Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 37

Chapter 37
"So what's the plan?" Fae spoke as close to August's ear as she could reach, sitting on the back of the solar-powered cycle as it rolled down the highway.
August chuckled. "I thought you didn't believe in planning. I thought you only wanted to kick butt."
Fae rolled her eyes. "I'm not stupid, August. I know this is different than a bunch of zombies."
August agreed. "The mundanes will be okay, but the Transformed will be tough…"
"Oh, please. Everyone moves so slow. Even those fast zombies moved slow to me. How much faster is a vampire?" She giggled. "Besides, I'm impervious to harm."
August's voice grew serious. "Because a fast zombie couldn't hurt you doesn't mean nobody else can. You're being a little reckless, Fae."
"Reckless Fae. That's me."
August shook his head. "I'm serious, Fae. I don't know how many Transformed there will be. There might be quite a few like you, too."
Fae paused. "I guess I didn't think of that."
"Can you sense them or something?" August asked.
"Like what? Werewolf radar?" Fae screwed her face up. "I don't know. I doubt it. Maybe I can tell by how they smell or how their hearts beat or something…"
August steered around a hole in the road, the tall buildings of Las Vegas now visible in the distance. "I'm worried because you need more training," he said.
"Yeah, I guess I do." She brightened. "I'm good at throwing rocks, though. I used to bean the nasty dogs that came around our neighborhood. I was a good shot."
"Have you practiced shooting?"
"No. Dad didn't believe in guns. Nancy does, but she says there isn't enough ammo to practice with. She says to get good I have to shoot a lot. She did show me how to shoot, though. I was okay."
"So you can hit the broad side of a barn?" August grinned. "So let's assume that Sam has Maddie for some nefarious purpose, but she's also bait, probably for Jed." August rolled his shoulders, thinking aloud. "It might be worse than that. Sam told Lone Wolf he saw pictures of us, so it might be he wants Lone Wolf. Or me." August sighed and Fae could feel his heart speed up.
"Or both of you," Fae said. "Or he wants Maddie. She is really pretty."
"Sam's note said 'Bring the girl to me at the Bellagio.' That's stupid," observed August.
"Why is that stupid?" asked Fae.
"If you're my boss, you tell me to 'bring the girl' and you don't need to tell me where. How would his boss even know about Maddie? If he did know about Maddie and wanted her, he could have sent more than Sam to get her." August grunted. "No, it's a note written to get someone to go to the Bellagio and walk into a trap."
Fae was quiet for a moment. "So what are we going to do?"
August sighed. "I'm going to the Bellagio and walk into a trap."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Starbound - Survival Food Hints

Starbound. I suggest you play the game a little bit on Casual instead of Survival. It takes a while to manage eating food and not dying, and Casual is much more forgiving. You die in casual and you lose 10% of your pixels (money) and respawn on your ship. You can teleport to your ship from anywhere.

Not so in Survival! You lose 30% of your pixels, all your gathered materials (you do keep your weapons and armor and I think most of "first tab" stuff). You have to eat to stay alive or you can starve to death. You can only teleport to your ship from the surface. That actually turns out to be a pain. The worst thing that can happen is to be in the bowels of the planet and you realize you have no food left and you need to get to the surface! Ouch.

HINT: If this happens, and you are fortunate enough to find a portal to a challenge level, you can go there and die. You'll then respawn on your ship with only pixel loss.

So learn to play the game a bit in Casual. Learn how to move the character, how to fight and how to craft items. Casual lets you take your time without dying of hunger.

Darling and I actually played together on Casual and defeated the final boss.

When you feel ready, move on to a Survival game.

So let's talk food. IMPORTANT - you eat food by opening your inventory (I), selecting the food to eat, and clicking on or near your character's hungry mouth. That one baffled me for a bit. You cannot eat if you're already full.

You have some cans of food from the starting sequence of the game. One can of food will fill you. Since it takes a while to earn enough to compress pixels, and you lose 30% of your pixels when you die, I liked buying more cans of food from the grocery store at the end of the world. They don't spoil. Only carry one or two with you into the depths, though. If you die, you drop them!

Early in the game, you will find edible plants on the surface of your home planet. If you are lucky, you might find rice, but you will probably find tomatoes, potatoes and corn. Use E to capture your food, and your MM (Matter Manipulator) to grab the seed.

Make a hoe at your Foraging Table. Till the earth near your landing site. You do this by equipping the hoe and tapping the dirt near you. You can tell it is tilled because the ground changes texture. You cannot till stone, so you need to replace the stones with dirt - just like in real life.
Yeah, I grew food on my ship!

Plant seeds in the tilled soil. Equip the seed and click it on the surface. If the icon is red, you need to move the seedling until the icon is green. Some plants take more room than others. Potatoes and carrots don't take much room, but corn takes a lot.

Then you must water the plant to make it produce. Rain might help, but you should make a watering can at your Foraging Table and water the plants. I did that when I made my mini-garden on my ship.

My favorite food to plant is rice, because (like vine plants) you don't harvest the produce with the seed, and the rice stacks! Stalk plants like tomatoes and corn reduce the amount of time you need to maintain your garden. Harvesting potatoes and carrots also pulls up the seeds, so you need to replant after every harvest. Potatoes are almost vital, though, because one baked potato lasts you a long time. When you have some rice, tomatoes, corn or potatoes, use E on a campfire and you have some cooking options. Bake the potatoes, stew the tomatoes and pop the corn. Your food lasts a while in your inventory, but will spoil eventually. If you hover over the food item, you can see the ones that are starting to go bad. Eat those first.

Don't eat raw meat. You get sick. Some plants also make you sick if you don't cook them (I'm looking at you, Toxic Fruit). You can cook meat over a campfire. You have a better chance of the animal dropping meat (or crafting materials) if you use a distance weapon.

Carry a campfire with you. If you can find some rice - fabulous. Plant as much of that as you can. You can carry rice with you, uncooked, and it lasts a LONG time (I've never seen it spoil). When you get hungry, drop a campfire and cook a portion. The rice also stacks - the cooked rice does not. Potatoes, tomatoes and corn don't stack either.

Free kitchen.
You need an upgraded Inventor's Table to make one of your own.
At the Outpost, there is a cooking station you can use to make more advanced food, but by this time you can make enough food to keep you alive. Now you want to gather the seeds to feed you and start to make a profit from farming!

That's a future post!

Enjoy the game.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all


It is the Season of Love.

Let me tell you about the greatest present I ever received, the greatest significant event of my life.

It started on the first Christmas. A virgin birthed the Son of God in a small town called Bethlehem. Joseph fled with Jesus and Mary to Egypt, then returned to Israel, where Jesus grew up in Nazareth. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. When He began His earthly ministry, his cousin John the Baptist heralded His coming as the Messiah, the Savior of the World. After three years of ministering to His followers, Jesus the Christ went to the cross and gave His life and paid the price for the sins of all mankind.

Jesus Christ fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, many of them written in the book of Isaiah, a book found in the Dead Sea scrolls and carbon dated to over two hundred years before the birth of Jesus. (My cousin, an awesome writer, posted more about this on Facebook.)

He did this out of Love - love for me, and love for you. That gift, given freely to all men, cannot and will not ever be taken away, but you must receive it. Like a Christmas present, you do not want to leave it under the tree and have it put back into the closet, never to be opened.

I accepted that gift in 1974. Since then I have failed many, many times. Here's the key, though. The Life of Jesus Christ is the GIFT of God and we do not earn it. Indeed, the God of the Universe, who knows you better than you know yourself accepts you as you are if you simply receive and open His gift.

The Gift of Transformation, the Gift of Sanctification, the Gift of Love from God Most High, the Holy One, Jesus Christ.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

You can open your present now. Merry Christmas to all.
Caution - Contains Awesomeness

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Starbound - Stepped Up Casual Gaming

December 24, 2016 - and Merry Christmas Eve to everyone!

As you are no doubt aware, I am a gamer. I was a gamer before it was a cool thing. We hid in darkened rooms with our Commodore 64 machines and played Bard's Tale (the original - what a rush). We upgraded to the Amiga and slobbered over the fabulous graphics, but still fell back to the game play of King's Quest. I could make a list - and I think I did once. I'll post it if I find it.

One of my all-time favorite games was Darklands, and if you ever played it - welcome, my friend! I still have the original disks, box and game book for that one. I also have a CD with the final released version of the game.

Now I play Skyrim and Fallout - and it won't be many years until we are all playing true VR games. Not quite the holodeck, but we're getting there.

We played World of Warcraft for over a decade, but it grew old and stale (sorry, Blizzard) and we left and never really returned.

We play Minecraft, and I have some posts on that. Darling has created amazing worlds in Minecraft, so a huge thank you to Notch for developing that game.

We played Terraria on the plane back from Africa a few years ago. My iPad managed to play it for hours (thank goodness, since the flight was over thirty hours to get home).

Now there's Starbound, which is likely to win the “I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won An Award” and it's true! So if you play on Steam, go grab this one. It's only ten bucks. 
You can play on Survival mode

So I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. 

but even casual mode is cool.

Christmas is my favorite holiday - because He came to Earth knowing He was heading for the cross, and He did it for me - and for everyone.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

That's the true gift of Christmas, and I wish it for everyone.

But Starbound could make a pretty nice present, too. Go have a look.

God bless you all, and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 36

Chapter 36
A blazing sun filled Jed's dreams and burned his skin. He tasted the salt from the ocean that pounded out of sight, over the hills of yellow sand. The waves flowed to the shore and receded, commanded by a deep, powerful voice singing a song that made no sense, yet eased Jed's pain.
Jed opened his eyes, but it was still dark and he could see nothing. Sweat covered his body and he felt the tiny pains of small twigs and leaves as they stuck to his naked skin.
"Ah, Jed, you're awake." He knew the voice.
"Lone Wolf? Jed tried to sit up, but found his limbs too weak. He closed his eyes and breathed, the air around him filled with a sweet, smoky smell. "Where are we?"
"I made a sweat lodge. I had to purge the poisons from your system." Jed sensed Lone Wolf's shrug. "It's crude, but it's the best I could do. I didn't have a lot of time." Lone Wolf lifted Jed's head and held a cup of cold water to his lips. Jed drank greedily, emptying the cup.
"The weakness will pass soon, Jed. Then we should continue our journey." Jed heard Lone Wolf fill the cup again. He drank the cool liquid. This time it seemed tinged with something bitter.
"I spoke with August before I came after you, Jed. He planned to go to Vegas to get Maddie from Sam." Lone Wolf spoke calmly.
Jed wrinkled his forehead. "So Sam is going to Vegas."
"It appears so, perhaps at the request of someone who signs his instructions with 'Dr. M.D.'."
"Dr. Doctor? That's odd."
"Sadly, it is very likely the same person who engineered August's capture many years ago." Lone Wolf said. "He said you know the story."
"Most of it. None of the rescue," said Jed.
Lone Wolf cleared his throat. "A story for another time, perhaps. Your father was an amazing man and a great friend to me."
"We have to get Maddie. And we can't let August go alone."
"I agree. We are, however, already a day behind August." Lone Wolf smiled. "Though I think I might know a way to catch up to him." Jed felt Lone Wolf's strong arms behind him as he helped him up. "You can wash in the river next to us. Then we can go."
Jed looked around at the darkness, puzzled. "Lone Wolf, why is it so dark?"
A long moment passed. "Jed, it's noon. We are shaded, but it is not dark."
Jed passed his hand in front of his eyes. "Then we have another problem." He placed both palms against his closed eyelids. "I think I'm blind."
Lone Wolf leaned forward, patting his horse on the neck. "We're almost there, Gizhii. Just over the next rise." The big horse snorted and shook his head.
"Am I adding too much weight?" Jed sat behind Lone Wolf, relaxed and moving up and down with the horse's rhythm.
Lone Wolf smiled. "No, Gizhii can take a lot more weight than this. He's a little bored. I'm making him go too slowly." Lone Wolf patted the horse's neck again. "How's your eyesight?"
"Things are blurry. I can make out shapes and shadows." Jed rolled his shoulders to loosen them. "What does 'Gizhii' mean?"
"It means 'fast'," Lone Wolf chuckled. "Depending on the usage, though, it can also mean 'loud', but don't tell Gizhii."
Jed laughed.
They rode in silence for a while. "So what do you think was wrong with me? I don't get sick."
Lone Wolf nodded. "I thought about it quite a bit. We suspect Sam infected everyone with this werewolf virus, but that should not have affected you." Lone Wolf paused. "I think Sam poisoned you, probably to force August to pursue him, taking Maddie as bait." Gizhii moved over the top of a hillock and started down toward a farmhouse in a small valley. "Not a bad plan, but not a great one. I think the poison he gave you made you susceptible to the werewolf virus despite being Transformed."
"So I was poisoned and sick. Great," Jed muttered.
"You were much closer to death than I care to tell you, Jed. Gizhii and I found you barely in time."
"Thank you, Lone Wolf," Jed said. He reached up and patted Lone Wolf's shoulder. "I can never repay you."
"It is what family does for each other, Jed Stone. And you are family to us." Lone Wolf let Gizhii trot into the front yard of the small farmhouse. "We are here."
They dismounted and Jed stretched his legs. Lone Wolf disappeared into the barn, whose double doors stood wide open. He wasn't gone a minute when a thin, wiry man came toward Jed, carrying a rifle. He had shoulder-length raven-black hair and eyebrows like furry black and white caterpillars. He stood five inches shorter than Jed, but the rifle he carried was full sized. Jed could see the fuzzy outline of both man and rifle. He didn't move.
"Not too keen on strangers here, young fella." He brandished the rifle back toward the road. "Best mosey back where you came from, and we'll be fine." His deep-set, dark brown eyes glared at Jed from a tanned face, tinged with age, but showing no signs of whiskers.
"Caru! Is that any way to treat a guest?" Lone Wolf walked from the barn, smiling.
Caru lowered his rifle and wrapped bronzed arms around Lone Wolf. "Lone Wolf! It has been a long time, Brother!"
Lone Wolf pointed at Jed, grinning at Caru. "And why were you giving Jed such a hard time? You know Gizhii, so you knew it was me."
Caru laughed. "Well, I have so little time for fun anymore, especially with young people." His eyebrows raised and looked like they were going to crawl off his head. He addressed Jed. "You are a young person, right? Not like Lone Wolf here?"
Jed looked at Lone Wolf quizzically and replied to Caru. "Yes, I'm still young, but I'm working on getting older." He held out his hand. "Jed Stone."
"Stone?" Caru stood back and looked at Jed intently. "Yeah, I see your old man in you, now that you mention it." He nodded his head. "A good man in some very bad times," he added.
"So I always thought," said Jed, smiling.
"We need a lift, Caru." Lone Wolf waved at a large barn at the edge of a long field. "You still have your plane?"
"Of course I still have my plane. And it flies," said Caru. "If I could find more fuel, I'd fly more often, but we do what we can. I keep her in shape, though." He narrowed his eyes. "Where do you need to fly to?"
"Vegas." Lone Wolf said.
Caru stepped back, his mouth dropping open. "No! Not that again…"
Lone Wolf nodded. "It's a long story, but I'm afraid so. And August is voluntarily walking into it this time." Lone Wolf looked at the short Indian. "I can fly it, you know."
"Yeah, I know you're a pilot. She doesn't fly without me. That's the bottom line," Caru said.
"I didn't want to involve you if I didn't have to."
"Involve me?" Caru laughed, gasping and finally catching his breath. He wiped the tears from his eyes. "Lone Wolf, I volunteer, like last time." He motioned to the two men and they walked toward the house, leaving Gizhii to graze on the tough grass in the yard. "It can't be the same guy, can it?"
Lone Wolf shrugged as they entered the neat house. "We don't know, but it is likely."
"Ah, we should have shot him the first time. I always said so." Caru reached in a box and pulled a thick loaf of dark brown bread from it, tossing it to Lone Wolf. He disappeared into the pantry and came out with a large block of cheese and a huge sausage, which he set on the table. He put a large knife on the table for cutting the food.
He bowed his head. "Lord, we thank you for this food. I thank You for this company. And thanks for proving me right, even if I had to wait a decade for You to do so. Please bless the food."
"And the cook," added Jed. Lone Wolf nodded. Jed's hunger took over and he started eating.
Caru talked while he stuffed food in his mouth, chewing vigorously. "Vegas. About 450 miles, give or take. Close to three, three and a half hours." He looked at Lone Wolf. "August coming back on the plane?"
Lone Wolf shrugged. "Don't know yet. There might be more than August. Probably Maddie…" Caru raised his eyebrows and Lone Wolf pointed at Jed. "… his wife."
"Plane seats four, total," said Caru.
Lone Wolf paused. "We'll figure something out. Will you wait for us at the airport?"
"I hate sitting around in airports," Caru said, sitting back in his wooden chair.
"Everyone does," Jed said, around a mouthful of sausage.
Caru laughed. "No, I'm in for the whole adventure. Life is peaceful, but sometimes you need some excitement, you know?"
Lone Wolf indicated the rifle in the corner. "You have much ammo for that thing?"
Caru shook his head. "Nope. A couple boxes. Using a bow most days. I have plenty of arrows."
"Just like the old days," Lone Wolf commented.
"Your old days, not mine. I grew up with guns and television and rock and roll." Caru's eyes twinkled. "I miss the guns, but I still have the rock and roll." He looked at Lone Wolf, still grinning, and pointed at Jed. "The kid can put the food away, can't he?"
Jed barely looked at them, the food disappearing as fast as he could chew it.
Lone Wolf smiled at Jed. "He's had a tough few days."
Caru shrugged and got up from the table. "Well, I guess you can tell me the whole story while we get the plane ready."
Jed looked up as the two men stood. "I'm sorry. I'm so hungry." He staggered as he stood up. "And now I'm so tired…" Jed started to topple to the floor but Caru caught him, lifting him and carrying him to a long sofa.
He looked down at the sleeping Jed. "Well, that's odd. I guess it has been a rough few days," he said to Lone Wolf.
Lone Wolf took Jed's pulse. "He'll be okay. I think it's exhaustion. Nothing we can do about it now." He looked at Caru. "When can we leave?"
Caru headed for the door, Lone Wolf close behind him. "Two hours, maybe less. We'll be in Vegas by mid-afternoon." He chuckled. "We'll let the kid sleep. The young always need more sleep anyway."