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.

Preparing for Combat in Melvor

This week has been all about getting myself set up to take on combat in Melvor. From the onset, I had an idea to level one combat style at a time for a bit of a challenge. I chose to start with Range in homage to my original Runescape character way back in 2007. Of course, I chose one of the more involved styles in terms of gearing. It might not be optimal to do it this way but here I am.

I started with leveling Fishing right off the bat. For one, it’s an idle skill that continues collecting while I’m offline and I also know I’m going to need a lot of food.. The added benefit Fishing first is the chance to receive “junk” instead of fish. Selling the junk early on lead to some decent gold gains so I could purchase more bank slots to…store more junk….

At Fishing level 20 I was able to fish in Lemvor Pier which gives a base 1% chance to fish up a special item. These have been gems so far but there was a tooltip that said some special items can unlock additional fishing areas. Since I didn’t have the crafting level to use the gems I sold them for gold. I spent that gold on better fishing rods so I could fish faster and so the cycle continued. I’m currently sitting at level 68 Fishing and 8k food items after letting it run overnight.

Once I had all of this raw fish I needed to cook it. I had saved all of the fish I caught from each level bracket in hopes of leveling Cooking without having to go back and fish lower level fish. This worked out nicely and my Cooking level has kept pace with my Fishing level. With 55 cooking I can now cook Raw Fanfish which is the highest level fish I can catch in an area with a chance for special items.

With the food situation taken care of, I turned my attention to Woodcutting and Fletching. One of the things I’ve always loved about Runescape, and now Melvor, is how skills flow into each other. I needed to level Woodcutting to gather wood to use to fletch arrow shafts and bows. I needed to level Mining so I could gather ore to use for Smithing to make arrowheads. I ended up getting all of the above up pretty high over the week and I can now make up to Mithril arrows. Those should be a nice mid-tier ammo to start fighting the higher combat level creatures.

The last piece of all this was Crafting. If I had gone with melee I could have been progressively improving my armor and weapons through Smithing. That would have given me 4 tiers of armor and weapons to go through. Unfortunately, there are only 2 tiers of ranged armor: Leather and Hard Leather. Leather was pretty quick to get but the full hard leather set requires getting Crafting to level 50 which took me most of the week. Leather can be bought in the shop but it was a bit expensive when I first started leveling Crafting. So I did dip my toes into the combat system since cows drop up to 3 leather a kill. Cows have a combat level of 2 so after the first few they weren’t much of a challenge. It was just a matter of waiting to kill enough cows and making sure my loot inventory didn’t fill up.

So with a full Hard Leather armor set, a few thousand Mithril Arrows, and a Maple Short Bow, I’m ready to check out combat this weekend!

Melvor Idle: Runescape but Grindier

I went down a Reddit rabbit hole last weekend and ended up in the Incremental Games subreddit. Idle games have fascinated me since I discovered the genre a few years ago. On the surface, they seem pointless. Why would I play a game that plays itself? But when you dig deeper there’s a bit more of a strategy/resource management thing going on. Mix that with some theory crafting for efficiency and now we start to see a game take shape. They’re like really, really, slow Tycoon games.

Idle games happen to be one of my guilty pleasure games. I don’t play them often but when the mood strikes I find them endlessly entertaining. The best ones usually have some form of progression, obtainable goals to work towards, and resets that provide benefits for the next playthrough. They also provide both idle and active play. I’m not so much a fan of the “clicker” games because I happen to like my mouse. I prefer the lower action per minute games where I can turn a nob here or there every so often. Or just leave it to sit offline and gather resources.

I highly recommend Kittens and Trimps as examples of, what I would consider, good idle games. And now I can confidently add Melvor Idle to that list. I’ve been “playing” it a ton this week.

Melvor Idle is what you get when you strip Old School Runescape down to the numbers and skills. Or if you had a bot going 24/7… In fact, you could argue that Runescape is just a really needy idle game already and I wouldn’t disagree.

The game draws a lot of inspiration from Runescape. The skills have the same name and they feed into each other which is something I’ve always loved about Runescape. Surprisingly, combat feels exactly the same as Runescape. That’s probably because Runescape’s combat is fairly simple anyways. But the most important part for me is that the progression (i.e. grind) feels fun and rewarding so far. Not only do the skills level up but there are levels inside of levels called Mastery. I’m a bit iffy on how mastery works right now but it looks like a promising system.

At any rate, it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s holding much more my attention than I thought it would!

NIMBY Rails First Impressions

I had put NIMBY Rails on my Steam Wishlist a while ago before it released back in 2019. I had mostly forgotten about it until I saw an email from Steam pop up on my phone at the end of January.

NIMBY Rails is a railway management sandbox game made by the same devs as The Spatials: Galactology. It gives you the tools to create passenger rail systems anywhere in the world using Open Street Maps. It’s a niche concept but one that I’m finding endlessly entertaining right now. I’ve always been fasinated with maps so building on a detailed world map had been fantastic.

The game is in early access right now but is very playable and has gotten a lot of updates in the 2 weeks it’s been available. Right now, there are two ways to play: with money and with unlimited money. If you want to play a tycoon-like management game playing with money is the way to go. You start out with a loan of 1 billion dollars and can start building anywhere in the world. The goal is to pay off your loan and turn a profit to expand your rail networks. Unlimited money offers more of a creative mode but includes all of the management options as playing with money. It even gives you the accounting stats. Unlimited money seems geared more towards people who want to create real-life rail systems as opposed to imagined ones.

Until recently, playing with money was a bit tedious unless you were building in highly populated cities like Tokyo or Mexico City. The time multiplier only went so high so when you ran out of money you’d just have to wait or leave the game running overnight to generate enough capital to start building again. It turns out rail lines are very expensive. A recent update boosts the game time speed up by x10000 and then throttles down depending on what your CPU can handle. This makes building in smaller areas way more viable as the days pass by in seconds instead of minutes.

I appreciate the simplicity of the game so far. A lot of times with niche simulation games you’re given a lot of complex tools and I spend most of my time figuring out what does what. Which tends to get in the way of actually enjoying the game itself. NIMBY Rails gives me all of the tools I need right off the bat to start creating and offers a short quickstart guide to explain the basics.

There are 3 structures you can build: stations, tracks, and depots. Each structure has 4 types: Groud, Viaduct, Tram, and Tunnels. Each type offers different trade-offs in speed, cost, and placement. For example, Tram tracks and stations can be placed anywhere except over water. They’re the cheapest option but have a max speed of 45 km/h. Ground tracks, on the other hand, have the fastest speeds but overpasses need to be built each time they cross a road which adds another 500K for each overpass. That can rack up quickly, especially when getting into or out of cities. There are plans to add more complex tools like single tracks and signals. For now, I’m enjoying the simplicity.

Once you’ve laid some track the management side of things kicks in. You build lines to carry passengers from one station to another. You set the price for the line, adjust wait time intervals so trains don’t run into each other, and constantly have to balance passenger (pax) satisfaction. The happier the pax, the more of them will show up in stations to ride the trains and the more money you’ll make. I’m finding the building more fun than the management right now. But again, the management tools are powerful without being too complicated.

To top it all off there’s multiplayer. With multiplayer, you share a map and, if you’re playing with money, a budget. Everyone can build anywhere but the time multiplier only goes to x30 right now. You can get around this by taking the save into single player and maxing out the speed. The majority of my playtime so far has been spent in multiplayer with Greg. He has a huge interest in trains so when I told him this game existed with multiplayer he immediately bought it.

Back in Final Fantasy 14 Again

Hey Eorzea, it’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s most assuredly been over a year. Maybe even two.

Checks blog posts….July 2019! Well it has been quite some time.

How did I end up here? Well out of all things it started with getting my account transferred in Black Desert. I had intended to transfer and maybe start up a new character there. But when I logged in the character slots were all filled up. Black Desert has a 1 day character deletion timer so I wasn’t going to be able to play right away. I came across the FFXIV icon on my desktop and decided I would resub and play that again instead. Very much an impulse decision there.

So here I am again faced with the decision to start over or continue where I left off. Considering I don’t remember anything from my last visit to FFXIV it was an easy decision. I’ve made yet another new character. This time on the current preferred server Midgardsormr.

So far, I’ve been really enjoying my time back in Eorzea. I decided to start out as a Thaumaturge since Black mage was the only original class I’ve never tried out. On my last character I want to say I may have gotten it close to 30 but never quite made it there. Also, I always thought the level 50 gear looked really cool too.

The plan is to run through the Main Scenario with the Black Mage and run dungeons with a White Mage at least until the end of A Realm Reborn. I never did get out of ARR in 2019 and I think this will be my second, maybe, third run through the base game.

With the boosted XP from the preferred server I’m blowing through the Main Scenario. It’s much more enjoyable this time around and better paced without having to take breaks to level up in between MSQs. My Black Mage is sitting around level 40 while the MSQ is around level 27 right now. Every time I hit a dungeon for the MSQ I’ve been switching over to the conjurer to get a feel for healing again. Which in turn is keeping that class pretty close in levels. This weekend I did all the class quests to get my White Mage job crystal.

One of the things I’m trying to be conscious of this time around is keeping my focus on reading dialogue text. I don’t know what it is about the way FFXIV delivers the dialogue but if I’m not 100% focused on reading it I’ll read the words without really thinking about what they’re saying. I notice when my mind slips I’ll be 3 paragraphs in and have to figure out what’s going on. As a result of all that, I’m picking up on story bits that I hadn’t before. I remembered the story pretty well up until the first Ifrit fight. But after that, everything has felt brand new to me. Which is great because I don’t feel like I’m running the same old content even though I technically am.

Maybe this year I’ll actually get to see what’s waiting outside A Realm Reborn.