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Too Much Cheese

I have always had mixed feelings when it comes to Early Access games, but not always for the same reasons as everyone else. For example, one of the biggest dangers is getting hooked on a game that just never gets completed. Money dries up, development stops, you never get any sort of conclusion. I’ve never been too worried about that – either the game was fun when you played it, or it wasn’t.

No, my biggest concern is when the game gets better or more balanced… but I’m already done.

Oxygen Not Included (ONI) is a colony-management game from Klei that I started playing last year and it has gotten significant updates on the regular. Some new buildings, some new creatures, a sort of end-goal to strive for, and so on. Other things have not changed over the year, and it’s questionable whether they ever will. And that bothers me because some of the things that haven’t changed are broken mechanics.

One of the mid-to-late game threats in ONI is heat. In the beginning, you’re worried about Oxygen (hence the name), so you burn algae for air. Then you run out of algae. Switching to an Electrolyser allows you to turn water into Oxygen + Hydrogen, so you focus on getting clean water to burn, while finding a use for all the unbreathable Hydrogen (generally via Hydrogen Generator to power to the Electrolyser). This is another trap though, because the “free” Oxygen getting piped out is hot, and as your base heats up, your crops will fail. Thus, cooling things becomes a top priority.

While there are a number of “legit” ways to cool things down, the Water Sieve method is straight-up broken. Water Sieves are used to turn Polluted Water into normal Water, for use in bathrooms and such. The supposed downside of this is that the Sieve itself outputs relatively hot water at 40°C, which will gradually heat up your base and ruin your crops (which typically stop growing at 30-35°C). The real issue though is that the Water Sieve always outputs 40°C water… even if the Polluted Water was at a much higher temperature. Thus you get physics-bending/game-breaking (IMO) solutions like piping your clean water out of a Water Sieve and into an Aquatuner (which cools liquid down at the expense of heating itself up)… which is being liquid-cooled in a tank of Polluted Water… that you are piping to the Water Sieve.

Clever use of game mechanics, indeed.

Along the same lines, I have a 100% zombie-proof base in 7 Days to Die. It’s a tower with a nearby ramp and fence, along with a half-block on the other side of the fence. To the zombie AI, this half-block would allow them to jump again and land on the tower and start eating my face. In reality, once they hop over the fence, they miss the half-block, and plummet to the ground, taking damage. From there, they run back up the ramp and try again until they die again. I still try and kill them myself for the XP, but I have all the time in the world to line up the shots or try again if I miss. The devs have added a “tantrum” mechanic whenever a zombie tries to run a path and fails, but that just means the zombie will wail on a bunch of iron spikes.

There are two “easy” solutions to my “problems”:

  1. Don’t use these mechanics, and/or
  2. Don’t play these games yet

To which I would say:

  1. Handicapping myself via willpower alone isn’t fun, and
  2. These are precisely the type of games I want to be playing at the moment

If you have a list of non-Early Access survival/crafting games that I haven’t already played, by all means, let me know. Otherwise, I’m going to be over here stuffing my face with delicious cheese, and paying for it later.

Cheesing Alts

Guild wars 2 is remarkably unfriendly to guilds. The fundamental component of such a collaboration, in my opinion, is the guild bank… something that is sequestered behind a 2500 Influence timewall. After a week and a half, my small guild of WoW expats have just gotten halfway there.

But I get it, I get it. Can’t expect ArenaNet to sell $7.50 bank extensions if just anyone could create a guild and get 50-slots “for free,” small guilds be damned.

The good news for smaller guilds is that you can cheese the Influence system a bit with alts. A guild generally gets 10 Influence for each member that logs in each day. Each of your alts counts as a unique member. Ergo, if you log onto all five characters every day, your guild should get 50 Influence points during the “Attendance Checks.” You do not even have to do anything on that alt; just log on, and then go back to the character selection screen. Done.¹

Now, 50 Influence might not seem like a lot, especially in terms of guild groups rolling through Events – but that is 50 quick Influence points per account per day. Get five friends doing that everyday for 10 days and you got your bank. If you want your own personal guild bank extension, that is a mere 50 days of solo log-ins.

By the way, know what else is counted on a per-character basis? Resource nodes and chests.

Why log-in on unused alt accounts in the middle of a city when you could do so standing next to a Rich Copper Node (etc)? Personally, I have two level 12 alts parked in the Shamans’ Rookery area I talked about last time, such that when I give my guild its daily 10 Influence, I snag 2 silver worth of Copper Ore and then spend 2-3 minutes snagging a Splendid Chest to boot. And then I do it again.

If I was really feeling cheeky, I could go outside and farm the Potato… farm just south of there, snagging the normal chest along the way. Since this is the Norn starting area, chances are good you will get pushed into the Overflow server, which has its own version of resource nodes too. From my testing, it looks like ArenaNet closed the loophole that would allow you to gather from both the normal and Overflow farms. However, these farms are also character-specific, which means any alts parked nearby can loot it individually.

¹ It is entirely possible ArenaNet fixed this. I tried testing today, and it did not appear multiple log-ins caused the counter to increase immediately, like it did previously. Still, I have have a screenshot of our six-person guild’s Influence History tab which shows “7 members logged on for 70 Influence.” I’ll try and do additional testing in the next few days. The resource node/chest thing is 100% legit though.