Wood Choppin’ – TerraFirmaCraft Plus

This one is squarely on Tobold.

One week ago, the man asked for game recommendations in which he could chop wood.

Being that I too, am of that player subset who really really likes repetitive resource gathering and doesn’t quite consider it a grind to do so (if one is enjoying the process and in nice surroundings), I pulled out a bunch of suggestions across the vast range of resource accumulation games I’ve played.

Then I thought, “Well, it might be nice to go chop some wood myself and get a blog post out of it. Two birds, one stone. Show off the validity of the recommendation.”  You know, putting your money where your mouth is. Or something along those lines.

Six days later, I am still chopping wood.

I have one more Storm Wizard token to collect in Guild Wars 2 to finish off the weapon collection. I have World 2 Zone 3 down to a precise science of a 30 minute not-too-aggravating run.

But I willingly skipped two days in which I could have picked up the token to go freakin’ wood chopping (among other things) in my new Minecraft: TerraFirmaCraft Plus world instead.

The world seed is aptly named: Woodchopper.


Or -1295373396, if one prefers the numeric version.

It did not spring out of one’s forehead fully formed. There were a few aborted attempts along the lines of Woodchopping and Woodchuck.


The first yielded a desolate landscape with sparse trees. This simply would not do.


The second looked promising, with plentiful pines to plunder. But after a day or two of play, I simply could not find any clay.

Apparently, the region I spawned in was simply too dry and the annual rainfall too low to form clay deposits. This was a massive problem as getting pottery going is essential for progress along the TerraFirmaCraft tech tree towards metals. It was with regret that I gave up that world, because everything else, metal ore deposits, crops were everywhere.


The third world Woodchopper proved to be the charm. I spawned in practically on top of a clay deposit, which seemed like a good omen. I got simple pit kilns going fast (the fires in the above screenshots.)

About this point, I started getting tired of the standard Minecraft look (not very immersively picturesque, is it?) and decided I’d give messing with shaders one more try. I dug up my ancient post on it in preparation (see, blogging is useful for people like me with sieve-like memories.)

Turns out that everything was a little simpler than that attempt.

The TerraFirmaCraft Plus modpack was an improved version of the old TerraFirmaCraft I’d played back in the day (along with another variant called TerraFirmaPunk, which I covered here and a few other posts.)

It played super nicely with the most recent version of OptiFine for Minecraft 1.7.10, which was OptiFine 1.7.10 HD U E 7. All I had to do was chuck it into the mods folder.

Since Optifine didn’t crash the modpack, I didn’t have to go search for any other weird branching mods and simply downloaded the most recent version of the shader I loved all the way back in 2017. Namely, SEUS.

The publicly released version is SEUS Renewed 1.0.1, so I downloaded that.

But wow, checking out Sonic Ether’s website shows the man has not been resting on his laurels and is hard at work on SEUS PTGI – this should be danged delightful to watch in the future, going head to head with Minecraft RTX, which I only learned about through Everwake’s blog post. Shows how much attention I pay to vanilla Minecraft. Modpacks all the way, baby.

Back to adding shaders: all I then had to do was throw the entire SEUS Renewed.zip file into the shaderpacks folder, start up the game and select the shader via the options menu.

Instant eye candy.


Ok, I may have exaggerated slightly.

The water blocks were not quite registering as water in TerraFirmaCraft because the entity numbers had changed. Known issue. So I had to check what they were in the game, using NEI, aka type in “water” and move mouse cursor over the water to see what number comes up. In my case, it was 566, 567, 568, 569, etc.


Then rummaging around in the shader zip file for gbuffers_water.vsh, adding on the necessary minecraft entity numbers.


For whatever reason, the three lines were commented out – maybe newfangled Minecraft changed water entity numbers – but old 1.7.10 Minecraft definitely uses 8 & 9 for water, so I removed the comment and it worked fine after that. Later, I threw in TerraFirmaCraft ice (574) as well.

Everything else worked fine out of the box. Rain was rain and so on.


(Wavy grass and crops may have been the something else that required tweaks, but I don’t like wavy grass anyway, so it was no big loss for me and I didn’t worry about it.)

It wouldn’t have been Minecraft without the deep ravines…


…and slightly illogical, gravity defying scenery…


… that’s deep. Scarily deep.


Apparently, you can fracture your bones in TerraFirmaCraft Plus (TFC+), which I found out by a sudden sharp drop into, thankfully, a pit slightly less deep than the one above. Still, falling ten or so blocks resulted in a minor fracture.

Anyhow, I settled along the coastline, seawater and freshwater both fairly nearby, and clay deposits to the north and south of me.


There are a number of notable improvements in TFC+. You can craft 4 logs into a place-able stackable block, so a little log hut to shelter from the night zombies is not impossible now, rather than the somewhat immersion-breaking near necessity of digging a cave under clay deposits in the original TFC.


Thatch roofing is also a thing.

Along with the eyebrow-raising not-quite-improvement of torches being able to set nearby flammable things alight.


I guess it’s realistic. *sighs*

Funny story about the accident. (Aren’t they all.)

I knew very well that torches lit flammable things on fire. So I put the torches carefully away from flammable things like my original wood hut on the right. The wattle-and-daub cottage I was in the midst of building was -not- flammable.

This was another new TFC+ thing. Crafting sticks together produce wattle, a framework that one can lay. Pouring a vessel of water over thrown dirt and straw produce mud. Applying mud on wattle creates the pretty white blocks known as wattle-and-daub. So I put a torch next to the walls I was building over the course of several Minecraft days, and they did not light it on fire.

TFC+ torches extinguish after a few days of using up their fuel (or in the rain). So the one next to the walls went out and I never bothered to relight it for ages.

Then I put the thatch roof on, and everything was still okay for another indeterminate period of time.

I guess you know where this is going. One night, I absent-mindedly relight all the torches in the vicinity while looking out at the ocean, thinking about other things… then behind me, things suddenly get brighter, I hear a crackling…

…I spin around and go, OH FFFF-.

I jump after the fire, I valiantly flail at everything, but the damn cottage is three blocks tall, I haven’t progressed to the stage where I can make ladders yet, and in TFC+ dirt and sand blocks don’t stack beyond 1 deep, they obey the laws of gravity.

Long story short, I lose about half the roof.


There’s another couple of days of grass harvesting for straw, and then turning that straw into thatch and thatch into roofs, and climbing back up to re-thatch the roof. *sighs*

The walls were fine. Bah.

I suppose that’s why one would want to tier up to ceramic roofs and slate roofs and copper roofs. But those are a ways for me yet.

TerraFirmaCraft progress has always been slow and sedate. One full year is 96 Minecraft days long. Each season is 24 days. I took my time wood chopping and building using Stone Age tools through most of Spring and Summer, and exploring the local landmass.

It wasn’t until Autumn that I got a bit of a fire going under me (this one figurative) and got barely enough copper to get a few basic metal tools. (Mining is going to be tricky in this world, it’s very hilly and difficult to traverse.) The copper saw opened up lumber, and lumber in turn opened up boats.



So I took a break from my locale and went on a little boating adventure, carrying nothing I couldn’t afford to lose.



There were two apple trees on the island above. Alas, none of them produced graftable saplings from the branches, so I’ll have to come back another time when they’ve hopefully regrown those branches.


I was tickled by the slightly tropical looking landscape. It was a change from all the snow and ice that was the vast majority of my boating encounter.

See, the problem was that I got wanderlust in late Autumn, when temperatures had dropped to near freezing and ice was forming along the edges of land and sea. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any good crops (beyond the odd bush or apple tree), and I later realized that most plant crops are seasonally available in Spring-Summer, not Autumn.

So I returned home and decided to wait out most of Autumn and Winter before wandering again. Food was going to be a minor problem (aka I didn’t have any, beyond seaweed, if I wanted to cut it) but since I was staying at home, I was prepared to just starve to death eventually and respawn right where I left off.

In the meantime, I’d work on building projects instead. Like a cellar for when I actually have food I need to preserve from decay.


It started out as a modest idea of an underground attachment from the cottage.


Then it got more ambitious as I widened it out to its maximum size.

Midway, I realized that I didn’t know if I had to completely cover the floor AND ceiling with the special cellar blocks (made from lumber, clay and straw, all of which had to be gathered).

So I made a separate smaller above-ground prototype cellar to find out.


Turns out yes, everything must be covered in the cellar block for it to work properly. So that ramped up straw, clay and lumber requirements exponentially.

Frankly, I have a feeling that the mini-cellar above ground might be sufficient enough storage space for me. But heck, I had building time to spare while “over-wintering.”


The completed underground cellar, just before I pile on the dirt to completely cover it in grass and make it invisible, save for the little entryway from my cottage.

The next building project is a preliminary barn. There are some Aurochs (wild cows) near home base. I need grain and/or rope (from yet another crop) before I can even dream of leading one anywhere or taming one. But I have no crop seeds until Spring/Summer anyway, and they’ll still need growing time.

I can still make the building and hope to fill it up eventually.



That’s going to be a lot of thatch. Should keep me busy until the next Minecraft Spring/Summer rolls around.

The wood is easy by comparison. Make stone axe. See tree. Hack tree. Swim in logs and sticks. Stack up the logs in the piles for the future.

Now, when I eventually get around to ironworking and charcoal making… that’s when the deforestation is really going to happen.

Super Adventure Suffering

There is a particular mental state with which to take on Tribulation Mode in Super Adventure Box.

It’s about three parts acceptance and one part perseverance.

One has to acknowledge that things are unfair, life has its downs – many of which will smack you in the face and then kick you when you’re already down, regardless of whether you see it coming and that there’s no point getting upset or frustrated about it because that just makes a bad situation feel even worse.

Tribulation Cloud hates you. No offense taken. Just take the hearts, take the life and let me move on with block pushing.

Instead, the way to get through it is to just keep picking yourself up again – one more time -, preferably to the accompaniment of some good music to keep emotionally regulated and focus on the small things you may be able to control about 50-60% thereof.

Take tiny steps. If things smack you down, try it again, ever so slightly differently and see if that way works better.

Dodge-jump, even with an approved Autohotkey macro only works about 50% of the time with my latency. The Taco route shows how to get to the balloons which help to unlock a secondary checkpoint. After falling one too many times, I found a no dodge-jump shortcut that just ignores the balloons instead. No need for a secondary checkpoint if you can just get to the next checkpoint eventually.
Oh, and everything is tweaked for brightness in the images. And gamma is raised in full screen mode when jumping. Because otherwise, it looks like this, which is just ridiculous.

Have a plan, try your best to follow the plan; when life inevitably veers you off the plan, see if there’s another way to course correct back to the same goal and celebrate finding that if it’s at all possible.

Another dodge-jump bane in red arrows. It’s a great shortcut if dodge-jump works consistently for you. It’s a lot more annoying if you fall and have to keep re-tracing your steps and hoping the dodge-jump works /this/ time. So I went and found the long way around. Which I only have to do once.

If not, scrunch up that attempt as a failed one and try attempt number X + 1 and aim for just a bit more accuracy, a bit more precision and consistency, even when factors beyond your control conspire to make things completely unpredictable.

The jump where you pretty much balance on a razor edge of safety. Too far to the left and the spikes get you. Too far to the right and you fall into nothingness.

Given current worldly events, I have found myself in a pretty good mood for taking on the last Tribulation zone I have left to finish up the Storm Wizard weapon collection.

This has been a long term project of several years.

One year, I decided to finish the King Toad weapon collection, which meant doing World 1 Zones 1, 2 & 3 on Tribulation mode 16 times each. I believe I did them all in one season’s worth of Super Adventure Box (SAB), but learned each individually, with plenty of outside help from videos and GW2 Taco (which provides an overlay route guide) before moving on to the next.

The next year, it was time to take on World 2 Zone 1 Tribulation. That was it. One World 2 zone a year was enough for me.

The year after that, World 2 Zone 2 Tribulation. The Pain Cliffs. That was a terrible year.

Last year, I skipped SAB. Possibly due to some lingering trauma, as well as overall malaise with the state of the game that year.

This year feels like a good year to take on World 2 Zone 3 Tribulation. It’s been that kind of year.

(The non-color corrected version of the above image is almost poetical.)

I ran through World 1 normal mode and felt a really feel-good sense of nostalgia. It felt almost like coming home to familiar ground – I remembered all the chest digging spots of yesteryear, without even having to look them up. The self-learning from so much bauble collecting was deep-rooted.

That positivity lasted through most of World 2 normal mode, though Pain Cliffs was pushing it a little (I found a decent if slightly tedious shortcut via Shortcut Eagle for the Glitched chest, I refuse to go through all those horrible checkpoints as far as humanly possible) and Storm Top was overextending its welcome somewhat through its length (though a little nostalgic as I revisited places usually skipped past while hunting for the glitch.)

On that burst of good feeling, I decided to take on Storm Top in Tribulation Mode and complete the Storm Wizard collection.

Sure enough, on Friday night, just before the very weekend I slated to begin the mini-project, I start lagging my arse off.

Ping is crazy, going from our regular across-the-ocean latency of 250-280ms to 500ms, 800ms and spiking to the thousands. 1k, 2k, 4k (that one took the cake. I had no idea it was possible to remain connected to the game with quadruple digit ping.)

Besides local ISP issues, the main bulk of the problem appeared to lie with the Telia servers just before the Amazon cloud servers that Anet chose to use since Path of Fire launched. This is not a new problem. I wound up in extended runarounds with Support getting hand-waved off until final escalation to someone moderately more competent who pretty much said, “You can fix this on your end by using a VPN. The end.”

So I found a VPN and used that for the several months I was still relatively interested in the game. As my interest died, I saved on costs and stopped paying for the VPN service. Apparently as other players’ interests died at the same time, the traffic eased or the server routes re-shaped themselves and I found myself connecting back okay-ish sans VPN this past year.

Come SAB and multiple lockdowns globally, and that is no longer the case.


So I’m back on the VPN for a month and we’ll see how things go from here. It’s that kind of year.

Control? Predictability? Never heard of ’em. Accept. Adapt. Improvise. Find an alternative. That seems to be the watchword of the day. Month. Quarter. Year. Whatever.

I’ve managed two tokens (aka two Tribulation completions) a day for two days now, and things seem to be more or less okay.

Except today, even with the VPN, my connection has been snapping on and off. Full disconnections mean a lost instance and zero progress. I think the ISP is to blame for this one.

On the bright side, my speed through the Tribulation run is showing noticeable improvement and I’m getting certain tricky parts almost down to a science. On the first day, without VPN and ping spiking to 4k, it took 3 hours to first completion. On the second and third day, it was about 50-60 minutes a run.

Today I was nailing the first few phases in a handful of tries. I was about 60% of the way in about 20 minutes, one disconnection and repeat included. The second disconnection told me it was time for a break.

I suppose there’s always reading a book instead until things get better.

Falling. Failing. You get used to it. All you need to do is give it one more go after the plummet. But taking breaks help.

Indie Traditionalist: Assorted Game Reviews / Opinions

I’ve been on a personal whirlwind tour of roguelikes and roguelites in the past few days. I cobbled together a huge list of recommendations from the requisite reddit (r/roguelikes) and randomly roamed and romped through them.

Perhaps it’s the unstable situation out in the wide world at present, or just personal preference and the current mood I’m in, but I’m noticing a strong and consistent taste for traditional gameplay right now over innovative hybrid amalgams.

If I’m playing a roguelike, I want it turn-based, tiled, top-down and chock full of classes.

If I’m playing action combat, then give me action combat that doesn’t pause, that lands with a satisfying thump with each swing of a sword and preferably has a dodge key.

Odd blends that I would normally be at least intrigued by and willing to give some chances to get over the learning curve are registering as capital W Weird and getting shoved into the “deal with it another time” category.

The Sensible

Sproggiwood – I wanted to call this game Baby’s First Roguelike, but then I got pwned by a mechanic I failed to understand about 4-5 levels in (damn those Black Slimes!) I had to wiki it to realize what I had been missing right under my nose – something par for the course for most roguelikes.


So instead, I’m going to describe Sproggiwood as a -very- approachable, highly accessible roguelike. It sports attractive cartoony art and would not look out of place as a mobile app. Yet it has most of the requisite trappings of a true roguelike – top down, tiled, turn-based, multiple classes (and unique skills for each class), levels, some gear to play with and so on.

It simplifies key input, removing the diagonals and only limiting step by step movement to the four compass directions. It lacks the vast keypressing options at any moment of classic roguelikes (in which one has to read a help menu text reminiscent of DOS command prompt help in order to figure out what 36 options one could do at any one time). It’s not any poorer for it. It’s good at what it wants to be.


A simple (but not simplistic) roguelike puzzler that is broken up into short map segments for pick up and put down gameplay. Recommended. Especially for those who are intimidated by the complexity of the classic roguelike genre.

Tangledeep – Dear friends, I have barely played this game for two hours and I am IN LOVE with Tangledeep.

This is basically a traditional classic roguelike for people who are terrified of ASCII, with a side helping of SNES pixel art and JRPG flavor.


Options abound. Used to the numpad movement of classic roguelikes, complete with diagonals? Yep, you can use that option. Prefer mostly WASD compass movement, with the ability to add a modifier key or press two keys at once for the rare time you want to move diagonally? Yep, you can do that too.

Don’t like permadeath? There’s Adventure mode. When you drop to 0 HP, you return back to town, giving up half your money, XP and unspent job points. Cool with roguelikes? Then Heroic mode has you covered, where your character dies but your ‘account’ progress aka town progress, unlocked jobs, banked items and money is saved, to be passed on like heirloom gear to the next new character. (Naturally, for the compleat masochist, one can also play on Hardcore where everything is erased on death.)

Tangledeep has Jobs, aka changeable classes a la Final Fantasy. No plain Warrior, Mage, Thief, Clerics here. Instead, you have Brigands, Sword Dancers, Spellshapers, Soulkeepers and Edge Thanes. They all sound so intriguing right off the bat, but I settled for the Floramancer, a naturalistic plant-growing summoner.

You can also switch Jobs and keep the skills you have learned – presumably something min-maxers will swoon over, finding the overpowered synergies between classes.

You can capture and cultivate monster pets to bring with you into the dungeon. You can craft foods that give various stats and bonuses.

Making items stronger involve a wild concept known as an Item Dream. You “enter” the item in question and get a randomly generated map to conquer, before the item can level up.


Actual combat gameplay plays just like a classic roguelike. You walk into things to do melee damage. Pressing “F” allows you to bring up a targeting cursor for ranged attacks. Spells are similar, with different AoE patterns.

You’ll pause and examine monsters when too many show up on screen at once, planning your strategy for dealing with them. You may retreat to chokepoints.

There’s depth if you want it in Tangledeep; but it doesn’t drown you right off the bat, beyond a bunch of text now and then. Like traditional JRPGs, a lot of the esoteric words on screen can be safely ignored until one is ready to absorb the concept, and just played for fun and progress with what basics can be grasped.


I would have played Tangledeep a lot longer than two hours, but my back started killing me from too much work-from-home uprightness and I retreated to softer terrain, like the couch and the bed.

In fact, I loved Tangledeep so much, I deeply considered buying the Nintendo Switch version for said couch potato entertainment, even after owning the PC version through one Humble Bundle or another.

Ultimately, the only thing that stayed my hand was realizing that I had -just- missed a 50% off sale by 1-2 days, and the Switch store being in USD, not local currency. Exchange rates always make prices look more intimidating. I’m definitely going to pick it up the next time it goes on sale though.

Instead, for half the price of Tangledeep, I picked up Cat Quest, Bastion and Transistor, which were all running on steep discount. All three I owned on PC, the first two I’d tried but never completed, and the last I hadn’t gotten around to trying yet.

Cat Quest – Cat Quest is a game with an aesthetic so cartoony, you’d mistake it for just one of a thousand other mobile games out there, but the action combat just -feels- so fucking good.


Melee swing a few times and there’s a slight assist that glues you a little closer to the target. Which is all very well until they swing back at you, and that might be a little late to dodge. Enemy attacks are well telegraphed by expanding circles, so either move back or dodge early and often until one has identified the windows for safe attack.

The other delightful nuance on the genre is the concept of leveling gear when one receives duplicates of it. Loot is never completely useless, it just levels up something one might never use.

Otherwise, the game has a simple gameplay loop. Kill monsters, get xp and gold, take up quests on mission boards, chuckle at the cat puns, do said quests which basically just involve running from point A to B and killing monsters, get more gold and xp, rinse and repeat. Eventually, you unlock cool map-expanding abilities like water-walking and flight to visit more out-there locations and you defeat the big bad.

If you liked the whole process, you’re welcome to repeat again on New Game Plus+ or use more hardcore options, oddly called Mew Game, for more rewards and bragging rights.

Of all the Switch games I bought, I found myself running through this one the most these couple of days. Nothing too cognitively demanding, just lie back and hack-and-slash and level up.

The Weird

Transistor – I feel bad dissing on Transistor. On paper, it has an exceptional pedigree. Made by the folks who created Bastion, it is stylistically gorgeous and full-on cyberpunk, which is usually one of my favorite genre settings. transistor-splat

I have to surmise that there is a discordant dissonance between the controls on a Nintendo Switch versus the traditional PC keyboard. (When I loaded up the PC version for a quick run to get some screenshots, it didn’t feel as bad as when I first encountered it on Switch.)

The opening started fine, in media res, in classic cyberpunk style, surrounded by dead bodies (well, singular) and nasty corporate drones that seem to want you dead.

The first tutorial encounter told me to press a button to swing my sword. So I pressed the button, swung my sword and damaged the baddie. Then I did it again a few more times and killed the baddie. So far so good. Feels like action combat, if a little sluggish, but hey, it’s a slim woman carrying a huge ass Cloud Strife sword.


Then I went HUH? in the second encounter when the battle suddenly paused and brought up a turn planning sequence.


After struggling to reset my expectations, I more or less understood that the game expected me to create some kind of efficient movement and attack sequence and then start up time to watch it play out.


A few encounters after that, I was getting a little grumpy when I realized the enemies would also move during this turn planning, making a best laid plan rather moot after one attack.

Then there was the wait time in between turn planning where the enemies are free to shoot you in the face or in the butt, while pretty much all your skills are disabled, leaving you unable to do anything but run around and hide behind pillars until the next turn planing sequence came up.

Finally, there was the absolute mind-boggler of a prep screen in which nearly zero explanation was provided, but apparently all the given skills could be combined with each other in some way – be it through combos or by slotting one skill within the other.

Possibly, presumably, if one slotted the right tab A into B, one might actually be able to do some killer combos during the turn planning phase or actually use some other skill in the otherwise run-around-and-hide phase.

I mostly just stared at the word vomit of skills and combos on the build screen and then shut off the Switch. I just didn’t want to deal with it right now. A game I initially thought might be an action combat game turned itself into an odd real-time turn-taking hybrid that might also be asynchronous and some kind of build optimizing strategic puzzler.

Perhaps it is also the screen size. It’s more awkward to squint at tiny text on a handheld console and try to position targeting cursors with a joystick, as opposed to sitting at a PC and absorbing the situation on a big monitor and proper controls.

But for whatever reasons, as I said above, I just didn’t want to deal further with it right now. Perhaps another day. There’s always Bastion, which I -know- is action combat, after I tire of Cat Quest.

Kerkerkruip – Kerkerkruip is an Interactive Fiction Roguelike hybrid. It says so right in the title screen.


It’s written in Inform 7, a programming language most typically used for interactive fiction in the vein of Room Description, exits with compass directions and items you can take, examine, store anything not nailed down in one’s inventory or otherwise manipulate.


From an innovation and technical perspective, this thing is a work of art.

It’s functional, it caters for multiple runs, it has permadeath, it has a dungeon and monsters and plenty of loot in the traditional Nethack vein (complete with unidentified scrolls, cursed items and randomized salves with different effects.) It has an automapping system and a gorgeous graphical dungeon map (for an IF game.)


The combat system feels like it borrows concepts from tabletop RPG combat resolution. A random dice roll, followed by a bunch of modifiers. Concentrating for a turn (up to three) improves the dice roll chances, but you also open yourself up for attack by others.


There are advanced concepts like defensive and offensive flow and tension that hasn’t quite sunk into my consciousness yet either.

Monsters have levels.  Successfully killing a monster gives you a special power to trigger with a command. Killing a higher level monster overwrites any lower level monsters you may have defeated. There is an odd balance where you have to try and gamble for level 3/4 monsters first before taking out level 2 & 1 monsters, in order to get strong enough to defeat the big bad at level 5 – but those level 3 & 4 monsters may very well wipe you out before you can do so.

The only reason I hesitate to recommend it is because it is godawfully hard, and ridiculously random. It’s also a hybrid blend of possibly the two most esoteric and out there game genres that exist today – interactive fiction and roguelikes – so possibly, not the most approachable of beasts.

It’s worth trying, but undeniably Weird.

Unexplored – I don’t know how I feel about Unexplored.

It and I got off to a bad start. Mostly because this game breaks on widescreen resolutions and I have the widest of monitors. It calmly allowed me to set it to 3840×1080 without protest, beyond a “this thing works best on 16:9” statement, but as I played the game, there were graphical glitches, sluggishness and most annoyingly, a tendency for the right side of any wall to be completely covered in darkness with an unremovable fog of war.

I can only surmise that the calculations for how much fog of war to remove are hard baked in somewhere.

Setting it back to windowed 1920×1080 (faithfully 16:9, thank you) allowed it to work in a significantly more functional manner, presumably as intended.


Unexplored is a top down roguelike that is NOT tile or turn-based, in that the player character and enemies are free to wander around in real time and freedom of movement on a flat plane, similar to say, Binding of Isaac.

On the other hand, it is significantly slower paced than Binding of Isaac, a twin-stick shooter it is not. At all.

It uses the strangest of plainly colored polygons to depict its dungeon, and the player character is some kind of stylized cyclops person with only one eye.

You are expected to learn and decode what all the shapes signal and indicate, over time, through trial and error. Very roguelike in that sense. Some things are crates, some are barrels, some are chests. That shape is a book. That shape is a door that can be opened. That pattern indicates a barred door, that conglomeration of shapes is a lever to open said barred door, unsoweiter. Annoying? Yeah, a bit.


Through even more trial and error, I eventually figured out that pausing the game, then left clicking on things brought up examinable descriptions I expect to see in any roguelike.

Like most roguelikes, combat occurs by running into things. This one took a while to figure out. The top down aspect made me assume a little more action combat than it was capable of.

In fact, if you left click, you can actually perform some kind of combat action like stabbing with a pointed weapon or swinging a slashing weapon in an arc. It’s not the safest of things to do, as it does leave you open for periods of time. So you can also bump into things, with hopefully the pointy end.


What Unexplored does very well is simulate the entire experience of dungeon crawling through a Nethack-like dungeon in relative real time and with 360 degrees of movement on a two dimensional plane, instead of just in four or eight compass directions on a grid.

It has secrets, plenty of obtuse clues, the dangerous scroll in capitalized GARBLZED text that is a gamble to read out loud, and clever little interactions.

I bottled a sprite (after reading a clue and trial and error) and the glowing sprite created light without having to consume torches.

I’ve gotten at least smart enough to fling a dagger at dubious looking things -before- I bump into them.


I just find the polygons a little harder to parse than straight up ASCII text, frankly. Sometimes I don’t know what’s just room decoration or blood splatter, and what is actually an interactable object or enemy that might kill me.

Furthermore, it and I have a little design / gameplay preference disagreement. I haven’t discovered any way to rest or passively regain hp, beyond healing potions and ration consumables. I gather that is mostly by intent. There are supposedly healing springs and a bunch of bottling interactions. Meanwhile, I consider the inventory management / hotkey juggling minigame and mostly shut down before bothering to learn about it.

Me, I like my roguelikes able to refresh my HP with a keypress that says “REST until healed.” Let me die from stupid mistakes blundering into unmanageable enemies and not being able to beat a hasty retreat, not from a slow attrition death of a thousand paper cuts because I can’t find any healing source. The first makes me acknowledge that I screwed up with my decision making; the second just makes me resent RNG.

I think Unexplored has its niche. There will be a group of players who really really like what it does. I think it reflects the Nethack side of roguelikes very very well – a bunch of super esoteric things to learn and knowing those things will, in turn, enable a player to creep towards success and game mastery, not to mention game exploitation.

It’s just not really my niche.

Also, playing cyclops guy is super WEIRD.

What’s The Point Of Gaming? On Unreal Worlds…

The very night after I posted the blog on my Unreal World character and my experience surviving winter, it came to an abrupt end.

I drowned in icy waters on a search for a cow.

meant to go to a nearby village to trade items for a domesticated cow, which I would then lead back to my little log cabin with a nice fence pen all laid out.

When I got to the village, they told me about a lost cow that had wandered off and offered me a quest to go find it. Around 7km southwest or something.


Foolishly, I said yes.

Popping onto the overworld map, I stared at the map scale and tried to calculate distances. I guessed it seemed like 70 steps perhaps.

About 30 steps in, I hit a frozen river tile, which blocked my progress. The smart thing to do would have been to pause and labor to build a raft. It was winter, though, so to raft over frozen waters would have meant cutting a hole in the ice with every step, and probably on the zoomed in map to boot.

Subconsciously, I knew that walking on frozen ice was a bad idea. There had been a forum post I read in passing that also swore never to do it again.

Past midnight, I guess one is never thinking straight. Impatience got the better of me and I risked a dash across the ice, just to see how far I might get.

Some 30-50 steps later on the zoomed-in map, ie. not far at all, the inevitable happened. Daring RNG to do its worse with each keypress is never wise. The ice cracked. I fell in.

I scrabbled around, pressing keys, attempting to climb out. Between the freezing cold temperatures and my middling strength stat, it wasn’t ever going to be. I reprised Jack Dawson’s end from the Titanic.

Boy, was that a good way to get me off the computer and into bed, sulking.

I lay there, nursing a ragequit, thinking, well, I guess that’s it, I’m now done with Unreal World. All that effort. All that time. Down the drain in an instant. I fucked up. I forgot to save scum before trying something stupid. My last save scum was real life -days- ago. Start over from that point? So much work to get back to where I was. What’s the point of gaming really? It’s all so ephemeral and meaningless. Win some, lose some. There’s no point to it all. Maybe it’s time to move on to something else. Maybe Master of Magic like I wanted to. Why do I even play games anyway?

Some time in between the twilight realm of wakefulness and sleep, gnawing on the “What’s the point?” bone of contention, I jerked up to pen this before I forgot about it:

The point is stories. Especially the making of some kind of unique story from one’s decisions. The point is some manner of enjoyable? experience. The point is knowledge building and mapping. Mapping meaning understanding the scope of something, be it a broad mental concept map or a detailed obsessive tracing. The point may even be nostalgia. The point is novelty of experience. The point is maybe focusing again on the moment to moment minutia.

This will require unpacking over time. It’s sleep garbled.

Obviously, the point is not the same for everybody.

It’s a very uniquely me thing I’m trying to grasp at here. Perhaps likeminded Bartle EASKs with primarily Explorer motivations and less value on Socializer or Killer aspects might relate. Then again, they might not.

I have a good helping of Nick Yee/ Quantic Foundry Immersion Component in there too.

But after I wrote that down, I dropped back into bed and slept like a baby. Or a log. One of the two.

When I woke up, I was a lot calmer when thinking about Unreal World.

“You know what?” I said to myself, “Maybe it would make a good story. The search for a cow that led to icy death. Maybe it was Mordain of the Owl Tribe’s time to go. The end of his story. Nothing stops you from making up a new story some other time. Now let’s see what other games we can play.”

I loaded up Steam. I stared at the vast array of games on tap.

Somehow, I found myself pressing the “Play” button on Unreal World. Maybe just for five minutes. I could just roll up a new character and see how it went.

Enter Kartoum Kaumolainen, of the forest people.

He was not as blessed by the spirits as Mordain. There was no free bear. His traps were not as full. His fishing struggled to keep himself fed.

He did build a big deadfall trap, which Mordain had never tried to do. It caught a lynx. Which took forever to put down.


Five real life days later, I have a new log cabin. It’s bigger than the old one. It has more windows.


Tapas All The Things

Over at Time to Loot, Naithin penned a post about Genre Burnout. It’s something I’ve been idly pondering over recent months.

On one hand, it’s undeniable that I’m off MMOs as a concept, possibly for good.

Nearly 5 years ago, I wondered what would come out the other side of playing a Guild Wars 2 (now with NEW raids included!) after bitterly railing about the toxic divide that introducing raids would cause.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can answer that question. Frustration, definitely. Sometimes at the game, sometimes at myself, sometimes at other people. Mostly the annoyance of having been proven Cassandra-like correct at the gaping social divide amongst players.

Fortunately, drama was mostly averted, save for one incident where boundaries were trod upon and some workplace skills in mediation, crystal clear communication and compromise had to be hastily yanked out and practiced. Players, by and large, do this really poorly, which feeds into the frustration above.

I’d like to think I avoided most elitist prick-ism, but I confess to being reluctant to join public encounters that exceed a certain level of challenge, on the assumption that the average player group is -not- going to succeed at it, or if I do give it a try, I’ll do the silent “drop out without a word” maneuver after a few failed and obviously-not-going-to-make-it attempts. I’ve watched others be far more elitist than me and simply been silent witness or just quietly thankful that I made it past the ‘barely acceptable’ threshold because I know without a doubt that I’m not investing the time and effort to ‘git gud’ to the point which would make these other people deliriously happy.

Burnout? I’m still raiding twice weekly without fail, barring the odd RL engagement. By any dev metric, surely that is not burnout.

But I feel like I’ve lost my rose-colored glasses on what GW2 could have been, and have accepted that it just wanted to blend into the MMO crowd and appeal to the whole spectrum of MMO players, raid-lovers included. That it is just one MMO among many. That traditional MMO gameplay doesn’t actually do much for me, in terms of being a forever game or tick many of my boxes. (If it did, I’d probably already have been playing Everquest, or World of Warcraft, or Final Fantasy XIV, or The Elder Scrolls or … whatever.)

Been there, done that.

With the last couple years of GW2, been there, done that -again-.

I’m done with main games, primary MMOs, or the one virtual world to rule them all.

I cannot conceive of ever starting over in some brave new world (pun intentional.) What would be the point? To get bigger numbers? To ‘win’ over someone else? To make friends and play with others? To collect all the things and show others that you did?

I’m not sure I ever much had that great enjoyment or use out of Multiplayer, and if the former doesn’t quite do it for me, I think we can safely dispense with the Massively prefix as well.

On the other hand, I am still occasionally finding reasonable levels of amusement playing parts of individual MMOs.

The actual beat-by-beat combat of fighting a raid boss with a character I’m comfortable playing is smooth and relaxing flow.

There was a certain level of RNG lottery fun in joining random PUG strike missions at various timezones during the first two weeks of the Eye of the North introduction – sometimes you luck into a really smooth competent party, sometimes it’s rougher but still manageable, and sometimes it’s utter carnage that is best left wordlessly.

The act of deciding on a small, achievable goal and then following through on it to completion is always going to have a certain ‘click’ of satisfaction at ticking a checkbox, regardless of the game I do it in.

And the same ‘what’s the point?’ argument could be made for singleplayer games as well. Does any progress or learning in a game matter? Is it just about the journey and the experience? One could also have a journey and probably -multiple- experiences in a multiplayer game too.

It’s becoming all equivalent, as I mentioned in my last (now ancient) post four months ago.

I am behind in Warframe. I am always behind. I play it solo singleplayer and like it that way. I have not made a Railjack; I have not yet played Scarlet Spear. I’ll get to it when I get to it.

Instead, I have been chasing the mini goals of relic grinding and building Prime warframes, because I couldn’t be bothered going for ‘lesser’ versions when a Prime one is available. I am super slow because I do it all by my lonesome and never join others in relic sharing missions. I get my Primes anyway, in the end, some gazillion relic farms later. Oberon Prime and Ivara Prime have been on my to-do list for the last month or two, and I just finished popping the last piece today. Now there’s Titania Prime to go.

Path of Exile Delirium League is out and I am not actually playing it. I missed the start because I was busy doing something else, then in the middle, I thought, maybe I’ll give it a go, and somehow I got diverted down the track of attempting to solo self farm an Oni-Goroshi unique.

For those not in the know, this mostly means repeat farming the very first map, Twilight Strand, over and over with multiple characters. I idly thought that this reminded me of Guild Wars 1’s Ascalon Defender achievement where one stayed in Pre-Searing Ascalon, and decided to try it once, just for the experience.

Two level 7 characters and one level 8 later, it’s turned into a sort of begrudging grudge match in slow motion. I -refuse- to do anything else but try to pop the sword, and because I’m not actually insane, I don’t farm for more than half an hour at a time. Lately, it’s been just try a few runs and then quit and play another game. The league might end before it drops. So be it.

My Steam recently played games looks like this:


All the red X’s I marked are stuff I’ve not even installed, let alone played. Mostly they are last month’s Humble Bundle Choice games and a free game.

One green tick games are stuff I played a bit.

At my level of no-discernable-skill, Dota Underlords is an amusing RNG gamble that I mess around with Hardcore difficulty bots. It offers me the ability to learn how to recognize various DOTA heroes and what they vaguely do, and the relaxation of letting AI beat on each other. It gives me the realization that it makes no difference to me whether I wind up in sixth place, fifth place, third, second or even, rarely, first. Should it matter? Win some, lose some, it’s a game, it’s fun for a few rounds, and then I put it down.

Ever so slowly, I have been attempting to finish SOMA. I’d like to complete it, and then delete it off my hard disk because that’s 9gb of valuable disk space I’d like to reclaim, and someone, somewhere, said it was a classic game worth the playthrough.

Honestly, it’s one of those games that is not really doing it for me. It’s a slooow as molasses walking simulator that utilizes a bunch of horror tropes (which I don’t really scare or react easily to, or feel much about). I turned off all the actual danger because the one thing that would make me ragequit without ever completing it would be dying repeatedly to some dumbass monster because I didn’t have the patience to hide in shadows until it went away.

I end up wandering in circles because navigating in murky water is not my forte and it is not scary, it is just frustrating and makes me pull up a walkthrough trying to match my steps with the instructions until I’ve figured out where the game wants me to go next. My game session progress is measured in walkthrough pages. I’m about 50% into sunk cost and I’ll get around to a little more progress someday… just not today.

Battlechasers Nightwar is a fun enough JRPG-like game, if a little slowly paced. Played it for a couple hours, then had enough. Eliza was an interesting visual novel experience that I played for a session, then put down and never quite got back to.

Every now and again, when I crave a walk in the woods, I go back to comfort game theHunter: Call of the Wild and tromp around slowly, hoping to bag a virtual deer.

Two green tick games are games I deep dived into:

Stardew Valley – made a new character and played nonstop until Year 3 and grandpa’s ghost came along to tell me I did a fantastic job. Then lost steam because the next couple of goalposts were far away in terms of money and would clean out the bank. So it goes. Maybe someday I’ll get back to it.


Don’t Starve – got into Shipwrecked obsession for a while. A nomadic explorer lifestyle is not really me in survival games. I love to bunker down in a base. Shipwrecked almost explicitly disrupts this playstyle. Kept dying of some cause or another before making it into the next season. Going for yet another roguelike run gets addictive, until one day, they are suddenly not.

Risk of Rain 2 has no ticks. It’s on current free weekend trial. So I trialed. Not quite for me. The difficulty is a little beyond me, and I can’t quite get my head around the scavenge-all-the-items-and-hope-for-good-RNG playstyle. Maybe it’s a carry over from Battle Royales. Maybe it’s why I could never really get good at Binding of Isaac.

Unreal World has been a current tapas game poison of choice. I think I’m getting back into turn-based roguelikes – might veer back to Angband and TOME next.

Unreal World is very simulationist, you play an Iron Age Finn and mostly try to live a low tech lifestyle without dying from one thing or another.

My current run lucked into a bear very early on, which I somewhat foolishly chucked a javelin at. That wound up with the bear charging me and a duel to the death of mad dodging and stabbing.


It broke one arm, which left me crippled on doing various activities for many days until the fracture healed, but hey, I lived, and it died!


Set up a little log cabin before winter set in. I love the bunkering playstyle in survival games, I may have mentioned.


Doing well through winter. A reindeer actually blundered into the pit trap that surrounded my log cabin, something that felt really lucky. I usually spend days checking on all the traps I’ve set up with no returns.

So it goes. I’ll play it till it gets boring or I get distracted, and then I’ll move on to something else.

Ever since mentioning Master of Magic to Syp in a comment, I’ve been thinking of giving that a replay at some point.

My Epic Games list is filling with free games. This months Humble Choice Bundle has arrived. Super Adventure Box is coming. Who has time to play just one game?

Who has time to play -all- the games?

I’ll set a goal, play one game a little. Set another goal, play another game a little. Don’t bother with a goal at all and play yet another game for a while on a whim. Rinse and repeat.