My blog’s first birthday

Yeah, I missed it by a couple of days. Oops. šŸ™‚

birthday cake 1
Have a piece of cake anyway

On June 6th 2017 I wrote my first (and second) blog post(s). I had been reading fellow gamer’s blogs for quite a while and been thinking about writing myself more than once, but never got around to it until then.

I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, just that I wanted to write about things that interest me and occupy my thoughts. My target audience: myself, first and foremost. As I said in my first post, I want to capture and hold on to events that delighted, fascinated or just amused me. If anyone happens to stumble upon my musings and finds reading them worthwhile I’m all the happier of course.

The first year yielded 34 entries, almost one entry every ten days on average. This is of course much, much less than most bloggers produce. The main reason for that is my pretty high personal threshold for what’s interesting enough to be written about. While I like to read about fairly mundane things (if it’s done in an appealing way) I very often deem stuff that happens to myself not worthy to write down. I just can’t imagine myself or anyone else being interested in reading about how I did my dailies in Path of Exile for the umpteenth time or that yesterday’s EVE Online fleet went largely uneventful. But maybe I’m just not as capable an author as the good folks whose blogs I always like to read, no matter the contents.

If I do write about something I usually use a lot words though. If WordPress offers a total wordcount of all posts combined I can’t find it, but I’d estimate that I wrote about 800 – 900 words per entry on average, which would sum up to about 29.000 words. That’s not as much as it sounds (an average novel clocks in somewhere between 50k and 100k), but if you had asked me 15 months ago if I’d be willing to blog almost 30k words within a year I would probably have declined politely but decisively.

It seems that I don’t want to talk about stuff very often, but when I do want to talk I like to be thorough (Lakisa would probably use the word ‘exhaustive’).

Unsurprisingly the majority of posts were about the games I played. 13 were at least in part about EVE Online, 10 about Black Desert Online, 4 about Overwatch and 2 about Path of Exile, which more or less reflects the time I spent playing these games during that year. 8 were about broader gaming topics like player-made music, randomness or toxicity in multiplayer environments. I haven’t talked much about non-gaming topics at all yet, but maybe I’ll get to that during this second year.

I’m really glad to have started this blog. Writing is a lot of fun, lets me practice my English and, most importantly, preserves events and experiences I might forget about otherwise. A big Thank You to all bloggers who inspired me to do this, to Lakisa for reading it all and encouraging me, and to everyone who also takes the time to read it. Cheers!

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Starting over in PoE’s Incursion League

About three times a year a new three-month challenge league kicks off in Path of Exile. Every participant starts at zero, without access to their high level characters and well-stocked stash. As the name implies there are challenges to overcome and in doing so exclusive prices to be earned.

While many games do something like this to keep the playerbase entertained, Grinding Gear Games go the extra mile by introducing a new kind of game mechanic for each and every league and making that new content a central part of the experience. Most of the time these new mechanics have proven to be fun and rewarding gameplay elements and were subsequently added to the game as a whole after the respective league ended, albeit with a much lesser probability to spawn in any given area.

PoE_Abyss
Like these Abysses, expanding cracks in the ground spawning lots of monsters and a special loot container at the end

There have been lots of challenge leagues by now, hence a great many interesting mechanics have made their way into the game. Despite being ‘just’ an ARPG and basically being about nothing but killing hundreds of thousands of monsters, the game has reached a point where it never gets boring. Well, to me at least.

I’m not the fastest or most efficient monster slayer and loot collector though, so starting over multiple times a year was never really a viable option for me. I made my first character in the Ambush League when I started playing the game over four years ago. After that league ended and my characters were converted to Standard I actually never played in another challenge league until now.

This time some things were different. My main characters in Standard are pretty much at the end of their (reasonably obtainable) progression, and while just playing the game is fun and all, progression as a motivator is not to be underestimated. Also the new league looked even more interesting to me than the ones before.

The new league is named Incursion and has an Aztec theme going, which already appeals to me aesthetically as well as historically. The mechanics are also pretty cool. In almost every area (this will be toned down a good bit later in the base game, I’m sure) you meet Alva Valai, an archaeologist of sorts, who is searching for an ancient temple’s location. She can teleport you back in time to one of the temple’s rooms while still under construction. There you have to fight its inhabitants and, depending on what you do, alter layout and properties of the finished temple.

PoE_Temple
Planning an incursion into the Jeweller’s Workshop

There’s always a pretty narrow time limit and mobs don’t always drop the keys you need to progress in the way you had planned, but it’s fun either way. After eleven incursions Alva pins down the temple’s location in the present and travels there, taking you along for the ride. The temple is huge and can be rather challenging (at least on lower levels). The rewards vary, as always, but until now I always felt it was worth my time, and, more importantly, pretty fun.

I decided to again play a Summoner Witch for this, although I have a high level one on Standard already. I just like the playstyle so much and know it in and out, so I know exactly what I can and can’t do with her.

PathOfExile Incursion Summoner
Not quite the army I’m used to yet, but getting there

How much fun is starting over, then?

Pretty darn fun, I have to say. At first I was a bit annoyed by not even having the barest necessities available (like enough Scrolls of Wisdom to identify everything I picked up), and by my Zombies dying too often. But from level 15 or so I got into the groove again, and also started to feel the motivation that stems from progressing left and right, all the time, in one way or another. There’s always the next character level, another cool quest reward, another new item, oh, now I can have a personal hideout again, all while doing incursions and shaping the next temple run to my liking.

I had completely forgotten how hard it can be to obtain gear with the right amount of linked sockets in the right colours so you can use your important skills with the strength they need to have for you to succeed. Once you’re used to having hundreds or even thousands of Orbs for crafting your equipment just right you forget how it feels to not have them.

PoE_Currency
My Standard currency stash on the left, Incursion stash at the end of the league’s second day on the right

Astonishingly this has been one of the most fun aspects of starting over for me. Swapping out an ok piece of gear for a worse one just because the latter has one more gem socket is a bit weird, but also feels kind of cool if it lets me socket the gems that I want. It reminds me a lot of Magic: The Gathering sealed-deck tournaments. Having to make do with what you get instead of having your vast collection of cards at your disposal can be really satisfying if it works.

I don’t regret diving into this new league, and I’m eager to see how many challenges I can complete until it ends.

Playing a Summoner rocks!

I’m having a blast in Path of Exile. The game has expanded so much over the years, it’s actually mindboggling how many systems and mechanics there are. It even has customizable player housing that puts many an MMO’s take on the feature to shame.

The most important aspect of an ARPG, or any RPG really, is of course how fun the characters are to play and evolve though. And I have to say, I’ve never had so much fun just running around and killing stuff in any game of any genre than with my Summoner in PoE.

The game provides nearly infinite possibilities to build your characters to your liking, and while I used a build guide I found in the official forums as a starting point for this Witch she has over time become my very own flavor of the Summoner playstyle. It is not the most effective or powerful character possible, not even close, but this is exactly how I wanted to play an ‘Armymancer’ since Diablo II introduced me to the concept.

Many Summoner builds are highly specialized, using only one type of minion as their main source of damage. Other minions are mostly there as meatshields, or not used at all. In contrast, my goal was to not only have as many minions as possible, I also wanted them to be relatively equal in damage output and general usefulness, maybe just with a different focus (like single target or AoE). Just like an oldschool real world army with infantry, cavalry and artillery, so to speak.

The tried and true backbone of most Summoner builds in PoE are Zombies. They are summoned from the corpses of dead monsters, are pretty tanky and have a single target as well as an AoE melee attack. They don’t have a limited duration, so they only need to be resummoned if they die. I use them in a helmet I crafted with +2 to minion gem levels, three damage enhancing support gems and two unique passive tree jewels to further boost them. They are very good meatshields, but also deal a lot of damage. I can have up to twelve of them.

PathOfExile Zombies
Mine look like Mummies, because Mummies are just way cooler than stinking Zombies.

Next up are Spectres, which are reanimated monsters. These are obviously the most flexible and potentially also the most powerful minions, since almost any normal monster can be revived, and all of its attacks, spells or special properties stay intact. Not only that, they can be enhanced with support skills just like every normal player skill can. This means that a monster that normally shoots a single projectile can for example be supported by Greater Multiple Projectiles to shoot five instead. Which makes monsters like Frost Sentinels great Spectres for clearing whole screens of baddies in an instant.

PathOfExile Frost Sentinels
Which is exactly what I use them for.

Since they are so powerful a character can only have one Spectre by default, but pretty much all such restrictions in PoE can be loosened by special properties of unique items and/or the passive tree. I can use four Spectres at the moment. I could bring that up to five, but I’d have to give up much survivability for that, and I’m pretty squishy as is. In contrast to Diablo II they thankfully don’t have a limited duration here and even persist after logging out.

I also use Raging Spirits. These are fiery floating skulls that, once summoned, fly to their nearest target to continuously attack and kill it, then fly to the next, until their by default pretty short duration has expired. Up to twenty can be summoned at a time, and to achieve that manually one would have to cast them pretty much non stop. Hence I decided to use a unique chest armor which has a built-in Spell Totem support. This means that every spell gem I socket into it isn’t cast directly anymore. Instead a totem is placed at the position of my mouse cursor, which then continuously casts the spell for me. Since the chest piece also raises the maximum amount of totems by one I can now place up to three, which combined spit out Raging Spirits very quickly. They are pretty effective boss killers, but also clear packs well.

PathOfExile Raging Spirits
Always eagerly chasing after their next prey.

It goes without saying that no undead army would be complete without Skeletons. In PoE these don’t need a corpse to be summoned, but have a limited duration. Basically I cast these whenever I have nothing more important to do. I have supported them with additional speed and damage and can have up to ten. The setup also contains a Vaal Summon Skeleton skill gem. Vaal skills areĀ more powerful versions of normal skills that have to be fed a certain amount of souls by killing monsters before they can be used once. I mainly use this for bosses, as it summons a whopping 36 skeletons, a mix of warriors, archers, mages and a General.

PathOfExile Skellies
Go get them, Bones!

Lastly I use a Stone Golem, which doesn’t do a lot of damage but gives myself a nice bonus to life regeneration.

To sum it up, when I have all minions except the Vaal Skeletons up and running I have 12 Zombies, 4 Spectres, 10 Skeletons, 1 Golem and three totems casting up to 20 Raging Spirits.

PathOfExile Army
There’s always a team meeting before battle.

Of course a good General doesn’t just twiddle his thumbs while his army does all the work. I have a range of skills that I use to support as well as direct the minions.

I curse monsters with Vulnerability, making them take more physical damage (which all my minions deal at least in part except for the Frost Sentinels). It also serves handily to guide the minions’ attention towards the cursed area.

I use the Hatred aura to give all minions inside its radius a percentage of their physical damage as bonus cold damage. A Generosity support gem makes the aura no longer affect myself, but increases its effect and radius, making it even stronger for the minions.

With Convocation I can teleport all Zombies, Spectres and the Golem to my position (a skill Diablo II’s Necromancer would have desperately needed) and give them a small Heal over Time.

Offering skills blow up monster corpses to give my minions certain buffs for a period of time. I mostly use Flesh Offering, which increases attack, cast and move speed. When the minions take too much damage I use Bone Offering instead, giving them block chance and additional life regeneration when they block.

Desecrate lets me summon monster corpses whenever I need any but don’t have enough at my disposal (think boss fight without any adds).

Lastly I use a life flask that applies its healing effect not only to myself, but in part also to all minions.

Playing this character feels incredibly satisfying and never becomes a chore. Sometimes there’s so much mayhem going on that I can hardly see anything, but that’s a price I gladly pay for finally being able to play my perfect version of an Armymancer.

PathOfExile Mayhem
When all hell breaks loose…

Now all GGG have to do is find a fix for those freezes and ‘unexpected disconnections’ that happen to me regularly as of late. Seriously, what’s up with that?

Revisiting Path of Exile (again)

During the first half of April we went on vacation. When we returned home I was looking forward to diving into gaming again, but, as is often the case after such a ‘forced break’, once I sat down at my computer I wasn’t quite feeling it. To not log in and play your MMO of choice for a couple hours a day every day for a while sometimes changes your perspective on things, it seems.

I still log into Black Desert every day to get my login goodies and Boss scrolls, but that’s pretty much it at the moment. I don’t intend to quit, but I don’t want to invest the time and energy it takes to do something substantial either. For now.

Whenever I don’t devote most of my playtime to an MMO (or several) and just want to dabble for a bit every now and then my genre of choice is the Action RPG. I fell in love with the playstyle these games offer at the start of 1997 when I sunk ungodly amounts of time into the first Diablo. Since about four years ago my favourite ARPG is Path of Exile.

I started playing after I had watched a trailer for its first expansion, Sacrifice of the Vaal, which I quite liked. That many people dubbed PoE the ‘true’ successor to Diablo II, which I loved and still love, sealed the deal for me.

It’s indeed very obvious right from the start that the folks at Grinding Gear Games are big fans of Diablo II. Even the first thing you do after creating an account and logging in, namely choosing a class for your first character, looks and feels exactly the same.

It’s not a simple carbon copy though, far from it. What they managed to do is to take almost everything that was great about Diablo II and make it even better, perfect it and expand on it, while leaving out its (precious few) weak points.

For example, my most played and highest level character in Diablo II was a Frozen Orb/Fireball/Meteor Sorceress, but my most beloved character was a Necromancer with his army of skeletons, revived monsters and a golem. The playstyle of managing an army, supporting it with curses and other spells while focusing on staying out of harm’s way myself feels incredibly satisfying to me.

The Necro’s design wasn’t perfect though, especially concerning the minions. In PoE I can play an ‘Armymancer’ exactly the way I like, because the most glaring weaknesses the DII-Necro had are gone. When I revive monsters to fight for me they don’t vanish after a couple of minutes, so it’s actually worth it to take the time and hunt for the best possible monsters at the highest level for this. They even persist after logging out of the game nowadays! There are other minions which do have a limited lifespan, but I can do neat things with those too. I can for example place totems which then continuously spit out these minions, so I don’t have to cast them myself and can concentrate on other things.

PoE_Summoner
My Summoner-Witch in her element (sans minions, else you wouldn’t be able to see her).

PoE’s most talked about feature is the passive ability tree. Just one look at it perfectly illustrates why.

PathOfExile Skill Tree
My Summoner-build at level 88 with all available points spent.

It seems overwhelming at first, but you get used to and comfortable with it pretty quickly.

What it indeed does is give you a lot of flexibility to build your character of choice. In a lot of games such perceived flexibility often turns out to be pretty fake in reality because there’s just one or two ‘optimal’ paths. By not choosing one of those you’d gimp yourself, and who would want that?

With this passive tree you can fully play to your build’s strenghts, iron out weaknesses and/or let it do things that it otherwise could not. Above all it makes the character your very own. I’m pretty sure there exists no other Witch with this exact same passive tree, the same items and the same skill gems. As long as you don’t copy a character from the forums or reddit to a T it will be unique, and can still be strong at the highest levels.

Graphics, sound and moment-to-moment gameplay all feel very familiar to Diablo II veterans. The 3D-engine doesn’t quite match the level of detail Blizzard managed to cram into their 2D 640×480 pixels (800×600 with the Lord of Destruction expansion), and in terms of great, spooky atmosphere nothing beats DII’s Act 2 and 3. In my opinion these two aspects are the only ones where PoE doesn’t match or surpass its unofficial predecessor though.

PathOfExile Spectres
To be fair, PoE has some pretty creepy monster design. Fortunately these guys follow MY lead now!

Now, what about the payment model?

It’s free to play and has arguably the best (while not the cheapest) item shop of them all. Not a single item in that shop has any impact on gameplay whatsoever. GGG sell exactly two categories of items there: stash tabs and eye candy.

It’s true that you will definitely want some additional stash tabs once you play the game for longer than a couple of days, but if you wait for a sale on those you can easily nab a lot of storage space for the price of a normal game – and PoE is at least worth as much, let me tell you.

The eye candy is, as always, a matter of taste and completely optional. There are a lot of really nice armor sets, weapon effects etc. on offer, but also some rather hideous ones. Since most armor and weapons found in game aren’t exactly lookers and I wanted to support GGG anyway I’ve decked my other characters out quite a bit too.

PoE_Characters
From top left clockwise: Marauder, Scion, another Witch and Shadow.

If you like ARPGs and haven’t tried out PoE yet (unlikely but possible) I strongly recommend giving it a go.

Taking crafting in BDO to the next level

Until recently my experience with crafting in Black Desert Online had been limited to cooking, alchemy and processing as described here. Processing is as simple as it gets, and while considerable preparation can be necessary for cooking and alchemy the crafting process itself is also very straightforward.

Crafting more complex products like tools, weapons, armor, merchant wagons or boats is quite a different beast. Those things aren’t actually crafted by players themselves. The correct type of workshop has to be rented with contribution points and a worker has to manufacture the item.

Every village and town has lots of properties that can be rented for a range of purposes. Almost every one can be rented as a residence (the actual ‘housing’), more storage space or worker lodging (so you can hire more workers). Only some can be used as a workshop, and not all workshops are available in every town.

Black Desert rentables
I’ve already rented the white ones, the blues I could rent next. For the grey ones I’m missing one or more prerequisite properties.

Since I started doing gathering dailies in Olvia regularly I wear out a lot of gathering tools, so I figured making my own would be a good start. There are six types of gathering tools, which are all produced in a (surprise) Tool Workshop and need mostly the same resources. Because it’s very slow to gather with level 1 tools I aimed for level 2 tools from the start.

The main materials for all of those are Steel and Black Stone Powder. The former is made out of Coal and Melted Iron Shards in a workshop called Mineral Workbech, the latter needs Rough Stone and is crafted in a Refinery. Some tools also need Maple Timber, and the butchering and tanning knives need Hard Hide on top of that.

Luckily I have followed this video guide from Morrolan about lucrative worker nodes for quite a while now, so I already had a lot of resources lying around.

Black Desert produce
This is just my warehouse in Velia. Almost 8k Iron Ore came in handy now, but I could also serve lots of chicken wings on scrambled eggs should the need arise…

Melted Iron Shards are an intermediate material made by processing Iron Ore.

Black Desert heating
Melting iron while Spike, my cat, seems to have scented a mouse or something.

I also had a lot of Coal and Maple Timber already in stock. After gathering Rough Stone by hand for about an hour I was all set for the other intermediate products.

I rented a Mineral Workbench and a Refinery and set two workers on making Steel and Black Stone Powder respectively.

Black Desert Production1

Now I had to wait for a while. Had I logged off all workers would have finished their current task once and then stopped, so I stayed ingame and spent some time aquiring the last needed resource, Hard Hide. This is made by drying hides from lizards and such, so I rode into the wild and decimated the population of triangle head lizards by probably dangerous amounts.

When I returned with over a hundred Hard Hides in my backpack (it’s a large backpack!) the first batches of Steel and Powder were finished. I rented a Tool Workshop, upgraded it to level 2 and sent a worker to make my very first gathering tool.

Black Desert Tools

I went for tanning knives and fluid collectors first because those were the ones I’d need replacements for soon.

I didn’t want just any knife or collector though. When crafting a gathering tool there’s a chance to get a ‘lucky’ version of it. These have a pretty important bonus which increases the chance for rare drops. Hence I don’t actually intend to use every tool I make. I’ll only keep the lucky versions and sell the others on the market.

The first ones, which took about 20 minutes each to manufacture, turned out to be normal ones however. With the fourth or fifth try I got lucky.

Black Desert LuckyTool
No pun intended.

The normal versions sell pretty quickly on the marketplace, so there’s obviously a demand for them. Hence I’ll keep manufacturing as quickly as I can procure the resources, keep all lucky ones and sell the rest.

I’d actually earn more silver by selling the resources or the intermediate products, but by exclusively gathering with lucky tools the additional rare drops should more than make up for that. Besides, I’m having fun crafting them, which is always more important to me than my bottom line.

I’ve simultaneously started to let some workers gather materials for the various life skill costumes, which give speed and XP bonuses for their respective activity. Crafting these will be my next project. Although I might upgrade my gathering tool empire to level 3 first, if the needed resources aren’t too hard to come by.

Maybe I should start thinking about a brand name.

On non-consensual PvP in MMOs

The other day I was ganked for the first time in Black Desert Online.

The main quests had led me to Sausan Garrison, a popular grinding spot for leveling I had already read about.

Black Desert Sausan
More like Sausan Ruins I’d say…

I intended to kill just enough mobs for the quests I had and then be on my way again. Suddenly I took a whole lot of damage in a flurry of movement and effects, and before I had realized what was happening I lay dead on the ground.

Another player had obviously decided that I was contesting ‘his’ grinding spot and that losing a bunch of Karma was worth having it to himself again.

I respawned and, because I wanted to at least finish my quests in peace, switched to another channel (BDO has one huge server for each region, each with lots of seperate instances of the game world), which worked out just fine.

Was it a pleasant experience? Not exactly. But is the game worse for this even being possible? In my opinion, absolutely not!

I’ve talked about what my idea of a virtual world looks like. The more interaction between players and the environment as well as between players and other players a game allows the more alive and real the world feels to me. It also makes surprising and exciting things to happen more likely.

An example. When Lakisa, a friend of ours and I were about level 30 in ArcheAge our quests sent us to Cinderstone Moore, an area where PvP is allowed most of the time. The three of us as well as some other players in our level range were busy questing when a level 50 player ambushed and killed us all one by one. When we respawned and continued questing he did it again. Instead of giving up and leaving we teamed up with the other players and tried to take him down together. We didn’t actually manage to do so until another level 50 came in and helped us, but it was a really exciting game of one cat versus a bunch of very angry mice, and I had much more fun than mindlessly ticking off one quest after another would have brought me.

ArcheAge Balcony chilling
I have no screenshots of it, so here’s one of Lakisa and me chilling on my balcony.

Now, of course there have to be restrictions to and/or severe consequences for doing nothing but killing other players all day long, else a handful of sociopaths can and will ruin a game for everybody else. If these mechanics hit the sweet spot between leeway and punishment, between allowing to gank freely and prohibiting it outright, then, and only then, this can not only work, but be actually great.

In BDO Karma builds up slowly by killing mobs and falls rapidly by killing players outside of Guild PvP or Node Wars. Having negative Karma means everyone can attack you anywhere without losing Karma themselves (I think), and if you die not only normal PvE-death penalties apply, there’s also a chance that a piece of gear loses an enchantment level (which can be outrageously expensive to regain). As long as you have positive Karma you suffer no penalties whatsoever when killed in PvP.

The fact that I got to level 57 before being attacked by someone for the first time shows that ganking is discouraged enough to not be a common occurrence while not being completely ruled out. Seems like working as intended to me.

Black Desert Karma
Maximum Karma. Took me quite a while to get there. I hear you lose about 60k for one kill.

In ArcheAge a track record of your misconducts is kept, and once you’re past a certain threshold your next death teleports you straight to court where five more or less randomly chosen players put you to trial.

ArcheAge Court
My first time in the jury (second from left). I never stood in the dock myself.

The culprit’s criminal recordĀ is presented to the jury members who then get to choose a sentence, the minimum charge being Not Guilty, the maximum a certain duration of (online) jail time depending on the amount of transgressions.

My first trial was against a well known PK (player killer) named Kuroda. When there are ten pages of attacked and killed players to flip through you know someone’s been really naughty.

ArcheAge Kuroda1
240 minutes of jail time seemed like a quite appropriate punishment to me.

Because he was a repeat offender the other four jury members were obviously in favour of the maximum sentence though…

ArcheAge Kuroda2
Ouch! The highest sentence I ever saw.

The ‘RIP Kuroda’ chants in trial chat went on for quite some time, while he already lingered in the prison’s courtyard unable to harm anyone.

 

In EVE Online there’s the distinction between high security space (abbreviated ‘high sec’), low sec and null sec, each with it’s own rules and punishments (or in case of null sec, no punishments) for PvP engagements.

My punishment for having shot at a lot of people in low sec is that I can’t enter any high sec system anymore without being attacked by police NPCs, and other players can shoot me without any penalties whatsoever even in high sec. Which restricts me pretty severely in moving around, getting lost ships replaced etc. I can work around much of that with the help of alt characters of course, but it’s still enough deterrent for many players to not choose this path. It took more than ten years until I dared trying it myself.

EVE minus10
Once I did I tried pretty hard though.

I think these three games handle non-consensual PvP in ways that, while still not perfect, work quite well, and for my taste they would be much less worth playing if they didn’t allow it at all.

Miscellaneous milestones and more

Since my last entry I unsurprisingly played a lot of Black Desert and EVE Online again. My resolutions for 2018 notwithstanding I have some goals I’d like to achieve in both games besides just having fun. I’m not super serious about it though, so all is still good and relaxed.

My main character’s security status in EVE has tanked mightily since we joined Holy Cookie. When pretty much all you do is shoot people in low sec it’s inevitable. I have long passed the threshold beyond which anybody can attack me anywhere with impunity, and NPC Police forces attack me in every high sec system on sight.

Once you’ve gone that far you might as well wear your sec status like a badge of honor, which is what most pirates in EVE do. For that just any figure below -5 doesn’t cut it though. You want to get to -10, the worst sec status you can have. It isn’t easy, as the lower you get the more bad deeds are necessary to go any further. I was stuck at -9.99 for about three weeks. Then, finally…

EVE MinusTen

Of course a Pod kill got me there. Normal ship kills hardly ever make a dent once you’re past -9 or so.

So I’m officially a really bad egg now. I have to be very serious about not shooting even a single NPC ever again though, which would bump up my sec status by a good bit in an instant.

In other news, our new monday night doctrine’s DPS ship happens to have a spare high slot, so we now bring a bunch of firework launchers to every fight.

EVE Fireworks

EVE Fireworks 2
Surely causing some WTF?-moments for our targets.

 

In Black Desert I ignored gear upgrading for a while. I just wasn’t willing to tackle what lay ahead of me: enhancing my weapons to TRI, possibly (probably) having them fall from DUO to PRI in the process. The increase in power from DUO to TRI is pretty big though, so I knew that sooner or later I’d have to do it.

One evening a couple days ago I was about to log out and call it a night. I wasn’t all that sleepy though and decided that I’d play another half hour. I felt pretty relaxed and thought, what the hell, I’ll just go for it. Maybe I was sleepy after all.

I built enough failstacks for a shot at TRI, crossed my fingers and went for it on my Liverto gauntlet. It failed and fell to PRI, of course. So I built a lower amount of failstacks on another character and tried to bring it back to DUO. No luck after four tries! Now that character had also enough failstacks for a TRI-attempt, so I switched to yet another char and built some more failstacks. After a total of six tries the gauntlet finally went DUO again. I switched back to my main for a second attempt at TRI.

Long story short, this process would repeat itself another two times. On the fourth attempt starting at DUO I was “lucky”.

Black Desert TRI Liverto
Fricking finally!

This would have been my last attempt in any case too, since I would’ve had to use up my last weapon upgrade stones for getting to DUO yet another time. I have more than enough silver to buy some more stones of course, but I wouldn’t have bothered in that situation.

I have no idea how much the whole process has cost me, but it sure ain’t pretty. I do realize that four attempts should be about average for TRI though, so I wasn’t particularly unlucky. Which verifies what I had already known going in: I don’t like systems like this. I would’ve happily invested the same amount of resources if it were a fixed price, sparing me the disappointment of failing three times and the aggravation of having to work and spend more just to get to where I had already been before.

Anyway, I’m glad that this upgrade gave me a quite noticable bump in killing power, so it was worth it in the end. If I’ll have it in me to stomach more of this I’m not sure though. Maybe I’ll follow the advice forums and guides give to anybody who hates RNG-upgrading and try to earn enough silver and buy already upgraded items from other players.

I also explored some more of the game world. East of Mediah lies the very dry region of Valencia. It’s center is a large desert. Here monsters aren’t the only dangers that await. By day you need an ample supply of clean water to avoid sun stroke, by night you need star anise tea to combat hypothermia. Both conditions make you lose health regularly and rapidly. I almost died while fighting some mobs for a while and not realizing that I was losing health not just due to damage from them. I saved myself by riding back to Altinova as fast as I could while using health potions regularly. Now I always have water and tea with me.

Black Desert Map Big
I’ve traveled so far and still haven’t seen everything.

Another time I visited Calpheon right before dusk, which gave me the opportunity for some beautiful screenshots.

Black Desert Calpheon

I still love the game despite it’s less than ideal upgrade system. There’s nothing quite like it out there.

My next ventures are going to be the production of gathering tools and life skill clothing. I’m anxious to see how that goes.