Friday, June 19, 2015

The First Rule of Don't Starve Together


Easy enough, right? Actually, it is pretty easy. There's a ton of food all over the place! I'm much more likely to die from bees, or spiders, or tentacles than I am from starving. Of course, I tend to be fighting those things in order to get at more food...

Anyway, I've been playing a fair bit with Ike recently and we figured out a couple of recipes in the crock pot device which lets you combine 4 pieces of food into a meal. We found out that meatballs seemed to give lots of food but no health while honey nuggets gave lots of health but not nearly as much food. We wanted to know more details, but it turns out my interface with a controller doesn't seem to show any numbers at all. We wanted to explore the game without just reading all the stuff about it, but not having a real way to get numbers for things was frustrating. So we decided to actually search for the crock pot recipes and see what was actually going on.

It turns out it's a pretty complicated system. There's a ton of recipes, but the real key is that many foods are interchangeable in the recipes. For the most part all of the meats are the same. All of the vegetables are the same. All of the fruits are the same. Some specific recipes care about specific items (turkey dinner needs turkey drumsticks for example) but otherwise a drumstick is the same as a frog leg is the same as a morsel of rabbit meat. Cooking food before sticking it in a crockpot also doesn't do anything in the vast majority of recipes.

The only real twist is that each category of food has some foods that are just bigger than others. Meat, monster meat, and the cooked/jerkied versions of those are twice as good as all the other meats. Berries and cooked berries are only half of a fruit. All of the mushroom varieties are only half of a vegetable.

Because there's so much interchangeability between the different categories it turns out there's a lot of overlap in terms of what you can make with 4 given ingredients. They put in a priority on every recipe and the highest priority recipe gets made if multiple legal recipes are put in the pot. If there's a tie then each recipe has an even chance of being made. This actually means there are ways to turn monster meat into real food!

And in a weird turn of events, twigs are a legal item to be put in a crock pot. I tried to cook with poop, but I didn't try to cook with twigs. Oops!

So there's this huge list of recipes... What recipes are the 'best' ones? A given world layout will have different levels of access to the kinds of food, but is it worth killing frogs in order to make frog leg sandwiches? Are honey nuggets as awesome as it felt like they were? I decided to go through everything and crunch some numbers, because that's just the sort of person I am. Unfortunately this meant reading a little more about some other aspects of the game (base stats and the like), but I still have no clue what the actual goal of the game is, so I don't feel like I've actually spoiled anything relevant yet!

Ike tends to play Willow, and I tend to play Wilson, so I didn't have to do too much poking around. Both have 150 max health, 150 max hunger, and lose 75 hunger per day. Wilson has 200 max sanity, Willow has only 120, but she can gain sanity back by standing in fires. (And is immune to fire damage!) So if one is planning on going on a multi-day adventure to explore the map one should bring 75 hunger worth of food per day.

I built a spreadsheet and tried to guess the cheapest way to make each cooked food. Then I compared the gain of the ingredients against the gain of the result and I was actually pretty surprised. A lot of the recipes didn't seem to actually help all that much. Roasted berries are actually really good, it turns out, so using them as the main ingredient in most things isn't helping all that much. The real gains seemed to be found in terms of sanity. Eating basic ingredients doesn't give any sanity for the most part, while some of the recipes can give some decent sanity.

Roasted berries are worth 1 health and 12.5 food. That's the same value of most things that I thought were better than berries, like cooked fish, cooked frog legs, fried drumsticks, raw carrots, and cooked morsels. Cooked carrots are actually better than all of those at 3 health and 12.5 food.

Honey nuggets, which I thought were really good for health, give 20 health, 37.5 food, and 5 sanity. The ingredients are worth 6 health and 46.875 food. So you actually lose almost 10 food by cooking them up, but they give an extra 14 health and 5 sanity. I'd say that's pretty worth it if you need healing.

Froggle bunchwiches give the same amount! But you can make them with mushrooms and twigs instead of honey and berries so they're actually really good.

Trailmix gives 30 health and 5 sanity, but only 12.5 food. You lose a lot of food value making the trail mix, but you get even more health than the honey nuggets.

If you're looking for a big food boost you're looking at wanting to make meaty stew or meatballs. Meatballs actually are only worth 25% more food than the base ingredients, so they're not fantastic. The meaty stew is a full stomach in one item and also gives 12 health and 5 sanity. The real cool thing about the meaty stew is you can use one monster meat in there with no risk of monster lasagna. So 2 morsels, a meat, and a monster meat will make a meaty stew. Getting the normal meat is rough, and it may be better to use it in a honey ham recipe, but it is a good way to use monster meat to good effect.

The best use of monster meat is probably bacon and eggs. You can use a full 2 monster meat with a tallbird egg and a twig for that recipe which gives 20 health, 75 food, and 5 sanity. Even with regular eggs (which I've never seen) you can use one monster meat with a morsel and 2 eggs for this recipe.

Some of the fancy fruits and veggies have individual recipes which are pretty cool.

Turkey dinner is awesome. More food than meatballs, the same health as honey nuggets.

Fishsticks actually restore 40 health, 37.5 food, and 5 sanity. Which is way better than trailmix! I found a way to mine for fish the last time I played with Ike, and it now seems like a really good idea.

At any rate, what I learned is cooked carrots are better than I thought. Cooked berries are as good as most of the meats, so throwing them in as filler is not as good as I thought. The recipes are still pretty good if you need the extra health or sanity from them, or if you're using them to convert garbage items like monster meat or red mushrooms into real food. Trail mix is bad for food, but really good for health. Stuff you get by fighting low level monsters (bees, frog...) makes the same sort of stuff which is good but not fantastic. Meatballs are not as good as I thought but still worth making I think. Runs to collect up berries and carrots are looking like a really good idea.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

World of Goo

Sceadeau and an anonymous blog commenter (who was probably Sceadeau) urged me to play the game World of Goo that I'd picked up in a prior Steam sale. That someone I know says a game is worth playing is reason enough to give something a try, especially when I already own it! It also makes me feel less guilty about buying games during this Steam sale, so it's win-win!

Anyway, World of Goo is a physical based puzzle game. You have a bunch of goo balls which you can connect up with each other. The connection is a little like a girder would be, in that it provides some support to your structure. But it's goo, not steel, so it's bendier than steel would be. Gravity exists, and can drag your structure to the ground if it isn't secure enough. The goal varies by level, but it's mostly to build a structure from a starting point to an ending point on the level using as small an amount of time, moves, and balls as possible.

It reminded me a little of Lemmings. I like Lemmings a lot, and this game was pretty interesting.

Unfortunately, it isn't all sunshine and roses. My primary goal for a game most of the time now is a game I can stream that might be of interest to other people. World of Goo as a puzzle game actually felt like it would fit in pretty well there. People worse at the game than me might want to watch to pick up tips. People better than me might want to watch to provide tips and make themselves feel better. People around the same skill might want to tune in and feel like they could help out with suggestions some of the time. Hurray!

But then it turns out the game is pretty old, and was not coded with my computer in mind. It only runs in full screen mode. It only allows you to scroll the screen by positioning the mouse on the edge of the screen. It doesn't restrict the mouse to staying on the monitor. And it jams up the resolution of my second monitor. These issues combine to make it hard to navigate around in the game, really hard to make quick moves, and impossible to watch chat while streaming.

It was also set up to have internet leaderboards, but couldn't find my internet connection. I like leaderboards. But I can't use them, despite having an internet connection. Maybe their servers are down? Or they don't understand wireless connections? Regardless, it makes the game less fun for me to have a broken feature than it would for that feature to not exist at all.

I certainly won't be streaming the game again, and I suspect I won't play it again on this computer either. But I might well put it on my laptop to have a fun puzzle game to play. And it was worth a dollar.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Steam Summer Sale

Today marks the start of Steam's annual summer sale. The sale is going to last for 10 days and is going to feature most games going on sale for pretty low prices. Last year I posted that my Steam library had 112 games and I'd only played 41 of them. Clearly I didn't need more games, but I managed to rationalize buying more games at cheap prices. My budget is tighter this year, so it feels like I really shouldn't be buying anything this time around. But I'm still going to browse around and see what's up. There's also likely to be an event of some kind which will provide free Steam cards and such, so I may well be able to sell cards or gems or something to get some games anyway.

I am curious about how the last two big Steam sales (summer and winter) have actually fared for me. Did the games I bought during them get played? Should I start playing any of them now?

Summer Sale 2014

Mata Hari - $4 - UNPLAYED
Magical Diary - $5 - 3 hours, really enjoyed it
Super House of Dead Ninjas - $2 - UNPLAYED
Talisman Digital Edition - $6 - 4 hours, didn't much like it
Banished - $10 - 10 hours, really enjoyed it
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons - $3 - UNPLAYED
Syberia Collection - $2 - 2 games, both UNPLAYED
Noir Syndrome - $2 - UNPLAYED
World of Goo - $1 - UNPLAYED
GTA IV Complete Bundle - $6 - 2 games, both UNPLAYED

Winter Sale 2014

Dead Bits - 16 cents - 79 minutes, terrible game
Don't Starve Together Frontier Pack - $6 - 4 hours, was fun, will play again with family
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes - ~$9 (auction gems) - UNPLAYED

All told, things aren't actually looking too good for games bought in the last two sales. Looking at the unplayed games I'm pretty sure if I'd just try them all it would work out to have been a good idea. I think I really need to set something up to force myself to start playing new games. Make Friday be stream a new game day or something like that.

Looking at my games list, I now own 128 games and have played 58 of them. So I made a dent in my backlog in the last year! Not a terribly big one, but one nonetheless.

The bottom line is I probably shouldn't be blindly buying a bunch of games in this sale. But if things are really cheap it's still probably worth taking a chance on them. Dead Bits actually made me money last sale, because I sold the cards it came with for more than 16 cents! There are also a few things I really want to own. If I had the PC version of FFVIII I'm pretty sure I'd start speedrunning it, for example. There are a couple Final Fantasy games I don't own and if they go on sale I'm going to have to pick them up.

Oh, and I have 38 games that are unplayed but that come with Steam cards. I really should get those 108 free cards, because if I can get 6 cents out of each card I can surely get something for free this sale! Woo!