Itinerant Gaming

The past couple of weeks, I seem to be afflicted with an odd combination of focus and restlessness that I can only phrase as “itinerant.”

I don’t want to call it nomadic, because “nomads” to me implies a sort of following of the tribe, along preset migratory routes, following the seasons. It’s a good term for the sort of MMO gamer that follows every new game launch and joins the launch crowds, playing for the space of three months or so, before moving on with the rest to the next new thing… but it doesn’t describe my present state of mind.

I can’t say that I’m in the throes of wanderlust either, because again “wanderlust” in my mind implies a certain mix of curiosity and joy, an eagerness to see the next new horizon or exploring some manner of discovery, and even “wandering” implies a kind of contented ambling around.

On the contrary, I feel like I’m in the winter of my discontent, awaiting a summer that has not shown its face in some time.

It’s not all gloom. I think I’ve been marvelously productive in the short term across a wide variety of games. What’s weird is how I’ve been feeling after.

On the singleplayer front, I stuck my head into Savage Lands for 15 minutes and noted there were quite a bunch of improvements to this Early Access survival game, but that I wasn’t quite in the mood for getting stuck in (also, getting lost was discouraging.)

I dabbled with Endless Legends long enough to actually take out a computer-controlled rival empire, albeit on the easiest difficulty setting, and grow a fantasy empire to a size that was probably going to be competitive with the strongest computer-controlled empire around (that’s my usual cue to annex said threat and by subsuming it, become the uncontested dominant civilization around… just… haven’t found the urge to get back to that game yet.)

I gave L.A. Noire a go. Yes, that now-ancient noir detective game that I never got around to playing. Quite cute. Quite interesting. Solve mysteries, read facial expressions and what not. Got through the tutorial, managed one case, put the game down and well, the next case is waiting for me, whenever.


I found my way back to my old Minecraft: Regrowth world a couple days ago and engaged in quite the spurt of activity, digging out the beginnings of a new above-ground compound to support growing larger quantities of valuable-resource-producing crops, with room to expand for automation later.

The initial plan was to build a multi-story farm building for the crops, but I realized I was so fond of the open sky and view from the walls that I was reluctant to throw a concrete (ok, cobblestone) roof over it.

The revised plan is to do a dwarfy thing again and dig down, a second layer into the earth under this one and make a basement floor of crops, and then more floors under that.

How this feels different to me, I don’t know, it’s probably going to be the same number of floors, just recessed into the earth, but I think it’ll feel like less of an eyesore.

I even got productive enough to make my first ever Buildcraft Quarry block and attempt to operate it – a procedure made somewhat complex by the limited options for generating power in the Regrowth modpack.

See, the thing is there’s no ores in the Regrowth wasteland world. There are, however, ores in the Nether.

There is no water allowed in the Nether.

Practically all the accessible engines and generators in Regrowth need steam or some form of water-cooling in order not to do the explodey thing (or something along those lines. I dunno, I don’t really want to find out the hard way.)

After a lot of reading wikis and brooding, I settled for a fairly slow-paced Peat-Fired Engine from Forestry, which doesn’t exactly produce a lot of power, but at least has the decency to not go boom.

Some puzzled experimentation later, I got the quarry working in the Nether, albeit at a fairly glacial pace.

Then it broke down when it hit lava pockets.

This led to a series of rather appalling experiments to empty various liquids into the Nether to see if any would actually flow (and hopefully convert lava into something more solid), rather than evaporate into the hot nether air.

I say appalling, because the liquids I happened to have on hand were apparently of the energy-storing fuel variety, and many actually surprised me by exploding in my face and taking out chunks of netherrack.

I finally found a liquid that flowed in the ancient 0.8.0 Regrowth version I was playing – molten enderium – though it only seemed to convert the lava into cobblestone, rather than obsidian that I had hoped. (Perhaps it was because the lava was moving lava, rather than still sources.)

It unfortunately flows slow as molasses, so I was having to clamber around ladders like a monkey down a very deep 9×9 cuboid shaft, emptying and manually repositioning a molten enderium “waterfall” … in the Nether, with oinking zombie pigmen and other insalubrious modded mobs wandering around.

Inevitably, I fell (or, was pushed) down the shaft, into the floor of running lava that the flowing enderium hadn’t quite managed to reach yet.

This was a huge ragequit moment as I realized I was carrying all my favorite Tinker’s Construct tools and accumulated Botania bauble conveniences, such as a ring of magnetization, and some other speedy jumpy magical devices that I put together some time ago and had now forgotten what they were.

I spent some time poking around folders, hoping against hope there was some kind of automated backup mod (nope, Regrowth doesn’t have one) and being super-reluctant to pull an older backup that didn’t contain my new crop compound.

I eventually talked myself into starting up the world again and “maybe this is a good opportunity to make newer upgraded gear from scratch, instead of relying on your old tools. I mean, take it like a hardcore death penalty and start over,  your base is still there with all your resources, it’s just making all your tools again as you need them *wince* ”

So I took the one nether cobalt ore and one of the two ardite ores the quarry had mined up that my old steel tools couldn’t quite mine, and consoled myself by melting the pair into the best alloy possible, manyullyn, and pouring that into a new pickaxe head.

Long story short, I ended up realizing that my new pickaxe could mine nether osmium ore, which is a dearly craved resource that should eventually lead into the Mekanism mod and produce less annoying engines/RF generators.

So I dashed back into the Nether and yanked out all the previously discovered osmium ore pockets that were awaiting a better pickaxe… and while doing so, idly peeked into the chests of my nether quarry.

Huh. There were a couple gravestones in the chest. And wasn’t that the two iron pickaxes from the two hasty recovery attempts (that led to further lava deaths?)

Could it be…

… that my original grave still survives under all that lava, and that the items are inside it intact…

…and that the quarry can actually pull it out, items and all, without me having to go down there and physically extinguish the lava and pickaxe the grave?

I ran back into the overworld dimension, carefully storing the precious manyullyn pickaxe and osmium ore (lesson learned), and ran back nearly naked with only a bunch of peat to power the engine that powered the quarry, some ladders and a bucket of molten enderium (just in case the quarry got stuck and refused to dig because of too much lava)

A couple of agonizing minutes and watching the quarry slow dig its way down a few layers of rock, and joy of joys, I saw a gleaming yellow gravestone repelling lava away from its block.

A few more blocks later, the quarry finally hovered its drill head over the yellow grave and quietly sucked it up.

Opening the chest attached to the quarry revealed ALL MY THINGS, STILL INTACT.

I ran back to home base, a very laden, happy camper.

I guess it’s a good thing I talked myself into not giving up with the world.

I’ll likely be back.

On the Guild Wars 2 front, I’ve been completing a bunch of things, but left feeling… not exactly empty, but not exactly overjoyed either.

Kinda engaged while doing it, sometimes even ‘fun,’ but without much lasting satisfaction.

Super Adventure Box was pretty good for me, giving me some twenty one days of solo effort learning/adventuring content, to the point where I decided to ignore my blog in favor of just repeatedly running the zones.

I set out to complete my blue skin collection, and did so, earning enough bauble bubbles across the dailies and normal zone completes over time.

I ended up with a bonus complete green skin collection, when I decided I wanted to try my hand at learning world 1 Tribulation mode to the point where I could farm each zone 15 times for the remaining 15 skins I lacked.

The yellow skin ones can wait for next year. I couldn’t quite find the time nor urge to learn the lengthy world 2 Tribulation this festival. Each world 1 zone was a decent enough size, 1-2h when slowly learning, and improving to 15-30 mins as a beginner, and then getting it down to some 7-15 minutes when slightly more practiced.

The raids continue.

I’ve shifted my weekly schedule for the moment to accommodate 2-3 days of raiding.

I can’t say I feel overjoyed or angry about it either way. I just feel very… matter-of-fact about the whole state of affairs. As in, okay, here’s what we’re doing for now, and that’s how it is.

I wrote several paragraphs about the current state of my raid group earlier today… which promptly got somewhat invalidated by an impromptu incident occurring late in the night. Suffice to say, I think I’ll save the detailed coverage for another post.

The main summary is that I don’t feel anything different, pre- and post-.

It strikes me as more than a bit odd and maybe a little bit scary. You’d think a normal player would feel frustrated with lack of progress and feel fiero or satisfaction after a victory.

The main thing I get is.. relief, mixed alongside the odd serving of emptiness and a kegful of patient acceptance that reality is thus. Like, “This is how it is, you don’t have to like it, you just have to decide what you want to do about it, if anything.”

I just feel… stuck in a kind of geologic time, MMO-wise. Like my yardstick of measurement has expanded to months and years, and little blips of daily or weekly drama or excitement can’t quite move me in the same way it used to.

As I write this, the long-awaited April patch has arrived, with what seems like a meter’s worth of patch notes that I have only skimmed and will digest at leisure later.

There are changes.

Yeah, that’s my reaction right now. In this weird, possibly abnormal, state of indifference or detachment.

A lot of them seem to be pretty positive changes. I presume they’ll keep me busy doing stuff in the months ahead, if I choose to accept them and make doing something in GW2 a goal.

There’s plenty of small stuff to be doing, to tick off little checklists and earn what seem like a boatload of small ‘thank you for playing’ rewards.

(It’s just that I seem to be somewhat deconditioned from the desiring of extrinsic rewards at the moment.)

I think basically, trust, once broken, needs a great deal of time to repair.

There seem to be steps in a somewhat promising direction, but it’s gonna take more than one patch to build up my passion and hope again.

Home is where the heart is, and right now, I don’t have a home, virtually speaking, having been disconnected and divided and my larger community fragmented, and conversely coalescing into a small group of ten odd people.

My heart, as a result, is also MIA, scattered across the landscape of many games.

I trudge around, restless, aimless, casting about in random directions, hoping to find the pieces, a spark, anything…

…so far, nothing yet.