On April 1st, We Ride.

Holidays in online games… I usually rely on Wilhelm to keep track of these sorts of things. Some love them, some hate them. For me it definitely depends on the game, the holiday and how inspired the developers decided to be.

What I wasn’t expecting was Zwift to get into the spirit of things. I like me some whimsy too, so huffing and puffing around London on my Big Wheel was just the thing I needed to break up my day.

Wonderfully wobbly back wheels, but sadly no handbrake for those bootleg U turns of our youth. Nicely done, Zwift.

Continue reading On April 1st, We Ride.

A Year in Lockdown — Part II

A series of long, non-gaming posts. Mostly to just document this extraordinary time. Part I is here.

Life in the Bunker

Continuing from last time– During the spring while the supply chain was stabilizing somewhat– at least it seemed like we weren’t likely to starve in the near term, much of everything else remained in a state of precariousness.

On the work front, management’s initial denialism from January and February was overtaken by the events of lockdown. I make the distinction here between leadership and management. We had plenty of the latter and scant little of the former.

Fortunately, when the lockdowns began rolling out county by county (and thereby potentially impacting our offices and all of the employees differently depending on where they lived), our former leader was recruited back to a temporary position of de facto leadership to help guide our organization through these existentially dangerous straits. A little demonstration of leadership in a crisis goes a long way. Particularly one that remained clear eyed, rooted in factual reality, capable of communicating and cognizant of the fact that human beings were involved in the process.

We found ourselves with a business, far from “essential,” with about two thirds of its employees unable to work. The pandemic and lockdown prevented all but the most rudimentary activities in our offices, and most couldn’t do their work remotely in any case. Temporary layoffs were the order of the day.

The rest of us were desperately trying to work for our customers whose lives and businesses were thrown into chaos as well. It wasn’t even clear how any of our customers were going to survive the disruption (and frankly, whether we were ever going to get paid, and thus whether we would survive in any recognizable form).

Continue reading A Year in Lockdown — Part II

A Year in Lockdown–Part I

A series of long, non-gaming posts. Mostly to just document this extraordinary time.

The Gathering Gloom

It was just about a one year ago when the world here changed. The COVID stay-at-home/shelter-in-place, call it what you will measures began rolling out just about one year ago now, catching many flat footed.

I live and work in Northern California just outside the Bay Area. About a year ago, the Bay Area counties announced their lockdown and surrounding areas were rapidly moving in that direction too. We were expecting something any moment.

We had been following the developing situation for weeks with increasing trepidation. While up north Seattle was becoming a local hotspot, transportation and network connections were distributing COVID globally in now fairly obvious ways, but at the time in ways that certainly didn’t seem direct. From abroad to an elder care home in Seattle seemed pretty indirect and frankly terrifying. There was no good news. Only bad news and worse news.

Continue reading A Year in Lockdown–Part I

Troll Magnet

Fortunately, I’m wearing all metal…

Ever had one of those days? I guess technically in Valheim, every day is one of those days which is sort of the point I guess. Working from home during lockdown has at least one advantage lately and that is being able to duck into Valheim at lunchtime and potter around a bit.

Valheim, being Valheim, I know not to set my lunchtime ambitions too high. Something mundane is usually safe like gathering and replanting some wood or tinkering around with base improvements. Of late, I’ve been anticipating making a new and improved dock for a soon to be launched longboat now that we are comfortably in the iron age. Some surveying and head scratching needed to be done, so a lunchtime look around and think seemed just the thing.

Until a troll raid started that is. There’s always a troll. Or this time, two trolls.

There I was down at the dock site with a cart full of materials outside the wall, no food (I was only feet from the main base after all) when I here the noise and see the ominous screen warning “THE GROUND IS SHAKING”.

Trolls being trolls, they made a beeline for the just finished crafting building in the compound. Hearing that gut wrenching crunching sound, I left the cart where it was and sprinted up the hill to the backside of the base only to see the pallisade come down and a troll in the compound wailing on the roof.

Fortunately, it was daytime, I had arrows and I was able to aggro the troll and kite him out of the base. His friend came along, but I had to keep doubling back to make sure I kept him interested too. I kited him a good distance away, plinking and running until I finally had the first one down and then turned to number two.

With only one to dodge, that went smoothly. I returned to the carnage.

Well, with the compound cracked open, there was nothing to be done but start picking up the pieces. The court yard is the new hub for ore operations. Ore can carted in the gate and unloaded into a chest which protrudes through the wall next to the smelter. Likewise, there is a chest next to the charcoal kiln on the same wall, so loading and unloading is quick and easy and the workflow inside the crafting hall is quick and easy being able to transfer wood to kiln, then coal from kin to smelter or coal storage chest without having to move.

Likewise, one can feed ore from the ore box into the smelter, collect the iron bars and deposit them into the chest next to the forge without having to move. Elegant efficiency. Until trolls show up.

The boxes of wood, coal and iron ore being pretty full, when the trolls attacked, they went for the smelter and kiln destroying the holding chests which leaves a rather untidy mess to clean up. And because of the weights involved, there’s quite a bit of shifting of materiel to be done.

Well, that’s the way the palisade crumbles some days, so I became resigned that my lunch hour would not be engineering a new dock and lighthouse but rather repairing what I just finished building yesterday…

With all restored, I still had a few minutes to get back to the dock project. I must have been back down there all of two minutes when the SECOND TROLL RAID began…

Mrs. Potshot across the house heard me shout, “you’ve got to be kidding…” Back on troll patrol, I was better able to handle these guys and distract them before they got any real damage on the base.

Base defended, I logged off until just before dinner while I was waiting for the bread to finish. If there’s a second good thing about lockdown, its been the opportunity to rekindle my bread baking, but that’s another story entirely.

While the house was filling with that fresh bread smell, I finally got to work on the new dock. That’s the screen shot at the top of the post. The storms rolled in and the seas turned angry. Out at the end of the dock, mountainous rollers would sweep the end of the new pier while I was working away hoping that lightning strikes weren’t a thing in Valheim.

After running low on stone and with time short before dinner, I decided to hop on out to our Dieppe base– see Wilhelm’s blog for the story there– to retrieve some supplies of stone that we wouldn’t need there.

Through the portal I went, I filled myself up with stone when “THE GROUND BEGINS SHAKING” again… Of course this troll went straight to work on the palisade wall and guard tower. Unfortunately, he didn’t lose interest and the compound was breached. My third troll raid today…just as my oven timer went off…

What’s that in the road, a head?

Running low on arrows and stamina, bread hopefully not burning in the oven, timer incessantly chirping at me just out of reach, I gambled that I could defeat the raiding trolls before my bread burned and for once the gamble paid off. Trolls dispatched, bread out of the oven, it was time to rebuild the Dieppe base defenses before dinner.

Maybe this evening I’ll finally get to that dock.

To Build or to Explore…

I seem to be splitting my time in Valheim between base building and exploration. I enjoy base building immensely and my server mates indulge me by providing copious quantities of materials so I can build and enhance the public facilities.

If I had to tally the time spent doing each, I’d probably say 70% base building/ 30% exploring.

Near our main base, I found a nice abandoned farming community in a Meadows biome so I began redomesticating that with a barn and guard tower. Of course, just a short jaunt to the north was a beautiful point at a navigable river delta and the sea that connects our home island, the farm island, our first swamp/crypt delvings and our Elder Base which became bronze central because of the abundance of copper in the Black Forest there.

At the point, Unna wanted to create a new base and I wanted to experiment with something different, so the Round House was born. Building in the round is a bit fiddly but I learned quite a bit building this one.

Continue reading To Build or to Explore…