Friday, May 24, 2024

Game Review: The Fiery Scion

 By Nydia Tungsten

The Fiery Scion is an AVN (Adult Visual Novel) that I found on the internet. Now before anyone goes running for the tar and pitchforks, Yes it has nudity in it, yes it has sexual content, and yes it can be a bit explicit, but if you know me, you know that is not what draws me to this type of game. I enjoy the story, before you start rolling your eyes, let me explain.

 I am not afraid of sex, nor do I shy away from stories that have it, but I do insist it has a good story. There are a LOT of games out there that have sex as their main theme, those I find a bit… meh.

But I do enjoy a good story, and I  have always enjoyed a good visual novel as a kid.

The Fiery Scion is a good example of a good story and the sex has a reason for it.

Demons have cursed the humans in this feudal world where very few males are being born, so it is a matter of keeping the human race alive.

The game starts with the main character (default name Henri) finishing his mage training so he can finally leave the mage tower after training for 13 years

You leave the tower to work with your teacher, the lord of that territory, the infamous “Black Mage”  Athagan, who helped in defeating the Demon lord, but with a terrible price, the loss of his… “Manhood”

 Throughout the game, you go against bandits, beasts, demons, Plague spawn, and even elves, but you are able to turn the elves around into allies.

But first, you build your adventurer team with three lovely ladies with different talents each.

Kes, the raven-haired Archer can thread a needle with one of her arrows.

Monica, the red-haired tavern owner/potion maker/healer.

And last but not least Erika, the bronze-skinned heavy-hitting front-line fighter is afraid of nothing.

There is a plague called the “Withering” (that reminds me of something in Minecraft, I kept waiting for someone to say they have been “withered”, never happened though)

They also have great-looking weapons like this

The wedding ceremonies look great too, I will add the picture, censored of course, IF it passes past Bix.

If not well... Bix had a heart attack and removed the picture.

The downside is most of the breast animations remind me of balloons filled with jello and slinkies. And some of the others look like they are played in fast-forward, which does detract from the overall immersion of the story.

I don’t want to get into too much of the story because it is a visual novel, a true one, not one of those that say it is then makes you make all those choices and changes the ending you get (I hate those).

If you like fantasy stories and don’t mind a lot of sex scenes you might want to look at this one.

Here is the link there is a part one and two, so make sure you get both of them.

If you play/read it please let me know what you think, if I get enough response and a few more updates I can revisit this one and discuss some opinions.

Until next time, GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Nydia Tungsten
Editor's Note: Nydia had a black bar over the last picture, though it was slightly smaller. So no, no heart attack *grins*    

Monday, December 11, 2023

Game Review: Rise of Cultures

 By Bixyl Shuftan

I haven't done any game reviews in a while, partially because I haven't spent as much time playing games as I used to. But I do play a little. One I've been playing is "Rise of Cultures."

Rise of Cultures is a browser/mobile app game from Innogames, who also made Forge of Empires. The game has much the same aspect as Forge, a history-themed city builder, and plays much the same. But it does look a little different, and will appeal more to some players. 

You start off in charge of a tribe of stone-age folk. You help them develop the start of their settlement, and with a little guidance from a couple advisors continue to help the place grow in size, technology, and culture. Research points, which slowly accumulate naturally over time, can be used to develop technologies. There are also quests to take care of, which both encourage you to progress and some are needed to advance. Many involve your two city advisors who give you objectives to accomplish. Others are challenges by enemies and allies. 

There are occasional random happenings on the city map. This may include fruit to collect, a broken-down cart to repair in exchange for some gold, dealing with a wild boar guarding a treasure, and more. Sending workers to deal with the happening takes a few minutes, but will get you rewards in the form of food, gold, and occasionally crystals (more on those later).

Technologies help you in some way, such as unlocking certain buildings, improvements of them, or allowing you to build more of something.  The first ones are simple, such as tribal settlement, cultivation, firemaker, and the wheel, and cost just a few research points and maybe a few coins and food. Further up the tech tree, technologies will cost more. Eventually, they'll start to cost some goods as well.

Your first building is the Great Hall, which later on becomes the City Hall. After the first couple technologies, you'll be able to build small homes for workers. Later on, you'll develop the ability to build medium houses which house two workers. You'll soon be able to build farms, which come in two sizes, the larger ones taking more time to grow food but when they do produce a lot more of it. You'll also soon be able to make military barracks buildings. The first ones are for regular infantry, but later you'll be able to build more kinds. Ranged units can fire and hit units a distance away. Calvary can charge and bypass light infantry. Starting in the Bronze Age, you can build goods buildings for some materials you will need. You can also build some small cultural sites, which help cheer up people in nearby homes and workshops, resulting in more gold revenue and more productivity.

Military units are used to gain control of enemy areas on the strategic map in campaigns. For the first few places of the Stone Age, you'll fight only animals. But as you go on, you'll end up fighting bands of cavemen. And once you finally beat their leader, the campaign is over and new areas open to explore and start another. As the campaigns go on, the enemies become more advanced. In battles, you can enlist the help of up to three military leaders to help you in your battle. Some are mercenary leaders of which you get tokens to enlist the help of for one battle. Rewards for conquering territory can include food, gold, and occasionally city expansions which you can use to grow the size of your city. Sometimes after you beat a leader he or she joins your forces as a new leader. 

Staring in the Bronze Age, players can also build world wonders. Upon unlocking this feature, you get one for free: Stonehenge. To get more, you need blueprints. Go get those, you need gears, which you get from Treasure Hunts, solving city events, completing quests, and special event rewards. With 200 gears, you can make an orb. Opening one gives you a chance at a blueprint, or resources for improving wonders. If you don't get a blueprint after opening nine orbs, you get one on the tenth. Wonders provide benefits from extra gold and research points, bonuses in trades, extra rewards when doing the Treasure Hunt, extra military units, and others. Wonders can also be improved, which takes research points, food, gold, and usually resources. You can have up to four wonders active. Any more, and you'll have to pick and chose which work best for you while the others are inactive.
Also starting in the Bronze Age, players can join an Alliance. Joining one has benefits. You have access to the Alliance City, in which once a day you get some extra goods. Members of the Alliance can work together to improve the city. You can also do the Treasure Hunt. At each step of the way, there's a group of pirates. You can either negotiate with them or fight them. Negotiations have three tries and take amounts of resources, which increase further along the hunt. Fighting will take military units. Once you beat the last group of pirates, the team has to work to make the next level available.

Progressing will take you to difference eras, the Bronze Age being the first, "It's good to get out of those animal hides!" After the Bronze Age comes the Minoan Era, then Classical Greece, then the Roman Republic, then the Roman Empire. Following the Antiquity eras comes the Byzantine Era, then the Age of the Franks, then the Feudal Era, then the Iberian Era, then the Kingdom of Sicily.

As time goes on, there will be special events. For instance the October special event involved Count Dracula/Vlad Tepes. The reward for doing his quests was a choice of a Mad Scientist's Lab, or "Crypt of The Count" that you could place in your city for bonus resources once a day. In the Christmas event, the city is blanketed with snow.

And then there's that the city map isn't static, but animated. Buildings shake a little when updated. And then there's the people. They walk the streets, they work at workshops. They carry things from one place to another. They go back and forth  to and from areas where events happen. They play music and sit & chat. And more. What they're wearing is determined by the era.
For those who like city-building or history themed games, "Rise of Cultures" is certainly worth a look.
You can find the game at

For the wiki, check out
Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 13, 2023

Game Review: Ark Survival Ascended

By Nydia Tungsten 

Let me start this off by saying this game was gifted to me. While I am always grateful to the one that offer me games and all the good intentions that go with it, I would like to offer a heartfelt “Thank you!”

BUT, That would be the only way I would have got this game, due to Snail games and Nitrado servers backroom deals to screw over the Ark community by making a quick cash grab before anyone knew what was happening. If you want to know more about their attempts, look to YouTube.

I started a game and the first thing I noticed is the character creation was very well-detailed. The flora and fauna is more detailed, some more than other. I have noticed one major flaw with this new version, if you kill one of the smaller dinos, it is very hard to get at it to butcher it, I had to walk away from multiple kills just because I couldn’t interact with them … at all. 

But I do have to admit it has been optimized a heck of a lot more than “Survival Evolved” 21 minutes and some change for that to load up while ASA loads up in 2 minutes 30! If you have played Ark before you know how frustrating that can be, so this change is a welcome one.

Another very interesting change is the Dino behavior they track a lot better … which is a good AND bad thing. Good in the fact that it is harder for you to lose one of your dinos as you run through the forest, they path much better to get to you, on the BAD side, the Hungry wild dinos can now track better to get to you as well. So a lot of mixed blessings I guess you could say.

I have heard that the Island map has changed, which I have to agree, the topography, I have tried to visit the areas where my angels and I have had bases when we all first started playing Ark, and they are jungles and forests, so think it would be impossible to put bases there. I found the small cove area where we built our ship bases before they nerfed it. And the spot where we took over a giant cliff area that was so open and easy to defend. NOW it is a forest so think you can’t even think to build there without a larger group for support.

As you can see from these pictures, the graphics are incredible, I believe you can fly a bit higher in ASA, if you fly too high you can enter the clouds and actually be unable to see anything, just a greyish-white blurry can see the “Steaming Jungle” behind me in this shot

The bay you are looking at here is the changed cove where we built our Raft Bases, WHICH you can do again with the right mods.

The mod makers are filling up the mod pages quickly. I am still tinkering with ASA as you are reading this, and I will do a part two eventually.

Do I recommend you buy this game? In good conscious, No I can’t. All because of Snail games and they’re money-grabbing greed. BUT! If you DO get it, I am confident you too will be impressed with the changes.

Remember, if your gaming company is doing things YOU don’t agree with let them know by NOT buying anything from them.

Until next time GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Nydia Tungsten

Friday, February 10, 2023

A Glance At World of Warships

 By Bixyl Shuftan

With combat games, usually the focus is on land battles. Just give someone a rifle and maybe a tank and let them blast away. Ocean combat, not so much. It should be no surprise that Wargaming's first big hit game was "World of Tanks." But as those of us who study history know, sea power is important to. So soon after Wargaming released World of Warships in 2015, I signed up for it. Over time, yours truly lost his taste for World of Tanks, tiring of being little more than cannon fodder. But I still continue with "Warships" to this day, having recently gotten my 100th ship after about seven years of gaming.

For those familiar with the "Tanks" game, there are some similarities. Destroyers take the place of light tanks and are more nimble. Battleships take the place of heavy tanks and have a smaller rate of big gun fire, but pack quite a punch. Cruisers are in between, able to take on the roles of both to a degree. Carriers are the equivalent of artillery, able to strike from far away, but need some skill or luck to be truly effective, and tend to be lousy at close-range combat. Not unlike Tanks, players can also use terrain to their advantage, the islands. And just as tank players can fall off a ledge if not careful, ships can collide with rocks and sandbars and are stuck for some moments. And like Tanks, ships are ranked from 1 to 10/X, with matches seeing opponents close to one another in rank.

There's much more to the game than that though. 

There are several types of matches. And the big difference between "Tanks" and "Warships" are the "Player versus Enemy" battles. Instead of taking on other players, you take on AI controlled opponents. There are the "Random Operations" battles in which players are on a team out to complete objectives such as destroying all ships at a port before enemy reinforcements arrive. But more played are the Co-Op battles in which a fleet of player controlled ships takes on a fleet of AI controlled ships. AI opponents tend to be more predictable and easier to defeat than experienced human ones, so the potential rewards for beating them are less than with human opponents. On the other hand, friends such as Nydia Tungsten have observed less drama in these matches (and far less than World of Tanks). PvP matches consist of Random Battles (the standard Warships fight), Ranked Battles, and the newest type, Brawls. 
Most matches involve close matchups of ships in terms of ranks and class ratios, the number of destroyers, cruisers, battleships and carriers. Brawls though offer more different ones, sometimes pitting a larger number of lower ranked ships against a smaller number of higher ranked ones. With some matches such as Operations, Ranked Battles, and Brawls, only certain tier levels can take part. 

New players start out with several tier one cruisers, one for each nation in the game. As you play, you'll earn credits, ship experience points, or XP, and free experience points. To get a tier 2 cruiser, you're going to have get some credits and XP. You can get those by taking part in battles, or you can buy some doubloons and convert them to either free XP and/or credits. Ship XP is good only for getting the next tier ship in line, or better equipment. Free XP can be used for any ship. Credits and doubloons can be thought of as silver currency and gold currency. Silver currency is used for repairing your ship after battles, as well as upgrading it (more on that later) and getting new ones.
Once you've researched the tier 2 cruiser, depending on which nation's tech tree is involved you may also have a chance at getting the first destroyers. Researching the first battleships in your tech tree is usually an option once you've gotten tier 3 cruisers. Nations available to play include Japan, America, Russia, Germany, Britain, and France. For a few nations, Europe, Pan-Asia, and the Netherlands, their tech-trees are smaller with no battleships available. Carriers are first available at level four, but are fewer in number, available later at tiers six, eight, and ten. Naturally, higher tier ships take more XP to research and more silver currency to purchase. The time it takes to earn what you need for a tier ten ship can be many weeks. And oh yeah, if you're going to get more ships, you need to get docks for them, which either takes buying them with gold currency or winning them in missions (more about those later).

Matchups are typically 12 versus 12, a mix of cruisers and battleships, and maybe one carrier and one or more destroyers. Seldom are there two carriers or a match of all cruisers. Depending on the time of day, Random Battles can take some time, five minutes or so late at night, to arrange as the matchmaker looks for even matches. For PVE matches, setting things up is usually 30 seconds or less, with 'bots filling in the gaps of the player team if not enough players are found. On a late night game, I've occasionally been in Co-Op fights with just one other human teammate. One late-night PvP match pitted me against *exactly one* opposing ship. Rare, but it can happen.

Fighting other ships requires some strategy. You can't just simply point and fire as your shells take some time to reach where they're aimed, especially at longer distances. And if your intended target is moving not at or away from you but to the side, firing directly at them when they're a distance away is going to result in a miss. To have a chance at hitting them, you're going to have to aim your guns ahead of them, and try to time it so when you fire your opponent will have moved onto where the shell lands. If your shell hits at a wide angle, it will ricochet and cause little damage. A low angle means a penetrating shot is likely. This means firing broadside at an enemy should be done with some caution. You might be able to train all your guns at a target. But the low angle of your hull to the enemy's fire means you're more likely to take damage, including a critical hit which can really hurt you. 

All ships can fire shells from their main guns. Shells come in two varieties: armor penetrating and high-explosive. AP ammo has a higher chance of scoring penetrations and critical hits. HE ammo has a chance of causing fires, which slowly cause damage over time. The bigger the guns, the slower your rate of fire will be. So destroyer guns don't cause much damage but can reload fairly quickly, while battleship shells take a while to load, 30 seconds or so, but can pack a wallop if they hit right. Firing your main guns makes your ship easier to see over a long distance, so you may want to hold your fire at times. Destroyers and many cruisers also have torpedoes as a weapon. They travel slower than shells, but aren't seen until they're close to a ship and cause more damage. This makes sailing closely alongside an enemy destroyer or cruiser hazardous as if they fire several torpedoes at just the right angle, your ship may be done for (or close to it). 
Carriers have planes as a weapon. They can launch dive bombers, torpedo bombers, or fighters. Dive bombers attack ships from above. Torpedo bombers will usually try to drop their "tin fish" from the side. Fighters will damage an opposing carrier's planes, and can be used defensively to help protect teammates. Most ships have some anti-aircraft guns, particularly battleships. So when several ships are close together, bomber squadrons will likely take damage and possibly end up getting shot down.

Different ships require different styles of play. Battleships are best at firing their guns from a medium to long distance. They should be careful in closer combat as their huge mass makes them slower to change direction than cruisers or destroyers. As destroyers are hard to hit with the slow-to-reload main guns, a battleship captain is best to leave enemy destroyers to the cruisers and destroyers on his side and concentrate on other targets. If an enemy destroyer is closing in with no other teammates firing at it, a battleship should steer away to avoid it and it's torpedo attacks, letting it's secondary guns whittle away at it. In real life, a battleship shell could easily demolish a destroyer on it's own. In the game, they often need several such hits, even when hitting their hulls at low angles. 

Destroyers are smaller and quicker than battleships, but also have less hitpoints, so players are going to have to take advantage of their maneuverability and speed if you want to get very far. Most carry smoke charges, which can provide cover for the ships behind you. The job of destroyers in a team is to scout for enemy ships, provide smoke cover for their teammates, and try to get through the destroyers and torpedo the battleships. Emphasis on try as destroyers are often the first ships sunk in the game.

Ships have various combat buffs, usually called consumables in the game. All ships have a number of repair parties that can put out fires and plug leaks. Many also have sonar or radar broadcasts. Destroyers have speed boosters and usually smokescreen layers. Battleships have a buff that can repair some of their damage and usually another that can sent a scout plane in the air. Cruisers have a mix, depending on the ship, sometimes having a fighter that can be launched. These are not unlimited. Once you use a buff, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can use it again. And usually you can only use them so many times per battle, usually three to four.

Ships are upgradeable. In the Equipment screen, you can use experience points and silver currency to give them a better hull, a better aiming system, a better engine, etc. There are also options to improve turret speeds, the ability for engines to still work but at reduced capacity if damage, etc, which cost credits only. You can also install signal flags that give the ship small bonuses such as faster speed or repair times. These have to be ether won or bought. 
Ship captains also get better over time. As they gain experience, over time they get experience points. You can use them to give then abilities, such as being able to see which ships are training their guns on them to being able to make buffs/consumables last longer. 

You can also give your ship Economic Bonuses. In the past, these were signal flags, but more recently changed to separate economic and experience buff

You can get up to three bonus containers per day by getting enough experience points. The first you need only a couple thousand, which takes me usually just one or two matches. The second takes more, about ten thousand. The third is fifteen thousand. You can choose between containers with mostly signal flags to economic bonuses to coal (for use in the armory). The last option is to take a chance and if you're lucky you get a supercontainer, though odds are you just get a small one with a small reward.
Players also get a reward for logging in daily. This can be free XP to silver currency to bonus containers. Log in enough, and you get a supercontainer. You may get upgraded to a Premium account for a week, lots of signal flags, or *maybe* a new ship.

If you have ships tier five or above, there are missions that they can qualify for. These can be as simple as winning one or a few battles, to spotting so many ships, to winning a certain amount experience or credits over time. The prizes can be things from camouflage paint jobs to signal flags, to special flags that are awarded only at certain times. Some missions come in a series in which if you win them all you get a special prize. For instance in the Drydock missions in which a ship is slowly built as you complete objectives, if you win the last mission, you get the ship. One ship I got for completing a mission was the HMS Dreadnought, the first battleship as we think of them in history. As it's tier 3, I don't play it much, but it's neat to have.

Players can join clans. There are benefits to being in a clan such as small bonuses for research points earned and reductions on how many you need.

Fans of history, particularly naval history, should enjoy the ships. After the level 1 ships, you start out with early pre-WW1 vessels, with later and stronger models as you move up, ending up with the best WW2 could offer plus some post-war ships and concepts. This includes some famous ships, such as the battleships Bismark and Yamato. Some of the more recent warships introduced never made it past the drawing board in real life.

And then there's the music. The tempo was particularly fitting at times. It wasn't hard to imagine it in a movie about naval battles. 
On occasion, there are available scenarios in which some ships are temporarily available. The Halloween seasonal battles involve some fictional steampunkish vessels. The post-apocolyptic ones involve some freakish looking ones. There's also been some science-fiction themed ones taking place on an alien sea.

So what were my favorite ships to play? Early on, I liked the tier 3 US cruiser St Louis for it's rapid firepower, and the tier 5 US cruiser Omaha was another early favorite. The Japanese battleships Konga and Fuso, Tier 5 and 6 respectively, were also good. Over time I've also gotten a few premium ships. The Russian tier five cruiser Kransy Krym can be fun with it's firepower. But the tier seven US cruiser Atlanta can really pepper away with small but numerous guns, and can make quick work of a destroyer caught in it's fire. Same thing with the Flint, also a tier seven US cruiser. The tier seven British battleship Nelson stands out with all three turrets facing forward. 

One recent addition to the game are submarines. Players are still trying to figure these out. Some like them, others dislike them. They're more of a challenge to sail as they can dive and rise to the surface. They'll need to dive sometimes as they can't take much punishment and easily destroyed with airborne attacks available to be called in by certain ships, or depth charges by destroyers and some cruisers. One near the surface is also vulnerable to shelling. So far, I've had mixed results when sailing them (temporarily given one as a prize for missions). Against AI subs, more often than not I end up KOing them or helping to before they deal much damage to me, if any at all.

So how much does the game cost? Well, the initial price of the game is free. So what's the catch? Well, as I mentioned, gold currency often takes real money to get. And unless you can win docks in missions, you'll have to spend such money to get the docks. If you want a Premium account, that usually takes money. Unless you're willing to wait for months, and perhaps years, to get that shiny powerful ship in the Armory that looks really good, you're going to need to spend real money to get the needed doubloons. Patient players can play the game, and spend just a little real money to get the needed docks to eventually get some tier five ships so they can start winning some in missions. Less than patient ones will need to fork over more cash.

There's probably a detail or two or three that I've forgotten. But this should cover just about every important one in the game.  The game isn't perfect, and there are occasional glitches. I've gotten penalized for crashing while the battle is being set up, and the computer reading it as quitting in the middle of a fight. Still, it's a great game that I recommend, especially to those who like ships. It may not be truly free, but I've kept playing it for years.

Image Credit: Cynthia Farshore, "Foxyfluff," Nydia Tungsten

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 28, 2022

Subnautica Below Zero Revisitied

By Rita Mariner 

For Rita's first review, Click Here.
 It's been awhile since I wrote about my gaming.  I am still playing both Subnautica and Subnautica Below Zero.  According to STEAM counter, I have over 11,000 played in Subnautica and closing in on 4300 hours, in Below Zero. How can I play both games, for so long and not get bored?  Simple, both games NEVER play the same way twice, in a row. Your starting point varies and stuff does get randomized.  The best thing is, you can chose to play the games, anyway you want.  For the most part it you search, discover things for yourself.

  Both games have 4 modes of play.  Freedom, where you only worry about health and air.  Survival, where you have to keep track of health, air, food and water. Hardcore, pretty much same as survival, but you only get one life.  You die, you lose everything and have to start over. Creative, you start out with everything, don't have to worry about anything, just play..

Two months ago they had a major update to Below Zero, fixed a lot of annoying bugs and added a new,Sea Truck Dock.  When you unlock the Moon Pool, you also get the new Sea Truck Dock. This allows you to now enter the dock, with your entire Sea Truck train. No need to detach any modules. It also has a built in vehicle control panel, allowing you to color and name your Sea Truck.  It also repairs and recharges the Sea Truck cab, while docked. You also get access to modules from the dock.  So it's very useful.

With the new Large Room addition, you can really get creative with your base building.  That is probably the nicest thing about the game. I put the Large Room out first, then build the rest of my base off of it.  Of course, you can build you base in any configuration you like.   

They also added a Control Room, you can add this to your base.  It was multiple functions, but the one most players like, you can color and name your base now, just like your Sea Truck and Prawn suit. I have seen some players color their bases in eye blinding colors.

As to the creatures in the game, some are retreads from the first game, but all the bigger ones are new and 90% of them think your on the menu. While most are just plain annoying, a couple can eat you in one gulp.  Even after 4300 hours, I still get unlucky, BITE!, SWALLOW! TASTY!

Regarding the alien in the game, I died laughing when I first heard his name. It's the same as my RL name, so I comment, "When I play this game, I am talking to myself."

Overall the game is beautiful to watch, they really did a great job on the environments.  It's easy to play, that helps a lot.  There is no real set path you need to follow, you go in your own direction and speed.  They give you prompts, but when you heed them is up to you. Plus the game is cheap and the music is awesome.

I can therefore highly recommend both Subnautica and Below Zero to play, if you want a good, relaxing time, mixed in with moments of horror. 
Images from Rita's steam account

Rita Mariner

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Misadventures in Rust Angels: The Base Defense Contest

 By Bixyl Shuftan

Anyone remotely famillar with Rust knows there are two kinds of servers. There are the PvE servers in which all is peaceful between players. And then there are the PvP servers, in which there's the potential of combat and raiding between players. Of the later, a few are somewhat relaxed, somewhat, with a majority of the players not fighting or raiding unless provoked. But some can be so vicious, players can expect to be attacked within minutes of entering, let alone after they've gathered enough materials for and having set up a base. While some of my friends have given PvP servers a try, hoping for the more relaxed variety, others have had more then enough of the "PVP kiddies" and are sticking to PvE ones. So when the Angels Rust server was back up, it was soon populated with Nydia and her friends, including myself.

But the trouble with PvE is, what to do to liven things up? Yes, there are the "ninja bears" who appear out of nowhere to eat you, the scientists who shoot at you, and the ever threatening chopper that fires death from above. But without human opponents, things can seem a bit predictable. To spark some excitement, there's been a couple "Wacky Races" in the server. But setting up the track was a lot of work to server moderator Umbra. So for September's challenge, he had a different idea: have the contestants get ready for a raid.

Most folks have built their base so for those who are interested in doing so I have a little competition for those interested.

The contest:

Build a base to house 4 to 8 players.
No items from mods
Base should be built to be defendable.
Base size around 12-20 foundations across, no height restrictions.
Contestants must build their own base, no team builds. (But definitely talk among your team mates and bounce ideas off them).
Required items that must be in base:
Workbench 1,2,3
Research bench
Repair bench
Anything else is optional. Be creative with your designs.
How long?
Now till the end of the 24th.  Judging on the 25th by myself and Nydia.

How do I enter?
Pick a spot on the map, screen capture the map location and dm it to me.

Are you in this channel?  Good, you can enter.
Im not whitelisted on your server…
Dm myself or Nydia with your steam ID and we will get you whitelisted

Do I have to gather resources?
Wood stone and metal are provided in three kits that are now live on the server.  Items that require scrap or tech trash you will have to source out.

Judging criteria?
Functionality - Does your base have all the necessary items to be sustainable?
Defendable - Can you fend off a determined raid of well equipped players?
Architectural design - Is there an idea of theme in how you built your base?

Foxy, who had experience in PvP servers and defending against raiders, one would think this contest would be a welcome challenge. But be bowed out as there'd been a few complaints about large bases causing lag, "I'd build the Citadel again but I'd get yapped at. So I'll be on the sidelines." But there were two entries. There was Snowy and there was me. Both our initial bases were too small to fit what the contest rules required. So she started a new one nearby. I ended up packing and moving to not too far from where she was, to a spot close to the stone quarry and within fair distance (by vehicle) of the sulfur and high quality metal quarries, as well as some abandoned marts & gas stations and a mining station.

Snowy had no real experience with defending against an attack, so she studied several Youtubes of bases made to be hard to crack. The result was what she called a "Frustrator." It was a two story base with a top wall that sloped outward - which rendered scaling to the top with ladders impossible without wrecking them. The top of the base was a "battledeck" with special slit windows that defenders could fire out of, but were reasonable protected. And the walls were made of high quality metal, making it a tough nut to crack. And if they did, they place was "honeycombed" with garage doors that were more difficult to take down than normal metal doors. And the tool cabinet was cleverly hidden. This would not be an easy base to take down.

My personal experience with defending against being raided has had, mixed results. A lot of redundant doors made a few turn around and leave before getting to anywhere important. One I caught in the act trying to chop down a door with hatchets, and blasted him. However I've found well-planned and equipped raids impossible to stop. Only once was I online and at the base when this happened, and I was poorly prepared, the two invaders armed with explosives blasting their way through and me with just a shotgun and grenades. I tried waiting in ambush, then tried tossing a grenade just as the wall in front of me came down. But somehow instead of being thrown, the grenade fell to my feet. Respawning in my bed, I tried getting them from behind with a pistol. But they saw me coming, and stopped me with a machine gun. There was nothing I could do after that, and they pretty much wrecked the place. Later on after traps were developed, I once logged on to find a hole in the wall and a number of doors knocked down, the last one having a shotgun trap behind it.

Concluding a determined raid couldn't be stopped at the outer wall, instead of going all out to try to, I concentrated on making the place hard to get through once inside. The place was also larger than Snowy's base, with individual bedrooms, the refinery and large furnace inside the building, and numerous stairwells. Only the bottom of the outer wall was metal and high quality metal. the rest was wood, with interior walls made of metal and stone. There were numerous HQM doors, most of which could be where the tool cabinet was hidden. But it was well hidden that would made finding it hard, at least that's what I thought. The main "vault room" where most of the guns and more valuable items were stored was out of the way, and I thought about making my stand there if they did get in for an ambush. And then there were the traps. I placed shotgun traps all over, notably in the stairwells and behind doors in closets. Thankfully Snowy had encouraged me to learn about making an electrical system, so I set up windmills and batteries, and rigged a number of turrets. Maybe Umbra would make a mess going in, but I was determined to make it a slow hard slog.

Snowy and I also ended up cooperating some, trading some resources. I guess we saw it as more than just a competition, but also cooperating against someone who thought he could beat us, "All your base are belong to us." I also started helping her in fights against the Bradley Armored Personnel Carrier, patrolling the launch site. The thing is tough to beat, with a machine gun and a cannon. While it's possible to blow it up with explosive charges, you'll need a rocket launcher and rockets if you want much of a chance. Snowy found the best place to fire at it was from the top of one of the buildings. Beating the thing, you have a chance of finding an M249 light machine gun in the loot crates, one of the best guns in the game and one that can be found only by beating that or the attack helicopter, or things like heavy metal doors, which helped me in honeycombing my base. Snowy found taking it on and blowing it up therapeutic, as well as a team-building exercise. While she occasionally went after it alone, she usually had the help of her friend Nikki. For me, it helped that the launch site was not far from the sulfur quarry. Since the thing ran without my help anyway as long as it had fuel, several times I would go and help her while it churned out the mineral. I also gave her some shotgun traps.

With all of the traps on my base, I was confident at times Umbra would be in for it. Recalling the scene in "Home Alone" when the burglars called the kid's home a "funhouse," I started calling it just that. Snowy thought it more resembled a hotel with it's bedrooms and stairs. One small complication, I found out Nydia would be helping Umbra on the raid. Since Nydia and I are close, I was a little worried a hard fight might upset her. But she assured this wouldn't happen. So we got ready, during which time Snowy had a little accident with her camper that she had to take a picture with her camera to be believed.

Finally the day of the contest approached.

After judging Nydia and I will attempt to raid the base for 30 minutes, while we do that you can see how comically bad we are at this kind of thing and/or get shot.  A lot. (Said base if destroyed will be rebuilt)

The day of the raid was going to be on Sunday night, but it got postponed a few days due to technical issues. I used the time to set up another few turrets after getting a few more TV cameras from military crates and Bradley kills. I also set up some "dragons teeth" around the Funhouse walls to discourage ladders. Finally on Wednesday night after the Cutlass party, Snowy and her friend Nikki got ready at her base while I got ready at mine. Umbra and Nydia decided to go after the "Frustrator" first. Umbra was streaming their actions, which made it a little easier for us. A little as we still couldn't always see what Nydia was up to. 
Flying over in their helicopter, they encountered trouble right away as the base had a Surface to Air Missile launcher, as well as their own personal rocket launchers. Nydia dropped Umbra off, and tried to safely land the copter nearby. But it caught fire, and became unusable after she landed. Umbra tried sneaking over, and throwing grenades into the upper windows. It worked sometimes, but while one was respawning and running back, the other was still firing away. Umbra also got hurt by a shotgun trap and blown up by a mine. At one point, Umbra hopped into Snowy's camper and took off, "The keys were right in there." That might have been a successful troll, but unless there were any weapons or ammo in there, no contribution to the fight.

Finally Umbra and Nydia gave the place a rocket barrage from a distance. The walls took a beating, but being made of High Quality Metal, they held. Snowy's team did have some trouble. Stormy came on late, and a glitch knocked her off the team, causing the shotgun traps to go off on her. Then for some reason the shotgun traps started going off on all of them. It seems after two or three respawns, they no longer saw you as friendly. They ended up having to hole up in the sleeping area. But Umbra and Nydia still couldn't get in.

Finally after a little over an hour, Umbra called a ceasefire. Snowy's base had successfully held off the assault. It was then my turn. Seeing their chopper, I tried firing at it with my rocket launcher a couple times. But the only result was to get their attention. They landed and managed to get to the building, and I tried dropping grenades on them. They missed, but I'm sure it shook them up some. I then tried making quick peeks, and fired with my M249 when I had a target, darting back after a few seconds. Once I wasn't quick enough and got nailed with one of Nydia's rockets. I quickly got back up and resumed, and managed to get her back with the gun. They tried grenades, but only ended up knocking themselves out a couple times.

Eventually night fell, then Umbra and Nydia went back and gave the base a rocket barrage from a distance. I tried looking out with night vision goggles, but I couldn't see them. While trying to see them, another rocket ended those efforts, and trying to get back up, I got hit by my own shotgun trap. And with so many of them around, I could only hole up next to the vault and wait for them if they ever made it there. Their rockets ended up blowing a big hole in the side of the building, taking down not just the outer wooden walls, but sections of stone floor and metal and stone walls. Then then started moving inside. But while they took out a few traps, there were still enough turrets to slow them down, Umbra getting knocked out by them a few times and Nydia once.

Finally after a little more than an hour, Umbra called a ceasefire. While they had gotten in, they had neither found the tool cabinet or main stash of supplies. And progress was slow due to the traps. So he felt this counted as a win for me. It was then he noticed, "Um, is your tool cabinet still up?" In all of the excitement, neither one of us noticed it was gone, presumably from the rocket barrage, the stone walls it was behind not quite enough. But since Umbra had already declared for me, it was too late for him to place one of his own. While I'd gotten some unlucky breaks in the fight, in the end luck was on my side.

So both Snowy and I had won against the raids. Nydia ended up leaving her weapons behind at my base after the raid, and Umbra didn't bother picking up those from when he'd gotten clobbered earlier. But they'd left a big hole behind while Snowy's base was intact. It turned out one wall was close to breaking, but it didn't. So she was the bigger winner in the competition. Nydia and Umbra offered for us to return the favor on their base, but Snowy answered she'd rather take out Bradley another time.

Umbra would later do a post-mortem on the raids. The fight at the Frustrator had more people getting clobbered more often, Umbra getting 5 kills while clobbered three times. Nydia got two kills in while being knocked out three times. Snowy was even, four to four, while Nikki got a kill in while getting knocked out three times. Stormy having gotten in late ended up getting clobbered once by opposing action without getting a kill of her own. Umbra didn't count the deaths by the shotguns. With the Funhouse, there were fewer kills overall, but more friendly fire accidents and several kills by the turrets. Umbra missed one of the two rocket kills by Nydia on me and considered us even. He never got a kill on me, joking that time he was a "deployable dummy," just on the traps which he considered hollow victories. "Those turrets Bix ..." he would later groan, saying they really hurt, musing if the machines ever take over, I'd have a place among the robotic overlords.

So could the lessons here be applied to a base in a PvP base? Maybe. We both knew when the attack was coming and had time to prepare. In PvP servers, this would seldom happen, attacks coming anytime from anywhere and most likely when we were asleep and logged off. There's also that decay was extremely low in the Angel's server. In a normal one, both bases would require materials to maintain every day, mine more overall and Snowy's more of the hard to get high quality metal. Still, some version of the Frustrator would be useful, and would certainly deter a number of raiders who would look for easier targets.

With the competition over, Snow and I would take on Bradley a few more times. Once I would clobber it solo while waiting for her, real-life having interrupted her trip over. But most of our time was getting ready for the wipe by deciding what to store in our backpacks to make setting up again easier. Snowy had gotten more M249 light machine guns than we could take. Umbra told us we couldn't take metal, wood, or stone. Among the things I would take with me were several weapons and stacks of ammo, pipes and tech parts, a stack of cloth, a tier three workbench, and lots of scrap. Snowy and I would say goodbye to our vehicles and bases that served us well.

And if we hold another base-defense competition? Foxy would say he might take part if we have another, time permitting. I've also thought about what worked and what didn't and what I might do differently. But there won't be another for some time at least. As for what Umbra's challenge will be in October, he hasn't told us much. His only clue was that it would involve "precision." That could mean a number of things. In the meantime, there's time to prepare for whatever it is, and time to set ourselves up again after the wipe.

"Good gaming to you,"

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Rust: Automotive Addition and "Wacky Races" Part Deux

 By Bixyl Shuftan

It's been some time since I last wrote about my experiences in Rust. I last wrote about the survival MMO somewhat infamous for its PVP action in August 2019. The reason was when I had to get a new computer around then, the game took over an hour to load and easily disconnected. So I had to say goodbye to the game for a while.

Recently, I had my computer upgraded. And not only has my performance in Second Life improved, so have other games. And Rust is playable once more. There's been some more changes to the game over the past few years. But the most interesting one from my point of view has been the addition of cars. 
There have been alternatives to getting around on foot before that. But it's my opinion this is more of a game-changer than the others. Boats just take you around the shore and maybe up a stream if you can get to one. Balloons are slow to control. While horses are more versatile, they can be killed with gun fire, as well as you. Cars, or modular cars as they're officially called, are not only faster than horses, which can make a difference with that pesky chopper, but one often feels more comfortable inside a vehicle if someone might take a shot at them. 

So where do you get a car in Rust? You can find them alongside the roads, abandoned and in poor shape. To get one up and running, you're going to need to repair the vehicle with metal, wood, and maybe some high quality metal. You're also going to have to find engine parts: crankshaft, carburetor, pistons, spark plugs, and valves. And you're also going to need some fuel in it's gas tank. Once those are taken care of, you have your car. Keeping it, however, is another issue. Someone else could swipe it if it's unattended. And in the words of one Dutch player, "they deteriorate faster then a French sedan." So if you're offline too long, the car will fade (or Rust) away. 

To take care of both problems, you need a car lift (hydraulic jack) *and* electric power going into it, constantly if you don't want your car to degrade. So you're going to need a power source: a solar panel (put outside where the sun shines), windmill (huge, the higher up it's placed, the better the power, works night and day), or a generator (small, but can be placed inside), a battery (small, medium, or large), and a wire unit. Place the power source and battery, then plug the latter into the former then plug the battery into the lift. It's now powered, and when you drive your car onto it, it will be maintained as long as the power is going. 
Lifts, as well as windmills and solar panels, appear once in a great while in crates. Or you can buy one at an outpost for some scrap. Or you can use the new research table system to learn the blueprint at a level 2 workbench. For the later, you're going to need to farm a lot of scrap if you don't have the bench yet.

Once it's on a powered jack, either your own or the one at the Junkyard, you can make a lock on the car so no one else can just drive off with it. This cost 75 metal, and you'll need to keep the key on you. If someone knocks you out and you can't get back to your items in time, you won't be able to drive it. While it's on the jack, you can also modify the car. You can take sections off and replace them and move them around. The larger the framework, or chassis, the more sections can go on. Sections aren't available in crates, but you can research and build them with metal and wood and maybe some high quality metal. You can make yourself a flatbed truck in which a buddy can shoot from, a storage truck with space for loot you find while going about or on raids, a camper with storage space and a cooker for meat plus a bed you can respawn at, or some combination with a large chassis.
And yes, if you get hit by a car hard enough, you end up having to respawn. Conversely, you can also kill things while driving them, such as those pesky bears and shoot-on-sight scientists. After getting "ninja-beared" so often, it was sweet revenge turning bears into roadkill. 

For me, cars have changed the game in Rust. I can get around places and farm items faster. Instead of having to stop somewhere for the night I can just turn on the lights and drive home. There's also a less primitive feel about the game. This has made the game more interesting. 

For more on cars, check out this guide here: Rustified Modular Vehicles Guide.
With a two-section chassis, you can put in a large engine and a cockpit for a racer, which will go faster if high quality engine parts are used. In a PvP server, this would be useful from getting away from danger in a hurry. In a PvE server, perhaps less of a need for a faster car. But the lack of actual humans trying to get you means one can hold a race. Earlier this year, Nydia started up her Angels server in Rust again, and in May they had what got called the "Wacky Races." They had so much fun, there was talk of eventually doing another. 

Finally in late July, I had my computer upgraded. And among the first things I did was to download Rust once more and check out Nydia's server. I took a look at my friends' bases, took part in some zombie raid defenses, and set up a little place of my own. But not for long. It was soon time for The Wipe. And before long, we had to start over. This time I would set up a place next to a road near a grocery store and not too far from the junkyard. Snowy and her friends would set up a few buildings in the desert area on both sides of the road. 

Shortly after the middle of the month, there was talk to doing another "Wacky Race." Players such as Kamida and I wanted to give it a go. And Snowy wanted to try again after overturning last time. So we agreed, and Umbra began building a course. 

Finally, he announced it was ready for a test run, so I decided to check it out. The starting line was a little north of Snow's compound.

Next to it was a garage called the "Pist N Broke Speedway." Jasmine joked she was thinking "Pissed And Broke."

Inside were the cars for the race. Since the server was No Decay, the lifts didn't need to be powered unless the cars were being worked on.

Umbra let us practice a few times.  The race was originally going to be on a Sunday, but it got postponed a day to Monday. 
Several of us, Jasmine, Nydia, Snowy, Nikki, and myself were taking part. Umbra was also taking part, but was also watching over things.

The start of the track was a twig build that went straight for several seconds, then led to a turn, 
followed by a jump. 

And then back onto the road.

Then a heads up things were about to get interesting.

 The course went off the road onto some rough ground.

Which could easily result in you going topsy-turvy.

Eventually, there was a road besides the course, but a very narrow one through some woods.

Then back onto the main road.

 It was then back onto another stretch of wooden track.
 Which led to another jump.

And back onto the road.

And soon things got cold.

Which led to some offroad into the snow.


And at one point going over a frozen lake and it's ice. I never tried braking on that. 
Just after that was an airport, 

and it's narrow security gate.

Past the airport, it was down a stretch of road in the cold area.

 That soon changed to temperate.

 Then the course went offroad again, 

this time onto a section of rails. 

Bear, you better run.

The forest soon thinned to the dry and somewhat flatter land.

A brief patch of green.

Then back onto the dry land.

Driving up onto higher ground.

After some time, the course led back on the road for the final stretch.


 And back at the start and stop line. The race involved two laps.
 The race went wacky from the start. A couple cars overturned at the first turn, and after the first jump my car did as well. I spent some time trying to push it up, and with that I figured winning was unlikely, just avoid finishing last. I ended up overturning as well in the cold area, along with Umbra's car. As we were both trying to push our cars upright, somehow mine ended up on top of my persona and I ended up having to respawn. Umbra had to teleport me back to my location, where I got my items back, uprighted the car, and resumed the race. Second lap, after the first jump I lost track of where the course was supposed to go and had to turn around to find it once more. And all of us ran over various critters, and shot at by NPC scientists.

First place was Jasmine, then came Nydia, myself, Nikki, Snowy, then Umbra himself. 

Umbra's reward to Jazzy for finishing first was to lend her the Chinook helicopter, normally NPC controlled, to Jazzy for an hour. Yes, it's flying upside down. 

Nydia would say, "I want to publicly thank Umbra profusely for all his hard work on our servers, and without him, we wouldn't have them."

There would be a couple more races. Nydia, Umbra, and I would have another one a few days later. She ended up first, followed by me, then Umbra. The day before I finished this article, Snowy, Nikki, and I had another. I finished the first lap first. But without Umbra there the chopper showed up, and when my car overturned, it caught up to me and fired a missile salvo. I had to respawn and run over back to the car. Nikki had her own problems, her car ending up into the water. Snowy was first, then me, then Nikki. There should be at least one more before the end of the month.

So what happens next month after The Wipe? Umbra says he may just hold a competition to see who can come up with the most raid-resistant base. But this isn't the end of the racing. He may build another track in October or November.

In the meantime, some of the group have been checking out another Rust server run by "The Orange Floof" (FriendlyDaWusky Resident). This one has treasure hunts, in which people try to get to the spot in time, defeat the guards, then grab what's in the trunk. But the server also has some lag. Floof plans to change this soon.

There are other things to talk about soon. There are the backpack mods that allow people to store additional items, which are carried over if the person gets clobbered and depending on what the moderator wants may carry over through the wipe. There are the zombies that appear at night due to another mod.

But those are for another story.

Thanks again Umbra,
And Jazzy, there's next time.

Bixyl Shuftan