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...

DAY 1 (DAY AFTER HORDE NIGHT)
Cleanup & Repair: I loot the zombie carcasses and plug any major
holes in my defenses. I sort any loot and repair/improve
weapons.

DAY 2 - TRADER & EXPLORATION DAY
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.

DAY 3 - NEW BASE PREPARATION DAY
Resource gathering and production of materials for my
trip to my new base location.

DAY 4 - NEW BASE BUILD DAY
Day spent moving important items to new base location and
Continuing the building of the base.

DAY 5 - LOOT DAY & HUNTING
On the hunt for good loot and hunting for meat.
(If any good sellable loot is found then a quick visit
to the trader.)

DAY 6 - RESOURCE GATHERING DAY
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.

DAY 7 - HORDE NIGHT PREPARATION
Defence improvements and ammunition production.

This is just a general guide, I do change the schedule to reflect urgent requirements plus there is the regular daily task 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!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

7 Days to Die - Base No. 2 Tour


Just as humanities evolution progresses through a series of technological stages so does your progress through 7 Days to Die. I'm at - what I would call - the 'Iron and Flagstone' age, though I have just started dabbling with some steel items.

I have just finished my video tour of this - my second - base in my first season of 7 Days to Die. So, without further ado, welcome to 'Casa Milgeek'...



Apologies for the mixed quality of this video, by the way, but I was trying out both some new software and a new microphone (so I was continually tinkering with settings and levels). I also split the editing between Mac and PC - just to compare workflow - and brought the footage, graphics and audio files together on the PC in Power Director 15.

My 'Death Garden'...Please do stand on the 'grass'!
My 'zombie-proof' (?) minibike storage solution.

Hopefully, I will get better than this...But - unfortunately - I cannot change the fact that my voice has absolutely no personality whatsoever! That's just the way it is, I'm afraid.

:)

Friday, 8 September 2017

7 Days to Die - The game I've Been Looking For!

First off, a bit of an update about Milgeek (again). Quite simply, when I was in full employment in my last big crappy job I used to Blog a lot because I had lunch-hours with not much else to do. But since I packed that job in and was ill for a long period I didn't have the same incentive to blog on a regular basis. In short, I have been spending my time over the last year (when I've been well enough) to actually do things instead of just blogging about doing things!

This little lot has kept me occupied over the last year!
Computer Gaming Update
That said, I'm now in a happier spot where I feel more relaxed about my free time and how to spend it. I have a more settled weekly schedule and things are getting back to normal, so I have decided the time is right to wire (semi-regularly) again...

The big news regarding my leisure schedule is that I have finally found a computer game that has me really immersed and committed. World of Tanks was always really a concession to my fellow BIG clan friends, I played it (mostly) because they played it so when BIG clan ceased to exist the incentive to continue with WoT just wasn't there.

Playing WoT with a clan became a constant grind for the latest biggest tank.
Not so interesting for me as I actually prefer the mid-tier tanks.

Having a lot of time with my feet up over the past year did mean that I began to watch a lot of YouTube though and I started to look at what games were popular in the zombie/survival genre. I'd never really got into the whole Day-Z and RUST thing, but I did enjoy watching several YouTubers' game-vlogs on them. And Sony's H1Z1 was an unmitigated lemon as far as I was concerned.

Still, I retained an interest in the genre and a Kickstarter project called 'Survive the Nights' piqued my interest, partly because one of the lead developers is from Hull! (So has a lot of experience dealing with zombies!)



Unfortunately, STN has had a -> L...O...N...G  <- development period and it's only now about to be released in a limited Alpha form, so I have been bereft of a favoured game for quite some time...

Then I started watching a couple of game-vlogs by Starsnipe and Kage848 and their adventures with a game called '7 Days to Die' and I started to take an interest.

7 Days To Die - Minecraft for Grown-ups?
The above title fairly much says it all, 7D2D reminds me of Minecraft but with 'realistic' graphics (in relative terms). Having said that, 7D2D is not a new game and, in fact, it is quite a few years old. I remember looking at it when it first came out but the feedback was so negative then that I passed it by, but over the proceeding years the developers have stuck with it and eventually they have produced a very decent game in terms of game play.

You do have to consider its age and the game engine it uses when you look at the quality of graphics, but the do the job.

My first couple of attempts at the game were unsatisfying and short, due mainly
to my not understanding the basic game settings nor how the game world was
generated...My pitiful attempt to survive in a winter environment was mercifully
short. As in real life, it's sorta all about location!
I've been tentatively tinkering with the game for a couple of weeks now (convinced by Starsnipe's videos that the game is fun) and after a few aborted attempts, I have started my first serious play-through (albeit on an easier setting due to my learning the controls and crafting system).

Caveat: I set the game to an easier level while I learnt and opted not to 'hard core' it and have died and respawned several times. Accepting the respawn turned out to be the right decision as I seem to die through silly reasons, not because of the zombies so much. Once I fell off a roof and another time - after a mega fight with a zombie and a dog which I just survived - I died when I backed onto a cactus! I also activated the 'cheat mode', just so I could fly around taking some screenshots.

OK, Let's Not Die...Oh, I'm Dead!
My first serious playthrough actually started quite well and I was very lucky with my spawn as I materialised near a very nice log cabin in a woodland area which - importantly - was near a town...


Early on wood is your best friend (snigger)! Seriously, every tool, weapon and building will be made essentially of wood, plant fibre or small stones. But, you will soon want to move on.

In my case, I got the first Blood Moon horde out the way (Day 7) in my reinforced log cabin before I felt I had enough strength and skills and equipment to even attempt building a base in a town. For all that there was some nice sturdy brick building in the town - which I scouted out - I knew I would have to do some preparation and defensive reinforcement before I took the plunge and moved in permanently.

'You Were Only Supposed to Blow the Bloody Doors Off!'
The best-laid plans of mice and men... By the time I moved into my new abode I thought I had prepped well. Ha ha ha ha, how naive.

I made sure my defences were all in place in time for the Day 14 horde and I was lucky with my air drops and got a very nice pistol and a decent amount of 9mm ammo. What I didn't know, however, was that building a wrecked car into your spiked post perimeter as a makeshift obstacle is a very bad idea, as the following picture illustrates...


The huge crater and decimated defences were the results of a couple of zombies taking it upon themselves to disassemble the abandoned car just outside my front door! Nobody told me that zombies attacking a car could make the car explode! Bye bye defences, though bye bye zombies too.

And so went my comedy of errors. Though I did manage to survive the subsequent horde nights (Day 21, Day 28, Day, Day 35, Day 42, and so on), always by the skin of my teeth but it was hugely enjoyable and challenging.

A Balancing Act...With the Undead
7 Days to Die is a very nice combination of resource management, exploration and tower defence games. In the six days between hordes, you must restock resources, repair defences, explore and scavenge, upgrade your skills AND not get eaten. (Watch out for the packs of zombie dogs!)

Get it right and you will be prepared for the next horde, but skimp on your resource grinding and Sod's Law dictates that the zombies will exploit the weakness in your perimeter. That's just the way it is.


The AI is just OK (during the day - 4am-10pm - the zombies are the classic slow shambler, but between 10pm and 4am they become the World War Z sprinters) though at times it's spooky how the zombies seem to know exactly where you do not want them to attack or they come from exactly the wrong direction that you had prepared for. Progressively the waves get bigger and more aggressive and dangerous types of zombies will appear.

Unfortunately, due to either a corrupted file or as the results of an update bug my game progression seemed to have flat lined after Day 21 and I may be forced to manually up the game difficulty level to compensate. This video of my defence on Day 49 illustrates my point, it seemed a little easier than I would have expected at this stage in the game...


Having said that I am really enjoying this game, more than I have any other game for a long, long time. It has its quirks and the graphics aren't spectacular but I keep going back for more - in fact, I am already planning my next base having discovered my first big city...

Gaining the skill and tools to be able to craft the mini bike really opens up the
game in so many ways. Exploring becomes a less risky and far more rewarding
proposition. You never have to worry about making it home on time!
Having learned the principals of the game with this first play-through I'll be ready to try a restart with a higher difficulty level, with the additional challenge of trying not to die as much. But, in the meantime, I'll be continuing with my current adventure and build my city base before trying a restart.

The foundation of my latest base and I'm putting a bit of planning into it from
the bottom up, instead of the rather ad-hoc and organic reinforcement of existing
buildings that I have done so far. I'm also using advanced materials, like re-
enforced concrete and steel and I'll even be trying out electrical gadgets!
I'll stay in my current base for the Day 56 horde and then work to move into the new city base in time for the Day 63 Blood Moon. I'm hoping I have planned and prepared enough and that the new materials I am using for my latest build will save me from the horde...

It's an addictive recipe - looting, crafting, up-skilling, base building and defending - and one that has me gripped. It's nice to feel that way about a game again and when I do tire of 7D2D there is always 'Survive the Nights' to look forward to, with it's even better graphics and novel psychological aspects which should make surviving the z-pocalypse even more challenging.