Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Subnautica Below Zero, Part Two

By Rita Mariner

To read the first review, click here (link).

Subnautica Below Zero has been out now since the end of January and is already causing quite a stir in the gaming community.  I have already logged over 200 hours in an Early Access game, with about 2 hours of prepared game play,  What I did, since I am running mine through STEAM, is log into the experimental option. 

In the experimental option, there are daily micro updates to the game.  Some are obvious, others are simple bug fixes.  Some of the things they have added are, without having to use Console Control 'cheats', as I call them. You have a battery charger!  I guess enough players yelled and screamed, they finally added it, along with the power cel charger.

You now have the Sea Truck, along with three out of the five planned modules for it.  Fabricator, Aquarium and Storage.  You still have to search for the fragments, for each item and it takes three fragments each, to acquire the needed blueprint. When I first saw the blueprint for the Sea Truck and what it would take to construct one, I thought the developers of the game had lost their collective minds.  After chatting with other players, I find I wasn't alone, in this opinion.  The Cab alone needs a Titanium Ingot (which you can now make) two glass, three lead and 'FIVE"  *repeat  "FIVE"  Advanced Wiring Kits! One Advanced Wiring Kit is a major investment in resources, They want "FIVE" for the Sea Truck Cab alone.  *faints* Plus the only place to get the needed Table Coral is in the Twisty Bridges area aka DEATH VALLEY!  So nicknamed by me for the abnormal number of Crashfish and Brutesharks there waiting for you.

They have finished the DEEP Twisty Bridges area.  There you can find the fragments for two of the Sea Truck modules, also some Sea Truck cab too. Plus if your extra special, you can meet the Squidshark, who will enjoy sucking a bunch of your health off you.  The other nasty down there isn't as obvious, the Spikey Plant.  I lies in wait to ambush you if get to close.  Shooting a tendril out to grab you and drag you inside to "EAT' you.  You do need to traverse the area too anyways.  Way too many valuable and needed resources down there to ignore.  I built a scanner setup down in the Twisty Bridges, just to help me find the stuff easier, plus most important QUICKER!

They have also redesigned the Cargo Rocket Island, which I approve of.  They also fixed a few annoying bugs there.  You can find a boatload of resources too around the waters of the island.  It is known as the Thermal Spires biome..  You can meet the Rock Puncher and the old favorite Mr. Bone Shark. As to the Cargo Rocket, the first one is on Alterra, but needs repair.  After that, you need to construct any new Exchanger Rockets (two titanium). You will also find a base up there, make sure to scan 'everything' inside that you can.  That is where you will get the bulk of your blueprints to build your base.

I found three other bases in the game so far just swimming around. Two have items you need to send to the Vesper.  The third one is under construction, but I did leave a beacon marking it's location, plus I got to see the new Snow Stalker beastie.  The little one is soooooo cute.   I also got a few plants I can plant once they give us something to grow them in.

The reason for so many hours is simple, the game breaks, so you sometimes have to start over to get stuff to load and or work right.  Welcome to early access.  Just make sure to pass along any problems, bugs or ideas to the developers, via Feedback.  Next major update is early April.  Can't wait.  Bwahahahahaha!

Rita Mariner

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Reader Submitted: Game Review - No Man's Sky

By Xymbers Slade/Aegis Hyena

It's been a long long time since I've written for the Newser (only reason I don't come back to Second Life is because "Why? I did what I wanted to do there" and I'm out of touch now anyway). I've been wanting to write this one for a long time for Bixyl, so here it is.

No Man's Sky has had its share of ups, downs, and zero-g moves that make the Titanic crashing about in a storm look like a mother rocking her baby to sleep. Pushed out far earlier than it should have, it met with fury from the fans, almost dropping to less than a 18% positive rating on Steam for quite some time. As I understand it, the investors knew it couldn't be done in time, pushed the company, took the money and ran (probably to another planet).

The game was marketed as being all procedural. With over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets, it marketed as everything being new and original. The problem is, is that it's a computer game. Computer games need assets. As I wrote in a steam review, "There's not enough assets on this planet (heh) to completely make it seem like the universe truly has random plants and animals on every planet."

On top of that (also copied word for word from my review), they took a concept and applied a synonym to it... while you might find an Abandoned Planet somewhere, you'll find the mostly the "same kind" of planet if you find one that is marked Airless, Dead, Desolate, Empty, Forsaken, Life-Incompatible, Lifeless, Low Atmosphere, or Terraforming Catastrophe -- one planet type, many descriptors to simulate depth even though it's the same bloody thing. Come on, devs, you can do better than that. Problem is it requires work time and money which most people don't have.

You start on a hostile world, having to find materials to power your Exosuit (Sodium, to be exact, as well as oxygen, dihydrogen, and carbon). You have a mining laser strapped to one arm, which can be upgraded over time if you find better models. You then proceed to find a crashed spaceship, repair it and take to the stars, exploring planets and warping from place to place, learning to manage inventory (the starter ship has very little room, as does your Exosuit and you need creative managing talents) while you piece together what's going on.

You start alone, and while there is a multiplayer function, I think it's more fun as singleplayer. Sometimes other players CAN warp into your system, and by default voice is activated, so you can communicate with the visitor for trade or PVP or whatever. I've only seen one visitor (because the universe is vast -- it's *that* rare that it happens) in my time playing and might soon jump into multiplayer and trade with whomever I randomly join.

The main storyline is something that revolves around something called Atlas, and the goal of the game seems to be to get to the center of the galaxy where you might be able to warp to a new one. As I selected "free explore" instead of going about on the main paths, I don't know a lot about it and have spent all 130 hours of my current game in my starting system, trading and shooting pirates.

There are three races in the universe: The Korvax (computer hivemind), the Gek (lizard-people) and the Vy'keen (reskinned Klingons). I haven't followed the lore enough to learn more about them.

As with any game of this large a scope, there are an unfortunate amount of bugs. There are more bugs in this game than there are lies coming out of most politicians these days. One bug is a "crate" bug, where you can't remove stuff (I find shutting down the game and coming back 15 minutes later wakes it up). This bug is almost 3 years old, so either the devs won't fix it, can't, or don't know how without breaking the game. Another bug is that locations you loot can only be looted once. If the game later assigns the location as a quest, the terminal is already looted and the quest can't complete. A third bug has quest "return locations" go to empty spots where there is no questgiver present to give the reward, so the quest has to be abandoned.

The opening questlines are very linear. You can't "hire randomly" -- you need to go to specific spots for specific races to join your base, wherever you decide to build it. If the quest requires you to make antimatter, and you find some elsewhere first to use it to warp to another system before you follow the steps / get the recipe for it in order to make it, it'll bug out and possibly lead to problems later.

Finally, and this thing bugs me, is that you can only have nine crates. These crates are twice your size, but only have five slots (a starting exosuit has about 25). If later you get a freighter, the crates you put there mimic the ones you have on the ground, sharing their inventories. What genius was responsible for that idea? This is the 9999th century up in space here. There should be planets that sell warehouse space!

The game is *very* pretty to look at if you're a casual kind of gamer, but like I wrote above, you'll run into repeats (especially locations) very early and very often. The grind especially in the early game will wear you down from a six foot long spear point to six inches of blunt shaft of wood, so be prepared to put in long hours. I like playing hardcore (one life, deleted save if you die) but after a few deaths on this game? Not here. The grind overpowers that of Minecraft's grind for iron and diamonds by a factor of about sixteen.

Overall, the devs got pushed too hard too fast, paid for it, TRIED to rebound (18% positive to 80% positive as of two or so weeks ago, it's back down to about 50% now) and are at least TRYING to come through on their promises. It's still not worth the $60 asking price, so I say get it if it's on sale as an impulse buy. It gets three dragon hoards out of five from me, because at least they're trying and will continue to try.


Editor's note: When I wrote about the problems of "No Man's Sky" in Sept 2016, it looked like the game's days were numbered. It seems it's been sticking around due to enough people continuing to buy, the developers determined to redeem themselves, or something of both.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Game Review - Subnautica Below Zero

By Rita Mariner

After becoming seriously hooked on the original game of Subnautica, Unknown Worlds, is in process of developing a follow up called, Subnautica Below Zero.  The game is now out in 'early access', which means you can play it, but it is incomplete, buggy, and some stuff doesn't work. But that just means they want you to give it a whirl and provide them feedback to fix the issues and ideas for the storyline.

The game takes place on the same planet, 4546B, but in the frozen north and at a time after the crash of the Aurora.  While they have kept much of the flavor of the original game, there are some different twists and turns to the new game.  Some of the recipes to build items have changed.  Some of the old nasties are still there and they have added some new critters to study, or eat, if you play in Survival or Hardcore mode.

There are also new a different area to explore with many new and different flora to see.  Unfortunately, this being early access, almost none of it can be scanned. The types of resources available to you has changed some too, during this early access.  I can only hope they will fix some of this, during one of the regular updates, or in full release.

As to vehicles, so far, all we get are the Seaglide and if you find the Dropbox, a Hoverpad Databox, which will allow you to build the Snow Fox, hover bike.  The one drawback for the Snow Fox, it only works on land, it doesn't work on water.  So you have to be careful where you construct the hover pad.

I hear that the Cyclops and Seamoth will not be in the new game.  The PRAWN SUIT will be however.  As for a replacement submarine, I hear they are kicking around the idea of a Sea Truck.  A modular type sub,  The Cab, with different modules you can attach to it, like a train, at reduced speed and performance, but with upgrades can fix some of that.

Some of the tools and base pieces that you use to build in the original game, you don't in this version.  They are Dropboxed to you, or they are not included yet. One piece that is missing, that is driving all of the players out of our freaking minds.  NO BATTERY CHARGER!  You burn thru so many batteries in Subnautica Below Zero, it isn't funny and without a charger, you have to keep making new ones, which gets to be a PITA! It looks like there will be some new base pieces for us to construct, but of this release, they are not available yet and will probably require Titanium Ingots, which we can't make yet..

I finally got to see how a Grav Trap works, so for those players in Hardcore, Survival mode, it makes collecting dinner or water, much easier..  Who knew?  (laughing out loud!) Just hope they fix the game about certain items, before you eat, drink or harvest yourself out of existence. 

I understand they will do major updates about every 6-8 weeks, maybe minor updates more often.  Full finished version isn't due for at least a year and everything we do now is probably subject to change, so no fear of the game getting old, or stale.  So for the two hours of fairly completed game, I think it's worth the $20, I put down, knowing it has just scratched the surface and you can still explore beyond what they have semi-officially completed.  Have fun getting your feet wet and seeing new and interesting areas and critters.

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Rita Mariner

Friday, December 21, 2018

Reader Submitted: Game Review - Farm Simulator 17

by Rita Mariner

Have you ever wanted to be a farmer?  Well in real life, I had several relatives who were, so playing this new addiction, was like coming home for me.  I saw a couple of my Second Life friends playing this on line video game and finally decided to check it out, on Steam.  Farm Simulator 17 ( it is up to 19 now).  I started to play and once you figure it out, can be quite addicting.

First off the game does have a bit of a learning curve and the game tutorials suck, so don't waste your time with them.  Go up on You Tube and watch actual videos done by actual players and see how they play the game.  It will save you a lot of screaming and pulling out of fur.  Trust me!

You can play the game, either as a single player, or in multi-player, your choice, You also get a choice of maps to pick from to play on.  I have only done Goldcrest, so I have no idea what the others have to offer.  You can grow crops of 10 different types, raise livestock or doing logging, depending on the farm you pick.

You start out with a basic set of farm equipment, I have three tractors, cultivator, sower, harvester, pickup truck, tipper, a house you can't use. a silo and some sheds and out buildings. You also start out in debt, $55,000.  Each day at midnight, you are hit with vehicle maintenance, land maintenance and debt maintenance, so you better start earning some money off your 3 fields right away.

Fortunately, crops grow fast and they start you off with your first set of seeds and fertilizer, as part of your setup.  You get to pick what crops you can grow, based on the equipment you have available.  You can't grow all the crops available, some require specialize and expensive equipment.

Now if you decide to start off on Goldcrest map, there is an interesting feature to that map.  100 Gold Nuggets!  If you find all 100 Gold Nuggets, the game will credits you with 1 Million in game dollars.  To help you out, you only have to find the first 10, once you stumble across them, which really isn't all that hard.  The first one is in your Chicken Coop.  The other 90 will pop up on the map and you just have to move to them to collect them.  Most are fairly easy to collect.  Others are more difficult, you will need one of your tractors, so you will have a means to climb up to get to the roofs of several of the buildings where the nuggets resided.

How you spend you Million Dollars, once you get is pretty much up to you.  I spent mine, paying off my debt and then buying all the Baling equipment I would need. Also picked up a 4th field and added a couple of upgrades to my land, to boost my income.  Like Bee houses and Solar panels.

You will find as you play,  you will have a lot of work to do, more than you would like, but the game has provided you with an assist, or Helpers.  Remember this though, the Helpers are dumber than a box of rocks.  So they can handle only the simplest of tasks.  Plowing, Cultivating, Sowing, Harvesting anything else and they look at you funny. Also they are easily blocked by anything and can't figure a way around it.  So you will have to do many tasks yet, yourself. As well as, bailing out helpers that get blocked.  The one advantage Helpers have over you.  They can work in the dark!

As you play, you will unlock achievements, I have completed about half of mine, going broke is one I doubt I will make, since I always have a positive bank balance.

Plus to make extra cash, in between harvesting your stuff, you can look at the map and see what other fields around you need work and hire yourself out to them for money..  Now these other job are time time sensitive, so you need to complete them within the required time, which usually isn't that hard.  I usually get them done ahead of time.  I not only get the regular payment, I get a time bonus.  Also the more you work a field around you, if and when you decide to buy it, the cheaper it is.

So if you looking for a game that is relatively slow paced, yet has some challenge to it, Farm Simulator 17 or 19 might fit your bill.  It's a nice way to spend a couple hours, racing around a field at 6mph!

Rita Mariner

Monday, December 17, 2018

Reader Submitted: Game Review - World of Tanks

By Rita Mariner

I first got introduced to on line video gaming, with World of Tanks.  I have always loved tanks, ever since I was a cub. So here was a game made to order for me.  I downloaded the game, which you can play for free.  Ran through the tutorials and then proceeded to play my first tier one tanks..

Now the tanks are divided into various nations and then into various tiers, from I to X. Each tier getting more and more powerful, and expensive, in XP and credits needed to get it.  Each nation is usually divided into subgroups as well.  Light Tanks, Medium Tanks, Heavy Tanks, Tank Destroyers and Self-Propelled Guns (artillery).

Teams are made up a mixture of these tanks that total 15 tanks/SPGs to a side.  Object is to kill all enemy tanks or capture the enemy base.  There are a few different variations of this scenario, but they usually end up the same way,  players usually don't play as they should.

Wargaming has put in many patches to World of Tanks.  Many of which are in my opinion, stupid.  They have buffed already hard to kill tanks to the point, that unless you are willing to actually dip into your pocket and BUY Gold ammo, you will not be able to damage some enemy tanks, meanwhile they have no problem, blowing the turret off of you.

My biggest issue with Wargaming was when they bent to pressure and nerfed the SPGs to death.  They took away our penetration, damage, they said they gave us stun damage, which means nothing, reduced our reload time 10%.  Our reloads are so long now a couple seconds is nothing. Improved our accuracy.  Not by me, I hit less now.   I had one battle I fired at one tank five times, didn't hit it once.  In another battle, I hit a tank seven times and only knocked it's Hit Points down 40%.  If I had not been nerfed, two hits and the tank would have been scrap.  The real kick in the teeth after this was they kept the cost in XP and silver the same to buy the SPGs, which were, at best , 40% of what they use to be.

Now they keep adding new tanks and nations to the game, which was a nice touch, until you start to play them and find the lower tier tanks of the  tree, aren't all that great and it is a pain to play them.  Play them you must, to grind your way through, to earn enough XP and credits to unlock all the modules and finally the next tank in the tier.  Only then do you find, it too is a piece of c**p!  You repeat the process again and again, until you reach a high enough tier, that the tanks no longer sucks too badly.

When I first started the game, the only real issue I had were the Russian Tanks and their Stalinium armor.  They seemed immune to hits.  Which for a real Russian tank was impossible, they were junk, until you realize, the game was designed and is headquartered, in RUSSIA! Do'uh!  Once I got that bit of trivia through my head, I just got down to trying to kill whatever got in front of me, or die trying.

So for the next four years I played constantly, all day long, happily pouring real money into the game, to speed along my advancement and to buy the occasional premium tank.  It was the after they destroyed my artillery and added so many new, nearly impossible to kill new tanks into the game.  Almost making it a Pay to Play/Win game, I lost interest.  I still occasionally will fire up the game and play a couple hours, here and there.  Nothing like I used to play however.  Also I absolutely refuse to spend one more dime on the game, until they fix it, back to they way it was, which means probably never!  Oh well.

Rita Mariner

Editors Note:  Having played a number of Russian tanks in the game, as well as against them, it seems the easiest way to blow one up is to drive it into battle yourself.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Elder Scrolls Skyrim

by Nydia Tungsten

   I am not going to go into a lot of detail of the storyline because that is fantastic on its own, but instead, talk about the possibilities.

   Skyrim came out eight years ago, and it took off like most new games do. I didn't get it right away, but not too much later, I fell in love with it. Most games when new, build a big following and a few years later, they fade into history like Pogs. But Skyrim GREW. On year five, it was still growing, not all by new players, but by current players that have beat the game and all side quest and all the endings...etc etc. And then there are the mods.

Mods for Skyrim exploded onto the scene and the game grew years after it's release. There are LITERALLY thousands of mods. For everything from new race mods and realism mods to down right silly mods made just for the laughs, and there can be a lot of laughs when every dragon is turned into Thomas the Tank Engine. You can have more than one companion with you with some of them, I currently have sixteen running with me, and all but two are Khajiit, (A.K.A. Cat race) and I have fun listening to them talk.

I have player homes, player businesses, and I also have one that modifies outfits. I have over eighty-eight mods in my game, a lot of those are realism mods. And, the thousands of mods I was talking about... don't include all the...sexual mods those alone... make up a good chunk of what you can get it you want them. So depending on the mods you get, Skyrim can become a whole new game with new challenges to over come and new twists on the story line, and once you beat it again, you can change out the mods again for a whole new experience.

     Okay okay okay... I can hear a lot of you saying, "I don't have the money to keep throwing at mods for just one game!" Fear not monetarily challenged gamers, I have the answer for you, because 99.9% of all the mods you can find for this game are FREE! That's right, I too am among the monetarily challenged  and in no way shape or form could I afford to keep up with all the mods I have thrown in and out of my game.

    BUT... IF you have never played the game before and are new to the experience, I HIGHLY recommend doing your first play though with NO mods at all so you can truly experience and appreciate what the mods can do, for me, like with "White Run" has large tall trees everywhere, and not as barren.
 Can you guess who has the Higher armor rating?
    Some of you may not be able to play with a lot of mods installed so one or two will be just fine. And if your system can't do that, no biggie, it is STILL one of the best games I have ever played and continue to enjoy years later.  So if you have the game, MOD it, it you don't have the game, get it, and either way, ENJOY IT!

 I hope I was able to help your experience in some little way, if you have a favorite mod, list it below for others to try and enjoy.

   And remember, games are to be fun SO ENJOY Ans I will see YOU in the grid!

Nydia Tungsten

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Jailbreak In Archeage

By Bixyl Shuftan

A few years ago, Nydia Tungsten wrote about the multiplayer online game of Archeage. The game had a few features that got her attention, such as a playable race of feline people, a crafting system that was more detailed than other MMOs she had seen, and a court system where those whom harass other players can be put on a trial by jury of other players. While this probably reduces the overall level of misbehavior, probably, it's also the way players become pirates, which is a topic in itself. As for those sentenced by the jury, they're sent to prison. 

For Firran (the feline race) and Harani players who misbehave, they're sent to the Solis prison, "times can vary from as little as two minutes to as long as several days." They also get a "debuff" that removes their ability to fight or get on a mount. There are a few things to do there, such as break crates to get the black and white striped jail clothes, do prison quests to reduce their time, or escape.

A few days ago, Umbra Gardenvale told me, "Someone did a foolish thing. (She) got curious if they could fly over the wallls of the Solis Prison, nd got slapped with the prisioners debuff. And now (she) has to wait for the debuff to expire before she can leave." That someone was Jasmine Dawn, whom Umbra snapped a picture of her in prison clothes. "'What happens to Jazz when she's out exploring ArcheAge'," she commented to me.

Jasmine went on to describe her predicament, "Umbra stands outside the gates laughing his butt off while I run around assaulting prisoners looking for a tower key. ...I still managed to get the tower key, twice, ... That lets you inside." And once in, "you get 'freedom wings,' it's a bedsheet with four ropes ... a parachute." What one is supposed to do to escape is, "you sail your butt off the top of the tower, splash down in the ocean and swim your fuzzy butt to Austera." But Umbra told that's not quite what happened with Jasmine, "by 'Sail' she means 'fall in a semi controlled manner' ...Damn near killed yourself jumping out a tower window." Jasmine responded, "(I) sailed the hell out before the debuff hit me again. At least the trusty, dusty ground was there to catch me. I made it to the water, told Umbra he was on his own and i swam for Austera. Freeedom!!!!!"

Jasmine has been up to other adventures in Archeage, such as dungeon crawls and getting a fishing boat. But the jailbreak is something that stands out as nowhere else has she been in that sort of situation.

Source: Archeage Gamepedia

Bixyl Shuftan