despised or feared or hated or looked upon as a threat. And in turn, they don’t like you much either.

For some, while I’ve been saying is probably unthinkable. “Why -wouldn’t- you be happy when you win? -I- love winning!”

Possibly it’s like winning the lottery, you won’t know until you’ve been there. Turns out we’re poor estimaters of our own future happiness as hedonistic adaptation kicks in.

Or maybe you really are different from me, and your brain is structured in a way that really enjoys those kicks of winning and you love the spotlight of fame and it would never make you lonely or miserable or sad. In which case, all power to you, if you’ve examined that for yourself. There are games out there that really suit you.

But please, do take time to examine your motives and goals to see if they are your own, or someone else’s or what society (in-game or real world) thinks you should be doing.

It’s too easy to get caught up in what the game says you’re supposed to achieve, or what other people expect of you, and end up striving to match those expectations. Ultimately even if you achieved them, they may end up feeling quite hollow if they don’t match with your internal compass.

For myself, I feel happier when I’m helping others, teaching them, expressing understanding and loving-kindness and patience. I feel happier when I’m improving my own skills and learning at my own pace, rather than feeling obliged to keep up or match some standard of achievement. I feel happier when I’m playing for the sake of play, to experiment, to wander, to wonder, to discover and marvel.

Striving against obstacles (people or computer controlled or inanimate) to achieve a victory state is core to many games. But I treat this Achievement or rather the act of achieving (we too often focus on the end result these days, and that leads to “grind”)  as just a subset of my play. Now and then, I indulge it, because that’s also a part of myself that I must acknowledge. I enjoy the dings and the progress bar increments and even team-based PvP match “wins” from time to time. The sense of fiero as a reward is fun, but I remain aware of it and am careful to avoid jumping down the pit of the dark side. Been there, done that, really didn’t like it.

RotMG: Moar Pew Pew

Got in two quick interludes of Realm of the Mad God over the past few days. More Gods farming.

2 attack potions dropped the first time, and that went to the archer I am hoping to max stats with.

2 speed pots dropped the second, and temptation led me to quaffing them on the farming wizard, I find his current speed a bit on the slow side still. Let’s hope that actually aids my survivability in the future, before the inevitable “Dangit, my wizard died” post.

ROTMG servers were way way crowded this week. It’s the school holidays here in South East Asia, and it shows. I suppose it’s a game that suits kids pretty well, quick spurts, lots of action.

One of the most crowded Castle Oryx runs I’ve been on in a while. I suppose playing at local 3pm time on a weekend does have a difference from sneaking in games at 2am. 🙂

I didn’t get in sufficient damage on Oryx to drop anything this time, I was playing it safe and running off from anything that looked remotely dangerous.

On the other hand, if you risk too much, this is what can happen:

This poor guy, Tomatocan, bit it during the Oryx kill. One of the larger gravestones (Tier 7, means he had maxed 4 stats) which less people had seen, hence the explanation in chat from other vets.

ATITD: Factories in the Desert

Woke up with a bad crick in the neck yesterday. Alternated between wandering around pissed off at the pain and lying down whenever possible to try and ease it, and got very little computer time in.

Anyway, let’s continue where we left off, 2200 Clay richer.

Wool Cloth

20 Wool Cloth was easy to soak in clay, since the stock was already sitting in my hand loom. One learns very quickly in ATITD to have extra stocks of everything to hand, else making it all from scratch becomes a righteous pain.

Fer example, Wool Cloth comes from shearing sheep – which you first need to catch roaming about Egypt, then make a sheep pen and feed them onions (which you grow) and shear them to get Wool.  The Wool is then spun into Yarn with a Distaff (see blue circle), and the Yarn output is woven into Wool Cloth on a Loom.

Rhapsodizing about Compounds

Another thing you may note is the amount of stuff crammed into a fairly small space. That’s just me liking to maximize the best possible use of space I can, since I’m lazy to build too many compounds. However, do anticipate that you will essentially need to have a whole bunch of little factories in the desert if one is hoping to produce anything substantial on one’s own.

It’s not terribly ‘immersive’ per se, but then any faithfulness to a realistic Egyptian setting sort of went out the window with airships and automation and steam shovels and the like. ATITD is a producer’s/crafter’s game mixed with a heavy dose of sociology (and math.)

One of the most common things newbies do is build too small. And assume they can get away with making one of everything to just try it out.

I did it too as a newbie. This was my dinky little house, and you can see even then, I already put in three distaffs because I got tired of waiting.

Unfortunately, what happens later is that you find out that economies of scale are everything in this game. Making 400 firebricks in one dinky little kiln that fires 12 at a time is an exercise in masochistic patience.

Then you realize your compound is way too small for all the extra stuff you want to put inside, and that previously putting in equipment willy nilly blocks you from expanding nicely now and it’ll have to be torn down in order to get it out of the way or you’ll have to make a new bigger compound and do it all over again, and suddenly quitting the stupid game is sounding mighty attractive right now.

Plan ahead. Plan in arrays. You don’t have to build them all there and then, but anticipate you may want more later and leave enough room for yourself to build them later.

The other thing people can do is fall in with a big guild and use their facilities. Some of them are a sight to behold, spreading to 10+ compounds, and are good examples for planning out your own compound.

If you’re like me though, communal living and sharing property and goods is nice, but having the capitalist security blanket of owning my own stuff under my control soothes my paranoia. No one can take it away until I stop paying my sub fees. Living in a group guild involves some compromise to get along with other people, working hard and contributing in some way to not look like a leecher, and any resources are never officially ‘yours’ unless you head the guild and can set ownership rights on things. And groups may come with drama – accusations of theft, of unfairness and favoritism, of someone else profiting from somebody else’s expense… It’s the old solo vs group debate in new and interesting form over property rights.

Since ATITD supports  multiple guilds though, nothing stops you from being solo, in a friends-and-family guild with their own compounds, and part of a big uber-productive monster guild (assuming you can get in and stay in) all at the same time. Find your own balance point.

The above advice is not to say you can’t build nice-looking compounds if that’s what floats your boat. Sandbox, after all.

I once ran across a pretty compound way out in the boondocks where the creator had built some decorative sculptures and used them to lean tools like a spade and fishing rod and planks of wood against the walls.

If one peeked inside, one can still see quite a bit of stuff.

Personally, the compound is still a bit on the small side for me, and the owner -had- quit, so who knows if he felt it was sufficient for him?

Back to soaking Wool Cloth in clay. It’s very simple, have enough clay, enough water in jugs, click on the previously-built tub, and select the right option. 4 minutes later, the cloth is done. I have 5 tubs, so in ~16 minutes, I had my 20 Clay-Steeped Wool Cloth.  Note the room for further tub expansion which I haven’t found necessary yet.

The ginormous pile of wood in the background is a Bonfire (unlit.) Folks use it to store wood as it can take a huge amount without clogging up space in chests and warehouses. And it looks awesome as an e-peen. (More on opportunities for building objects on a monumentally excessive scale in later posts, an entire subset of Tests is devoted to that.)

Clay Bricks

Brickmaking is one of my favorite activities in the game. Something about seeing the bricks pop up in the brick racks, looking like cute little white chocolates and drying and turning milk chocolatey just makes me happy.

This is one of the activities where it’s much better to use the hotkeys. Click click clicking would get old real fast. The trick is to change the camera view by pressing F8 twice, also known as double-F8 view. (I have no idea what it’s really called in-game.)

Now that the racks are in nice neat rows and columns, simply minimize chat channels to get hotkeys working, hold down the C (or B for normal bricks) key and wave the mouse cursor over the racks like you’re painting the bricks into them.

When they dry, hold down T to take the bricks and repeat.

Note the mud and sand icons in the second picture. Both are necessary materials for brick making, so it is smart to plan ahead and put your brick racks in a position where you don’t have to move to get mud and sand. That way, you can overload yourself with materials and it doesn’t matter if you can’t move until you’re done with the bricks.

Also note the nearby chests and warehouse for easy offloading of huge amounts of bricks once you’re done.

Once Improved Brick Racks are available, they don’t break and disrupt your flow. (Normal brick racks are somewhat aggravating in that one needs to have spare Boards on hand and have to keep laying them out when they break.)

3000 Wet Clay Bricks took much less time to produce than getting my hands on the clay in the first place.

Baking the Bread (er, Bricks)

Unfortunately, the Clay Bricks are still Wet, so they’re not yet entirely done. Now they need to be fired in a kiln. Or ten.

In fact, I didn’t think that I wanted to do so many rounds to finish off 3000 bricks, so I invested a little time in expanding.

Another trick people use is to put a second row of kilns behind the first, but facing away 180 degrees. In this way, one can easily scroll the camera and see if they are all loaded up. I’ve built myself into a corner with this compound as it’s hit the limit of expansion, but until now, I haven’t had the need for an excessive amount of kilns.

I might just end up building a second row in front of the first and deal with a little visual inconvenience in checking if they’re properly loaded.

Either that, or I’ll have to put up with firing the kilns 18 times (3000/12 bricks *14 kilns).

Still better than the 25 times earlier (3000/12 bricks * 10).