Out of the desert, into the sea

Now that I’d finally dared to traverse Black Desert Online’s Valencia region I deemed it about time to check out another yet undiscovered area: the ocean.

I actually had the deed for a fishing boat lying around unused for a long time, I don’t even remember when and where I got it. At the time I already knew that fishing boats (just like wagons) have a limited lifespan that can’t be restored or repaired, and I didn’t want to waste it just to cruise around for a bit without an actual purpose.

Nowadays ‘wasting’ it isn’t a concern anymore – measured against high-end players I’m still rather poor, but compared to a newbie I’m obscenely rich – but now I also did have an actual purpose to set sail. I recently learned from a guide about lucrative worker nodes that the islands off Port Epheria have nodes for fish and seafood. Since I need fish for making pet feed regularly and don’t like to fish myself very much this was a project I had on my to-do list since then.

So I grabbed the deed and made my way to Port Epheria, the Calpheon region’s harbor town.

We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot; drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho

To kill two birds with one stone I accepted some quests there that also required me to visit those islands, then registered the fishing boat at the shipwright and spawned it.

It ain’t much, but it’s mine!

I jumped behind the wheel and held down the W key, eager to feel the sea spraying into my face, which…didn’t happen. The boat started to move all right, but it’s top speed is underwhelming to say the least. Considering that I could already spot the nearest island with my bare eyes it probably wouldn’t take forever to get there, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless.

It gave me the opportunity to lean back and enjoy the view though

Reaching the first island indeed took only a couple of minutes. I intended to stop the boat in shallow water some yards off the shore, alas for a vessel this slow it has quite the braking distance. I almost ran it onto the beach, but it finally stopped just short of it and calmly bobbed on the water, so I thought everything was fine. I talked to the NPCs, advanced the quests and invested contribution points into the first fish node. As I’d already hired two workers before setting sail I put one to the task right away. Bring me that sweet seafood, little goblin!

I embarked my boat again only to realize that I’d run onto ground after all. Despite only a tiny part of the rudder visibly touching the sand I was stuck in place. I tried every possible movement to no avail. After logging out and in again the boat had turned around for some reason (from facing south to north, not upside down), but it still wouldn’t budge. Seeing no other choice I swam back to the port and collected the boat remotely for a fee. From now on I’ll keep at least a five boat lenght’s distance from any object I might get stuck on!

*sigh* Why didn’t I bring my wetsuit and fins…this was already halfway back too

Of course a little setback like that couldn’t stop me, so I set sail again and headed for the next island. After investing into it’s node and sending the second worker to…err…work I finished one of the quests and got a new one in return. It asked me to investigate a nearby underwater cave and bring back any interesting stuff I might find. The previous quest had rewarded me with some potions for holding my breath longer which would probably come in handy now. I sailed to the marked location and took a peek below the surface. I could clearly see the cave’s entrance, but I highly doubted I’d be able to dive down there and up again without running out of air even with a potion’s help.

To test the water, literally, I first dove straight downward without a potion. I hadn’t quite reached the cave when my breath bar hit the 50% mark, so I quickly turned around and headed for the surface. Ok then, maybe the potion would indeed do the trick. It did not. I came a bit farther, but nowhere near a point where I could spot anything of interest, let alone get to it in time and back up again.

What to do? Suddenly I remembered that the game had gifted me time-limited versions of various cash-shop costumes over time, the silly named and even more silly looking Splat Fisher’s Clothes among them.

I…really don’t know what to say

One of it’s bonuses: a whopping 149% to swim speed. That surely would solve my problem. So I decided to head home for the day and bring the costume with me next time.

At this point one could very well argue about the ethics of having quests in the game that are – or at least seem to be – unsolvable without a cash-shop item. Since it turned out that I’d stored away not only one but three of these suits by now, each with a lifespan of one week, and I didn’t have to pay a cent for any of them, I’ll let it slip.

Anyway, back at the cave I donned the suit and dove right in.

Absolutely the last thing I’d ever do for real

The speed buff is substantial indeed, and not only is swimming at that pace pretty darn fun, I also had no problem reaching the cave’s bottom, finding the chest I was looking for and making it back to the surface even with a bit of air left.

After some research on the topic I now know that there actually wasn’t any need to worry about suffocating. You don’t die when you run out of breath, you don’t even start to lose health or something. You just can’t move on your own anymore until you’ve slowly floated back to the surface. Maybe the quest would’ve been doable without the suit after all.

Because I was having so much fun with it I wanted to zip around some more before returning to the mainland. Since the next quest asked me to gather some oysters I took care of that as well while at it.

Meanwhile the sunset provided for a spectacular vista

It took some looking around to actually find said oysters, but that gave me an opportunity to marvel at the sea life for a while.

You’re all gonna end up in my workers’ nets…just kidding

Overall I quite like the game’s take on sea-content from what I’ve seen up to now. It’s not as smooth, as speedy or as gorgeous (at least above the surface) as ArcheAge’s, but it’s still pretty good. Below the surface I’d say it looks even better, and definitely feels more lively.

I’ve already started to work on a faster boat. A proper ship, rather. It’s called Epheria Frigate and is a pretty huge undertaking, but I think it’ll be worth it. Also, having a long term goal is always a good thing in my opinion, and all the more satisfactory when achieved. Looking forward to it.


More adventures in Black Desert Online

A couple of weeks ago I got the serious urge to play a sandbox MMO (other than EVE) again, so I patched up and logged into Black Desert after an eight month break. I rediscovered why I fell in love with it in the first place pretty much instantly and have been playing almost daily since then.

I tend to feel the most comfortable in a known environment though, especially in a game as huge and complex as this. Hence there’s always the danger to immediately fall into old routines and just do stuff that I’ve already done before over and over. Of course that’s a surefire way to get bored quickly, so I gave myself a push and started to look for more adventurous undertakings.

The game being what it is that didn’t take long.

Last year I had made it just to the edge of Valencia, the game’s vast desert region. I didn’t dare to explore it further at the time because the survival-like mechanics scared me off quite a bit. I already talked about that you can die of heatstroke by day and hypothermia at night. Additionally, sandstorms can suddenly appear which you only survive by setting up a tent for yourself and your mount quickly. The biggest handicap, to me, is that all kinds of navigational help are disabled. No world map, no mini-map, no GPS. A compass and your eyes have to suffice. That wouldn’t be a problem in the game’s starting regions because I know those like the back of my hand by now. Valencia, though, largely looks like this:

“Just one more dune to go…” “You said that three dunes ago!”

As you can see I finally did make the jump. My current main quest required me to get to a certain oasis, and my only instruction was ‘head towards two o’clock until you get to X, then towards one o’clock until you’re there’. Yeah…no. That seemed much too risky for my first voyage into the unknown, so I decided to head almost straight to the east instead. According to the map (when looked at before entering the desert) Valencia City lies in that direction, and I figured I’d surely be able to spot a large town from afar, making it more unlikely to miss my destination and get completely lost.

I stocked up on water, tea and tents, stabled my horse and took out the camel I’d gotten from a quest. I also bought some acacia leaves because camels don’t seem to like carrots all that much. Then off I went.

Despite the speed buff camels get while in the desert mine isn’t all that fast, and except for the odd scorpion here and there the scenery pictured above didn’t change at all for minutes at a time. What’s worse, camels use up their stamina at an alarming rate, and I soon started to fear I might have bought too few leaves to make it back to civilization.

After a while though, just as I’d hoped, a city loomed at the horizon.

I sure hope that’s not a Fata Morgana. Seriously, I was afraid it might be.

It was quite a relief to pass the town gate and be in a safezone again. Emboldened by having come this far I was like, what the hell, I’ll have a quick look around and then continue east until I reach the sea. I stocked up on acacia leaves at the local stable master and continued my journey.

After some more minutes in the desert’s vast emptiness I indeed reached another settlement and, just past it, the sea.

Totally worth the long trek. I obviously took a swim right away. In full gear, as you do.

I talked a bit to the local NPCs and did some quick quests, but it was getting late and I decided to make my way back sooner rather than later.

Finding Valencia City again was easy enough. The journey’s last leg proved to be a bit more tricky though. I sure reached the edge of the desert, an impassable mountainrange, but the settlement where I’d left my horse and the canyon leading through the mountains and back to the Mediah region were nowhere to be seen. I headed south for a while, nothing. Ok, it’s gotta be to the north then. Nada. I started to get a bit worried now.

Meanwhile the sun began to set, and I hadn’t brought a lantern. Again.

My camel slowed me down even further. I had more than enough acacia leaves, but it’s stamina depleted faster than the cooldown allowed me to feed it, meaning that I had to stop and wait for a minute or two every five minutes. It would’ve actually been faster to just run. I made a mental note to grow better leaves ahead of my next trip. During those downtimes I kept looking for my destination on foot. Behind this big rock formation? Nah. Over that dune? Nope. Damn, now where’s my camel? I’d forgotten that I couldn’t set a waypoint to it and had to run around for a while to find it.

In the end it turned out that the canyon is just a bit hard to spot and I did find my way back before sundown, exhausted but happy. I’d wanted an adventure and I got one all right.

So overall these desert mechanics, while deterring at first, weren’t all that bad once I gave it a shot. I used maybe 15 units of water total, which isn’t much, and to navigate without a map was actually more exciting than a burden. Should I get seriously lost sometime I won’t need to panic from now on either: a quest gave me the materials needed to craft an item that enables using the map for three days once activated. I just need to remember to take it with me…yeah, shouldn’t be a problem at all.

That only left those crappy acacia leaves to be dealt with, so I went to work. Last year I’d already used farms to grow special carrots, which restore five times the stamina compared to normal ones, for feeding my horses. Now I’d just do the same with my camel’s favourite treat.

I bought a couple of seeds for special acacia leaves on the marketplace and rented three small fences for contribution points. I placed the fences at my favourite farming spot just outside of Heidel and planted the seeds.

Six acacia trees in various stages of growth

When I’ve harvested a big enough stockpile – which, knowing me, is no less than 2k – I’ll return the fences to free up those CP again. I’ve grown about 300 leaves already though, so I’m more than set for my next trip into the wasteland.

2018 in review

My only gaming-related resolution for this year was to stop playing stuff when it isn’t fun anymore, and I adhered to that. Looking back I can say that, yes, I indeed had more fun and less headaches with gaming overall due to that, so mission accomplished.

One consequence was that I alternated between games even more than I did in the past. While that’s not an inherently bad thing it means that I still haven’t found a proper home game.

That being said, for the last two and a half weeks I’ve played the heck out of Black Desert Online again after shelving it in April, and I’m having tremendous fun right now.

To boldly go…where I hadn’t gone before. More on that soonish.

But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

From January to April I played mostly Black Desert and EVE Online. In BDO I was very excited about the adventures that I had, and also about gathering, cooking and crafting. In EVE we had some great fights and participated in moon mining for the first time.

But mostly we just kept shooting stuff

I also mused about randomness, player made music  and non-consensual PvP in MMOs.

In April I started to play Path of Exile again, which absolutely dominated my playtime until mid-August. I talked about how much fun I have playing summoner characters, playing the Incursion challenge league and things that I love about the game in general.

I also killed Queen Atziri for the first time…only 4 1/2 years late

In June I celebrated my blog’s first birthday.

In August two things happened. One: the venerable Belghast revived Blaugust, and I signed up intending to reach the goal of posting every day during that month, which I managed to do. Two: I returned to Everquest II after a break of almost seven years. I fell in love with it again and wrote quite a bunch of posts about it since then.

The terrific ‘Crafting Epic 2.0’ netted me this sweet mount a couple weeks ago

During Blaugust I also talked about playing American Football, our participation in EVE’s Alliance Tournament and some more MMO-related stuff like level scaling, soloing and faction grinds.

In November International Picture Posting Month came along, and I posted a couple of themed screenshot collections.

During the year I also expanded my fledgeling columns Memorable Moments, where I share gaming related adventures I had that are special to me, and Stay awhile and listen, thoughts about music that I like.

As I said in the beginning I recently picked up Black Desert again, but I also still play EQII and EVE regularly.

The gaming industry in general and MMO industry in particular gave us a crapton of headscratchers and serious fuckups this year, I think more so than in any other year before. I don’t want to talk about that though, this is supposed to be a positive post after all.

Ok, well, I’ll just say this: yes, Blizzard, I indeed do have a phone, but that’s none of your goddamn business because in my opinion quality games and fucking phones don’t have anything to do with each other!

Anyway. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2019 except continuing to have fun doing what I love, and I feel exceptionally blessed that, barring any disasters happening to me, I’ll be able to do just that.

I wish you all a happy and above all healthy year 2019!

Let it snow, MMO!

Sorry about the title, I just couldn’t resist. I’m not even sure if that’s a proper rhyme. Ahem, moving on.

It hardly ever snows where I live, so when I crave some proper winter weather I need to either travel a good bit in real life, or get my fix in one of the virtual worlds I also inhabit.

While the latter obviously isn’t as good as the real deal it has the benefit of not actually being, you know, cold. MMO developers are well aware of that appeal, and most titles have at least one zone where there’s always winter. Those that have weather systems also tend to let it snow regularly during winter months.

Here are some places to savour virtual winter should you ever feel like it.


Black Desert Online is one of the best looking MMOs out there, and it’s especially spectacular during winter. A screenshot doesn’t do it justice really, in motion it’s downright stunning. When it starts to snow the world doesn’t just turn white from one moment to the next, instead the snow blanket gets more dense over time. Later it starts to melt and turns to mud or water, depending on the surface, before it finally dissipates.

It’s not just a feast for the eyes either. Walking over snow sounds very realistic, and I could swear all ambient sounds are a bit muffled. I might be imagining that last bit, but it shows that the whole experience just feels right and is probably as close to the real thing as it can be.


ArcheAge has a similar approach, but falls short in comparison. Still, it too looks pretty great. During sunshine you can see Marianople, the city in the background, clearly and with many details from this distance, so the snow’s effect on long range visibility seems to be even a bit more realistic here.

Now we move on to ‘eternal winter’ territory.


The Coerthas Highland zones are among my favourites in Final Fantasy XIV. The architecture and mood fit perfectly to a region where it’s always cold. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to discover Winterfell just around the corner. Winter isn’t coming, it’s already here!


This Everquest II zone is fittingly called Everfrost. It dates all the way back to the game’s release, and it shows. From a distance it still looks quite good though, and I can’t help but feel a little bit chilly when I see it.


Another one from EQII. These are the docks and the entrance to Thurgadin, city of the Coldain dwarves. It’s an impressive and majestic place, and it’s huge. A player character would fit a couple of times into the head of one of those statues. The winter theme fits very well here I think.


If you want to freeze your butt off in The Secret World the Carpathians have got you covered. I hope you don’t mind that vampires are all over the place though. Definitely bring your collection of stakes along. Or Buffy Summers.


I can’t remember the name of this zone in TERA, nor why my horse is hovering a foot above the ground. Maybe it didn’t want its hooves to get cold…


I didn’t mind the stylized look of Star Wars: The Old Republic in general. Some places, like Tatooine for example, actually looked really great. Somehow the ice planet Hoth didn’t feel right though. The above mentioned effect of feeling cold just by looking at it just wasn’t there for me. Still, this list wouldn’t be complete without Hoth, would it?

I wish you all a merry and hopefully white Christmas.

IntPiPoMo – Marvelous mounts

Mounts are a staple feature of the MMO genre, almost on par with levels or quests. Most of the time their main purpose is to carry you around, letting you reach your destination faster. Some have additional abilities like gliding, flying, having their own inventory or being able to carry two players at once. Then there are those really hard to get ones, which above all else serve as a status symbol once you have them.

Whatever the case, they are our pride and joy, are they not?

Many have accompanied me over the years, and here are some of my favourites.

Sunset over Antonica

This is my first Everquest II mount. You didn’t get one for free or as a quest reward back then (as far as I know), and it had taken me quite a while to accumulate the status points needed. As a result I was very happy with it and rode it for a pretty long time, all the way until leapers and flyers were introduced.


Speaking of leapers, I’ve never had so much fun with another mount in any game than I had and still have with these. At the time they let me see all those old zones with new eyes because they jump really fricking high (and I couldn’t use flyers yet), but it’s also pure joy mechanically. Barely making the jump over a wide ravine or landing at the exact spot I aim at feels great and obviously isn’t half as fun with a flying mount.

Doesn’t look like it, but I swear I’m moving fast

Star Wars Galaxies had no mounts at release, but pretty large planets. My characters must’ve worn out quite a lot of boots during the first months. I didn’t mind too much because the large distances added to the game’s adventurous, sandboxy feel, but it’s safe to say that pretty much everybody cheered a lot when mounts were finally added. Or…not. The first mounts were rideable beasts and just barely faster than running, so most of us were quite underwhelmed. A while later the mounts everyone was waiting for finally came: gliders and speeder bikes. The perceived size of the game world shrank a good bit due to that, but I don’t think anyone would’ve seriously wanted to go back.

These are the suns you’re looking for

While we’re in the Star Wars universe, here I’m zipping around Tatooine on my collector’s edition mount in SWTOR. I liked this game’s version of the planet very much, I think it has just the right feel to it. Plus, the side quests for the Jawas are hilarious. But I digress. The mount wasn’t anything special, but at least I had one to use right away.

Light cycle ready, where’s the arena?

This is my all time favourite SWTOR mount. I didn’t like doing dailies in that game much, but I ground the Gree event diligently until I had reached the needed reputation rank for this because it just looks awesome and fits my Jedi Guardian’s look perfectly.

Why yes, it’s very comfy

Final Fantasy XIV has a great many cool mounts, this being one of my most used flyers. It always reminds me of the Goblin beast tribe quests that reward this, which I liked doing because they are just hilarious.

I can’t think of anything to say that would make this any more ridiculous

Lakisa and I had just finished the Moogle beast tribe quests, so naturally we took off on our brand new dandelion mounts and spread the love…err…pollen.

Trick or treat

This last one from FFXIV could be earned while doing the Halloween quests a couple years back. I didn’t use it very long though; an over seven feet tall Au Ra looks a bit weird on it after all…

I don’t need no helmet, officer, I’m immortal. No, really!

The Secret World didn’t have mounts for a long time, and technically it didn’t need any because you could unlock several substantial boosts to your running speed. With those you made Usain Bolt look very old.

But, again, players like mounts, so they were finally added. This motorbike was the first, unlockable by doing a quest. It wasn’t any faster than the normal speed boosts and had pretty clunky animations for turning and such, but it was a nice touch nonetheless.

Yet another TRON reference. I’m not complaining though.

Zipping around Tokyo on my…shoes?

Yes, there actually is more than one horse in this post

This is my trusty steed in Black Desert Online. It’s fast and reliable, but man, it eats me out of house and home. So. Many. Carrots.

Is there a horse under all this…stuff?

No. No there’s not. It’s dead, Jim. Well, at least it doesn’t need any carrots. Which is a good thing because I haven’t seen a single carrot anywhere in TERA.

Death from above

Not only are the gliders in ArcheAge very fun to ride, they’re also instruments to be used to your tactical advantage in PvP. Here we’re coming down hard on the enemy faction’s Grimghast raid.

Who says this isn’t a mount? I’m riding on it, am I not?

Another one from ArcheAge. Our guild did a huge cooperative trade run across the sea for a hefty profit. Until we reached the shore we used farm carts to speed up the journey. Now, I could’ve stored my tradepack into the cart and rode on my horse, but why? Sitting in the front seat (actually that’s the hose for watering your fields, but bear with me here) was much more relaxing and less bumpy than riding on horseback.

What’s your favourite mount?

IntPiPoMo picture count: 14 (this post); 50 (total)

IntPiPoMo – Housing edition

I love housing in all kinds of games, especially MMOs. To me it’s much more than just a ‘decorating-minigame’. I like to have a place to come back to after an exciting adventure, kick back and, if the game (hopefully) allows it, show off the spoils one way or another. If it also has functionality like crafting workbenches or items that provide buffs or teleports it’s even better.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the MMO housing I’ve had (or still have). As always, click to enlarge.


Ultima Online was my first MMO, and this small tower near Yew my first virtual home. Even with its three stories it was tiny on the inside, but I was very happy to have it. It served as my safe haven and storehouse, but also as a place to chill, craft, dye my clothes and stuff like that. To me it wasn’t just one optional feature of many, but an integral part of my¬†gameplay and a proper home.


This is the little concert hall I arranged inside my medium Naboo house in Star Wars Galaxies. Except for the speakers and the armor I crafted everything you see here by hand, including the house itself.


This Everquest II rooftop garden in my Bruiser’s Qeynos manor is one of the coziest places I’ve yet managed to furnish. Unfortunately it doesn’t have any kind of functionality, so I rarely go up there. Still, I like it a lot.


This was our first home in ArcheAge, a small house by the lake in Two Crowns, just after finishing it’s construction. As with my tower in UO it’s living space was tiny, but we were still very happy with it. The little field with the aspen was also ours, and we later managed to convince the grapevine field’s owner to surrender it to us. With those combined we had a sizeable crop area right next to our house, which was very handy.


A couple months later I managed to fulfill my dream of having a large house right by the sea, which you can see here. The view and sounds from the patio were just amazing.


I never managed to have a proper house in Final Fantasy XIV (and I still think it’s too damn hard to get one), but my little apartement turned out quite nice and cozy, especially around christmas time.


I’m a bit torn on Black Desert Online’s housing. The blend of instanced and open world housing is pretty clever and works well, and the abodes themselves range from ok to spectacular. The fact that almost all good looking furniture comes exclusively from the cash shop bugs me greatly though. Still, it’s quite good overall and I’d rather take this than no housing whatsoever.

IntPiPoMo picture count: 7

Farewell to Wildstar and other MMO news

So I come home from a 12-day vacation and the MMO-gaming world has pretty much turned on it’s head. Huh.

Pearl Abyss is buying CCP Games. Since I play EVE Online and intend to continue to do so I hope this will be good for the game. There’s much doom and gloom going round of course. I prefer to share Wilhelm’s more upbeat view. Also, in my opinion Black Desert’s cash shop isn’t as P2W-heavy as many people claim it to be. I didn’t aim for being competitive in PvP though, so what do I know. We’ll see.

A billionaire doctor has invested in Daybreak. Any news concerning Everquest II that’s not decidedly good news makes me very nervous right now. I just fell in love with the game again and would very much like to make up for lost time as long as I can. A shutdown announcement would be heartbreaking. Bhagpuss is cautiously optimistic, and I hope he’s right.

Speaking of shutdowns, the time has come for Wildstar. Unlike others who said their farewells I’ve never played it, but it makes me sad nonetheless.

The game was on my radar since I first saw it’s brilliant gamescom ’11 trailer. It’s funny, it’s action-packed, it has Sci-Fi and Western style…it’s basically Firefly. What’s not to like?

Well, ok, Firefly with WoW-sized shoulderpads

Obviously a render trailer like that doesn’t tell you anything about how a game actually plays. Once details about the general gameplay direction became known I started to doubt if this was going to be a game for me: a themepark with action combat and ‘hardcore endgame’. This is what the devs themselves said about their raids:

How hardcore are our raids? So hardcore that they floss with BARBED WIRE!!!


Despite my fondness of playing solo I do like raids. The more people the better. I went from 24-man raids in EQII to 8-man raids in SWTOR and was like ‘this is no raid, this is a group with two extra people’.

My EQII raiding days have taught me one thing though: it’s hard to find enough players of compatible playstyles, skill levels, goals and schedules for raid groups that big. Even if you do find those people, keeping them all engaged and happy for a period of time isn’t just hard…it’s fricking impossible.

So how does the prospect of 40-man raids with super high difficulty sound? Awesome in theory if you do like that sort of thing, but very much at odds with reality.

Once I had read about ‘attunement‘ I definitely knew Wildstar was not for me.

It’s a shame, because I would have very much liked to at least check out it’s player housing. More than a few call it the best they’ve experienced.

Which makes me wonder, again, who exactly the game was meant for.

I have never, ever, met a player whom I’d call at least semi-hardcore who was into housing and other kinds of ‘fluff’. Those people want their game’s devs to do one thing only: design more dungeons and raids. Everything else is deemed a waste of time and resources. From their point of view it’s understandable.

Statistics show that they are a minority though. A vocal minority for sure, but still a minority. Enough to pay the bills for a AAA MMO? Apparently not.

And so it goes. It’s sad because the game has a lot going for it. I think I’d have liked the setting, style, music and non-hardcore features very much.

Farewell Wildstar.