Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Donkey Ride

It very much looks as though I'm playing Black Desert again. That wasn't in any plan I'd made. Not that I make plans. Okay, I sort of do, a little. In my head. I don't go so far as to write them down or make blog posts out of them like February Goals: 2021 or February 2021 Gaming Goals or February Goals: Shaking Things Up

I could link to a whole lot more like those, not to mention all the ones where people review how things went last month, like Time To Loot Journal: January  or January In Review And Raiding. (Funny how no-one ever does "Gaming Goals: My Quarterly Report" posts. It's always either by month or by year. I wonder why that is?). 

Apologies to all the many blogs I could have linked to in these opening paragraphs but didn't. Thing is, there are a lot. We'd be here all day.

Sometimes I do knock together a post along the lines of Games I've Been Playing - January 2021 where I ramble about... well, about the games I've been playing. I don't usually name a month, though, And let's be honest, most of my posts are me rambling on about games I've been playing so it wouldn't serve much purpose to draw attention to the fact.


There have been a few times when I've put up something like Games For 2021. When I've actually had specific games I've been looking forward to, that is. Most of the potential candidates that come to mind right now have been pending for so long there hardly seems much point mentioning them again. Remind me: how many years has Camelot: Unchained been in development now? 

Dragging myself bodily back to somewhere within spitting distance of the point, as I said at the top of the post, Black Desert is once again a game I can say that I'm playing. I played yesterday. For several hours. 

I played two mmorpgs for several hours each yesterday, in fact, and Black Desert was the second. The first was Guild Wars 2. Specifically, World vs World

Oi! Put that mini away, noob!


I don't mention it much because there's not a lot to say about it and almost nothing that's of any interest to anyone outside the game. Certainly nothing I post about it here is ever going to get picked up by the gaming press as happened to Wilhelm recently.   

Even so, GW2's World vs World is undergoing what seems like a major resurgence. It might have something to do with half the planet being under a form of house arrest. Possibly it's because ArenaNet have been so busy with behind-the-scenes work on the upcoming expansion they haven't found time to mess about with the rules for months, meaning players have finally been able to settle into a rhythm. Who knows?

On a personal level it definitely has a lot to do with the links the servers I play on have pulled these last couple of rounds. Mrs Bhagpuss and I have both been very impressed with what we've seen of the Sea of Sorrows WvW community. If there's one thing the whole server linking system has proved beyond a doubt it's that, at least in large-scale PvPvE environments, server culture is very real. 

About as far as I usually get in a week.
Playing with SoS is like going back in time. The game feels almost like it did five years ago. Scouts are valued, everyone cares about the match score, Commanders respond to calls. All the stuff that made playing worthwhile, which endless tinkering with the form by ANet, along with their apparent policy of creative neglect, did its best to destroy; that's back. 

Also, having hordes of battle-crazed Aussies rampaging around the maps every day from my breakfast-time until well after lunch as I'm sat here at home with not much of any importance to do has been a real boon. And their rivalry with other Aussies on different servers is always hilarious. I can't help but wonder how many of them know each other out of game.

I've played so much WvW the last few days that by the time I logged out on Monday I was already into the gold rewards for the week. Usually it's as much as I can do to make it to the end of bronze over the full match. I might get as far as platinum this week, something that can't have happened for a year or more.

When I was done with that I had a think about what I wanted to play next and it turned out be Black Desert. I felt a bit guilty for dropping all the other mmorpgs I thought I was going to be concentrating on but no plan survives contact with a passing fancy, as the saying goes. Well, that's how it goes around our house at any rate. Not to mention I didn't have a plan in the first place.

So I played BDO for about three hours, which these days counts as a long session for me. I don't really do those all-day marathons any more. And by played I mostly mean "rode around on my donkey taking screenshots".  That wasn't planned, either, although it sure as eggs was predictable.

You've heard the expression "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it"?


Here's how it happened. I was reading and replying to the comments on my last post about Black Desert when I noticed the screenshot I'd used at the top showed my Shai sitting on a donkey. As the very helpful comments by Seanas and Mailvaltar reminded me, there was a lot about the game I didn't know, but it also occurred to me there was a lot I'd forgotten and one of those things was that I used to own a donkey. Maybe I still did?

I spent a good while checking my skills and looking through my bags in the hope of finding an ability or an item to call my faithful steed to my side. Nothing. I did a bit of googling and that didn't help much, either. Finally it occurred to me that maybe Black Desert might be something like Fallen Earth, where mounts either have to stay in the world or be stabled. 

I'd passed some stable or other on the way into town. I went to check in with the stable hand and there was my good old donkey. I'd even named him, although why I'd chosen to call him Cardew is beyond my capacity to imagine, let alone recall. 

Old Card was still level one but the three other mounts I could see were stabled in other towns and I couldn't figure out how to fetch them to me, if that's even possible. But things were slowly coming back to me. Didn't mounts level up just from being ridden around? Maybe I should just get Card out, trot him up and down the road for a while, see what happened.

Literally the only thing on the road slower than me - another donkey.


So I did. Well, once I'd managed to point him in the right direction. Turning a donkey in BDO is like turning a supertanker. The inertia is off the scale. God knows what that stable guy's been feeding him all these years but he seems to have put on several tons in weight.

Once I'd gotten him moving I started putting some more recovered knowledge into practice. I'd been reading up on how to take screenshots and I'd been going through all of the keyboard settings and options, trying to figure out this and that. Particularly how to switch on autorun.

The upshot was that I spent what felt like an hour or so cantering cross country on roads and dirt tracks with the UI switched off. All I had to do was twitch the mouse to the left or right once in a while. Other than that I just sat back and watched as though I was at the movies.

With the donkey going at a fair clip it seemed nothing could react fast enough to do me much damage. I got shot at by undead archers and a few orcs tried to chase me but by the time most things had registered my presence I was already vanishing over the horizon.

If this was Fallen Earth there'd be ants eating that parked horse.


I took a lot of screenshots and veered off the road into the bushes many times as I tried to figure out how to swing the camera around so I could get shots of something other than my Shai's boomerang and bouncing backside. Never did figure that out.

Eventually I ended up in Heidel, having taken the extremely very long and exceptionally scenic route. It took me about a twentieth of the time to ride back to Velia where I'd started, this time sticking to the main road. 

Along the way I was passed by just about everything other than another heavily laden donkey and few people on foot. Twice someone overtook me at speed on what looked like a grounded pegasus, a horse with wings that remained solidly earthbound. Once, some other creature flashed by so quickly it vanished in a blur before I could tell what it was. Another time, I saw someone riding a small elephant.

The most surprising thing to me was how clearly I remembered so much of the landscape. Even though it must be years since I passed through most of these places, not only did I remember what I'd done when I was there last but more often than not I found myself correctly anticipating where I would arrive next. Couldn't recall the names of any of them but I had a fair idea what sort of places they were, what creatures roamed or hunted there, whether it was safe to stop or better to ride hard and keep my head down, things like that.

Hey, Dopey! Where's the rest of your dumb crew?

When I eventually logged out Cardew was well into level eight. I went back and read most of the posts I wrote about Black Desert, when I first played it five years ago. Several things struck me, not least just how much I'd written about the game back then. Also how much time I must have spent playing it. 

I'd forgotten but it seems I played it almost exclusively for a solid month before dropping back to sporadic visits and then stopping for a couple of years. There's mention of having put in more than a hundred hours in that first month alone, although it is in the context of discussing just how much of that time I spent afk, fishing or riding, with the game minimized while I played GW2.

I also made quite a lot of how great a game it was for pure exploration and how the game parts almost got in the way of the worldliness of it all. It's no wonder that even after all those hours the highest any of my characters reached was the mid-twenties. Clearly I spent most of my time sightseeing.

It's too early to say if that will happen again. I do know that a vast amount of new territory has been added since I played before. There must be an astonishing amount to see out there. I'm guessing that most of it will be desperately dangerous for a low-level character to visit, so unless I plan on seeing everything from the back of a speeding donkey, I'm guessing I probably will have to concentrate a little more on typical character progression, at least for a while.

Maybe I'll see how many of those xp bonuses I can stack. Make a stab at getting into the fifties so I can go exploring farther afield. Possibly try to do it on one of the PvP-disabled seasonal servers so I don't have to think about being ganked as I lollygag. 

Hmm. That's begining to sound dangerously like a plan. 

Probably better just wing it.


  1. I didn't talk about it in my last post, but I did the donkey ride-around thing too! I had also forgotten I had them... Several of them in fact. xD

    Between alts and the fact that both the combat and the life skill quest chains reward one fairly early on.

    But by the time I remembered this I was pretty far into things with my seasonal Musa. I took it out for my sight-seeing quest chain though, and it levelled up quite a bit on the route, taking my Horse Taming skill up with it.

    Also, completely with you on remembering the landscape if not the names. Similar experience for me. At least in these starting areas between Olvia to Heidel, say. Although actually I do recall most of the way to Trent, even as I sit thinking about it now.

    Anywho, as to where you could go... I don't remember this area nearly so well as I barely touched *any* of the expansion content, but I want to suggest that maybe you could ride to Altinova in Mediah relatively unscathed, if you stuck to the roads.

    I seem to remember starting down that way with my Ranger (level 50/51) and finding the journey to be pretty calm, but the actual hunting spots were a tad rough for the gear I had at the time.

    Who can say how long I'll enjoy my current visit, but so far, feeling all in!

    1. Altinova! That's the place! I got there with my Tamer last time. She was in the low 20s I think. As I recall it was pretty safe getting there but there wasn't much I could do in terms of questing or combat. That was nearly five years ago, though. There must be a lot more new land since then. I've read about several expansions with new areas, or I thought I had.

      I had forgotten that part about enabling types of quests and them not being "on" by default. I recall now that someone I was reading at the time (possibly Syl?) advised doing that right at the start so I did, which was probably why I ended up spending so much time doing non-combat stuff. That and I got slightly addicted to the Amity conversation game, which seemed like the closest (albeit hugely inferior) relation to Vanguard's wonderful Diplomacy system.

      I'll check my permissions when I log my Shai in later. Not sure if those quest settings go by character or account. I want to see all the quests, not just a subset. I'd like to choose which ones I do, not have the game choose for me.

  2. I admire those who have the wherewithal to identify and pin down months, and actual goals for those months.

    Me, I exist day by day, week by week at most, and before I know it, I look up and 2-4 months have passed.

    Nor do my interest waves have the courtesy of grouping themselves in orderly intervals like weeks or months or quarters. Nope, it's 3 days, 5 days, 11 days, 5.2 hours or something equally odd, irregular or prime numbered.

    1. In some ways I would quite like to be able to plan ahead in a coherent and formal fashion. And I am perfectly capable of it. I do it at least twice every non-pandemic year when we go away. Even then, though, I only book places to stay for the start and end of the trip because whatever iteneraries I meticulously devise before we go end up being scrapped within hours as we veer off course on a whim, end up somewhere entirely unexpected and don't get back on schedule until we have to hit that one booking right at the end. Based on that experience I tend to feel making plans for video games would be a bit of a waste of my time but it might be nice if I had at least some idea what was going to happen next!

    2. I'm sure most of the others come by their goal setting more honestly -- but the secret to mine is... I often pick things I'm reasonably certain I'm going to do anyway.

      When that's the case, I might also try push the commitment a bit further than I might've otherwise gone, depending on how I'm feeling that month and where in the interest cycle I'm at with the game in question.

      It's the commitment which makes the goal a goal for me, but I suppose it depends what your motivation for HAVING the goals are. For me it started as an experiment based on posts from Krikket around playing games to the point of satisfaction, no more and no less. That's my only purpose with having them, so this is way more important to me than what the goals actually are.

      Otherwise though, I'm in the same boat as Jeromai. Often by the time I've recognised I'm right in a period of high interest for a game, that interest is almost ready to hit a downswing again. xD


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