Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha Release – Part 1

Having backed Star Citizen and its single player campaign game Squadron 42 since 2013 I have closely followed its progress of development. technology expansions and evolutions into new areas and even listen to the doom mongers it will fail, never be released.

Well, being a developer and having IT career of over 30 years in numerous other roles including testing I appreciate the scale of what is trying to be achieved.  For most gamers this is just a space game, but this is no ordinary space game.  Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) are trying to simulate everything from the fuel lines in the ships, the ship infrastructure, ship systems including a realistic AFC (automated flight control) similar to the computer systems in a Typhoon fighter.  Even the planets in a solar system are being procedurally drawn in real time (mathematical algorithm to draw planets) with topography, atmosphere and cityscapes like bladerunners cities with interactive space ports for trade and illegal trade like bounty hunting. The procedural generation of gas giants, nebulas of gas clouds and all lighting.

Star Citizen is not a game yet, its a first iteration of 70% the subgame systems being integrated into a first true persistent universe release.  Also bare in mind the parallel development by the the same devs (appx 300) on Squadron 42 single player campaign story driven game using the same tech. Quality takes time and I rather the quality over 7-10 years than the facade in 3 years we’ve seen recently from larger developers.

Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha has been released to all backers on 24th Dec 2017 to the Live servers under 3.0 patch 695052.  Yes, with known remaining bugs from PTU (public test universe) testers discovered and not yet fixed in order to honour the new strategic direction of a release every quarter, the next due in March 2018.  Even with the remaining bugs, releasing now opens up all backers to test the alpha in a live state over the christmas/holiday period and provide further data and statistics back to CIG for review and further investigation.  My expectations was for a fluctuating performance due to the first release merging a lot of the promised systems and with the expanded live players base but a chance to enjoy the best Star Citizen experience to date.  I wasn’t wrong and it’s been fun, frustrating and incredibly addictive as hell.
(UPD 27/12 – Chris Roberts explains the performance issues they have discovered thanks to PTU and working on to improve 3.0 in early 2018.)

I installed the new live launcher which provides the new delta patching (just new changes) and waited for it to install SC 3.0 Live Alpha (appx. 11.6gb).  After around 20 minutes I launched and waited for the main menu to appear (below).

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.08 -

After selecting Universe and Best region (US, EU or AUS auto detected) I let the game load up while the background atmospheric music begins to play.  At one point I felt the game had hung as your left at a black screen which varies in time, this can be anything from 1-2 minutes.  You are then presented with yourself laying in a bed in my stay over cubicle at Port Orislar in the Crusader system. A press of the space key and a wonderful animation of me rolling up and out of the bed into standing in my small cubicle room.  As I walk forward with the usual WSAD key configuration the door panel highlights for my interaction, pressing F to interact the door slides open to reveal the main corridor out and onward to a stairway down a level to the post main area with a cargo trading desk (seen below), armoury, defense clothing, casual clothing shop and ship components at Dumpers Depo.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

The cargo trading desk NPC and others now have the first implementation of subsumpsion as described in Chris Roberts, April 2017 Chairmans Road Ahead Letter, “…the debut of Subsumption’s Mission System which provides a scalable and flexible system that is tightly integrated with our new AI systems, allowing us to generate challenging encounters and scenarios on the fly as well as creating a structure for multipart and narrative missions longer term”.  The interactable conversations animations some of the most real I have seen in a game.  Think all those little noisence we human make when we move or interact which makes us human,  The view out of the ports window grabs me as ships are landing and taking off from the port in my first real excitement to see other players going about their business at the space port.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

I head into the Defense armour store and proceed to try on a various flight suits with the the deep burgundy one catching my eye.  Now I need to add some armour and decided to select different pieces of armour from each of the available armoured suits to see if I can mix and match, I smile seeing that I can. I open the mobiglass (f1) and equip my chosen flight and armour pieces.  Leaving the store and heading directly over to the Weapons store for a gun or two, spare munitions and medpacs before traversing out into the verse.  The clever technology implementation for layering of clothing fitting over your character as a real person would allows for clothing to have connection points.  When wearing armour its really attached to the undersuit, then when adding your weapons and support gear it’s really attached to the hooks on the armour.  The benefit is when you walk and move in the game the clothing, armour and weapons all move with the realtime physics – impressive!

Next I head over to the main Ship Retrieval Console terminals to select and retrieve one of my ships.  The console can only retrieve ships currently docked and stored at the port the consoles exist.  In my case the RSI A325 is still docked and stored at Grim Hex so I can’t retrieve it here at Port Olisar.  I see other ships listed I don’t own due to me renting them from the Electronic Store with REC earned in Arena Commander or Star Marine. In 3.0, I have the rentals of a Gladius, Hornet, P52-Merlin in addition to the ships I own as part of my pledges.  I select a Gladius which I am then informed on the landing pad which it is being delivered.  I head off into the verse and try to set my destination for Grim Hex space port which is where I at first struggle a little to set a direct jump to Grim Hex.  I need to first travel to the main celestial body planet, in this case Yela.  So, I set Yela as my destination and proceeded to head out through the airlock to landing pad where the Gladius sat in is incredible detail and wonderful lighting from the star.  The new interaction system provide the option to enter and be seat, or just enter the ship or just open the cockpit giving more freedom and options when out in space near derelicts.  I enter my new ship, powered up flight ready status and made a clean vertical take off.  I proceeded to raise my landing gear (N) as else it creates drag in flight (found out by not doing this due to forgot and wondered why sluggish flight) as you would expect and then lined up my HUD for my Yela destination way marker and hit (B) to start quantum travel. Damn the QT visual effect always makes me smile as you begin and enter, which is best observed in free camera mode (F4) and while pressing Z and moving your mouse to pan around during travel.

SC 3.0-694913 PTU Gladius Quantum Travel Entry.png

Once I arrived at Yela, I set my next destination for Grim Hex space port in the middle of an asteroid belt which is held in place my giant metal infrastructure rods going out to other giant asteroids.  As I came within 500m I opened my mobiglass communications and requested a landing pad from the simulated ATC (air traffic control) sub-system.  However, the ATC didn’t allocate me a pad (known bug) and after a few tries it resolves and there it is, landing pad 03 lights up and a vertical beam to let me know which pad I have been allocated to land at.  I slowly manuevure my ship and jump to external camera to a near perfect VTOL landing.

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-00-05-44.png

StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-02-57-51.png

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StarCitizen 2017-12-31 17-17-19-92.png

After a wander around Grim Hex I decided to head off to Dalamar and try a planetary landing.  So I decided to spawn my RSI A325 fighter which I left here last time I played and leave the Gladius here at Grim Hex.

Squadron 42 - Star Citizen Screenshot 2017.12.30 -

I headed out to the landing pad to meet my RSI A325 ship and decide to go try a visit to Levski on Dalamar, the furthest Quantum Travel distance from Port Olisar and 50% to go from Grim Hex, but more on that in the next part of this post…


ESO Addons in use 2017 Part 2

This is part 2 of my 2017 addon series for ESO, if not read the part first head on over to part 1 for the best addon manager Minion and my minimalist UI addons.

Awesome Guild Store

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a much improved version of the Guild Store and provides a much simple UI to search for items, store favorites searches and links into Master Merchant addon (see below)


Master Merchant

Download  Highly Recommended

Providing a tool which will track your sell and buy prices overtime.  In addition its can scan the auction houses your member of for all prices of current items available.  This can be very useful to see the going rate for an item allow you to ensure you’re not overpricing the item to much or providing you the option to undercut the competition.



Download  Highly Recommended

Once installed it can be accessed by the small CraftStore icon below you levels bar but will also popup corresponding recipe list to craft at Cooking Fires and Enchanting benches (see below)


Presenting details of your known researched traits, known styles and access to recipe crafting lists for Cooking and Enchanting.Screenshot_20170511_131312 - Copy.png

Screenshot_20170511_131346.png Screenshot_20170511_131338.png

Shissu’s LUA Memory Manager

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a great tool which will auto-manage the amount of memory required for the list of addons your using.  This is key to stop seeing those annoying LAU memory errors during your game play.


Download  Recommended

Adds missing features of Reply and Forward to the ESO mail box system.

Inventory Grid View

Download  Optional

Provides a nice addition to the inventory view where you can toggle between a listview and gridview.


Download  Optional

Provides an improved UI feature to use the FREE travel option to a friend.  Goto provides a list of all guild members in an area/zone and thus you can locate a FREE portal to jump to instead of just knowing player names and having to type manually.

Crafting Preview

Download  Optional

Is a wonderful tool to add, manage a

Screenshot_20170511_120733.png Screenshot_20170511_120848.png Screenshot_20170511_120743.png

Shissu’s Suite Manager

Download  Optional

Provide a nice set of extra slash commands to simplify the use of guild invites, reloadui, and more.


ESO Addons in use 2017 Part 1

As mentioned in my last post I have had to review latest Addons from my old 2016 to maintain a feature rich game time.  I first wanted a minimalist UI while running around and then when jumping into specific skills or options further enhanced UI should kick in (eg. better crafting).  Due to having settled on 23 Addons I couldn’t live without this post will be split into 3 parts as I want to cover each add-on, why I use it and how to configure it for best use.  I will provide links for each and highlight each as recommended or optional.

Minion Addon Manager

Download  Highly Recommended

Is a wonderful tool to add, manage and keep all your addons up to date as well as a feature backup the addons you have in use.


LUI Extended

Download  Recommended

Reason: Provides a clean minimalist replacing for the default unit frames for self, group, raid and targets plus much improved buffs & debuffs icons and timers.

Configure: Press Esc->Settings-Addon->LUI-Unitframes.
Ensure to enable the unlock UI then press Esc to be able to move around the unit windows to your liking.  Got back into settings and then turn off the Unlock so they stay in place.

Self_LUIFrames.png  SelfBuffDebuff_LUIFrames.png

Voran’s Mini Map

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed mini map with clock (or hidden) which supports other Addons like SkyShards and HarvestMap which also show those Addons icons.

Configure: Press Esc->Settings-Addon->Vorans Mini Map.
Ensure to enable the unlock UI then press Esc to be able to move around the unit


Ravalox QuestTracker

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a a much improved quest tracker which has the default functionality plus expands and shrinks automatically and provides tool tips of objectives on mouse.



Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a world and mini map icon of the SkyShards locations and whether you have already learnt it.


Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a world and mini map icon for the LoreBook locations and whether you have already read them it.

Advanced Filter

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed enhancement to the inventory allow for simple filtering by weapons, apparel (then light, medium, heavy), potions, consumables and much more.

Wykkyd Toolbar

Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides a much needed quick status bar for many useful and customisable items of information. Information such as current bag space, stable and research timer cool downs, clock, fps, ping, money and much more neatly centered at the top.



Download  Recommend

Reason: Automatically prompts to sell all junk items when interacting with an NPC merchant.


Download  Recommend

Reason: Provides what some may call a cheat, but for someone with little game time it highlights where on the world and mini-map resources (ore, plants, chests, etc) are located.  Best feature is 3d map pins in the world whilst running around and due to the amount this could smoother your screen or world and mini maps. Use the the range filter to limit to only so many feet of what’s displayed.  Also access to filters via main skills, character, etc tool bar (icon on far right)

Note: Only your picked, mined or open chest are remembered unless you merge your data with the main site and then you have access to all known locations.  So it’s your choice to exploit all known or just what you have discovered to date.



The rest of my addons will be in Part 2 and 3

  • Goto
  • Inventory Grid View
  • MailR
  • Awesome Guild Store
  • Master Merchant
  • ESO Master Recipe List
  • Shissu’s LUA Memory Manager
  • Shissu’s Suite Manager
  • CraftStore
  • Crafting Preview

Back to ESO (Elder Scrolls Online)

I first bought Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel edition back in Q1 2016 thanks to my friend Elda providing some insights into the game and being a FREE week of play.  I waded on through the story and slowly became use to the play and combat style of the game reach a reasonable level 27 Sorceror.  This slower pace for me was mainly due to the games quite different in some areas like selling on an auction house, where you actually have to join a guild which is more dedicated to selling and putting up stored in the main towns.  Or the limited combat bar which only allows 5 main spells to use per weapon and equip only 2 weapons, which you must switch between to access all spells.


Due to the levels of depth in the story, skills, crafting, delves, sky rings further depth of having passive in so many different areas you can choose to unlock or not.  A complex crafting system which feels like more genuine crafting, which again you can choose to bolster with extra skills points being assigned.

Well after just under a year of not playing ESO I now back ready to reach max level and start earning champion points.  In addition completing the story and all DLC the game has to offer.  One of the first areas I had to resolve was replacing the old addons which I had used to improve my gameplay experience last year.  After reinstall Minion a brilliant addon maintainer and a few recommendation my my friend Elda, plus watching a fair few YT videos I had a good selection of what I was after.  The resulting UI is shown in the screen below and provide lots of minimal goodness.


For now I will just name the addons which make the normal minimal screen state seen in the screenshot and I find the most clean.  I have at least another 10-12 addons which enhance the mapp, locations, guild, merchant, addon memory manager, etc.  I will do a later post on all my recommend ESO addons.

  • LUI Extended
    • Providing clean health, mana, stamina bars for self, target, groups, raids and fully customisable.
  • Harvest Map
    • Shows map pins and in game 3d pins of resource locations.
  • Quest Map
    • Add quest giver markers to mini map and map
  • Quest Tracker
    • Provide the right had quest list with active quest marked plus tooltip hover of objectives.
  • SkyShards
    • Adds skyshard location on mini map and map
  • Votan’s Mini Map
    • The mini map you see in bottom right with many configurable options.
  • Wykkyd Toolbar
    • The tool bar of key information like stable researching cooldown, bag space, gold, time, area, and much more to customise.

Change of Class – Wizards are cool!

I’ve been playing Black Desert Online now for about 2 weeks through trial and now a full paid player.  During my trial I chose the Sorceress and loved her… but I  found some of her skills not so “wow” and a little (to use my teen kids terms) Meh.  The opportunity arouse when I convinced my long term friend and gamer Faithless to try out BDO using my trial key gained from my purchase of the game.  To ensure we was on the same level and I could guide him a little into the BDO play style I create Elkaruk of the wizard class.


What drew me to try the wizard was the coolness of the spells, the magic style and beauty of seeing them in action, along with the wonderful DPS capabilities.  For me the most disappointing thing in MMOs has been the flat progression of magical spells as you level.  What I mean by this is using a fire ball at lvl 10 compared to lvl 20 is usually graphically represented with the exact same animation.  Lets be honest if you was a wizard of (or other magical spell casting class) of 50+ levels you would expected to be able to conjure some serious spells showing considerable graphical scale to compliment its deliver on an unsuspecting mob.  BDO has delivered this to me, finally an MMO where as you level the graphical representation of the spells scales as do the spells.  Most importantly, this increased graphical fidelity does not seem to be at any decrement to my fps (frames per second) smoothness of play.

The differentiation of the spells a wizard has also seem to compliment each other well (in my early trials of lvl 1-15).  One-on-one the chain lightning is great at pulling many mobs to you … then when close … evade back .. freeze them and finish with a nice fireball.  In group play with friends and other GGGs members the devastation you can cause is very satisfying.

Example of how cool it can be:

Something else I have noticed in review my screen grabs is my wizard, whether through gear change as I level or actually a feature of BDO, seems to be aging… or is it me (see 1st screen and one below facial age… is it different?).


Elkaruk is only a lvl 17 wizard at present, but I feel he is going to become my main and I focus my attention on learning his skills, play style and best spell combinations (well those I can do and not mess up which provide the best imho, dps).


Black Desert Online -Trial Day 5

Here we are 5 days into the trial and have to say the more I play the more I want to explore, see, learn, try everything.  So much to learn, to try, but the key I have found is learn new mechanics, like cooking when you need too.  Don’t try do it all at once, their is no rush, just enjoy the game.

Photographic Modes is something I promised to cover at a later date, so before I go into today’s exploits, let me explain some of what I mean by this mode. BDO has in built into the game two approaches to what I like to call photography concepts.

In the settings, the have implemented under the Graphics Settings see below showing the default of Vibrance filter and Sepia filter, of which there a further 12 settings.  Using this method will make the game play with the filter active all the time.



My preferred method is the Photographic (no UI) capability of the game by pressing Ctrl+U at any point in the game.  This allow me to have no user interface, character labels, just pure game graphics showing.  Like normal play I can adjust and tilt the camera angle and grab a screenshot with PrntScrn key. However, it has other benefits, like changing the Depth of Field (DoF) focus (the point at which the game graphics soft focus/blurr).  You can adjust the DoF, by pressing and holding Ctrl, then using the Up/Down arrow key, thus pushing the point of focus/blurr closer or further back.  In addition, while holding Ctrl, look to bottom right of the screen are the other keys for changing the filter and moving the camera.  Bring the UI back again and it will reset back to the the game setting default you have selected.


On to today’s adventures in the world of BDO, I worked way round Heidl talking to most npc’s earning new knowledge, watching in game cutscenes like in the pub with this large scottish speaking giant. Picking up as many quests I could including the latest of the main story from my friendly black ether.  The first few quests led to the beautiful farm, Alejandro Farm with some seriously pain in the ass bee swarms I had to combat in the first few quests.  Very difficult to see them until being stung good and proper… ouch… ouch…


All this combat and travelling on my little Jacko, I hadn’t noticed I had nearly reached lvl 17 and Jacko was well on his way to 9, boosting his travel speed to 109%. I really need to get myself a horse, but for now taming is off the table until I earn enough silver to buy the recommended first time trying of 10x ropes and 10x Lumps of Raw Sugar (est. 20,000 silver). Some more combat will help with this around the farm and I decided to pickup the farms node to allow me to gain a worker for farming of honey. Yes, you guessed it, those bees are now in hives and their honeycomb if being worked by some great looking npcs.


Marketplaces are tied to each area of the map such as Balenos where Olvia and Velia towns are homed, compared with Republic of Calpheon where Heidel and others towns/cities exist I have yet to explore and  gain knowledge on.  I found this out by surprise, when I went to collect my monies at Heidel marketplace, some items had a button stating “Balenos Territory Registered”.  This meant I had to return to Velia marketplace to pickup my cash for those items.  Which like the warehouses, makes perfect sense as its not just accessible anywhere like magic fairies bring your cash across the continents to the marketplace vendor you just happen to be at.  Its shared information but physical items are not (like cash at a vendor of your sales) therefore forcing the living world I am enjoying.  It also explains why the towns feel busy with npcs and players going about their daily business, instead of vacant like other MMOs because other players have out leveled the area.

So wheres does this leave me, wanting more and more, so it will come with no surprise I have taken the plunge and bought Black Desert Online!  😀

This for now will be the end of my daily blogs regarding the trial my friend provided me and turn more into blogs posts when I have some new and exciting to share about BDO.  It will also allow me to progress my other MMOs, GW2 and Elder Scrolls Online and provide some posts on them.



Black Desert Online -Trial Day 4

On Day 4 I decided to focusing how to progress to my first mount of a Donkey. As I mentioned in my day 2 post, mounts in BDO require training to gain speed, turn rate, braking speed and acceleration.

First mount required, so off I went to buy a donkey, which turns in to another lesson learnt (more on this later).  I headed to Olvia and the stablemaster there to purchase a nice little grey donkey for a mere 5000 silver.  On doing so, your prompted for his/her name,  Jacko is his name, short for JackAss 🙂  I then popped to the local warehouse and found I can use the donkeys own inventory to transport some of my goods, so I filled his bags ready for transport to Velia. Now let get this little chap moving and earning his levels of training.


As you can see BDO has more beautiful little nuances, such as because Jacko is carrying items the donkey now has bags and nice blanket on his rear. I just love siting back with a cuppa and putting the game in photo mode and watching its beauty as I travel, snapping photos (I guess they are VR selfies really).  My Journey to Velia was over and I had already nearly reach Jacko to lvl 2.  I noticed Jacko’s, yellow bar, his Stamina was now 20% depleted, so after a little reading up I needed to feed him to keep his stamina replenished else he wont be able to travel, similar to keeping workers stamina up with beer.  Carrots is what I needed (cheapest for now, but other options exist which I can also cook, when I work out how 🙂 )

More main quest mini bosses to destroy en-route, with my faithful friend Elda.  Which led us to decide we need to introduce the world of BDO the GGGs guild.  Thanks to Elda, she had it sorted and invite came through ready for our first GGGs exploit of beating down my next co-op quest Here Comes the Goblin Chief! mini-boss, gaining me some much needed inventory expansion.


House needed and workers need feeding, so next up was to check on my workers, one in Olvia gathering grapes and one in Velia gathering chicken meat plus bonus of eggs.  Clicking the pickaxe icon I am present with a list of their status, seems they are all worked out and how now stamina left. Looks like its time to make some beer via cooking, time for some googling and nice guide from Dulfy my faithful go to site for GW2.  Reading the guide, first need my first house of residence to allow me to then purchase and place my cooking station.  Then I need potatoes, water, sugar and leavening (yeast) to make my beer. So I purchase my first house for 1 contribution point and few thousand silver, next off to the chef in at the inn to purchase the cooking station and ingredients.


Now we have our house, cooking station and ingredients, we need to place the cooking station ready for use.


Station placed, time to get my chef on and make some beer for my tired old workers.  Pop the water, sugar, leavening and potatoes in the pot… click cook … viola .. we have beer.  Rinse and repeat until used the potatoes I have and we have 6 beers for my merry worker men.  Re-clicking the workers pickaxe icon, I just need to click  Recover on each worker and select how many beers to provide them.  Their we go, all refreshed and ready to work.  I leaving Olvia worker on grapes and re-assign Velia worker to farm potatoes making sure I have resources to make more beer later.

Time to move on to greener pastures as my last quest is leading me to new town of Heidl which is even busier and has a greater feel of life in a living breathing world. Welcome!


I slowly progress with my faithful Jacko increasing his training levels further and leading me to meeting the towns first npc, the stablemaster.  This is more of an interesting meet, as he has knowledge on horse taming, yes, the ability to capture and train your very own horses.  But… no time now as it 1:27am and time for bed… I leave exploration of Heidl until tomorrow, Day 5. Night all 🙂




Black Desert Online -Trial Day 3

Day 3 of my BDO trial didn’t quite turn out how I planned as in real life personal commitments happened, so my 3rd day of playing BDO was actually the 4th day of 7 day trial pass.  Due to these same restrictions I decided to trying out the AFK (Away From Keyboard) system which allows me to be more of consultant to my character on exploring and gathering (fishing).  I decided to first send my Sorcerer off to fish at the Velia ocean.


Fishing in BDO is quite different to other games I played, as when you equip your rod, you un-equip your weapon and enter a fishing mini-game.  This gives the option of selecting to throw away trash fished or keep it.  This is especially targeted at the AFK aspect of the game, allowing you to leave the character fishing and walk away do something in real life (like baking gooey choc chip cookies).  The only limit to this is the rods durability and your inventory space must have adequate space to allow to fish for the max durability time of the rod (usually a full row of space in your inventory – thanks Elda for the heads up).  If either the rods durability runs out or you inventory space is full, then auto-fishing will stop.  Its also good to note shortly after this you will be AFK from the game doing nothing and thus the game will log you out, otherwise if doing something it will keep you logged in (more in AFK capabilities in a later post).

Inventory and Warehouse space can be limited at first in BDO (especially when wanting to AFK fish a lot) but there is a good few options through questing and other means (housing) to increase your capacity.  The questing option will provide +1 or +2 additions to your inventory space post quest completions.  This led me to locate the excellent BDO info and guide site Black Desert Foundry with their Increase Inventory Space Guide listing all quests to complete.  Your inventory also has a weight capacity because everything in BDO has weight to it, including your potions and tools you carry to survive or gather.  This makes it more focused to not just carry everything, prepare for what you want to achieve today and then set out on that adventure.  To me this is another mechanic which makes the game feel more alive instead of just logging in and go do the same multiple things.


The Warehouse system is where you get to store your wares (pun intended), but is tied to each village, town or city you visit.  What this means is, if you farm potatoes in Velia using a worker, they will store the resulting crop in the Velia warehouse.  If you then travel to the city of Calpheon and enter its warehouse you will not see your potatoes.  Yes, they really are like real life in this game, a warehouse is town based.  The only way to move items from say, Velia to Calpheon is on your personal inventory space, donkey or horse, cart and transport them.  This is easier with workers as they can do the work for you, but more importantly if you do it with a backpack on you increase your strength. This is one reason the game feels alive and you will see many horse and carts, travelers (workers) and players on the roads, town and cities carrying or transporting.  This gives an incredible sense of realism to the world.  So, this is another AFK opportunity to increase your strength whilst doing real life (chores or chilling).  Why AFK, because with a heavy loaded inventory, you walk and run much slower.  Watching your character traverse at a snails pace while playing is … lets face it… boring. So set a Navigate To point and AFK auto-run (walk) there with your backpack on with good in to transport.


Exploring is something I just love to do in MMOs, but in most you cant really explore because of the general MMO mechanic around your level and the mobs in areas you have not levelled up to or higher than the mobs.  On travelling through these areas, usually you aggro (unintentionally making them aware of you low level and triggering the into attacking you just by passing within their unknown aggravation area) on your exploration.  In BDO this is not the general case (as I found it so far 3 days in), you can pretty much go anywhere as long as you stay on the roads.  My favorite way to do this is locate a place on the map I haven’t been, like a farm or location and set my Navigate To, auto-run there and then turn off the UI. Leaving me to run and sit back watching my exploration adventure in beautiful photograhic mode (well its that to me because that when I take a lot of in game photos).

I will finish this post with my top 3 photos of the day exploring and I will go into more on how this photographic mode in a later post as its in built into the game when no UI is present.





Black Desert Online -Trial Day 2

If you missed Day 1 of my trial head over to it here, where I left a lead into what I wanted to achieve in Day 2 of my trail in Black Desert Online.  The thing is it took me a good hour to get my head round my first topic, Nodes & NPC Hiring.  To be honest its quite logical, but the UI (user interface) suddenly loses you and you find yourself at a dead end of progressing what seemed a logical approach.  Luckily for me, my friend Elda came to my rescue and very patiently explained the steps (thanks Elda 🙂 appreciated you patience).


Contribution Points are required to hire workers and unlock nodes for use.  These are earned by doing quick quests in towns for various town folk .  They are reasonably easy to earn in the early levels so far, currently lvl 11 and before.

Energy Points are earned through gaining of knowledge by talking to people (npcs), chopping new woods, gathering new materials, killing new unknown mobs for the first time.  Generally exploring the world of BDO and learning all it has to offer to gain ore knowledge and thus earn more Energy.

Workers are npc’s you can hire in game using both Contribution and Energy points to select the type you want, of Orge, Human and Goblin.  Each has worker race has a slightly different stats and benefits, but for my first go I chose the little goblin dude, who cost me 1 contribution point to hire him.  Now onto finding a node to assign him too.

Nodes are points on the map which are either a locations in a city or town, or a junction on the road. Nodes allow you too connect a route for workers (npc’s you can hire) or a location to work or gather at (eg. farm for grapes).

Setting up my first node was done by selecting node on the map and spending the required contribution points to unlock it.  I then had to select the nodes resource icon (fern type icon) and spend another Contribution point to allow my workers assignment.  Now I can select my little goblin to farm grapes.  Elda reminded me to click Change to set him to repeat up to the maximum of his stamina (10 in this case).  I review my map to see him running across to the farm (node) I chose.  I followed my little goblin worker and found him busy farming grapes. So cool to see him there farming and easy to find as he has my family name I chose at character creation yesterday.

Mounts, donkey’s and horses… is easy to acquire, but like everything in BDO, its takes considerable time to master be able to breed and create your own horses.  I first set my Navigate To at the closest stable and click auto-run whilst made a nice cuppa.  Sitting here watching he world drink my cuppa is such a nice chill moment, and beautiful at that.  I ended passing a potions vendor, merrily singing and when I spoke she had this wonderful voice.  Yes a different voice seems to be the norm for every (unlikely but seems that way so far) vendor in the game.


I arrived at the stable and open up the shop to seem what I could afford with my current 2600 gold.  Sadly, nothing yet, the Donkey’s were 5000 and the cheapest horse was 15000 gold.  This lead me to readup more on horses in game and to my surprise, combat is possible while mounted.  Pretty cool I thought, but does that mean I can armour my horse…. oh yeh!  I was aware the game has an in game store, called the Pearl Store, which allows you to purchase costumes, armours, boats, pets (with benefits, but not like friends with benefits obviously), some of which you can check out below.




The next challenge is to try earn enough gold to gain my first mount of a Donkey 🙂 Hopefully working my way up to a horse and then maybe a 4 horses and a cart. My final part of the day was to watch a good few guide videos on crafting which was clear would turn into another day of learning’s once I had more contribution points to hire more workers and gain considerable more materials before venturing into the world of BDO Crafting, so for now I leave this for another day.

My last item of the day was to venture into a new town called Velia, where on my route I picked up quest to kill a mini boss.  Now I hadn’t realised at the time I had been provided a scroll in my bags at this point.  So like a noob, I headed to the beach area highlighting the quest point.  Once I reached the area nothing happen, no mobs, no-one around.  This is when I found the scroll and right-clicked to use it…. ohhh… bad move… the UI disappears, camera pulls back the ground in front of me started to opening a black mist ether, the mist began to swirl and swishing as something begins to rise form the ground.  Er… ok thats a big black demon, perhaps I should start killing it… like now!


Right, this guys going down, entering combat stance.  Kiting him around the beach, dodging his shockwaves of sand and serious damage swipes I manage to trigger some of my new combos of combat.  Is health bar is now orange (meaning mid way through his health).  Quick jump back, dodge roll, now to the side, not into him… ouch!  That hit hard, only 11% health, quick drink health pot, phew back to 63% health.  Right, claws combo, 1..2..3… now his red health bar… just bit further…big finisher move and down!  Breath and .. releax, damn that was an intense fight… but oh so enjoyable, I must find more of those types of quests and appropriately added to my list of to do in BDO.

Day 3 I hope to work on more exploring and hire more workers, plus finding more of those mini boss quests.


Black Desert Online -Trial Day 1

I have been reading up and following the story of a MMO called Black Desert Online (BDO) for a couple of years now.  Its finally launched in the EU on 3rd Mar 2016, so relatively new to the EU although the Korean version has been available to play for over 2 years.  BDO is a buy to play MMO, similar to Guild Wars 2, pay once play for ever.  However, its not like Guild Wars 2 its more akin to Elder Scrolls Online but has no PvE end game such as dungeons or raids.  Does this matter if you area  pure PvE player, well  yes and no, Black Desert Online is a living breathing world which has PvE content.

So lets start with your options to try it out before you buy one of the editions, Travelers for €29.99 (£23 GBP) or Explorers for €49.99 (£40 GBP).  This is to me its current issue as you need to find a friend or a site with a FREE 7 Day Trial key you can use if you don’t want to splash out money to find out its not like any other MMO you may have played and may not like.  Trial keys can be requested from players who have bought the game as they have 1x key for Travelers and 2x keys for Explorers edition.  I was lucky enough to have a good friend (Eldae) in the GGGs who provided one of there keys to try. This set of blog posts are about that trial journey into BDO and thoughts after each day.

Day 1 of my Trial

Class & Character creation starts with the most incredible character introduction screen I have ever seen for each class, this alone took me 10 minutes to review and watch in awe each classes intro animations, movement and high fidelity models, along with a sneak peek at in game video f their combat play styles (excellent idea!).  I decided our a pretty damn beautiful female Sorcerer class but then noticed I cannot change the gender of my class, they are fixed.  No big issue but interesting as never in an MMO have I not been able to change the genre of my character. I then proceed to play with the incredible detailed character creation modelling tool with simple click/change buttons or full advance mode.  Wait theirs a button to take a photo of my character… the UI just auto-hides and a camera shutter noise later, shot taken.

Before (left) and After Customization (right)

20160411.1233_Char_Before  20160411.1233_Char_After

Let the game begin… after a short wizard asking what graphics quality I wanted I thought what the hell lets see what my aging 2013  PC spec can do…. lets max this game out at my UHD resolution of 2560 x 1080p 🙂

I appear in a small village (no spoiler on the intro scene), its incredibly detailed, beautiful, and I seem to have a dark black essence talking to me (no spoiler), oh I have to take a screen grab. The camera and movement in this game is of the 3rd person variety, similar to ESO with WSAD keys. I move round this barn to find my first npc of the stables, the character model and subtle movement behaviors are like real people. She starts explaining to me how travel in the game is real, no way-point, magic portals here.  If I want to get around I need to work towards attaining a donkey, then a horse… but wait …  this isn’t just a a mount its a real horse I could leave in open land, run off exploring on foot to return to my horse and find it mauled by a monster.  As I ride my horse levels and becomes stronger, add a cart to it and travel trading (not like trading I seen before, see later), I can even breed horses in this game.


My little black ether re-appears and grants me my first quest to go try combat and kill some weak mobs.  Now.. this is where I began to hate the game only 10-15mins into it… why … because its not like any other game I have played (WoW, GW2, Skyforge, Aion, Wildstar, ESO, etc).  The combat only has 9 quick slots for my attacks and potions.  This game seems to be focusing me to really learn get into combat stance, controls mobs grouping ready for an attack, use correct attacks and most different is the use of combo of attacks to devastating affect.  This takes some getting use too… skipping to over 1 hours play of the game leading to my now level 6 and now I am starting to get it.  Combat guidance through more mini quests by my black ether helps train you in combat which is one way of earning XP.  Quest themselves are not here to earn you XP in the traditional sense.

You are in the world to explore, gain nodes (yet to full explore this mechanic) which allow you to setup NPCs to work for you, gather, craft and trade between cities, towns and villages.  You are encouraged to talk to every NPC to gain knowledge and contribution points (I think these relate to the nodes mechanic, Day 2 learning).  This exploring led me to open the map and play with the Navigate To and Auto-Run capability.  This is a great way to AFK get around, but also see places you wouldn’t normally by auto-running down the safe roads (safe for now from what I have experienced), sitting at your PC watching your character travel (albeit on foot for now) to your destination and taking in the beauty by sitting back drinking a cuppa, watching her run down the road.  On this auto run a storm started and it began to rain, harder and harder, the ground starting filling up with puddles, my skin was wet.  What am I witnessing, real weather, water in an MMO, yes I was, this is very cool to see and not just a trigger by entering an area.  I tested this by just stopping and waited for the rain to stop, the sun comes out and the ground and my skin began to dry.

It was just after this my friend who provided me the trial key came on Discord and offered to lead me to the main city Calpheon.  I set myself on follow and made myself lunch… this was a long auto-run with follow, but boy was it worth it.  Never have I seen a true busy bustling city in an MMO world.  So many different NPCs, shops, streets all working like a real medieval style city.  What stunned me was the detail and clarity in different sizes, races and voices for shop keepers as well as a new mechanic I never scene.  If you just stand still at a shop and in effect go AFK, the game auto pans camera angles around the you and the city whilst your character does auto emotes of movements.  Its just stunning to watch.


Now I was a mere level 11 and spent time just exploring the city, the scale of which is huge as is the continents to explore in the game world.  This is when I ran under an archway into a demonstration by a bunch of npcs getting rowdy, placards being pumped into the air, shouting abuse, damn this game has detail!  It was then I saw this building up higher in the city, could I get there, enter it and look at the city landscape.  So off I went with Eldae to see if we could reach it, took a while and saw some more amazing sights like the procession of guards in their fully armored horses ready for combat (yes this game has on mount combat system, yet to try).


We finally reached the court yard of the high rise building with a considerable training ground of female npcs combat training, where we just sat… and not by /sit but by backing up to the low stone and our characters auto sat.


Their is more mechanics for me to unravel in this game than any other I have come across to date with a true AFK system that allows you to remain logged in and minimise the game.  In this mode your hired NPCs continue to work at gathering, crafting, trading, fish or horses breed, cows can be milked plus who now what else.  I see a busy few days trying to read up and try it all (most I can) before my trial expires on Friday.

Day 2 list of things to discover have to be:

  • Nodes & NPC hiring
  • Crafting
  • Acquiring a donkey