Tag Archives: Xbox One

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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Xbox One Gaming: Crybabies – Borderlands 3

I’ve been playing this game pretty much since it came out and, just like most games, there are some things I don’t like about it, for instance, they still haven’t fixed that annoying glitch where your character is standing still… but drifting to the right and it seems to have gotten worse because you could nudge your left joystick and stop the drifting but now that ain’t working well at all.

I don’t like the game’s targeting parameters when you have to approach another character and talk to them; you’re moving around all over the place trying to get the “Talk” thingy to appear while the character you’re trying to interact with is giving you grief about not doing something you were sent there to do.

I don’t like aiming at bad guys; the aiming reticles on the weapons just do not settle down and stay steady even after applying “Guardian points” to the recoil and accuracy parameters. Now, in the other games, it wasn’t unusual for aiming to be shaky until you used bonus points to refine your aim and when you did, your aim would eventually get to be rock solid but, nah, not so much with this game.

I don’t complain to Gearbox about this because I’m sure there are a million or more players already blowing up the support forum with these complaints and a lot more but what got my attention was how many players I’ve seen whining, bitching, and crying over not being able to find or acquire specific weapons and still having pity parties over their not being able to find legendary weapons in huge quantities even though Gearbox tweaked the code so that legendaries appear more often.

But weapon drops have always been very random and even Gearbox doesn’t know when a bad guy is going to drop a weapon of any kind or what that weapon is going to be. Given that, with the release of the original game, they figured out how to generate millions of weapons, it stood to reason that they’d figure out how to randomly generate even more weapons as the franchise moved forward so we get to Borderlands 3 and Gearbox said that this game will generate more weapons than the previous games.

I still wanna see the code they created for this. Still, while Gearbox can tweak the algorithms and change the percentages of how likely it is that a bad guy, chest, vending machine, etc., will produce a weapon, um, chances are good that if you’re looking for a particular weapon, it’s not going to present itself just because you think it should or when it should.

Yet, there are a lot of players still moaning and groaning over this. Let me set the stage for you about legendary weapons. These are kick-ass weapons and they are very coveted and desired. In the first game, I was miffed because my daughter’s family, who taught me how to play, were scooping up legendary weapons every time they played… but I didn’t get my first legendary weapon until a few months – months – of playing.

Gearbox had tweaked the code but while other players were getting them more often, I had, through the many replays of the game, only found three of them. But, okay, as a programmer, I understood the basics of the code used to generate the weapons so they redefined what “random” meant but it’s also one of the allures of the game because you never know when you’re gonna get a kick-ass weapon – you just keep playing until you come across them.

However, the legendaries became like collector’s items across all of the games and, as mentioned, Gearbox was doing all it could to make more legendaries appear but given how I think they wrote the code to ensure randomness, it didn’t make sense for them to lock down the code just to “guarantee” that legendaries would “always” be dropped or found.

And it still doesn’t. Um, that’s why they this game is about shooting and looting. To me, it’s again the allure and fun of the game because you just don’t know when a kick-ass weapon will be found or where it will be. Now, in Borderlands 3, I have an interesting problem: I have more legendary weapons than I do regular-type weapons. I played last night and in my fight with one of the bosses, when I offed it, it dropped three legendary weapons. Throughout my gameplay, even “regular” bandits were dropping legendaries and, once, I opened an ammo box and heard that distinctive ping noting the presence of a legendary weapon.

My son-in-law, who’s been playing a bit longer than I’ve been, tells me he hasn’t found that many legendary weapons. My grandson, who also plays, however, is finding them pretty much in great numbers like I am. On the Facebook group for all things Borderlands, a guy posted a “come and get them” thing and provided a screen shot of more legendary weapons I’ve ever seen in one place and across all of the games.

How did this guy get all of these cherished weapons? Easy – he kept shooting and looting. But I get it: For those players who aren’t seeing that many legendary or other fantastic weapons, this must be horrifically frustrating and they’re demanding that looting generates more and more high quality weapons…

But that defeats the purpose of playing the game in that sense, I think. For myself, eh, I don’t fret over legendaries even though I have more of them than I need. If I “complain” about anything, it’s all the weapons I come across that always manages to not help me when I need a more powerful weapon but, again, that’s just how the game goes and I really don’t have a problem with that aspect of it.

If the game was that easy, there wouldn’t really be a point in playing it but, hmm, maybe I’m the only player who looks at it like that. Most of the time, I have the wrong tool for the job at hand and the game is deliberately designed to make you do more with less and, yes, indeed, in Borderlands 3, it’s one hell of a challenge. I don’t know how many times I’ve come close to throwing my controller because I’m carrying 30+ weapons… and none of them are killing shit like I would like them to – and I’m consistently seeing this behavior having played all four characters on my main profile and two on my second profile and, believe me, between the two profiles, the game plays differently.

And I expect it to. Then again, I know programming so the game’s algorithms makes sense to me and, in a way, it’s not me against the many bad guys in the game – it’s me against Gearbox’s programmers and, as expected, the programmers are winning more than I am even though I’ve finished the game five times and working on finishing it for the sixth time.

So while I have no need or reason to be a crybaby over how weapons appear or don’t, a lot of players seem to have one and, to be honest, it doesn’t make any sense. The game is designed to make you play it and replay it; one of the values of any game is it’s replay value and with the lure of legendaries galore and other very lethal items, yeah, sure – it’s worth replaying time and time again if, by chance, you’re a weapons collector and many players are.

Me? I just wanna kill shit and blow shit up and I’m not unappreciative when a regular bad guy drops two legendaries or, when I need a better grenade or shield, one just happens to drop at the right time which, again, doesn’t always happen… because it’s not supposed to.

The bitching and moaning has gotten so bad on the Facebook group that the moderators have threatened to ban folks and quite a few arguments have broken out. The moderators correctly say that if you’re having a problem with the game, Gearbox is the people to complain to and being a crybaby on the Facebook group about your “issues” isn’t what the group is for.

And all because the game is doing what it was designed to do. Legendaries and other kick-ass weapons do show up but, like I said, even Gearbox doesn’t know when they will or what kind – they just know they programmed the game to do it. The algorithm they created can generate billions of weapons in different configurations, effects, stuff like that and it is fucking impressive. It’s a game of luck as much as it is a game of skill and you either get lucky like I’ve gotten and wind up with so many legendaries that even I’m thinking about having a giveaway – or you aren’t so lucky but if you keep playing, eh, maybe you will get that lucky.

Maybe you find that killer weapon that all of your friends have found, maybe you never will. It’s frustrating but being a crybaby about it ain’t gonna make shit happen the way you think it should happen. Still, for Borderlands 3, Gearbox again tweaked the weapons code so that main bosses were more likely to drop a legendary… but it’s still so random that it boggles the mind. They want you to keep playing the game even after you beat it so ensuring that legendaries, in particular, aren’t as common as, say, frag grenades, just makes sense. Should a main boss always drop a legendary? Well, they do… sometimes… but never when you think it should.

If they made every bad guy, weapons and ammo box, and vending machine produce legendaries, what would be the point in playing the game?

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Posted by on 15 November 2019 in Xbox One Gaming


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Xbox One Gaming: Borderlands 3 Characters

One of the decisions you have to make when starting the game is which of the four characters you’re gonna use to start shooting and looting: Zane, the Operative; Amara, the Siren; FL4K, the Beastmaster; Moze, the Soldier.

Gearbox stayed faithfully true to the mind-numbing and sometimes confusing things that makes each Vault Hunter very, very different and with weapons, skill trees, and other items that are unique to each one and unless you were doggedly reading everything Gearbox had to say about the game before it was released, eh, you really don’t know what they’re capable of.

So, starting out, I picked Zane, the Operative… because our cat’s name is Zane. Working with his skill tree wasn’t what I’d call bad or tough although trying to figure out how to use the new skill tree interface still has me shaking my head a lot because you want to get the right skills for the way you’re going to play the game. I found what might be the best configuration except, bleh, that configuration doesn’t allow me to use grenades the way I wanna use them, like, sometimes, I wanna make it rain grenades and I mean throwing every last one I’m carrying… except the configuration I’m using kinda randomly tosses a grenade – a pain in my ass but I worked with it enough to finish the game with Zane and get him to Level 50.

Then I started a new game with Amara, the Siren… and realized that maybe I should have started with her instead of Zane because I’m having a lot of fun with her skills and to the point where I finished the game twice with her and after boosting her to Level 50 as well.

Gearbox is taking way too long to put in that piece that will allow all characters to go beyond Level 50 and True Vault Hunter Mode although, if they stay true to form, I should be careful what I wish for.

In between kicking ass and taking names with Zane and Amara, I started a new game with FL4K, the Beastmaster… and I am not happy with this guy at all – well, I’m not happy with the various beastly sidekicks you can pick to work with him because, uh, they’re not as helpful like one situation I got into: I activated FL4K’s skill to help me thin out the swarm of bandits looking to make me respawn in a hurry… and the damned thing just stood next to me doing nothing at all.

Initially, this behavior was identified to Gearbox and they made some adjustments… but I’m still not happy playing with this character who is presently only at Level 13. At this point, the gaming landscape has become familiar – I don’t have to really think about where I’m going or what’s gonna happen but, yeah, I’m probably gonna have to do some serious tweaking of FL4K’s skill trees to find something I can work with.

Now it’s Moze’s turn in the crucible. Her mech is… effective but when activated, it doesn’t hang around for what I’d call a “long time” and the mech’s weapon selection – and as I currently have it configured – is more of a problem than it is helpful. The railgun is devastating and powerful but doesn’t fire quickly enough (at least not now) and the chaingun on the other side overheats way too quickly for my taste and use – again, at least for now. It is to note, however, that my Moze character has passed my FL4K character level-wise at this stage of things and I’m finding that I don’t have to summon Moze’s mech all that often and as opposed to how many times I’ve summoned FL4K’s beasty buddies to little effect.

Frustrating, confusing, and sometimes not the right tool for the job at hand… but this is still Borderlands and if you’ve played the other games in the franchise, you know this is gonna happen – you just don’t know how good or bad your character choice is gonna be until you really get into the thick of things… and then be prepared to look at the characters’ skill trees and do your best to suss out the right combination of things that will make your character of choice kick ass and take names in the way you like doing that.

One of the things that bummed me out when I first started playing was how ineffectual using a snipe rifle was with Zane; in the earlier games – and even in the early stages of gameplay, you put a bandit’s head in the crosshairs, squeeze the trigger, and – poof – one dead bandit minus his head… not so much with Zane in this incarnation of the game. Sure, the bandits are harder to kill and it makes sense that when a bad guy is shielded, you gotta make that go away but there were a few times when I emptied my sniper rifle just trying to behead one bandit.

Enter Moze. First time I ran into a shielded bandit – and the best weapon I had at the time was a sniper rifle, I lined homey’s head up in the crosshairs, squeezed the trigger… and his head vanished.

What. The. Fuck? Oh, yeah – Borderlands. You kinda forget that each character has weapons that they’re really good and effective with and, to be honest, one can’t be blamed for forgetting this because you’re really and seriously busy trying not to get killed. Or you have one of those moments where, say, a good pistol you’ve been using just stops doing the job it was formerly very capable of doing… and in the space of going from one area to the next. I was… mystified to find myself at Level 50 with Zane – or was it Amara? – and mowing down Level 51 bad guys with a Level 38 machine gun with ease.

Okay, that particular gun was a Legendary but if you know Borderlands, you also know that not all Legendary weapons retain their awesome killing power. I’m killing the shit out of bandits with a gun that, on the face of things, should have been unequal to the task long before it actually did become useless. Or finding out that Amara, for some reason, is a shotgun specialist and many bandits – and a few bosses – met their grisly demise via shotgun.

Moze’s gun seems to be the sniper rifle but FL4K? Not sure which weapon is his “thing” yet – I’m not really all that inspired to play with him but I will and I’ll eventually find out what weapon type he’s good with. But, next, something that has me asking WTF…

I have a second profile set up on my Xbox One and it’s there for one reason: So I can play any of my installed games in almost a sandbox kind of mode and test different gameplay methods or whatever while not impacting what I’m playing on my main profile. I started a game under my second profile and started with Amara, a character I know is more than equal to the job at hand…

And I’m getting my head handed to me big time and I’ve struggled to get this version of Amara past Level 10. Yeah, you read that right. What I don’t know is why this is so different. Same character. Same configuration. Not the same results and not even close. I could understand this if I hadn’t already played with Amara and I didn’t know what to expect in the area “Amara Jr.” is currently stuck in. On my main profile with Amara, I didn’t exactly breeze through things but it wasn’t a hardship doing so… but on my second profile, shit, you’d think that I was playing the game with zero knowledge about how to play it.

I know what to do… can’t get it done. Granted, Amara Jr. doesn’t have the exact same weaponry as Amara Sr. had in this specific situation – but Junior’s weapons aren’t anything to sneeze at and I’m talking about how those worthy weapons went from being very effective in one area to not being effective at all in the very next area.

And I’ll be damned if I know why. It’s presenting a damned interesting challenge and one that, really, I didn’t expect to be facing… and maybe I should have but it only serves to prove that even when you know what you’re supposed to be doing, that doesn’t mean it’s gonna work the way you think it should. On a first playthrough, sure – you have no real idea what you’re gonna be facing but you learn it so if/when you start a new game with a new character, if nothing else, you know what you’re going to be facing and you know what you did the first time to deal with each situation with some “minor” differences of course.

On my second profile, it’s like I’ve never played this game with this character before. And I can’t explain it. My mission today is to play with my second profile, figure out what the hell’s going on, and kick ass and take names.

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Posted by on 23 October 2019 in Xbox One Gaming


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