Thursday, January 13, 2022

Location, Location, Location

I woke up this morning with a sudden insight into that problem I mentioned yesterday, the one where I couldn't upgrade my house in Chimeraland. Problem solving while you sleep is tight!

It turns out you don't use the menu on the Spirit Orb to add more foundations to your plot, not after the first time. That was where I'd been going wrong. Instead, you use the Build function, a completely separate process you acess from the menu that pops up when you hit "V".

Once I'd gotten that sorted, I was away. I laid down a wooden deck and trimmed it with stone flagging. Then I put up some low walls around three quarters of the plot with some big picture windows facing the water. 

I moved all my stations from the original base and spaced them out along the perimeter with the heavy-duty ones on the stone area and the dressing table and meditation thingy next to the windows, so I'd have the nice view to look at while I was using them.

Twice, as I worked, I had to break off to deal with agressive Gripines, a kind of wolf that roams around the shoreline and the woods nearby. The first came in before I had the walls up. I had to punch it to death because my broom had broken. 

The second Gripine found its way in through the corridor I'd left at the back of the house, the one I was planning on securing with a door later. By then I'd found a Lute in my pack and equipped that instead of my broom. The tool tip said the lute shoots fireballs and heals the user at the same time. I guess that  makes me some kind of bardic wizard. It fries the hell out of wolves, I'll tell you that much!

Once I'd put the local wildlife in its place I set about putting in a staircase. I was just about to start on the second floor when I hit the next snag. There seems to be some kind of timer or limit on how many "blocks" you can place in quick succession. What the limit is or how long the timer has to run before it resets I have no idea. I'll have to do some research on that.

Since I couldn't carry on with my building I decided to get back to the main quest but before I could get going on that I noticed some kind of monkey hanging about at the back of the house. He was wearing a duster coat and at first I thought it was a player but it turned out to be some chancer of an NPC, scamming me to pay him to go away.

This is a wrinkle I can't recall seeing before. It happened again later, when I got home to find a cat sitting at my dressing table. She also wanted paying to leave. I grudgingly gave each of them five hundred cowries, the basic currency of which I currently have nearly thirty thousand but it's not the money I object to, it's the principle of the thing!

When they go, the uninvited guests leave you a present. It seems to be a kind of upgrade material for a progression mechanic I haven't delved into yet. I'm guessing when I know more about it I'll be hoping for more of these visitations. I wonder if they can even get in once you have the place secured and locked?

When I was able to get back to the main quest, which at this stage is still very much a tutorial with no discernible narrative or storyline, Bella sent me off to find a totem. Totems are scattered all across the landscape, marked on the map as question-marks. Interacting with them spawns a wave event, where you kill some humanoid types and a mini-boss. That nets you gear and rewards.

I'd already done one yesterday so I had a vague idea how it worked. I set off to find another, which was when I discovered the inadequacies of the map. Everything is marked clearly enough but the pointer that represents your character is so fricken' huge it's hard to tell exactly what it's pointing at. If there's a mini-map, I haven't got it, so I had to keep opening the main map and we all know how awkward that can be.

After a while I gave up trying to go anywhere in particular and just went exploring instead. It was educational to say the least. I learned two things very quickly:

  • It's not a good idea to settle down in the first spot you find.
  • My house-building skills need some serious polishing.

It was deep in the night when I came over a rise to see by far the most advanced structure I'd seen so far. I stopped to look at it. I took a screenshot. I was sure it had to be the first proper settlement or town I'd come across.

It wasn't. It was a player's house. Vanida's house, to be precise. She deserves the credit because her house is amazing. It's a gorgeous, terraced villa built into the hillside overlooking the river. It has sweeping stone staircases, curving walls and slate roofs with turrets. The many sundecks have loungers you can lie back in to watch the clouds sail overhead. 

Inside, the spacious rooms are filled with devices of all kinds. Houses in Chimeraland seem to be open to the public by default but I noticed not all of the devices are in public use. Whether there are privacy settings is something I'll have to find out when I have something worth being private about.

I spent a while looking around Vanida's charming home, taking photos. Before I knew it the sun was coming up. Sunrises and sunsets in the game can be quite spectacular and everything looks very different in the rosy light of dawn. There were rainbows across the bay and butterflies in the air. I wished I was really there.

Carrying on along the river I came to a spectacular waterfall. Someone had built into the rocks beneath it. Someone else was working on a house that jutted out from the top of the cliffs above. The river opened out into a delta of shallow lakes and pools and across the water I could see the pink blossom of almond trees.

There were houses everywhere, some built of stone, others of wood, some finished, others still under construction. The standard here seemed far higher than the upstream flatlands where I'd set my Spirit Orb. It was about then that I realized I'd chosen to build my home in a slum.

Yep. Gonna have to move. Good thing I haven't really gotten started yet. That time limit thing looks like it's saved me a lot of wasted work.

I don't know how you relocate but I know you can. There's a tip in the tutorial that tells you not to worry too much about your first choice of plot because you can always move. I'm guessing you just tear it all down and start again somewhere else. Next time I'm going to pick somewhere that has a much better view and no wild animals passing through.

I'll have plenty of resources to get started. The whole time I was travelling this morning I was also mining and gathering. I kept seeing new and different resources so of course I had to have them all. Pretty much every kind of rock or mineral gives a load of stone as the common material along with a few crystals or gems or chunks of ore. 

I'm guessing as your mining, gathering and logging skills increase, your chance of getting rarer materials goes up as well. Too early to say for sure but there has to be some benefit to higher numbers and it doesn't look like the game uses skill level as a gatekeeper to more advanced nodes. I haven't run into anything I can't hack to pieces - I just get mostly the same stuff from whatever it might be.

There's no reason to hold back because nothing appears to have weight. It's a refreshing change after New World to know that no matter how much stone you throw into your packs you'll still be able to move at normal speed. Storage space is extremely generous, too. Basic inventory begins at four hundred slots and most materials stack to ninety-nine.

After a couple of hours wandering aimlessly, I decided I probably should make an effort and find that totem. I worked out where the nearest one was. It wasn't all that close, which was when I remembered I have a horse. I whistled him up, fed him some slushies and off we went.

I found the totem and clicked on it, which dismounted me and began the event. Once summoned, mounts seem to stay in the world, very much as they do in Fallen Earth. They can be damaged or attacked like they can in that game, too, but what I didn't know, until the Hansel cat-bear mobs spawned from the totem and attacked, is that your horse fights back!

All the time I was flinging fireballs at cat-bears with my lute, my horse was rearing up and flailing at them with his hooves. He didn't even bother to back me up. If I finished one off he'd pick another target for himself and charge. 

Unfortunately, as usual I'd been neglecting my health. I still haven't figured out how to keep an eye on it during combat and I was gambling on having just enough to get the job done before I opened my bags to see what I could use to recover. I lost that gamble.

It was very close. Horse and I were on the Foreman, the final mob. I thought we had him on the ropes, when I suddenly fell over. I lay there, cheering my horse on, hoping he'd finish the job even though I had no idea what would happen if he did. I still don't because the horse lost. I imagine he was as beaten-up as I was at that point.

I took the option to respawn back at my house, even though it was miles away. If I'd thought I was likely to lose I'd have placed a camp nearby to act as a respawn point so I could go again but I didn't even think of it. Next time.

Before then, I have to work out where I'm going to live. It's a very big world and I've seen almost none of it. Best not rush into anything.

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