Chasing Truck Fever Part 3: Spend Less, Earn More

This is part of a series in Transport Fever to chase down the ‘Truck Fever’ achievement. Detailed first in Part 1, including a little setup on Calvin and Asher, who will be used as sort of a light story telling element alongside the game.

Setting up had been expensive. It was true you had to spend money to make money, but even Calvin began to realise that leaving not much more than a fart in the wind of their starting funds for operating expenses was perhaps… not entirely wise.

He had no interest in drawing down another loan, trading on his father’s name, but had allowed Asher to draw up the documents even so. It provided the fellow with a little peace of mind, so was worth the irritation. The hope was that in a few months the document could be ripped up.

And for a while, things were good. There was a celebratory round of drinks held as the loan contracts were torn and sent sprinkling out onto the street like confetti.

But perhaps this celebration was premature. As the wagons they owned aged, and horses died and needed replacing at ever increasing rates — the operating costs began to soar, while the income remained steady given the decision to hold off on capital expenses while a financial buffer was built.

It became clear to Calvin and Asher that it would be necessary to start a programme of work to replace the current fleet just to maintain position. After a quick discussion with the local banking office — there was some good news at least. They were prepared to tolerate a small degree of running in the red for operating expenses. Nothing could be purchased mind you without a positive balance, but there was a gentleman’s agreement in place not to come in pursuit of their assets for slight dips.

But otherwise, from there began a series of frustrations and pain. After a flurry of initial replacements — which did drop operating costs for a time — a significant advancement in how these cargo wagons are put together released to market. They could hold more AND travel faster. They required a larger horse team and so cost more to operate, but the speed and cargo increase more than made up for this expense.

Except… It didn’t. The problem was in sharing the road with the older wagons. There was no room to safely pass with the heavy stream of traffic in both directions. And so they were more often that not stuck riding at the heals of a slower traveler.

Asher tried hard to keep his worries to himself, but wore an unconscious frown more often than not. Calvin spent most nights in the bar nursing a drink. They both knew what they had to do, but struggled to put it to words.

Without additional capital, sure, they could keep this business going — but growth…? It seems they had failed at both aspects of the current plan. They were spending just as much if not more to keep the fleet up to date and running smoothly, and not earning more in turn.

Calvin downed his now mostly warm beer in a single chug and got up to leave. He wasn’t happy, per se, but at least with the decision made he could feel more resolute. Tomorrow he and Asher would take another loan and expand their area of control with all modern technology. Ideally on the power of his own name. But he had decided he would draw in his father’s if necessary.

Coming Games of Interest — March 2019 Onward

There is a lot coming out over the next little while that I’m quite interested to play. Normally, I’d just take things as they come. Really ‘seat-of-my-pants’ it. I still might. But I can feel the end of my tether fast approaching with the launch content of Anthem, so want to put down something of a plan. Well, less a plan, more a sketch of a plan. Rough though, very rough.

I’m currently sitting at 75-hours played and still enjoy the core gameplay experience. Enough so that I’m quite likely to finish the post-story Trial of Valour. There’s also a bit still to unpack in the Anthem Roadmap which will help going forward.

This wasn’t unexpected, after my second weekend with the demo I revised my expectations.

…if at launch, I can get somewhere in the region of 50-80 hours of it, accounting for going through the story, finishing up with the reputations and challenges I care about, perhaps getting into a decent set of Masterwork gear (with some legendaries scattered in) to such a point I can get into and do the Grandmaster difficulties? Then I’ll be happy that it was money well spent.

Naithin (2019), Anthem Impressions – Two Demo Weekends In

I am exactly there, and will end up with more hours than anticipated. Bonus. But this post isn’t meant to be about Anthem, it’s the ‘What’s Next’ post!

What’s Next?

The Division 2 — March 15th 2019

I have no plans to spend any time with the upcoming open-beta. I got my fill of the demo content during the private beta when that was on, in which I played a good amount of the early game PvE, the Dark Zone and the endgame PvE.

I won’t be taking any time off work for The Division 2 as I did with Anthem, so there will be a better pacing to the content it has to offer, I think. How I’ll split the time between Anthem’s content drops and this, I don’t quite yet know. It seems likely that this will be my primary game from March 15th for a while though.

Outward — March 26th 2019

Outward has somehow flown under my radar until very recently. It looked great even back in a 2016 PAX West trailer too. Now that I have seen it, I want it yesterday. Today would be next best.

If it has also passed you by until now — the concept puts you in the shoes of a nobody in an otherwise high-fantasy world. Your victories will be small in scale, but no less meaningful for it to start. Getting a backpack is a milestone to remember.

It will have survival elements, which is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. I won’t deny they certainly can be a nuisance if the frequency of needing to eat, drink, etc is too high.

The detail going into it have me incredibly interested. Oh, also? It features co-operative play, even local split-screen co-op. :o

I’ll be taking a look!

The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Expansion — June 4th 2019

You might remember in an effort to fill a gaming-gap, I started an adventure back into The Elder Scrolls Online.

I was really enjoying my adventures there and I still have… many hours ahead of me to finish the story content already available. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the original main story quest, and estimates for Morrowind and Summerset expansions put them in around 30-hours each to get through.1

There’s almost no way I’ll be ready for Elsweyr’s story at release. Not if I want to do things in order at least, which I do. ESO does scale all content to whatever you are if you’re personally more keen to just jump straight into what’s new.

That’s probably OK though, as ESO is going down a path similar to Guild Wars 2’s ‘Living World’ episodic structure, with a full year of content planned around the return of the Dragons to the world. The longer I wait, the more of this there will be. ;)

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Expansion — July 2nd 2019

Being honest, there is a huge element of FOMO2 going on with me and this title at the moment.

I’ve played the title before and never made it to end game. I was disheartened by frequent reports of end game raids being essentially unplayable from the Oceania region. Using the datacentres in Japan helped, but apparently still wouldn’t be enough for top-tier raids.

For the type of player I am3 this told me not to bother. I really don’t know how to play an MMO casually. Or more to the point, how to enjoy doing so.

If I make a return to FFXIV, it might be with a new perspective — less focusing on it as an MMO and more playing it for the story and the journey. Something I’ve done in my approach to ESO so far, and you know- I think it’s working.

Also? Gunblades. Yiss!

Survived the First Month!

I figured I’d better take a look, as I had an inkling that the first month’s anniversary of this place would be up soon. I thought it was a bit later in the month, but nope. Today. (Good thing I looked.)

Out of morbid curiosity, I also took a look at what the average life-expectancy of a ‘new blog’ is. The general answer I found is 100 days. I couldn’t see any sort of data to back that assertion and my own estimate would’ve put it at around 180 days. Either way, it’s not long.

My prior experience lasted multiple years, tis true. But that was also over several different blogging projects. One post when I’d made a return from an unscheduled hiatus on ‘Fun in Games’ (September 2011) had the following line in it:

My last post was back in May. My last regular post was from April. The last post of mine I actually liked was somewhere back in March.

Naithin on Fun in Games — now surviving via the Web Archive Project — Scroll down to ‘I’ll be Back’ post.

As great as the Web Archive Project is, it isn’t infallible (especially for smaller sites) so I can’t go back and see what post from March I would’ve been talking about. ‘Older Posts’ does go to a record of page 2, but it’s an older one, skipping March and going to February.

But it sounds like I’d lost the drive somewhere along the way, likely as a result of quitting WoW again. Despite nominally being a more general gaming blog, WoW was certainly at the centre of my posting there. I didn’t really break away from that until my last blog project, Modicum of Gaming1.

In any case — I want to beat the 100 day timeline. I want to beat the 365 day timeline. Longer. Maybe one day, even be grown-up enough in blogging (2+ years) to mentor new up and comers in a future Blaugust!

I don’t want to fade off again.

Planning for Success

Uh, right. This would be the part where, if I knew what I was doing, I’d outline the plans I have to ensure continued success. (Success at this point being defined simply as: Not stopping.)

Current Plans:

  • Post Schedule: Often..ish…? Oh, like days? … Yes.
  • Post Content: Also yes. Definitely need some of this. Loot…games?

OK, truth be told — it boils down to ‘wing it’. I’ve always been more of a discovery person than a planner person anyway.

Circling back to post-content again, and revisiting some of my old blogs thanks to the magic of the internet, I see I used to veer wildly off-topic. Well; at least from the ‘core’ topic of the games themselves.

There were community posts, various bloggerly type ideas and more. Some of those might even have been amongst my favourite content. So without going nuts on it (before I eventually created a more ‘IRL’ blog for writing, book reviews, etc) I think I’ll loosen the reigns a little bit on what I’ll ‘let’ myself cover here.

I found those posts to give me the best freedom of expression and ultimately the ability to find my own ‘voice’ in blogging. Something I’ve certainly struggled with since making a return, something I was discussing with Scopique from Levelcapped just earlier today.


Examining the Motives

I’d be lying if I even tried to claim I’m not interested in a readership. Of course I am. But if there is one piece of advice I feel confident in sharing to anyone planning to embark on the path of blogging, that is not to put this front and centre of your motivations — especially while starting out.

You need to be OK essentially just writing into the void to start with, building up content and readers slowly.

I’m good with this, and something that really stuck with me to help through this phase came from Wilhelm of The Ancient Gaming Noob, if you look at his About page, you’ll see the main expressed reason for writing is as a journal of gaming events, a personal history.

This resonates strongly with me and something I want to be able to do in the years to come. I cannot say how often I’ve attempted to go back and find old forum posts, to find old conversations and even try recall what my reasoning was for a given position on something.

Well, here we go. :)

That Said, How Did Month 1 Go?

1) What to Expect When You’re Expecting… (an Anthem Demo)
2) The Division 2 Private Beta – Early Impressions of Early Game
3) We Lost the Battle on Microtransactions
4) Seach Engine traffic ramps up — these must still be far, faaar beyond page 1 clicks, but it’s gone from at best 1-2 a day through to 12 three days ago, and 19 yesterday. The screenshot was taken earlier today, but I expect today’s overall traffic to end up somewhere similar to yesterday.

It has been an interesting month to be sure. Not shown on that chart is the day or two prior where I’d written the about page and the ‘Hello!‘ post, but had not yet so much as tweeted the existence of this place.

I’ve changed the theme no less than three times, the header banner no less than twice. And the thrust of the blog? Now once, given my interest in pursuing a wider array of topics than I was perhaps allowing myself to before.

In terms of posting, I joked about this in the prior section, but this will be post 25 in a bit over 30 days. Is that a pace I can maintain? Uncertain. I used to average around 2 posts a week, but I have felt no ill effects of the current pace.

I’ll take it as it comes, I think, with an expected minimum of one a week barring time away and that kind of thing.

Overall I’m happy. I’m still finding my feet again to be sure but it has been really great reacquainting myself with the blogger community new and old and in general discovering that blogging still has a place in the world.

I had started to fear that perhaps the likes of YouTube and Reddit even had fully consumed the niche blogging had in the world. Perhaps they have eaten blogging’s lunch a little, but it seems we have plenty of life to go on with yet. :)

Hello!

Yes! Hi! Welcome. You’re likely wondering what this place is to be about. Although if you got as far as ‘Loot’–well, that was easy. It’s in the name! I hope you’re not after too much praise for that. ;)

I love games that give you the chance to collect loot and put it together in interesting ways. Gear that can change the way you play through skill modification or synergies is where it’s at for me. ARPG, CRPG, Looter Shooter–the genre matters less than the interesting layering of systems allowing for depth of theory- and build-crafting.

The caveat? There must also be a compelling enough end-game to test yourself against and feel the power progression you’re going through.

Of course, I can’t cover ’em all – so what’s on the horizon? What was so exciting it drove me to come out of a 5-year blogger-hibernation to kick this project off?

Anthem

Bioware's Anthem - Ranger exosuit flying through explosions over rocky terrain.

The game I currently pin my gaming hopes and dreams on. I very nearly created a blog name to focus on Anthem alone.

But… as I’m yet to lay hands on it myself–I did consider this perhaps a little risky. ;) There is a ‘VIP’ Demo1 dropping Jan 25th-27th which will let me dive into a slice of the game. Posting of impressions, screenshots and even video will be allowed, so keep an eye out for that.

If you’d like to get your own hands on Anthem and check things out, there will be a completely Open-to-Everyone Demo coming Feb 1st-3rd. You can find more information about the demos here.

There is reason for hope already though–the Bioware team have been incredibly transparent with Anthem so far, with plenty of detailed videos available, answering questions frequently on Twitter and even EA looks to be making nice with the consumer this time around. There will be no loot boxes and story DLC to be free to all players.

While there will be MTX (micro-transactions), you will know exactly what you’re getting and for how much with no gambling involved. Even better, you will also be able to buy cosmetics with an in-game earned currency rather than real money.

So! All going well with the game–expect me to cover Anthem extensively. Group play, solo play, best ways to get the fanciest of loot drops and some analysis on the best ways to put it all together. I’ll cover the big news up to launch, and provide you with impressions from the VIP and Open Demo sessions.

The hype machine rolls into gear–and dammit, after a year or two of ignoring it–I’ve been sucked in, hook, line, sinker.

What if Anthem doesn’t work out?

I think it will; I really do. But there is certainly enough concern over the quality of the enemy behaviours / AI and general game difficulty–alongside not yet having tried it–that I do have a contingency plan.

The Division 2 screenshot - remains of a downed passenger plane in the background with a heavily armored enemy being fought by two division agents.

I’ll fallback to The Division 2 should Anthem need a little more time in the oven.

Honestly–with the amount of fun my friends and I had in The Division 1, it’s a given that we’ll give The Division 2 a try at some point.

I have a few concerns that the simplification and streamlining that The Division 2 is incorporating might be going a little too far, but nonetheless I have little doubt that there will still be a solid play experience to be had here.

Wrapping up

So in summary:
Anthem will be the big main game of this blog for the forseeable future. (Unless it wah-wah’s out of the gate of course, then The Division 2 will need to rise to the challenge.)

The intent will be to cover the main news and info shares from the developers in the lead-up to release and any opinions I may have on them.

When the demos hit–I’ll be sure to share my impressions, take some screenshots, that kind of thing.

Post launch we’ll dive into build guides, theory crafting, best ways to get loot, run missions – all that good stuff.

Can’t wait to share the experience with you!