Monday, March 04, 2024

New World New Drip

 To go with my Frigid Inferno (heavy fire staff / sword and shield) build I updated my transmog in New World.  I wanted to lean into the Frigid Dawn armor set and ice theme.

A screenshot from the MMORPG New World showing my transmog armor and weapon skins focused on Frigid Dawn armor set.
Stone cold.

  All of the armor pieces are the Frigid Dawn base skin except for the chest which I kept as the Arisen Commander skin with a silver blue dye to blend in the colors.  The firestaff skin is Sizzling Snow (which you can get via crafting one of the event patterns (1, 2, 3) if the patterns are available on your server's trading post).

 Not shown, but similiar to the firestaff the shield skin is Frigid Bulwark from the winter event patterns. The only other change I've thought about is making the sword have the Iceburst skin.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 01, 2024

Ashes of Creation Commissions

ashes of creation

 Ashes of Creation released its monthly development update featuring it's version of quests called commissions.  Watch the video and hit the jump for my thoughts.

 I have to admit the game looks visually better with each developer update and that stands out the moment the demo starts.  I am really digging the look of the town (called nodes) and it is still crazy to think most of these towns will be player placed and upgraded.

 The demo shows commissions which immediately brought "quest boards" to mind of every MMO in recent memory.  However, the difference that eventually pays off in the demo is that the commissions feed into more and more of what Ashes is advertising as it's main attraction: a living and dynamic world.

 Think of the commission as a kick start to get players out of town and into the opportunity to unlock a chain of events that contributes to a dynamic change in the world.  Players can of course just skip the opportunity as Steven does in the demo and get a train of enemies rolling around, but more exciting was to see the world change as different actions are taken.  

 In the video we get to see a sudden thunderstorm form as new enemies appear in an open world event.  The event intertwines with other quests in the area before hinting at unlocking a larger transformational world event at the end of the video.  

 Plenty of MMOs have dynamic open world events, but the "revolution" Ashes hints at is that all actions are leading to changes in the world that are stickier than other games.  A real "fear of missing out" model where server 1 will be different than server 2.  Add in the nodes mentioned earlier and the game is starting to show the real possibility to be that revolution we've all wanted in the MMORPG genre.

 This isn't to say all of it was revolutionary.  There was still the same old static -- I will never move from this spot - quest givers.  Enemy AI wasn't all that impressive; easily defeated by the age old tactic of running away.  Combat looks noisy (too many effects) and for a few updates has shown a favor towards kiting enemies.

 While I could nitpick more I won't.  I am cautiously continuing to grow excited about the possibilities of this game.  With only Alpha 2 planned for this year there is still along road to go here for betas and a launch, but its going to be a fun one to check out each month in the developer updates.


Thursday, February 29, 2024

The hypocrisy of posting on a blog in 2024

 Create a post on X (or whatever social media of choice) and share it on a site like a video game's forums and it's cool.  But create content on your own blog you've run for 19+ years to share and you are just a bottom sucker of the Internet.  Just blogging things.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

New World: Season 5 Artifact Changes

 New World has an update on the public test realm (PTR) for the new artifacts coming in Season 5 (March 2024).  The biggest change is to Phoenix (the new amulet artifact).  The changes are covered in the following YouTube video from TrickTrick.

 As noted the big change is to Phoenix.  The initial version had a perk that was a copy of the original Defy Death ability for Hatchet.... which was long ago nerfed out of existence in the game. As expected there was an uproar in the community that it would be coming back on an amulet that anyone could use.  Fortunately the developers changed how it will work with Phoenix.  The new PTR wording is below:

Phoenix Vengeance: When you receive lethal damage, avoid death and become invulnerable for 4s, after which you die. (180s cooldown).

 The last part is the key: the player will die no after the four seconds expires giving them a last hurrah before taking their dirt nap! However, as noted in the video there is a way on PTR using Ice Gauntlet's Entombed ability for a player to avoid the "die" portion.  That has to be fixed or this is going to be abused.  Even with that oversight fixed this is still going to be strong; especially for those players that love diving into piles knowing they are going to die anyways and just want to take a few folks down with them.

 The spear artifact Venom was changed to only trigger on heavy melee attacks from the other equipped weapon.  Previously it included ranged attacks so, as an example, bow heavy attacks triggered Venom.  Ranged weapons are already very strong in the game and this would of made them even stronger.  This is a good change.

 The third artifact changed was the Tempest Fury Great Axe where Keen Speed was replaced with Refreshing Move.  This was a sensible change since the weapon already has a ton of speed boost built into it and didn't need anything extra.  Refreshing Move is a sought after perk on Great Axes for bruiser builds in war and as called out in the video by TrickTrick this will likely see some action in wars.  Personally I am going to try a "spin to win" build with the Fortifying Whirlwind aspect.

Monday, February 26, 2024

No Man's Sky Screenshots

 Just a few screenshots from trying out No Man's Sky this weekend as part of it's free weekend.  The game seems very complex but I was digging it after about an hour of play. I got blown up in space though so ended up on a planet repairing my ship which requires me to build a base first to craft all the repair parts. The systems seem to go very deep so a bit of a learning curve that I didn't get to explore further as the free weekend expired.

no mans sky screenshot

no mans sky screenshot

no mans sky screenshot
Floating space junk I never got around to exploring

no mans sky screenshot
Look ma! I'm a space man!


Monday, February 19, 2024

Blue Sky


 Just a quick note today; you can find me enjoying myself over at Blue Sky:

 No; this doesn't replace Mastodon (via's instance) for me. As I posted on Mastodon here is how I look at the two:

Mastodon via is my comfy local coffee shop where I can stop in and have a long sit and a comfy chat.

Blue Sky is a busy airport where I whizz by and get whizzed by; when something catches my eye I veer off course to check it out.  I'm as likely to chat about a hot new book release as I'm to be caught staring at the sports game on a TV.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Back to Back First Place in Outpost Rush

 Crushed a couple Outpost Rush matches back to back in New World landing first place both times and walking away with wins in very competitive matches (as opposed to getting rolled or doing the rolling).

new world opr
W: 1000 to 741 / 13 kills, 43 assists, 3 deaths

new world opr
W: 1000 to 911 (close!) / 6 kills, 55 assists, 2 deaths

Thursday, February 15, 2024

New World PTR Patch Notes: Season of the Guardian

excited for patch notes
Patch notes!  The best kind of present!

 For Valentine's Day we received the patch notes for the upcoming public test realm (PTR) updates for New World's Season of the Guardian update! Lots of exciting changes here so let's read through the finer details.

 First; I had a prior post going over the bigger topics so don't want to rehash them here.  You can read that here: Exciting Changes Coming to New World.  That post covers the new 10 man trial, the new artifacts, controller support, main story redesign, cooking overhaul, and magnify changes.  For this post I'll key into other notes.

 The big one of course relates to fort doors in Outpost Rush (OPR); currently the true invincible end boss of the PvP game mode!  

We are implementing the following changes to address ongoing feedback regarding OPR gate strength, while still being mindful of PvE players who prefer focusing on building up fort structures. We will continue to monitor feedback on this topic and consider further changes as necessary.
  • Added a 50% weakness for Siege damage to fort gate doors, allowing siege weaponry (e.g., powder kegs) to deal bonus damage to these structures.

  • Reduced the Strike/Slash absorption of fort gate doors from 10% Strike/20% Slash to 0% for both, ensuring that Strike and Slash damage types are not reduced when attacking gates. We aim for melee to have a bit of an advantage on the gates, as Thrust/Elemental damage is more prevalent in ranged weapons than melee.
  • Increased build and repair time for fort gate doors by 25% for the T2 gate and 50% for the T3 gate, reducing the strength of each repair tick.

 This change should make doors less invincible and more of a speedbump as they should be.  The change is looking to strike a balance between attacker and defender which is good.

 More changes are coming to equip loads.  The notes:

Equip Load Changes
  • Medium equip load is now the baseline, with damage, crowd control durations, outgoing healing, and block stability values adjusted to 0 across the board.
  •  Heavy equip load: has a 20% decrease to incoming CC status effect durations and +15% block stability. Trade-offs of -15% damage and -30% outgoing healing. Also has increased threat generation from taunting gems and perks to account for the decrease in damage output.
  • Light equip load: has +15% damage and +30% outgoing healing. Trade-offs of -15% block stability and +10% incoming CC status effect durations.


Medium: good change.  Medium lacked an identity and while "default" isn't sexy it is at least something.

Heavy: this feels like a damage nerf but I need the experts to break this down for me on what it really means.  The rest seems fine and I am trying to figure out if this means the 55 stamina dodge is gone in favor of 50 stamina dodge again.

Light: similar to heavy; this feels like a damage nerf but need experts to weigh in.  I don't like that the healing boost is so much in light.  Feel sorry for healers being boxed into light so aggressively.

 Another small change I caught in the notes: "Players now have limited rotation while dodging forwards or backwards."  I believe this is related to players being able to pull of some very fancy dodges that are frankly annoying because they defy the logic of the characters current position vs where they can get to with the dodge.  Maybe this will correct that.

 Yay! "Increased the total number of active artifact quests a player can have simultaneously in progress from 5 to 10."

 Boo! My heavy flamethrower build keeps getting beat up! "Ensured mana regen does not occur while Flamethrower is active"

 It's the little things that matter (and now count!): "Killing small prey with a mount now progresses quest objectives and awards XP."

 Also hiding in the notes was an extensive section on changes to PvP ranks and rewards from the track.  Over all the rewards will be better the higher rank you are including higher gearscore of armor/weapon rewards.  Proof will be in the pudding and I feel sorry for lower rank players who will still be getting basically worthless gear rewards since lower ranks will have lower gearscore rewards.  For those of us at Rank 200 this should be a good change.

 The magnify changes are also written out so it is good to read that you can choose between how it works today and the new model where you pick the attribute.  Somewhat confirms we can still use magnify to split stats if you do it correctly (for example  I can get 300/300 with my current build which has 7 magnify pieces).  Exact wording below:

Adjusted how Magnify functions. Magnify now has a drop down on the attribute screen, and players are able to pick between Highest Stat (current functionality) or any of the other core attributes. If picking a core attribute like Strength, all of your magnify points will convert to Strength.
 Next, and maybe I am just hopeful for the future, there is mention of a seal extractor.  I am hoping this lays the ground work for other types of extractors to get valuable resources out of our gear.

Added Seal Extractors to the Faction Shops, allowing adventurers to remove custom attribute seals from their faction armor and revert its attribute back to Constitution.

 And last but not least: "Increased player wallet coin cap from 500,000 to 1,000,000."  Now if I could only get more than 500k gold :(

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

New World Year of the Dragon Event

 New World's mini event, Year of the Dragon, has been active for a bit.  It is a light weight event with light weight rewards to go with it. 

new world year of the dragon
Burning down the Year of the Dragon with my flamethrower!

 The good thing about the event is it is quick to participate in each day.  The bad thing about the event is that there is no challenge to it; even if you are doing the world event solo.  I don't mind that there is easy content, but this is too easy.  A little more challenge would have been welcome.

 As far as rewards AGS continues to trend of event rewards being 675 GS which effectively makes them worthless as 675+ GS gear is easy to come by.  The skins are not even all that special so there isn't a transmog driver.

 The event does introduce a new consumable, the Spicy Hotpot, that grants bonus faction token gain for an hour.  You can only get one per day so it is a premium consumable and lots of folks are willing to pay a good price for yours if you are open to selling (I sold mine the first day for 1500; now averaging about 800 per day).

 Over all a forgettable event but one I don't mind hitting daily for the minimal rewards.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Exciting Changes Coming to New World

 We don't have the 2024 road map from the New World developers, but we did get news on some other exciting changes coming over the next few months.  The team has rewritten the code for the combat engine, are launching a new 10-man trial, and are bringing back some seasonal events.  Watch the update below and read on for my thoughts.

Too long/didn't watch summary on Reddit: LINK 

 First, the roadmap update has been pushed out to June.  It sounded like something "major" internally is causing the delay.  With controller support coming soon there is a lot of assumptions about a console release and a big update to go with it.

 A new 10-man trial was announced.  It was specifically mentioned to be targeted at pick up groups so difficulty level is expected to be "easy".  I feel this is a miss. There is no shortage of "easy" content in this game (Mutation level 3 and the Sandwurm 20-man raid being the only real challenging content).  The game needs new harder content and the 10-man trial could have been that (or at least bring a mutator system to it).

new world phoenix artifact
Phoenix? Broken?
 We will also get a slew of new artifacts.  The one causing alarm is Phoenix; an amulet that grants a two second invulnerability period upon reaching zero life.  This is the same as the original "defy death" on the hatchet which was too strong and nerfed so I am not sure how the team thinks adding it back on an amulet makes sense.  I foresee a lot of complaints if this makes it live as shown in the video (screenshot at right).

 As alluded to up front controller support is coming with this update.  I do own a Steam controller but not sure I will be interested in giving it a try.  The little bit they showed off did not seem like it'd be much fun to have to use (they showed a cursor being moved around by controller like it was a mouse instead of a more controller native interface where you press left/right/up/down to move through items).  It will also bring "aim assist" and "target lock on" which was stated as PvE only.  This is  concerning if in any way it makes it into PvP.

 The main story quest redesign for 1-60 will now be complete.  Personally, as I've shared before, I think this was a waste of time.  I don't like the new narrative as it dramatically differs from the original concept of New World.  Instead of mysterious island in the age of discovery we have morphed into King Arthur and rehashed fantasy. 

 Cooking is getting an overhaul.  I am looking forward to this as most of the cooking recipes are pointless.  Consolidation and simplification of recipes will go a long way to improving the profession.  I am also hopeful recipes will use a wider range of ingredients vs some of the most useful recipes being very strict on ingredients (and thus one ingredient is disproportionately more valuable than others of the same tier/effort to gather).

 Mounts will be allowed in Outpost Rush.  Finally.

 Most exciting in the news is the combat engine overhaul.  This is not a change to skills or balancing, but a code rewrite.  The developers noted that this will allow them to better isolate and troubleshoot problematic areas like desync where the server and client don't match up to what a player sees.  The revamp should also give better performance over all, but it was noted it may take a couple releases to realize that improvement.  I suspect this took a massive effort on the developers part so I am keen to see what this does and while not targeting balance it likely will influence build choices that may have performed poorly before but now are more reliable to play.

 Another exciting change was related to Magnify.  Players will now be able to determine the attribute it applies to.  This will make it easier to use pieces with Magnify.  While not ideal in my view the reality is that Magnify was everywhere and needed a better way to manage it.  Personally I've felt they should dial magnify way back to only few items; had they done this then the current system would of been fine.  I am also worried this new approach will eliminate "tricking" Magnify to split across two attributes which is the cornerstone of my current build.

 We are also getting repeat events.  Rabbit's Revenge where we kill lots and lots of rabbits.  Then Springtime Bloom returns. 

 All of this is expected during Season 5 which will kick off on March 12th (TBD exact changes we get on that patch vs later patches).



New World Mutations Updated 2/13/2024

 Just a note to mention I've updated the current mutations (mutated expeditions) in New World on my tracking page: Current New World Mutations


current new world mutations

Thursday, February 08, 2024

New World: Frigid Inferno Build (Heavy FS/SnS Flamethrower) Season 4

 With the 4.0.4 patch in New World the Frigid Dawn armor became craftable in the gypsum kiln and I was able to finish out the gear set I've been wanting to try for a while with my heavy armor firestaff + sword and shield (FS/SnS) build.

 New World Buddy Link: Click Here

 Build summary: high defense with high damage (relative to heavy armor builds) focused on the use of Flamethrower to pressure opponents.  High CON combined with lifesteal, improved potion healing, and fortify.

 How I play it:

 PvE: flamethrower on.  Repeat.  It's that simple.

 PvP: the key to success with the build is understanding how your opponent feels pressure.  Stacking up 5x burn stacks + landing a big fireball at point blank range can make folks panic.  Burn out and leaping strike let's you close in for the kills.  However, getting to the point where you can stack that pressure takes some practice.  

 This build is not going to net a ton of solo 1v1 kills unless you have a stubborn opponent that sticks around.  This build however will win a surprising number of 1vX situations because enemies often have a level of comfort in having you outnumbered but flamethrower and fireball let you hit multiple targets.  I've had multiple fights in Outpost Rush (OPR) where it started 1v1 and I could not close the kill out only to have it turn into a 1v2 and get both kills because players stop trying to run away until its too late.

 However, solo is not where this build shines.  It works best in group play; whether just 3v3 or in war or OPR.  The best strategy is to follow close behind other heavy players; especially those that lay down a lot of crowd control, stuns, or disruption.  You don't want to be directly in the clumps but just on the edge flamethrowing in.

 Another strength of this build due to it's defense and high health pool is pushing through frontlines into backlines.  In OPR fights emerge on the roads often and can stalemate if no one pushes the other sides backline.  Unlike light ranged builds that tend to skirt the sides to get at the backline the heavy flamethrower can burn out through the frontline right into the backline.  This will end in death if your team doesn't follow but many times the initial burn out damage is enough to get backline players to scatter like cock roaches.

 With firestaff remember that Inferno does extra damage up close so while its enticing to lob that fireball at a distance to start a fight it is much better to save that fireball to get a quick burst of damage up close.  Many of my kills come from turning off flamethrower and sticking a fireball in their face.  Fireball is also great for getting folks running away at low health. 

 Since we have lifesteal and divine to improve it you can "race" other flamethrowers.  Heavy, medium, and light flamethrowers are all over the place and nothing is more satisfying than winning that race.  Flamethrower enjoyers are a stubborn lot; we always assume we're going to win the flame race.

 Don't underestimate the sword either.  A well timed leaping strike can change a fight or get you out of a sticky situation; just keep in mind it will track to the nearest enemy and not always just leap where you expect it to.  Leading off with a shield rush and three light attacks can stack debuffs in your opponent before pulling out the flamethrower.  A rended target from the light attack chain can be cleaned up quick with a big ole' fireball and some flamethrower action.

 The bane of the build is anything that has multiple interrupts.  If you can't keep flamethrower going you are at a disadvantage.  In group combat you have to be aware of disrupt builds which will shut you down. If you are expecting to get disrupted make sure to end flamethrower so you don't get interrupted with it active and suffer the cooldown.  You can end flamethrower by dodging or other actions and then turn it back on.  It takes practice; the transition to on/off with flamethrower is not as smooth as other abilities in the game.

 Attributes: 300 INT / 300 CON - due to so many magnify pieces this is the only stat split possible.

 Gear (see screenshot for full details)

  • Armor
    • Void Darkplate chest (artifact)
    • Frigid Dawn for head, legs, hands, and feet
    • Key armor perks
      • Critical Retribution
      • Accelerating Flamethrower
      • Fortifying Burnout
  • Weapons
    • Inferno (firestaff artifact)
      • Upgraded perk is Flame Attunement; may try a full Lifesteal build in the future with leeching on it
    • Sword / Shield
      • Empowering leaping strike
      • Ruby conversion gem (otherwise damage is super low)
      • CON or INT depending on other pieces
  • Jewelry
    • Amulet perks: Divine and Health are key
      • I opt for Fortified to maximize fortify duration from the rest of the build.  Fortify goes a long way in this game.
    • Ring perks: Fire damage
      • The rest is open to your playstyle; I prefer the leeching for the extra health back.  Invigorated Punishment I am not sold on but I spent A LOT of gold on this ring so I'm using it!
    • Earring: Endless Thirst (artifact) with Regenerating upgrade

Embedded build from NW Buddy

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

New World Frigid Dawn CRAFTING!

 Hallelujah! Frigid Dawn armor is now craftable in the Gypsum Kiln in New World as of the 4.0.4 patch today (2/7/2024)!  It costs 3500 dense mutator materia per piece.  Enjoy!

frigid dawn crafting new world
There it is!

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

So... about the ad spam on the blog

ads on blog
Step 3: Profit?

 I have not had a payout from Google Adsense since 2014.  That is because I stopped running ads on the blog all those years ago.  Out of curiosity after hearing about what others were making with similar traffic I wanted to test the waters again.  Here are the results from a month-ish of auto ads!

 First, I want to apologize to any visitors that felt the ads were over the top.  I did opt to use Google's "auto ads" that, to be honest, pukes ads all over the page.  I did verify with my own ad blockers that this was not skirting common ad blocks so if you block ads you were seeing the nice clean site that existed before.  If you didn't block ads... well... sorry.

 For context of how much traffic the blog sees; the blog enjoys about 600-1000 visitors a day.  New posts usually hit anywhere from 50 to 100 views in the first day.  My top performing search areas from Google and Bing are around the game New World.  For the month (and a couple days) the auto ads were on we hit 30,000 visits.  A normal month of traffic.

 Before we get to the "how much did I earn" let's look at some things I learned

  • Auto ads ruins page experience.  It causes longer loading times and increased bounce rate (i.e. visitors exiting the site as soon as it opens).

    • graph

  • It may have reduced visits to new posts.  I can't prove this conclusively but new posts FEEL LIKE they had fewer visits their first day than I am used to.
  • Even with ads spamming the page my visitors don't click on them.  There were only a few clicks over the entire month across hundreds of thousands of ad impressions.

 So the real question: how much did I make?  The answer: $1.  I rounded down because does it really matter it was $1.47 and not just $1?  For the level of invasion the ads had it was simply not worth it.  I will also not see that dollar anytime soon because the minimum payout is $100.

 What's next?  I am actually going to keep ads on but use static placement in areas that are not obtrusive.  I will re-evaluate after a month.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Ashes of Creation PvP

ashes of creation PvP

  Ashes of Creation's most recent update focused on their caravan system, including PvP, and boy did it impress!

 I've beat up on past updates from Ashes for lacking in showing a cohesive game experience.  The updates were often lacking UI and failed to show complete game loops.  With this update, which was titled "the PvP update", we got to see a lot more than PvP.  We saw complete game loops with the back drop of players battling it out.

 What impressed me the most was actually the caravan and I'd argue this update was better in regards to caravans than the prior caravan update.   We got to see a caravan get ambushed and stolen.  The team showed off how caravans can be converted to barges and floated down river.  All of it worked with no issues (at least nothing obvious).

 My favorite part was watching the caravan convert into a barge.  The system seemed well thought out and featured complex visual stages for this early in the game's development.  The players had to defend the barge while it was converting and there was a sense of excitement as it pushed off just as the attackers pushed in.

 At the end of the event the caravan was back in town and stolen goods were taken care of.  I like that towns will have variety based on how they are "leveled up"; in the case of this video with a black market dealer.  This should hopefully lead to opportunities to make a niche for a town.  Hopefully there is a "if you take this; you can't take that" balance to it so towns don't become "everything".

 What I think this developer update lacked the most was the actual PvP.  We saw players slinging spells and arrows at each other but we really didn't get into the nuance of PvP.  The combat looked smooth and there was a variety of actions being taken, but no details on anything.  We saw stealth players ambushing and melee players leaping into the fight.  One poor soul was insta-gibbed.

 I'd like to have seen more around the nuance of combat; especially with PvP hot topics such as crow control, stealth, and ranged vs melee balance.  Also with the system as a whole there is going to be A LOT of questions about how griefing and exploitation will be addressed.  It was mentioned that spying on an opposing caravan's plans was a legitimate tactic they expected players to take.  

 Spying which is likely to occur outside the game... which brings into the question how are developers balancing that? What happens its the result of a hacked account? Or a hacked Discord server? Or if real life money exchanges hands for the info?  I forsee this being a huge sticking point for this game with it's desires to have PvP as a countering force in the world against other player's activities.

 The video did somewhat show that numbers will be a key aspect as well which is going to upset a lot of the PvP tryhards. Bigger forces (i.e. zergs) will smash smaller forces.  I don't see anyway around that yet in a PvP experience that is built around anyone being able to show up at any time.  Ashes is going to have to start answering these questions or it's going to be trial by fire and getting screwed over on something like this is 100% something players will quit a game over.

 While there are long standing questions on open world PvP that will need answering this update still showed a lot of promise.  Its cool to see where the game is at and where it is headed.  I did not buy into the Alpha 2 packages but I can see why players would have bought in to get early hands on with this type of gameplay.  The game is still a ways out but my interest continues to grow.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Nightingale Playtest Screenshots

 Some screenshots from the stress test for Nightingale.

nightingale screenshot
Promising opening

nightingale screenshot

nightingale screenshot
Bits of wood come off as you chop a tree down

nightingale screenshot
Bigger tree; more chopping required

nightingale screenshot
Campfire: the survival game basic

nightingale screenshot
The start of a home

nightingale screenshot
A bit dark but my house is in the darkness

Friday, February 02, 2024

Nightingale Playtest TODAY ONLY - DON'T MISS!


Update: 4p ET - test has been extended extra hours: Stress Test Extended Until 7 pm MST (6 pm PST, 9 pm EST, and 2 am GMT) 

Nightingale has a limited-time playtest today.  Sign up now so you don't miss.  DukeSloth covers more in the below video.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Day 2: Enshrouded

 I've continued my adventures into Enshrouded and am proud to report: I built a home... with a roof!  And I have workers!

enshrouded screenshot
It's not much but I built it myself!

 The core loop of Enshrouded: collect stuff, take it back home, and build stuff.  Then repeat.  Any other system is essentially a system of support to that core loop.  For Day 2 I found myself out and about gathering stone, wood logs, and .... tar? Yes, tar.

 The basic wall and floor building blocks in Enshrouded just require stone or wooden blocks; both easily attained and crafted.   I was even able to save a bit on resources by using walls with windows instead of solid walls.  Now I just needed to add a roof and to have something qualified as a roof it's a bit trickier.  As far as I could tell the most cost-efficient roofing option is tarred wood roof.  Wood? Easy. Tar? Where do I get tar?

 I had remembered that I could get tar from accidentally burning food or picking up an expired campfire but that nets one tar at a time.  That wasn't going to work for the hundreds I needed for a proper roof to my box-shaped home.

 In steps the Blacksmith.  Actually first came the Google search "where do you get tar in Enshrouded?". That lead me to needing the Blacksmith which pointed out to me that I needed to actually do some of these quests piling up in my journal.  That is a small gripe I have with the game so far; it doesn't really give me an idea of what is all possible with the building toolset.  

 Through quests or upgrading your flame alter new things become available, but until you meet those moments you don't know the possibilities.  Ideally the game would have a tech tree that I could explore that shows me all the possibilities.  It wouldn't need to explain exactly how to unlock them, but just show that they are possible and give a nudge in the right direction. 

 With my Google knowledge in hand I completed the blacksmith quest and summoned my first worker and with it unlocked new crafting stations.  Now I could set up the kiln to pump out tar in larger quantities.  A tarred roof was in sight (and in the screenshot above)!  If you wanted to see more about the crafting station a few of them are in the beginning of this Enshrouded video on YouTube.

 Knowing that NPC workers were the key to further progression I prioritized those quests.  I upgraded my armor with the blacksmith and off I went.  I now have the hunter, farmer, and alchemist.  Next up is the carpenter who I hear has all sorts of exciting stuff (like magic storage that lets you craft using items in the magic storage!).

 Also with the farmer I can take part in one of my favorite hobbies in digital form: gardening/farming!

 More screenshots:

enshrouded screenshot
Night time at the house!

enshrouded screenshot
Kiln interface

enshrouded screenshot
Nighttime shot overlooking an enshrouded area

enshrouded screenshot
House fire? Nope.  Just an eternal flame altar.

enshrouded screenshot
Diggin' holes.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Lions gonna Lion

 As a Packers fan there are oh so many memes fit the occasion for the Lions.  Some of my favorites:

 First time blowing a double digit lead in the NFC Championship Game?

Not gonna lie; they had me in the first half.  Premature celebration?


Sunday, January 28, 2024

Friday, January 26, 2024

Day 1: Enshrouded

 I took the plunge and grabbed Enshrouded on Steam.  Here are some thoughts at initial glance (about 30 minutes of play).  Welcome to a new world heartlessgamer!

enshrouded start
Straight out of the pot!

 The game dumped me out of a metal pot and off I went through a series of caves; well that is only if the player opts to go into the caves.  My first attempt was jumping off the cliff and enjoying my first "you died" screen.  I will have to break some habits from New World where fall damage is not a consideration!

enshrouded death screen
Who knew you'd die jumping off a cliff?

 Once I took the subtle hint to follow the glowing sprite to the caves I hit the tutorial.  This sequence introduced inventory management, basic traversal, and combat. As far as introductions goes it didn't overstay its welcome and I left with what I needed to play the game.

 In short order I was off into the world.  While there was a quest to build my starting alter there were no guard rails preventing me from venturing off into the world.  Sure enough a goat caught my attention and off I went chasing.  I did double back and build my alter, craft a few items, and then placed a camp fire.

 I had nabbed some mushrooms and rabbit meat while venturing so I sat down to cook them over the fire.  Unlike other games with recipe screens and progress bars I was pleasantly surprised to see my character pull out a skewer and roast the food over the fire.  Even more surprising was burning my first mushroom by holding it over the fire a bit too long.  While neat to start I can imagine I'll get tired of cooking in this fashion later on.  Hopefully I can find a cook or get an automatic oven!

 After making my food was cooked I opted to run off to the next quest marker.  It took me through one of the games namesake areas cloaked in shroud.  The quest took me through the area and promptly handed me my second, third, and fourth deaths.  Wolves and other baddies are around the quest area and while they are only level 3 (I am level 2) they are not slouches and easily killed me each time.

 That is where my Day 1 ended after about 30 minutes of play.  I enjoyed the start, but felt combat was a bit clunky.  Dodge and attacks felt very unresponsive, but that may be an offshoot of playing New World which has a very responsive combat system.  I suspect that attacks/dodges get faster as well the higher level I get in the game.

 I see some promise in the game and it is a nice break from MMOs.  My oldest son is looking to play as well so looking forward to some multiplayer hijinks.  I also want to get into some building and get my "cabin with a garden". 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

New World Cooking Changes? +Bonus Q&A!

 New World's 4.0.3 patch is coming tonight.  Check out the notes here and watch the breakdown video below.  Jump past that for some comments and wild speculation about cooking changes!

 This is a relatively small patch with various bug fixes, but hiding in the notes was a mention about future cooking tradeskill changes!

Legendary Fish

    To set the groundwork for Cooking Trade Skill changes coming next season, Legendary Fish will now require a higher Luck stat to catch.

 Let's speculate wildly!

 So what could be changing with cooking trade skills?  My initial guess would be removing some of the legendary fish from recipes that are needed for common consumables.  It was always a bit crazy that certain attribute foods required legendary fish while others required rabbit meat which is far more plentiful.

 That level of change is boring though so lets speculate further!  I'd love to see New World move into a model where buff food had a much longer duration and thus required more investment in terms of resources to craft the meals.  Or allow us to slot stacks of food that get auto consumed so we dont have to think about it when one wears out; it just keeps consuming until it's empty.  Thus they could be tied to gear sets easier and give more value to gear sets!

 One thing I'd also steal from Guild Wars 2 is "feasts" where a single player an set up a "feast" that other players can interact with to get a buff.  I'd prefer it be part of the housing system so folks have to enter a house and interact with something to get the buff.  This would help avoiding more spam in crowded towns and give additional value to housing which is underutilized.

 Another cooking change I'd love to see is getting rid of crafting skill foods.  It is dumb that you need to consume something that will last for an hour+ when you are crafting for just a few minutes at most even if you are doing large crafting requests.

 Interested to see where this goes!

 Wrapping up there was also a bonus community Q&A in the notes regarding server merges.  Summarized: we listened when you asked us not to merge, but still need to do some merges.  In the future we'll do less merges because we'll have more cross-server activities.  Which I agree with.  Enough said.

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Monday After Post (Packers 2023 Season Wrap Up)

 If I had a heart I'd be heartbroken.  The Packer's Cinderella season came to an end against the 49ers this past weekend.  Thus it is time to wrap up my thoughts on this unexpected season.

 Like many Packer fans I can admit this year's playoff run was unexpected and it felt like the team was "playing with house money". We squeaked into the play offs with the youngest team in the league in what was otherwise a "rebuilding years" so I am grateful for the extra games, but I am also disappointed in how it ended.

packers lose to 49ers coach prays for FG kicks
 To summarize the loss to the 49ers: missed opportunities.  For the majority of the game the Packers looked like the #1 seed and the 49ers looked like the intimidated #7 seed.  In the end though the Packers couldn't close the game out and unfortunately just as a missed field goal by New Orleans early in the season helped us make it into the play offs; a missed field goal is also what helped see us out of the play offs. 

 The field goal was not the only missed opportunity in the 49ers game.  The Packers had multiple trips to the red zone and came away with field goals or gave the ball back on downs (tush push is stupid; stop trying it).  The defense dropped multiple easy interceptions.  Last, but not least, Jordon Love -- for all the praise he deserves for turning it around this season -- regressed back to his early season form on the potential game winning drive and threw an unexplainable game losing interception (I am still baffled on what he thought he was doing).  We hadn't seen a WTF play off INT like this since Favre!

 The season ended on a heartbreaker, but the future seems bright.  The season was full of surprises from this team.  We got to see Jordon Love prove he deserve the starting spot after a rocky stretch early in the season.  The ownership of the Chicago Bears, including a season ending win-and-in game, remains intact.  Young players on offense earned their spot on the roster.  Most importantly: the team is playing as a team.

 If there are any red flags from the season they are the defense and special teams units.  I don't get how the Packers, over multiple decades now, have been unable to field a capable special teams unit.  While we had Mason Crosby reliably making kicks for years the rest of the unit struggled in the return game and punts.  Now the return game seems in good shape (mostly thanks to NFL rules changes), but the kicking game with a rookie kicker struggled and ultimately missed at the worst possible time in a play off game.

 As far as the defense I don't want to be too much in the "FIRE JOE BERRY!" camp.  Folks seem to forget early in the season when Jordon Love and the offense were struggling the defense kept us in many games we'd otherwise not have been.  Eventually the offensive struggles flip flopped with the defensive struggles and the defense struggled through the end of year and ultimately gave up the go ahead score in the last play off game.  With the full season in scope I am 50/50 on the defense.  I like consistency in coaching staff but also don't think Joe Berry's track record is that strong.  I would not be surprised with a change here.  Oh and I am still pissed they ever got rid of Mike Pettine who did nothing but deliver top 10 defenses...

 What started as a rebuilding year ended with the Packers going toe to toe with the best teams in the NFC.  Through the season the front office's decision to draft Jordan Love has been validated should he keep his current trajectory into future seasons.  The Packers are a team on the rise and the future is bright.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Final Thoughts Before Packers v 49ers


packers vs 49ers

 The Packers shocked the NFL world last week sending the Dallas Cowboys packing and moving on to the divisional round to face off against the 49ers.  Here are some final thoughts heading into kick off.

 The story of the 2023 Packers is a story of nobodies.  If you asked the average NFL fan at the start of the year to name a Packers player they maybe could give you Aaron Jones or Jordan Love.  Past that there really was no one.  This is the youngest team in the league.  Not even fans did we know the players even if we maybe knew a few more of the names.

 And it is that team of "nobodies" that I feel is the strongest point in the Packers favor going into the game against the 49ers.  There is a lot to be said for a team that doesn't know who they are or what they are supposed to be capable of.  There is even more to be said for the team that showed up last week and declared they would not go quietly.  

 In fact this team of nobodies is becoming a team of somebodies and that should terrify the 49ers because the big question is who's night is it tonight to make their name known.  Last week it was Love and Doubs (we already knew Aaron Jones owns Dallas).  This week it could be any of the rest of the cast.

 Let's go.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Throne & Liberty Castle Siege INCOMING!

 I just caught the below video for Danneh on YouTube walking through the impending world first castle siege that is going to happen in Throne & Liberty which launched in Korea in December.  The possibilities are just mind boggling and this video 100% increased my interest in the game.

First, the video:

 What jumped out at me is the scale of the fight.  The "castle" is massive with large exterior areas that are fought over before the massive interior of the castle is rushed.  There are multiple points that guilds can fight over to get a piece of the pie at the end.  It also sounds like thousands (yes thousands!) of players will be able to participate.

throne and liberty castle siege
Massive castle map!
 To go with the scale are also the siege golems that can be spawned.  These massive beasts can smash walls or gates or serve as mobile transport (from the video you can see a golem carrying a group of players towards the outer walls).  I am definitely curious to know more about the golems.

 The castle itself also appears to have tons of features that can be destroyed so players aren't forced to bottleneck through a single gate.  Players/golems can smash walls or small groups can sneak inside to open gates (requires multiple players to activate the gates).  This is much more than some simple battleground mode; this is a full on castle siege with variety and different paths to victory!

 The reward for winning also seems massive; translating to thousands of dollars in real world value.  I am sure that will cause some to pause in regards to "gold selling" and "pay 2 win" which is fair but those items are persistent in every game (or game discussion) these days so I'm not going to let them ruin my interest here.  Also key is that it is NOT a winner-take-all system; various guilds can fight over their piece of the pie and none of them appear to get anything if over all a victory is not achieved so this will encourage team work (hopefully!).

 Coming from a game like New World where "end game" PvP "wars" are 30 minute instanced fights for 100 players (50v50) the described siege about to occur in Throne & Liberty seems much more fitting of the title "war".

 I still have reservations about the tab-target / action combat hybrid that Throne features, but I can get past that if there is events like this on the scale (thousands of player's y'all!) that is being talked about.  I've already seen other open world boss fights that occur with PvP active and the number of players present is just crazy!  I really, really want to play this game now!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Looking for feedback on YouTube intro!

Looking for feedback!

I did another thing on the YouTube today.  I played around with Canva to come up with this updated intro clip to use on videos.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

My first Youtube upload in over 12 years!

 I did a thing that I said I was going to do: I made a Youtube video!  My first video upload in -- checks Youtube and blog history -- 12 years!!!  It's been a minute (or 6,307,200+ minutes to be more precise)!  I was mostly encouraged to make the video to show my oldest son some things he could do with his video editing as he ventures off into his video making career.  Also figured this would make a good blog post on how I combined some AI and design tools together to make this thing happen.

 First; the video featuring a race from Asphalt 9 Legends that I've been messing around a bit with lately.

I had a few goals when setting out to do this video

  1. Be done in a day
  2. Use AI tools to make some images
  3. Make use of sound effects
  4. Create an intro and an outro I can use in future videos
  5. Get feedback on how to do better

 In order to be done with this in a day I decided early on that I needed to use a game I am less attached to.  Had this been a New World video I'd probably still be agonizing over what footage to use or how to frame it.  Asphalt 9 Legends was easy because it features super fast races with cinematic mode to capture the footage.

 I did hit some issues on capture so will be looking for feedback and suggestions.  I used AMD's software to do the recording.  The game play was smooth but the video had some hitches and it didn't record in a format that I could use in Camtasia 2021 (I use this to chop up videos for work).  I had to use Handbrake to encode the video recorded in AMD and after that encoding, even after playing around with settings a few times, it had a lot of freezes as can be seen in the final product.

 Also AMD records my mouse cursor over the screen even though it is NOT visible when playing the game.  Maybe I just need to use a different recording method or program?  My son uses Microsoft Gamebar (or whatever comes up hitting Windows + G).  I've also seen suggestions to use OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) for capture.

 Next I wanted to hit some AI tools; mainly image generation.  I used Bing's image generator which to come up with a "Let's Race" and "Crash" images to use in the video.  I used Microsoft Designer to clean the images up and make backgrounds transparent.  It works remarkably well but did find it sort of confusing and/or limited in what it could do.  I had some final editing that I just did in on my local PC.


lets race
Apparently "transparent background" to the AI means a checkered background.  I used Microsoft Designer to remove the background and save it afterwards as truly transparent.

 AI only got me so far.  I've had a catchy tagline I've wanted to use for a while of "To the point, no bull, game play footage." with an asterisk of "*Not a pro gamer", but I couldn't get a decent image with the text so I ended up over in Canva creating my own.  Canva was impressive for my first time using it beyond just copying a template from it!  It also converted my work to short MP4 videos for easy use including a subscribe animation!  Static copies of the intro and outro I created.

created with canva
Intro (created with Canva)

created with canva
Outro (created with Canva)

 I also learned about Youtube's audio library which I nabbed some sound effects and free music from for the video.  This was honestly an amazing free resource that I think should be recommended more; there is a ton to pick from.

 So enjoy and I hope this maybe inspires some creativity out there!  If this old gamer can do it so can you.  Maybe even my kid will pick something up here from his old man!