All Around The MMO World – Weekend Links

Loads of fun, useful and generally readable stuff from the blogosphere from this weekend! Whether you’re hanging on in Wurm, observing TERA in amusement, or could really use a laugh after an awful LFR run, we’ve got something for you:

  • Tobold considers the current “guild size” discussion from a game design point of view“There are other ways, for example in games like A Tale in the Desert. Not only can you be in several guilds in that game, but also everybody can contribute in his own way to the guild’s projects. If the guild needs a huge amount of bricks for a project, for example, everybody can contribute at his own pace.”
  • Avatars of Steel provides some quick tips for Wurmians still avoiding the game’s forums for virus reasons
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings observes some strange behaviour in TERA, as players proceed to mostly ignore the ingame LFG tool“Because queues are instant, the choice as a Lancer is very binary. You either run the dungeon or you go questing. But maybe after doing a few quests, you’re sort of wavering between continuing questing or going for an instance. Seeing a request for a tank can tip you over to one side, and might even allow you to feel altruistic for helping out an existing group.”
  • And Bravetank offers some more cheering alternative definitions for popular LFG and LFR terminology“In ancient times huntards were esteemed for their wisdom, strategic minds and military prowess. Only the truly gifted could ever hope to reach such heights. If you are called a huntard then you are playing your hunter class flawlessly. Do not be surprised if some people leave the group after calling you this – it is simply that they do not feel deserving enough to be in your company. Forgive them.”

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Logitech G110 Review – great gaming keyboard?

It’s hard to get truly excited about keyboards, when the world is full of things like iPads and 3D cinema and Felicia Day. That hasn’t deterred Logitech, though, who have pulled out all the stops to design a keyboard that’s actually worth getting excited about. If standard keyboards are vendor trash, the G110 Gaming Keyboard is pure purple and bind-on-pickup.

The idea – as with Logitech’s other gaming keyboards – is to provide a keyboard which does far more than simply enable you to type “lols nub l2p” into party chat. The G110 has a whole host of other features, all firmly designed with gamers in mind.

The keyboard itself is adequate, if not spectacular. The keys are nicely weighted without feeling heavy and cumbersome, and the boards sits well under the palms. The available tilt angle is minimal, but the keyboard does come with a detachable wrist-rest which snaps snugly onto the bottom of the board for those of us who are a bit lazy with our typing postures. For a keyboard which boasts so many features, the G110 is admirably compact, measuring just 50cm wide by 19cm deep ( 23cm with the wrist-rest attached).

The G110 keyboard

The flagship feature of the G110 is the bank of additional keys to the left of the main keyboard. There are twelve keys, positioned in three blocks of four keys each, but Logitech’s clever use of custom modifier keys and profiles allows for far more than just twelve additional buttons. Three small modifier buttons sit just above the bank of custom keys, allowing the user to change to a different set of keybindings with a single press. Software supplied with the board enables each key to perform a variety of functions, some of which are admirably specific. A key can be configured to mimic a standard keypress, of course, but can just as easily mimic a complex key combination. Sick of having to break your fingers trying to press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J to trigger that once-in-a-blue-moon ability? Just set that combination as the action for one of the custom keys, and your poor phalanges will be safe from harm. Even better, the custom keys can trigger a sequence of keypresses, rendering a regular sequence of key presses down to a single tap. I set one of the custom keys to type “/afk” – a simple shortcut, but one which saved a lot of time.

For extra credit, the G110 will even allow keypress sequences to be recorded with specific lengths of time between each keypress. That’s potentially dangerous levels of automation for some of the more dictatorial MMOs – using automation like this could theoretically get you banned in WoW – but for something like A Tale In The Desert (where automation macros are actually encouraged) it’s a killer feature.

The software will automatically detect installations of many popular games – on our test machine both World Of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons Online were detected – and will create profiles for each one. This allows you to switch the entire set of keybindings and macros contextually, depending on the game. You can create additional profiles, of course, for whatever purpose you like. Many of the popular games are additionally supported with direct keybindings to popular actions – the World Of Warcraft profile, for example, allows you to assign the action “send my pet into defensive mode” to a custom key. The keyboard will then interface directly and issue that command. No need for keybindings or macros – the keyboard software takes care of it all.

If that’s not enough to impress your friends, the keyboard also provides a bit of eye-candy in the form of the backlighting on each key. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but it’s not actually eye-bleedingly ostentatious – and if, like us, you tend to do your gaming in a gloomy room late at night it does actually help to easily identify the keys. Yes, you can pick the colour.

The keyboard provides a handful of USB ports, and also contains an entire in-built USB-audio card. That means you can attach a microphone headset directly to the keyboard. It’s a nice touch, especially when combined with the separate mute button to affect only the headset audio.

At the right-hand side of the keyboard is a standard set of media control and playback buttons, including one of my favourite little touches: the volume control. Rather than the usual “+” and “-” buttons, the volume is controlled by a scrollable wheel. It’s a much more natural way of controlling volume, and once you’ve tried it you won’t want to go back.

This is not a keyboard for a casual gamer, nor is it a keyboard for those who like instant results. In order to make the most of this board, you’re going to have to take the time to train yourself to use it properly. You’ll need to think about the optimum assignment of keybindings for each game, and you’ll probably still find yourself using the same keybindings for your core abilities as you always have. Where this keyboard really excels is its extraordinary amount of customisation. You can tailor the G110 to do almost anything you need it to do. There are other gaming keyboards, some of which have more bells and whistles, and some of which have even more keys. If you’re looking for a workhorse gaming keyboard, though, which will improve your game and give you an astonishingly flexible setup, the G110 is a solid contender. While it’s not the cheapest of keyboards, it won’t bruise your pocket as much as some of its competitors, and the potential benefit is well worth the investment.

Buy the Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard from Amazon.com ($64.99)

Buy the Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard from Amazon.co.uk (£48.99)

Main Logitech site

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A Tale In The Desert TL:DR – Glassmaking

Welcome back for another A Tale In The Desert infostravaganza. Why, no, that wasn’t a word three minutes ago. Now it is.

I was originally intending to write a bit about the wonders of Cooking and how bloody complicated it is, but since starting that post, I’ve played with some other things in ATITD, and come across the Wikified horror that is… Glassmaking.

So, with no further ado, if you’ve been staring at the Wiki entry for Glassmaking and wondering if you need to buy some graph paper, here’s what you need to know.

Before I start – I will be referencing a LOT of things that you can look up in the Wiki. Rather than link them all – anything that’s capitalised below you can look up in the ATITD Wiki.

You’ll be making glass on a Glazier’s Bench, and your first job is, yes, to make some glass.

(This is Tale In The Desert. Pre-made glass is for the ATITD equivalent of carebears. We make our glass from sand, dammit!)

So. Glass. You’ll need Sand. Not too tricky.

You’ll also need Lime. That’s made from Limestone in a Firepit. And here we drop down one of ATITD’s rabbit holes. See, for the Firepit you’re going to need to build it, then you’re going to need to get your Carving to 1 to make Tinder, then you’re going to need 200 wood each time you want to use the Firepit (no more, no less) plus Tinder, plus some Flint to spark it, plus the Limestone you want to make into Lime. To get the Limestone, you’re going to need a Mallet and a Chisel, and to do it with any speed you’ll need a Heavy Mallet (for which you’ll need someone with Carving 3 for the handle, plus some lead and a Casting Box for the Handle) and a Lead Chisel (more Lead, plus a Forge, either Student’s or Master’s). Oh, and you’ll need to find some Limestone to dig up – ask in your region’s channel or check the Wiki.

You’ll need to check the Firepit page to get details on how much limestone makes how much lime. If you don’t want to spend time Stoking your pit (and I can’t be bothered with that) you’re looking at 13 Lime for 96 Limestone.

For the final ingredient, you need to consider what you eventually want to make. You’re either going to want Soda (which you get free with your Limestone – hurrah!) or Potash, depending on what you want to make – see the Glass Making page. (You might also want to make Jewel Glass, but that’s waaay more advanced than where I’ve gotten to).

Quick cheat – for Glass Rods, Blades and Pipes you want Soda Glass. For Sheet Glass, Glass Jars and Wine Bottles you want Normal Glass, which needs Potash.

Soda Glass? 1 Lime, 2 Soda, 10 Sand for one glass. Normal Glass? 1 Lime, 2 Potash, 10 Sand. Oh, and if you’re using a new Glazier’s Bench, you’ll need to budget for 20 more glass than you think you’ll need. Why? You’ll find out below.

(If you’re making Sheet Glass and you’ve not done it before, budget at least ANOTHER 20 glass on top of that).

Potash

I just mentioned it and moved on – that must mean it’s simple, right?

No.

TO make Potash, you need to:

Grow either Flax or Leeks – Flax is much more efficient.

Rot the flax, then dry it. You can only dry 10 at a time on a Drying Rack, so make lots of them.

Burn the dried flax in a Firepit – see above. You need 100 Flax to make 11 Ash, which is the product.

Take the Ash and make it into Potash by boiling it in a Kettle. You only need Jugs of Water and Wood here. However, it takes about 15 mins per kettle for 5, so you need either lots of kettles or lots of time.

And now you have potash!

Actually Making The Glass

Ok, you’ve got your glass ingredients, finally. (It’s no coincidence that everyone’s trading for Potash right now). It’s time to start the glassmaking.

Now, if you look at the Wiki section on glassmaking, it looks pretty frightening. There’s maths. There’s formulae. There’s coefficients.

Don’t worry. It’s actually pretty simple. Every glazier’s bench has two numbers attatched to it – the UP number, which is the total amount it’ll heat up after you add two pieces of charcoal (it’ll do that over time) and the DOWN number, which is the amount it’ll cool down every time “tick” after it’s stopped heating up.

Your job is to get the bench to the right temperature by balancing UP and DOWN. Too hot and your work fails, too cold and… your work fails.

Let’s get going. Job #1 is to figure out your up and down numbers. Get a piece of paper, then add 2 charcoal to your bench – don’t worry that it doesn’t have anything in it yet. Watch it like a hawk. Record the highest temperature it gets to, then record the NEXT temperature it gets to after that, and the one after that.

The highest temperature is your UP temperature. The DOWN temperature, by contrast, is the difference between that and the next temperature it hit. That should be the same as the difference between that temperature and the final one – in other words, it should have cooled down in even steps of the same drop.

Right, let’s get glassmaking.

First step is to melt your glass. Make sure you have enough materials for your glass near at hand – you may need to go fetch some sand.

Add 2 charcoal and wait for the heat to rise. Now add another two. Wait for it to rise again, and add another two. That’s 3 sets of charcoal so far. Add another two every time the temperature rises for the next two rises, meaning you should have put 10 charcoal into your bench. Now wait for it to get REALLY hot.

When the temperature’s above 3200 degrees, choose “Melt Materials” from the glazier’s bench menu. Repeat if you need to go get more sand, until you have enough glass in your bench to make what you need to make, plus 20 additional glass, which apparently the bench needs for, you know, some reason.

Making Stuff With The Glass

After all that, it’s time to actually Make Some Stuff. This, after all the faffery, is actually kinda easy, graphs and charts nonwithstanding.

If you’ve already got a hot bench, wait for it to cool below 2400 degrees. (If you’re starting from cold, do what you did to heat it up for melting glass, but only use 4 lots of charcoal).

When the temperature drops below 2400, click the button to start making whatever it is you want. Now, when the temperature drops below 2300 degrees, add 2 charcoal ONCE ONLY. Watch the temperature slowly rise. Wait for it to fall again. As soon as it starts falling again, add another 2 charcoal. Repeat.

The temperature will, on average, slowly drop off. If you’re only making a few things, that won’t be a problem. Otherwise, don’t start any products after the temperature drops below 1700. As soon as that happens (and you’re not currently making anything), add 2 charcoal, wait for the temperature to rise, then add another 2 charcoal. Now wait for the temperature to fall – it should spike above 2400 degrees again, so you’ll then have to wait for it to go below 2400, and start the process again.

That’s all there is to it! Unless you’re making Sheet Glass, that is. If you’re making Sheet Glass, you need to know that, much like making flint blades, there’s a Sheet Glass skill. Most of the time at first you’ll get nothing when you make sheet glass, because your character will break it. But persevere – after about 20-30 attempts, you should start making decent amounts of sheet glass.

Do you have any other glassmaking tips?

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TL:DR – A Tale In The Desert's Cooking Skill, Part 1

OK, so some time ago I promised a TLDR (which, in case you didn’t know, stands for “Too Long: Didn’t Read”) on Cooking as a subject in A Tale in the Desert.

Wow, that’s a big, big topic.

Cooking sounds attractive in Tale because it’s one of the few ways to raise your stats, and higher stats mitigate some of the limitations and frustrations in the game. Higher Strength means you can carry more weight, higher Dexterity means more bulk, higher Speed means you run faster, and so on. (As we’ll see next time, some of these stats are more effective than others, so caveat cook-or).

So what’ll you need to get started on cooking? Well, you’ll need the skill Cooking, you’ll need something to cook, and you’ll need something to cook it with or on.

The Skill Itself

To get Cooking, which you can get from any School of Worship, you need 100 each of Garlic, Cabbage, Onions, Leeks and Carrots. To grow those, you’re going to need seeds.

Now, if you visit a University of Worship (and have a paid account), you’ll get a random pack of 4 seeds for one of those vegetables. No problem, you might think, I’ll just multiply those seeds like I can multiply flax seeds, then trade for the other ones.

Not so fast. Multiplying seeds is fiendishly complex and so far at this point in Tale 5, no-one knows how to do it, or at least they’re not telling. From my experience, trading for seeds is likely to be a dead loss for anything other than other seeds, although that will probably depend on your region’s culture. So, how the hell do you get seeds?

You visit each and every University of Worship, and hope for the best. There are 7 regions in Egypt in Tale 5, and most of them are connected by chariot routes (see this handy page for lists of available chariot routes, all of which are now open). To use a chariot, you’ll need offline travel time, probably a few days’ worth of it. Alternatively, you could run, but that’ll take you the best part of a real-world day.

With any luck you’ll get enough seeds. You might not. In that case, trade 4 seeds of one type for 4 seeds of your missing type, and hope. This might take a while.

Vegetable Growing

Now you’ve got to grow your veg.

To do that, the most important thing you’ll need is water, and lots of it, which you gather in jugs. That means you’ll need, at minimum, about 20 jugs, which you create with clay using the Pottery skill on a Pottery Wheel. Getting all that lot together’s outside the scope of this guide (read the relevant entries on the Wiki), but one important point is that you’ll need leather and stones to create a pottery wheel. To get them, either ask if anyone will give you those things in trade chat (or trade for them, although my experience is that ATITD players are more likely to offer simple things as gifts than want to trade for low-level goods, and all this stuff counts as very low-level) or just use some public pottery wheels and kilms, or ones belonging to your guild. (Note: Being in a guild will REALLY help you as a new player, or indeed as any player – things like furnaces and mines, which you’ll need in a minute, are a real pig to build yourself). There’s a list of public buildings on the wiki and individual region pages like Sinai’s will often have details on buildings not on that list.

So, you’ve gotten clay, made jugs, fired jugs, made more jugs, and generally gotten sick of the word “jugs”? Great. Now it’s time to get sick of the word “vegetable”.

Growing vegetables is, in principle, easy. Plant ’em either in sand or grass (Onions, Leeks and Garlic like sand, the others like grass), then water them each once, and again whenever they grow in size. Make sure to plant them far enough away from each other that you can actually distinguish them when they get large, because the final stage of each plant is VERY large. Finally, they’ll grow large enough you can harvest them, and you’ll get your seed back, and … some vegetables.

How many depends on a number of factors. In general, a yield of above 6 is good, and the simplest way to get to 100 vegetables in that case is just to keep growing them. Occasionally, however, you’ll see very low yields (1 or 2), and at that point, you’ve got a choice.

You can keep growing them that way. Aargh. It’ll take forever, and growing vegetables requires you to stare at the screen constantly. Alternatively, you can try and trade another type of veg for the one you suck at growing. Or you could try and find a way to grow them better. Each vegetable has different conditions that it requires to flourish – again, check the Vegetables page of the wiki for hints on that, which will vary from “travel to the Magic Onion Patch” to “try growing carrots in 4 hours”.

Eventually, you’ll get your 100 vegetables and your cooking skill. And that’s where it gets even more complex.

TO BE CONTINUED SOON. In the meantime – build a Firepit BEFORE you build a kitchen, unless you have access to mutton and oysters already.

Any tips on growing vegetables or getting seeds, or *shudder* building up your pottery equipment solo?

Read more →

TL:DR – A Tale In The Desert’s Cooking Skill, Part 1

OK, so some time ago I promised a TLDR (which, in case you didn’t know, stands for “Too Long: Didn’t Read”) on Cooking as a subject in A Tale in the Desert.

Wow, that’s a big, big topic.

Cooking sounds attractive in Tale because it’s one of the few ways to raise your stats, and higher stats mitigate some of the limitations and frustrations in the game. Higher Strength means you can carry more weight, higher Dexterity means more bulk, higher Speed means you run faster, and so on. (As we’ll see next time, some of these stats are more effective than others, so caveat cook-or).

So what’ll you need to get started on cooking? Well, you’ll need the skill Cooking, you’ll need something to cook, and you’ll need something to cook it with or on.

The Skill Itself

To get Cooking, which you can get from any School of Worship, you need 100 each of Garlic, Cabbage, Onions, Leeks and Carrots. To grow those, you’re going to need seeds.

Now, if you visit a University of Worship (and have a paid account), you’ll get a random pack of 4 seeds for one of those vegetables. No problem, you might think, I’ll just multiply those seeds like I can multiply flax seeds, then trade for the other ones.

Not so fast. Multiplying seeds is fiendishly complex and so far at this point in Tale 5, no-one knows how to do it, or at least they’re not telling. From my experience, trading for seeds is likely to be a dead loss for anything other than other seeds, although that will probably depend on your region’s culture. So, how the hell do you get seeds?

You visit each and every University of Worship, and hope for the best. There are 7 regions in Egypt in Tale 5, and most of them are connected by chariot routes (see this handy page for lists of available chariot routes, all of which are now open). To use a chariot, you’ll need offline travel time, probably a few days’ worth of it. Alternatively, you could run, but that’ll take you the best part of a real-world day.

With any luck you’ll get enough seeds. You might not. In that case, trade 4 seeds of one type for 4 seeds of your missing type, and hope. This might take a while.

Vegetable Growing

Now you’ve got to grow your veg.

To do that, the most important thing you’ll need is water, and lots of it, which you gather in jugs. That means you’ll need, at minimum, about 20 jugs, which you create with clay using the Pottery skill on a Pottery Wheel. Getting all that lot together’s outside the scope of this guide (read the relevant entries on the Wiki), but one important point is that you’ll need leather and stones to create a pottery wheel. To get them, either ask if anyone will give you those things in trade chat (or trade for them, although my experience is that ATITD players are more likely to offer simple things as gifts than want to trade for low-level goods, and all this stuff counts as very low-level) or just use some public pottery wheels and kilms, or ones belonging to your guild. (Note: Being in a guild will REALLY help you as a new player, or indeed as any player – things like furnaces and mines, which you’ll need in a minute, are a real pig to build yourself). There’s a list of public buildings on the wiki and individual region pages like Sinai’s will often have details on buildings not on that list.

So, you’ve gotten clay, made jugs, fired jugs, made more jugs, and generally gotten sick of the word “jugs”? Great. Now it’s time to get sick of the word “vegetable”.

Growing vegetables is, in principle, easy. Plant ’em either in sand or grass (Onions, Leeks and Garlic like sand, the others like grass), then water them each once, and again whenever they grow in size. Make sure to plant them far enough away from each other that you can actually distinguish them when they get large, because the final stage of each plant is VERY large. Finally, they’ll grow large enough you can harvest them, and you’ll get your seed back, and … some vegetables.

How many depends on a number of factors. In general, a yield of above 6 is good, and the simplest way to get to 100 vegetables in that case is just to keep growing them. Occasionally, however, you’ll see very low yields (1 or 2), and at that point, you’ve got a choice.

You can keep growing them that way. Aargh. It’ll take forever, and growing vegetables requires you to stare at the screen constantly. Alternatively, you can try and trade another type of veg for the one you suck at growing. Or you could try and find a way to grow them better. Each vegetable has different conditions that it requires to flourish – again, check the Vegetables page of the wiki for hints on that, which will vary from “travel to the Magic Onion Patch” to “try growing carrots in 4 hours”.

Eventually, you’ll get your 100 vegetables and your cooking skill. And that’s where it gets even more complex.

TO BE CONTINUED SOON. In the meantime – build a Firepit BEFORE you build a kitchen, unless you have access to mutton and oysters already.

Any tips on growing vegetables or getting seeds, or *shudder* building up your pottery equipment solo?

Read more →