Monday, 21 May 2018

I'm Back, Solo RPG Games

Another role of the dice!
Yes, it's been a long while, but it's been a funny year. Basically, I have drifted in and out of ill health and been variously enthused for hobby stuff for a short spurt before dropping back into the doldrums. There have been periods when I have done little more than watch TV and my man cave (come games room) has fallen into disuse.

Maybe it's the sunny weather but recently I've started getting a bit more energetic and motivated and have started returning to some of my old hobbies.

So...What have I been up to game wise recently?
I've always been 'D&D-curious', but my sheepishness has always stopped me jumping onboard. I did try recently to join a local D&D group, but found the experience hugely intimidating. It's not that the group weren't friendly to newcomers, it's just that you could tell they had been gaming together for a long time (with very developed characters) and so it was a very scary prospect to try and break into this.

Dungeons & Dragons (minus the group of nerds playing it), right away it's
apparent complexity scares the bejeezus out of newcomers?

What to do then? Well, I decided to look about at what solo options there were for RPGing, thinking that this might get my foot in the door and build up my confidence. Surprisingly, my problem with breaking into group D&D seems to affect quite a lot of would be RPGers as there is quite a lot written on the subject a many YouTube videos giving numerous gaming options for lone players.

Starting Out n My Adventure...
Where to begin when you are a beginner, that's the question! Well, I watched several YouTube videos about where to start with solo RPG adventures and I eventually decided to start at the beginning. Yes, that is as obvious as it sounds, but there's absolutely no use trying to start with some of the solo modifications of regular RPGs (for example, there are ways to fudge normal D&D so you can play it solo) as these actually - on occasion - actually make the games more complicated to play!

The beginning, as it happens, is probably already familiar to us but we just didn't think of it...Fighting Fantasy books. Remember those from school? You started reading the adventure at the beginning of the book then you chose different outcomes or actions for your character by opting to 'go to page x' to resolve the consequences of your chosen action.

This is perhaps the most simple and most restricting and linear form of RPGing. The books had minimal 'replay factor' and were very linear and scripted (naturally) and this doesn't interest me now as I want something as simple to get into but which introduces me to some of the features of more advanced RPG games.

After a bit of an online search I think I found what I was looking for in Random Solo Adventures. Again, these are book based but add some basic mechanics like character creation, character stats and attributes, weapon attributes and dice rolling. I found these on

There are several' 'books' (which are available cheaply as downloadable PDF documents) covering various fantasy and sci-fi sub-genres, so I started out with a classic dungeon quest and also a more Milgeek-like post-apocalyptic narrative...

Some of the Random Solo Adventure titles.

The Random Solo Adventure can be downloaded in PDF format and played
from your computer screen or printed out to make a 'book'.
I'm having a go at these this week with a plan to slowly introduce myself to more complex solo adventuring systems eventually. One thing I have my eye on is a relatively new system especially designed for solo play called 'Journey to the Overland'. This is more of your traditional heroic-fantasy dungeon quest type of RPG, but has a game mechanic more akin to things like D&D than the simple books that I am starting with...

So, there we go. I'm dipping my toe into the water with RPG (that's not computer based). This should be interesting and I hope that I will start posting regularly again here and that I will start with a review of the Random Solo Adventures that I'll be playing. :)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

7D2D - Spooky Adventures!

I'm starting to get to grips with 7 Days to Die, to the point where I am considering starting a new game, with a new map seed and with the game difficulty a little higher. But, in the meantime, I want to try out my new base design on a few Horde Nights to test its construction. (Despite the fact I am only just completing it I have already spotted some things which need tweaking or improving.)

This build is taking me so long because I keep adding bits on. What started as an idea for a simple 'keep' has blossomed into a small castle!

I'm also venturing further and further afield in search of new cities to loot. This has made me realize just how big the map really is and I wish they allowed you to build a sort of 'Mad Max' style microlight aircraft...That would be cool.

Despite finding four cities now, I am still coming across new and interesting 'special' buildings. My latest raid to a far-flung location delivered a very nice surprise...

There was a very nice haul of loot in the bank, which made the long drive worthwhile (over 2 hours in-game time) but it still niggles me that I have not come across a single gun store yet!

Single-player Psychosis!
One aspect of these sort of large-scale RPG 'explore and loot' games is that when they are played single player they can be a little 'spooky' at times. I guess that actually lends to the sense of being a lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, but it can cause you to get a little jumpy sometimes.

Last night I got completely creeped out when I exploring a town and I found another minibike! It reminded me of the book 'Robinson Crusoe' when he discovered the footprints of another person on his beach...That feeling of not being alone was decidedly eeie!

Is somebody else here?
It took me quite a few moments to eventually realise that my game had not been invaded by some interloper, but that I had abandoned this bike some time ago when I was killed when I first discovered this town!

...This is what happens when you play a game like this late at night on your own! :D

The End is Neigh!
As I said, I'm starting to get that feeling that I've broken the back of the game at this difficulty level now. Even Horde Nights are not that much of the challenge that they were. However, I'll continue a bit longer with this particular game as I still want to try out a few things, such as electrical items.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

7D2D - Sky High Loot

While the primary focus of 7 Days to Die is that seventh-day horde and you have to always be aware of that looming event there are lots of other things to for you to do. I really enjoy the exploration and looting across a large map.

There's nothing quite as exciting as spotting a new special point of interest!

The game has some very interesting special points of interest for you to raid, each with its own challenges and dangers. This week I took on one of the enormous skyscraper buildings that appear in the cities, there are several different types and each has its own particular theme, from pharmaceutical corporate headquarters to a construction site.

You can spend a whole day - or even multiple days - searching through these towering death traps and naturally, they are all occupied by the usual motley collection of hungry undead.

My first high-rise adventure presented me with a bit of a conundrum as most of the stairways to the top floors - where I suspected the best loot was to be had - were partially destroyed. Luckily I came armed with the 7D2D 'Swiss Army Knife - the wooden frame (and plenty of them) so I was eventually rewarded with this stunning view from the building's upper floors...

Clearing the tower floor by floor had already rewarded me with some reasonable loot, but as the danger escalated - with partially constructed and semi-destroyed floors - so the quality of the finds got better and better. So when I was presented with a terrifying obstical course to navigate I knew that there was going to be something special at the end to make its negotiation well worthwhile...

My trip up the tower was definitely not without its squeaky bum moments, 'special' zombies made more frequent appearances as I got closer to the top and I broke my ankle twice as I fell through dodgy floors (luckily I also came prepared with a number of splints). But my major advesary was time and it took two separate visits to this location to conquer the summit!

Even then the adventure ended with an Indiana Jones-style get-away as night-time fell as I made my final descent laden with my ill-gotten prizes. I only just avoided an angry wandering horde in the ground-floor lobby and made my get-away in a cloud of dust on my mini bike! Phew!

But it was all worth it and this was a well-spent couple of days out of my schedule as my haul copped me - amongst other goodies - my very first all purple quality weapons...

My first all-purple weapon.
Stuffed to the gunnels with loot it took me a while to sort and then put together my booty and decide what I was going to keep and what I was going to sell on for a tidy profit. My now numerous storage boxes are starting to get more and more organized as I collect a plethora of different types of items, here's just one of my weapon crates...

I now try not to fill each crate to the gunnels as that makes things harder to
find. Rather I leave space between types of items to make them easier to see.
I can't wait to get this beauty out next horde night...

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
After the excitement of my raid, it was actually nice to spend a day 'relaxing' at the construction site of my new base. This day proved to be just as productive, though, as I finally completed my 'phase 2' concrete fence around my compound. Better still was that I managed to attract the attention of a Screamer Zombie who in turn called up a mini-horde of nasties...Just what I needed to test my new barrier!

Conveniently, although the zombies could not get through my fence, once
dispatched their corses fell through, making it easy for me to loot them in safety!

The pleasant surprise was that my fence design worked perfectly, just how I hoped it would (I was a bit worried as I noticed a similar design in a YouTube video which had some crucial additions which my barrier didn't).

The premise is that the barrier (3000 strength concrete 'poles') would hold off a voracious horde - who I hoped would not be able to crawl through the gaps - while I would be able to have at them with my barbed club with impunity...It worked!

On cue, a single Spider Zombie tried to crawl under the lower posts but couldn't and presented his head as a very easy target for a good bashing. My only disappointment was that swinging my club sometimes made contact - and so damaged - my own barrier instead of the heads of the zombies. But, to get around this I switched to my Hunting Knike to stab through the gaps instead.

I may have to invest in the Machete now to up my 'entity damage' as my Hunting Knife doesn't do anywhere near the same damage to zombies as my beloved Spiked Club does. (Hunting Knife damage: (Current) 15 - Spiked Club damage (Max): 30 - Machete damage (Max): 30.)

Postscript: I later got a chance to try out my theory that the machete would compliment the concrete barrier...And it worked! The extra length of the machete blade allowed me to reach the zombies through the barrier and also caused greater damage...

Monday, 25 September 2017

7D2D - Day 91 Horde

Nightvision woes!
Is it me or is it the game? It seems crazy that when you activate night vision when using the sniper rifle that the sniper scope remains normal vision and therefore you can't see anything!

Surely, it would have made more sense that when using night vision that the sniper scope would them become a 'night scope' too? Or maybe I just haven't found the button for that? Anyway, this video - which shows the complete Day 91 Horde Night (21 minutes worth) illustrates the problem I am having...


As I say in the video, my plan was to use the sniper rifle to engage the incoming zombies further out and then to switch to the shotgun only if they got as far as my perimeter. But, I just couldn't see the zombies at a distance and had to take mid-range snapshots with my rifle instead.

Yes, I could have turned on the rifles torch, but the beam of that does not extend as far as I want (maybe I need a searchlight?)

I will try and come up with a solution to this problem for my next base, maybe by creating an additional barbed wire barrier further out so I can snipe long-range.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

7D2D - Progress Towards 3rd Base

Yes, I've nearly reached 3rd base...Har har har!

I've kept the design compact and simple in order to economise my resources and ensure that the compound is easily defendable (I can run quickly from one side to another).

This is my first completely new build - although I did incorporate a water tower - and I have used a lot of new materials such as concrete, reinforced concrete, and iron. There has also been a lot of thought - based on my experiences in my first two bases - that has gone into defensive architecture, like spike pits and perimeter fence design.

What you see in the above picture is 'phase 1', the tower, but this will be surrounded by a 'phase 2' perimeter fence. Eventually, I hope to build 'phase 3' outer defensive perimeter pits or motes, but the completed basic tower should be capable of holding off the current level of hordes I am seeing at the moment.

Working into the night on my 'phase 2' perimeter 'fence', which is actually a
concrete barrier. Hopefully, I will be able to use my melee club through the
bars (which should save on valuable ammo).

New Enemies, New Challenges
On each horde night (every 7 days) it seems that the level of difficulty is cranked up a notch. Special zombie types make an increasing appearance and things start getting a little hairy as you try to plug the increasing holes in your outer spike defenses. The last horde night saw the first appearance of the dreaded zombie bear...

Luckily for me, this beasty made his entry right at the end of the horde night when things were just starting the quiet down, so I was able to focus my attention on him. Even so, it to 5 headshots with my shotgun at point-blank range (he had gotten caught in my barbed wire fence) to take him down!

I dread the thought that there could be an irradiated version of this powerful zombie (the irradiated zombies slowly regenerate health so are a bitch to despatch). As a rule, I don't even take on the normal bear in this game but avoid them, same goes for wolves unless I know I absolutely have the advantage (I don't think there is a zombie wolf, at least I haven't seen one yet).

Exploring the Wider World
As much as you are consumed with the build-up to the horde night, you have to manage and your 7-day cycle between exploration, looting, scavaging (resource gathering), crafting and building. I have settled into a regular schedule of activities to ensure I get everything done that I need to do in time for the Blood Moon, it looks like this...

Cleanup & Repair: I loot the zombie carcasses and plug any major
holes in my defenses. I sort any loot and repair/improve

Any sellable items from my loot are taken to the trader and I buy
improvements to my inventory. I spend the rest of the day on a
journey to scout out any new cities, towns or likely sources
of new loot.

Resource gathering and production of materials for my
trip to my new base location.

Day spent moving important items to new base location and
Continuing the building of the base.

On the hunt for good loot and hunting for meat.
(If any good sellable loot is found then a quick visit
to the trader.)

Search for resources to help prepare for Horde Night.
In particular on the lookout for minerals to make ammo and
timber and iron for defensive items.

Defence improvements and ammunition production.

This is just a general guide, I do change the schedule to reflect urgent requirements plus there are the regular daily tasks I undertake (scavaging for food is always top of the list). On top of this, there is the lottery of the three-day airdrop (what goodies will I get), treasure hunts and quests.

One of the most exciting moments in the game is when you discover a new
city. The sight of tower blocks excites your appetite for new loot! 

However, aside from contributing to the looming Horde Night this variation of tasks keeps the game fresh and interesting and reflects my interest in tasks other than just the weekly game of 'Tower Defence'. I love the exploration and I am getting a lot of enjoyment out of designing and building my new base. And above all, I am always on the lookout for those invaluable parts to make or improve a tool or weapon...Finally creating a new more powerful or useful 'tool' always give me a buzz!

Monday, 18 September 2017

7D2D - Getting challenging

Due to some file corruption and the latest game update I had thought my game difficulty had flat-lined a bit. Horde nights weren't quite as challenging as I thought they should be.

Now, part of this is my fault. Because this is my first game of 7 Days to Die I probably set the overall game difficulty a little on the easy side, so now I'm progressing with my skills and am getting to know the game it feels a little pedestrian now...Well, it did...

At last...More challenging zombies!
Part of the problem was that the zombies I was encountering were the easier sorts, horde night just increased the number and their aggressiveness it seemed. But, from behind my walls, they were easy pickings.

But, over the past couple of horde nights I have - finally - started to see some of the more 'advanced' zombie types. The acid-spitting irradiated policeman and the feral 'whites' are starting to make an appearance, along with more spider zombies and troops of biker zombies.

They shall not pass!
My defences are holding though and - although I'm going through far too much ammunition - the zombie horde has still not breached my outer wall.

That said, my rather ad hoc base design is starting to look a bit shabby and 'bitty' now as I am constantly trying out new build ideas. It's a real patchwork of materials and blocks as I look for the best way to make a 'fortress'.

In fact, because I now have a plan for my new base build I've kinda given up any concerted and consistent new building at my current base - it's all just papering over any cracks. Also, I've resorted to the lazy approach to defence and am just piling on layers of cheap spikes to hold the zombies back.

An overview of the front of my current base with its layers upon layers of
spikes. Not the best defence, long term.

The trouble is that it looks like I will have to stay in this base a few more seven days while I finish off the basic construction of my new base. So it's a case of make do and mend, hence the ramshackle look.

This view of the back of my base illustrates my current strategy...

Next: First look at my new base (Base No. 3).

Saturday, 16 September 2017

7D2D Random Map Generation

One thing that's been niggling me since I started playing 7 Days to Die is my curiosity regarding exactly how the randomly generated world maps are created. I have lots of questions about how the developers went about creating their map algorithm, but at least I have had one of my questions answered...

Map Seed
I kept hearing the phrase 'map seed' bandied about by 7D2D vloggers and wondered what it was, was it a mod or a file you added to the game to get predictable types of random generation (yes, that sounds stupid)?

Well, mystery solved...

Is 'seeding' cheating?
Phew...Can of worms! I haven't gotten my head around this question, I suppose if you were a purest and played strictly 'hardcore' you might say it is cheating. After all, part of the challenge of the game is dealing with the hand you are given and a big part of that is the random factor so being able to squew the 'randomness' in your favour doesn't seem to be totally in the spirit of the game.

However, if you are just playing for fun and relaxation (seems funny thinking that games should be played any differently, but there are a lot of hardcore players out there who take 'playing' very, very seriously) then using seeding to make sure you have a fun and entertaining map seems fair enough.

Would I use seeding?
Yes. I am all 'seriousnessed out' after playing World of Tanks in a clan. You end up doing a lot of things because have to and not because you want to when you play a game 'seriously'. And I don't want that to happen to my 7 Days to Die play...I want to have fun.

Another questionable 'feature' of the game is that you can - if you want - take
a sneak peek at what your randomly generated world looks like in its entirety.
It's in actually the game options!

A case in point is a number of lakes in my current map, an issue mentioned in the above video. I have found a lot of lakes mean a lot of treasure and airdrops go to the bottom of them and that in turn means a lot of very tedious swimming and diving, And diving - at early stages in the game - can be quite dangerous.

I wish the devs would make a craftable small boat!