State of the Game: Word Wall Round Up

Even as Bragtoberfest kicks into full gear, I’m finding myself drying up on things to say.

Fair warning: This post is going to be one of those ‘push through the mental blocks by typing drivel’ posts. And my kind of drivel tends to go into wall-of-texts. Serious sized wall-of-texts.

See, it’s not that I’m not playing games.

It’s just that I’ve been playing them habitually and routinely at the moment. Which I don’t think is anything wrong, by the way – ‘habit’ or ‘routine’ doesn’t have to be a bad word, as long as it doesn’t get addictive or compulsive.

The only problem with habit and routine is that there’s no story to write or blog about, let alone brag.

Guild Wars 2

Did you really want to hear about how I faithfully log on daily to do my dailies?

The excuse of getting the time-gated laurel is just a good kick in the butt to visit Tyria for 30 minutes. There’s always Daily Gatherer – so visit home instance, visit a few choice rich iron or rich platinum nodes. Done. If there’s Daily Kills or some kind of region or aquatic slayer daily, then it’s a good excuse to go farm some desirable mobs in that area. 50 of them, and done. Daily Dodger means a friendly visit to Frostmaw. You can get it done plenty of other places, but Frostmaw and I just have something going… A friend thinks it’s a bit of an abusive relationship… (Well… -he- started it by rock-slinging..) Daily Recycler makes me clear out my bags. Daily Laurel Vendor is a free gimme.

Then I log off if I’m bored, which has been the case lately without any frequent updates going.

Or I check the time and try to make it for a TTS Teq or Wurm raid, or I check the WvW scoreboard and Mumble and glom onto a zerg to run around and fling necro wells for social entertainment.

I’m not exactly doing any new and noteworthy here.


Modded, this has been my solo game of choice lately, even if running a local server to log into appears to bring the computer to its knees occasionally, especially once automation and industry gets going.

I’m still puttering around the Agrarian Skies world, and I’ve got the Crash Landing (courtesy of Blue Kae’s comment) and Icehenge modpacks (courtesy of stargrace’s blog post) queued on the ‘play sometime’ waitlist.

I’ve also stumbled across the TerraFirmaCraft wiki, which looks very intriguing, like a very realistic/immersive Stone to Bronze Age survival simulation. I… just haven’t had the time or the brains to take in all the ‘manual mod installation’ instructions yet and get it done step by step. Too many easy-way-out all packed in a one-click-launcher things to try first.

Back in Agrarian Skies, progress has been moving so rapidly that I’ve kind of lost track of what’s new to blog about.

I got a MineFactoryReloaded (MFR) planter, fertilizer and harvester system going on a small scale, where I do a bit of manual select to load it up with whatever crop I want to plant, and a fertilizer and turn it on. The whole thing runs on automatic for a while, collecting desired crops in a chest, cycling the seeds back to the planter. I stand around and watch it, grinning maniacally and picking up Asparagus seeds – which seems to be some kind of bug, spare ones get produced when the MFR harvester harvests. (Not that I’m complaining, I can press the extra seeds into seed oil for bee hives, which I’ve been dabbling with too.)

Then the MFR fertilizer machine runs out of fertilizer and crops start growing at their natural slow pace, and I stop watching and pick up the stacks of desired crop from the chest and wander off until the next time.

The main crop of choice has been soybeans. (Plus lettuce and tomatoes.)

Apparently, in deference to vegetarianism, tofu substitutes for a LOT of meat and egg related items in Pam’s HarvestCraft mod. A LOT.

And seeing that soybeans can be produced at a much faster rate than breeding cows and then slaughtering them, it’s a compelling argument for making a Deluxe Cheeseburger with a patty made of firm tofu instead of raw beef. Also, soymilk cheese, since you get soymilk from pressing soybeans into silken tofu (which is then pressed again into firm tofu.)

My 20 cows are just sitting leashed up to their fence posts in their pastures, randomly moo’ing to be milked. I dumped an MFR rancher into one of them, and I have a feeling that I’ll have more milk than I know what to do with soon, once I figure out a redstone circuit with daylight sensor to switch the solar generator from collecting energy to dispensing energy.

Eventually, I’ll be able to supplement the Deluxe Cheeseburger stacks with Fries (made from potatoes or zucchini, both crops I have) and a fruit smoothie of some kind (that’ll take a little longer to get an automated fruit tree picker and glacial precipator for ice system set up and running). All three items combine to form a “Delighted Meal,” which I’m sure you can guess what that riffs on. Figures, a fast food meal is the most filling in Minecraft.

Regardless, armed with stacks of Deluxe Cheeseburgers, I’ve stopped being annoyed by getting hungry too fast and things seem set on that front.

I made a giant Deep Tank in the basement levels to collect Steam from the High Oven up top. I ran it twice, the steam pumps into a turbine generator for power, which is then stored in energy cells acting like batteries.

Unfortunately, since I don’t manually run the High Oven very often, I only filled up about one energy cell.

So I hooked up an Igneous Extruder => Crucible => Magmatic Dynamo chain to supplement it. That, by itself, over time, has filled up all the energy cells. Guess there’s something to be said for always-on power.

The other MFR machine chain I got around to is the MFR Auto-Spawner and MFR Grinder. One machine makes mobs, the other one kills mobs and collects their drops for you.

The limiting factor of mob creation is apparently liquid mob Essence, which the Spawner uses a little more than the Grinder produces. So I set it up in a dark room, where mobs will randomly spawn by themselves over time, and so feed the Essence fuel tank via the always-on Grinder that way.

As I found out, I needed an ‘off switch’ for the Spawner a lot more urgently.

I was having problems getting enough Blaze Rods for brewing stands.

One can manually spawn Blazes by dumping an angry doll into a barrel of lava – but each doll uses up one emerald or diamond. That’s kinda costly.

Solution: Get Blazes autospawned.

Except I need to catch a Blaze in a reusable Safari Net.

And a reusable Safari net needs a ghast tear.

You can get ghasts from squids by dumping them into witchwater.

So I need a squid.

The squids were not cooperating nor spawning, despite my patiently making three water tanks for them at the level they’re supposed to spawn at.

You can get a squid spawn egg from a Blood Magic Alchemical Chemistry set.

Which requires an Apprentice’s Blood Orb to function.

You get one of those by charging an emerald with 5000 LP at a Tier 2 altar.

A Tier 2 altar requires 9 runes of blood set in a 3×3 pattern beneath it.

Runes of blood are made with stone blocks (easy) and blank slates (made from charging stone with 1000 LP at a Tier 1 altar.)

1000 LP means 5 hearts worth of cutting oneself (or sacrificing one’s life energy with a sacrificial orb, if you prefer the sanitized version.)

Aghast at the potential time in front of the altar waiting to heal up, I looked around for ways to regain hearts faster…

There were the potions of healing… which require brewing stands. (See beginning of chain.)


I had 18 lives to spare, so I made a Nether portal to take a peek into the Agrarian Skies nether, which I’ve heard is stupid scary overcharged to the max.

It is.

The first attempt, I took throwaway bloodwood weapons and tools, just to scout out the lay of the land. In the worse case scenario that the portal wound up in a bad position and I die and lose everything, I’d lose nothing important.

The positioning wasn’t too bad, and I quickly tried to set up some defensive cobblestone walls to build a safe room to encase the portal.

A zombie pigman found me, and boy, was he armored up to the nines, the bloodwood sword felt like whacking him with a wooden stick. Beat a hasty retreat to the portal, got out, healed up, went in again and took him down.

Unfortunately, once I got the safe room set up and ventured out the front door, another two zombie pigmen were waiting for me and I was tripping over the one extra jump step required to get back through the door into my safe room. Got offed right on the doorway.

Well, that seemed an easy enough corpse retrieval, so I risked it and brought my fancy Tinkerer’s Construct axe which I love to death and tried whacking them with it. They died MUCH MUCH faster.

Guess it was coming along after all, just had to be careful not to fall into lava or somewhere inaccessible.

Carefully explored the chamber my Nether Portal wound up in, clearing as much as possible via Tinkerer’s Construct bow and all the throwaway arrows my original mob grinder had been collecting for me. The good news was that it was a pretty safe locale and I made the immediate surroundings as mob-free as possible.

The bad news was that everywhere else was pretty inaccessible, with a very long drop down (I didn’t bring any ladders with me, and it seemed too far to risk venturing anyhow), and there were no easy ghasts to slay and grab a ghast tear from.

I tried some careful mining to try and get to some other chamber, but wasn’t very lucky. Hit lava once, necessitating a hasty cobblestone dam, and then up popped this hellfish.

Yeah. Er.. No. Just no.

Ran back to my safe room, took a few trial swipes at it with axe and bow, only succeeded in loading myself up with all kinds of status effects while it dashed around like it was on sugar. Decided to slam the door and run away back into the Overworld.

I hope it despawns and isn’t still waiting for me when I do finally venture back in.

Anyway, an easy ghast tear was right out of the question. So I put on a DVD in the other screen and maade 14 blank slates, worth 70 hearts in total, by just standing in front of the dinky little blood altar sacrificing 5 hearts at a time and waiting for time to heal me up.

Then I went back up the chain.

Got my Apprentice Blood Orb.

Got my squid egg.

After the first escaped ghast from squid-witchwater spawning, which squeezed through a wall and floated into the overworld void aiming fireballs at my painstakingly handcrafted cobblestone island in the sky, I spent the time to make a more ghast secure spawning room.

I may have underestimated the size a little… but by being careful where I stand and spawn the thing, it -may- not squeeze through walls.

Rather satisfactory to see one of these bastards trapped like this, actually.

Couple arrows into it and I get my ghast tear.

Got my reusable Safari Net aka Pokeball.

Dunked an Angry Doll into a barrel of lava and got a Blaze.

Caught in Pokeball.

Put Pokeball into Auto-Spawner.

Suddenly had too many Blazes and blaze rods piling up in the Grinder’s chest to know what to do.

Two stacks of Blaze Rods later, I managed to cobble together a simple lever and dash the three steps into the dark room to plunk it down and turn the Auto-Spawner off. (I think I’m going to need a more remote operating option eventually.)

More things have been happening, but nothing really brag-worthy, imo. It’s just been trundling along the tech tree, discovering stuff, and killing time.


Attended the Bragtoberfest Strife event, which was fun. πŸ™‚

I’m not much for playing MOBAs or RTSes in a ranked setting, being that I find it difficult to relate to cooperating with random strangers – where your typical PUG will probably not be inclined to cooperate anyway, and may have high standards and expectations that they’ll either never tell you about and expect you to mindread and get frustrated when this is not done, or be happy to tell you off in loud, obnoxious, elitist and toxic fashion where exactly you went wrong in their eyes, of which you’d have to then filter out again whether they really know what they’re talking about (in which case the information is valuable, even if the attitude was not conducive to learning) or whether they’re just being ignorant and plain wrong (in which case they’re just useless loudmouths who like to blame others to cover up their own shortcomings.)

Couple that for not being very driven competitively – or rather, if I let the impulse run loose, I become a very annoying person to know, and even make -myself- miserable from obsessing over winning/losing, so I rein it in…

…and it’s never been a priority to spend an hour a game on just randomly PUGing matches. Heck, I don’t PUG 15 minute MMO dungeons on a regular basis.

Strangely enough, it feels different to me when I get to play a cooperative game with people I know. Even if just digitally, in a guild or as an online community of some kind.

My first introduction to MOBAs was being introduced to the original DOTA in this fashion, by work colleagues who were a lot more into it than I was. There were about 5 or 6 of us, enough for a co-op game against bots, or a 3 vs 3 friendly game where it didn’t really matter who won in the end, just that we got to mix it up and have some fun killing each other and get some co-op teamfight action in.

The point for me then becomes more of a socializer impulse. I’m playing the team game to help friends I know, and I find a comfortable niche in the tanky melee support types. First in, last out. Set up the fights and initiate. Give up stuff and sacrifice to help the carry so the team can win. Cackle like a maniac if I get well-timed cc off that sets up a kill.

The key is that it has to be people I know.

Nothing drives me up the wall like trying to attempt this sort of support for someone who doesn’t appreciate it or demands more or fails to recognize that people are human and make mistakes.

That’s how I stopped being an Altruistic Healing hammer guardian in GW2 PUGs, soaking up all the aggro and laying protection on everybody – hearing one too many dumb comments about ‘gee that was a piss poor easy dungeon.’ Oh really? Wanna try it again without my guardian suffering through all that damage? Being a zerker warrior is less annoying. I just hit stuff, do damage and work on staying alive. I’ve supported the team with my banners and shouts already. You guys deal with the aggro if you get it. Not so easy now when you’re getting hurt, eh?

Random players I’ll never see again scare me. People I know and can build up trust in over time is a different story.

Playing with bloggers feels a lot more like the latter.

We know each other through our blogs, we know we play other games and have plenty of other interests, it’s not the end of the world if one is a beginner or looks incompetent at a particular game. (The former usually produces the latter visible behavior.)

Strife is completely new to me, going into Bragtoberfest.

I had a hell of a time trying to get it set up, with the country settings detecting me in Singapore and redirecting me to some strange account log-in for a website I didn’t even use when signing up on the main page. Being beta, it was also apparently buggy when changing country settings, so nothing worked until I closed the entire client and opened it up again.

Right off, it struck me as relentlessly cartoony. As in, World of Warcraft and Torchlight style cartoony. VERY cartoony.

It’s personal taste, but it’s not really my cup of tea. It felt like they were targeting an age group even younger than the one that played League of Legends… and I don’t think I’m young enough to even be in that generation where MOBAs are the in-thing. If LOL appeals to the teenagers and the 20-somethings, Strife feels like they’re going for the age 8-15 range. Heck, I think that precocious three-year old that played Dark Souls with her dad can manage it.

Feels like, anyway. Personal taste. Some may like it. There’s a lot of “cutesy” stuff. To quote J3w3l, it’s like “baby’s first MOBA.”

The good news is that in aiming for this hypothetical audience, they simplified and distilled down the MOBA to more of its basic, purer concepts, leaving LOL and DOTA 2 to layer on complexities that only pros and hardcore regular players can really manage. (Me, I can only watch, rather than do. It’s a struggle for me to even figure out where the multiple shops are in DOTA2, let alone buy stuff in a few keypresses, get observer wards set up, keep track of where the courier is, AND play the rest of the game.)

Strife has a tutorial that is set up like a singleplayer Warcraft RTS style story, which slowly takes you through navigating with right clicks, lets you level up and select skills, buy items from the shop, and even walk with your NPCs and try to get some last hits in. At the end, there are a few ‘boss’ fights that test your ability to dodge/juke around to avoid damage, plus breaking combat to heal up and so on.

Conversely, the DOTA2 tutorial feels very much like an afterthought – I think it was built and installed pretty much at the end anyway – and I don’t even remember the LOL one either.

Strife introduces the concept of shared gold from last-hitting, which I greatly approve of in principle. It’s like shared nodes in GW2 versus other MMOs, or shared loot from kills if you get a hit in, versus tapping and reserving a mob in that sense. As far as I gather, as long as you or your teammate get a last hit, all of you in range will get the gold split up between you. No more raging about the selfish support stealing all the kills from the carry or whatever. Whoever is a better player at getting last hits in, can help his or her partner collect up some gold too. If you’re not getting enough gold, it’s time to wander off and go solo or duo, rather than everyone cram up together. Problem solved. No hostility towards teammate.

Its website suggests that their stats and item builds for heroes are flexible enough that each hero can play in slightly different ways and roles by picking the right item build and order of skills. Which again, I approve of, in theory. I have no real clue if this is the case. Being completely new at this, I just stayed with one hero and faithfully followed the suggested build order on the website and it performed as well as could be hoped in the Bragtoberfest games, not that I have any other basis for comparison!

What amuses me about MOBAs is the range of heroes, most of which are set up in looks and playstyle to appeal to different types of players.

I know a lot of female players tend to go for the female heroes as an avatar. I know some male players who also like to go for the female avatars. (The converse is rarer, but does exist, I assure you.)

Many players tend to go for carries, because that lets them be super-powerful and kill all the things eventually (assuming the game goes on well enough to let them get to that point.) Others will have a preference for early ganking heroes, especially the PvP killer types who love to roam and ambush unsuspecting people. Still others are more the healing backline support, or cc/damage backline, and so on.

Me, I like the monsters. Sue me.

I went through a big monster-y experimental phase in DOTA1 going through things like Tidehunter, Engima, Clinkz, Jakiro, Earthshaker (who was a Tauren then) and a whole complement of others before Fuzzy Wuzzy (aka the Ursa Warrior) made my heart go all fuzzy wuzzy. Big fuzzy wuzzy bear was awesome. Tanky, pretty fast, could still bring some serious hurt and made people panic when they saw him coming. I still don’t really know how to jungle properly or at all, but I like that he apparently could, flexibility of role and all that.

J3w3l got me into LOL by blogging about it with the NBI and a conversation that suggested I could get around the crazy region-locking shenanigans if I found the right website to sign up for an NA account. (Region-locking truly sucks. Is it any wonder why I’m happier to sing the praises of Valve and DOTA2, which is just totally easy to get on Steam and not worry about if your local publisher and server meisters are actually competent, plus how to play with friends from other countries?)

Played a couple of learning games versus bots, looking for a hero I could adopt. I don’t think it’s any surprise that I eventually found Warwick, who, even better, is a werewolf-y sort! And plays kinda fuzzy-wuzzy-ish. Kinda. From my very limited 4 games in total sort of experience palette.

Attempted to look for the same sort of hero in Strife via the website. Didn’t quite find one, but narrowed down the list to tanky things I liked the look of and had it down to Bo, Harrower and Nikolai.

I decided to just stick with one during the Bragtoberfest games to get a better feel for the hero, and Bo got the initial pick. While his cartoon look is truly dumb, imo (guess I’m not really a Tauren at heart), performance-wise he was something I could get my head quite quickly around.

He hit hard enough for me to get melee last hits in at a fairly comfortable pace, whereas I tend to struggle with timing for range or certain melee that don’t hit slow and hard.

He has some kind of boomerang staff skill that does a fairly miserable amount of damage, but applies a slow, and which I usually consistently miss with, but get lucky with finishing people off with now and then.

He has an Inner Rage movespeed skill which I got a LOT of mileage out of in the Bragtoberfest games, mostly with running the hell away. It’s also good for moving into combat with, as it gives 10% damage reduction and if you can end it next to someone, does damage and stuns. Getting positioning right on that one was a lot trickier, everyone kept wriggling out of the way of that. But running the hell away was good too.

He has a healing type totem, which, faithfully following the website, I only picked up near the later levels and turned out to be pretty handy for sustaining pushes and teamfight combat in a certain area.

And his ultimate is Bull Rush – a charging pushing kind of skill. I love knockbacks. Call it my City of Heroes background, but I love -helpful- knockbacks. I kept looking out for handy walls to slam enemy heroes into the side of (which stuns them and does extra damage) and failing which, trying to get behind them and push them even further into friendly lines, making it harder for them to run away without taking fire and dying.

I wish I had more micro skill to be able to rocket boot teleport behind an enemy and then Bull Rush them forward, but that takes practice I didn’t have. So Izlain and Jaedia and Simcha got to deal with a big fat obvious cow trying to sneak around behind them, which was no doubt, exceedingly obvious.

I ended up having to run away a lot. So I guess it was a good thing that the rocket boots went unused and I could use that, Blink Dagger-like, for a fast getaway instead.

But well, if I tanked up a lot of their attack skills and managed to get away and not die, I guess my job is pretty much done. J3w3l and welshtroll can kill all the things. πŸ™‚

Our 3 vs 3 match ended up very well balanced and took a long time to get decided.

Jaedia and Simcha were the most new to MOBAs and had Izlain on their team to mentor and coach them and support with his pro MOBA skillz.

J3w3l, welshtroll and me, I -believe- were also dabblers in the MOBA scene at best, but had enough basic experience to operate somewhat independently. Our communication was spotty at best, and while we were winning a decent amount of fights in the midgame and came together for an incredible team push once, I think it was quite obvious that we didn’t quite have the know-how and sufficient communication on how to gather up and end it, and were sort of flailing around while everyone caught up in resources and were all max level 15 with plenty of items.

As far as I remember, the endgame decider was me getting caught out by something and dying. In the 50+ seconds of respawn time, Izlain had managed to gather his whole team for a massive charge up the middle and took out our Nexus while I pretty much looked helplessly on.

There were a couple of times before that when our team might have attempted to do the same, but none of us quite had the guts or know how to suggest that we should go. πŸ™‚ And I doubt we could have gathered fast enough to get through before the dead players respawned.

And so, the soloists lose out to a team that communicates, even if they were at a resource disadvantage before. As MOBAs do go.

Me, I’m just happy to get some play and practice in, and some fun times with friends.

The Strife bots are really quite something though. In our 3 vs 3 match, they were very actively responding and defending to my attempted solo pushes to take out a tower or a generator. And it was a terribly evil pair combination with plenty of cc and damage, which rather successfully kept offing us, to the point where I had learned to run away when they showed up. Which really did stop our team’s progress quite a bit.

In our co-op bot games though, they were a little less of a threat. The coordination and communication of a human team just tends to run circles around them, though I have to say even a bot team of 5 did a good job traipsing over to Cindara (the boss to free the big monkey Krytos) so that the crazy gorilla could start helping to push lanes.

Honestly, they seem more tuned to be tough than other bot games I’ve played in games like LOL or DOTA2 (or maybe that was just Izlain selecting a hard bot difficulty. πŸ™‚ )

I’m looking forward to the Path of Exile and Team Fortress 2 nights. Er, days. Mornings. Whatever. In my case, it’s more like “dawns.”

Both are games I already have installed, so no more struggling with installers. I’ve never partied up in Path of Exile, so it should be interesting to see how the fruitful the loot drops are. I was debating on the class to play for that, and I think I might just go with my tanky groundslam/molten strike Marauder. That’s helpful, I’m used to operating it, I’ll be able to tell by feel how much harder they hit in a party and get comparisons that way, and folks that like playing ranged will at least have a large body standing in the way between them and rampaging hordes.

Feel free to ask me any basic questions about the game, though I am definitely no pro, and mostly have more experience with the Marauder and Shadow side of things.

It’s been forever since I’ve played TF2. I don’t think I have earned or unlocked any of those fancy schmancy items since I started losing interest at the point when all the expensive lockboxes came in. But I still am a pretty mean Engineer on 2fort, less so on other maps that I no longer have any experience with, and there’s always the point-and-shoot Heavy Weapons Guy when I give up thinking altogether. πŸ™‚

Should be fun. Latency might be interesting though. Not sure which server would be most centralized and give like 200ms to everyone. In the interest of fairness, we should all go on an Aussie server, which is far away for everybody except one host! πŸ˜› Or maybe J3w3l and I will just end up pewpewing with/at each other.

Papers, Please

Finally, attending the Strife event netted me this game, courtesy of Izlain’s generosity. A big thank you goes out to him for organizing so much of this, prizes included.

Yes! You too should join the Bragtoberfest fun! You get free games!

It’s been a game I keep eyeing but putting off, waiting for a discount and never getting around to it.

I got a game or two of it in, and it’s… really quite successful in what it does – creating a very immersive mood, setting you up in a situation where you pretend to be an immigrations officer for a very restrictive totalitarian sort of country. There are a lot of dilemmas set up in the course of play – do you bend the rules for compassion or criminal reasons, but risk getting yourself and your family into trouble, or do you try to be by-the-book and survive… except you’re paid peanuts and aren’t really surviving at all but slowly rotting away, so there’s an underlying pressure to find -some- means of profiting.

The more careful you are, the more time you spend each day looking for discrepancies, and the less passports you clear, which when you’re paid by commission per passport, is asking for abject poverty and debt. Neither can you stamp blindly, because you’ll receive citations and monetary penalties for failing to sort people appropriately.

Along the way, you’ll have all kinds of other random encounters that prompt emotional responses. Terrorists try to blow up your checkpoint, leading to increased security measures and even a certain prejudice/wariness when you see passports from the country responsible. A comic relief kind of crackpot keeps popping by, testing your patience most of the time with all the time he wastes, though I personally have this paranoid suspicion he’s disguised secret police or something. A husband has all the proper clearances for entering the country, the wife doesn’t. Do you separate them with one impersonal stamp? (After all, you yourself have a family to think about.) That sort of thing.

Definitely worth playing and experiencing, though I’d look for it at a discount. It’s a very focused sort of game, made to do one thing well, giving you this one particular day-in-the-life experience.


I’ve figured out what today’s Bragtoberfest bragging right should be: 5000+ words rambling about games. Oh yeah. Eat that.

And if you read through all the way, you get yourself a little unofficial Bragtoberfest achievement for -surviving- one of Jero’s wall-of-texts. Hope you were reading it in a feed reader or something.

I hope to get more organized and get y’all something more palatable and easier to read tomorrow or in a few day’s time.