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The evening’s modest goal: A cauldron.

After all the wild and wooly misadventures of late, I thought I’d have a quiet evening working on the farm Unna and I have been building. Our carrot production was ramping up so we’d soon have enough to feed captive boars, replant and use to make Carrot Soup to add some all important diversity to our Valheim diet.

Carrot Soup requires a cauldron and a cauldron requires Tin. Tin can only be found in the Black Forest, often near the shore, so that shouldn’t be too hard. I was also looking for more Fine Wood which comes from Oak and Birch trees. Some of those should be in the Black Forest as well. As far as I can tell, there are no Oak or Birch “seeds” in game yet, so they cannot be farmed yet.

Fair enough, I’ll go get some Tin and along the way collect whatever Fine Wood I could find along with any Raspberries, Blueberries or Mushrooms I mind find too. Because Tin is usually near the coast, I’ll take the Karve which has 4 modest storage slots.

Of course, if I’m going to be mining in the Black Forest, I might as well plan for collecting Copper too, if I find it. Bronze is always needed and I’ve been consuming more than I’ve been collecting and feeling a little guilty. And if I’m sailing to the Black Forest, I might as well skirt some new territory to see if we can find that elusive trader, Haldor, who has yet to show himself. This is my typical session in Valheim– an ever expanding list of things to do, all sparked by desire to accomplish One Simple Thing.

Ok, Tin, Copper, Wood, Berries, a longer sail… This could get time consuming if I have to go back and forth. Enter the Container Freight Solution. In looking on the web for something about Birch and Oak seeds, or lack thereof, I ran across a quick reference to putting a cart on a boat to be able to increase the Karve’s carrying capacity.

Well, if I’m headed out to collect things by boat, this sounds like a great idea to tryout. The first challenge was to get a cart on to the boat.

First attempt, I wheeled the cart down to the dock and scratched my head. A vain attempt to drag it on to the boat from the side failed, so I went with Plan B. Build a platform over the deck, build the cart on the platform, destroy the platform.

Of course, I attempted this at night, but you can see the floor panel with the cart on it as I’m about to destroy the floor.

Success! Platform removed, cart on deck. Time for a shakedown cruise. I wasn’t keen on filling it up until I was reasonably certain it wouldn’t end in complete disaster, so off I went.

The cart seems to get knocked about a bit on deck which is a little disconcerting. The pull shafts seem to get caught up in the sail lines as it pivots with the wind. Still it seems to handle the rough seas fine enough.

Surviving the shakedown cruise, I finally got to the task at hand. I left the boat just a bit off shore because of a nearby troll. There’s always a troll… As soon as I started mining some copper, the troll decided to visit. Troll dispatched, I resumed mining only to hear the sound of crunching coming from the boat. I immediately suspected grey dwarves.

No dwarves. The boat and cart seemed to be having some kind of a tussle and damage figures were floating in the air. At first, I thought perhaps I’d moored too near a submerged rock and the swell was beating the boat on it. When I got on the boat though, it was clear that the cart seemed to be fixed to the landscape while the boat was floating on the water. As a result, the boat was dashing itself against the cart and taking damage.

I couldn’t move the cart, and I couldn’t destroy it, so I finally managed to yank the boat free before it destroyed itself (note the damage in the screenshot below). With the boat out of the way, the cart remained fixed but floating just above the water.

Various attempts ensued to build a platform out to, under and around the cart to either retrieve it or break it down, all to no avail. Finally, I gave up and had to log out for some chores around the house.

To my amazement, when I logged back on, the cart was still there, but this time it was floating in the water so I was able to bump it back to shore and roll it up on to land again.

My plan was to just break it down and continue experiments at a later time. After all, the whole point of this excursion was to get materials for a damned cauldron and 2 hours into it, I was no closer to my goal.

In for a penny, in for a pound, so before I completely gave up on the cart-on-a-boat idea, and thinking of how many land or sea trips it would take to retrieve the ore I just mined, I decided to give one more go.

I built a proper dock with the level of the dock well above the height of the gunwales of the boat. Then I grabbed the cart and just rolled it on to the boat. While far from a precision operation, the extra height was just enough to allow the cart to fall into the boat in suitable fashion. I loaded it up with 800+ pounds of stuff and off I went back to base. While the boat didn’t ride any lower, handling certainly felt more sluggish. I’m assuming the physics engine is still accounting for weight somewhere.

On arrival at my home port, I was confronted with the opposite problem. Do I shuttle all those goods out of the cart on deck or is there another way. Well, at this point, safe at home, I said what the heck, lets try the brute force method first.

I got in the boat, stepped into the control position of the cart, took control and with a mighty tug or three, managed to yank the fully loaded cart off the boat onto the dock. Op success.

From that it was a piece of cake to pull the load up to the crafting area of the base.

Now all I had to do was turn piles of wood into coal, smelt the tin and copper ore, carrying some tin and copper overland to the farm base, build a forge, and then the cauldron so finally, I could make my carrot soup.

Just another typical day in Valheim.

Valheim: Teachable Moments

Would have been nice for this to be a river and not an isthmus…

The bounty of Valheim experiences continues fast and furious. So much so, that its hard to find time not playing in order to share anything. Ultimately, I take that as a good thing. Valheim does a great job of sucking you in deeper and deeper. Most tasks are very accessible but inevitably suck you into deeper and deeper game play.

Case in point, harvesting basic timber (Beech) with a simple took (stone or flint axe) will cause basic crafting recipes to unlock. In the next higher difficulty Black Forest biome, Fir and Pine trees appear which can also be harvested with basic tools but Pine trees drop core wood which unlocks more crafting recipes. Even the incurious will likely get sucked into the lure of the pursuit of new gear to harvest new materials to make new gear/items to harvest more new materials to make more new gear, etc.

Valheim will often tease you with the upgrade path before you know its there. As we all know too well, falling trees cause a lot of damage (and are responsible for much early stage comedy as well). Falling Beech trees will damage adjacent trees as they fall. Sometimes that will completely break a tree into lootable wood. Even trees that you wouldn’t have been able to harvest with a stone or flint axe like Birch or Oak. That’s how some fine wood dropped for me and voila, a host of new mostly aspirational recipes unlocked for me, teasing me with more goals… etc. Maddeningly addictive. Just five more minutes until, something else…

Continue reading Valheim: Teachable Moments

Valheim Creative Mode

As Wilhelm mentioned, over on Syncaine’s blog, I can be a bit particular about building. Back in Minecraft on Wilhelm’s survival server, Ula and I, got a bit obsessed with constructing a facsimile of a portion of Renaissance-era Firenze or something like it– Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi galleries (filled with art), Ponte Vecchio (with Vasari Corridor and shops) and the cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori. A walled city we turned into a village complete with villagers, shops around the plaza, the whole bit.

Minecraft Firenze in its heyday circa 2016.

What really set the hook with that effort was having a big goal/idea with an extensible theme that spun off countless smaller intermediate goals all connected by a theme. Italian renaissance castle was the big idea, which spawned the town idea which spawned the need for new materials, technologies and building techniques. Once set in motion, there was always something else to be done in pursuit of realizing the fuzzy vision.

Continue reading Valheim Creative Mode

Resurrected in Viking Purgatory

A new world to explore…

So what kind of a game will make someone who hasn’t posted in seven+ years to revive their blog? Not Minecraft although Wilhelm, myself and others must have spent thousands(?) of wonderful hours there. Not even World of Warcraft Classic which we’ve been enjoying immensely since its launch 18 months ago. While I’ve enjoyed those immensely, I just didn’t feel I had much to say about those experiences.

Valheim is different though. It had all the hallmarks of something not worth seriously considering– a survival game that was a Steam early access title and charging money to boot. Ha! Ula convinced us all to give it a go and the rest is history as Wilhelm has dutifully chronicled being the Venerable Bede of our virtual adventures…

Its been a long time since I really got that “five more minutes” feeling and then slinked off to bed after midnight on a work night. Not posting in seven years also means I’m even less likely to miss my bedtime. So what seems to be working with Valheim? Exploration? Check. Progression? Check. Base building? Check. Skill-based progression? Check. Co-op multiplayer (but not massively)? Check. Private hosted server? Check. Beautiful environment? Check. I’m sure COVID fatigue is certainly playing a role in fueling my escapist enthusiasm, but its not the only thing. It seems I’m not alone in getting sucked in.

If you asked me how I’d improve Minecraft to suit my play style, I think I’d end up designing something very much like Valheim. So much so, it feels like someone has been eavesdropping on my brain.

One of the challenges our small group has always been the varied amounts of time that we all have to play a given game. Progression mechanics tend not to be very forgiving for someone with limited play time. No one likes to feel like they are “behind” or alternatively that they are being held back by the slowest member of the team. Our little group made the conscious decision to carefully limit our progression during our times in WoW over the last fifteen years, as painful as that can be, in order to keep us all at the same level so we can experience challenging and level-appropriate content as a group.

Minecraft certainly allowed players with different time budgets to play together and collaborate, but it was always more about building than true progression. Combat, for me at least, was never compelling and more of an environmental risk than playstyle.

In Valheim, there just doesn’t seem to be a right and a wrong way to approach combat. There are situational choices that are favored– I’m not looking to attempt backstabbing trolls yet– but by and large, there are interesting choices to be made and those can simply be based on one’s taste. Positioning and reacting (blocking and dodging) can matter but its not so twitchy that my age addled reflexes are overwhelmed. Rumor has it that content difficulty is scaled to adapt to how many players are involved. I have no data on that, but if that is true, that may be the killer feature of the game. So far, I can thoroughly enjoy/challenge myself as a solo or with several friends on the same content regardless of relative skill level. Whether this remains the case over the long haul, we shall see, but for now. All is well in Valheim.

 

 

 

Regression to the Mean

After our successful run to our forward base in Curse, I finally had at least one doctrine combat ship, a Harpy, and my Viator blockade runner, in theater.  Owing to time zone issues (US West Coast), I’ve successfully missed all of the various coalition and alliance convoys headed to the combat zone.  So my plan was to forward deploy a pile of doctrine ships in a nearby high sec system and shuttle them into Curse in my Viator under the cloak of, well cloak.

Retracing our circuitous route through the Great Wildlands, all was going well after a few close brushes at the gates near Goon and TNT operations in Curse.  Once off the beaten track, I was often the only person in a system.  The track through the Great Wildlands consisted almost entirely of systems without stations, so visitors are few and fleeting.

Roll file footage of Great Wildlands courtesy of TAGN
Roll file footage of Great Wildlands courtesy of TAGN

Of course, I was feeling pretty good and well along the way when I entered what I now know is the gate system from null to low sec.  Had I done a bit more homework, I would have know that.  It also would have perhaps impressed upon me what is obvious to vets, but less obvious to null sec noobs like me: you’ll find bubbles and camps on the null sec side of these gates as bubbles aren’t permitted in low sec.

Such was my state of mind after about 10 null sec systems where I was the only person in system when I jumped into the gate system and saw reds in local but none on grid.  Again, had I done my homework, I would have realized that of the three gates in the system, they were most likely to be camping the gate to low sec, but who does their homework these days…

Continue reading Regression to the Mean