State of the Game: Smed’s Dead

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I know, I’m late again. Yesterday was spent watching the playoffs, and then wallowing in misery because of the horrible comeback we let happen. The Packers should have went to the Superbowl… but let’s not get into that. As you can see I made a little banner for this segment, as it is a regular feature on the blog, and I’ve gotten in the habit of having banners for my regular columns (By The Numbers, Couch Podtatoes posts). And, if you’re wondering about the post title, it’s not a reference to Smed (prez of SOE) being actually dead, but rather a reference to a server name in H1Z1. I thought it was fitting, as this week I spent most of my game time in H1Z1, so that’s what we’ll be covering today.

After my Impressions post about the game, I have had a few more sessions with H1Z1 and I honestly love it. There is something new around every corner, I don’t think I’ve seen even 50% of the world yet, and this is just the starter stuff, the game world is supposed to get expanded with time. All of the bitching and moaning about the airdrops seems to have subsided, as the devs decided to change up what comes in them, and change some values as far as plane speed, drop radius, and things like that. Honestly I haven’t even used any of the airdrop calls that I have on my account, and I have only seen/heard a couple here and there. It doesn’t seem to be as rampant as people would have thought. Originally I was thinking it was pretty stupid for people to even buy them, because I read somewhere that you can find tickets in the game (so you could get an airdrop without paying for it), and because I was having no trouble finding weapons and supplies. Of course, I haven’t actually found a ticket in-game, so I can’t confirm this. Still, I wasn’t having a problem with surviving. I think people who complained the loudest haven’t even tried the game, and those complaining a little less loudly are the ones who played for a couple of hours and then wrote it off. Get your facts straight, and you’ll see it’s not game-breaking whatsoever.

So I had a fantastic run where I was fully loaded with a sniper rifle, and bunch of supplies, and things were going great. I was running around on my own when I was approached by another player, who asked me via voice chat if I had any food. He pleaded that he was starving and wondered if I could help. I didn’t have my mic set up, so I went ahead and dropped a freshly cooked deer steak on the ground for him. I gestured enough that he figured out I had dropped it, and he thanked me profusely. I went about my business, when a few minutes later I ran into him again. This time he asked if I would mind if he tagged along. I gestured with some hand clapping (is that the appropriate emote?) and he followed along. Soon we came along another player, and they both proceeded to determine that we were all friendlies, but my first buddy told the other guy that I was without a mic. I was getting sick of not being able to communicate, so I decided to start setting up my mic and getting the settings right. As I was doing so, a zombie came along and killed me. Go figure. This is why we need a chat function. Doesn’t need to be global, just in the immediate area, or at least a way to talk to your group of friendlies.

Yesterday I gave the game another whirl, and decided to start on another server. I had been playing on Pandemic, and decided to give Romero a try. Through my travels I figured out more crafting recipes, and also figured out how to fill bottles from a water source and then boil the water over a campfire. Fair warning, fires attract zombies!

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I also learned to make a bow and arrows, because apparently there was a bug that has been discovered, that was affecting the amount of loot in the game. They lowered the rate at which your energy (food) and hydration (water) levels decreased, but in the process that patch bugged loot. I was wandering for a long ass time and not finding much of anything. I would have given my left arm for an axe, as it’s so necessary for many of the things you need to do, such as cutting up deer for their meat, and getting scraps of cloth off of zombie corpses. I also found bullets for the first time, but no guns. Apparently the fix for that bug is coming in tonight’s patch. During my run last night, I came across a landfill, and was heading inside to check it out.

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I experience my first real gank inside. I was just shuffling around, never heard or saw anyone, and suddenly I was getting shot with arrows. I dropped like a bad habit. I mumbled “fuck you” into the mic… and my attacker says “I love you too.” Good times.

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I came across an interesting bug where everything was shifted where it didn’t belong. Items that should have been hanging on walls were floating in mid air.

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This was during my current life. I am doing fairly well despite the loot bug. I managed to find a couple of weapons/tools, a helmet, and a military backpack that holds more stuff than the usual kind. All I really need is a gun and an axe and I’d be in business. I logged out in a safe place, and when I pick things back up hopefully loot will be a bit more plentiful. I want to learn more recipes and maybe do some ganking of my own. Til next time.

#stateofthegame #h1z1 #survival #zombies

Impressions: H1Z1

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I spent the majority of yesterday thinking I wasn’t going to get into the Early Access for H1Z1 right away. I also spent the day reading about the game, and the issues it was having via Twitter and Reddit. Not only was the game just released on Steam, but it is an Alpha version, and as such SOE was charging a fee to get involved (but also using those fees towards development costs), despite the game being designated as a free to play title upon release. I didn’t see an issue with paying a little bit, particularly when the money spent goes towards things you would buy via micro transactions in the RMT store once the game was live. So it’s not as if you weren’t getting your money’s worth, unless you are a supremely entitled gamer who isn’t willing to deal with some issues a game might have during its launch, particularly one that isn’t even a full release. Besides, it’s not as if you are paying a subscription fee, and even if you were, you’d probably be compensated with more game time because of these issues. One thing I will commend SOE on is the fact that they have been so transparent about everything, and literally blowing up Twitter and Reddit with feedback as to what is going on. They know the issues, they tell you when they figure out the problem, and tell you when it’s going to be fixed. Looking back at the ArcheAge launch, Trion was mysteriously silent when things weren’t running smoothly, and most people who played that game didn’t bitch nearly as much as those who have been involved with the H1Z1 launch.

Another issue that cropped up was surrounding “lies” perpetrated by SOE, calling the game pay to win. At some point during development streams, it was said that there wouldn’t be a way to buy guns or ammo via RMT, and yet there are airdrops that can be bought, which have a percentage chance to drop guns and ammo (albeit in small amounts, hardly game-breaking). These were designed to be a public event, in which the purchaser of the air drop will be vulnerable to anyone else coming along and killing them to take the loot. Sounds to me like it’s a gamble to have an airdrop called in, as someone else might get your stuff that you paid for. Sounds to me like the people bitching about this feature should be lying in wait to try and take the loot that they didn’t pay for. Doesn’t seem game-breaking at all, but there has been some clarification about changes coming to airdrops today. In another respectable move by Smedley, people who were clamoring over this issue have been offered a no questions asked refund. I guess bitching will get you your money back at least, but seriously, why not see how the game changes during the Early Access period? At most you paid $40, at least $20, and you couldn’t have possibly seen enough of the game to know what’s what, especially since there were login errors and server problems til later on last night. Knee-jerk reactions for the win.

Many shitty reviews have popped up on Steam, and Reddit is awash with negativity. However, there are some people who aren’t so mad about things, and have a more realistic view of the state of the game at this point. I was happy to see this thread talking about the features people like and how much they are enjoying the game. Like I said, I didn’t think I’d be getting involved right away, and was okay with waiting around til most of the initial issues were fixed before trying to pick up the game, but my father decided to get both of us copies of the game, so I was able to check it out for a while last night. When I first tried to get in game I was met with similar issues, but I kept an eye on Twitter and once things were said to be working as intended, I tried again. This time I got into the game, and was plopped down in the middle of nowhere, while rain poured from the sky.

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Equipped with my fists and a flashlight, along with the clothes on my back, I wandered around until I found this road, which I followed looking for signs of civilization.

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I found this abandoned van on a bridge, hoping that I might be able to drive it. Unfortunately it was “wrecked” and didn’t have anything inside of it either. Moving farther down the bridge, I found some Zombies and saw some buildings up ahead.

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I searched vehicles and buildings, eventually finding some more gear, including a backpack, an axe, and some food. Another vehicle had some binoculars inside, which I figured would be of good use.

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The rain eventually cleared up, and as I was rummaging through a garage, I spotted another player skulking around outside.

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He’s through the door reading a sign, hard to see unless you click on the picture. I approached him, and he didn’t want none, heading another direction. I saw more houses up ahead and decided to keep scavenging. Coming out of one of the houses, I saw this guy running around swinging his fists wildly. He came at me and we fought… and somehow after hitting him repeatedly with an axe, he still managed to kill me with his bare fists. Don’t ask me how.

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At this point I was frustrated with something. As you can see the above screenshots show me in first person view, and according to the settings, “mouse button 4” would change the camera view. There wasn’t any alternate listed. I did some searching after logging out of the game, and found that hitting “T” will actually change the camera view as well. I logged back in to try my luck again, but this time I’d run around in 3rd person.

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Oh look, I’m back in the middle of nowhere again. And my stuff is gone. That’ll teach me to die! I headed off to find more stuff.

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This outpost provided me with some food and other gear, but no backpack. I’ve also not seen any form of water to this point. Hydration looks to be an issue. I did find another pair of binoculars and took a look around the area.

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Another ground of buildings on the horizon. I would head there to look for other stuff. Lucky me, I found an AR-15 inside, but alas it didn’t come with ammo. I still carried it around for a while though.

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At another little outpost further along the road, I stumbled upon the first usable vehicle I had seen to that point. It was only a jeep, but I was prepared to go running around at a faster pace. Unfortunately it was lacking spark plugs, and I didn’t have any of those on me. Nor did I ever come across any. No matter, there’s other things to see and do.

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Apologies for all the dark screens, it was night time and it looks a bit brighter while actually playing the game. I followed a road for quite a while until I came to “Pleasant Valley,” where I hoped to find some water as I was starting to dehydrate.

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The sun started to come up, and I found a grocery store and a restaurant where I found plenty of food and water, a couple of handguns with no ammo, and a couple of people wandering around. I picked a server where the population was listed as medium rather than high (when I first tried that I was annoyed to find a queue), and it was getting late at this point so people weren’t super abundant. Zombies also felt somewhat “dumb” because they didn’t really react to things the way I would expect. That was mentioned on Twitter as being something that would be fixed up with a patch. We’ll touch back on that later.

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I got into an apartment building, which was something I remember seeing in one of the dev streams, and the dev had said that sometimes guns spawn in these buildings. I checked all of the rooms and found plenty of supplies, and when I got to the roof, this sniper rifle and some bullets were waiting for me. Score! I finally have a gun that’s more than just a paperweight. I logged out on this rooftop, where I’m hoping I’ll be when I log back in (not sure with all of the issues with servers). Will be fun to ninja gank some fools aimlessly wandering around the town 🙂

Overall I’m happy with the game so far. It’s graphically pleasing, the ambiance is just right, and I like the various meters you have to watch to survive. I haven’t engaged in much PvP yet but it feels like it will be cool. I’m looking forward to trying out vehicles and for the Zombie AI to be improved. About the only other thing I see missing right now is the ability to form groups or guilds and things like that, along with maybe a world chat, but this is a different type of game so perhaps they don’t want those features in it. I’m okay with being a lone wolf for now. Excited to see the game develop. More to come as I experience it!

#h1z1 #zombies #survival #pvp #mmo

In Harm’s Way

When we left off, a shitstorm occurred at the ski lodge where Kenny and his small group was holed up, and Clementine’s group had just arrived. The mixture of the groups was further solidified by the actions of Carver, who killed a few people and then took the rest hostage, back “home.” Carver is a real swell guy. As usual, here are my choices first, then we’ll go into detail: (SPOILERS)

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As episode 3 opens, the girls (Clementine and Sarah) are using the restroom. Troy (one of Carver’s lackeys) is commanding them to hurry up, and they are tied up and thrown in the back of a U-haul. The rest of their people are in the back, and they deliberate on their options. Kenny manages to get his binds cut, but it’s too late. They’ve arrived at Carver’s hideout, which happens to be an old hardware store. There are loads of people and even more food. It appears to be a safe haven, although militaristic. Carver is an asshole to everyone, and they are locked up in “the yard” which is basically the garden center. A couple of other people are present at the yard when they are locked up for the night, and they aren’t too friendly either. Kenny suggests that Clementine look around for any clues that might help them, while he questions Reggie. Reggie is missing an arm and it’s said that he had it cut off because he got bitten, but with Carver’s actions it’s hard to tell if that’s the truth. Reggie is in the yard as “punishment,” as he was someone who aided the group in escaping from here once before.

Clementine doesn’t find anything of use, but when tugging on the rollup door, Troy comes back with the Carlos (who had been utilized to help with some people who were injured inside the compound). He makes some threats and leaves. The group sleeps. Clem is woken up by a kick from Troy. He tells her to get up and Carver is talking to the rest of the group. Sarah keeps trying to talk to Clem, and finally Carver makes a scene of it. He calls out Carlos and tells him to discipline his girl. There’s some hubbub, and Carlos giver his daughter a good whack across the face. Shortly thereafter, the group is sent on its separate ways to do forced labor. Clem and Sarah are assigned to Reggie, and their job is to cut berries off of berry bushes. Clementine starts to work, but Sarah looks lost. I (along with the majority of other players) chose to help Sarah. I figured she needed someone to help her snap out of it. Carver comes to check up on them, and then the shit really hits the fan. Clementine attempted to make the issue her fault, but Carver was just looking for an excuse to punish Reggie some more. He tells the girls to leave, but Clementine watches as Carver pushes Reggie off of the roof of the two story building. Reggie landed with a sickening thud. Carver demands Clem go find Bonnie.

Bonnie (the red-head that was part of the group who ambushed the ski lodge with Carver) directs Clementine to take some nails to some of the guys that are just outside the store. As it is part of a strip mall, they are in one of the buildings nearby. When Clementine arrives, she finds Kenny fighting with Mike, who was another person in the yard with them the night before. Their struggle knocks free one of the boards over the storefront windows, and walkers break through the glass. A fight scene erupts, and Clementine ends up in a shitty situation as usual. Troy ends up killing the last walker approaching her, and tells Clem that Carver wants to see her in his office. On the way, Clem is grabbed by an unknown assailant, and dragged inside what used to be a comic book store. It turns out to be Luke, who was separated from the group back at the ski lodge. He has a plan, and asks Clementine to get him a radio so he can monitor the guards.

Back inside, she attempts to make a detour, but a man named Wyatt tells her not to delay when Carver gives her an order (A cool side note: I knew Wyatt looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. I looked it up, and it turns out that he was one of the main characters in the 400 Days DLC. He was the guy in the car with his buddy, and participated in the annoying rock, paper, scissors mini game). Heading up to the office, Carver basically tells her that they are alike and he can tell that she’s tough. Back in the yard, the group discusses its options. The plan is formulated that they will get a radio for Luke, and then when the time is right they will use the PA system for the store and use that to attract the herd of walkers that isn’t too far from their location (this is discussed a few times throughout). So, Clem is off to save the day again!

The ins and outs of getting the radios are pretty straightforward. There’s some dialogue between Tavia and another guy on the radio about the walkers that are just outside their walls. After grabbing the radios, Clementine starts to climb back out of the store room. Another man from 400 days, Vince, makes a cameo, talking to Tavia about how she can’t be smoking in that room. He says he’s going to go tell Carver all about it, and Tavia protests. Returning to the group, Clementine gets some rest.

When waking up, Carver is there telling everyone about how there won’t be any more shenanigans and they were to get to work. The group had been discussing who would take the radio to Luke, and Clem had volunteered, but there was some protest from Mike. Because of Carver’s interruption, Kenny forced the radio into Clem’s pocket. Troy leads them off to work, when Bonnie pulls Clem aside to work with her instead. She reveals that she feels guilty for the way things happened at the ski lodge, and that she wants Clementine to remain safe. Clementine chooses to trust her, and reveals that she needs to get the stolen radio to Luke (this was my choice, and most people made the same decision). “All I need from you is to not care where I am for fifteen minutes.” Bonnie lets her go, and upon returning to the comic book store, Clem is unable to find Luke. Troy finds her there, and drags her back to the yard. The rest of the group is already there, along with Luke, who apparently got caught trying to steal some food. He has one radio, and demands the other is returned to him. I attempted to say that I stole the radio (my choice, although most players avoided the truth), but Kenny grabbed it and said he took it. Carver responded by beating the shit out of him with it. He then told the group that they would go without the night’s meal.

As Carver and his thugs leave the area, Bonnie stays behind and has a change of heart. She tells them that she will help them escape, and that they would leave tonight. She is assigned to watch the yard that night, and the group is injured — some of them are ready to just give in and stay under Carver’s thumb. But Kenny wakes up, and everyone decides that it’s best to go through with the plan. Once again, Clementine is forced to do the hard work; this time she has to climb down into Carver’s office, set up the PA, and as soon as the sound kicks on, Bonnie will let the others out so they can escape while Carver’s people have to deal with the walkers. That is a mouthful. The plan goes off without a hitch, up until the point where Clem is supposed to meet with the others in the store room where she had been earlier, stealing walkie talkies. When dropping down, she sees Carver holding them in place with an assault rifle. Dropping down on top of him is the only effective thing to do, and the group gets the gun away from him. No one is willing to put him down though — except for Kenny. He shoots Carver in both legs, then grabs a crowbar and tells everyone to get out. I chose to stay and watch, because I wanted to see Carver get what was coming to him. It seems only half of the players felt that way too. Once Carver is a bloody pulp, they rejoin the group outside. Killing a couple of walkers, another new addition to their group, Jane, starts spreading zombie guts on herself. The rest of the group does it too, and they begin to leave when…

Troy appears, and starts talking shit. Jane starts sweet talking him, gets close enough and grabs his rifle while simultaneously shooting him in the balls. He’s attacked by walkers at that point, and the group wades through the herd unharmed. That is, until bullets start whizzing by — the remainder of Carver’s people are shooting the walkers from the rootops, and presumably shooting at them as well, or perhaps not realizing they are alive. Carlos gets clipped and his screams alert nearby walkers who fall on him. Sarah starts to scream and as Clem tries to shut her up, she sees Sarita (Kenny’s lady) being bitten on the hand. You are given a reticle and the choice between attacking the walker, or cutting off Sarita’s arm. Knowing what we know about people living after having limbs cut off (see: Reggie, Lee from season 1, Hershel from the TV show), I went with cutting off her arm. I am shocked that so few players made the same decision. Realistically, if you kill the walker she becomes one later, c’mon people this is simple stuff!

That’s where the episode ends. I’m frothing at the mouth for more. Until next time.

#thewalkingdead #telltale #inharmsway #adventure #zombies