Category Archives: Xbox One Gaming

Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous: Horizons Part Two

This will be a much shorter scribble than yesterday’s offering.

I left y’all to tackle the game yesterday and I actually had a great day playing it. I’ve been taking jobs to many systems and even managed to make enough loot to buy another ship that’s suited for exploring; apparently, there’s money in this area. I haven’t tried tackling any of the jobs that calls for assassinating anyone – yet – I’m using the courier and other delivery jobs to not only make credits but to get better at playing the game and as even I expected, I screwed the pooch on something important.

Planetary landings. The very first one I did was actually done incorrectly, according to the game’s quick start guide and what the Facebook group membership told me when I screwed up another landing. Okay, the actual procedure is kinda technical and has some shit to do with orbital mechanics and glide slopes/angles but let’s just say that when I was attempting planetfall to deliver some goods, my deorbit burn and glide left me well over three hours away from my target and the situation was made worst by said target being on the other side of the planet. I got lined up – the ship is now pretty much on cruise control and maintaining direction and altitude without me doing anything – and I found some other stuff to do while making the 3+ hour trip while occasionally waking my controller and console; I found out that if my console goes into sleep mode while the game is running, it stops my ship dead in its tracks which is a good thing (I guess).

One of the things I did while waiting to arrive was ask the Facebook group what I did wrong – and I knew that I had even if I didn’t exactly what I did. So, to keep it as uncomplicated as I can, what I should have done was super cruise close to the planet but not let it put me into orbit by shutting it down and if my objective is on the other side of the planet, well, now I have to glide in, which was the second thing I was doing wrong. I looked in the quick start guide and I’ll be damned: They had an entire section on how to land on a planet including how to glide correctly and the “bad” part is that I saw the indicators on my HUD (heads up display) that was trying to tell me what to do and I didn’t know what it was telling me.

But now I know. Three or four trips later found me heading toward another station that was planet-side: Time to do it right! Well, that’s what I had in mind, anyway. I shut down super cruise and didn’t wind up just circling the planet while keeping an eye on the compass as well as the location’s marker; I pushed the stick forward to break out of my mini-orbit and started my descent; the ship went into glide mode and as anticipated… except instead of the pretty blue indicator, it was red: I done gone and fucked up again and so bad that I managed to run into the the damned planet because I had also managed to lose control of the ship. The good part was that my ship suffered some damage and my shields got knocked out until they rebooted and didn’t get destroyed and the second good thing was that once I got some altitude and flying right, I was only three minutes away from the ground station!

Much better than being three hours away! Once I docked, I had a rather big repair bill to pay but I had the credits to handle it easily and without putting a dent in my funds. The new bad news was there are no easy to do jobs where I’m at currently so I decided that since the ship I’m currently in is good for exploring, I’m going to try to do some exploring.

Stay tuned…

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Posted by on 15 January 2021 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous: Horizons

Once I got into playing No Man’s Sky and joined the Facebook group for the game, the members started talking about Elite Dangerous and many were saying that it was like No Man’s Sky… but on crack and steroids. I’d never heard of it, got on my Xbox, went to the store and, okay, there it was… but I didn’t see a video for it so I didn’t pay it any more attention.

But the group’s membership was still talking about this game which, by the way, was pissing some members off because they were going on and on about a game that wasn’t No Man’s Sky but, yeah, that tends to happen. To get to things, I bought the game and with the thought that if it was similar to No Man’s Sky, it couldn’t be that bad of a game, right?

Once you get through some preliminaries like picking and customizing a character and choosing a name, it gets right into a tutorial that teaches how how to fly your ship, use its weapons, docking and undocking with the station… and holy shit. I’m used to flying “things” in video games and while I knew it was gonna take me a bit of time to get used to the game’s controller scheme, um, well, let’s say that it’s a good thing this was the tutorial and I didn’t get tossed right into the game given the number of times I either flew into the station or, when trying to chase down the targets I was supposed to shoot I didn’t need to kill them to save my life. I chased down the first target and it was a bitch because the game’s physic engine is… otherworldly; there were no reference points that I could see (other than the target I was chasing) that told me whether I was getting close to it or not and, indeed, I could see I was at full throttle but not getting closer to the target – and a target that I’d often fly right into… and the game kept telling me, “You’re not supposed to ram the target, Commander…”

Smart-ass piece of shit! But I killed the first few targets and spent the next hour and a half trying to chase down and kill this one target, reached my frustration point and before I gave into the urge to throw my controller, I shut the game down and asked myself, “What the fuck did I just get myself into?” I felt like this was the very first time I’ve ever played any game but I wasn’t gonna give up and I checked out some YouTube videos about the game and, well, shit. I know this is the way you can learn about a lot of games these days but the thing that became obvious to me was that the videos were made by players who are very good at playing the game so watching them and listening to them – and some with bad accents, and questionable command of spoken language – well, it wasn’t helping me one bit. I’ve played some games that, in the beginning, gave me fits and I conquered them and I was determined that Elite Dangerous wasn’t going to defeat me but I did leave it alone until the next day.

The next day, I crank up the Xbox and after checking for updates, went right to Elite Dangerous and with the thought that I’m going to tackle the tutorial again but instead of selecting the tutorial, I selected to play a solo game instead; it was a ‘better’ option than playing with the other players and, I felt, an option that wouldn’t get me slaughtered since there’s battling in the game and my inability to even pilot my ship would not only paint a target on me, I’d spend a lot of time dying. Slowly but surely, I kinda got the hang of flying the ship and using the various panels in the cockpit enough to try to do one of the missions provided. The end of this story is that I missed something about the mission; I had the required items in my cargo hold but couldn’t end the mission because it said I didn’t have the items – and I was okay with that (well, not really) because my main purpose was to leave the station and make the trip to the destination station…

And I got that done and learned a couple of new things, like, hmm, when you select the destination system and enter lightspeed to get there, it drops you out… right the fuck in front of the system’s primary star! I’ll admit that I panicked since, duh, that’s not a good place to be and I fumbled around just a bit too long getting away from the star and not before my ship suffered heat damage and was close to being destroyed – lesson learned. My next lesson learned what a little display they call a compass but is really more like a scope’s crosshairs; when looking for my destination, look at the compass, find the little white dot, and if you put it i the center of the scope, when you look out of the window, there’s where I’m supposed to be going! I successfully reached my destination (without any further issues) and after doing a little math conversion to get within 7,500 meters of said station, request permission to dock and, when granted, throttle down and let the automated docking procedure bring me in instead of trying to match the station’s movement and rotation which very much reminded me of watching 2001: A Space Odyssey and specifically the scene when the PanAm clipper was approaching and docking at the space station… and the game is playing the same music that’s heard in the movie.

It had me laughing and once I landed, I was giddy with my success… and exited the game. My next move was to find and join the Facebook group for this game; I’m not beyond asking for help and advice and while I went about doing that, I found the manual for the game (and for Xbox) and, at first glance, I’d have to say it wasn’t all that helpful but I’ll get to seriously reading it at some point. I join the group and get accepted and in my “thanks for letting me join” message, I mention that this game, by far, is the hardest game I’ve ever tried to play. The first response I got from the membership was a confirmation that this game has the highest learning curve of any game ever made.

Fuck me. I learned that the game was originally a PC game (and still is) and it’s actually been around for quite a while; I even learned that there’s a special controller – a HOTAS (and whatever the fuck that means) – that is very close to the controls you can see when you’re looking around you cockpit and I thought that if I was having a hard time controlling my ship with my Xbox controller, yeah, right; this controller would be quite the clusterfuck and not to mention it’s pretty expensive, to boot. I even learned that the group has a greeting: “o7” and let it suffice that it’s a greeting and one that I don’t know the origin of so, please, don’t ask. But back to the task at hand which is finding missions I could do and ones that would earn me some credits. I found courier jobs; accept the job and go from Point A to Point B and get paid; I also figured out that I could go to a station’s Commodity Market and find stuff that I could buy and carry to other places and sell it for a bit of profit and if the item was wanted at the destination my courier job was headed for, two birds with one stone!

The game was stressing me out a bit more than I like being stressed because I was still having “problems” accessing the many ship functions, not because I didn’t know how to access them but because I kept pressing the wrong button on my controller. You see, in a lot of games, the “Menu” button on the Xbox controller often allows you to access certain functions like selecting weapons or other in-game stuff and my left thumb has been trained to hit that button any time I need to do something like this in a game… but not for this one and I’ve not yet learned to keep my damned thumb off of this button but that’s kinda minor at this point. I’m doing courier job after courier job, getting paid but, importantly, I’m learning how to navigate from one place to another as well as getting a better grip on flying my ship… kinda. At one point, I had gotten in the neighborhood of a station I needed to land on but since there was a moon between me and said destination, the obvious move was to fly around the mood so that I could have true line of sight to the destination… but the game’s physics engine does a very good job of replicating being in space and I’m faced, once again, with the problem of not being able to “see” that I’m moving and relative to, in this case, the moon I’m trying to get around. I thought that maybe I can use my “warp engines” to zip to a place behind the moon which, ideally, would put the destination back into my line of sight but, nope – the damned ship kept telling me that the destination was obscured so the engines couldn’t be used.

I had managed to fuck shit up so bad that I had no other choice than to self-destruct my ship; the good thing was I didn’t lose anything by doing this and I came back into the game at a detention center which was funny but a good thing because I could go back to doing the job I’d been trying to finish and this time, I got there without too many issues other than one kinda big one: My ship’s drive dropped me out of lightspeed too far away from the ground-based station so I wound up heading in the right direction, setting my speed as high as I dared and, now, making sure I didn’t fly into the planetoid and found out that the ship kinda does that by itself; I could change my altitude and once I got to a level of flight, if I stopped flying the ship, it automatically levels itself out. Cool. I could see that getting to the station was going to take an hour – and in real time – so I just set my controller down and spent the hour messing around on my iPad while occasionally checking on my progress.

I finally got to the station and docked; I complete the mission and get paid; I select another courier mission, made sure my fuel was topped off and any damage to my ship was fixed and off I went to the next mission. I was happy that I’d managed to get this part “down pat” although, days later, I found myself in a similar situation where I couldn’t line up my destination because there was a planet in the way – and I’d already learned that trying to fly around it would be the bitch to end all bitches… so I canceled the job and flew back to the station I’d just left and while I had a bit of trouble with it, I handled it and got back to where I started. Then I left the game; I’d figured out something about its physics engine – the planets and stuff would keep doing their thing even though I wasn’t in the game so if I waited long enough, I could go back in and the planet that was in my way wouldn’t be in my way – and that worked. Another successful courier mission and, yeah, buddy – now I had enough credits to buy another ship! I really didn’t need to but I wanted to because I could. More courier missions, replenishing my credits… but there were other jobs that paid more credits and I was frustrated because even after all that I’d learned to do, I still didn’t have a clue how to do any of the other jobs, like, mining uranium or taking medicine from one station to another (remember, I didn’t manage to do that earlier).

I decided to do the tutorial for mining… and what a clusterfuck that turned out to be! I had to shut down one of the modules of my ship and before the power drain made me run out of oxygen and, well, I flunked that one. I eventually returned to this tutorial, got that module shut down and actually got to use the mining laser to chop off a chunk of… something. But now I had to open my cargo bay, chase down the piece I hacked off of the asteroid, and get it into the bay… and I managed to get that first piece but it wasn’t even as easy as the tutorial said it was… and then I had the added pressure of the asteroid field being close to the system primary (sun) and, well, yeah – didn’t we learn a lesson about that already? The tutorial said that I now had to fill my cargo hold with material and, my god – I shot off several pieces and just could not catch up with any of them to get them into my cargo hold! I couldn’t go any faster than 40kps – for some reason the game doesn’t explain but, crap, I spent a lot of time having the pieces bounce off my ship and now I’m trying to chase them down, line them up – and using the scope that I no longer trust – and, fuck, fuck, fuck. I can’t get the pieces into my hold and the tutorial is constantly reminding me to get the pieces… and I said fuck it and left the tutorial and eventually shut the game down for the night.

I’d made progress, though, including leaving the original system and making multiple jumps to another system but with a caveat: My license for the original system got revoked and as far as I can tell, there’s really no going back. I would have stayed there but when I looked for another courier job, the only job available was to travel to this other “federation” and get paid 100,000 credits – the game’s way of saying that I’d messed around there long enough – now it’s time to do some real work! My problem is that in this new neck of the woods, there aren’t a lot of “easy” jobs to do and many of them call for me to assassinate some folks or do some other shit that I haven’t learned how to do yet. Every time I leave the game, I tell myself that I’m not gonna mess with it for a while and play something else – anything else… and I keep going back into the game anyway.

I am determined to learn how to play this game one way or the other. I’ll check out the other tutorials and chances are I’m gonna fail them like I did the one for mining but I’m thinking that if I can, at the least, get the principle of it down, I’ll eventually figure out how to actually do it… and that should be interesting. The best advice I’ve gotten from the Facebook group is to do the tutorials and, yeah, well, shit – I know how that’s been going for me. I’ve been scouring the Internet to find out more about the game and at every turn, if I learn anything, it’s that this game has the highest and most difficult learning curve of any game ever made… but if others have learned how to play it, I will learn how to play it, too. It’s a challenge that I can’t ignore and I will keep at it until I get it down pat and to the point where I don’t have to think about what has to be done – it will be automatic.

Wish me luck… because I already know I’m gonna need it… and now I’m off to play Elite Dangerous.


Posted by on 13 January 2021 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: No Man’s Sky – Continuing

This game is so frustrating yet so addictive. It’s glitchy and tends to crash without warning and despite a couple of updates to the game, weird shit keeps happening.

Like, I was traveling from a space station to my home base via the teleporter, something that seems to take a long time to happen and you just get used to the long delay and I’ll sometimes put my controller down to give my hands a break… but this time, I was glad I hadn’t put it down because when I reappeared, I did so in mid-air! I mean, I was really up in the air and only my quick reaction to use my jetpack to ease my landing saved me from an unexpected death.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I wasn’t even on or near my home base, which I now had to walk a fairly decent distance to get to and I’m saying, “What the hell just happened… and why did I appear here and not at the base?” Members of the Facebook group were reporting similar incidents and, I guess, we collectively just chalked it up to yet another glitch in the game that Hello Games is either ignoring or they don’t know how to fix it… or the many other glitches one can run into while roaming the galaxy.

Later, I was on a task to repair one of my damaged frigates and wondering if I could fire the crew of this particular frigate – they just keep breaking the ship and not finishing missions. I’m on the last repair, took a step… and fell right through the floor I was standing on… and into open space. I look down and there’s the planet beneath my feet and after a moment, I start to fall and I’m thinking, “Oh, shit – I’m fucked!” even though there are some guys who will deliberately make the big drop and in the hope of landing safely.

But I didn’t fall to my death; my jetpack “ran out of gas” for a moment and I thought I was gonna die… then noticed that I was standing still and not falling. Okay! I tried to get back onto the ship I was fixing, couldn’t do it, wound up activating my last save and wound up back where I started, all safe and sound.


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Posted by on 23 July 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: No Man’s Sky – The Adventure Continues

I keep thinking about how someone said that this game is Minecraft for adults although it does seem that more adults play Minecraft than youngsters do (as far as I can tell). There are some similarities between the two games, like, the necessity to scrounge and gather… stuff in order to complete missions and, really, keep yourself from getting killed a lot.

To that end, I’ve been killed 12 times and not because I screwed up. Yesterday, my to-do list was all about farming Cobalt and as much as I could so I could turn it into the other form of Cobalt that fetches a very high price when you sell it at a space station or land-based trading post. I have, among the many worlds I have a base established, almost the perfect place to farm and it literally takes hours to remove every piece of available Cobalt from the cave that I specifically established my base near. Then the unthinkable happened:

I ran out of Carbon, which is very much needed to power my Multi-tool. The bad part? The planet this base is on is subject to “major” storms and there’s not a lot of Carbon to easily be had given that there are… predators lurking and waiting to attack the moment your back is turned. And the storms show up regularly, like every ten minutes or so, making it a pain to be outside and trying to harvest Carbon from trees and plants.

Sigh. This put a big crimp in my plan for the day but it was easily remedied because on a base on my home planet, it’s set up next to another cave with Cobalt but what makes this cave different is it has probably more Carbon than I know what to do with – and the cave on the base I was farming has no available Carbon.

So I had to go home to load up on Carbon and as I did so, I realized that I had forgotten one of the primary rules of Minecraft: Gather up as much of the necessities as you can manage to do. In Minecraft, there’s no such thing as too much wood, coal, and iron; indeed, once you appear in a new Minecraft world, getting as much of this stuff as you can, well, it’s something that you will learn provided an experienced player doesn’t tell you to do this very important thing.

And a thing that I should have done once I realized the need to do it. The failure can kinda be blamed on the game and how it has you doing things in the early going. Since you start out with a Multi-tool with its Mining Laser, you find out that it’ll run out of fuel at some point but, oddly, you’ve probably – and accidentally – collected enough Carbon for it to not be a problem… until you tack on more devices and updated items that, shit, run on Carbon.

Minecraft is big on wood, coal, and iron; No Man’s Sky is big on Carbon, Di-Hydrogen, and Ferrite but you eventually find out that the more you advance through the game, crap, there’s a whole lot of stuff that you need to have in your backpack and in great quantities… and your backpack will only hold so much stuff and provided you can buy more space, bringing me to the other point of this game that reminds me of Borderlands:

There’s no such thing as too much money. The day before, I had nine million units (dollars, if you will) which, comparatively speaking, isn’t a lot of units and considering that some players are billionaires – but they have way more hours of game time than I do. I’d been on a ship-collecting spree, going on the hunt for the much-prized S-class ships and, specifically, ones that were crashed and all busted up; that’s “easier” than hanging around space stations and/or trading posts and waiting for one to show up and even then you might not have the units to buy the ship.

But the crashed ones have a major problem: They have to be repaired and that takes both a lot of materials and units and more so since some of the stuff you need can only be purchased at a space station or trading post. I found and added to my fleet of ships three S-class ships and one of the big Haulers… and pretty much wiped out my nine million-plus units fixing them up so that they’re space-worthy and fully operable, leaving me with a measly 720,000 units. Ouch – talk about a hit to one’s wallet!

Hence my need to go farm Cobalt and convert it to its more pricey form… and I ran out of Carbon and, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have and more so because once I realized that this game has some Minecraft aspects to it, I should have done what my son-in-law did: Collect stack upon stack of the very necessary items and more so when most of the necessary stuff can be piled up into stacks of 9999.

So I’m back home, harvesting Carbon, fighting off the hazardous plants that live in caves and that are prone to popping up at any time and trying to gas you to death which means shooting them – but getting Oxygen or Sodium in the process and, yep – you find out that you’re gonna need lots of these elements as well.

I harvested almost seven thousand pieces of Carbon, more than enough to go back to my Cobalt farming cave and wipe it out of every piece I could find and, yes, it took me almost two hours to collect two full stacks of 9999 and 700 more; that didn’t count all the Geodes I got while harvesting the Cobalt; Geodes are cool in that they usually give you more of whatever you were harvesting and for Cobalt, they tend to give you Tetracobalt which is pricey all by itself but even more so when refined into the even pricier form of Ionized Cobalt.

Yep… took me a moment to remember what that form is called. Anyway, I’m not happy because having to restock a lot of Carbon put me behind schedule; even though I have both a Medium and Large Refiner – and I used both of them, it takes a long time to refine that much Cobalt and, yeah, in the process, I used up all 3000+ pieces of Oxygen because, if you add Oxygen to Cobalt when you refine it, instead of the normal 2:1 ratio you get refining Cobalt on its own, you get a better 2:5 ratio that gives you more Ionized Cobalt.

I had a plan to replace the much-needed Oxygen – I have an Oxygen Generator that – get this – when you fuel it with Carbon, 250 pieces of Oxygen gets generated… but it’s a slow process so I found myself running back and forth to either my own Trading Station and the one in my local space station buying up all the Oxygen I could… and costing me even more units that had to be replaced.

The good part? When I finally refined all the Cobalt into Ionized Cobalt and sold it, I walked away with just over seven million units so at least my wallet is… heavier, for the moment. But I still have the need to stockpile as much stuff as I can because, shit, you just don’t know what you’re gonna need a lot of until you find out you need a lot of it. I spent the rest of my time scrounging for hard to find stuff, like Activated Copper which is needed to fix items on busted ships, not that I plan on looking for more of them since you can only have six ships in your personal fleet… but you never know when you’re gonna need it or what you’re gonna need it for.

The bad part? Activated Copper – and the other Activated elements – are only found on planets with extreme conditions: Heat, cold, radiation, and/or toxicity. And most of those planets – at my point in the game – is guarded by some very aggressive Sentinels. Sometimes, if you start to “mine” something, they’ll show up and scan you; maybe they’ll leave you alone and maybe they won’t and sometimes, one will scan you and find you’re carrying something in your backpack it thinks you shouldn’t have, then start firing on you and/or escalating their alert level and really bringing the heat.

Shooting those little motherfuckers ain’t as easy as it looks and if you kill one, two more will eventually show up and if you off them, even more aggressive Sentinels will arrive including a Walker Brain – think of the AT-ATs of Star Wars fame and those things are no joke. I’m out to farm stuff like this, ducking Sentinels, taking cover from the extreme conditions and storms and, well, I’m not having a good day while, at the same time, I’m having fun going through this shit.

While I have a couple of main mission things to do – and a couple of secondary missions and one of which I’m not going to do since it involves dealing with some very nasty Sentinels, I’m finding that I’m spending a lot of time hopping around not one but two universes and looking for systems/planets that have the materials I need and, hopefully, without having to deal with those pesky Sentinels.

Or, kinda/sorta, I’m playing Minecraft in that I’m exploring and collecting stuff in order for me to survive. In Minecraft, you can create all of the large chests as you need to store… stuff; in No Man’s Sky, you are limited to just nine storage containers – and provided that you had the nanites (the other form of currency in the game) to unlock the plans for all nine storage containers. The thing about this is that I could go to a new planet, build a base and add all nine storage containers… and they wouldn’t be empty because they’d be the same nine containers I already have and whatever is already in them.

One of the things I have to do is consolidate my storage containers; when you add stuff to them, it sometimes stacks like-items and sometimes, it just goes in whatever available space in any container. I wish that there was an easier way to do this but there isn’t. For instance, I’d like for all the edible stuff I’ve collected to be in one container but I’d have to spend some time taking them from wherever they happen to be, putting them in my backpack, and then into a container with enough space. It’s tedious and monotonous work and so much that, yeah, you just really don’t want to be bothered with doing it… but you probably need to because your stuff can get all spread out across all nine containers so, say, instead all of your Storm Crystals being in one place, they could be anywhere and if you needed more than one of them, you’re gonna have to look through all of your containers since there’s no telling where they are.

At least in Minecraft you can create a large chest – then create a sign that says what’s in the chest and you know that only the stuff that belong in it will be in it.

Here’s another bad part. I can’t stop playing the game even though I’m at the point where it’s making me a little crazy between collecting stuff and trying to do the main mission stuff.. I need to farm more Cobalt to get more units; I need to get my storage units organized and I seriously need to make some of my bases neater and, to that end, yep – forgot another Minecraft thing in that when you first build a house, you should build it with the expectation that it’s not going to be big enough for what you need to do.

The issue in No Man’s Sky is that unless someone tells you this, you just don’t think about it until you have to do it… which means, for me, dismantling a lot of stuff and building it again so that my big bases don’t look like a Category Five hurricane went through the place. And I don’t know if I really wanna do that.

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Posted by on 16 July 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: More on No Man’s Sky

Between my three gaming profiles, I’ve racked up about 120 hours of game time… and counting. I’ve been focusing on my main profile and continue to learn stuff about this game, not only from playing but from the Facebook group – they are very helpful to all of the newbies who are just now getting into the game.

Feels good that now I can answer some of their questions… while asking a ton of questions myself. My son-in-law plays the game and, sometimes, he’ll come into my game and work on stuff; I’ve been to his game once so far and it didn’t surprise me that he picked a world with the worst possible environment to call home; to say it’s as hot as hell doesn’t begin to describe it.

Once I get the game cranked up, when I discover stuff I know he’s gonna need to know, I’ll message him. I’m further ahead on the game’s main missions than he is… but he’s really good at stockpiling stuff and units (money) than I’ve been willing to get into… but I’m getting better at it and out of necessity. Early on in the game, you wind up collecting… stuff that, in those moments, you don’t need; they take up precious inventory space in your backpack and unless you have more than one base, chances are you can only create a 20-space storage unit. While like items will stack up together, there’s a limit to how many things – like Marrow Bulbs – will stack together before needing an empty space.

So you wind up selling or getting rid of stuff you don’t need… or you think you don’t need… then wind up kicking your own ass because, later, all that stuff you sold or disposed of now becomes the same stuff you need and, mysteriously, can’t seem to keep enough of on hand.

I just added two more storage units on my secondary base giving me a total of seven units… and I’m gonna need more. Let’s get to a literal game changing moment I experienced…

Eventually I learned that the galaxy – and existence – is a simulation (think “The Matrix”) and one created by a god-like entity called The Atlas. The Atlas is dying or breaking down and it told me that in sixteen days, the entire simulation will crash and everything – and everyone (including me) will cease to exist. That had me running around doing main missions (instead of hoarding all the goodies I could scrounge up), visiting many solar systems and, finally, faced with the option to reset the simulation and preserve existence… or walk away.

I chose to reset the simulation. As an aside, on one of my other profiles, I’m going to choose to walk away just to see what happens. I do a slew of other main mission tasks and, finally, get to the point where I have to “push the button” to reset the simulation. Certain characters in the game are telling me not to do it along the way but I push the button…

And it gets very trippy as the simulation shuts down and reboots. It restarts and I’m faced with four new objects that appear to be galaxies and I have to pick one and after looking at all four objects, I pick the very pretty red one and, more trippy, psychedelic cut-screen stuff and I find myself in the Calypso galaxy… and on an extreme hell-planet and my critical exposure time is measured in seconds and not the minutes I’ve experienced on other such planets. Then again, I’d collected stuff that makes it easier to survive on the more extreme planets…

And it’s all broken and damage. My entire Exosuit. All of the modules that makes it run. And my ship is nowhere to be seen. My Multi-tool is just as broken; I can’t scan anything, can’t mine anything and the only thing that saved me was there was a deep cave just off to my right – and I haul ass inside the cave to take stock of my very dire situation. In the real world, I’m panicking a little; I didn’t expect this to happen but after calming down a little, okay – this is like the very beginning of the game… only ten times worse. Now I gotta literally use my hands to collect stuff to start fixing everything that’s busted.

The good thing is I had some of it with me already… just not everything and, yeah: A lot of the stuff I needed a lot of was some of the same stuff I hadn’t been collecting a lot of. Karma, it turns out, is a bitch even in a video game.

Little by little – and being bombarded by major firestorms every few minutes that’s preventing me from going out of the cave for very long – I get my Multi-tool’s visor and scanner working; this not only allows me to identify stuff I need but it tells me where my ship is: It’s 690u (and whatever the fuck the “u” means) away and it’s even more broken. I utter a real-time curse because if I gotta walk to it in these frequent firestorms, I’m going to die and quickly. I work on getting the main components of my Multi-tool working: Both the mining laser and terrain modification laser; I need the first to collect items in the cave – and outside – faster than beating on them with my hand (get your head out of the gutter!) and once I got the second working, well, I’ll get to that in a moment.

I need to establish a base… inside the cave. I put down a base computer so I can build a wooden structure and, specifically, facing the direction of where my ship is. I spent long and dangerous minutes collecting everything I needed to do these two “simple” things and almost died once because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was standing: Too close to the entrance of the cave and exposing myself to the extreme heat. I duck inside my wooden “house” to recover… but I can’t stay here – I need to get to my ship so I can get the fuck off of this planet… but how?

Bring in the terrain modification laser. At the time, I was on a FaceTime call with my son-in-law and telling him everything I was experiencing and, being himself, at first, he was laughing at me… but as I described the conditions, he stopped laughing and said, “You’re screwed…” and I agreed because he was right. But it finally dawns on me that I can use the modification laser to tunnel straight through the rock to get to my ship! That puppy chews up rock and mineral deposits and the good thing is that the rock it destroys gets collected and is used as fuel for the laser. So I get to tunneling, trying to keep on as straight a line as possible – the terrain modification laser isn’t the neatest tool and a couple of times I was glad my jetpack was now working so I could lift myself out of a deep hole the laser cut.

I feel a strong surge of hope and when I broke through the last bit of rock, my ship was directly in front of me! I was elated something fierce! I dash to my ship while taking note of what’s around me because I know I’m gonna need this stuff. First, get the shields up and it took four quick trips to get everything I needed to do this. Now I’m protected from the firestorms which are coming with more frequency now. I have a plan: I need to get the engine components fixed so I can get off of this damned planet and even if it means having to land on a less hostile planet but what I’m hoping for is that there’s a space station out there somewhere.

If there is, I have enough units (and stuff I don’t wanna sell but will have to) to purchase the things I need to fix pretty much all of my gear. I almost die like four times running around in the terrible heat to get my engines fixed and with a shout of triumph – and one that had my son-in-law laughing his ass off – I lifted off the planet and into orbit to look for the space station.

It was only at this point where I remembered that, um, some solar systems don’t have a space station. I know that I don’t have enough of the things I need to build a teleporter – I tried that on the hell planet – and I feel some panic starting to set in because on the ship’s HUD, I can’t find the station icon. While kinda floating in place, I manage to fix the ship’s scanners and scan the other planets in the system… and they’re just as bad as the one I escaped from but with different hazards; one was extreme cold, the other extreme radiation.

And only now do I realize why there were four items to pick from and that the colors of the items precisely matched the conditions of the planet I was gonna land on in this new galaxy. Red, blue, yellow, and green. Heat. Cold. Radiation. Toxicity. Shit. I sigh to realize that no matter which color I had picked, I was fucked right out of the gate. Shit. Okay, where is the damned space station?

I’ll tell you now that I totally forgot something and I forgot it because when you play this game, you really get immersed in it; as I’m fighting to survive and escape the hellish heat of the planet I found myself on, I’m really sweating like a fiend and feeling the “panic” and desperation of my situation and kicking my ass for the decision I made… while knowing that I could have put the controller down and even ended the game.

Did I mention how addictive this game is? What I forgot is that I could call for the Space Anomaly because, during my trips to reset the simulation, I wound up in a few systems without a space station; I summoned the Space Anomaly… because it has an intergalactic teleporter that I used to get back to my home base. And I totally forgot about it but it was moot because I did find the space station – and they all have a teleporter.

When I got there, I had over five million units… and I used all of it except for 240,000 units to fix as much of my gear as I could, kicking myself in the ass because the devices you can buy stuff from doesn’t always have what you might need. Off to my right, I can see the blue glow of the teleporter – and now it dawns on me that I might not be able to connect to my home galaxy and planet; in the forum, a player asked about this and I couldn’t remember how they were answered. But, okay – let’s get shit fixed first then worry about getting home. I don’t have enough stuff to make a lot of warp fuel so I hoped the teleporter worked the way it’s supposed to work.

I approach and activate it… and sigh a great sigh of relief because there’s my home base at the top of the list. My son-in-law is still laughing his ass off and I don’t mind because, now that I’m safe, it’s pretty damned funny… and I know that when he reaches this point in the game, he’s gonna have the same experience – he’s just gonna be better equipped because I told him that when he starts to reset the simulation, stock up his backpack and ship with all the stuff he needs to repair both things.

I select my home base in my home galaxy… and a few seconds later, I’m home. If I could have made my character drop to his knees and kiss the ground, I would have done just that. I’ve played a lot of games that have hairy situations in them… and none of them matched or came close to how being in this situation made me feel in the real world. You’d think that after this ordeal, I’d shut the game down and find something else to do, right?

Nope. Didn’t do that although I did get up and go to the bathroom and walked around for a moment to clear my head and realize that, wow, I was really and seriously into the game and more than I had expected to be. The bad part? At some point – and according to the more experienced players on the forum, this is going to happen again because there are an untold number of galaxies to be found and explored by continuing to reset the simulation.

I can now and better see why so many people are hooked on this game; it only “ends” when you get tired of playing it. I’ve been doing some of the secondary missions; I’ve been running around my home galaxy doing an important main mission task and, even more important, collecting and storing all of the stuff I can and in as much quantity as possible. I’ve used my trips to the many solar systems to visit space stations – when there is one – and add more space to my backpack and at a cost that takes a huge bite out of my units.

The thing about this game – and probably the thing that makes it so addictive – is you don’t know what you need and what you’re gonna have to do before you need it and do it; it makes you very aware of how many times you’ve screwed up – and didn’t know you did – early on in the game. The more experienced players on the forum, who have proven to be very helpful, also laugh at us noobs because they’ve already gone through what we’ve been experiencing and they give us tips and hints on how to play the game better.

As reported before, the game is available for PC, Xbox, and Playstation. On Xbox and via GamePass, the game is still free to play – for now – and if you have an Xbox and you wanna play a game that is going to test your survival skills, forget the zombie-type games. If you play Minecraft, that’s gonna help. Get the game. Play it. Find out for yourself what it’s like to be immersed and, yeah, even addicted to a game that, in a way, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense other than you have a mission to get answers about why things are the way they are… and you’re gonna have to survive in some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen in a video game.

When I first saw it on GamePass, I said two things. One was, “This looks interesting!” and the other was, “How bad can it be?” Famous last words. Because it can be very bad. Frustrating. Can have you sitting and asking yourself, “What the fuck am I supposed to do now?” Pay attention to how long you’ve been playing the game when you go into it and select your last saved game; I thought this was in minutes when I first saw it but, no – it’s in hours:minutes and this time will pile up and depending on how much time you have to play it.

If you’re still sheltering in place and with nowhere to go, I recommend this game to keep you occupied when you need something to do. So now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go play the game. Yesterday was a very productive day playing it – I got a lot of stuff done that I wanted to do which makes me warn future players to have a plan for every time you play the game. Work on main mission stuff one day; work the secondary missions another day; plan to do gathering of stuff and if you think you’re not going to need it – and depending on where you are in the game – collect it and store it anyway. Lots of it.

And have fun… because I’m having a grand time playing No Man’s Sky.

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Posted by on 5 July 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

Holy shit! When I saw this game on GamePass – and while looking for something new to play – I said, “Let’s check it out!” Watched the little video which, actually, doesn’t tell you a lot about the game but it’s free to me and if I don’t like it, I can uninstall it.

I love this game. I’m hooked on it. I hate this fucking game. The first thing the game does is put you on a planet that’s trying to kill you and, yeah, that’s exactly what happened to me. Oh, the game told me what I had to do – find some sodium (more about this stuff later) and use it to beef up my protection or to get inside a cave or other structure but for me, there wasn’t anything around… so I died.

Lesson learned and, I found out, almost everyone who first plays the game gets killed right out of the gate. The game is mission-driven with both primary and secondary missions to be completed and there’s a lot of shit you gotta do… that you don’t know you have to do unless you happen to pick up the game because someone you know is already playing it and can help you. I’ll add that there are a ton of YouTube videos about how to go about playing the game and there’s a Facebook group for it but what I wound up equating the game to is also a sentiment I’ve seen expressed by other players:

This is Minecraft for adults. Once I could wrap my head around this concept, some things became… clearer. Load up on essential stuff, which is a kind of backhanded science lesson: Carbon, Ferrite Dust, Oxygen, Sodium, Di-hydrogen crystals. Claim a place and build a shelter. Sounds kinda easy… except most of the planets the in the game – and there are an untold number of them – are inhospitable and will kill you pretty quick if you’re not on your game and if the planet doesn’t try to kill you there are other things that will try.

You have to fix your gear which, of course, isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Once you get it fixed, then you have to find a crashed ship and follow the instructions on how to fix it and get it flying… all while the planet is trying to kill you. By this point, you know that some crazy assed storm of some kind is gonna pop up and unless you were lucky enough to find a lot of sodium, well, you’re on your own unless, again, you can find a cave or some other shelter to hide in until the storm passes.

Then you leave the planet you started out on (but you can come back to it if ya want to) but one of the things I learned via YouTube is that before you leave the planet, scrounge around for these items: Cobalt, which is found in caves, and Marrow Bulbs – also found in caves. Oddly, that first planet and where the crashed ship is, there’s always a cave so you go in there and ransack it for all the Cobalt and Marrow Bulbs your backpack can hold (but watch your ass because there are things in the cave that will try to kill you, too, like “Hazardous Plants” which, when you off them with your newly repaired Multi-tool – gives Oxygen or Sodium. With the Cobalt, you wind up making a Refiner; you take the Cobalt and refine it into Ionized Cobalt… because it’s worth a lot of money.

You load up on this stuff ASAP because at one point, you’re gonna have to visit a space station and that’s where you can sell the Ionized Cobalt and all those Marrow Bulbs you collected because, trust me – you’re gonna need all the units (money) you can get your hands on. Here’s the thing that might fuck with you.

While the game is mission-driven, it’s probably best to ignore some of the missions and just roam around the place you’ll eventually call home. Scan everything you can scan (your efforts are rewarded), scrounge for the essentials and work on building your base, powering it, and a lot of other things that drove me crazy trying to do… and still does because, as I found out, you can come across something that you’re gonna need later in the game – but you don’t know that you’re gonna need it… until you need it.

Did I mention the pirates? Okay… flying the ship you repaired might take some doing to get the hang of but you could be attacked by pirates and the thing that made me insane was that, bleh, I didn’t want to fight them – I just wanted to get to where I was going – but when you have them to deal with, um, your pulse engine – it makes you go really fast and warping is something else you’ll find out about – gets temporarily disabled and your ability to boost your speed is limited.

Try keeping track of the pirates, who are zipping around you like flies on shit and you pretty much can’t move a whole lot. Early on, wiping out the pirates is pretty easy… so you know that ain’t gonna always be the case.

There is so much… shit you have to do. A lot of shit you gotta get in order to do things. I am actually playing this game on all three of my Xbox profiles – and I just recently reactivated the third one I had just to use some of the YouTube knowledge I gained and, yep, from all the mistakes I made that I didn’t know I shouldn’t have made. You get to certain points where you can’t really do something but the game keeps nagging you to do something and I finally figured out that this is the time to just roam around the planet and collect stuff to turn into units and to be able to buy stuff you will absolutely need. Here’s the real kicker:

Between my three profiles, I have about, oh, maybe close to 100 hours of game time… and I’m not even close to really getting into the heart of the game and nowhere near being able to do some of the stuff that you can do in the game. Like with Minecraft, shit… I’m looking at players on the Facebook group and all of the wonderful things they’ve built, the ships they’ve collected and some have thousands of hours playing the game – and I failed to mention that this game came out about four years ago and is available for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. So it’s been around for a while and a lot of people have been playing it for all this time.

I told my son-in-law – who’s been playing with me – “Every time I think I’ve done something outstanding, I find out that I ain’t did shit compared to what other players are doing!”

The game throws handicaps at you and at every turn. I spend more time refueling my ship and Multi-tool items than I do anything else. I have one mission in particular – to learn how to build a Circuit Board – and I have no fucking idea what I’m supposed to be doing; the game says to help the Scientist so he can show you how to make one… except, when I talk to him, there’s nothing to do for him.

So I’ve been running around looking for stuff that’s gonna get me some units. I’ve been finding broken ships and trying to fix them – and some of them need items to repair them that it’s not time for me to even know how to get them at the point in the game I am. I can get them flying… and that’s about it. I’ve bought some ships. You find out quickly that you are gonna need a bigger and better Multi-tool and those things ain’t cheap. For them, you start out with a Class C Multi-tool but you learn there are Class B and Class A devices… and they can cost a grip or two.

There is so much to this game, like the Space Anomaly, Freighters, black holes and the list goes on. Most games have a wiki that includes a walkthrough that you can reference to, at the least, figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. This game has one… and it’s completely worthless… and I know why it is.

Methinks it’s impossible for someone or a bunch of someones to come together and write a definitive and complete walkthrough for a game that is so wide open and diverse. Even the IGN wiki – and their wikis/walkthroughs are usually very good – sucks. It’s outdated and incomplete.

So like Minecraft, you just gotta figure out what you can do, when you can do, and all while staying alive. This game is easy… and not even. I love it… and I fucking hate it. There hasn’t been a day since I first started playing that I haven’t told myself, “I’m not playing this fucking game today!” – and I wind up playing it anyway. I am learning – and you will, too, if you decide you wanna try it – that every day, I need to have a plan on what I’m gonna do and stick to it. Yeah, a mission will pop up that has to be done but right now, I’m pretty much ignoring the primary missions, trying to take care of the backlog of secondary missions if/when I can… but I’ve just been stockpiling the necessities and trying to make enough units as I can.

It’s almost boring and tedious work. You always have to be mindful of how much space you have in your backpack. You can get more space but that means trying to locate Drop Pods – which ain’t easy – or being able to buy one extra space from every space station you wind up visiting; once you get a space from a space station, you cannot get any more spaces from that station.

I know this is sounding confusing and I apologize for that… but the game has, again, a lot of shit going on and so much that even as I play it, I’m confused because I just do not know how to do some of the shit I have to do or I get to a point where I just don’t want to do anything except sit in my shelter or my ship… and just be there.

It’s an amazing game and graphically beautiful… and there’s no real end to it. I read that it’s impossible for a player to visit every system and world the game can throw at you… and I believe it. I am trying to establish a base on every planet in every system I’ve visited so far… and it’s a daunting task given what you wind up having to do to build the most minimum base: You need a big enough wooden shelter; a base computer; a teleporter and the means to power it, like the Biofuel Reactor you wind up building early on in the game. You wind up running around and scavenging for the materials you need, oh, like using your scanner to find Copper deposits and then figuring out how you’re gonna get to it without something bad happening to you along the way. Most planets, again, try to kill you with hellacious storms. There are “bad critters” who’ll attack you and there are even plants – and one looks just like a Venus Flytrap – that try to kill you.

Fall into a hole that’s too deep and you’re dead unless you can save yourself. You can get lost in a cave – and just like you can get lost in a mine in Minecraft. The game is… frustrating at times but I can’t stop playing it but, yeah, if you have an Xbox and you have GamePass, go get this game while it’s still free and find out for yourself.

And try to survive. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve died in this game. There is so much about this game that I don’t know about – yet. Members of the Facebook group are always talking about stuff they’ve come across and/or have done… and I’m nowhere near being able to have a clue. With some games, if I’ve been playing for over one hundred hours, yeah – I know some shit about playing that game.

Not this one. Like I said in the beginning: This is Minecraft for adults and in spaceships and I am happy that I know how to play Minecraft even if I still can’t do all that’s possible in that worthy game. I’ll find my groove in No Man’s Sky – I just don’t know when that’s gonna happen or if it’s gonna happen at all.

Loving this game… and I’d wish it on my worse enemy in a flat, skinny second because that’s just how much the game pisses me off.

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Posted by on 29 June 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: Journey to the Savage Planet

At first glance, this looks like a game for, um, younger gamers. My son-in-law told me that he was playing the PS4 version and told me that the game was available on GamePass (for Xbox). After he said a few things about the game, I said I’d download it and check it out.

This isn’t a “kiddie” game. Oh, there’s a lot of “cuteness” to some of the wildlife and the gaming environment is very colorful, varied, and looks outstanding in 4K.

So you’ve kinda crash-landed on the planet you were sent to explore and determine its suitability for exploitation by Kindred, the company who sent you there and there’s not supposed to be any intelligent life on the planet. Sounds easy, right? Nope. Well, the initial part of the game – examining your busted spaceship and exploring the first three areas is easy and gets you used to the controls for moving, jumping, shooting, and a weird combo of punching and kicking. You collect enough minerals – carbon and silicone – to build a gun and having the task to scan everything that can be scanned, you’re off to explore the planet which seems not to be as devoid of intelligent life as you were led to believe.

This is one of those games where as you proceed, you need to gain skills and other updates. As you move into the first big area to be explored, there are some things you won’t be able to do until you acquire other skills – and all of the areas to be explored are like that. There’s stuff you need to collect – like orange goop that you both locate and eat to level your character up, giving him more health and stamina. Every time I find some goop and eat it, I have to laugh – the character sounds like a sick dog and is kinda gagging on the goop. Fall off of something that’s high enough and the character sounds like a dog that just got kicked or something (no real animals are harmed in this game, by the way). I was expecting to hear my character say stuff like, “Yuck, ew!” when eating the goop and saying “Ow!” when he falls from too high a place.

Lots of falling in this game. Lots of plants and animals who are trying to do you in. Hidden items all over the place and some that require special items to get to and then special skills are needed to handle the special items. You have to locate transportation devices and activate them to move around the planet easier especially after leaving the Landing Zone – that’s the first part of the planet you explore and it’s connected enough so that you can go through that area without using a transporter… but you still have to find and activate them… and you’ll be glad that you did.

There are primary tasks you have to do as well as secondary tasks but, for shits and giggles and to make the game more interesting, there are “scientific experiments” you should complete to move to a higher level of explorer and to open up more tools and stuff you’re gonna need.

In the first, oh, day or so that I played this game, I died more than I have playing any of the Borderlands games and Minecraft combined. The good thing, if ya can call it that, is that when you die – and you will most certainly get offed – you can go back to the area you died in and recover any items you had or, gulp, bury your body and collect some stuff. I’ve fallen off of stuff, jumped for places and just flat out missed them or screwed up the landing and by the time I shut down the game – and out of sheer frustration over a boss battle I’ll get to in a moment, I decided that I didn’t like my son-in-law all that much for introducing me to this game.

But I like it. The first boss you have to defeat is a crab-like monstrosity you have to battle while he throws stuff at you; you either have to duck, jump, or move to another platform of rock while doing your best to, at first, shoot three glowing thingies on its body. While there’s a pattern to the boss’s attacks, it’s still not easy to shoot what needs shooting and, in the final phase of defeating this boss, you get five things that have to be shot.

It took me getting killed like 20 times even after I saw the pattern to realize that I was already carrying something that would, temporarily, stop the boss’s attacks… and I was kicking my own ass for not thinking about hitting it with the sticky stuff I’d collected way back in the first part of the game. He was literally blowing me up, burning me with fireballs he’d launch in the second battle phase; knocking me off the rocky platforms into the lava at the bottom, which had me wishing I had some Minecraft sand or gravel to get rid of.

Yeah… it was that bad. Killing some of the bad creatures isn’t as easy as shooting them and many of them shoot back; some you have to hit with an “acid bomb” to dissolve their protective coating before you can shoot them, some you have to use a plant bomb on and some, when you shoot them, well, you don’t want to be up close when you do because they explode like an atom bomb and if the blast doesn’t kill you, you might die when you hit the ground after being tossed high into the air. There’s this one critter that’s a big plant with an eyeball; it scans the area and if it sees you, it starts dropping bombs on you so you have to sneak up on it and poke it in the eye to kill it so you can move on. The bad part about these is that if you linger too long, it’ll be back and will have to poke it again to get out of the area.

I’m running around the planet, collecting stuff, doing the tasks and as with many of the games I play, I got to a point where I said, “Fuck the missions – I need to collect more stuff and get to the next level of explorer!” This is one of the things I both love and hate about playing a new game – figuring out the best way to go about playing it. It’s for this reason that I have a second Xbox profile that can play the same games my main profile can play…

So I can replay the game and, hopefully, not make the same mistakes I did the first times. If you don’t have your Xbox set up to do this, you might want to consider doing it and no matter what kind of games you play. It doesn’t cost anything – you just need a Microsoft email address to set up the second gaming profile.

The second boss is even worse than the first one. This one looks like a giant, one-eyed worm and there are a lot of smaller one-eyed critters that pop in, whack you with a long tongue, then disappear and it is fucking annoying and distracting because the bigger version is also whacking you with tongues that pop out all over its body… and while you’re jumping from platform to platform trying to shoot the glowing spots on its body.

That fucker killed me more than the crab boss did. I finally realized that I had to ignore the little versions, pay attention to where the plants that renews your energy are, and just worry about hitting the glowing spots. But in the second phase, some of those spots are covered with “amber” which means you need to throw acid bombs at the spot first then shoot it. There’s plenty of acid bomb plants… but you gotta be quick to get to them and sometimes, it’s a bitch finding them all and you’re running and jumping around trying to find them while being constantly under attack.

The final phase is worse. The attacks really step up on you, but if you stay calm and focused you can make it through this part although there were a few times when I got to having one last place to shoot… and I died and had to start all over again. Once, I almost threw my controller because I finally killed the thing… then mysteriously died… and had to start over again.

Did I mention how much I don’t like my son-in-law?

But I finally defeated it and to put it into perspective a bit, when I faced this boss on my second profile, I only died twice before defeating it and one of them was my fault – didn’t get to the energy-renewing plant in time.

Now, once you get past this boss, the rest of the game isn’t that bad although there are a lot of challenges and bad beasties you have to deal with because you have to power up the mysterious tower, get inside, and find whatever’s in there and bring it back to Kindred. I kept dying – trust me, you actually get used to it and even expect it – but it was mostly by falling when the grappler – which you earn along the way – just fails to connect or you do a double jump… and fail to stick the landing. The critters are bad enough and there’s one that looks like a frog built like The Hulk that’s a real bitch to kill but a bit of concentrated work gets rid of him but I didn’t think being in the third part of the planet was that bad…

Until I got into the tower. Well, wait a moment… unlocking the other two power sources wasn’t easy and especially the second one. The first was easier – break through a cover that takes you down and remove some things that puts the device in motion… then you gotta leap from moving platform to other platforms to get to the top… while lava fills up the chamber so you can finally activate it. Yep… died a lot in there, too.

The second one is worse because all manner of critters are attacking you as the area you’re standing on moves upwards and even when you manage to survive that, the stupid thing lets loose some bubble-like things you gotta avoid or you’re gonna do it all over again.

You get through all of this and can get into the tower – finally. Oh, I wanted in there badly! And once I got inside, I wished I hadn’t. It was pretty rough moving through multiple levels inside the tower, all kinds of stuff trying to kill you while you’re trying to find and destroy items that will allow you to get to the next level. I died a few times – but not as much as I did prior to getting to this point – and finally made it to the final boss.

That’s when I realized that I hadn’t done enough stuff in the early phases of the game to be able to defeat the final boss. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t do that would have fully leveled me up and given me more stuff to fight with so I abandoned the final boss fight so I could go back to the beginning of the game to do the stuff I should have done.

Oh, and I started a new game on my first profile, too. I used what I had learned putzing around on my first profile on my second one and that’s going better… much better. So, hopefully, by the time I get to the final boss via my second profile, I will be better armed to do battle. Maybe.

Why? Because I don’t have anything better to do, you know, being quarantined and all that. I like this game… and I hate it. My son-in-law, when I tell him how I’m doing with the game, laughs a lot and of course he thinks it’s funny because he’s not playing the game. We did play it together at first – he showed me some stuff he’d already learned but as far as I know, he hasn’t been back to play although if he’s been playing on his PS4, I wouldn’t know it. He should be very glad we don’t live close to each other… extremely glad.

Would I recommend this game? Sure – it’ll keep you busy and it is challenging and, for now, if you have GamePass, the game is free – doesn’t get any better than that.

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Posted by on 25 April 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: What I Built

I figured it out but I still have to get in touch with the OneDrive support group and get them to answer some questions for me but, here’s a top-down view of the structure I tried to describe yesterday! For reference, the front of the building is to the right. This picture doesn’t really show the details so much, not like you could see it being in the game.

Man… I do so love the roof on this place and especially the middle section which, again – and in the first version of this structure – it took me a while to figure out how to close it up. Imagine, if you can, if that middle section wasn’t there and the four side “extensions” weren’t there and the structure is just a straight “line” kind of thing. Without them, closing the roof was easy but when I added the middle section and created the four side extensions, yeah – I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to make it work.

I had taken a screenshot of the interior and uploaded it to OneDrive… and it’s not there even though my Xbox said it was uploaded. I’ll try it again later and show it to you but, yesterday, I was standing inside the place and wondering what else I could do with it and added some “arches” that appear to support the crossbeams I’d put in – they look pretty cool, I think.

As I stood there, I found myself being kinda awed at what I’d created. I’m no master Minecraft builder by any stretch of the imagination but I realized that this was the largest structure I’d ever built and the most detailed one. Now, the first big structure I built was supposed to be a castle of sorts… and it turned into something other than that (I’ll try to screen print it and show you that one); it took several iterations before it got to it’s final form and I can build one in about an hour and compared to the three days it took me to build the first one.

It took that long because I had to make a mountain disappear. Anyway, I’m on the inside, taking in the latest change I had made and I was “reliving” how I was flying around all over the place to build the roof, adding the crossbeams and the “chandeliers” needed to light the inside as much as I could without it looking overdone.

And I thought, “I built this…” and, without getting a big head about it, well, I was impressed over how a dream about a column turned into what you see in the picture. But I’ll let you in on something. When I built the first iteration of the structure you see, it pretty much wore me out because, again, I not only built the place but I had to landscape the ground it sat on. If you look at the above picture, I can tell you that it wasn’t as flat as it looks and you can see, along the top edge of the area, where it looks like I cut out a section like a piece of cake. There were huge holes in the ground, many filled with water that I not only had to cover up but fill in with sand first.

Learned a lesson about that in the last build of this. If you look at the edges where the water is, much of the ground you see had to be added and filled in with sand so that accidentally digging up a block of the ground wouldn’t send you on a swim so the outside edges along the water were made to be solid. So after building that last iteration – it required much more landscaping than in the one you see above – I told myself I wasn’t going to build another one.

And then I built the one you see here… and I started building another one in a different world but in a different texture pack. Those who Minecraft knows about the many texture packs available; the one you see is called “ChromaHills” and is now my favorite pack. The one I started is built in a texture pack called “BD Craft” which I found works very well with building one of these things.

As I started laying out the base for the new structure, I asked myself, “What are you doing?” and more so since I have to remove a huge – hill? – that’s blocking what I want to see when I look out of the front door. I got one side of the structure set down but there’s a lot of ground I have to fill in to level things out and set the borders and it’s going to take me hours to get this done. It is painstaking work and to answer my own question, I’m building another one because I don’t really have anything else to do but it also tests my patience and focus; going through all of this serves the purpose of not allowing me to think about the neuropathic pain I have left over by my stroke that still lives with me.

It’s also a memory test since I can’t go back and look at the last one as a reference. Well, I could – but that means exiting that world and opening the last one – and I’d still have to remember what I went there to look at but to me, eh, that would be too easy – the challenge is to remember how I built the last one without having to look at the last one.

Some method to my apparent madness… and it is madness in a way given the way I’m going about reshaping the land and doing things that I really don’t have to do… but if I’m gonna do it, I feel compelled to make it as perfect as I can. As I set to work on the new place, I was already thinking about the roof which, admittedly, is the hardest part to construct and, just as I did with the structure you see here, I started to abandon it; you’d have to try to build it in order to get an idea how much of a pain in the ass it really is.

Oh, yeah… I tried to write down how I built this place and that proved to be more difficult than actually building the place. My son-in-law suggested maybe creating a video of myself building it and putting it on YouTube and it’s a good idea albeit one that made my brain shut down since I have no idea how to do that and understanding that anyone who’d be crazy enough to watch it would spend a lot of time watching it given how long it takes to build it. I could do a video capture on my Xbox… and I’m sure it would exceed the limits imposed and such a file would be stupid big.

Still, I will try to write it down but I can feel my mind balking at this just to think about doing that. I’m pretty sure my lady thinks – or continues to believe – that I’ve lost my mind because I’m sure she can hear me talking to myself as I go about the build and even when I have nothing to say to myself, I’m sure she can hear the controller clicking away as I’m doing stuff.

Shit… I keep scrolling up and looking at that top-down shot… and I’m so in love with the roof and its pattern – and I still wish you could see it from the inside (damn you, OneDrive). Compared to my first big build, this structure is easily twice as big if not bigger.

My next trick, if I decide to do it, is to build this structure in Survival mode which will call for acquiring a shitload of materials and creating many, many more. I haven’t figured out how to build the middle section of the roof without falling off and dying and I’m thinking that even if I figure it out, it’s going to take a very long time to do it. I have nothing but time on my hands but there is a limit to my patience. I haven’t bothered to do the math for how many blocks it actually takes to build the base and the twenty fully built columns.

In my head, I know it starts on the left and, again with a nine-block square and as I write this I know it’s a repeating pattern of nine, four, eight – just for one column. Then 23, 9, 4, 8, 11, 11, 23 and continuing this pattern until all twenty columns have been placed. The math is easy – I just don’t fucking feel like doing it. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many total blocks it takes to build thing and, as an aside, if there was a change to the base game I’d recommend to Microsoft and Mojang, it would be to have the ability to see how many blocks used to build something… and I wouldn’t want to be the one who’d try to code this.

Cobblestone, two types of glass, granite, stripped wood. In Survival mode, I would be scavenging a lot of materials, which would call for a lot of mining and cutting down a shitload of whatever trees to get the wood I’d have to strip for the crossbeams alone… and then replanting the trees since in some locations, there aren’t that many trees starting out or, as I’ve seen, the kind of wood I’m looking for just isn’t in the immediate area. The only saving grace is that I’d do this in Peaceful mode – there is no way in hell I’d do this in any other mode and find myself fighting for my life while trying to do all of this.

Minecraft purists might say I’m a pussy for using Creative mode… and I’m just gonna be a pussy and besides, it’s my game and I’ll play it the way I want to.

So there you have it. I’m now going to crank up the Xbox and get back to work on the new structure that I really don’t need to build – but I’m gonna do it just because I can. While this structure pales in comparison to those I’ve seen other people – including my son-in-law – build, I am unashamedly proud of what I’ve built.

Oh, here’s a link to a view of the structure from the front and from above:

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Posted by on 22 March 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: Minecrafting

I wish y’all could see what I’ve been working on in Minecraft; for some reason, my console allows me to send screen captures to my OneDrive accounts but when I do that, the capture isn’t there so I don’t know what’s going on with that. But, let me start from the beginning…

I had a dream about a new structure – no, seriously, I did – that came about after I was messing around with an underwater temple and, in particular, doing something with its support columns. I’ve already built one of these things on dry land but the columns got my attention so I went about designing and building something based on the support columns and how I had modified them.

The first iteration actually turned out well even though I really had no idea what I was building. I created the column I dreamt of – and just one – and from there I spent the next several hours building something from that one column and, wow, it turned out pretty good if I may say so myself. After I got it finished, I started thinking about how I could not only do it faster but improve upon it as well as making it a good place to live when playing in Survival mode – and the first version was built in Survival mode and, to my credit, I managed to build it without falling off of it and killing myself.

Lemme see if I can put the build into words. The column starts with a nine-block square at the base; I then added four blocks to the center of the nine-block square, then at the third block from the bottom, added a nine-block top to the column. Going from left to right, I laid down 11 blocks and put another column at the end of it and repeated this process until I got back to where I started. I then climbed on top of the first column and at the fourth block I had placed, ran a line of blocks across the entire top until, again, I got back to where I started. Now to put a roof on it.

I wasn’t going to settle for a flat roof so I climbed up on the top row of blocks and began to essentially build a giant triangle shape to form the front side of the roof. Got down, went to the back side of the structure and did the same thing and, wow, they were pretty high up and to the point where had I fallen from the top, I would have died and have to respawn. Next came a crossbeam to connect the front and back sides of the roof’s frame.

Hitting the B button to crouch down – and so I wouldn’t fall off – I laid a line of blocks from one end to the other which was slow going. I then went to the middle section and using the B button again, created a bunch of blocks as steps to make a connection to the main crossbeam, then repeated it on the other side. I got done with this, took a huge drink of water and asked myself, “Okay… now what?”

To complete the roof – and starting at the top of the structure, I started to lay down blocks of glass across the entire top; the next row was all cobblestone and I continued this pattern until the roof was completed. Now it was about filling in the sides in a way to create windows that formed a pattern – and that was the easiest thing I did. Once that was done, now it was time to replace the grass and dirt with a “real” floor so using granite and stripped birch wood blocks, I laid down a geometric pattern which took quite a while to visualize and lay down and – voila – my newest creation was complete… and immediately not good enough.

I have since gone through four iterations of this building. I changed the basic shape of it by adding a middle section because, when looking at it, it just made sense and it would expand the building sideways as well as lengthwise. Now, I did this both in Creative and Survival modes; the challenge was to be able to build it in Survival because doing it in Creative is way easier since you can float around up high. It took longer than the original building, of course, but once I had the basic concept in mind, it wasn’t that bad where time was concerned.

I wound up doing something different with the flooring which, again, took me a bit longer to visualize and execute but, in the end, I was very happy with the results… and not so much. Looking at the new structure, I saw that it could be bigger overall and more so when, by creating a middle to it, well, bigger just made sense. At this point, I had been thinking about making it a storied structure with two or three floors but I thought that in Survival mode, I was gonna die and I hate dying in that game so instead of building up, I used the middle section to dig downward; added steps and dug out rooms on both sides. Other versions of this version had me digging out multiple rooms to serve as bedrooms since, occasionally, the family will pop into my game and needs a place to sleep so outfitting the place with some necessities also made sense.

I was extremely happy with the new configuration and especially the different geometric patterns I could make with the floor… but it could be bigger and better. Which led to the first “supersized” structures… and now things get funny. Building things in Minecraft seems to work best when using an uneven number of blocks, like, a 10x10x10x10 base doesn’t lend itself to symmetry like a 11x11x11x11 base does. So for the supersized version, I thought about some sections having 11 blocks and some having 22 blocks, the thought here being to make the structure twice as big… and making a very rookie mistake.

In order to build the bigger versions, I needed a large, flat space which found me literally spending hours landscaping shit until it was as flat as I needed, from tearing down huge hills to filling in deep holes. My daughter has a things about cutting down trees and not replacing them so I had a good time laughing about the fact that I was mowing down trees left and right and not bothering to replace them since the world I was creating the building in weren’t going to be used to play in Survival mode.

Yeah… I told her about that and she wasn’t happy… but back to the mistake.

I’d spent a few hours landscaping the shit out of a world I could work with, laid down the base by doing 11 blocks between some columns and 22 blocks between others but when I went to put on the roof which, by the way, went from the original simple version to something a lot more complicated due to the middle section, I spend long minutes trying to figure out why the “triangle” wasn’t ending in a single block and as it should.

Um, it was because I used 22 blocks at both ends… instead of 23. I’m not even gonna say a whole lot of the several supersized versions I screwed up because I miscounted blocks, okay? But with the structure I was now working on – with the base already completed, shit – I wasn’t going to start over in a new world, not after it took me three hours to sculpt the land they way I needed it, leaving the only real choice to pretty much tear it all down and put in the right number of blocks for the long sections – 23 instead of 22… while all the while kicking myself in the ass for making such a stupid mistake in the first place.

But I got it done and checked my work by flying up and looking down on the frame and seeing that all 20 columns – yeah, 20 of them – were lined up properly. Now to get to work on the roof. The original roof design was easy; the expanded version with the middle section had me confused because with the way the roof is constructed, the middle section doesn’t match up with, say, the front and back sections although they are the same height. So I had to figure out how to make the roof work… and that took at least two hours for me to figure out.

Oh, I wish you could see the completed roof! It is absolutely beautiful and it’s geometric shape is so comforting to the eye. Still – and this is where it gets even funnier – I had a big issue with the supersized version of the large roof; for some reason, I couldn’t figure out how to get it connected so that it looked like its predecessors. Well, I figured it out; the earlier versions of this roof were built from the bottom up – this roof had to be built from the top down and once I realized this, the rest of the roof went quickly.

With the 23-block areas, I wanted to turn them into rooms so I could use the middle section for storage and an enchantment room and doing that wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Every iteration of this building has a lower crossbeam and I use it to connect it to the top of the building with fenceposts – it really looks cool – and I could then hang lanterns under the crossbeams to provide lighting… but the supersized building present a problem at this point – not enough light so I had to come up with an additional way to light the place with lanterns and not resorting to torches. Additionally, and keeping with the original design, that lower crossbeam has stripped wood blocks in between the cobblestone blocks that are used to support and connect the lower crossbeam to the roof.

Yeah… this place is getting very complicated now but I’ve committed to finishing it even while questioning my sanity in building it in the first place. So to put things into perspective, I started this supersized version two days ago… and I’m still not completely finished with it. I got the inside done including yet another design for the floor. I chose to surround the building with leaf blocks… then frame whole areas with a double row of leaf blocks to keep the frigging animals out, which is a waste of time since the game just spawns them every- and anywhere, like the four horses I had roaming around inside the building. I replaced all the grass on the outside with green cement powder; those damned sheep really piss me off eating the grass and leaving brown spots behind… but I realized that using the cement powder tends to cause sea turtles to show up. Oh, well.

I had to do some additional landscaping since I more or less want all sides of the enclosed area to be equal. I had to add outside lighting; I had to create a more textured area for the flat sides that support the roof by using steps – then, into the face of each flat side, carve out a space using a 1-3-5-7-9 thingy to put in windows at the top, which is pretty cool since looking through those windows – and you can only do it in Creative mode – you can see the lower crossbeam and the “chandeliers” I constructed on each of the “beams” that connects the lower crossbeam to the roof itself.

I wound up creating eight rooms in this structure and after I kill the chickens that are squatting in them, I have to put in beds and stuff as well as create a floor pattern for each room. I know it’s probably hard to envision this so I’m gonna invite anyone who has Minecraft to friend me on Xbox Live – my gamertag is Smartkdaddy (and I hate that tag, by the way) and come take a look at what I think is the best thing I’ve ever built in Minecraft since the system doesn’t seem to want to let me share the screen prints I made. I tried taking a picture of it with my phone and iPad… but it’s not a good picture so if you want to see it, come pay me a visit.

And I’m online right now and will be finishing my work on the supersized place.

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Posted by on 20 March 2020 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: A Letter to the Children of the Vault

Dear Children of the Vault:

Allow me to take this moment to introduce myself. I am a Vault Hunter and I am among you at this point in time to do my job, which is to hunt, discover and loot Eridian vaults for fame, glory, and riches. However, I understand that your job is to not only cause chaos and disorder among the natives of your respective planets, but it’s also your job to stop me from doing my job which, as you might imagine, is going to put us at odds with each other.

So, I’m taking this moment to inform you that given the nature of our respective jobs, anything you do to stop me from doing what I have to do will be met with extreme prejudice and violence; it would be in your best interest to avoid me as I find that I do not like killing you:

I love killing you. Having said that, I am not without compassion and, as such – and whenever possible – I will end your life by the careful placement of a shot from my sniper rifle into your head; it will be quick, painless, and you’ll never hear the shot that killed you. However, seeing as how there might not be such an opportunity to dispatch you with this level of kindness, I will have no choice but to systematically, efficiently, dispassionately, and ruthlessly dispatch you and force you to respawn at a later time.

It’s not personal and I need you to understand this. It’s just business but because I know what kind of vermin you are, you will make this personal by doing your level best to kill me and make me respawn and at great cost to my person. I understand the inevitability of my temporary demise but I want you to know that once I respawn, I will visit upon you devastating violence.

I will, at my discretion or as the situation calls for, burn you to ash with the appropriate incendiary weapon; I will – or may – feel some sympathy for you as I watch the corrosive weapon I’ve employed against you dissolve you into a puddle of goo or I just might smile wryly – and with a bit of glee – when my shock weapon makes your puny brain pop out of your skull. Or, if pressed for time, I will just blow you up with every explosive in my arsenal.

By addressing you today, I am hoping that we can avoid any entanglements which will prove to be detrimental to everyone involved. Still – and sadly – I do not think this will be possible so please take this moment to be advised that I am, with much pride if I may say so, very good at what I do.

I am a killer of bandits; a dispassionate taker of lives such as your own and I do very much enjoy my work. Let it not be said that I have not attempted to avoid unnecessary violence and death but given your limited intelligence and destructive mindset, prepare yourselves because I will stop at nothing to accomplish my goals and it would be in your best interests not to get between myself and what I must do.

I know that you will interfere because your creator, Gearbox, has programmed you to behave in this fashion and you’re at the mercy of your creator’s whims and desires and while I do feel a measure of regret in this, by and large, I will take great enjoyment plying my skills against you even though I will be greatly outnumbered. You may think this favors you but I can assure you that it does not.

Therefore, while I would prefer that there be peace between us, I am afraid there will and can be no peace… so prepare yourselves for I am your death and I will come for you and as will others who are exactly like me.


One of millions of Vault Hunters

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Posted by on 16 November 2019 in Xbox One Gaming


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