Thursday, August 24, 2023

I Built A Treehouse - Take #2

Blaugust is doing strange things to my head. As I write this I have yet to hit publish on my last Dawnlands post, in which I talk about having played for sixteen hours. I'm up to nearly twenty-six hours now but by the time this appears it might be thirty or thirty-five. (Right in the middle, in fact. Just checked and as of 09.15 on the 24th I've played for 32.4 hours.)

Whatever the tally, it will very definitely have gone up. I'm finding Dawlands there and thereabouts as compulsive as Valheim and I haven't even started building yet. 

It might seem a little invidious to keep comparing the two games but I can't stress enough just how solidly Dawnlands is modelled on Iron Crown's break-out hit. This next part will be incredibly familiar to anyone who played Valheim. It's almost verging on Santayana's aphorism "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

Today, I shut the door to keep Beryl out (It's okay. Mrs Bhagpuss was home to respond to any of the little princess's urgent needs.) so I could take another crack at the second boss, Guya of the Forest.

First, as you'll no doubt recall me mentioning in a previous post, I had to locate Guya's summoning spot (Or "Sealing" as it is in Dawnlands.) via a combination of questing and exploration. As sometimes happened in Valheim, I'd already happened upon one location even before I got the pointer to it and later on I found a second while out exploring, so that was no problem.

To wake Guya up so I could send her back to sleep again or whatever happens when you "Seal" one of these things, first I had to get hold of three Crimson Eyes. These drop off the Giant Goblins (Or maybe they're Goblin Giants.) in the instanced dungeons. 

There's one Giant per dungeon and they drop one eye every time. They're not cyclopses so I imagine it's someone else's eye. 

To get three of them, you need to clear three dungeons. I'm not sure whether the dungeons respawn. I haven't been in the same one twice yet to check. They don't in Valheim so they probably don't in Dawnlands either. The mechanics of the two games aren't always entirely identical. though, so I ought to test it to be sure.

It didn't take me long to find three dungeons and killing the Giants is ridiculously easy, for the simple but bizarre reason that they're too big to get through the doorways. I can't begin to imagine how they ever got in there in the first place. 

In every case so far I've just been able to stand outside the room and pump the Giant full of arrows at no risk whatsoever. Sometimes they just stand there and take it. Sometimes they rage and roar and swipe at me with their clubs. Either way, they die and I'm fine.

Some may see that as a bug. I see it as a feature. Games like this are as much about imprrovisation and using the environment to your advantage as they are about traditional gaming skills and fast reflexes. Valheim rewards preparation and planning ahead and so does Dawnlands. If you just rush in and whale away you're almost bound to fail.

So of course, when I summoned Guya for the first time, that's just what I did. Rushed, whaled, failed.

In my defence, it worked for the first boss, Kenda. I killed him on my first attempt without coming close to dying, just by tanking and spanking. That led me to believe, erroneously as it turned out, that regional bosses in Dawnlands were going to be super-easy. They are not.

This doesn't feel ominous at all...

Guya battered me and poisoned me and sent me to my resurrection spot in a matter of seconds. Since I'd not remembered to open the nearby teleport beacon (Didn't even see it...) I had to ride all the way back from my home in the Grasslands just to find that Guya had despawned.

Now that is different from Valheim. In the viking afterlife, once you call up one of those legendary creatures it hangs around until you send it packing. I remember The Elder stomping around for several days the first time I failed to kill him, knocking down trees and generally making the area around his summoning stone uninhabitable.

I was more annoyed to discover the three Crimson Eyes needed to call Guya back had vanished from my pack. Or at least I thought they had...

It was probably just as well I had to go kill three more giants for three more eyes before I could try again. Otherwise I'd almost certainly have re-summoned Guya and gotten myself killed a second time. I can be stubborn like that sometimes.

It took me a couple of sessions to locate three more dungeons, which gave me time not only to improve my armor and supply myself with some extra consumables but also to do a bit of research on the best way to go about killing Guya. Once again, what I found is not going to come as much of a surprise to anyone who got as far as Bonemass, the third boss in Valheim. Or, for that matter, anyone who read one of the many posts about killing Bonemass that peppered the blogosphere back in the spring of '21.

Yes, the trick to killing Guya is to climb up on something high so he can't reach you. Then you either fill him full of arrows or poke him with a spear. I watched a couple of YouTube videos of people doing it and of course I thought I could do it better. I mean, all these guys did was hop up onto some rocks. So primitive!

I forgot to take any pictures of my rockhouse so here's one of my raft instead.

I built a treehouse. Well, a rockhouse. I located a handy rock outcropping right next to the Sealing circle. I cut down every tree in the immediate vicinity. I traded in a few recipe pages to learn how to make wooden ladders, floors and walls. Then I started to build.

I was concerned that when I ran towards the rocks with Guya's poisonous breath hot on my neck I might panic and fall off the ladder, so I built a wide ramp all the way to the top. I even got out my pick and chipped away some of the rock that was jutting out betwen the struts. You could have ridden an elephant up there by the time I was done.

My next worry was that even if I got to the top safely, I'd fall off trying to get a good shot. The rocks were only just wide enough to stand on safely so it wasn't an irrational fear. 

I built a platform but I fell off that a couple of times as I was building it so I built some walls as well. Then I needed another ladder to get from one level to another because of course there were two levels. I put a couple of chests there to store stuff and threw in a workbench for good measure. That way  I could be sure I wouldn't run out of arrows and even if my Hunter's Bow broke, I could make myself another.

This kind of overthinking and over-preperation did me no favors in Valheim. You'd think I might have remembered that and you'd be right. I sort of did remember, but I went ahead with the plan anyway. Guess what happened?

If you said "It all went horribly wrong", give yourself a gold star. If you said "It all went hilariously, horribly wrong", give yourself two.

I also didn't take any pictures of the first attempt. Can you blame me? This is from the second.

Remember when I I said you could have ridden an elephant up that ramp? Well, Guya's about the size of an elephant. I summoned her, popped her with an arrow to get her attention, then legged it over to my rockhouse. I scooted up the ladder, turned round and got myself set, only to see Guya coming up the ramp behind me.

From there it turned into one of those chases Benny Hill used to end his shows with, a reference that's now so dated I really ought to retire it for good. I kept jumping off the platform and running around the rocks, trying to put a few arrows into Guya as I ran, then runing up the ramp, hoping he'd get stuck. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. Even if he did, he soon got himself free and carried on chasing me, firing poison bolts and summoning mushroom men, who joined in the chase like a much less attractive version of Hills Angels.

At several points I got stuck in the mezzanine I'd so unecessarily added and for a while it got so awkward I just tried to kite Guya around the open clearing. Nothing I was doing was making much of a dent in her massive health pool but I was rapidly running out of both hit points and hope. 

I died, of course. I had remembered to open the teleport beacon this time so I recalled to that just in case proximity would prevent Guya from despawning. It did not.

I was a tad annoyed once again, partly because I knew the fiasco was all my fault but mostly because now I'd have to go farm Giants for eyes all over again. Except, to make an increasingly lengthy story a little shorter, I didn't. 

When I picked up my backpack to recover my stuff, I was dumbfounded to see the three Crimson Eyes still inside. Either they hadn't been consumed this time or, more likely, they hadn't been consumed the first time either but I'd unwittingly auto-stored them in a a chest somewhere.

This post would be a lot shorter if I'd just stood on the stupid rock from the start.

Whatever the reason, it was great news. I set about knocking down most of the ramp to make it no wider than a single ladder. I was ready to knock that down too, after I got up to the top next time, but it wasn't necessary. Guya is too big to use a ladder and though she tries really, really hard, she can't quite scrmble up the side of a rock.

Even so, things didn't go to well when I resummoned her. I got up to my perch easily enough but the platform I'd built kept blocking either my line of sight to Guya or hers to me. If the former, I couldn't hit her; if the latter, she ran around the rocks trying to find a way to me and I couldn't hit her then, either.

We kept that dance up until I abandoned the platform and just stood on the bloody rocks like I should have done from the start. From there, we could see each other but I could hit her and she couldn't hit me, which ad been the plan all along.

Her annoying mushroom men could, though. She summoned them seemingly by the dozen, sometimes right next to me, sometimes below, whne they would run up the ladder on their little legs and swarm over me. They didn't do much damage but they sure were distracting and I kept targeting them by mistake. 

I also kept opening my storage chests by accident, filling the whole screen with a view of my inventory. Once, I even managed to open the workbench. 

The wooden arrows I was firing took the tiniest chunks off Guya's health so I swapped to fire arrows, which didn't do a lot more. I remembered the advice about using a spear and I also remembered I had one that came with lightning charges, so I tried that instead. It did a lot more damage but I kept almost falling off the rock trying to reach so I had to go back to the bow.

It was a mess, frankly. But I got the job done, somehow. Guya keeled over and exploded, leaving a pile of sparkling loot. I ran down the ladder to pick it up and while I was doing that, I died too.

Guya down! On we go!

I died three more times, respawning at the beacon, running back, looting my backpack, killing some mushroom men and passing boars, then falling down dead again. It was night and visibility wasn't great. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. It was making me pretty angry.

Then the sun came up and I finally found out what was doing it. The mushroom men Guya had summoned didn't despawn when she died and several had gotten themselves stuck inside the rock itself. They had been throwing rocks and poison at me without me realizing and even now I knew they were doing it, I still couldn't stop them because the rock was blocking my attacks.

Poetic justice! Karma! What goes around, comes around! All of that. 

So I got out my pickaxe and knocked chunks out of the rock until I could get to the little bastards and then I killed them. It's all about the improv.

With the second boss down, I now have access to Bronze Age tech, along with a breadcrumb quest to the next region which, in another rare departure from the Valheim template, isn't the snowy land I ventured into a while ago but the sun-baked plains.

I've already made an exploratory expedition, just to see the new Shelter and move the main quest along. The plains look stunning. I'd say I can't wait to explore them but actually I can. I'm going to take my time, find some more sheets and open up a lot more recipes before I start looking for tin on the plains to make myself a set of Bronze Armor. 

For that, I'll also need cotton, which I'll have to grow for myself. I've made a hoe and tilled some land. I've bought some seeds and planted them. Now I have to wait for them to grow. It takes eight hours, real time.

People have been complaining about that but I think it's fine. I'm in no rush. I played Valheim for nearly four hundred hours, after all. I've barely started in Dawnlands.

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