Update Part 3: Sometimes I play different games. Sometimes I don’t.

Games! So, I was really in to Minecraft for a long while there. And really, I still really like Minecraft but I’m not playing it quite so obsessively. But in the past few years, I’ve gone through some kind of weird survival genre binging (I just realized how strange the word ‘binging’ looks o_O). Also, MMORPGs have come and gone. (R.I.P. City of Heroes) And I’ve played some things that I didn’t really expect to get in to (Diablo, Hearthstone, GTA5). For the most part, though, it’s just been survival game upon survival game upon survival game. So, for this post we’ll talk about survival games and then get in to other genres in the next posts, I apologize in advance for the wall of text. Let’s get started!

Survivalating: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Steam has been an amazing source of indie survival games for the past few years. It started for me with Project Zomboid, which I already talked a bit about in some posts from a few years ago. I loved it and then after the developers had that huge setback, I left it alone for a while. They had to slow down their progress and I wanted to give them time to get back in to the swing of things, it only seemed fair to give them a chance to pull back together. Plus, I REALLY wanted to play PZ in multiplayer, which it didn’t have at that point. I waited. I was still craving that zombie horror survival, though. So, I started grasping at straws. Steam had an ever growing selection of straws to offer.

I jumped in to Don’t Starve for a brief period after that. It was also very early in development, but super fun and I love the graphics. Once again, though, I was craving multiplayer interaction. What fun is dying over and over in the wilderness if you don’t have anyone to laugh at you? So, I moved swiftly on and actually ended up going back to Minecraft for a while after that. However, Don’t Starve Together is currently in beta. I can’t wait to get some people together in to that game. Should be good fun!

Anyway, after Minecraft and going back to some MMOs for a while (I’ll talk about those in the next post) I went back to trying to scratch that survival itch again. Planet Explorers caught my eye. Sci-fi sandbox survival? Yes, please! Alien monsters, quests, and multiplayer? Sounds perfect. Well… maybe it’s just that the game was too early at the time or something. It had great reviews on Steam, though. But the multiplayer didn’t work very well. My boyfriend and I struggled to play together. I found the controls and combat to be clunky and frustrating. The graphics were very pretty, the premise was good, but something about it just wasn’t fun. We stopped playing after just a few days.

And then GRAV popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, just as we were abandoning Planet Explorers. Sci-fi sandbox survival? This sounds familiar… Alien monsters, quests, and multiplayer? Hmm. We dove in anyway. And it was fun! GRAV was built using the newest Unreal engine, which meant the controls were smooth, the graphics were beautiful and it was easy and fun to play. It was super early in development, but my boyfriend and I still managed to play the shit out of that game. Unfortunately, though, we dominated it completely within a matter of weeks. Before we knew it, we were standing atop our massive fortress with our jetpacks and our amazing weapons and we had nothing left to conquer. We’ll probably revisit this one after more content has been added. It was a good run.

Life is Feudal had looked interesting for some time, and after running out of content so quickly in GRAV, I was craving a survival game that might be longer lived. While Life is Feudal had pretty good reviews on Steam, many people complained that the gameplay was too slow, and that it was too hard to do anything alone. Excellent. With the way my boyfriend and I can eat through content, this should be perfect, right? …Right? This game was torture. I cannot stress that enough. Unless you’re bringing a guild of 20 people minimum in to this game with you, don’t even bother. Let me tell you how I spent 6 hours in this game. My boyfriend and I found a place to settle together. We built a fire and gathered some very basic materials, but our inventories were filling fast. We needed to build some storage so that we could gather enough materials to build a real shelter and progress. Sounds about right for a survival game, right? Seemed fine up until this point. So, what was the most basic storage container? A barrel. Okay, no problem, let’s make a barrel. What do we need? Some planks, some nails, and a metal band. Sounds like a barrel, okay. Great, how do we make those? Get carpentry to level 60 to make planks, get blacksmithing to level 30ish to make the nails and metal band. Uh. Okay… seems like a lot of levels, but let’s just grind it out. We got the carpentry by just cutting logs a whole lot, but then for the blacksmithing we needed ore. Well, we needed to get mining to like level 30 or something to get the ore. But the only way to work on mining was to level up terraforming to level 60 so that we could dig a hole. Okay, fine. We’ll grind it out. No problem. We wanted a slower experience anyway. Six hours later, we’ve ground these things out and my boyfriend has been clicking away at the ground, trying to dig a hole for literally about the past three hours and has not made more than a dimple in to the earth. I haven’t been able to help him dig because I need to harvest food to keep us from starving to death. We finally stopped and decided this wasn’t fun.

And then I remembered, wasn’t there some game called Rust? Isn’t that a survival game? Reviews were mixed. I guess at some point the devs decided to rebuild the game’s backend, essentially starting over with the development. This upset a lot of people. We decided to give it a shot anyway. And I enjoyed it. It was clearly very early in development when we tried it, so we ran in to the same problem we had with GRAV. We pretty much did everything we wanted to do in the game within about a week and then we felt done with it. It’s another game I’ll have to revisit once more work has been done on it.

By this time Project Zomboid had made leaps and bounds in its development, had multiplayer and structure building. I definitely had to give it another go. It’s really just a great game, I can’t recommend it more. I had a server running for a while for several friends. The main problem we really had was basically that… well, we suck at games. So, the difficulty on my server was turned down a bit to make it a bit more sustainable. But then we ended up with a sort of imbalance and I ended up wanting to play something a bit more hardcore and also more immersive, like in a 3d environment. But Project Zomboid is so good. I needed more zombies.

Steam told me that if I liked PZ, I’d probably also like 7 Days to Die. I’ll admit that the look of the graphics had put me off initially, they’re really not impressive, but after reading in to it a bit more I threw caution to the wind. It had zombies and Minecraft-style building. Like, actually Minecraft-style with giant fucking awkward looking blocks. In a semi-realistic 3d environment. The textures were also pretty terrible to look at. However, it turned out that 7 Days to Die was really fucking fun. And also super fucking scary. My boyfriend and I actually got a few weeks of solid gameplay out of it and enjoyed the hell out of it the whole way. However, as with the other early access games, we ended up conquering the world and ended up with nothing really left to do. We are definitely hoping to revisit this game, though. It was really great.

I tried a couple of survival games after that which weren’t really anything even worth talking about. CastleMiner Z and Unturned. I blame my boyfriend for those. I couldn’t play them for more than a few minutes, so maybe I didn’t give them a fair shake. Really, though, they just played like toilets so I couldn’t be bothered. I have no idea how Unturned has such positive reviews on Steam.

And then ARK: Survival Evolved came out of nowhere. It just showed up and dominated Steam for a while, holding the best selling game spot for quite a while. And rightly so, this game is fucking amazaballs. Fucking character customization, built solely for multiplayer, fucking dinosaurs, killer graphics, uses the Unreal engine so runs smooth as butter, very responsive handling, everything I could ever want in a survival game. And then on top of all that, the devs are updating this thing nearly every other day. Good, substantial updates. Updates for players AND for server admins. I can’t even praise this game enough. And the amount of content. My boyfriend and I have played the shit out of this game. I’ve logged almost 400 hours on Steam and I have not yet conquered this game, but I’ve still made so much progress and had so much fun. The game is just so deep. Just call me The Raptor Whisperer. I haven’t had the chance to get back in to this world in a few weeks because of real life and the kitten and MMOs, but the next time I get the survival itch, this will be the game I’ll be hopping back in to first.

Update Part 2: Cat and more cat.

As I get older, I’m turning more and more in to a crazy cat lady. That probably just comes with my choice to go with cats instead of kids. Anyway, Wrecks is still around and being his happy, derpy self. He moved with my boyfriend and I to Stockton and has been enjoying the house here for the past couple years. Doci invested a good amount in buying him a MASSIVE and AMAZING cat castle to climb and play on. It’s seriously so cool. I wish I could live in it. Also, Wrecks had a bit of a rough time this year with a urinary tract infection and I’ve been trying to keep him from gaining too much weight as he gets older, but other than that, everything has been good. Here are some lovely pictures of him from the past few years.

So, now that I’ve bombarded you all with pictures of my cat, it’s time for… ANOTHER CAT! That’s right, two cats now. That’s double the amount of cats I had before. Like, twice as much. Almost, anyway. We’re actually only at about 1.5 cats right now, the new cat is just an itty bitty thing, still.

Story time! So, you know how when you were a kid you would always dream about finding some poor, injured/sickly animal and nursing it back to health and then having said animal grow up to be your faithful companion that you ride in to battle on? …No? Just me? Oh… well, alright then. Anyway, so when we first moved to Stockton, there were some feral kittens in the back yard. At the time, I was busy and under stress from the move, so I didn’t pay too much attention to them. I gave them a bit of food a couple times and then got on with my life.

Fast forward a year and a half to this summer. Wrecks starts going nuts looking out the back door and then there I see one of the feral kittens had returned, all grown up and with a fresh litter of her own. She had four little kittens in tow, three of which were big and healthy looking for ferals; full of energy, playing and climbing everything in sight. The fourth kitten was an obvious runt, half the size of the others and very thin. He would just lay around, never ran and was very wobbly on his feet when he walked.  I started putting a bit of food out for them in the mornings. Then one evening I looked out and the little runt was curled up, asleep with his head resting inside an empty can of food. So, then I started putting out food in the evenings, too. Finally about a week later, my boyfriend was like “Let’s just bring him inside.” and offered to cover the vet bills and everything, since we were sure the kitten would be swimming with parasites (which he was).

And that was that! New teeny tiny little male kitten joined the family. We named him Vladmir and he’s been with us almost a month now. He’s been growing like a weed and he’s more than doubled in size. Wrecks was afraid of him for the first week, probably thinking mama cat was going to come in and beat him up. Now they’re getting along great, though. Wrecks is initiating play with Vlad and grooming him and keeping him in line. Kitten picture time!

Update Part 1: Ups and downs.

I guess I’ll start off updating my general life stuff. Three and a half years is a long time. Where I left off, I had just gotten a lovely little stay-at-home job and I was doing alright. I kept that job for about 4 years total, it was very cozy. I adapted to the graveyard hours well and it was nice. It got a little rough when I had to move to a new city because of other life factors, but it worked out since I could do that job from anywhere. The pay was poor, but I kept the bills from going red, so it was fine. Then a couple months ago, that position got outsourced to the Philippines, and I’m back out of a job.  So, now I’m sort of using up savings and seeing if I can find more work from home. I really was spoiled being able to work in my pajamas and I don’t really want to give it up. I’m doing some online crowdsource type work, so I’m getting by for now. But the holidays are coming up, so if I get down to the wire I can go grab some seasonal retail position or something. That would be shitty, but at least I know I don’t really have much to worry about. Oh well!

And since I mentioned that we moved, I suppose I’ll talk about that. My boyfriend, cat, and I are all out in Stockton now. It’s a crap area and it gets super hot in the summer, but it’s really affordable and I have the nicest landlord ever, so I feel like things could be worse on that front. Even though we can’t get pizza delivered anymore because they keep getting robbed… well, maybe that’s for the best, I’m still trying to lose weight anyway.

Speaking of losing weight! I think in my earlier posts I had just gotten an exercise bike and I was starting to try to lose weight and stuff at that point. Well, man I completely fell through on the whole exercise thing. I used that bike for like a month and then never touched it again. We didn’t even bring it with us when we moved. What a waste. HOWEVER! My grotesque laziness hasn’t stopped me from progressing in my weight loss goals. I just switched over to dieting instead, which it turns out is immensely easier for me.

So, in the two years I’ve been eating better now, I’ve lost over 120 pounds. At my biggest, I was around 340 lbs and now I’m approaching 210 and still hoping to lose more. I don’t normally like to post pictures of myself, but with such a substantial amount of weight lost, I feel I need to provide evidence to back up my claims. And by the way, the diet I’m on is just called “eating less food.” With a touch of, “more vegetables and less garbage.” Also a little bit of wisdom from the book Eat Stop Eat.

This isn’t what it looks like.

So, someone out there may look at the date on the last post and then the date on this post and say “Storm, what happened? It’s been three and a half years.” And my reply to that would be “This site is a dirty liar and a whore!

Seriously, though. It’s not totally accurate. Let’s have a little story time: As you can see in my last post from 2012, I was switching to a new content manager, which I did do. It was WordPress. Things went well, for a time. Life continued on merrily, with sporadic updates for roughly a year, I’d say. Then things went horribly wrong. The site got hacked. I fixed it, then it got hacked again. And again. I was at a loss for what to do and very busy and stressed out with work at the time, so I just threw CMSimple back up, with the old news postings and trashed WordPress in a childish rage and didn’t touch the site since then.

So, really, it’s only been like two years. Because I threw a tantrum like a 5 year old and then didn’t come back out of stubbornness. That’s way better, right? …Right?

Anyway, a lot has changed and I have some cool (and maybe not so cool) updates to make. I don’t want to just to one massive wall of text, so I’ll break it up and do a few. Like, as if I actually have a blog or something. For now, as you can see, I’m giving WordPress another shot. I’ve been doing my homework and working with WordPress elsewhere and I feel like now I’m better equip to handle any future melt downs. It really is a good platform and I want to make it work. I’m going to work on more customizations and play with widgets and stuff. I’ll take note of that in future updates.

Cross your fingers! Hopefully I don’t nuke the site again.

Back to tinkering

Well, I posted links to things in my SchorlCraft page. And so, there’s that. I don’t really feel like talking about that, though. I feel like tinkering with the back-end of the site again. After using stuff like WordPress and Blogger for other websites I’ve worked on recently, I feel inadequate hiding behind CMSimple. Not that I don’t like this back-end. It’s serving me well and I’ve been completely secure and hack-free. It’s great.

I just need to tinker, though. I can’t help myself. Anyway, I’ve got a few days off, so I’m going to waste my time installing WordPress and seeing if I can make that look just like this site, or maybe even better. Because I’ve grown kind of attached by the layout I’ve built here… but.. then there’s the possibility of floating transparent tables and such… I’ve kind of been wanting to something like that, instead of having the static tables…

Anyway, this may or may not be the last post on this back-end. We’ll see! Maybe it’ll be cool the next time I post. Maybe it’ll be the same. Maybe somehow I’ll make my website implode and you’ll never hear from me again.

I’m still a slacker.

Yeah. I’m slacking on my texture project. I know. I’m a bad person. I’m probably going to hell. Whatever. Fuck you guys! …No, I’m sorry. I’m gonna try to get back on that. I really really wanna see it be ‘done’. No promises.

Anyway. I’m back here talking to myself because I’m totally in to the whole Minecraft thing. I’d say mostly because I’m running a server and there are actual human beings that use it, and therefore I have an obligation to real people to keep that shit working. It’s a motivator. Plus I get some kind of perverse pleasure every time there’s an update and I must scramble to be able to grasp and utilize the new technology before someone tries to get on the server and is like “Why is it down?”

I can’t stand to be unreliable.

Back on track now, I’m here to share a link in regards to my Minecraft server. I needed to throw something quick and dirty together to make relevant postings in communication with these human creatures that pleasure themselves on my server. The quick and dirty came in the form of a Blogspot page (thanks, Google!). It can be viewed hyah if anyone is curious about the inner workings of my Minecraft world.

And like most of my posts, this is all highly irrelevant, since no one can even get on to my server without first being approved and permitted to the white list.

SchorlCraft. And some other stuff.

Hullo, my Temple. Do not despair, I haven’t forgotten about you. In fact, I have actually been working on a large load of content that will be placed on my SchorlCraft page. However, I’m holding off on actually setting up the SchorlCraft page until it’s done, because I would like this to be the centerpiece of that page.

What I’m working on is an entire texture pack for Minecraft. It doesn’t sound like much, but it actually takes quite a lot more work and creative energy than I was expecting. It’s very time consuming, and being so time consuming I’m probably not going to be done enough with it to post it up for at least a month. Probably longer. But for now I’ll give you a sample of what I’m working on! If anyone has any feedback, just send me a message on Twitter (@Schorlcraft) or on the Minecraft forums (Schorl).

Property of Storm-chan.com

So, there’s that. All of the faded parts are default textures that I haven’t done my own version of yet. Everything else has been painted by hand in Photoshop. I’m pretty proud of myself. Once I finish this terrain file, I’ll work on icons. I think those will be fun to make.

In other news, Project Zomboid suffered a major setback. They got robbed, lost two computers and a ton of new code. It’s so sad, I feel really bad for those guys. I feel pretty optimistic that they’ll be able to recover, but man that has to be harsh.

Also, Minecraft is up to 1.9 prerelease 4! And the game will be coming out of beta in just under a month! So excited! =D Dragons!

So much Minecraft!

So, it’s been about a week and I haven’t done anything else with the site. But I still have ideas for the SchorlCraft page formulating and festering and fermenting in my brain. I think that was enough analogies starting with the letter F. I’m thinking about it a lot.

I keep getting distracted by actually playing Minecraft, though. They keep putting out updates! The 1.8.1 patch just came out and they’re already on a 1.9 pre-release, with 1.10 slated to come out soon. So, I’m consuming all of this new content at an alarming rate, and then I’ve got to re-texture the new stuff that’s come. It’s all keeping me quite distracted from WoW and City of Heroes and my website and my boyfriend and my cat and my life.

But anyway. I do really really want to put all of these Minecraft-related things on my site, so that will still happen “eventually.”

Exercise! Since I got my bike, I’ve actually been keeping up on riding it. This has caused me to develop a slightly better relationship with our Xbox and GameCube (that’s right, I haven’t gotten a Wii yet, fuck off). I’ve been playing this fun little came called I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. Downloaded it out of the Xbox Live market or whatever. It’s in the Indie game section. Basically, you only use the joysticks, you move with one stick and shoot with the other. I plays a lot like those old space shooters, except you see your character from over head and instead of shooting asteroids and alien ships, you’re shooting zombies that are surrounding you. It reminds me a lot of a little flash game that I play sometimes called Endless Zombie Rampage, which is also a lot of fun.

But anyway, back to exercise. Uh. I’ve been riding my bike, but I don’t actually know if I’ve made any progress, since… it occurs to me that I don’t actually own a scale. I know. I’m good at this game. So, I’m going to buy one today when I go to get a new barbecue and some other things and… I suppose I’ll be able to give better updates later.

Temple template 2.0

That almost rhymed. Kind of. Anyway, as you can see I did make a new template. It was itching at my brain not to have one. Just the very idea that I didn’t have the ability to completely manipulate my own website’s graphics whenever I wanted felt wrong. I had to fix it. I don’t have control issues. Leave me alone.

…Yeah, I do.

So, I redid the template and I improved it. It’s like how they digitally remastered Star Wars. It’s exactly like that, don’t argue with me. I couldn’t find the same font that I used for the title, but… I think this new font combo that I picked out looks neat. I really like the S. It reminds me of mazes. I love mazes. Anyway, there’s a new template on the SchorlCraft page, but there’s no content on it yet.

Links are done. Archives are more archivey. Aaaand, I think that’s it for now. I’m gonna add stuff to the SchorlCraft page later.

I haven’t run out of steam yet!

I’m still making updates, isn’t it wonderful? It’s like I actually use my site. So, I did actually get to updating my Links page. It’s almost done. I’m probably going to finish it sometime later today. I worked in some really nice javascript to expand and collapse the different categories. I think that’s pretty slick, so I may incorporate that in to my News Archives page as well. And then I have two days off of work, so maybe if I feel like it, I’ll get around to setting up my little Minecraft page. Maybe.

There was one hang-up I ran in to, though. Actually it made me very sad. I crafted the whole background to this site myself in Photoshop a year ago with some screenshots from City of Heroes. I still have the screenshots, but my Photoshop files have gone missing. So all of the transparencies I did for the menus and the title and the little navigation buttons are all gone. Sad faces. So, if I want to make any more templates (like I wanted to for my Minecraft page) I’m going to have to remake all of that from scratch again. And then I’m going to want the menus and everything to match, so I’ll have to redo this background as closely as I can… and really what I’m saying is, that’s going to be several hours of work for me.

We’ll see if I decide to spend my weekend on that or not. Maybe I will. I’m in one of those techie moods.

Anyway, on a non-website topic, I got my exercise bike shipped. I got it all set up and took my first half-hour ride on it. I kind of felt like my legs were going to fall off when I was done, so I guess that’s good. Let’s see if I can keep it up!