Monster Hunter World: The Poke-Poke-Poke Polka

Let’s take a break from my litany of whimsically playing 15+ games in as many days to talk about my new current obsession.

Yeah, the base game that launched on PC way back in August 2018.

It started with watching too many Youtube videos on one half of the screen, while playing modded Minecraft in the second half.

In the last week or so, it seemed like my entire recommended videos feed was 80% Monster Hunter Rise – no doubt due to me subscribing to a bunch of weapon guide tutorial makers once upon a time when Monster Hunter World was still the new shiny.

This self-inflicted advertising had the effect of egging me onto the Nintendo Switch e-store, where I stared at the latest Monster Hunter game to be released, debating with myself if I had the time and attention budget to pick up a Monster Hunter game for the Switch. That, and whether my cost budget was prepared to pay launch day prices for the newest thing, or if I should bite now for Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (something I’d been eyeing every time it went on discount), except that it wasn’t really discounted right now.

The thing that held me back was the knowing part of my brain that said that Monster Hunter games really weren’t quite my cup of tea.

I’d played a PSP Monster Hunter before – Monster Hunter Freedom Unite – for some definitions of the word ‘play.’

That is, I went through a couple of the first few levels before remembering to charge the PSP got more onerous than the desire to keep playing.

In August 2018, I’d played Monster Hunter World at my own pace, slowly ambling my way through low rank Tobi-Kadachi before I got bored and distracted. The amount of repeat monsters I’d have to kill to upgrade weapons and armor got to me. The pace wasn’t right for me at the time.

I’d liked the Charge Blade I was slowly learning. But there were also just too many other things to learn and grok at the same time, not just in the Monster Hunter game, but among the other games I was playing at the time.

I put Monster Hunter World down, and only popped back in Dec 2019, when Iceborne was just around the corner.

I didn’t buy the expansion. Still haven’t.

The endgame didn’t interest me. The whole repeatedly killing a monster to get parts to make numerically better weapons and armor schtick is something I’m still on the fence about.

It seemed like I could be having almost the same monent-to-moment combat fun with lower level monsters, as compared with high level monsters with different skins, more attacks to over-complicate matters for a simple brain, and heaven forfend, artificial elemental resistances and susceptibilities that necessitate grinding new gear just to re-attain the same kill times on easier monsters.

I’m sure it works for those heavily invested in the franchise to the point where they need all that complexity just to reach a flow state. Just not for someone already overwhelmed just staring at their inventory.

What got me back in Dec 2019 was the news of Defender armor and weapons being introduced, aka ludicrously numerically overpowered gear designed to boot newbies and/or slow and clumsy players kicking and screaming to the end of the base game’s story, so they had an excuse to buy the expansion and join the rest of the population in the ‘new’ endgame.

While the presence of said gear put paid to the ol’ vertical progression lie, making it very obvious that all the fancy tiered gear/loot were mostly arbitrary goalposts rather than the treasures achievement-oriented players were making them out to be, I was not above making full use of the Defender sets to just brute force my way through the storyline. (After all, I did pay for the whole game.)

I’d switched weapons to Dual Blades, having analyzed myself and realizing that I like my action games faster paced. Slow and steady big hits -sound- fun, but in practice, I’m bored before I can get to the next hit.

If Dual Blades didn’t hit fast enough for me, then I could pretty much write off all Monster Hunter games…

They were fine.

More than fine.

I lacked the patience and finesse to learn the really fancy moves you see in all the Youtube videos where the player pretty much runs up walls and plays a blade sonata on the poor monster’s back, but the basic shit saw me through the main missions.

Left click and hit things with slashy blades. When meter charges up, hit another mouse button to go into berserk Demon mode and continue hitting things with glowy slashy blades.

When monster obligingly stays still (perhaps they’ve fallen down), run up to monster’s head, hopefully in Demon mode, and hit both mouse buttons at the same time to go into a long animation that is the human approximation of a food processor for BIG DAMAGE.

Rinse and repeat.

Granted, there were a few trouble spots. Mostly getting blown up by monster attacks that I had no clue about, nor any real practice regarding. I had no idea how to reach certain flying monsters, nor could I hit any weak points on the Anjanath – until I figured out that I pretty much just had to bang away at his protected legs until he fell over obligingly so I could hit his head.

The Defender gear turned all these possible gating stopping points into a couple speedbumps that could be glossed over.

Started Dec 17, 2019 and in a week, on Christmas Day, I’d knocked out Xeno’jiva and felt pretty much done.

Yes, there was plenty of endless endgame grinding, if I wanted, but I did not so want.

Thought I’d closed the chapter on Monster Hunter World. Saw the story, good enough place to end.


Fast forward to April 2021, and while Monster Hunter Rise mania was all over the interwebs, “Self,” I said. “Given that you’re not terribly attracted to the Monster Hunter franchise to begin with… if you just want to hit big monsters in a measured fashion for a while, why spend more money when you can just reinstall MHW and hit some monsters?”

Self, you are a genius.

So I re-installed.

Shortly after, I realized I had outsmarted myself because I logged back into a High Rank hunter character that had completed all the main story, inventory in goodness knows what state (I’d never tamed it, or my toolbar to begin with), Investigation/Optional/Event missions slinging at me every which way, competing for attention with all the helpful TIPS and NEWS and HEY, HAVE YOU HEARD OF OUR NEW ICEBORNE EXPANSION popups.

It’s like logging back on to a max level MMO character after not playing the game for two years.

There are all these THINGS, and a gazillion and one activities you could be doing… except you have no clue even what they are, and you don’t even know where to start, because your bags are in a giant mess – what do these do, anyway? – and waitaminute, how do my skills/attacks even work?

Well… if you’re going to relearn everything from scratch anyway…

Yep, I made a new character on a completely new game save.

Since I wanted a different, discovery experience (simulating playing Monster Hunter Rise perhaps), plowing my way through with overpowered Defender gear was out of the question.

Since all this numeric stuff is arbitrary anyway, I was going to play the game as initially intended with the original weapons and pretend the Defender stuff didn’t exist.

And perhaps… just perhaps, I might be able to try out a different weapon, rather than cling on to dual blades.

There are 14 weapons in Monster Hunter World. Some which were thrown right out of consideration from the get go.

I have a simple brain. Overly complex weapons and combos are generally not for me. That took insect glaive, hunting horn and switch axe out of the running. (I still do love the feel of charge blade though, so that was mentally bookmarked as a possible.)

Light bowgun, heavy bow gun and gunlance I’d messed around a bit with before, and they felt a bit alien and slow and not terribly enjoyable, so those were out. Bow seemed the most attractive of the ranged options, so I earmarked that for a trial spin or two.

I gave the rest a try in the training practice grounds.

Greatsword shortly fell out of favor – too heavy, too clunky – if I was going to learn how to deal with a heavy weapon, I may as well whole hog it and learn Charge Blade.

Sword and shield seemed average, okay, but you know, similar issue… Charge Blade basically is a cooler-looking sword and shield, with the added bonus of a big elemental axe, minus being able to use items with weapons drawn and presumably, some sword and shield advanced move/combos, if any (not like I was going to be good enough to use a weapon to that level of potential.)

Longsword seemed fairly cool, very flashy, able to sever monster limbs… just a little bit more complex on combos than I’d like to deal with, coming in like a fresh-faced newbie.

Hammer was rather tempting. I have a simple brain, as I’ve mentioned before. It’s pretty easy to wrap one’s mind around the concept of bonk the monster on the head. Left click to basic attack three times. When monster is stationary enough to cooperate, unleash the right click BIG BANG BONK five times. Very tempting.

Alas, the theory was easy but the execution was somewhat lacking. Aiming for the head was difficult. Missing was not very fun. Especially if the monster could gore you in the meantime. Slow, heavy weapons and all that.

Bow was okay. I stumbled over some of the combos, some of the aiming – it would presumably get better over time, like all things after more learning. It just didn’t seem very damaging. And it was way easier hitting a stationary barrel in the training grounds, over a moving, squirming, evading ANGRY monster who was intent on getting in your face and destroying you.


And then there was lance.

You know, I’d never really given much thought about the lance.

I had the vague impression that it was perhaps more of a team-oriented weapon. Sorta like hunting horn can support, as well as damage. Sorta like hammer would play a part in bonking monsters on the head so that it falls down and gets stunned for the whole team to wail on. Lance sounded like the tanky guy who would just face down the monster head on, and laugh in its face while poking it with a stick, doing low to medium damage, while the rest of the team went wild.

But I gamely gave it a go, since I was giving all the non-eliminated weapons a try.

It surprised me.

The first attraction was the simplicity of its basic combos. You poke three times. Poke-poke-poke.

Your only strategy here is you get to choose where to poke. Left click to poke ahead of you – the middle poke.

Right click to poke high – the high poke, great for reaching heads and wings and tails lifted off the ground. (Remember, this was the BANE of my noob dual blades life.)

Then you have a supreme defensive guard/block option with your shield (so proclaimeth all the videos and Reddit threads.)

I vaguely understood there was some way to counter attack if you got the timing of monster attacks right – which seemed like a promising future thing to look forward to learning and getting the hang of.

Then shortly after, the videos completely confused my head when they started talking about evasive hops, dash charging, even more ridiculous advanced combos, fancy vertical wall running and easily mounting monsters.

My main take-home was: Wow, this pointy stick can do a lot. I don’t know if I will ever get to that point, but let’s deal with that later, if we are ever ready for it.

What I really liked, as the pundits stressed, was that the lance was a consistent weapon. Keep up the pace, and do decent dps. Don’t, and well, don’t.

It seemed just right for my basic brain to grasp.

1. Just start with Poke-poke-poke.

Forget everything else for the time being, just get in there and choose middle or high, and poke-poke-poke.

The perfect level of complexity.

I went through a good quarter to half of the Low Rank story missions just poke-poke-poking away and enjoying myself thoroughly.

If these are the 10 levels of Lance, rest assured I was playing at -10 level.

Eventually, the issue that annoyed me grew more obvious. Re-positioning was hard just doing poke-poke-poke.

Having semi-grasped poke-poke-poke, it was time to throw just one more teensy layer into the mix.

Re-watched ye olde standard Arekkz’s tutorial video for the next step in the loooong learning process.

Oh.

Apparently, if I could deal with micro-managing another keypress, there is a hop.

2. You can poke-poke-poke-hop. Then repeat poke-poke-poke-hop. Pretty much forever. If the monster cooperates.

Obviously, that’s not the case, but again, something to worry about another time.

So the next bunch of missions were all about practicing poke-poke-poke-hop. Forward, backward, side hop. Just try. Level 0 of Lance Mastery, go!

Things still got extremely awkward when the monster ran too far away, or more likely, when the monster just decides to pound me into the dirt.

I’d been semi-mangling my Guard button to attempt blocking/countering through the poke-poke-poke process, but I hadn’t really fully grasped what was going on.

3a. So. Getting back down to basics. I stopped trying to re-create the glowy shield aka Power Guard, or trying a fancy Counter-Thrust, and just COWERED behind my shield with the Guard button held down. Full stop.

Monster not attacking? Don’t care. Still turtling.

Eventually, you’ll hit me.

Sure enough, the monster frequently obliged. Observe, the attack bounces off with a satisfying clanky THUD, a miraculously tiny amount of my health drops, and holy heck, I can actually SEE the monster attack animations.

Without dying shortly thereafter because I mistimed a dodge while running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

This made me exceedingly gleeful because it seemed like a future promising step. I could learn individual specific monsters and their attacks super-safely, and then re-use that knowledge for other weapons.

Heck, I can sit here and watch the two of you go at it.

3b. It’s a short sidestep from just cowering behind a forever held down shield, to perhaps timing the block such that when the monster hits, you can retaliate with a counter-thrust.

There still seems to be some nuance to this – basic guarding seems much safer for now when multiple hits are coming in short order, whereas the counter-thrust is a more offensive retailiation when the monster is only going to hit once and leave itself open for follow up attacks.

The other problem was when the monster was too far ahead of me to reach with a simple hop step forward.

I eventually figured out some possibilities, though each took a few monsters’ worth of practice to get the basics down and it’s still very much a work-in-progress on the nuances.

A multitude of options open up after cowering behind a shield, hence the brain confusion.

It eventually hit me that if I was not moving, and pressed the button for basic mid attack, I would do a little stabby poke. Good for just filling time being mildly annoying, while too scared to move out from behind my protective turtled shell.

If I was moving forward while guarding with the shield, and pressed the same button, I would jump forward with the shield.

Spam that button one more time, and now your hunter swings with the shield as an attack. I’m less fond of this, and prefer the other option, to hit the basic high attack while mid-jump. This goes into a leaping thrust and covers a fair bit of ground, and bonus, you might just stab three times into the monster as well.

(Provided the monster doesn’t hit you while you’re mid-fancy attack animation.)

After a few monsters, doing my best to cover ground through hopping and leaping thrusts, rather than wussily putting away the lance and running like a chicken, I turned my attention to the running lance dash.

The vaunted COME BACK HERE, we’re not done yet move.

I’ve barely got the hang of it and it’s already a joy. Guard, then press both attack buttons together, and your hunter essentially recreates a joust, running forward at full tilt and ramping up in speed as long as you have the stamina to do so.

The second speed will chase down running monsters fairly easily. Since the monsters are running away, by default, they can’t attack you as you plow headlong (or lancetip-long) into their tail and ankles, hitting for multiple hits if you stay in contact with their hitbox, and you might be able to finish off with a decent damage thrust too.

I’ve been using a poison lance, so hopefully all the multiple hits proc some decent poison as well.

I’m sure there’s still a long way to go. There’s getting the timing down and putting all these moves together more effectively. There’s one more level to the guarding shield, where you charge it up to make it glowy and stronger, and there may or may not be combos after that. There’s maybe actually figuring out the vertical/aerial attacks one day, and how to consistently mount monsters.

But it’s been surprisingly, joyously fun to steadily work on smoothing out the poke-poke-poke dance.

Even if it’s now the LEAST popular weapon in Monster Hunter World. Apparently, it’s maybe not so good in Iceborne. Not that I care, since I don’t have the expansion.

I suspect it has to do with not dying.

It’s always been frustrating for me to mis-time something while learning, and then get blown to pieces, and get sent back to camp in a cart.

You can’t actually learn anything if you’re not fighting the monster, and spending all your time running back to the monster instead.

What’s worse is that your health and stamina drop, making it more likely to have subsequent deaths. It’s hard to keep preparing consumables, being as disorganized and un-inclined to long, tedious preparation as I am.

With lance, I prep everything once, and generally do my best to not ever die.

Yes, there have still been a few almost insta-death mistakes when I opened myself up being greedy attacking, versus some distinctly over-the-top monster while my armor still isn’t shored up for high rank fights. But they’re few and far between.

Mostly, the action is constant and consistent. Poke-poke-poke whenever there is an opening (or worse case, poke-poke or poke) eventually wears down any monster.

(Or in a really worse case scenario, they just run off and escape the map without dying – but you know, we’re talking Azure Rathalos and Deviljho in an expedition while I’m still barely HR 12, so I do think my current gear might be an issue.)

Either way, it’s pretty addictive, and should probably hold my attention for a couple more days at least.

No promises after that.

I do have the gaming attention span of a puppy, after all.

But being a little angry turtle is a lot of fun.

Mood Gaming Snippets: Faking Industry

Most of early March seemed to be themed around feeling a sense of industry, of incrementing numbers and progress.


Mar 11 – 19

Crusaders of the Lost Idols

Total time spent: 6h 8 min

Had a whole series of virtual meetings for work lined up, yet felt antsy about insufficient gaming time. All work, no play, Jack becomes dull boy, all that jazz.

It hit me that the perfect game for such busy periods was an idle game. Set it up, it runs by itself, pop back in to check on it from time to time.

I already had a favorite idle game, so it was just a matter of cranking it up…

Not played since 673 days ago.

Welp, that’s quite a big consolation boost of XP that got converted into some 894 idols of progress when I reset it for a new run.

Wound up steadily playing through the first two tiers of some St Patrick’s day holiday event before interest petered out.


Mar 14

Minecraft: Peace of Mind modpack

6h 4 min of working on the Immersive Engineering mod. Set up a little platform to build the multi-block machines.

Rapidly glass’ed over the lava pool for fear of falling in.

Progress was slow.

Honestly, I dislike the Immersive Engineering mod, hence why I’ve rarely tinkered with it until forced to, by a modpack that lacks more convenient options. It always struck me as deliberately clunky and less efficient – you have to save up a bunch of materials, figure out how to construct a laundry list of building blocks, put those building blocks together in a precise fashion following the manual to finally make the multiblock. All that, for not very much gain. Or the same gain that in other mods, just requires you to build one compact, convenient block.

This is doubtless, by design, so that it provides both an in-between progression option and for it to feel more ‘realistic’ and ‘immersive’ because you can see a giant machine cranking away as the final result, as opposed to a cold impersonal square box. But I’m a simple person with a simple brain and overcomplicated things get to me.


Mar 15 – 18

Factorio

Total time spent: 7h 36 min

Apparently, immersive engineering was not ENOUGH industry. To soothe this need to chain a bunch of boxes together to crank out widgets, I decided to give Factorio another go.

Factorio and I have… not quite a love/hate relationship, it’s not that strong… more of a like/dislike relationship.

I like the idea of Factorio in theory. I dislike actually learning about how precisely it wants me to link things together.

I like linking things together haphazardly. I dislike boxing myself into a corner while doing so. (And heaven forfend that I have to tear things down and start over.)

I dislike the distraction of nasty alien enemies spawning to take apart my designs while I’m barely working out how to get by in the first place. But I also fear the boredom of just sitting there staring in peace at intractable machines (if I customize the game to take them out.)

I think reading a guide and copying someone’s beautifully optimized designs are pointless – even if it is a mathematically superior, efficient, optimal end point. Why play a game for yourself and remove the enjoyment of discovery and puzzle solving, if you’re just going to follow someone else’s instructions from point A to B?

Yet I’m probably not ever going to progress beyond a certain point if I just try to figure it all out by myself. Simple brain, and all that.

Suffice to say, Factorio and I are still figuring out how to get along.

My big progress step this time around was getting past the ‘perfection’ block of desiring things built just right the first go and opening up to the possibility of iteration – yes, tearing things down and starting over. (Brrr.)

Somehow, building in iterated phases in Minecraft Peace of Mind had opened up a space in my mind to just say, “well, it’s a first draft, we can clean it up as we go along.” Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, good enough is good enough, and all that. Games can be toys. Factorio is my toy. I am going to build MY way and enjoy the process.

I tweaked down the alien spawns so my calm wouldn’t be as frequently eroded while figuring out my slow way through the perplexing machinery riddles. (I might have actually taken it too far, as I had nothing attack, and I managed to just stroll over to any uncovered alien nests and assault rifle them into bio-goop.)

I tweaked up the quantity of ores in each spot so I wouldn’t be forced to move my whole setup away too soon. (Tear down in parts to improve is one thing, tear the -whole- thing down is maybe too much open-mindedness to expect at one go.)

Composite base screenshot, in case you’re wondering how I doubled myself

It wound up a rather pleasant time.

I had to re-learn most of the whole thing from scratch. There was some amount of tear-down, but I finally figured out that given the progression tree, this is rather to be expected.

I still have unapologetically a spaghetti conveyor belt sort of base – gives it character! – but it’s mine, and it works, more or less. If it’s a reflection of my brain, so be it.

It started out semi-automated, I tend to like to still have a manual touch here and there. Then as it got more tedious, I just patched in more automation over time.

Have I cornered myself where the science labs are concerned? Probably. I figure it can be moved later, if I ever get around to it.

Red and green science are at least cranking, at the moment.

The next step, after casting around and realizing I didn’t have much else to attempt, was either oil processing or figuring out vehicles / trains.

It was there where my brain overloaded. New concept. Didn’t quite even know where to begin experimenting. I got about as far as walking over to where the oil was shown on the map and haven’t quite gotten back to the game.

The map says there’s oil, but all I see are forests and trees in the world. I have to a) figure out how to get the oil out of the ground, b) figure out what needs to be done at the local oil processing base area, c) semi-guard it with turrets, d) figure out how to get oil by products nearer the main base, or vice versa…. Nope, way too much to process.

Mar 18 – 21

Minecraft: Peace of Mind modpack

Total time spent: 8h

Went back to Immersive Engineering and got more machines built, including the whole fermenter, squeezer chain to feed a diesel generator for RF power.

Energy storage is a problem in the Peace of Mind modpack. I’m used to building a big battery or energy tank for holding and storing energy until needed, but the only energy storing thing I can find appears to be a High Voltage Capacitor from Immersive Engineering, and it doesn’t store -that- much energy. I would have to build a huge massive block of them to store what I want.

The other more convenient energy generator/storage option are high level solar generators, but we’re talking immense amounts of iron, redstone and raw materials to build those.

No idea how accurate the spreadsheet is, but it looks/feels about right. I attempted my own spreadsheet and got about 30% of the way into the effort before I thought to Google and see if anyone else had already done so to save me some trouble.

We’re talking 11k glass (aka 11k sand) for the best one. And way more iron than I can mine up manually, at the moment. We would have to automate this. But automation also requires resources, and power.

It’s a bit of a circular puzzle without the more convenient mods I’m used to.

There’s a Quantum Quarry that I sort of can run for a while before I have to shut it off to get more power built up. It digs up an immense amount of stone and dirt, but not actually much more ore than my more manually operated Orechiid.

The other thing to perhaps attempt is the Immersive Engineering Excavator, but it eats exactly the amount of power the Diesel Generator produces (so I had to get that up and running first.)

I got as far as making the core sample drill and sampling two chunks of ground, but the actual Excavator multiblock has yet to be built. Too intimidating a bill of materials and all that.

It got boring. Not enough progress.


There’s a gap in time where my time tracker on the PC doesn’t seem to reflect much gaming. I suspect this is when I turned to the Switch for portable comfort. More on those games in another post.


Mar 26 – 29

Minecraft: Ocean Outlast modpack

Total time spent: 11h 33min

This was a modpack that always showed up as a featured modpack on ATlauncher, which I’m now using to load up Minecraft.

The cover picture looked soo attractive and pretty.

The idea seemed cool. Basically, skyblock – where you generate most of your own resources – but set in an archipelago, with islands and ocean all around.

It started out well. I threw in my standard shaders and texturepack because I’m now spoiled and can’t do the original pixelated Minecraft any more.

It chugged a bit while loading up all the mods, and I had to tweak down the render distance, because I was concerned with my aging computer’s ability to cope.

What eventually broke me was the underwater ocean.

Ocean Outlast has a Better Diving mod that makes the underwater much richer, almost a direct copy of Subnautica stuff. It looks great.

If I could actually see it, that is. My shaders turn underwater almost pitch black. I have to hold a torch in order to light up a local area. Putting lights under the ocean didn’t work, it only lit up dimly a radius of 3 blocks. Night vision didn’t work.

A good part of the last two days were spent experimentally editing shader files ad nauseam, trying to hit upon the appropriate settings to solve the problem.

I actually got rid of underwater fog and turned it crystal clear (was able to see kelp a long distance away – making the computer chug even more) and looking into the water from aboveground was insanely beautiful – like the world’s most pristine tropical beach filled with a riot of colorful coral (RIP my computer).

But the light itself remained stubbornly broken. It seemed tied tightly to the actual Minecraft light levels. Jump into the water and light levels turn to 0 numerically. On top of the underwater light, light levels were 12. Walk a block away and it drops to 9. Two blocks, 6. One block, 3. Anywhere else, zero. Nil. Nada.

So I had the option of dropping my shader and going with boring ol’ Minecraft ambient style light, or leaving the shader on and attempting to light the ocean every 3 blocks… or finding another shader… or giving up…

After what seemed like 20 restarts of the modpack in one day and its super-slow loading time (it’s very mod heavy, and even opening the quest book makes it chug), the last option seemed like the best way to get rid of the problem for good, by removing the folder entirely from my life. (Hence, the lack of pretty screenshots.)

Perhaps another time, with a stronger computer, and maybe some other shaders.

Having dropped it, I veered into another modpack, Skyfactory 4, which I played briefly ages ago, and decided to start a new world. That one’s going fine. But that’s a tale for another day.

Mood Gaming Snippets: Life Lessons From theHunter: Call of the Wild

Been doing it again in late March, gummi bear bouncing from game to game so fast anyone else would get whiplash.

Going to try and reconstruct some bits and pieces of that journey in order to have something to write about and reflect on.

March 24

79 min of taking a virtual walk in the woods.

Popped in on theHunter: Call of the Wild on a whim, hoping to bag some deer. Tried out the Parque Fernando DLC I bought on sale some time back. Beautiful steppe landscape, pretty much nada on any animals or indeed, any tracks.

Felt a little down, but accepted that sometimes hunts go this way, and well, this is a hunt simulation. Suspected that this is a harder park than the standard maps, which might go some way towards explaining the several Steam reviews that bitch about the lack of any animals.

(Yeah, well, if one tromps around in open country, making a ton of noise and with wind blowing scent every which way, little wonder why one sees absolutely zero animals.)

Got desperate enough to pitch some ground blinds near some tracks by a lake and sit there for a good 20 minutes, mostly reading an iPad book in real life. Saw -one- deer, but the angle was wrong and it was obscured by too many trees. It scarpered off. Went back to mildly frustrated reading, before feeling distinctly foolish – was I taking a hunt simulation a bit too far? Decided to quit, turn off the computer and just read the book instead.

April 2-3

72 min – Fri midnight eating into Sat wee morning hours.

Came into theHunter with the mindset that I just wanted some meditative exposure to virtual nature, given the more curtailed real life movements through the whole pandemic year.

Bet you know what happened next.

HERDS of deer. Finally stumbled across a lake following a whole herd of mule deer tracks, and while I barely saw any mule deer, or the axis deer or blackbuck species that the main story quest wanted me to hunt, I wound up across two separate herds of red deer, one or two males and 7-8 females all clumping together.

Shot two males in rapid succession, scoring silver ratings. Figured I’d used all my luck and was ready to quit the game session…

…then I saw him.

Yes, MYTHICAL rating.

My word, those antlers.

So I gave it a go. And got him.

First gold rating, Steam achievement popped. Oh, that sweet euphoria.

Also spent about a third of my savings taxidermying it in preparation for one day picking up a trophy lodge DLC. (I can only hope the game doesn’t forget. Still, I have screenshots. Can’t take that away from me.)

Some days you get nothing.

Some days, three deer in a row.

April 5

108 mins.

I want to blog about theHunter, I said.

Let me just pop in for a quickie to get some screenshots for the blog, I said.

Just as I’d finished taking some scenic photos and was going to head out, what did I hear call but a blackbuck that was a target of the quest I’d been trying to finish for ages?

Well, no harm just walking in that direction to check it out and hope for the best, right?

Somehow, it turned into a walk following old deer trails for miles.

Just as I’d want to quit, I’d look through the binoculars and see something like this just taunting me from way too far away.

So I’d try to creep in a little closer, but knowing very well I was approaching from the wrong wind direction, to the point where I’d see absolutely nothing at all by the time I got a little nearer.

The mindset was wrong. I was too impatient for a proper hunt. I wanted to be blogging. My mind was on other things. This was not properly meditative. I knew it felt wrong. I just couldn’t quite let go enough to quit.

Eventually wound up by another lake, looking around flustered at a huge scattering of deer trails (red deer, blackbuck, axis deer) by a drinking spot and no actual deer at all.

Bout to finally quit again, when I hear a mating call, and look through the binocs to see… this teeny little thing.

Not an axis deer. A female blackbuck. But it’s also a quest target!

I was 60% impatient. I went for the shot. Would have served me right if I missed.

Fortune smiled, and I did not.

It staggered a few metres away and then collapsed.

Not my proudest shot ever, but hey, it got the quest done.

After that, the next quest was to go hang the blackbuck in a shed about 1.8km away. Wow.

Perhaps it’s pay-to-win, but I did pick up the ATV in one sale or another.

I did not know that I would enjoy the sensation of speeding along high dirt trails, while on both sides the landscape rolled by, as much as I did. A bit of unexpected serendipity, that.

Perhaps I should scan my games library for any scenic racing games… though the introduction of other cars and a competitive element might ruin it.

Another odd bit of serendipity. On the way to the quest destination, there was a landmark and a bridge.

The landmark pretty much summed up the whole theme of this blog post:

Then I was left facing the bridge. On an ATV that looked way too wide to fit on the bridge. (I suppose the DLC was not factored into its design.) I could dismount and walk. But after I crossed, that would mean a long walk to the waypoint as well.

Oh, what the heck. It’s a game. Let’s do this wrong.

So very very wrong.

Chalk this one up to Things You Will Never See Me Do In Real Life.

Then I drove to the shed, ticked off the quest, unlocked the camp waypoint and decided this would be a great stopping point.

Until next time. Whenever I get in the mood for another virtual walk in the woods.

A Funny Thing About Valheim & More Peace of Mind

Haha, made you look.

Nope, still not on the Viking bandwagon yet. Quite content to wait out for more development, as I’m just not in the mood for wrangling with annoying monsters in my building sandbox yet.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading and watching other people enjoy Valheim, and recently, one of my favorite irreverent Youtubers Josh from Let’s Game It Out got his hands on Valheim.

For those not in the know, he basically makes a living playing games WRONG. Very very wrong. Gamebreakingly framerate droppingly wrong. So destructively wrong that it’s a delightful paean to every Explorer/exploiter type who pushes the game boundaries of rules and has wholesome gleeful fun feeling out the game world’s absurd limits.

It’s hard work being gloriously absurd, but it’s also hilarious and joyful to be reminded that these games are toys and fun can be had in different ways. Even and especially ways completely unintended by the designers. It’s like getting a toy for your cat and realizing the cat is happier sitting in the box that came with the toy and batting around the wreckage of what -was- the toy.

Well, this -was- Valheim, supposedly verisimilitudinous dead Viking simulator.

As a closet game pyromaniac, I love the campfire thing the most. Some of us just like to watch game worlds burn.

On a *cough* brighter note, enjoying the whole video has refined my appreciation of Valheim’s aesthetic to “Okay, I quite like the pixelation of the world, it’s quite close to Minecraft… it’s just the player character model I still can’t stand.”

No worries, I’ll wait. It’ll keep.


Back on a Minecraft front, the great Pam’s Harvestcraft 83 crop types farm facility is finally done.

Work-in-progress shots:

Second floor skeletal structure going up.
40 crop farm plots… and then 4 extra more when I realized the total number of Pam’s Harvestcraft crops is 83, not 80.
Filling in all the holes – glass roof, fertilized dirt for the crops to grow in, labeled Bibliocraft fancy signs in alphabetical order for each crop.
Second floor with crops all in and beginning to grow.
The finished product, from one angle…
…and another.

Certainly, it’s one of the more massive builds I’ve ever attempted in Minecraft. Feels pretty good to see it done.

Almost feel like doing another big building project. Almost. We’ll see.

In the wake of these things – a big completed goal – I started casting around feeling that usual sense of aimlessness. Drawing a blank, I just went for a short term goal, actually finding an Ender stronghold and an End Portal and popping over to see what’s up in the End.

Possibly one of the more infuriating things I tried.

One is supposed to start with a bunch of Eyes of Ender to toss into the air and follow to the stronghold.

Fortunately, by this time, I had some Ender Lilies growing on End Stone provided by Astral Sorcery mod transmutation, and I’d figured out Blaze Rod creation from compressed Netherrack, so I had no shortage of Ender Pearls and Blaze Powder. I stocked up on about 36 Eyes of Ender and started hurling them into the air.

About 20 eyes later, following at a slow crawl, this not only felt boring but also wasteful. Then I got a bit smarter and said to myself, maybe I should attempt triangulation.

I marked my start point on the Antique Atlas, followed an Eye of Ender and marked where I ended up. Flew on ahead in the extrapolated direction and tried it again. Still one long straight diagonal. Rinse and repeat until I hit a point where the Eye of Ender flew backwards somewhere rather than forward. Aha!

Located the spot the Eye of Ender gravitated to. Dug a 2×2 mineshaft down to bedrock and found absolutely… nothing.

Wtf?

More wiki reading pointed out that a) the Eye of Ender is not as kind as to lead you -directly- the End Portal, nor does it b) lead you to the entrance of the stronghold. No, it c) leads you the CENTER of the chunk the stronghold ENTRANCE is in.

So the center is at 8,8, and the entrance is usually, says the wiki, at 4,4.

So I hit F3 to bring up all the debug coordinates, shifted myself away from 8,8, located 4,4 of the same chunk and dug straight down again.

This time I hit the entrance, and proceeded to explore the stronghold. Fairly peaceful exploration, of course (yay! peaceful mode!), except there were over a dozen rooms with no End Portal in them, one giant ravine that tore straight across the stronghold breaking up its structure, and what might have been the start of a mineshaft set piece. Aka, one super disrupted stronghold architecture.

It got to the point where I was getting extremely lost and decided to mark every single room I’d been in with a white cobblestone block and a torch laid on top of it.

Soon I wound up with what seemed like the whole place explored and no End Portal room.

More third-party website reading suggested that the End Portal room was probably hidden behind some walls, as might happen if other set piece features got layered on top of it.

So there were a few options left to me.

I could give up and try to find another more cooperative stronghold, but I’d have to wander off far enough that the Eyes of Ender didn’t lead me back to this one.

I could dig up every last adjoining wall of the stronghold and basically turn the place into a gigantic square quarry hole in the ground until I found the End Portal room which was -probably- there.

Or I could cheat and turn on /gamemode spectator to ghost through walls and peek at the various structures in the world.

Guess which most simple option I decided to go for.

Observe, all the rooms with lighted torches and a whitish block under them. My absolutely legit wandering exploration of the stronghold. Zero End Portal room.
Turning around 180 degrees. Well, EFF ME, look where that dang portal room is.

It was indeed surrounded by solid rock on all sides, except one entrance leading out to hitherto unexplored stronghold rooms, all completely cut off by mineshaft spawn disruption.

It was SO close to my initial two borehole mineshafts, except that I had gamely just followed the entrance and went off exploring the rest of the stronghold in the completely opposite direction.

So I just pickaxed myself a new entrance to the portal room and popped over to the End.

Where I found out the Ender Dragon still very much exists in Peaceful mode. Whoops.

One hasty escape via the Home teleporting Inventory Pet (best mod and best pet ever), I went back armed with lots of glass bottles to collect Dragon’s Breath and a Terra Shatterer sword and Crystalline Bow from Botania to make quick work of the Ender Dragon. It’s kinda unfair when you can also fly around with an Angel Ring. All good. I already did the suffering in other less well equipped Minecraft game worlds.

So that was that, I had one more Dragon Egg, popped over to the End Islands to collect some Chorus Fruit and am now having a gigantic case of the What Nows?

I suspect the answer will lie in trying to go down another mod that I’ve been avoiding for fear of its overly complicated tech progressions. There aren’t that many mods left in Peace of Mind, alas. Magical Psi looks fiendishly complex. Astral Sorcery seems only a little less so. Botania is always intimidating. Solar Panels is the simplest but requires ridiculous amounts of resources. I would love a Quantum Quarry but that requires tons of RF power and this modpack lacks my usual suspects for generating tons of power.

All signs point to giving my best go at Immersive Engineering. We’ll see. Probably take things more leisurely from now and might start exploring other things in my games library.

Minecraft: Peace of Mind – Projects & Wanderlust

This is possibly one of the most spread out bases I have ever built in Minecraft.

In most other modpacks, they turn into little square walled up or glassed up compounds, compact underground rooms or cobblestone rectangular islands in the sky, limited both by the reluctance to light up every square inch of space to prevent mob spawns and the laziness to hand build excessively large barriers between the outside and safe insides.

In the Peace of Mind modpack, one literally has peace of mind to sprawl out and claim territory.

It was shortly made easier by me finally going deeper into the Extra Utilities 2 mod and crafting an Angel Ring, which gives creative mode flight at the cost of a type of passively generated resource called Grid Power. Besides setting up a bunch of Water Mill blocks to passively generate it (all they need are water touching all four sides), I lucked into a loot chest item offering me a Dragon Egg. (Normally only attained after defeating the Ender Dragon on the plane The End. No idea how it works in Peaceful mode, I haven’t found a stronghold with a portal to The End yet.)

One Dragon Egg Mill later, I now had a passive generation of 500 GP plus the 100+ from the Water Mills. Way more than the 32 GP required for the Angel Ring. So zooming around in speedy flight constantly was pretty much on the 24/7 menu.

It made it much easier to travel around and explore. Lots of visits to floating slime islands in the sky, and discovering other interesting structures with treasure chests inside.

This pirate ship was very cool. Normally, I gather it would be full of hostile pirates. In peaceful, all I found was a blue parrot chilling out near the ship’s wheel. Snapped it up with a golden lasso to take home. (Hmm, come to think of it, I haven’t taken it out of my backpack yet. Oops.)

It even had functional “cannons” in the form of dispensers loaded with fire charges, and an oak button alongside each one. It gave me a bit of a scare when I hit one of the buttons, not really expecting anything to happen, and then a loud BANG fired off next to my ear and I saw a ball of fire leaving the vicinity of the ship and soaring over the horizon. Then I investigated the dispenser inventory and put two and two together.

A strange druidic looking grove / oasis in a biome of crystal forests and trees. It’s probably two mods stacking on top of each other. I think the Crystal Forest comes from the Plants mod. The structure itself seems to be from the Recurrent Complex mod. It’s oddly fitting. Like something smote this entire region of land, turning it crystalline, except for this little protected grove still green and growing.

I spent an immensely long time searching for slime trees on floating islands. For some reason, the most populous color was a purple slime sapling, which was Goal Number 2 in my quest book. Goal Number 1 was a blue slime sapling. It was practically nowhere to be found. Spent days flying around, checking every island, seeing only purple trees. Finally stumbled on one.

Then Goal Number 3 was an ORANGE slime sapling. Spent even MORE days flying around tearing my hair out.

I eventually got suspicious and went, hang on, let me check the name of this orange slime sapling. Magma Slime Sapling? Waitaminute… Magma. Lava. Are you telling me this sapling is found in the Nether, rather than the Overworld I’d been scouring for literal Minecraft weeks?

Checked third-party wiki. Yes. That would be a yes.

GAAAARGH.

So I went to the Nether to look for my orange slime sapling. At least I could fly now. Which is pretty much the only way to happily traverse the Nether.

Imagine my surprise when I found a biome hitherto unseen, and found an interesting mob… courtesy of Mystical World mod.

They’re like typical Minecraft ocelot cats, except LAVA, so practically on fire. Fortunately, they don’t exactly set anything around them alight.

Instead of fish, they like blaze rods.

I really wished I could take them ALL home.

But I didn’t even have a golden lasso with me at the time, and I flew over goodness knows how many netherrack islands surrounded by lava to get there. (The plan was just to teleport bampf back home with a Home Inventory Pet, which kindly does so at the cost of an ender nugget.)

I did, however, have one gold ingot with me, and the Peace of Mind modpack allows you to make blaze rods out of smelting compressed netherrack (in lieu of fighting a million and one Blaze mobs.)

So I embarked on a massive mini-project to make a netherrack furnace to burn up even more netherrack for blaze rods. Charcoal and crafting table generously provided by some Nether trees nearby. Getting string for the lasso (gold nuggets + string + 8 experience levels) was insane.

Made a wooden crook out of sticks to smack tree leaves, which coughed up a silkworm egg. Put the egg on leaves and left it to grow over time. Eventually, the silkworm got fat enough to cough up a silkworm cocoon. Made a spindle out of more wood plank and sticks. Silkworm cocoon + spindle = 9 silk threads which could substitute for string in the golden lasso recipe.

Finally victorious, I crafted ONE golden lasso.

So one lava cat came home with me.

Some day, I’ll be back. With a lot more mob moving tools.

The big project of the last blog post was my aboveground farming facility. Progress has been gradual. I kept finding a lot more other things to do and get distracted by.

Added the second floor, and then a cantilever roof.

Kept tweaking it.

Added a bridge over a small gap I kept falling into or having to go around, before the Angel Ring days. Added some cream white polished sandstone stairs. Subtracted most of the blue glass railings holding the glowing blue water fall in place.

Experimented with arch-like walls for the rooftop garden, as planned in the previous post, out of a cheap wood material… and ultimately decided they looked too thick and heavy. Didn’t quite work out as hoped. Better as a ground structure perhaps.

Went for a more rooftop urban farm style aesthetic. Poles cut with ArchitectureCraft’s saw (same mod as provides the arch blocks.) Glass chiseled for an iron fence pattern to simulate a sort of greenhouse-like frame.

More experimentation with lighting. The Paper Lanterns from the Quark mod look surprisingly good with my current shaders. A close runner up was Rustic mod’s iron chandelier, but that felt a little more medieval.

Haven’t decided what to do yet with all the torches littering the place. That’s to be addressed at a later time, if ever.

There’s supposed to be one more floor to go, stacked on top of this one. We’ll see how that goes. Every floor is an experiment.

On a non-aesthetic and far more functional front, these were the other distractions from the pretty building project. I really wanted better storage options, and the Refined Storage mod essentially provides an unlimited ‘wireless’ inventory, as long as the proper infrastructure is in place.

It meant a side trek into providing enough Flux power for the Refined Storage. Which meant generators of all types. From thermoelectric generators which provided passive power based on the difference between two blocks next to them (packed ice and uranium in this case) to solar panels, which passively provide power when there’s sun around. To active power generators like a culinary generator (power based on food fed into it) to furnace and nether star generators (combustibles and nether star respectively.)

I automated the culinary generator to eat cooked apples and cough out power, but got lazy with the other two. The passive power generators seem to be enough for now.

I had to figure out the goddamn cabling to transmit power between blocks. This modpack is pretty much missing all my usual stalwarts like EnderIO. It was pretty much a choice between Extra Utilities (blocky, takes up space, energy transfer nodes were so costly on redstone, which I was desperately short of) and learning this other advanced mod called XNet. Which essentially combines all cabling into one. Transfers items, fluids, energy, you name it, through the same cable.

Downside: Never used it before, and a heck lot of configuration required per block connected to the network. (Obviously, with a one cable system, you have to tell it what exactly you want it to transfer – energy, items, et. al. and whether to input or output and so on.) It was okay… just…different.

Refined Storage has its own cabling to deal with. Wireless transmitters only work in a 16 block radius range, and have to be connected to the cable network where your storage system is hooked up. So for a real life day or two, it was just digging out little cable tunnels all across the vast expanse of my base, and sticking a wireless transmitter every 16 x 2 blocks, to basically blanket the base in a field where I could click my little remote and access my storage network at will. (I haven’t even reached my farm facility and kitchen yet, that’s going to be yet another project.)

Then there was Botania.

The main driving need pushing me further into this mod that is designed to be machinery and automation-complex (just with flowers) was to re-stock my metal and redstone, which was rapidly diminishing from the above struggles with power and storage mods.

It’s fiendishly annoying, in the sense that every last accomplishment with this mod needs to be a mini-automation project of some kind. By design, I’m sure, but it’s time-consuming, when you want item A, and realize you need B and C in place before A is even on the table.

Item A, in this case, is the Orechid flower, which turns stone into ores, given a steady supply of mana.

Crafting the Orechid flower requires one to push all the way into opening an Alfheim portal. Which means b) enough mana to open said Alfheim portal, and c) a mini-automation project to feed every last generating flower that provides said mana. That’s just crafting the flower. Then you need d) enough mana to power the flower, and e) since you’re already doing all this work, how about something simple that puts the stone in place for you?

Once upon a time, Botania had simple passive mana generation flowers called the Daybloom and Nightshade, which provided mana in the day and night respectively. Folks who didn’t want to deal with more complex automation chains just scaled them up on a massive scale. This was an intolerable state of affairs to the mod author, and so… we no longer have said passive mana flowers.

So now the simplest way to get mana is to make a ton of Endoflame flowers, and set up some kind of chain that makes burnable stuff like Charcoal for them. The charcoal goes into a hopper, which links to an open crate which drops the charcoal where the Endoflames can snap it up. In order to not drop all the charcoal at once, a pressure plate is linked to a redstone chain which stops the hopper from dropping more charcoal when a piece of unconsumed charcoal is sitting on the pressure plate.

No, I did not think this up.

My brain was burning already, considering the tedium of making more than one Endoflame, let alone how to power them. So I ripped it off a five year old Reddit thread.

My main contribution was to just add an Analog Crafter before this entire process to turn the Charcoal into a Block of Charcoal, which would hopefully feed the Endoflames for a little longer and produce more mana.

Still. It’s not enough mana. It’s never enough. Is it?

So the next generating flower that I could conceivably bear to automate was the Gourmaryllis. Which eats food to produce mana. Cooked apples are a thing in this modpack, I knew, given prior culinary generator experiments.

It’s never simple with Botania though. If you feed the flower the SAME food all the time, you get fast diminishing returns. You HAVE to alternate foods.

So someone else’s clever solution (very much not mine) was to put a Hovering Hourglass that can be configured to any interval you like, and have that trigger an Animated Torch, which basically triggers a redstone pulse on one side before rotating in the opposite direction.

This redstone pulse activates a dispenser block, which pops out the requisite food to feed the Gourmaryllis.

Again, my only contribution was to figure out what alternate food I could feed the flower, with the least amount of extra automation chain required (hooray for Applesauce, which just requires apples and a pot that is not used up).

That, and cursing and swearing while I laid pipes all over the place trying to connect up machinery to each other.

So the source of it all is a huge array of apple saplings in hopping bonsai pots, which produce Logs, Sticks, Leaves and Apples into various chest inventories. All that gets sucked into a consolidating storage made out of Storage Drawers. The logs and sticks go into furnaces to be made into charcoal to power the Endoflames. The apples get processed into Cooked Apples (via furnace) and Applesauce (via Analog Crafter) and then go into the dispensers. Which feed the Gourmaryllis.

(Gourmaryllii? I have two of them. Mind you, managing some kind of round robin distribution of items into the dispensers was another problem altogether with Extra Utitilies’ transfer pipes. Ended up settling for an Item Filter that only allowed one stack of items in the first dispenser.)

The Alfheim portal itself needed its own two personal Mana Pools. I was a bit leery of trying to fuel the whole thing with just the mana from my main pool. So I ended up with some more backup Endoflames and a separate redundant charcoal system, so that the mana pools could be maintained. (If you don’t, the portal closes, and then re-opening them eats up way more mana than just keeping the portal open.)

I refuse to go down the Bore Lens rabbit hole with Botania again, after prior attempts at a tree farm in older modpacks. Adjusting how the mana spreaders aim, just to cut down trees properly, was an exercise in frustration. I don’t think there’s any other machinery that automates tree chopping in Peace of Mind, so I made only a semi-automated Munchdew system.

Basically, after hand collecting a bunch of leaves produced from hopping bonsai pots across the rest of my base, I chuck them all into a chest near the Munchdew. Another hopper/open crate passes the leaves to a Rannuncarpus flower (it of the orange yellow hand petals), which places the leaves on a glass roof for the Munchdew to steadily attack and produce mana.

I suppose some day I can figure out some kind of import/export bus from my storage network to feed leaves into said chest. (But I worry there aren’t enough leaves just yet.)

It has just occurred to me while writing this that I could make a lumber axe for a Mechanical User to chop down actual trees. And a hopperhock to pick up the pieces. And maybe Autosmelt on the lumber axe to turn it into charcoal directly. But timing it so that the Munchdew gets to eat the leaves first would be something to solve. Meh. Whatever. Problem for another day. Frickin’ Botania.

The bottom line is, there’s enough mana steadily accumulating now to actually run the Orechid I made, post Alfheim portal, every now and then.

I bring over some stone, and toss them to the Rannuncarpus on each side of the square grid. They place the stone for me. The Orechiid in the center does its noisy thing and slowly converts the stone to ore. I run around wild with a pickaxe for a while.

(Well, actually, it’s a pickaxe with Silk Touch, so I get the ore block itself. Then I bring the ore blocks over to a Crusher, which doubles the metal ores and gives me more return from the Redstone ores instead of just mining them outright.)

I’m sure it’s not as complex as it could be.

It’s complex enough for me.