Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Author: Karel Kerezman (Page 4 of 393)

Satisfactory: Tips For And From The Casual Gamer

All I’ve posted about so far this year is this one silly game, but hey, before Satisfactory came along I was lucky to manage one post per month. I’ll ride this content train as long as it lasts, absolutely.

Rather than talking about a specific build, today I wanted to share some tips for people who might be interested in the game but feel daunted by what looks like a challenging mountain of highly technical tasks. I am, let’s be clear, an absolute “filthy casual” of a player. This description applies to nearly every game I play, because I’m really just here to relax and amuse myself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being highly competitive or taking a game super-seriously if that’s your thing, mind you, but neither of those mindsets suit me at all.

So, if you’re sort of like me and want to putter around in this game, I’d like to offer some modest advice that might help.

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Satisfactory: Copper Redux

How about a game status update for the thing that has taken over most of my free time this past month? (Yes, I bought it on Dec 3rd 2020 and here it is, Jan 3rd 2021 and the honeymoon ain’t over yet.) I managed to send up another shipment via the space elevator, which means I unlocked the potential to make petroleum products such as plastics and fuel from the newly-available oil.

The operative word there is, “potential.” In order to take advantage of the ability I’ll need to craft a bunch of materials needed to build the production facilities. I have a spreadsheet for tallying up the requirements.

Yes, a spreadsheet. For a video game. No, I don’t know what sort of stranger I’m becoming, either.

At any rate, a big part of today’s session involved retooling my meager copper operation into something which can crank out more materials, faster, routed and stored more usefully. I need Wires (made from copper) to pair with Steel Pipes (made from steel, which is made from iron and coal) to make Stators which, when paired with the Rotors that the iron works produces, makes Motors, and I need hundreds of those to get the oil fields project running.

You get the idea. Maybe.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2020

Was this a hellyear? I can’t imagine anyone (other than the billionaires who got richer than ever) answering in the negative on that one, can you? I don’t need to recap the crappy parts, so I’ll leave off 20-effing-20 with a few bullet points of positivity.

  • This wasn’t the year I became diabetic, it’s just the year I was diagnosed. It is, thus, also the year during which I got my blood sugar down below the danger level via diet changes, an exercise routine, and a medicinal regimen. I’m counting that a win.
  • Some great new music entered my library this year, including a new Midnight Oil EP-length entry, The Makarrata Project, which was quite the surprise since they’d essentially retired & disbanded some time ago. Assemblage 23 came through during the grim middle slog of the year with the stupendous Mourn. Pet Shop Boys started the year with Hotspot, which includes some all-time gems. Also in January, Mono Inc gave us The Book of Fire and Apocalyptica went back to their instrumental roots for Cell-O. A friend suggested Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure record, and so I shall suggest it to you as well.
  • While the transition to work-from-home hasn’t been a thoroughgoing delight, I can’t complain about my employers hunkering down and finding ways to keep the outfit afloat during these challenging times. I am supremely fortunate to work for these people, make no mistake.

Things could have been, and may of course yet become, so much worse. I’ll count my blessings as best I can while giving this calendar year the double-bird on its way out…

Satisfactory Is Quite Satisfactory

Early this month, a friend on Twitter invited me to watch their streaming session, a tour of a power plant they’d just finished in an early-access game they’ve been playing and talking up for a while now: Satisfactory. The game’s a bit like a mash-up of a survival game (“you’re alone in this wilderness with a couple of basic tools, now make something of the situation”) and a systems-management sim (Factorio comes notably to mind).

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to try this game for myself. The demo of the Hyper Tube sealed the deal, if I’m honest. “I have got to try this!”

(Spoiler: I have not yet tried the Hyper Tube. I’m close to unlocking the tech, but I have other priorities at the moment.)

I ponied up the thirty bucks, connected to my (ugh) Epic account (on the off-chance that at some point multiplayer is something I want to try), and found myself in the desert on an alien world, armed with a taser (needed for dealing with the occasional hostile local fauna, not that combat is much of a factor in this game most of the time) and carting around a box of parts to build my starter “hub.”

Weeks later, I’ve poured nearly 24 hours of playtime into this thing and am loving it. The gameplay loop boils down to facing a new logistics challenge and figuring out how to achieve the immediate goal in as efficient a manner as you can fashion, then moving on to the next one. It’s not really an “open world” affair: You are given a strict hierarchy of milestones, though within a given milestone level you can choose in which order you want to tackle them, and the details of exactly how to meet your goals is in your hands. This is ideal for me, as I work best to a clear set of guidelines.

The first stretch of the game is very… manual. You hand-craft most of the things you need, you hand-feed the various machines, your equipment is strewn around wherever you can clear the space, and so forth. A lot of your early game time is spent collecting every single piece of plant life you see in order to power the “bio-fuel” power generators that keep your equipment churning out needed materials. Your main goal at that point is to progress far enough along the tech tree to unlock coal power, then acquire said coal power. Once that’s up & running you can stop spending every free minute collecting & processing plant life and start focusing on the larger picture.

A big part of improving that larger picture is making your production environment look a bit less… haphazard.

Let’s talk about my latest project by way of example.

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Two Moons In The Morning

A few years ago I took a picture of the Moon with my then-new Coolpix camera, and it didn’t turn out too badly. Today, thanks to some lovely weather and excellent timing, the opportunity to try that shot with the Lumix FZ80 came up and I couldn’t pass it up. How did the new camera do?

The Moon over Hillsboro Oregon – Taken with the Lumix FZ80 at max physical zoom, no digital zoom

Not too badly, if I’m honest. Mind you, I wish I’d been able to get the remote control app for my camera (yes, such a thing exists) to work properly so I could snap the picture without actually touching the device. Despite the camera being mounted on the tripod, I still introduced a bit of wobble to the results. More’s the pity.

If you compare the two I think the Lumix did a better job, though the Coolpix result was entirely handheld, which is some kind of miracle considering how unsteady my hands are.

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