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.