Blaugust Day 4: A Mere Excuse to Post Dinosaur Pics (Trove)

Who says pixels are ugly?

And some days, you just want to share your dinosaur pictures.

raptor

Mount upgrade in Trove: Successful

The 90 movespeed does indeed noticeably feel better than the 70 movespeed of the starter mount.

But really, I think easily three-quarters of the satisfaction comes from the fact that I’m riding around on a raptor.

I guess we all have a little roleplayer or immersion-seeker in us; something that cosmetically “fits” more with your vision of your character is inherently more satisfying than something that doesn’t.

The amusing part is when we end up comparing notes and realizing that what we consider realistic or internally-consistent with our view of that particular world doesn’t jibe at all.

Someone might think my raptor breaks their immersion, I might think their glowing neon motorcycle is supremely odd.

(Trove pretty much solves this – or doesn’t bother to solve it at all, depending on your interpretation – by having a bunch of dramatically different biomes. Robotic and sci-fi machinery are perfectly at home in the neon city biome with cyan plasma rivers. There’s a wild west desert area, pastel pink candylands and so on. I admit to being partial to the red fiery-themed dragonlands and grey-death/skull cursed lands, with a side helping of tropical island pirates.)

oremine

In other news, while skimming the Trove Anook posts, I learned that bombs cost 10 shapestone ore to make 4, not 1 of them.

Oh.

Well, that rather changes things.

If one bomb is worth 2.5 shapestone ore, and I throw one juuust right dead center into a clump, an average of 20 odd shapestone is liable to pop out. That’s not as bad a net profit as I initially thought.

I have officially converted to ore mining with bombs, with the odd mining laser clean up of loose scraps.

Good day to learn it, as one apparently gets a bonus of 50% ore today, though I am not sure exactly how that is worked out – does more simply spawn in the world, or more pop out when you mine it? Not a clue.

I only know that I’ve been reaping 24-26+ shapestone per clump today, and it is yummy.

The servers keep coming down for some maintenance or update or other though. *sighs* *re-appreciates GW2 all over again*

The silver lining is that the next patch is apparently going to bring combat numbers.

Inventory expanders are also going to make an appearance, though I am much less interested in that one – it’ll probably be a paid perk only (though there is a tradeable version that I suppose will filter down to the hoi polloi via someone buying it for cash and then turning around and selling it for in-game curency.) So far, I have been a neat freak and am managing decently well with the default space available.

I’ll just be happy to see combat numbers. After all, it’s a game already based around crazy amounts of vertical progression, there’s very little point trying to hide numbers in a game like this.

This post was brought to you by the letter B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 4.

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Minecraft: Wanderlust Reloaded

I wish I had the words (and time to nail down those words) to describe why I’ve been spending most of the past week in Minecraft – sandboxing and crafting around on one screen, while the other screen plays a DVD or a Youtube video of a tabletop adventure laden with story.

I think part of it is that I tend to go on breaks from GW2 at predictable intervals – probably a model customer in that regard, as content drops slow,  I cut back my time in the game as well, ready to go nuts once more new stuff hits.

Right now, all that’s new and seasonal is the Lunar New Year stuff. (It’s probably planned catchup time for all the new $10 customers, slower players, etc. to get to 80 and do some of the things we’ve been doing for two years already before the expansion hits.)

I’m done with the dailies in under an hour or less. The rest of my time could be spent replaying old content, or elsewhere.

Elsewhere is currently more attractive, so I go with the flow.

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The house has had an expansion of floors.

The color scheme sucks at the moment, but I was mostly using up the diorite, andesite and granite that turns up in Minecraft 1.7, and experimenting with chiseled blocks for different texture patterns.

Maybe another time I’ll build something prettier, but for now, it’s functional.

Just got started with beehives. In a way, it’s a little easier than Agrarian Skies in the sense that you can pull out different bees from hives scattered across the landscape. And it’s harder in the sense that the available recipes for seed oil are different, and more limited.

I was hoping to use up vast quantities of Pam’s harvestcraft seeds and apparently that doesn’t work here.

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So instead, a wheat field powered by a sprinkler (in turn powered by an aqueous accumulator) was called for, to produce metric tons of ordinary Minecraft seeds.

What was really strange was that the sprinkler attracted an insane number of Pneumaticcraft plastic plants – they were growing all over the entire area before I got enough wheat seeds to replace them, and they -still- surround the outskirts of the field.

I’d gathered from the mod description that the creator didn’t like the normal seed propagation method of Pneumaticcraft (which I haven’t experienced yet, and seems to be a minigame in itself) and altered it so that wheat seed + a dye would create Pneumaticcraft seeds, but this whole sprinkler behavior thing was rather new and unexpected.

Decent enough bonus though. I presume I might be able to set up another sprinkler elsewhere and grow an entire field of plastic plants if I wanted to, later.

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My modest starter field, that has pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, and an experimental grape or two.

Each could be expanded further into its own field, really, but I just wanted to have things to eat and not starve, at the time.

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This beautiful raspberry bush, all grown up, is pretty much all I need these days.

Couple that with a juicer, and I could subsist on raspberry juice, though I’ve also branched out to mushroom stew.

All good though, since I need the other crops to make bio-fuel, to power my generators.

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Made a Tinker’s Construct smelter, for old time’s sake, though most of my alloys and ore processing are being shunted off to Ender IO’s machines, a mod that is new to me and has pretty compact machines that fit in one floor of the house – one can keep industry going through the night.

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Buildcraft pipes are also new to me. It’s a lot more hair-pulling to deal with so many different colors of piping. I kinda miss the itemducts in Agrarian Skies, simple, one speed, didn’t spit out your items if you connected the pipes in some unstated ‘wrong’ order.

Ender IO’s conduits are really elegant though. Apparently you can put more than one conduit in the same space, so that you can have a line carrying power, one carrying fluid and one carrying items all in the same block, and then cover the whole thing with a facade that makes it look like a block… which sounds extremely awesome.

Sadly, the item conduits in Ender IO require ender pearls and I haven’t figured out how to get a continuous source of those yet. Maybe I have to eventually go catch an Enderman with a Safari Net and make a spawner for that.

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After one too many deaths in which I couldn’t figure out where I died, I gave in and tried to figure out where my minimap went.

Cos I could have sworn the first time I played WLR, there was a minimap… but then when I had to manually copy some files to get WLR working again because the launcher version was acting up, my minimap disappeared.

Eventually, I figured out that a bunch of mods had been disabled, one of which was the minimap, and bravely renabled it.

Life is so much better now.

Especially with the full map, which makes exploration feel a lot more rewarding now that I can figure out where the biomes are in relation to each other, and where home is, and also place waypoints to mark things of interest.

There’s magical forest to the south of me, which is great for Thaumcraft when I get into that mod. I’d stumbled on a giant redwood tree in one pre-minimap expedition, but haven’t found it again post mini-map.

There’s a massive island/continent of Taint to the southwest… I really hope it doesn’t spread. Or if it does, not too quickly.

Eventually, I’m thinking I want to push it back with Silverwood trees, but haven’t got into doing that yet.

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Most of my time has been spent trying to locate lava.

I have been so -so- spoiled with Agrarian Skies and Ex Nihilo/Ex Acquilo. Some crucibles and cobblestone take care of that problem in Ag Skies.

In Wanderlust Reloaded, it’s been going down tons and tons of hand-carved mineshafts (or stairs, in this case) hoping to find lava sources – and I’ll probably have to mount an expedition into the Nether later on to either pull more lava or find some Blazes so that I can make a Lava Fabricator machine one day.

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The stairs led to a ravine, which I milked of any small lava sources.

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Then into the world’s worst collection of mineshafts that criss crossed each other and had a hundred cave spiders and zombies and skeletons around every corner.

Several dozen twists and turns later, completely losing track of how to get back again…

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…jackpot. Big enough lava pool, with obsidian, and some bonus sulfur ore.

But how was I going to find my way back?

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Didn’t bother. I decided to go straight up instead.

Made a little 3-deep landing pool, then cut a 2×2 mineshaft all the way UP.

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Also managed to cut straight into a mossy cobblestone spider spawning room in the process, one of whom knocked me off the column I was pillaring up, and died mid-construction.

Had to come back and finish the build, armed with a lot more ladders this time.

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Why, yes, I kinda want to be able to see and remember this entrance down to my lava pool.

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Turns out it’s quite near to my wheat farm.

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The new doors from various new trees are pretty cool. This one looks like a dungeon entrance, almost.

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Leads to my (usually unlit) oreberry bush growing room.

Some day, I want to make a redstone circuit thing with lamps, so that one button press turns on the lights and turns them off again, instead of having to manually place and remove torches.

All in good time.

Landmark: First Thoughts

For the game formerly known as Everquest Next: Landmark, and now merely known as Landmark… I have a new name suggestion.

Landmark: Pothole Simulator
Landmark: Pothole Simulator

Okay, okay, I’m being unfair.

I know it’s Beta, and I know caves are coming.

Soon, there won’t be these nicely convenient ore veins just glimmering on the surface, ready to be attacked… and we’ll all want to slit our wrists hunting for ore, just as in Vanilla Minecraft.

Minecraft: Mineshaft Simulator
Minecraft: Mineshaft Simulator

But in the meantime, since it’s there, and gravitating to the path of least resistance like the stereotypical gamer , one hammers away at the soil, creating ugly little scars of devastation that presumably heal at some future point when one is not looking.

tropical

When it’s working, Landmark really is quite pretty.

Even on my toaster, though its Core 2 Duo processor comes in under the minimum specs for CPU, and my ATI 4870 GPU apparently just didn’t make the cut either.

My screenshots are nowhere near as pretty as those of you with more modern machines, but they’re not bad, and to be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised that the game’s working at all.

The performance of the Landmark Beta client has apparently taken a sharp drop downward from Alpha, which I suspect is due to the increased number of entities since they introduced flora and the sickles to harvest them, plus the player load of all us freeloaders jumping in via the 4x Founder guest invites, and thousands of other keys being given away by various websites.

This has led to the initial uncomfortable experience of loading into a crowded Player Spire and freezing at 0-1 FPS, risking a crash or viewing most of the world as a slide show. My mistake was jumping into the Medium loaded Serenity server, whose 7+ player names in view completely hung up my system.

Well, that’s one way to encourage players to spread out.

I chucked my GW2-bred zerging tendencies out the window, put on my hermit hat, and tried to guess the least popular server name ever.

I settled on Confidence, mainly to shore up my lack of it.

The 1-2 player names on the island I randomly ended up on slowed me down, but I waded through molasses sufficiently far to get to a more quiet locale where I could actually experience the game a little closer to what is intended.

Moving also seemed to worsen the effect, causing framerate drops to 0 for a couple seconds before it bounced back up to whatever was presumably normal. My CPU and GPU took turns being the bottleneck, as indicated on the helpful display on the top left of one’s screen.

This led me to suspect that both were being slowed down when rendering new areas beyond the visible map, similar to how my Minecraft occasionally lags when procedurally creating a new chunk.

When I had the time later, I quit out of the game and edited the UserOptions.ini in the Landmark folder, and altered the RenderDistance from a very optimistic 999999.000000 to 1000.000000 – which sounded a lot more like what my toaster could handle.

(Basically, I followed a number of the settings tips from this website, also tweaking down Lighting Quality and Texture Quality to even more minimal than recommended, and turning off Shadows altogether.)

It didn’t completely get rid of the issue, but it did mitigate it significantly enough to be felt.

I now hovered around 35-40 FPS when stationary, instead of 20-30, and the framerate would only plunge to 0 for a split second when moving, or worse case scenario, pause for a few seconds when rendering the next part of the map.

Going near other players or their creations was still a little luck of the draw though, along with going near the Portal Spires to swap islands and entering the loading screen.

(Caveat: Altering Render Distance to such a short distance will make the map brought up by the ‘M’ key look fairly ugly, as it doesn’t render the landscape in its entirety. But you know, when you’re a desperate player with a low-end machine, you get used to such tradeoffs.)

There was also very regular falling out of the map for a couple seconds, before the game bounced me back up to solid ground.

falling

I’m curious to know if those of you located in the US also experience this, meaning it’s the Beta client’s unoptimized nature at work, or if it’s due to my 220-240ms latency from being on the other side of the planet disagreeing with the server on just where my avatar is. (Fair warning for those of us in Europe, Asia, Australia or the other continents anyway.)

I’m probably an atypical Landmark player.

Maybe it comes of having prior construction sandbox experiences in A Tale in the Desert.

Maybe it’s just that the GW2 WvW league is starting in a day or two, and thus I’m keenly aware that I only have a limited amount of time to play in the Landmark sandbox before my gaming priorities call me elsewhere.

Setting down a claim flag and hogging some land for myself was not the first thing on my mind.

Exploring was.

desert

The biomes, by the way, are pretty nifty in how different they all look.

I’m exceedingly partial to the desert one, which is great because barely anyone else seems interested in claiming land on that biome (the crowd seems to have gravitated to the forests.)

Admittedly, the Old Forest biome looks pretty darned good too.
Admittedly, the Old Forest biome looks pretty darned good too, if you catch the lighting at the right angle. It’s downright gloomy at other times though.

In close-up, there’s quite a bit of variance to the objects that make up the biome – though after wading through the same terrain for ten long minutes, thanks to the stuttering framerate, it begins to wear on you.

I suspect this is merely an early Beta thing. It doesn’t make sense to have islands of one concentrated terrain or another, so it’s likely that these biomes will get spread out in more natural fashion across the continent at a later date. (That’s probably going to make it a lot harder to collect resources though.)

There were a number of pragmatic reasons for why I decided to be a nomad and explore first.

For one thing, I was coming in completely cold, having not followed any forums or watched any videos. I had no idea what to expect, what kinds of resources there were, or what would be considered a “good” location to claim or no.

To me, this sort of thing is the privilege of veterans. It’s similar to A Tale in the Desert, where my first Telling ended me up in a somewhat out-of-the-way locale, making it slightly awkward to get anywhere and being a little short on nearby resources (luckily I got adopted fairly quick by a friendly and welcoming guild and moved in with them to use their stuff.)

That learning experience helped me out in subsequent Tellings to land grab locations with desirable resources, and still have sufficient space to expand. One has to see the crowd tendencies at least once to know where the newbies go and where the vets hang out.

For instance, it was very likely that the central hub from which you could portal anywhere would form into a crowded little village / ghetto of a few oldbies seeking convenience, not minding the crowd or wanting to be very social, plus newbies crowding in next to each other without sufficient room to expand.

Landmark does seem to safeguard against this somewhat by reserving some space around the claim for you, so the danger of random players building unsightly stuff too near you is probably a little less.

I personally don’t like those kinds of crowds, and I’m okay with walking a bit to get to the Central portal, so felt very little urgency to plonk a claim down. Worse case scenario, I’d wander out to a map edge or something.

(After you’ve played ATITD, which can take upwards of 2-3 hours or more to walk from one side of the bloody map to another – plus a near-mandatory cross-region run for seed from various Universities if you start the game before chariot stops are up  – I was pretty sure that walking a ways in Landmark wouldn’t take as long. Though I didn’t quite account for the framerate lag.)

For another thing, once you’ve played some of these crafting sandbox games, you learn about community technology bottlenecks and certain resources being gating mechanisms, where players coming in late get the privilege of skipping past some of the early grind through the altruism of community-minded veteran players.

craftingstations

It never fails to amaze me how these public works are bound to spring up.

Have a crafting station or piece of equipment that isn’t destroyed when other players use it, that takes a lot of resources to construct? Only going to use it irregularly yourself?

Well, why should every player waste resources reinventing the wheel, then?

Enter the communal-shared resource. Public goods, public works, call it what you will in different games, the concept is the same.

I got lucky.

The random island I started on when I selected my server had one such industrious individual benevolently building away right next to the Portal Spire.

Seeing him WAY further along the tech tree than I was, I immediately dumped all plans of trying to follow the miserable little crafting chain from the basic work station at the Spire, and tried out all of his crafting stations instead, staring at the recipes to make plans for what I wanted to collect and trying not to drool onto his floor.

In return, he got my verbal thanks, and a Feedback thumbs-up. Not much, but I guess those warm fuzzy feelings make up for it?

Oh, and publicity here, I suppose.

DKonen's claim - Confidence Server - Channel (Tier 1)
Public Use Crafting Stations – Dkonen’s claim – Confidence Server – Channel (Tier 1)

Try not to crowd there so much that it freezes my CPU from too many adjacent players when I visit. That would make me sad.

But visit Dkonen anyway, because there’s a lot of cool crafting stations generously made available for the public to use, and he ought to be one of the first to get a flaming thumbs-up indicator of awesome coolness for his claim.

Since I now had a public works to fall back on for crafting stations, I decided that the nomadic plan would be viable for a while yet, and that I ought to work on the danged vertical progression for personal tools instead.

That’s still a heck of a lot of work, I might add.

It turned out to be a fairly considerable amount of mining and tree-chopping involved, along with having to cross-island hop from biome to biome, slowly raising Tiers as my tools got better and needed the next Tier’s resource to build the next better tool.

(Still not a fan of vertical progression, but I suppose the game needs stuff like this to give players some goals and the temptation to shortcut it via the cash shop later on.)

These, by the way, are the trees you need for the Thistle Seeds for Sundrop Heartwood.
These, by the way, are the trees you need for the Thistle Seeds for Sundrop Heartwood. Ran around for ages looking for them, suspecting I was following in the footsteps of someone(s) who had already chopped them all down. Finally got far out enough to find plenty.

I started to wonder what the point of claims was, since there was no way you were going to be able to find a good geographic locale with all the necessary resources nearby, when all the necessary resources were separated so widely.

It was beginning to seem as if all a claim needed to be, was a patch of empty land on which you get some space to build whatever pretty object you wanted, having already spent the time (or $$$) to obtain the necessary resources elsewhere.

It took many hours, but I did get to the Cobalt Pick and Gold Axe before getting bored of the grind and deciding the last tier or so could wait and be spaced out a little less urgently.

Good tools -really- make a difference.

The Cobalt Pick is significantly more enjoyable to mine with than the earlier picks, in my opinion. It can even almost completely mine an ore vein in a few artfully chosen single-clicks, rather than having to toggle on clicking and waiting for an endless amount of time, adjusting the cursor every now and then.

Speaking of which, Landmark REALLY needs a auto-attack toggle for their picks and axes.

I got through one vein and one tree holding down the mouse button before my finger started cramping, and I started hunting for other options… including keyboard/mouse hardware macros or writing something in AutoHotkey and braving whatever reception third-party software users got.

I eventually settled for the forums-suggested solution of turning on Windows 7’s Click-Lock, via Control Panel => Mouse. Holding down the mouse button for an adjustable amount of time then locks it on, allowing one to auto-mine or auto-chop without risking RSI or carpal tunnel. Click again to stop.

Along the not-obvious line of things one might be interested to know, shift+mouse wheel zooms in and out, alt-F10 removes the interface, and ctrl+F12 takes screenshots. Who thought these up?

If anyone figures out how to strafe, please tell me. Keyboard turning is weird as hell for many MMO gamers.

Anyway, I’ll be grinding out the rest of the resource-locked tools before seriously experimenting with building. I plunked an experimental claim down and tried some of the basics, but made a pretty lousy job out of it. Maybe I’m just not cut out artistically for voxels.

Walking around to see something like this totally doesn't help the ego either.
Walking around to see something like this totally doesn’t help the ego either.

Still, I could see myself in a nice gathering and exploring niche in the future, selling stuff to the dedicated builders – assuming the rest of the game develops well enough to do that in an entertaining and non-boring fashion.

ATITD: A Little More Alloy Conversations (and Mines)

To recap, I was just a few steps shy of making my very own Raeli Oven. Over the last two days, in between City of Heroes huffiness, I got a lot of progress in. Nothing like having a less favored thing to do to cure procrastination.

Step 1) Obtain 25 Moon Steel Sheeting (and a bit of copper wire)

Alloys. Lots and lots of calculation, followed by alloy making. Each Moon Steel Sheeting is made from 8 Moon Steel. 1 Moon Steel is made from an alloy of:

One can’t just multiply directly the materials required, we have to take into account crystallization success. Assuming I only accept 70% crystallization success and higher, each batch will give me 7 Moon Steel or higher. I aim to produce to 210 Moon Steel (a little extra to keep in stock never hurts.) So the total is 30x. I will need 210 Steel, 90 Brass and 90 Pewter.

Each one of those suckers is an alloy in themselves. So MORE alloy calculations follow.

For Steel:

Assume we accept 75% crystallization and higher,  each will yield 5+ steel. We will need 42 x of the above, in total, 294 Iron, and 42 Tin.

For Brass:

Accepting 66% crystallization, each yields 5+ brass. We need 18 x of the above, 126 Copper and 18 Tin.

For Pewter:

Accepting 66% crystallization, each yields 6+ pewter. We need 15x of the above, 105 Iron, 60 Antimony and 15 Brass. (Hey look, another alloy snuck in. 15 brass means 21 more copper, and 3 more tin.)

Totaling up everything, that eventually added up to 399 Iron, 147 Copper, 63 Tin, and 60 Antimony.

To my surprise, I had all that metal already standing by in my metal warehouse. I was a bit afraid that I’d have to go look up a public mine location for antimony and cart ore back to smelt, but apparently I already did that a while ago. It would leave me a bit short on copper, but I could always mine more later.

So 1-2 hours of furious alloy making later (to the accompaniment of the Bastion soundtrack courtesy of the Humble Bundle V), I was sitting on 222 some Moon Steel and some spare odds and ends of the other alloys. I have to confess that I found this staring at white circles on a black background changing positions a lot more relaxing and enjoyable than the repeated tries I had of the City of Heroes Magisterium trial – for one, I was having incremental success and accumulating my way towards a goal and for another, I was alone – so grind really is in the eye of the beholder.

On went the forges, and I made some extra charcoal to load them up while waiting, since the alloy making had drained my charcoal stocks.

Clink clink clink went the Moon Steel as they got hammered into Sheeting, and then I threw on the copper to extrude into copper wire. (I did accidentally turn off one forge before I remembered I had yet to make them, so oops, 40 charcoal wasted turning it back on again.)

Optional) Mine Copper While Waiting

Since I had to wait for the forges, I got some copper mining done.

This Telling, I was fortunate enough to have unknowingly placed my compound very near to both an iron and a copper vein.  It’s the most convenient lack-of-running-required I’ve ever had with mines of the two most commonly needed metals.

Mining has changed since Tale 5 and 6. When I first joined in Tale 4, mining was an activity best left to macros.

Mines used to look like this. A pile of poo with seven crystals within. Depending on the type of metal you were trying to mine out, you had to click on the correct crystal for that metal type. This could be anything from “the odd crystal out,” “the least blue crystal,” “the least saturated crystal,” “the most yellow hued crystal” etc.

If I recall correctly, iron used to be the odd crystal out. This sounds easy and quite okay to do manually. Until you realize that computer color vision and human color vision are worlds apart. Computers use RGB and HSV to determine color. What looks least blue to humans, may not be the same thing to a computer which is calculating it based on the lowest B value, for example.

And you get things like the above picture. I -think- the odd crystal out in the mine above is the top left one, but it’s so close, it’s impossible to tell. Players were using color pickers to help them differentiate between colors (not even the color picker is helping me on that mine above, to be honest.)

And it was a short step from there to fully automated mining with macros that analyzed the crystals for you – just help the macro to mark the pixel locations of the seven crystals as seen on your screen.

Mines also used to break, and require repairs that cost increasingly expensive amounts of leather. This influenced player behavior accordingly, making fewer mines public, and causing them to drop lots of spare mines along an entire vein or metal patch, hogging the all the resources so that they didn’t have to paid absurd amounts of leather just working on one mine. Freeloaders were not welcome, because there was a cost to be paid in leather, and the mine got more and more expensive to use. There was much drama about mines.

The new mines don’t break. They cost comparatively more now, but they don’t break. One simple game design change, and player behavior adapts in response. Now more people are open to making their mines available for public use, and there’s less need to litter an entire row of mines along a vein, one for each guild, clique and individual person who can afford a mine to use for themselves.

I placed my mines to make it convenient for myself, but left them open to public use, since I’m settled very near the Chariot Stop of my region.

(Some person has taken advantage of that by erecting a personal warehouse right behind the mine. I’m not terribly fond of the eyesore, it’s very near to where I flax and within sight of all my compounds. Still debating if I should contact the person to talk it over. I find it a bit rude and presumptuous to building that there when you don’t even own the mine in question. If I turned the mining rights off, a fat lot of good the warehouse would do you then. I wouldn’t be that vindictive, but yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me. Most people are fine making multiple runs to get and convert all the ore they mined to more portable metal. My gyration cell is sitting there in the background, available for public use, allowing them to turn 1495 ore to 150 metal as long as they bring 50 charcoal per run.

Not to mention, no one has visited it to clear it of the ore lately, which means it’s just junk trash sitting there on the off chance they maybe might want some later and come by to get it. What the hell, why hoard it in ore form, just convert it to metal and -take- it with you. It’s also COPPER, the most common metal, there’s veins criss-crossing everywhere, why not just make your own mine nearer to where you live?

On the other hand, I’m not fond of drama and it is relatively small stuff not to be sweated over, they may have thought it within the boundaries of the Chariot Stop and thus fair game and common use ground. Living near the Chariot Stop has all kinds of potential eyesore disadvantages and territory issues that my hermit self is not entirely used to, along with all the bonuses of short runs to anywhere. We’ll see.)

The new mines pop up a big set of crystals as above. More complex metals may have more than eight crystals too.

The crystals can differ in a number of ways. By their color, by their main body shape, by the shape of their base, by the additional crystals sticking into the main body, etc.

The more common metals are easier to mine. So in this case, there are only two factors to look at for copper. The main body shape and their color.  (Base shape, and additional top crystals remain the same.)

One must select a set of three or more crystals that are either ALL THE SAME or ALL DIFFERENT with regards to the above factors, to successfully mine some ore.

So if you take a look at the cyan crystals 2, 4 and 6… they are all the same color and all three have different body shapes. 2 is round, 4 is a triangular fin, and 6 has four lumps sticking out of it like a primitive hand. These are a valid set and will yield ore.

3, 7 and 8 also work. They are the same grey color and the same primitive hand body shape.

1, 4 and 5 is also fine. Different colors, same triangular fin body shape.

5, 6 and 7 would not work. Though they are different colors, 6 and 7 share the same shape, but 5 does not. They must be all the same or all different for each factor.

Continual successful set formations per layout appear to yield increasingly more ore on average, and if you use the same crystal seven times successfully when forming sets, the crystal breaks and the mine yields some gems that differ per region. (Gem mining is best done with sand mines for least factors to consider when set making.)

When stuck, or all possible sets formed, click on the mine and “Work the Mine” to get a new layout with new crystals.

This new method of mining favors the human ability to see and make patterns a little more over the power of computers to repetitively click. It’s quite fun and relaxing a minigame if done in the proper mood, with an easy metal. It also can be a small group activity, as multiple people can attempt to form sets together.

Of course, never underestimate player ingenuity in cyborging with the help of computers.

Players have developed two methods of mining with computer help. One is to brute force all the solutions. Cegaiel’s Autohotkey macro does this in-game.

If your brain hurts thinking about stone combinations, and you don’t mind being slow and steady, you can let the macro take a whack at every possible stone combination there is. The macro asks you to select all the stone locations by middle-mouse button clicking, assigning each pixel location to stone 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

Then the macro bangs away, hitting stones 1, 2 and 3. Then 1, 2 and 4. 125. 126. 127. 128.

Then 134, 135, 136, 137, 138. Then 145, 146, 147, 148, on and on, until it finishes with 678.

If it hits a valid set, you get ore.

If it hits an invalid set (and there will be lots when you’re brute forcing), it automatically detects the pop up that announces your error in picking an invalid set, and hits the OK to close it for you.

The whole thing clicks with precision at a much faster pace than you can as a human, so it can generate a tolerable amount of ore over time. Not as fast as an intelligent human operator would be, but a lot less taxing on the brain when you don’t want to think.

Method number 2 is to solve for all possible valid combinations out of game with a third-party tool. Then you just follow and click the correct combinations.

Docsaintly’s Stonecrusher is the premiere tool for the job. It takes a bit more work to set up the mine layout, so it is most useful for the really complicated metals where you want to maximize yield, but the whole layout looks like a massive pain to even see any patterns, let alone all of them.

Taking the above mine layout as an example, one would enter in all the stone attributes. Let A be the color of the stones. 1, 3 and 8 are grey, so let’s call them G. 2, 4, 6 are blue, so B. And 5 is red, R.

Let B be the shape of the stones. 1, 4, 5 are Triangular. 2 is a Circle. (Technically, sphere, but hell, it’s my naming convention.) 3, 6, 7, 8 are Hands (beats calling it misshapen sphere with four spikey lumps on top).

One Calculate button later, all the valid combinations are displayed for you to click. Just remember which stone is which number.

Multiple ways to manage the same task. That’s the beauty of A Tale in the Desert.