Backlogged: World to the West

Time To Finish: 14.25 hours

I haven’t done one of these in almost a year. Has it really been a year since I beat a single player game? There might have been one last year that I beat and didn’t write about. But yeah, it’s been about a year since I completed a game.

World to the West has been on my to play list for a very long time. I’m not exactly sure how it ended up in my library. A bundle no doubt. I’ve started and stopped it many times and had accumulated 2.5 hours in it according to Steam. But I’ve wanted to sink more time in to it because I there was a lot to like about it. I remember the writing being funny, the graphics were nice and cartoony, and the gameplay was fun. But I never got around to it.

World to the West is the standalone sequel to Teslagrad. I vaguely remember playing Teslagrad as one of my first PS Plus free games many years ago. I had no problem following the story here and actually don’t feel the need to play through Teslagrad after finishing this one.

Now that I’ve gotten around to playing it all the way through I can confidently say “I should have done this sooner!”

Things I Liked:

The Gameplay: Always important to like the gameplay of a game right? There are 4 characters each with their own movement set and each character is needed to progress through the map. I loved finding all the different ways of getting one character from one teleporter to another. I also found that unlocking locations and finding batteries gave me that “one more turn” feel.

Usually, with puzzle games there’s a certain point where they seem to get really complicated. This didn’t happen in World to the West which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. For me, I felt like there was just enough challenge where it felt good to figure something out but not too much to break the flow of the game.

Overall, I found the gameplay itself totally engaging. I even went through and collected all of the batteries on the map for the achievements. Something I never do!

The Writing: Big props to the writer here for the dialogue alone. There were plenty of times I laughed reading through the dialog in this game. The story itself was pretty straight forward but the way the characters and NPC’s talked to each other made me want to see every conversation.

The Music: Each area of the map has it’s own track. The tracks are long enough between repeats that it doesn’t get annoying to listen to. Which is great considering there are a lot of times I found my self backtracking or getting stuck figuring out an area. I even found myself bouncing along to some of the tracks as I played. I especially like the one that plays in the tavern in Carte Blanche: Ukulele of Time. I went in that tavern just to hear that song anytime I was in town….I’ll probably listen to this entire soundtrack on it’s own a number of times.

Things That Could Have Been Better:

Boss Fights: The only thing I didn’t like about this game were the boss fights. The controls work great for the puzzle/exploration portion of the game but feel clunky when doing the action oriented boss fights. I was playing with a controller and found it hard to aim quickly or get out of the way when I needed to. Because of this, I had to repeart fights 3-4 times before I understood what I was suppose to do and do it quick enough to beat the encounter. It really put a stop in the flow of the game every time one came up.

GTFO: Saying Goodbye to Rundown 4

I haven’t written about GTFO since *checks notes* November. That was around the time that Rundown 4 came out and we rejoiced with the addition of difficulty tiers for each mission. I even went as far as to say we might make it to the bottom this time.

That did not happen.

We did make it farther than the last few rundowns ending up in Tier C. Every mission on this tier features some sort of boss creature at the end. We just weren’t prepared for that. We had a few runs that got us to the boss chamber but we never could quite finish the missions off on any difficulty. At least we got to see them!

As a group, we saw our most improvement in this rundown. We learned how to clear rooms quickly without waking them up which lead to shorter runs. A shorter run makes things more enjoyable as we got to the fun part of alarm doors quicker. Don’t get me wrong, it still took us at least an hour and a half to clear a mission but we got it down from 2 hours. We also dropped the Bio Tracker in favor of an extra turret. While it’s helpful to get a rough estimate of how many sleepers are in a room or where a scout is, we found the extra firepower more helpful.

Last night, we did some practice runs on harder missions in preparation for the next rundown. Greg and I got pretty far in C2 “Pabulum” with just the two of us. We made it all the way to the boss door but weren’t preprepared for an alarm on the door.

We did a few more runs of other missions but took them way less seriously. It gave us the opportunity to try out some weapons we hadn’t used all rundown. For the majority of this rundown, I’ve been using the Assult Rifle and combat shotgun and didn’t really try any of the other weapons. It turns out, the Hel Revolver was really fun to use last night. I’ll definitely do some early experimentation with all the weapons in Rundown 5 this time around.

This is one of the more intriguing notes about the upcoming rundown:

System Updates – This is a major feature that we’ve been working hard on. A lot of progress has been made and so far is coming along well. The goal with this feature is to give you more reasons to play, and change up the gameplay a bit, even if when you die!

I’m interested to see what additional reasons they’ll be adding to play even when you die. My guess is some sort of cosmetics. I’ll suffer through just about anything to get a cool hat or weapon skin….But there’s also the bit about changing up the gameplay. I have no thoughts on what this could mean but if I’ve learned anything from GTFO it’s that things can always get more difficult….

Rundown 5 releases April 29th. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Next Island and Ancient Greece

This is the second post attempting to sum up everything I’ve done in Entropia since March.

Next Island was our next stop on the tour of Entropia Universe. There awaited beaches, roving hordes of monkeys, and the end of my mentoring. This is where most of April was spent.

Next Island was a colony set up to be a utopia built on science and reason. Separate from Earth and far away from all of it’s problems. A colony ship was sent, and this “First Wave” was sent with a bunch of robots to help set up the colony. The second wave was suppose to bring more people. They never came and the robots went about building anyway.

First off, I want to say that the writing on Next Island is much better than Arkadia. The quests have some humor to them and there’s a lot more exposition to set up the planet. Some time’s there’s too much but overall it’s a much better written set of quests. My favorite of which is Helen’s Super Epic Hunting Adventure.

Go forth and kill 10 boar. No! That’s way too easy! Go forth and kill 25 boar! No! There’s nothing epic about that! Kill 25 boar and 17 papoo! But not the smart talking papoo like Sebastian, of course.

Go forth and slay 63 Mutant Boar and 63 dumb papoo! And by dumb I mean mute because it’s rude to judge the intelligence of a creature you can’t even talk to. 

Helen Venture

Words to live by for sure.

Next Island’s native wildlife include mostly, you guessed it, Papoos and Boars. There’s Red Papoos, and Yellow Papoos, and Grey Papoos. And then there’s village boars, mutant boars, sand boars…ect.

But then there’s also GIANT elemental drakes and snakes. So you get some variety.

Next Island has a bunch of different wave events. Once you walk in to the area the wave event starts and you better hope you have enough ammo to get through it. It spawns ever increasing amounts of creatures at various levels. You would think this would culminate in a boss fight but we only found one wave event with an actual boss. The rest just kind of ended. Pretty anti-climatic.

I watched Greg lose 100 PED killing these birds….

The issue for me with Next Island is there wasn’t really much I could do at my level. Mobs that I can kill on my own either take to many shots for the loot they give or don’t have good enough spawns to make hunting there enjoyable. I think once I have some more levels on me, Greg and I could come back here for sure. I also noticed a decent size community here. I even logged on one weekend to see a giant Hide and Seek community run event going on in chat.

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece is a sub area on Next Island that can be accessed by a teleporter in Orpheus Cave. Much like Next Island, it doesn’t feature a whole lot to do for a player at my level but it does feature some pretty landscapes and cities. With Greg along, I did get to see some of the native wild life. Mainly, Cyclops and Minotaurs.

We didn’t stick in Ancient Greece long but we did stay long enough to grab a few teleporters if we wanted to visit again. I also ran a quest chain which gave me a nice beginner unlimited sword for when I want to train melee.

Finishing Mentoring

The whole reason we came to Next Island this early was for me to get the Atlas armor when I finished the Mentoring program. When we arrived I was at about 95% completed so I just needed to get out there and hunt for a bit to fil it up . It was a bit slow to fill since the aforementioned level problems for me here but I did manage to fill it up after a few Papoo hunts.

When you’re ready to graduate there’s a button you have to press on the mentoring menu. The mentor then has to log in to approve it and once approved both parties get their rewards. The rewards for the disciples are much better than for the mentors. I think that’s to encourage new players to link up with old ones when starting out.

Like everything in this game so far nothing goes right the first time. I clicked my button, Greg approved it, I saw a nice flashy congratulations animation. I opened my inventory to find….a Pixie Armor set….That’s the set you get if you finish mentoring on Calypso and it looks terrible. Apparently this happens so often there’s forum posts about it dating back years. .

So I did something I’ve never had to do in an online game before: I put in a support ticket. Which was an adventure all on it’s own. I was descriptive as can be and armed with screenshots and time stamps. Only to get through the whole thing only to be told there was an error and to contact support….Attempt number two went through though adnd 3 days later my garish Pixie armor was replaced with my sleek Atlas Armor

Yay!

Leaving Arkadia for the Moon

Since it’s been a bit since my last Entropia post I’m going to try and summarize the events of the last month in two posts. This is the first.

The whole reason we started on Arkadia was to fill up the Mentoring experience as quickly as possible. The rewards are too good to pass up: an armor set with some nice stats and a vehicle. The mentor doesn’t get much, I think Greg got some gloves or something.

Once my mentoring experience was around 95% we planned to leave Arkadia behind and go over to the planet of Next Island. So when I completed my mentoring I would get the reward armor from Next Island. I thought the Atlas armor looked the coolest.

Once I was around 93% we left the Carabok fields and headed over to Akaas so Greg could show me instances. With instances, instead of killing mobs outside, you get to kill mobs inside. And for that privilege you need to craft/buy a key to enter the instance. Luckily, it’s only one key per person.

Oh, and you also enter the area through the head a giant snake.

As with most things in Entropia, it’s not exactly user friendly to get in there. Greg and I spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to start the thing. It involves talking to NPCs and then a door in the correct order otherwise you get a 2 minute loading screen that can’t be closed out of until it fails to load anything….

Once inside, the structure of the instance is kill creatures in the room to unlock the next room. After a certain amount of rooms you go down a level. Lather, rinse, repeat until you get to the ground floor with the big boss! Kill the boss, open the chests and leave. It’s basically a dungeon.

The levels of the mobs and the density of them increase depending on the level of instance door you open. What makes instances different is the monsters don’t drop any loot. All of the loot is given at the end. I believe the split is based on damage dealt. I assume so anyways, There’s a nice little score board that tells you how much damage each player in the instance is doing. So it’s either there for that or just so you can yell at your friends for not pulling their weight.

The highest we went was the Akaas 3 door. That one was rough for me since I couldn’t do enough damage to clear out mobs fast on my own. Greg definitely carried me through that one. I did end up looting an actual item from the chest that run: a mind force chip worth about 12 PED. I got lucky though for doing so little damage over all.

After finishing up the Akaas instances we headed off to the Arkadian Underground to take a look and the mobs there and run some different instances. These instances were much the same as the Akaas instances but they had cool Sci-Fi tunnels. They were also a lot shorter, taking about 5 minutes to complete.

We also took a look at some of the mobs in the Underground. I have to hand it to Entropia, it has some of the most interesting creatures.

Like this one:

And this one

The Underground was our last activity on Arkadia. We got is Greg’s ship and flew to the Arkadia Moon. Which really didn’t have a lot to do. There were some creatures we could hunt but weren’t really worth it. There’s also a daily quest there which awards 2 PED of universal ammo. That’s not a ton but it’s something.

The daily also awards pieces to a Hazmat suit. The way you get the quest to even start this is talking to an NPC choosing a very specific set of conversation topics before he let’s you start it. This quest has to be run 18 days in a row to get the full hazmat suit. I ran it once and that was enough for me.

This is the most exciting thing I did on the Arkadia Moon

We didn’t stay there long before leaving for a Next Island. Where my mentoring armor awaits me!

Eight Thousand Caraboks

This is a Carabok.

For the last two weeks, when I’m not out and about with Greg, you can find me in the carabok fields outside of Celeste Quarry. There, the caraboks spawn in the hundreds, as far as the draw distance can display.

The caraboks are small, defeneless creatures, with 10hp. But they’re also level 4 which makes them great for leveling skills on the cheap. And right now, leveling skills is my top priority.

As far as I can tell, skills experience is rewarded sometimes on hit but always on a kill and they’re awarded semi randomly. Based on the weapon used, there’s a pool of skills that can gain xp. These assortment of skills in turn level up Professions which are sort of like classes but are mostly just more skills.

For example hunting with a laser rifle will guve xp for skills related to the laser rifle and hunting. Once enough points are obtained in those skills The professions related to laser rifle hit and damage will level up. But there are also skills shared by various professions so sometimes I’ll see a BLP weapon profession level up without every using that weapon type. The Profession levels seem more important than the individual skills as they determine what equipment can be used effectively.

At this time, Planet Arkadia still has the classic Entropia missions. These ask you to hunt x number of creatures. Once turned in, they award skill points and offer the next tier of the mission which is to kill more of that creature.

The carabok started out with a mission to kill 75, then 400, then 5000….and now I’m here on the kill 10000 missions with 3,000 more hunted.

I know the spawns, I know where to look for more when there are too many people on my ureent hunting ground, I can spot a carabok from a mile away.

I’ve become one with the carabok.

EU: Space Taxis and Sweat Sellers

For the past few weeks Greg has been planning the best way to introduce me to Entropia Universe. I made sure I followed his instructions to the T. I set up my account, downloaded the launcher, downloaded the correct planet data, and made sure I could actually log in, and purchased the Starter Gold Pack. All of this had to be ironed before hand out since we were going to stream the whole thing.

The plan was to start on Planet Arkadia because Greg thought it was the planet with the best new player experience. There’s a nice quest chain that takes the player around the map and teaches the basic mechanics of the game. It also rewards a hoverpod (pictured above) to drive around. It also has some good skilling spots which would be beneficial after I ran the opening quest line.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

The first sign of trouble was immediately out of character creation. I had entered into Genesis, the tutorial zone for Planet Calypso, not Planet Arkadia. We thought I might need to get through this basic tutorial and at some point I would be able choose what planet I wanted to start on. So I went about doing various tasks: learning how to use my weapon, learning how to mine, learning how to interact with the world and how to spawn a vehicle.

Mostly, I learned how to navigate the obtuse UI. The normal key mappings are there: J for quest Journal, M for Map, I for inventory. There’s also an Action library that lists all of the actions available in the game. These are buttons ranging from emotes to system preferences all in one long list. At least it’s searchable.

Each action can be placed on the screen too quicker access. There isn’t a typical hot bar but these icons can be moved around like desktop icons. F10 also brings up a keyboard lay out to map icons to keys. It’s a bizarre layout, probably due to it’s age, but now that I’ve played with it for a few days it’s not so bad. The one nice thing about the UI is that every window can be moved around. I haven’t quite figured out if it can be resized though.

Once I reached the end of Genesis I frantically looked around for a way to start on my preferred planet. We traveled over to the wiki which clearly showed there should be some teleporters around to choose a spawn. The wiki must have been out of date because there were no teleporters to be found. So hoping for the best I talked to the NPC to take me out of Genesis thinking I might get a choice right at the end.

I was deposited straight on to Planet Calypso and Camp Icarus. A literal world away from my friend. What had happened was that I was suppose to download the launcher from Planet Arkadia’s website instead of the Entropia Universe website. I was also suppose to make an account over there as well in order to start on the planet. I still don’t quite understand why but that turned out to be what the problem was.

But for the time being we had to solve the problem of getting me off of Calypso and on to Arkadia. And this is where I got my first introductions to warps.

From my understanding, players own ships that can travel real fast between planets and they sell this service to other players. Space can be traversed by smaller and slower craft but since we were streaming we didn’t have time to wait for an hour an a half one way for Greg to come pick me up. Before I knew it I was getting a private message from a pilot who would come pick me up in 5 minutes. Fresh out of the tutorial, I had no idea what to expect but I kept getting messages about how it would all work. I would be summoned to the ship, we would be making a stop at another planter, Toulan, and then I would be brought to Arkadia Space station for Greg to pick me up. Space is also a PVP zone so it was recommended to log out if I had tradable items on me during travel. 10 minutes later, I was in Arkadia Space station and it only cost Greg the price of a small cup of coffee.

So now I’m in the correct place, on the correct planet, with the guy who’s going to show me around the game. So far so good. I get in Greg’s little flying vehicle and we make the short journey from the space station to the planet itself. Once there, we land at the Arkadia Welcome Center and I make my way to the NPC to start the starter quest chain. There’s just one small problem, he won’t talk to me. He tells me I’m not a citizen of Arkadia and will need to talk to the passport Official next to him. The passport official tells me I’m not a citizen either and won’t issue me a passport either. Well he will, but I have to pay him a bribe of ten thousand bottles of sweat…..oh boy.

At this point Greg’s reaching out to his various contacts to see what we’re doing wrong. What was suppose to be a 15 minute tutorial has turned in to 2 hours. Eventually, we arrive on the answer, we need the passport to start the quest chain. And so the hunt for a sweat seller commences.

Lucky for us, sweat is plentiful as it’s the main resources people who want to play for free collect to sell. The general consensus is it costs more money in electricity to run your computer than you would make sweating monsters. But people do it any way. In fact, the first time I had ever seen Entropia Universe was years ago when Greg was AFK sweating on his laptop while we were playing some other game…it did not look appealing at the time. So of course, it would all come full circle and back to sweat to get this adventure started.

We found a sweat circle in all of it’s glory at Celeste Outpost. In about 5 minutes Greg was able to rustle up a seller. Finally, after about 4 hours I was able to start the quest chain on Arkadia, got my hoverpod, and actually started going through what Greg thought would be a good introduction to the game.

I can’t think of a better introduction to a game than what it took us to get to that point!

My Entropia Universe Project Begins

Yes you read that right: Entropia Universe. That game with the Real Cash Economy that you probably last saw an ad for in, like, 2010. It’s one of those games that get’ an article someone making 6 figures selling virtual property every once and a while and then goes back to the niche corner it’s been hiding in. The game I lovingly refer to as the Flea Market of MMOs. I have a long and storied history with Entropia Universe and I’ve never played it. But I’ve been hearing about it for 11+ years now from Greg.

To be homeset, the whole “Real Cash Economy” thing has always weirded me out. I can sort of understand the appeal. The hope that you get more out of the game than you put in. Every thing has a monetary value so you’re not “wasting” your time playing other games. On the flip side, everything costs money and the amount of enjoyment/playtime you can get out of it depends on how much you spend.

So, when Greg approached me a few weeks ago with the idea of trying out the game and he would pay for most of it I was intrigued. Here was an opportunity to have my closest friend show me a game he’s been passionate about for years with little monetary investment on my end. Of course, I didn’t want him to pay for everything so I bought the Gold Starter pack which came with some armor, a weapon, some XP pills, and $25 worth of ammo. We’ll see how long that lasts me. When the ammo runs out I’m not likely to buy more.

The idea is to give the game an actual try, to experience the game as a new player and experience a niche game/community I wouldn’t have otherwise. Which means adding it to my stable of regularly played games and playing it on my own; not just when Greg’s around. Greg will have a bunch of items and weapons for me so I can try all aspects of the game: Hunting, Crafting, and Mining. We’ll also be going on a tour of all the planets in Entropia Universe so I can see as much as I can.

I’m not sure what to expect but I’m sure it will be an experience to say the least.

You can check out my continuing adventures in Entropia over at twitch.tv/welpsquadtv Along with other great content from my friends.

March 2021 Goals

Last month I didn’t commit to any goals because I didn’t know what I wanted to play. So, I started this month poking around a few games. At the beginning of the month I was all about NIMBY Rails but I didn’t play it much more than those initial first weeks. There were two games that took hold of my interest this month and have not let go since: Final Fantasy XIV and Melvor Idle.

In FFXIV, I spent my time this month starting a new character and going through A Realm Reborn again. I decided to only level one class and only go through the MSQ without stopping for side activities. Now my Black Mage is level 55 and has just started the Patch 2.4 quest line. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here this month and plan on continuing my journey in March.

Melvor Idle has captured my attention for much longer than it has any right to. Usually, I’ll get into an idle game for a week or two at most. Once the initial dopamine hits wear off and the real waiting begins I’ve checked out. But I’m still checking in to Melvor everyday on multiple devices. I’ve maxed mining this month, collected 5 pets, and have just started getting in to the combat system a bit more. I’ll be continuing this one in March as well.

March Gaming Goals

Reach Heavensward in Final Fantasy 14: This one should be an easy one as long as I continue to play the game

Obtain the Bone Necklace and Amulet of Looting in Melvor Idle: Both of these will help progression in combat in Melvor. The Bone Necklace will automatically bury bones and give 2x the prayer points which will make training Prayer easier. The Amulet of Looting will collect look automatically making idle combat training more of a set it and forget it kind of thing.

Play more NIMBY Rails: I really like this game and have some ideas for some projects to work on. I’ve been so focused on Final Fantasy XIV this month that I haven’t played much else

Non Gaming Goals

Read for at least 20 minutes before bed: Too much screen time for me lately before bed. I find it’s much easier to sleep when winding down with a book instead of TV or my phone

Make time to blog: Too often, I think of a post idea and then sit on it. By the time I’m actually motivated to write I’ve lost interest in the idea. This month I would like to find a daily time slot to write here that’s consistent and works for me. I think some time in the evening would work best. I’ve been trying to force the morning for a while but most of the time I don’t feel like writing in the mooring.

The Second Time Around

Over the weekend I finished up A Realm Reborn for the second time. The first go round took 322 hours over the course of 3 years or so. This time it only took 40 hours over a little less than a month. Of course, that first time around started when Heavensward was the only expansion and I wanted to try out everything the game had to offer. This time I stuck to running the Main Scenario Quests and focusing on one class.

The original plan was to level a healer for quicker dungeon queues which I did for a while. I stopped that after I got my White Mage to 30. For one, I didn’t remember the dungeons after that point all that well and didn’t want to drop people left and right. But the DPS queue wasn’t actually that bad. The longest I had to wait for most of the MSQ leveling dungeons was 12 minutes. The last two dungeons, Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium, had a wait time of about 25 minutes each. I passed the time by finishing entries in the hunting log I had been neglecting.

Since the last time I’ve run these two dungeons the cutscenes have are now unskippable. The last time I ran these I had to skip the scenes or I got left behind. It was nice to see the end of the story here but the cutscenes felt never ending. Just when I thought it was over, BAM, another cutscene! One of the best parts of all of this was my party members riffing off the melodrama at every turn.

Now that I’m done with ARR I’m on to the Seventh Astral Era Quests. This is where I left off on my last character and the part I haven’t been looking forward to. I got through about half of the quests last time but I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. Maybe paying closer attention this time will make things more interesting. I read that the 100 quests between ARR and Heavensward were reduced to…90 so that’s something, right?

This week I plan on working through these post ARR quests but I’m not in a rush to complete them. The last time I wantedget them over with and ended up burning myself out. With ARR, I found a nice balance by doing a few quests throughout the week and spending a larger chunk of time with the game on the weekends.

This time I’m going to get to Heavensward!

Titan Who?

I spent a lot less time in Final Fantasy XIV last weekend than I was planning. My wife’s 10 year old car finally died and most of the weekend was spent figuring out how to replace it. I was able to log in for a little bit and knock out more of the MSQ and a couple Black Mage class quests.

From my first playthrough of A Realm Reborn, I clearly remember everything leading up to Ifrit. But in between Ifrit and Garuda I was drawing a black. I remembered snippets like the Brayflox Longstop dungeon and meeting a “member” of the Company of Heroes somewhere outside of Limsa Lominsa. But that’s about it. I was drawing a blank on what Titan looked like or what the fight was actually like. Even when I was in there I couldn’t recall ever doing it. Lucky for me, it was easy to figure out what I was suppose to do once I was in there.

I’m sure there will be more large swaths of story coming up that I’ll have no recollection of either. I have no idea what happens between the Garuda fight and the end dungeons with all those unskipable cutscenes. Or anything that happens in between the end of A Realm Reborn and the start of Heavensward.

I’ve said it before but there’s something about the writing or delivery of dialogue in FFXIV that requires me to either pay full attention or miss out completely on what’s being said. So part of it is I’m actively paying more attention this time around and picking things up I didn’t catch before. The other major factor is that I’m playing on PC rather than PS4 this time. I find it’s way easier for me to read on my monitor rather than the TV.

I’m hoping to get some more play time in this week to advance the story some more. It’s a race to see if I can get in to Heavensward and play actual new to me content before my interest in the game fades again.