Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tales from the Ark: Clever Guy


After spending a few hours on my own solo play of Ark, I decided to make the jump onto a server with others. It wasn’t a random pick though, I joined Massively OP’s Ark server. It’s set for PvE so I don’t have to worry about other players attacking me, but I wouldn’t have to anyways since it’s a very relaxed server with just a handful of people that play. My kind of pressureless environment.

So I was out exploring the river and beaches around my slice of heaven and came across a small hut that was abandoned by its owner. You can tell because it allows you to demolish it. Active players will reset a timer on their structures to prevent others from just demo’ing it, so this player hasn’t been on in a while.

I thought to go check it out for any loot left behind and noticed the doorway was left open. Suddenly I hear these footsteps rushing up behind me, which pretty much means something very bad. Many creatures have a unique sound they make when you’re near them, and some make a sound when they are going to attack. Large creatures have larger sounding footsteps, but these sound light, and quiet. As a modern major general can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a javelin, I too can pick out the silhouette, movement and sounds of many creatures on the island and I knew only one creature that would attack with this kind of stealth - raptors.

As soon as I was hit, I dashed for the doorway and quickly pushed myself into a corner in the hut. When I turned, there it was, standing in the doorway, staring me down. I only have my simple tools and a crossbow to defend myself, so I pulled out my pickaxe for a fight to the death.

You may go, “but Tyrannodorkus, why not use the crossbow?” And where I’d say “hush you, this was a matter of life and death and I wasn’t thinking.” Besides, raptors move too quickly at close range to reliably hit them with a crossbow, and they are slow to reload. My pickaxe was the best choice.

During my stare down, I noticed two more raptors pass by the door, and I hear more steps around the hut. As I counted, there were seven raptors altogether, SEVEN! I didn’t think they grouped up that largely. It must have been a couple groups that merged together to hunt me.

So I’m ready to take down one or two before my death, but realized as the one in the doorway turns around and circles the hut, they can’t fit through the entrance. Luck and game mechanics were on my side. I used this to my advantage and got close to the door to lure them to the killzone where I’d swing like the dickens. They got a few lucky swipes in there, but I emerged the victor. It felt like the 300 Spartans defending a bottleneck, except I lived in the end. Seven raptor corpses later, I’m now knee deep in raw meat and hide. Huzzah!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ark: Ready for the Hunt


This is just a fun post I wanted to make to share a silly video of mine about Ark.

My journey to manhood was long and dangerous on this island. There’s no civilization except for what we create, the few that live here and survive. The hunt is soon upon us and I’m now of age to join. I only need to prove I’m strong enough to keep up with our best hunters and I can contribute to the tribe.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ark: Breeding System [UPDATE]


[UPDATE] I made an important update to this post down below. My perception on how to feed the baby and how long was skewed by very early experience. I’ve played with the system more and have a better grasp on how it works. [END UPDATE]

My Trike family are now the proud parents of a newborn male baby trike. This adorable little muffin’s name is Kree and packs a huge appetite. I’m constantly looking for berries to feed the hungry little fella, but his future's looking grim.

I have to say I put in a lot of time into hatching this little bugger, keeping the egg within the right temperature. I would stay up all game night and read it stories and sing to it. Now that  it finally hatched, first thing I noticed was how quick he ate berries and how little he would hold. I’m at the stage of feeding him by hand.

So far the mechanic is unbalanced to me, like it was meant to be done by a very large tribe with a big portion of them dedicated towards raising babies. Each hatchling requires constant attention and a constant stream of food. So I was curious how long it would take to raise this baby until it would eat from a food trough.



That’s a lot of time for someone to shove berries down just one trike’s throat. Not to mention another would need to go out and grab those berries unless you spent a lot of time collecting and storing them in a preservation box. I believe the trike was eating a berry every 5 seconds. Doing some math, that would mean I would need about 3,360 berries until this goober would eat from a trough. I would need about 34 stacks of berries and 3 preservation boxes to hold them in.

From the looks of this system, the developers wanted to make breeding a large tribe only thing, which I would have to disagree with. Unless these bred dinos are super dinos once they are fully grown, then this system needs rethinking because I was looking forward to being a dino breeder, and this system is out of my time investment.

I love my little trike, it’s so cute and cuddly, but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep him alive with such an investment needed. I’ve lost dino’s before and was saddened by it, but this is going to be harder on me since I’m going to actively let it starve. I don’t have a way to stuff him in a preservation box until I can feed it more berries like I did when he was an egg. So what would have to change to make this system more friendly to small tribes and solo players like myself?

Food System

From what I am experiencing, the food system is where the deal breaker is. I can’t sit around staring at an inventory system for almost 5 hours for one baby. I have other things I like to do, such as gathering materials, building up my base, and general exploring. I would also like to take care of other babies if I could.

[UPDATED] The food system is very deceiving. At first when I was trying it out, it felt like I would be glued to the little tike (trike too) for the whole 5 hours while he was growing up to be a juvenile. Well, I was planning on letting Kree kick the bucket, but when I logged in, I looked into his puppy trike eyes and I said I have to at least give it a shot. At first the fella could only hold 4-5 berries, but as time went on, he was able to hold a little more. After about 20 minutes, he was able to hold on to about 20 or more berries. Here’s the turning point, since he would eat a berry every 4-5 seconds, this gave me time to go check on some other parts of my camp. When I got back, he could hold some more berries and that extended the timer a little more. I’m about an hour or two in and noticed he was increasing inventory about .01 per 3 seconds. Some math showed that he would reach 10% of max inventory in about 3 hours, much sooner than the chart suggested. Right now, I can effective get around 20 minutes of me time with mejoberries to run off and harvest more with the father trike and have him stand by holding on to all the berries I need. This feels a lot more tolerable and open up to small tribes and solo players. Right now some of that me time is going into updating this post, but I still like my suggestions so I’ll keep them up in case the devs take a peek here. [END UPDATE]

My first suggestion is have the “feed by hand” shorten to around 2-10 minutes depending on the intelligence of the creature until you can teach it to eat from a trough, or from their parent. This still has you spending a lot of attention towards its first few moments. After that, you are now free to spend more time elsewhere while they are able to feed themselves. [UPDATE] The current system feels pretty similar to this. After about 10 minutes, I can start doing other chores around the camp [END UPDATE]

Another suggestion is let them eat until they are full, and then let the food meter tick down faster than an adult, but slower than it is now to give the player enough time to deal with other matters. I would suggest about an hour before they’ll need to feed them to full again. That would mean I would need to check my trike around 5 times before it would be able to eat from a trough. That feels like a far more reasonable time investment. That would also mean I can deal with real life matters if I was playing on a server that I couldn’t pause or stop.

Either of these would make the amount of food bearable as well since I can go get food as I need it instead of storing a ton and have to take into account spoil times. The food system is also where the largest risk is involved of losing your investment because of the large time scale (discussed below) and how easy you could lose hours of play time.


The next suggestion is how incubation works. I love how I need to incubate the eggs, by actually keeping them in an environment at the right temperature. This makes the game feel more real since I’m not just throwing it in the incubation box or some special structure I would have to make first so I can complete a boolean check if I can incubate the egg or not. This system adds depth, but there is an issue.

These eggs are just too darn fragile at the temperature they ought to be at. Honestly, how do these eggs hatch out in the wild? The system is currently too precise to hatch an egg on its own, but I hope it’s because it’s still in development. I don’t mind going around and dropping the egg in locations to incubate it manually, but I’d like for a way for them to do so naturally as well.

My suggestion is to come up with dino nests that spawn near protective parents. These natural nests made of thatch would act like a foundation structure that will keep the temperature more in check. I could also sneak in some eggs of my own if I didn’t have the engram to make a man-made one. This would have to be balanced out to some species allowing for “adopting” non-owned or non-same-species eggs, and some that would destroy or eat them. This would also give the Oviraptor something more to do and look for. This means I would also have to come back around the time they hatch and retrieve them before the parents notice.


Honestly, I can handle the timescale because I find raising young to maturity should take a while. From the chart I’m reading, I’m in for a 49 hour and 10 minute investment to raise my baby trike to maturity. This doesn’t scare me away, however I find it at odds with the taming system. Currently, to tame a trike at official max level of 120 would take normal berries 5 hours and 15 minutes according to this calculator. That is a huge difference when breeding the dino you want and just taming it, this gives tamers a huge advantage.

I don’t know if the devs already have a balance for this since I’m still trying to keep from reading ahead of this game. I want to learn as I go.

If there isn’t a balance, then my suggestion is let dinos plop down more than one egg at a time. If I could raise a herd instead of a single child, that would let me keep up with tamers. I saw that eggs could spawn twins or triplets, but I would rather have multiple eggs to take care of.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Donkey Kong Country: Trip down memory lane

Some love for people on PAL systems

When I was growing up, one of my favorite games to play was the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo. I loved the graphics of it (because nothing was like it at the time). It looked like a cross between 3D and claymation in some respects. Each game brought their own flavor to the franchise starting with Donkey and Diddy Kong in the first game, Diddy and Dixie Kong in the second, and finally Dixie and Kiddy in the third.

The environments were imaginative and gorgeous for their time, the music is catchy to this day, and the playable characters, animal friends, and enemies are memorable. It is an enjoyable game made for fun’s sake, with challenges and secrets that are a joy to find. It’s one of my favorites.

To my pleasant surprise I found someone doing a series playing the Donkey Kong Country games that I just want to share. The Duck of Indeed (link to playthrough below) is breaking down each of the levels as individual videos that average around 5 minutes each so they are easy to get into and stop when you need to. The Duck also gives good commentary while playing it that I find cute and enjoyable.

You can watch the entire playlist of Donkey Kong Country by the Duck of Indeed here. If you have some time and want to stroll down memory lane, or check out what we ancient gamers had to play on rocks with screens, have some fun watching Donkey Kong.

As for some of those catchy tunes, you can find the soundtracks on Youtube. Here’s one I really like called Mining Melancholy.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tales from the Ark: Where am I?


Recently, Ravanel has been sharing some great tips on starting in Ark: Survival Evolved, and since my recent bout of looking for a new game to play, she helped push me to try it myself. So with the help of my brother (to get the game for me, thank you) I got to sit down with Ark. I’ve watched at some playthroughs of the game, and listened to others, but was still kind of blind to it. I had no idea just how immersive this game really was until I finally played it myself.

I’m also inspired by Aywren from her recent Tales from the Duty Finder posts. I love stories and so I thought I’d share some of my own from Ark. I must have put in at least 8 hours worth of play in the last three days, and boy do I have some stories to share. First up is when I logged in for the first time.


I’ve seen some playthroughs already of Ark before, well glances really. I would look back at the screen now and then when I hear it picking up, but I never watched it in fullscreen mode. It was beautiful when the game finally chugged long enough to load up and placed me down on a beach overlooking a mountain and a large column of light right in front of me. It even showed me a gem of some kind embedded in my arm near my hand.

Like most games, I don’t look at controls, I just start playing, figuring them out as I go. Using intuition, I find many controls to be standard; clicking to attack, ‘E’ key to use or gather, etc. I even discovered that the gem in my arm is what displays the menu to me, which is neat. Knowing from Rav’s tips, I knew to punch trees for wood and thatch. Apparently punching rocks just hurts you, but you can pick small stones up that are just lying on the ground.

Figuring that my starting location might not be the best place for me, I decided to go looking for a good spot for a base of operations. Seeing how I was on a peninsula, I decided to swim over to the larger body of land, a short little swim through shallow water. I noticed that my character was unusually hot for swimming, so I got under some shade and that heat went away. That might have been coincidence though. I was sure the beach was the safest place for me, so I traveled up along it, to a nice location with some big rocks for me to hide between if I see anything.

Coming up to the rocks, there was another large column of light, with this Tron like crystal thing twirling inside. There was also a swarm of dinos around it. A bunch of dodo’s, a Trike and a Parasaurus. To me, the Trike and Parasaur looked daunting, and I wasn’t sure how’d they react to me, so I stuck myself between the rocks like some caveman waiting to run out and steal some fruit from them. Once I felt safe enough, I sprinted to the Tron crystal, had no idea what to do and darted back to my safe rock location. I did this a second time and got a level up, so I thought the light is giving me experience. (Those who know what this is are probably yelling at their screens that I just missed out on a resource supply, and I did :/, and that is not how experience works, which I know now :D )

After learning the engram system and discovering how to create a hatchet and pants, and finding I already knew how to create a pickaxe, it was time to learn to make this stuff. Looking at what materials was needed for the pickaxe and hatchet was simple enough. I knew how to get the thatch, stone, wood, and flint. As for the pants, I had no idea where to get fiber. I know fiber comes from plants, but how do you harvest that… (E key you dum-dum - my future self yelling at my past learning self)

It turned to night and I also learned to make a campfire, which I kept going the whole night. There’s apparently no sleep feature to just make it day again, like Minecraft, so I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, all the while hearing noises. I was a little on edge that whole night. Those noises was just those darn dodo birds and the Trike, but I had no idea if they were friendly or hostile.

Come morning, it was time to start gathering again. More wood for the fire, and other materials for later crafting. I eventually put two and two together and found out I could harvest bushes and tiny flora. This is where I got fiber, and berries to my pleasant surprise. Now I had a source of food. However my joy went away when danger showed its head again.

Off in the distance, I saw a dead megalodon corpse floating in the water. Now, I fought for years to become numb to video game shark, but this game make things feel so real to me. That shark now meant that the waters were off limits to me and I couldn’t look at the corpse for long before I was starting to feel sick. I even saw a dodo run off into the water to get away from me while I was hunting, only to see another megalodon come swimming up and nabbing it. It looked like a terrible nightmare I had. And the worst thing was I kept seeing a supply drop across the water land on that beach, and I can’t get to it because of the shark. First world Ark problems, I suppose.

While playing Ark, I noticed I’m always on edge when I leave my base, because I’m not sure what I will find… or what will find me. So far, I’ve chosen a very safe base to camp at. There has been only one time a dilophosaurus has shown up and it stayed away from my camp. I feel safe as long as I stay there, but I do have to retrieve food and supplies so I am forced to explore. Best part is that I love it. I haven’t felt so immersed in a game in a very long time. Once I feel more at home with Ark, I may even make the jump onto someone’s server or send a call out to join one of my fellow bloggers, or even check if Massively OP is still running one. But not until I have a better feel for this world. But if Rav still would like to help show me the ropes, I’m still game.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Which class should I choose?

Attempting my own header art

This is a very old question that’s been around since the beginning of time. Einstein has been famously quoted asking Socrates which class should he choose when booting up Everquest for the first time. Okay, I’m just having my fun here.

Which class should I choose has been a question that’s frown upon with the usual response of “play what you like to play.” I’ve always felt that is a good answer, but now I’m thinking the problem with the question is that it’s incomplete.

Asking which class should you choose is asking someone which ice cream should you choose. I have no idea what your preferences are, which flavors you like, are you allergic to anything. So when you ask which class you should choose, you need to provide more information about your preferences when asking the community, else you will get the standardised “play what you like to play” answer.

So here are my tips when you are booting up a game for the first time and want to pose this question to the community.

Provide a preference

When asking, you should mention which combat preference you’re looking for. Are you a tank, healer, support, slow damage over time dealer, quick high damage dealer, a hybrid of all types of classes? Be sure to include which direction you want to try to play towards.

I like range hard hitting damage dealers, which class fits that best?

Provide some history

Another good thing to include would be your history of what you like to play as. Many games don’t have duplicate classes between themselves, but the players ought to know how they compare between them. So if you come from World of Warcraft as a Paladin, or even a Mage from say Skyrim, be sure to include that you liked those play styles.

My main in WoW is a Monk, is there a class like that here?

Provide a character

If you’ve never played an RPG before or game where you chosen a class to play as, then try offering a character you like from a book or movie that you’d like to play as. Nothing wrong with wanting to emulate Legolas or Indiana Jones. The community should be able to steer you towards a similar class to those beloved characters.

I love how Harley Quinn swings around a giant hammer, does any class have one of those?

Provide some direction

If you’re not sure about anything, then try to figure what you think you’d have the most fun with. You’re usually not locked down so try something out and if it doesn’t please you, try something different. If you like archery, but you tend to like one hit kills, see if there’s a range class using bows with hard hitting damage. Else if you like swinging swords and spells, you can ask if there’s a class that melees and casts. Most of all, try playing something you can connect with. A class you think looks cool, but doesn’t spark any fun when you play them, isn’t a good class for you. The problem is sometimes classes aren’t fun until later in levels. The community ought to help you there too.

I like to be casual so I want something that can take a hit and give it while ranged. Which class should I choose?