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I live in a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado. Someone is building a massive casino nearby, Pictures Included
I grew up in a small mountain town named Eureka. It was founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, but after the mines dried up the town began its slow descent into decay. Half the houses are empty or abandoned now. You can see a picture of the kind of houses here in Eureka: First house Second house When a massive construction project began nearby, it was the talk of the town for weeks. Why would they build something in a sleepy dying town like Eureka? It wasn’t until my sister Selene talked to a few construction workers that we discovered they were building a casino. A casino up in the mountains, over two hours away from Denver. None of us could understand why they’d chosen here of all places. After a few months of work, the casino was done. I took a picture of the town with the completed casino in the background to the right. The ten-story-structure sticks out like a sore thumb off in the distance. Town+Casino After the casino opened, they hired a few dozen members of the town, offering high paying jobs to work as dealers or cleaning staff. I was already employed as a firefighter, but my sister Selene got a job as a blackjack dealer. She’s a widow with two young kids, so the paycheck was a real lifesaver. Still, something about the situation seemed too good to be true. The jobs over there paid far too well, and the management was far too accommodating. The fire station where I work is located high on a hill overlooking the town, so I began watching the casino from a distance each day. I had initially thought that the casino was located in a terrible location, but I was apparently wrong. True, Eureka was hours from any major city, but despite that, a bus full of people arrived every morning and left every evening. One night I was over at my parent’s house and had dinner with Selene and her kids. I asked her about her experience as a dealer. “It’s Ok,” she said. “Just a little boring I guess.” “Boring?” I asked. “I’m surprised you don’t have your hands full.” “Why’s that?” she asked. “It’s like you said, Eureka’s too small. I never have people playing cards. The casino is almost always completely empty.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. If the place was always empty, what happened to the people who I’d seen arriving on buses? “I’ve been keeping an eye on the building,” I said. “A bus full of people typically arrives around 9 AM every day.” “Really?” she asked, looking confused. “If that’s true, I’ve never seen them. “I can see it from the fire station,” I said. “If you head out for a smoke break at 9 AM, you’ll probably see them arriving.” “Interesting,” she said. “I’ll do that. If they’re being processed for their organs or something, I’ll let you know.” She laughed. “Har har,” I said sarcastically. The next night she sent me a text calling me over. When I arrived, she was nearly breathless with excitement. “Orin, You were right,” she said. “A big group of people did arrive, but they didn’t walk into my part of the casino. Instead, they all walked into an elevator at the back of the building. I’m not sure where that goes.” She looked thoughtful. “It was weird. They looked… How can I say it? Desperate? Something about the whole situation was very off. I’m gonna check out the elevator tomorrow.” I told her to be careful, though, to be honest, I was excited to hear about what she discovered. When I visited my parent’s house the next night, I found her two kids there alone. They told me that Selene had never returned from work. I called all her friends, then all our neighbors, but no one had seen her since she left for work that morning. Our conversations regarding the casino flooded my mind, then a plan began to form. Early the next morning I walked across town in my nicest pair of jeans and a button-up shirt. I pushed through the door to the casino and saw that Selene wasn’t lying. The place was all but deserted. Three dozen slot machines crowded the walls surrounding a few tables interspersed throughout the floor of the casino. The only players in the whole building were Bob and Donald, two locals. I walked up to a nearby table where Bridget, a girl I’d gone to high school with, was shuffling cards. She broke into a grin when she saw me. “Hey Orin, you here for a few rounds of blackjack?” “I wish,” I said. “No, I’m here to ask about Selene. She never made it home last night.” Bridget’s expression darkened. “Really? Have you asked around?” “I already called around. Have you seen her?” She shook her head. “No, our schedules rarely line up. I’ll be sure to let you know if I--” Her eyes focused on something behind me, and she cut herself off. I turned around to see the casino’s pit boss watching us both. He was a tall thin man in an impeccably clean black suit. When I turned back towards Bridget, she was looking down at the table and shuffling cards absent-mindedly. “Well, if you hear anything, let me know,” I said. She nodded, so I turned around and headed for the pit boss. I stuck out my hand. The temperature of his hand was so hot that I had to pull my hand away after a few seconds. “Have… have you seen my sister Selene?” I asked. “She hasn’t been seen since her shift here yesterday.” He smiled. “Sir, this floor is for players. You’re more than welcome to head to the tellers for chips, but barring that I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.” I stared at him for a long second before stalking towards the door. When I looked back, he was talking with Bridget. I checked my watch. 8:55 AM, just as I’d planned. I walked around the back of the building and waited as the morning bus pulled around the building. I waited for the telltale hiss of the opening doors and the sound of people descending before I rounded the corner and joined the crowd. None of them paid any particular attention to me as I walked with them into the casino. The crowd walked through a side door down a hallway to an elevator. Small groups of people entered the elevator as the rest of us waited for our turn. I shot a glance at the casino patrons, surprised at their diversity. There seemed to be people from all different countries and ethnicities. I heard one speaking Japanese and another speaking what sounded like an African language. My turn came along with a few other patrons in the elevator. A sickly woman hobbled into the elevator beside me carrying an IV that was still connected to one of her veins. We piled in and rode up to the top. The elevator rose for a few long seconds. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I steeled myself for something horrible. The elevator’s speaker let out a TING, then the doors opened. We all walked out onto what looked like a standard casino. Another few dozen slot machines ringed the walls, but on this floor, they were almost all occupied by customers. I took in the scene, confused at why they’d have a ground floor that was almost completely empty when this place was almost-- Selene was dealing cards at a nearby table. I jogged over and sat down at an open seat. None of the players around me paid me much attention. “Selene!” I said. “Are you OK? Did you spend the night here last night?” Her eyes were glassy and confused. She looked up at me with a dumb expression and didn’t respond to my question. “Selene?” I asked. “What’s your bet?” she asked me. “This table is for blackjack players only.” “I…” I trailed off, looking at the players around me. None of them were betting with chips of any kind. “What’s the minimum bet?” I asked. “Three years,” she responded. “Three years then,” I said, not knowing what that referred to. Selene nodded, then began dealing cards. I shot a look down at my hand. King and a 9. Selene dealt out cards for herself, showing a 9. I stood, then leaned forward again. “Should I call the police? Are you--” “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly. An almost impossibly warm hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun to see the pit boss I’d spoken to earlier. He gave an impressed smile. “Orin, was it? I’m impressed, truly. Would you mind if I had a word with you?” I shot a look back at Selene who was dealing the next round of cards. Then I got to my feet, balling my hands into fists. “What did you do to her?” The pit boss clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing more, and nothing less than what I’m going to do to you. That is, offer you the chance to play.” “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The pit boss nodded his head towards a nearby slot machine. A woman in a wheelchair pulled a lever and watched the flashing numbers spin. They exploded in a cacophony of sirens and flashing lights. “WINNER WINNER WINNER!” The machine screeched. The woman in the wheelchair put her feet on the ground and stood up on a pair of wobbly legs that had clearly never been used before. “As in any other casino,” the pit boss said, “you must wager for the chance to win.” “She... won the use of her legs?” I asked, feeling light-headed. “Wait,” I said. “I played blackjack just now. ‘Three years,’ Selene told me. What does ‘three years’ mean?” I asked. “Three years of life, of course. Did you win?” My mouth felt dry. “I-- Yes, I won.” He smiled warmly. “Congratulations. I hope you enjoy them. I can tell you from personal experience that watching the decades pass is a bore. Give it some time and you’ll be back to spend them.” I watched the pit boss’s face. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me, and I was in my early thirties. I looked around at the casino. No one was playing with chips of any kind. “So what?” I asked. “I won years of life. That woman won the use of her legs. What else can a person win here?” “Oh, almost anything. They can win almost anything you can imagine.” A cold feeling settled in my stomach. “And what do they wager?” His eyes flashed with greed. “Almost anything. They can wager almost anything you can possibly imagine. Anything equal in value to the item they want in return.” He nodded towards a nearby roulette table. A man stood by the table, cradling his hands. “Another finger,” he called out. He only had three fingers remaining on his left hand. As I watched, the ball came to a stop, and another finger disappeared from his left hand. The pit boss extended his hands. “Feel free to try any of our games. Bet and win whatever you’d like.” He reached out and snatched my hand. A feeling of intense warmth passed up my arm to my chest. “There,” he said. “I’ve even given you some house money to get you started. An extra decade of life, on me.” I ripped my hand away, staring at him in horror. Then I looked back at Selene. Something clicked in my mind. “You offered her the chance to play. What did she want?” I asked. “Her husband,” the pit boss said. “Quite the sad story. He died two years ago. She wanted him brought back to her.” “What did she wager?” I asked. “She wanted the chance to win a soul, the most valuable object in existence. I’m sure you can imagine what she needed to wager for the chance to win it. What she wagered is unimportant. The important question is: What do you want, Orin?” I stared at Selene with a flat expression. “I’m sure you can imagine.” His eyes flashed with greed again. “How wonderful. The casino could always make use of another dealer. Feel free to make your wager at any one of our games; I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of your night. Oh, and do take advantage of our waitresses. We always supply food and drink for ‘high rollers’.” He walked away. I spent the next few hours trying to decide which game to play. I was going to be wagering my soul, so I wanted the highest chance possible. Slots and roulette were out. I’d done some reading online about counting cards, so I figured that blackjack gave me the best odds. I walked up to Selene’s table and sat down. “Bet?” she asked with that same toneless voice. “Three years,” I said. I spent the next hour or so doing my best to remember how to count cards. I knew that low cards added one to my count and high cards decreased it by one, but the casino used three decks. I had read something about how that was supposed to change my calculation, but I couldn’t quite remember how. Every time I won a hand, I cursed myself for not putting everything on the line. Every time I lost, I breathed a prayer of thanks that I’d waited. And all the while, I kept track of the count. I had lost fifteen years of life when the count finally reached +5. “Bet?” Selene asked. “I wager my soul so you can be free,” I said. The table around me fell silent. Selene’s eyes flickered, but she showed no other emotion as she dealt the cards. I watched my first card, punching the air in excitement when I saw a Jack. My excitement turned to ash when my second card was a four. Fourteen. I looked at her hand. One card was facedown, but the faceup card was a King. I swore loudly, staring down at my hands. “Hit?” she asked. The entire table was silently watching me. “Hit,” I said, not looking down. The table erupted in cheers. I looked down to see a 7 atop my two other cards. 21. Blackjack. I looked at Selene who flipped over her facedown card to reveal a 9. 19. I won. The glassy look left her eyes immediately. She looked around in surprise, then her eyes locked on mine. “Orin?” she asked, then almost immediately began to cry. The entire casino broke out in cheers. I grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator. The doors had begun to close when the pit boss reached out with a hand to stop them. “Congratulations,” he said, beaming. He seemed to be honestly excited. “Shouldn’t you be upset?” I asked. “Not at all. Casinos love it when we have big winners. It inspires the other players to make larger bets. I imagine I’ll gain two or three dealers before the night is through from your performance.” “Great,” I said flatly. “Now let us go.” “Not yet,” he said. “You didn’t just win, Orin. You got a blackjack. And blackjack pays out 1.5 times your bet. You won your sister’s soul and more.” I stared, not sure what to say. “What are you saying? I won half a soul extra?” The pit boss grinned wildly. “Just remember what I said. You’ll find living for decades and decades to be a boring experience. After a few centuries, you’ll be back to gamble that half a soul away. Congratulations!” He removed his hand, and the elevator doors slammed shut. I helped Selene back to her house. Her children were relieved. I watched them cry, then moved into the kitchen to start making dinner. It’s been a few days since that experience. The casino is still out there, and buses full of people still arrive. I… I cut my hand pretty bad a few days later. When I checked it an hour later, it had already healed, no scar or anything. I’m not sure exactly what I won at that casino, but there’s no way I’m ever going back. X
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games. I'm going to order them according to Metacritic Critic Ratings. Some of the games at the bottom have pretty low critic ratings. I personally disagree with the low scores of these games, but it's only fair that you hear from more than just me. Keep in mind that games with only one or two User Ratings on Metacritic will not show the score. A game needs at least three User Ratings on Metacritic before the score will be shown. This is not the case for Critic Reviews. Price will contain the U.S. PlayStation Store link to the game. 1. Hayfever
Description: Hayfever is a precision platformer that revolves around a mailman propelling himself using a number of different allergens that act as power-ups. A lot of the platforming is aerial and typically has you catching allergens mid-air to perform maneuvers in quick succession. It's not an easy game by any means, but it has oddly relaxing music to accompany the rather intense platforming. There are also letters to collect in each level to steepen the challenge and some secrets to discover too. It takes an hour or so to get used to the aerial platforming, and this is one of the few 2D platformers played better with the analog stick rather than the D-Pad. But letters that seemed unattainable to me at the beginning of the game became much simpler by the end, as I had mastered the controls and physics of the game. I don't expect everyone to love this game, but I have to agree with the one other guy who played it that gave it a 9/10. After putting 25+ hours into it, I am still eager to replay it soon.
Completion Time: ~8 Hours
Extra Content: It'll take another 8 hours or so to collect all the letters and probably about 6 hours or so to beat the Hard World, which features an additional 28 remixed levels. There are also secrets to uncover, but they don't net any in game progress and only work towards your trophy completion. Finding these secrets will probably vary more in time because they are hidden, but expect them to take a few hours to find. Just to clarify, letters are an expanded test of your platforming skills and are all in clear view of the screen, while secrets are a test of your observation skills and take a little more digging to find. The platinum trophy is a fair and rewarding challenge that took me about 25-30 hours to get.
Description: Valfaris is one of the best run & gun games I've ever played. You play as Prince Therion who returns to his home planet of Valfaris on a quest to kill his father. It's themed around a fictional planet and has a gross alien vibe coupled with heavy metal music. The music doesn't override the other audio in the game, and it does a nice job of upping the ante when you're fighting a boss – of which there are many. You're equipped with a primary gun, a more powerful mana-based gun, a sword, and a shield that can block with mana or parry. There are a number of weapons to acquire throughout the game, and the guns in particular do a great job of feeling different. You’re able to upgrade your weapons with Blood Metals. Some Blood Metals are found in plain sight, others are rewarded for defeating a tough enemy, and some are given for going off the beaten path. These upgrades typically just up the firepower but will sometimes introduce a secondary move to your weapon. There are checkpoints every two minutes or so, and most bosses will have a checkpoint just before them (only the weaker bosses come after a gauntlet of enemies). The game is a little hard at points, but overall it strikes a nice balance of feeling accomplished for overcoming the challenges without getting overly frustrating.
Completion Time: ~8 Hours
Extra Content: There are a few secrets to find throughout the game that are off the beaten path, though I was able to find 2/3 of them on my first playthrough. I found all but one weapon as well. The replayability comes from New Game+, which allows you to take all your upgraded weapons into a harder version of the game. Since the weapons all function a bit differently, this can be lots of fun. Getting the platinum trophy is somewhat difficult.
Description: The premise of the game is a fusion of side scrollers and oldschool fixed screens that teleport you to the opposite side of the screen when you pass through one side - think Pac-Man, arcade Mario Bros., or Balloon Fight. You will find obstacles in your path that are impenetrable in a typical side scroller, but can be overcome by holding a button to turn the screen into a fixed screen that allows you to pass through one side and out through the other end. This is a totally unique take on a puzzle platformer I haven't seen before, and all five worlds bring something new to the table. For example, World 2 will flip you upside down when you pass through a screen, allowing new types of challenges as a result. There's more emphasis on the puzzle elements than the platforming.
Completion Time: ~2 Hours
Extra Content: There is a New Game+, but from what I could tell from the beginning it wasn't a whole lot different. Still, there's a trophy for completing New Game+ and some other fun trophies. Unfortunately, like many early generation indie games, this one has no platinum trophy.
Description: This game revolves around using two square characters who fling themselves from one end of the room to the other to reach an exit. You must position yourself in such a way that you use each character's body to get around the level. Each world introduces a new mechanic to keep things fresh. The whole game is played only using the two analog sticks (the d-pad and face buttons work, but the two analog sticks are best, in my opinion). It can also be played in local co-op, however with how often you have to fling yourself around, coordinating the correct movements to the other player would be exhausting, and it is easier to experiment yourself.
Completion Time: ~3.5 Hours
Extra Content: There's really no extra content, but $4 for what's almost a 4 hour game isn't bad. There is an easy platinum trophy however.
Description: This is actually a sequel to the Steam exclusive Horizon Shift, which sports a different aesthetic and isn’t quite as good from what I’ve read. Horizon Shift ’81 mimics the look of a fixed screen shoot ‘em up from the early 1980s but comes with a few twists of its own. Your ship is positioned in the middle of the screen on a horizontal line rather than the bottom, and you have to flip between sides to deal with enemies coming from both the top and the bottom. The line can be broken in different places – leaving a gap where you can fall to your death – by asteroids and certain projectiles. This is where the expanded moveset comes into play: you can jump between gaps and also over enemies who attach themselves to the line. Enemies on the line can also be taken out with a horizontal shield bash that regenerates after a few seconds. There is a boss after every five stages, some of which will actually bring the line down to the bottom of the screen, while others retain it in the middle. Horizon Shift ’81 has a number of customizable settings that change everything from the aesthetics, to the difficulty, to the checkpoint/lives system, to the speed of the game, and more. The two main modes are a choice between three lives with a checkpoint before and after every boss, or a checkpoint at the beginning of every level but only one life.
Completion Time: ~3.5 Hours (Normal Mode on Arcade Style)
Extra Content: There are a number of ways to customize your future playthroughs, and there’s an unlockable boss rush mode after finishing the game. The few trophies are relatively easy to obtain. There is no platinum trophy for this game.
Description: Daggerhood's main hook is the use of its sword teleportation mechanic. You throw your sword with a button, and you press the same button again to teleport to where the sword is. While this is a mechanic that has been seen in some Metroidvanias, I haven't seen a tight, linear 2D platformer make use of this mechanic before. Each level has a number of collectibles and some small side sections as well, but for the most part the path to the finish is clear - it's just the execution that's the tricky part. Add in teleportation portals to make things even trickier.
Completion Time: ~2.5 Hours
Extra Content: As this is a Ratalaika Games published game, the platinum trophy only takes about 1-1.5 hours to achieve. You can get it well before you even finish the game, which is a shame because the game had all the makings for a fun platinum trophy. There are tons of collectibles in each level, and each level records your time. So there is a lot here to extend to the playtime.
Description: Usually with Metroidvanias, I expect a long, difficult game that's difficult to navigate. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is a counter to those ideas while still maintaining the exploratory nature of the sub-genre. The plot is pretty simple and doesn't feature a ton of story, but there are a few NPCs you talk to throughout your quest. The combat is also fairly simple, but the boss fights you engage in are all great. Without much weapon customization, it's stripped to the basics of dodging enemy attacks while trying to get a hit in. It makes for a game that's easy to get into and instantly start enjoying. All of the areas are visually appealing, some more than others, and each of them lasts shorter than you'd expect. The game is only around 3-5 hours, but it feels like you've played so much more in that time. Some games only really start to take off by the time this game finishes.
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: Getting 100% map completion should only take an hour or two of cleanup. I did miss an optional boss on my first playthrough. There are also items to discover, and the trophies give fun challenges to extend the life of the game. Unfortunately there is no platinum trophy for this game. One cool thing I liked was that beating a boss without getting hit at all gives you a useful item. It also features New Game+, allowing you to carry over most of your items, making the game more difficult, and changing up enemy placement.
Description: Ultra Hat Dimension follows Bea through a series of rooms in a palace on a quest to undo the magical spell that has made the mythical Spluff creatures want to attack one another. There is a little bit of backstory via one sentence thoughts from Bea in between levels, but nothing major here. The gameplay revolves equipping four different types of hats and using them to evade or push Spluffs around to retrieve the key and reach the door. Each Spluff dons one of four different hats which effects their behavior towards other Spluffs and you. You will be punched one tile back by every Spluff unless you’re wearing the same hat as the Spluff. Spluffs interact with one another differently depending on what hat they’re wearing in a rock, paper, scissors kind of way – they may punch a Spluff back one space, get into a scuffle that allows you to get close to them without wearing a hat, or they may temporarily disable them in a way that allows you to access the space the Spluff consumes within eight moves. There are undo and reset buttons included that allow you to quickly rewind mistakes. There are some clever puzzles accompanied by catchy tunes and a charming pixel art aesthetic. The difficulty is about average.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours
Extra Content: Since this is published by Ratalaika Games, getting the platinum trophy can be obtained after only clearing 2/3 of the levels. There are a few custom maps on the PC version of the game but no additional content on consoles.
Description: Remothered: Tormented Fathers feels very old school in its design philosophy - no weapons outside a few self defense items and distraction items. You go back and forth in the mansion and have to learn the layout and where things are to proceed. You have to manually select the key item from your inventory to use on triggers (but a key icon is still shown to guide you a little). The sounds in this game do a great job of evoking tension, and I appreciate that the stalkers don’t seem to teleport, so if you can get away from them, you’ve earned your freedom for awhile. This is the first game in a loosely connected trilogy, with the second one due later this year.
Completion Time: ~6 Hours
Extra Content: There are some collectibles you can go back for, but not a whole beyond that. Unfortunately there is no platinum trophy for this game, and you'll probably get most of the trophies - if not all, except the collectibles one - on your first playthrough.
Description: Reverie is a mix between Zelda’s gameplay, Earthbound’s aesthetic and humor, and a New Zealand folktale – the legend of Maui and the Giant Fish. Instead of the more traditional sword and shield style fantasy, Reverie instead opts for items and tools a modern boy is more likely to find in his possession, like a cricket bat, a yoyo, and a nerf gun. Similarly, the first dungeon is grandpa’s basement, where you’ll square off against a giant hedgehog and a tumble dryer. That said, the game does get more fantastical with the last two locations, particularly the last one. It’s a relatively easy game overall, though the fourth and especially fifth dungeon offer up a moderate challenge. The indie scene has produced a lot of Zelda-like games in recent years, but this is the only one I know of that isn’t your standard medieval fantasy.
Completion Time: ~5 Hours
Extra Content: There are feathers to collect, mini games to play, and a combat focused bonus dungeon to beat. That said, a lot of this stuff is easy to stumble upon in the main quest, so you’re probably looking at about two or three hours’ worth of content after beating the game to complete everything and get the platinum trophy.
Description: Inertial Drift's distinguishing characteristic is its employment of the right analog stick for drifting. This takes a little getting used to, but it feels great once you get the hang of it, creating some exhilarating moments when perfecting corner turns. The game has 10 unique tracks + 10 reversed tracks, 16 vehicles, and four separate story arcs. Each story arc is only a couple of hours long and features a different protagonist with a different vehicle. Since you’ll be racing on the same track a few times, there are a few gameplay variations that differ from just reaching the finish line at the end, such as racking up a certain number of points that are acquired through longer drift times and other means. There's quite a bit of dialogue between races, and in the races themselves characters will frequently dish out positive commentary on your performance in the form of text in the top left hand corner of the screen. The game's aesthetics are a fusion of anime and synthwave. I've heard many fans liken the game to the manga Initial D, though I'm unfamiliar with that series myself.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours (for 1/4 Story Arcs)
Extra Content: There are a number of different modes including a Story Mode, Challenge Mode, Grand Prix Mode, Arcade Mode, two player Split-Screen, and Online, as well as a Tutorial. Completion of challenges in Challenge Mode allows you to unlock new vehicles for the other non-Story Modes. Grand Prix Mode allows you to race using different characters/vehicles through a connected set of challenges, while Arcade Mode is for one-off races. I wouldn't recommend this game for online play as the user-base is pretty small (hence it being overlooked) and you're unlikely to find a match. Getting the platinum trophy is fairly difficult.
Description: This is an action platformer that emulates arcade games from the latter half of the 1980s, but it is probably most reminiscent of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. The creator, Locomalito, states that the soundtrack uses the true arcade sound of the YM2203 chip. The game is hard, but the checkpoints are never more than a minute or two apart, and the lives' system/continue system has no penalties outside of locking you out of trophies. This is a very boss dense game - in the ~4 hour run-time it takes to complete the game, you fight 19 bosses. The handful of weapons and items you pick up helps lend variety to the combat, and no two boss fights feel the same.
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: The game has two endings. Most players will get the bad ending the first time around and be locked out of the final stage (which is the longest stage in the game). You do have to play through the game again to get the good ending, but you'll likely do it in half the time. If you want to see all the major content on your first go around, I recommend looking up how to get the good ending before you play the game. As far as trophies are concerned, the platinum trophy is very difficult to obtain. If you like an extreme challenge, this one's for you.
Description: Pato Box follows an anthropomorphic duck boxer on an adventure through a stylistic noir comic book world. “Pato” is a Spanish word that translates to “Duck” in English (the game was developed by a Mexican studio). The boss fights are heavily inspired by Punch-Out’s gameplay, but there are levels outside of these fights to help differentiate it. Most of the levels can be selected in any order you choose and typically serve as a leadup to the boss fight. Bosses are usually introduced by a cutscene followed by some dialogue taunting Pato Box. The levels play entirely differently from the fights, but the themes of the level match those of the bosses. The levels will employ various elements of evasion, stealth, exploration, and a few time-based mini-games. The casino level, for example, will have you walk around the casino looking for chips and punching the slot machines to earn enough to pay entrance to the fight, while the food factory has you evading stompers, sawblades, and butcher knives as you work your way through the level. There are variety of things to find throughout the levels: tokens for decorations in Pato Box’s room, backstory on the boss of the level and the world, and tips on how to win the upcoming fight. The fights themselves lock Pato Box in the middle of the screen, allowing you to block, juke left or right, and perform a low or high jab to the left or right. The game foregoes a HUD in favor of a visual representation of your health via scars on your body, which I thought was a nice touch. While the levels and bosses play pretty differently from each other, they’re weaved together by a dark and intriguing story that follows Pato Box’s quest for retribution against an evil corporation.
Completion Time: ~7 Hours
Extra Content: There’s an Arcade Mode that lets you replay boss fights and some collectibles to find in the main campaign. The trophies are very difficult, and many ask you to beat a boss without taking a single hit.
Description: The Count Lucanor’s story is very fairy tale-esque – more like a classic fairy tale as it can be pretty dark and grotesque at times. On his 10th birthday, Hans chooses to leave his mother in a quest for wealth. After some walking and conversation with NPCs you find along the way, you stumble upon a large mansion and find that the count of this mansion is looking to pass his wealth onto an heir who can prove himself worthy – “worthy” in this case being the one who can figure out the count’s name. From here, you are tasked with adventuring through the mansion and solving environmental puzzles in a nonlinear way to acquire the letters that spell the count’s name. There is a survival horror element to the game, as you are unable to attack the enemies in the mansion and instead must crawl under tables and find other ways around them. You can place candles around the mansion to light it up to help you better evade enemies, but your usage is limited (though you can find more).
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: There are five different endings and some puzzles/rooms you don’t even have to do. This could double your playtime – maybe even more if you don’t use a guide. The platinum trophy requires every ending and a few other things but is pretty easy to get if you use a guide.
Description: The Bunker is an FMV point & click adventure, meaning it features real actors and environments just like a live action movie. Many of the actors involved have been in high profile movies/TV shows as well, including The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Penny Dreadful. The game takes place in a fallout shelter and follows the last survivor as he tries to find a way outside following the death of his mother, after living 30+ years in the bunker. The gameplay has you solving puzzles and finding ways to proceed to the next area. The story is the focal point of the game though, and it frequently switches between the past and the present to tell its story. There’s a good juxtaposition between the lively past and the lonely present that makes you question how the protagonist ended up as the last survivor. There’s only one narrative choice to make in the game, and it comes at the very end. The game also works in handheld mode with touchscreen functionality if you'd prefer to play it that way.
Completion Time: ~2. Hour Completion Time*
Extra Content: You can replay the game and try to find all the collectibles. Most of them give more background on the story. You can trigger the ending you did not choose the first time around by simply reloading the last checkpoint, so there is no need to play through the whole game again to unlock it. Getting the platinum trophy is fairly easy.
Description: A Tale of Paper takes direct inspiration from Little Nightmares, sporting the same sideview camera angle and minimalist narrative. It’s a little less creepy and has the interesting twist of transforming into a variety of different origamis on the fly: from a little alien creature, to a frog, to a ball, to a paper airplane, etc., all with the push of a button. You’ll use a combination of different origami shapes to overcome the obstacles in the area, and you’ll be accompanied by some gorgeous sceneries in the process. The gameplay is pretty easy in both its platforming and puzzles, making it an easygoing, movie-esque kind of game. While the story is minimalist, it results in a satisfying conclusion, and it really feels like you’ve been through quite a journey even with the short runtime. The game evokes the feeling of being a tiny specimen in a larger-than-life world – Toy Story 2 is probably the most apt comparison I can make. Outside of Little Nightmares, I haven’t played another game quite like this.
Completion Time: ~1.5 Hours
Extra Content: I got seven of the eight origami collectibles in my first run-through. The trophies also only offer a few extra things to do, but I’d recommend reading the list of trophies before you play the game if you want to get the relatively easy platinum trophy.
Description: If you liked Detroit: Become Human or Until Dawn, Late Shift will be right up your alley. This game is a bit different from both those titles in that it's an FMV, with the gameplay solely consisting of the choices you make. You receive prompts at key moments in the story on what you want your character to do next, and this effects the outcome of the game. It plays more like Black Mirror's Bandersnatch, though this game came before it. The story follows an everyman who gets tangled up in London's criminal underground just as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Completion Time: ~1.5 Hour Completion Time*
Extra Content: There are 180 choice points and 7 different endings. There is a platinum trophy, and I only got 4 out of 21 of the trophies on my first playthrough. There are a number of different routes to take with the game.
Description: SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption is a Soulslike boss rush - there are no levels and only small area before each boss to practice your moves. There are eight bosses, the first seven allowing you to fight in any order, each representing the seven deadly sins. You are equipped with everything the game has to offer from the beginning (except for the New Game+ weapon they give you), and instead of becoming more powerful, you gradually lose things with each boss you defeat, hence the “sacrifice” in the title. It’s like a reverse RPG. Each boss has a different sacrifice associated to it – one may deplete your throwing items’ usage, while another will deplete your health and stamina. Picking the best order to fight them in adds a little strategic thinking to the game, as you may be more dependent on your large health and stamina bar more than your throwing items’ usage, for example. The game is fairly difficult, so your victories over each boss feel very gratifying when they do come.
Completion Time: ~5 Hours
Extra Content: There is New Game+ that offers you an additional weapon. The trophies task you with a few things you have to pull off in battles, and the platinum trophy is pretty easy to obtain.
Description: Verlet Swing’s aesthetic is as intriguing as its gameplay: you are tasked with grappling and swinging yourself across these vaporwave styled levels without hitting anything. The levels are all very short, but you’re likely to play many levels dozens of times before even finishing it… just to get a 1/4 rank. The ranking system is actually very cool, in that it encourages you to find alternative paths or sometimes just building up more momentum to get to the end faster. Most levels do seem to have a set path, but at the same time, with the proper grappling of the mechanics, you can forge your own, which is a game in itself.
Completion Time: ~7 Hours
Extra Content: There’s an in game challenge menu that mostly recycles a lot of the base game content – though there’s a particularly funny one that switches the perspective to third person to play as a knockoff Spiderman. You can also go back and try to get the best possible time for each level. Getting the platinum trophy is extremely hard and I believe is at 0.1% completion.
Description: Neon Drive is a challenging rhythm game with a synthwave aesthetic and appropriately matching music. The objective of the game is to evade the obstacles coming at you by transitioning between four lanes at the right moment using either two of the face buttons, D-Pad, or shoulder buttons. Personally I found the shoulder buttons worked best. The game will occasionally transform you into other vehicles that mix the gameplay up a bit - one notable example is when you turn into a plane and transition between eight lanes in a 360 degree orientation. There are only eight levels that are all about three minutes in length if you were to beat them with no deaths, with two checkpoints and two health points that regenerate between checkpoints. While this all sounds very generous, most of these levels will still take you dozens of tries, though the life reset is almost immediate so you can get back into the action right away.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours
Extra Content: There are two harder difficulties, an endurance mode that sees how long you can go without dying, a free run mode that allows you to play through the game without reset (only unlocked after beating each level), and online leaderboards. The trophies are very hard to get, and there is no platinum trophy.
Conclusion My top 5 on the list in order would be the following: (1.) Hayfever, (2.) Valfaris, (3.) Cursed Castilla: (Maldita Castilla EX), (4.) Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, and (5.) Bleep Bloop. Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games? If you’re looking for more indie games to play, see my post here:
Over 90hrs in. Some opinions. And recommendations. TLDR, its worth playing and its got a lot of potential.
Is it worth the money?. That's subjective. Is there €69.99 worth of gameplay, fun and hijinks?. Yes there is. Its not what many believed it would be. But i came in to this with zero expectations and only seeing the reveal trailer all that time back. Every games marketing PR goes into overdrive these days and every year the PR cycle gets a little worse. And the userbases expectations become just as inflated as the pre-release gameplay claims. Its a vicious cycle. The city is a joy to explore. Its like a open world mirrors edge for climbing and finding unique ways into objectives or just to explore. There are definite optimizations that need to be implemented as some parts of town are just FPS killer regardless of your system. You can see even coming in relatively expectation free that they where striving to hit some high notes in gameplay and character development. It falls short in many areas.
Honestly i am not that far into the main story line. I wanted to save it and do the side stuff. Which has been fun, Some gigs are better than others. And its a worthwhile time sink in my opinion. But speaking only of Act 1. Please restore the obviously deleted content here. That was too quick and a waste of potential. You cannot expect us to be emotionally invested when things are moving so quick. Respect the characters and story you are trying to tell.
So so dumb. Great filler for busy streets but they really do not have any random goals or interactions. You can scan them down. But to this day i have never had one come up as wanted or one decide to get angry and try to fight me.
A lot has been said on this topic. I won't add much. Only that the police should NOT shoot on sight or become angered by passing them. Thats stupid. They do not even react to dropping a dead body in front of them or robbing a car. They only hate being stared at. There is a sort of bounty system for enemies to see what they are worth and their threat level. We should also have this as the player. We should be (Through our actions) attaining a bounty on our heads. That increases based on our actions. And wither a fixer or the ncpd should be putting hits out on us. To keep us on edge in nightcity and have us watching over our shoulders. It would be a great way to have unique random encounters with mercs. We should have had more elite units at high levels of NCPD alert. They tend to show them hanging around or in cutscenes as part of side gigs but rarely deployed on the street against you.
General enemy AI.
They are not smart, they will usually only be a threat from power snipers that you do not see immediately. Its not balanced at all. But it is chaotic and fun. Unlike most open world Action RPG's i found myself doing all the side gigs and the NCPD callouts and whatever randomness i stumbled on. -Gangs. The gangs are underwhelming and not threatening. We should see more random gang activity in the city like stalls, shops and resturaunts being held up. Or procedurally generated gang fights. We should have a affiliation rank for each gang that is constantly in flux dependant on the services we provide for a gang and a negative impact depending on the services we render to another gang. There should be gang specific rewards for helping them. And something of a territory system. It feels weird not to have that in this game.
Bars, Casinos, clubs.
You can do better than this. The atmosphere is there but the functionality is not. We should be able to have some minigames. Cards, slots, or maybe even some BD style puzzle games with rewards at various tiers. There is a lot of room to expand on this.
This should have been a skill tree. That was a wasted opportunity and the lack of customisation for any car is a damn shame. These cars are beautiful and we should have been able to make them our own on some level.
We are supposed to want to become legends. Build a name and be remembered. We should have been able to rise to the point of being a fixer ourselves. Having information drop to us directly either via hints in the world or by talking to characters and unlocking missions that raised our Fixer rep and the ability to open an office that hosts our fixer service. Something like that. And seriously where are the dang flying cars, even if we cannot fly them there should be a taxi service we can avail of on the fly for a nice view of the city. And the police should use them more. Or hell even their own damn cars to chase us. Seriously. Fix the police.
They are good, they are fun, crafting is interesting. But really we should have had more attachments than scopes and silencers. Different mag types, round types. Just to invest you more in crafting and developing various weapon skills.
Yeah its a city, this is low priority but still. Fix the water please. If you throw a body in, it acts like there is no water there at all. No spash, nothing dynamic about it. You would expect at least SOME boats on the rivers which would have added a lot to the general atmosphere.
Seriously, that is a lot of item variation with little to no effect difference between them. Kind of a shame given your history in the Witcher series and varied unique items and consumables.
The clothes items are mostly, well.... not good from an aesthetic POV. You will have some funky funky characters walking around before you get something that makes you feel badass. Crafting schematics are a pain to collect. Genuinely few and far between. And the shops will restock ones you already have and will not tell you that you own them already. Which is frustrating.
Really underrealized. We should have had far more control over the city and its assets via hacking. Maybe they did not want to be criticised for copying watchdogs or something but honestly. Hacking cars to force them to move or crash. Changing signal lights, hacking pedestrian implants to make them act out as a distraction. Or hacking a enemy to make them go berserk on their own guys. Enemies should have visible grenades on their person that we can hack to set off while its attached to them. Or hack a enemy mech robot to fight for us. Or hack a turret to fight for us for a limited time and then overload. There is so much room to expand and improve this game. But it is a joy to play as is, you just see where they started to push certain areas and then moved on. Never reaching something truly special. It is in my eyes worth the money. There is plenty of content to chew on and out of my circles everyone's playstyle is different and builds are unique from one another. So it has enough RPG elements to tweak and play with. I do hope they keep developing updating and fixing the title in the coming months. There is a real diamond here just waiting to be uncovered. They need to in order to have a hope of selling Cyberpunk 2078.
Working Wise or Wizardly Working: how magic items affect the world
Magic items. Objects imbued with magic in order to make them better, or even gain a completely different function. But apparently the only places they exist are in monster hoards and adventurers' backpacks. Realistically however, everyone wants things that are better at what they do. And eventually, people get what they want. Today i will go over some objects that are useful outside of the context of adventuring, as well as how they might change the world around them. I will not mention artifacts, since those are one-of-a-kind objects with pre-established locations, usage, etc. While the topic has always existed, Tasha's Cauldron has added a few interesting toys to our proverbial tool box, which makes this as good a time as any to take a look and Much like in the Spells and Society post, the rarer an item the more amazingly powerful it must be to be worthy of mention. Actually i recommend reading that post before this one. Since a lot of magic items just allow you to cast spells for free, knowing which spells alter the world gives a good idea of which items can do the same.
+1 tools. That's right, +1 tools. Not +1 weapons. Consider a guard. How much of his time is actually spent fighting? A minute every other day? That's not getting a lot of use out of his sword. Even a soldier spends weeks marching, or months guarding a fort, and then only fights for a few minutes or hours. Even if a guard has a superb weapon that doubles his combat effectiveness, it only makes him 1% or 2% better at being a guard. Given a choice of uncommon item, any guard and most soldiers would rather have a Weapon of Warning to prevent being backstabbed, ambushed or caught off-guard. Now consider a lumberjack or miner. They spend several hours a day hitting trees and rocks. An enchanted axe, saw or pickaxe would see continuous use in their hands. Not only that, magic items are also described as being "at least as durable as a nonmagical item of its kind. Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage". This means the +1 pickaxe would be far, far more resilient to wear and tear than a mundane one, potentially being passed down for generations. And with your miners and lumberjacks being more efficient, you need less of them. Which in turn means you get to have more guards. Another noteworthy thing here is adamantine items. They deal automatic critical damage to objects and are much harder to destroy. In other words, they're great at chopping trees and ores, bending hot metal, cutting cloth, plowing a field, etc. All while having a fraction of the wear and tear. Bags of Holding, Handy Haversacks and Portable Holes. AKA your transporty boyes. The bag of holding is an old favorite among players, and the reason is obvious: it has a million uses. Most adventurers use it for carrying all their junk. The bad guys in the original Baldurs Gate game used bags of holding to smuggle whole shipments to and from their iron mine base with just one guy. One of my players once put a huge boulder in it, then flew up and dropped the boulder on an enemy transport ship. And let us not forget the classic Arrowhead of Total Destruction. All of these are perfectly valid uses. Smuggling a small object is easier than smuggling a large object. Dropping huge objects from a high place turns anything that flies into a siege weapon. And the Arrowhead, while expensive, can deal with very large threats that could level a city. But honestly, every merchant is a smuggler at heart. After all, as long as brigands roam the roads, there will always be a need to hide your valuables in an extraplanar space small enough to fit any orifice. Not only that, the bag allows you to dump a cart entirely and just ride to your destination much faster (and therefore, more safely). Of course not every merchant can afford a bag of holding, so this brings about an interesting topic of inequality in your campaign. Some merchants can go from A to B faster and more safely on a horse, while the majority must go with a bull-drawn cart that is slow and vulnerable. And bags of holding don't even require attunement, so once you have one and your income soars you can get another, and another... Its a serious rich-get-richer situation, and you risk running all the mundane merchants out of business. Broom of Flying. I'm gonna start this one with saying that brooms of flying and carpets of flying are overpowered. They are consistently better than items of similar rarity that provide the same benefit, like boots and wings of flying. The reason here is, in my humble opinion, the same reason why Fireball deals more damage than any 3rd level spell and most 5th level ones: its iconic. As for the item itself, its pretty much a permanent flying speed of 50 while carrying up to 200lbs, or 30ft. speed while carrying 201-400lbs. Its a deliveryboy's dream... except not. You see, the broom of flying isn't just a hoverbike, its also a drone. You say the command word, and it flies up to a mile a way. Say it again, it comes back. In other words, the crazy wizard in his tower can just tie some money and a note on the broom and send it to a shop, then call it back once the shopkeeper has tied the groceries to it. Poor delivery boy just lost his job. But wait, there's more! If the broom can fly on its own, can it plow a field? Can it spin an "animal" traction mill? The answer is: yes. But there's no reason to use magic where a common animal would do, unless its a crazy high magic setting or something. Decanter of Endless Water I think anyone can see how infinite water is broken as fuck. But that's not all. By speaking the command word and pulling the lid, you can cause 30 gallons (136.4 litres) of water to pour out with enough force to push a 200 pound object 15 feet. This action can be repeated every turn (6 seconds), since a decanter of endless water has no limit on how often it can be used. So a decanter is not just infinite water, but also infinite energy provided you have enough technology to build a mill. Even more energy if you activate the decanter in a high place and use gravity to give those 30 gallons even more potential. Do keep in mind however that in 5e there must be someone using their action to activate it every turn. In previous editions however one could leave the decanter open and it would pour water constantly. Hat of Disguise This wee cap is not game-breaking for its great usefulness, but rather for its ability to fuck the world up. Any charlatan with a Hat of Disguise can walk into a bank, guild, ship, etc. and pretend to be anyone. Sure it doesn't happen often, but when it happens the crime spree is enormous. And while there are ways to work around disguised criminals, the fact people have to work around it is an issue in and of itself. Societies based on trust pretty much can't function. Does everyone sign everything? Do people start using IDs? Do organizations start using items or employing animals that can see through illusions? Is there an industry for door frames that detect illusions? Even without the hat, Disguise Self is still a 1st level spell. Yet somehow the sourcebooks have no mention of how the world might adapt to the idea that you can't trust people to be who they seem to be. And if anyone with access to 1st-level spells can walk up to the king without difficulties, you wont have kings for long. Ring of Mind Shielding A great item, if you're an asshole. Keeps people from sensing your evil alignment, keeps them from reading your evil thoughts, keeps pesky zones of truth from sensing your lies, and it even makes itself invisible so nobody can notice you're wearing the "i am evil" ring. It even keeps your immortal soul from going into eternal damnation! One thing i always think of soul-trapping items is that they're a good way for evil people to avoid the afterlife. If you're good, you want to go to Celestia, Elysium, Arborea or Ysgard. Yet if you're evil, being stuck in a ring and talking to its wearer might be better than Baator, Carceri or the Abyss. Sending Stones Another classic, unfortunately the stones were nerfed and now can only Send to each other once a day. Still, long range communication is nothing to scoff at. And while hiring someone to Send for you is cheaper, the stones provide more privacy and can be sent to far off corners of the world where you can't afford to station a caster full time. Expect each mayor or baron to have one of these, while someone in the capital answers their "calls". Something of a royal secretary if you will. While magic items are expensive, shaving days off of your disaster response time can be the difference between having a kingdom and having ruins.
Bag of Beans An often overlooked item, the BoB is crazy powerful. It has 3d4 beans, each of which can trigger a random effect. Notably they have a 10% chance of creating a random potion that lasts 30 days, a 10% chance of creating 1d4+3 eggs that can permanently raise an attribute by 1, a 9% chance of spawning a full on pyramid with a mummy lord and appropriate loot, and a 1% chance of leading anywhere. Why bother with tomes when you can get twice as many stats from a bag of beans? Helm of Teleportation. 1d3 castings of Teleport every day, plain and simple. That means 9 people can travel about 14 times in a week. That's a lot of potential trading to be had for sure, but why stop there? Say your kingdom spent tons of time and money training and equipping an elite unit. You wouldn't want them to spend 80% of their time on the road and 20% solving issues right? One rare item can make your 9-men unit five times more efficient. Adventurers are in much the same boat: small group, lots of capital invested into their gear and training, yet they somehow spend most of their time going back and forth between adventures (until level 9 if they have a bard, sorcerer or wizard in the party, past 9 if they don't). It honestly amazes me that the Helm of Teleportation is not listed more often as a must-have party item. Manuals/Tomes For those unaware: there are 3 manuals and 3 tomes in the game, each increases an attribute by 2 when used and then loses its magic for 100 years. The #1 item on any adventurer's to-get list, the existence of the tomes raises far more questions than answers. Who makes these? Why are they not mass produced? Can i get a magically accelerated demiplane, throw the books in and recharge them in a fraction of the time? Why do people not abuse the f*** out of them? And when i mean abuse, i mean make smart use of them. Say a kingdom has, over the course of generations, acquired 5 or so tomes. Then the ruler reads them and becomes super smart/wise/popular. That sounds like the sort of thing that would make the whole realm prosper. Do it on an elven/dwarven kingdom and the ruler can read his tomes multiple times, granting him a godlike mind. And that's without considering the idea of immortals. Or even high level druids. Any lich or vampire could become insanely powerful, not only from being able to use each tome a dozen times, but also from having eons to look for more or even craft them. One thing i really like about tomes is watching the party decide what to do with them after spending the magic. Do they auction the books? Trade with some elf for favors? Give it to a friendly vampire?
Candle of Invocation For 4 hours clerics and druid of the proper alignment within 30ft can cast 1st level spells without using spell slots. In other words, crazy amounts of healing. Pop one after a battle and in a few minutes your whole army will be ready for more. Or pop it during a battle, and have the Healing Word the crap out of your troops from a safe-ish distance. Carpet of flying, Peregrine Mask Carpets of flying function much like brooms of flying, except they are faster or carry more weight (depending on size). They would be a strict upgrade, except they lack the drone function the broom has. A peregrine mask provides a flying speed of 60, but has no carrying capacity. That means if you have a Powerful Build or a similar feature it can actually carry more than the carpets. Cauldron of Rebirth If there's one thing Tasha's Cauldron has brought us, its this cauldron. It has some minor uses for scrying making potions, but here's the deal breaker: you put a corpse in the cauldron, fill it with 10gp worth of salt (200lbs.) and it casts Raise Dead on the creature. Resurrection normally costs 500gp. worth of diamonds. With the cauldron it costs 10gp worth of salt. Sure there's a one week cooldown, but who cares? I see two scenarios here: either a resurrection every week is more than the local demand, or less than the local demand. If its more than the demand, that means everyone who dies of unnatural causes and has 10gp to spare gets resurrected. If its less than the demand, that means you're raising one person every 7 days. Depending on how high the demand is you could be making as much as 500gp a week, or 26k a year. Considering that the DMG says a Very Rare magic item costs 10.000-50.000 gold, the cauldron can pay for itself in under two years. Even if the math is way off for some reason, it is still crazy strong. Honestly, this should be an artifact. Or at least have some heavy downside. The idea that someone over at Wizards of the Coast read this and said "Ah yes, 10gp resurrection, perfectly fine" simply boggles the mind. Crystalline Chronicle Speaking of items that make things cheap, 1d3 times a day this spellbook allows you to cast a wizard spell without material components of up to 100gp. That means two spells on average, so let's take a look at a few good options: Continual Flame, Magic Circle (exactly 100!), Stoneskin (100!), Teleportation Circle and Astral Projection. The ones that stand out here are Continual Flame and Teleportation Circle. Both cost 50 and have a huge demand in the world. Where a permanent TP circle would normally consume 18.250gp worth of materials over a year, it will now cost nothing.
Staff of the Magi This is, i think, the most powerful item in the game. Has a bunch of charges, yadda yadda, here's the important part:
When someone else casts a spell on you, you can use a reaction to absorb the spell. The staff then gains charges equal to the level of the spell it just ate.
It can cast Plane Shift for 7 charges.
This means on an average day you get 16 charges, or two Plane Shifts, from the natural charge generation. But what if you could have someone cast spells on you without spending spell slots? There are several monsters who can cast spells at will, too many to list. But there are also a few ways for players to do it. The first that comes to mind is the level 18 Wizard feature Spell Mastery, allowing any 2nd level spell. There's also the level 15 invocation Shroud of Shadow that allows infinite casts of Invisibility. Either case allows a duo to have infinite Plane Shifts a day, which is really powerful. As usual, trade comes to mind. But with infinite charges you might as well start a tourism agency or a hotel and/or casino that brings in people from all planes. Yet what few people realize is that Plane Shift can be used offensively in order to permanently banish anyone to any plane. Infinite save-or-die effects. You could also just settle for a fuckton of Shifts instead of infinite, and use a warlock or four-elements monk to convert their short rest resources into charges for the staff. Now think of the possibilities and plot hooks. Mad king banishing dissidents, Red Queen style. Alternative death sentence. A high level wizard/warlock stranded somewhere because the guy who was attuned to the staff died or got separated from him. Random archdemon bringing an army to the Material Plane a couple demons a minute.
These are items i left out, but which i will get yelled at in the comments if i "forget" about them. Anything that creates energy The truth is that a lot of magic items can do that. Fire for heating things, wind or water for pushing things, etc. For an energy source to be noteworthy it has to provide a considerable amount of continuous energy, without charges or daily limitations. Otherwise you might as well just use a regular water mill or a bull. Alchemy Jug (uncommon) It creates an amount of a liquid (beer, honey, etc) every day. It does nothing that cannot be done by an amount of workers, and for it to be world-altering we'd have to go into a lengthy math argument of how many labor hours of a bee farmer are needed to make a gallon of honey, and how that compares to the initial investment of hiring a wizard to make the item. As a general rule, if something can be done mundanely it will be done mundanely. Let the casters focus on stuff where they have an infinite comparative advantage, like flying stuff, teleportation, resurrection, etc. Cap of Water Breathing (uncommon) It allows you to breathe underwater indefinitely. Can be great if you have important stuff to do underwater, and might enable interaction with sentient water folk. But in and of itself, not a world-altering item. Horseshoes of Speed (rare) Essentially +30 speed for hooved creatures, without requiring attunement. Honestly this item does not really fit this list, but i just thought the idea of pegasi flying real fast with these was worth mentioning. Sure a helm of teleportation outclasses it entirely for travel, but that's not useful in combat. And i really want to play a centaur monk with these some day. Unfortunately the item description specifically says you have to have four equipped to benefit, so don't even think about it you satyrs and tieflings out there. Lyre of Building (rare) At a glance this looks like a regular magic items, with nothing too weird about it. Until you look at its spell selection and notice you can cast them as an action. Mending normally takes a minute to cast, with the lyre its an action, and you can do it at will even without knowing the spell. Fabricate takes ten minutes to cast, with the lyre its an action. That means once a day you can turn the ground under an enemy into a spiky cage, his sword into sword parts, etc. Until the lyre came about the only way to instantly cast fabricate was with a Wish, and that is a pretty good combat use of the 9th level spell.
To be quite frank, a lot of these item uses are a little niche and wont work in every setting. Then again, that that is never the goal with these posts. I hope i have provided you with at least a few interesting plot hooks and other crazy ideas, whether to amaze your players or ruin your DM's plans.
 There is a notable exception however. If your kingdom has a group dedicated to fighting monsters, some of which are resistant to nonmagic damage, then those guys should be prioritized. Not only does the +1 weapon double their damage output in this scenario, it also prevents your kingdom from losing special soldiers that are very expensive to train and replace.  Stuff like constant abuse of Decanters of Endless Water are why in my setting there is a doomsayer cult that believes the world will be flooded some day. As they say it, every time someone activates a decanter, magically creates water, creates food and water, opens a portal to the Plane of Water, etc; the amount of water in the world rises just a bit. Given enough time, everything will be flooded by it. Unless someone like, puts a Sphere of Annihilation by the shore or something. But nobody said the cult has to be right.  The bag has 3d4 beans. Each bean has a 10% chance of spawning 1d4+3 eggs. That means 7.5*0.1*5.5 = 4.125 raised stats, on average. Sure I'm assuming you'll pass the DC20 save every time, but with proper preparation its quite doable. Be near a paladin, get bardicly inspired, have someone cast Resistance, find ways to reroll a failed save, etc. Since the eggs last forever, you have all the time in the world to stack the saving throw in your favor. Or just use Portents.  The mummy lord could have anything, even another bag of beans!  Someone will say "but what about the chance of going off target? What if nobody has teleportation circles?" To that person i say: associated object. Get a pebble every time you're in a region, and you wont need a circle. Buy a bit of silk and you can teleport to any place along the silk road. Buy a used horseshoe and you can go all over the country. Now I'm just imagining this badass-looking special-ops soldier, clad in the finest plate, wielding a blazing blade, his cloak cackling thunder... and with a rusty-ass horseshoe tied to his helmet.  And thus is born the legend of Swolomon the Buff. He was once a base vampire, who got stuck in a tomb for 4000 years with nothing but a Manual of Bodily Health and a Manual of Gainly Exercise. Now he's... selling supplements or something.  See On Spells and Society linked at the top for why there's a near infinite demand for Continual Flame.  You can even make two circles at a time, but there's some math about it. You have 3 charges, use 2, so you should always be with one to spare. Until you roll a 1 on the d3, and then its gone. After that whenever you roll a 1 without first rolling a 3 you'll have to pay the 50gp or let the circle go to waste. In other words, you'd be paying roughly 1/6 of the regular cost.
I live in a small mining town in the mountains of Colorado. Someone is building a massive casino nearby, Pictures Included
I grew up in a small mountain town named Eureka. It was founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, but after the mines dried up the town began its slow descent into decay. Half the houses are empty or abandoned now. You can see a picture of the kind of houses here in Eureka: Abandoned House Non-abandoned House When a massive construction project began nearby, it was the talk of the town for weeks. Why would they build something in a sleepy dying town like Eureka? It wasn’t until my sister Selene talked to a few construction workers that we discovered they were building a casino. A casino up in the mountains, over two hours away from Denver. None of us could understand why they’d chosen here of all places. After a few months of work, the casino was done. I took a picture of the town with the completed casino in the background to the right. The ten-story-structure sticks out like a sore thumb off in the distance. Town+Casino After the casino opened, they hired a few dozen members of the town, offering high paying jobs to work as dealers or cleaning staff. I was already employed as a firefighter, but my sister Selene got a job as a blackjack dealer. She’s a widow with two young kids, so the paycheck was a real lifesaver. Still, something about the situation seemed too good to be true. The jobs over there paid far too well, and the management was far too accommodating. The fire station where I work is located high on a hill overlooking the town, so I began watching the casino from a distance each day. I had initially thought that the casino was located in a terrible location, but I was apparently wrong. True, Eureka was hours from any major city, but despite that, a bus full of people arrived every morning and left every evening. One night I was over at my parent’s house and had dinner with Selene and her kids. I asked her about her experience as a dealer. “It’s Ok,” she said. “Just a little boring I guess.” “Boring?” I asked. “I’m surprised you don’t have your hands full.” “Why’s that?” she asked. “It’s like you said, Eureka’s too small. I never have people playing cards. The casino is almost always completely empty.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that. If the place was always empty, what happened to the people who I’d seen arriving on buses? “I’ve been keeping an eye on the building,” I said. “A bus full of people typically arrives around 9 AM every day.” “Really?” she asked, looking confused. “If that’s true, I’ve never seen them. “I can see it from the fire station,” I said. “If you head out for a smoke break at 9 AM, you’ll probably see them arriving.” “Interesting,” she said. “I’ll do that. If they’re being processed for their organs or something, I’ll let you know.” She laughed. “Har har,” I said sarcastically. The next night she sent me a text calling me over. When I arrived, she was nearly breathless with excitement. “Orin, You were right,” she said. “A big group of people did arrive, but they didn’t walk into my part of the casino. Instead, they all walked into an elevator at the back of the building. I’m not sure where that goes.” She looked thoughtful. “It was weird. They looked… How can I say it? Desperate? Something about the whole situation was very off. I’m gonna check out the elevator tomorrow.” I told her to be careful, though, to be honest, I was excited to hear about what she discovered. When I visited my parent’s house the next night, I found her two kids there alone. They told me that Selene had never returned from work. I called all her friends, then all our neighbors, but no one had seen her since she left for work that morning. Our conversations regarding the casino flooded my mind, then a plan began to form. Early the next morning I walked across town in my nicest pair of jeans and a button-up shirt. I pushed through the door to the casino and saw that Selene wasn’t lying. The place was all but deserted. Three dozen slot machines crowded the walls surrounding a few tables interspersed throughout the floor of the casino. The only players in the whole building were Bob and Donald, two locals. I walked up to a nearby table where Bridget, a girl I’d gone to high school with, was shuffling cards. She broke into a grin when she saw me. “Hey Orin, you here for a few rounds of blackjack?” “I wish,” I said. “No, I’m here to ask about Selene. She never made it home last night.” Bridget’s expression darkened. “Really? Have you asked around?” “I already called around. Have you seen her?” She shook her head. “No, our schedules rarely line up. I’ll be sure to let you know if I--” Her eyes focused on something behind me, and she cut herself off. I turned around to see the casino’s pit boss watching us both. He was a tall thin man in an impeccably clean black suit. When I turned back towards Bridget, she was looking down at the table and shuffling cards absent-mindedly. “Well, if you hear anything, let me know,” I said. She nodded, so I turned around and headed for the pit boss. I stuck out my hand. The temperature of his hand was so hot that I had to pull my hand away after a few seconds. “Have… have you seen my sister Selene?” I asked. “She hasn’t been seen since her shift here yesterday.” He smiled. “Sir, this floor is for players. You’re more than welcome to head to the tellers for chips, but barring that I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.” I stared at him for a long second before stalking towards the door. When I looked back, he was talking with Bridget. I checked my watch. 8:55 AM, just as I’d planned. I walked around the back of the building and waited as the morning bus pulled around the building. I waited for the telltale hiss of the opening doors and the sound of people descending before I rounded the corner and joined the crowd. None of them paid any particular attention to me as I walked with them into the casino. The crowd walked through a side door down a hallway to an elevator. Small groups of people entered the elevator as the rest of us waited for our turn. I shot a glance at the casino patrons, surprised at their diversity. There seemed to be people from all different countries and ethnicities. I heard one speaking Japanese and another speaking what sounded like an African language. My turn came along with a few other patrons in the elevator. A sickly woman hobbled into the elevator beside me carrying an IV that was still connected to one of her veins. We piled in and rode up to the top. The elevator rose for a few long seconds. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I steeled myself for something horrible. The elevator’s speaker let out a TING, then the doors opened. We all walked out onto what looked like a standard casino. Another few dozen slot machines ringed the walls, but on this floor, they were almost all occupied by customers. I took in the scene, confused at why they’d have a ground floor that was almost completely empty when this place was almost-- Selene was dealing cards at a nearby table. I jogged over and sat down at an open seat. None of the players around me paid me much attention. “Selene!” I said. “Are you OK? Did you spend the night here last night?” Her eyes were glassy and confused. She looked up at me with a dumb expression and didn’t respond to my question. “Selene?” I asked. “What’s your bet?” she asked me. “This table is for blackjack players only.” “I…” I trailed off, looking at the players around me. None of them were betting with chips of any kind. “What’s the minimum bet?” I asked. “Three years,” she responded. “Three years then,” I said, not knowing what that referred to. Selene nodded, then began dealing cards. I shot a look down at my hand. King and a 9. Selene dealt out cards for herself, showing a 9. I stood, then leaned forward again. “Should I call the police? Are you--” “Congratulations,” she said tonelessly. An almost impossibly warm hand grabbed my shoulder. I spun to see the pit boss I’d spoken to earlier. He gave an impressed smile. “Orin, was it? I’m impressed, truly. Would you mind if I had a word with you?” I shot a look back at Selene who was dealing the next round of cards. Then I got to my feet, balling my hands into fists. “What did you do to her?” The pit boss clasped his hands behind his back. “Nothing more, and nothing less than what I’m going to do to you. That is, offer you the chance to play.” “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” The pit boss nodded his head towards a nearby slot machine. A woman in a wheelchair pulled a lever and watched the flashing numbers spin. They exploded in a cacophony of sirens and flashing lights. “WINNER WINNER WINNER!” The machine screeched. The woman in the wheelchair put her feet on the ground and stood up on a pair of wobbly legs that had clearly never been used before. “As in any other casino,” the pit boss said, “you must wager for the chance to win.” “She... won the use of her legs?” I asked, feeling light-headed. “Wait,” I said. “I played blackjack just now. ‘Three years,’ Selene told me. What does ‘three years’ mean?” I asked. “Three years of life, of course. Did you win?” My mouth felt dry. “I-- Yes, I won.” He smiled warmly. “Congratulations. I hope you enjoy them. I can tell you from personal experience that watching the decades pass is a bore. Give it some time and you’ll be back to spend them.” I watched the pit boss’s face. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me, and I was in my early thirties. I looked around at the casino. No one was playing with chips of any kind. “So what?” I asked. “I won years of life. That woman won the use of her legs. What else can a person win here?” “Oh, almost anything. They can win almost anything you can imagine.” A cold feeling settled in my stomach. “And what do they wager?” His eyes flashed with greed. “Almost anything. They can wager almost anything you can possibly imagine. Anything equal in value to the item they want in return.” He nodded towards a nearby roulette table. A man stood by the table, cradling his hands. “Another finger,” he called out. He only had three fingers remaining on his left hand. As I watched, the ball came to a stop, and another finger disappeared from his left hand. The pit boss extended his hands. “Feel free to try any of our games. Bet and win whatever you’d like.” He reached out and snatched my hand. A feeling of intense warmth passed up my arm to my chest. “There,” he said. “I’ve even given you some house money to get you started. An extra decade of life, on me.” I ripped my hand away, staring at him in horror. Then I looked back at Selene. Something clicked in my mind. “You offered her the chance to play. What did she want?” I asked. “Her husband,” the pit boss said. “Quite the sad story. He died two years ago. She wanted him brought back to her.” “What did she wager?” I asked. “She wanted the chance to win a soul, the most valuable object in existence. I’m sure you can imagine what she needed to wager for the chance to win it. What she wagered is unimportant. The important question is: What do you want, Orin?” I stared at Selene with a flat expression. “I’m sure you can imagine.” His eyes flashed with greed again. “How wonderful. The casino could always make use of another dealer. Feel free to make your wager at any one of our games; I’ll be eagerly awaiting the results of your night. Oh, and do take advantage of our waitresses. We always supply food and drink for ‘high rollers’.” He walked away. I spent the next few hours trying to decide which game to play. I was going to be wagering my soul, so I wanted the highest chance possible. Slots and roulette were out. I’d done some reading online about counting cards, so I figured that blackjack gave me the best odds. I walked up to Selene’s table and sat down. “Bet?” she asked with that same toneless voice. “Three years,” I said. I spent the next hour or so doing my best to remember how to count cards. I knew that low cards added one to my count and high cards decreased it by one, but the casino used three decks. I had read something about how that was supposed to change my calculation, but I couldn’t quite remember how. Every time I won a hand, I cursed myself for not putting everything on the line. Every time I lost, I breathed a prayer of thanks that I’d waited. And all the while, I kept track of the count. I had lost fifteen years of life when the count finally reached +5. “Bet?” Selene asked. “I wager my soul so you can be free,” I said. The table around me fell silent. Selene’s eyes flickered, but she showed no other emotion as she dealt the cards. I watched my first card, punching the air in excitement when I saw a Jack. My excitement turned to ash when my second card was a four. Fourteen. I looked at her hand. One card was facedown, but the faceup card was a King. I swore loudly, staring down at my hands. “Hit?” she asked. The entire table was silently watching me. “Hit,” I said, not looking down. The table erupted in cheers. I looked down to see a 7 atop my two other cards. 21. Blackjack. I looked at Selene who flipped over her facedown card to reveal a 9. 19. I won. The glassy look left her eyes immediately. She looked around in surprise, then her eyes locked on mine. “Orin?” she asked, then almost immediately began to cry. The entire casino broke out in cheers. I grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator. The doors had begun to close when the pit boss reached out with a hand to stop them. “Congratulations,” he said, beaming. He seemed to be honestly excited. “Shouldn’t you be upset?” I asked. “Not at all. Casinos love it when we have big winners. It inspires the other players to make larger bets. I imagine I’ll gain two or three dealers before the night is through from your performance.” “Great,” I said flatly. “Now let us go.” “Not yet,” he said. “You didn’t just win, Orin. You got a blackjack. And blackjack pays out 1.5 times your bet. You won your sister’s soul and more.” I stared, not sure what to say. “What are you saying? I won half a soul extra?” The pit boss grinned wildly. “Just remember what I said. You’ll find living for decades and decades to be a boring experience. After a few centuries, you’ll be back to gamble that half a soul away. Congratulations!” He removed his hand, and the elevator doors slammed shut. I helped Selene back to her house. Her children were relieved. I watched them cry, then moved into the kitchen to start making dinner. It’s been a few days since that experience. The casino is still out there, and buses full of people still arrive. I… I cut my hand pretty bad a few days later. When I checked it an hour later, it had already healed, no scar or anything. I’m not sure exactly what I won at that casino, but there’s no way I’m ever going back. Interested in more? Support me on Patreon at any level! My Patreon backers will get early access to my horror stories, free copies of my horror novels, and an exclusive story each month. 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What makes packs enjoyable? (~ pack types & play styles)
My long-ish 'rant' that is borderline full on psychoanalysis; Feel free to tl;dr and answer the title in comments. As usual I spent more time thinking about packs than making one. There are quite a few types of packs but for this discussion I will list a few; Obviously #1 is kitchen sink, though it's not really an abstract category because being all rounded it's a combination of playstyles. And obviously really any pack, even highly specific, will have a combination of aspects. Crafting is exemplified in things like skyblocks - nothing to explore, just craft. Basically it emphasises the Skinner Box aspect; make thing A to make more of resource A to make machine B to make resource B, automate, etc. And an obvious subset of this is questing like Sevtech - while it has the other elements, it's still centred around this loop. RL Craft (yes I know it's overrated) and Valhelsia are on the combat and building ends of 'Adventure'. And then you have dedicated 'Adventure' packs like Journey to the Core or Regrowth or Survival Islands, Crash Landing, Exoria, etc, etc. - what I will respectfully call gimmick packs, being the broadest category. They are all wildly different yet the common thread is some sort of intrinsic limitation that provides meaning. And really this area is pretty endless in that you could have the entire overworld covered in snow, ocean, spawn in the nether, Galacticraft with tweakers and custom gen, etc. And of course things like Hostile Worlds, Storms and Tornadoes, Tough As Nails, etc. These radically change what it means to exist in the world by undermining something (almost always safety) that is taken for granted. Though here is also TerraFirmaCraft - undermining the vanilla system almost entirely (and obviously stuff like Pixelmon, Craft to Exile). Perhaps the pack has this change in mind specifically, like "Safety Lost is a survival focused mod pack, focusing on challenging survival through mechanics rather than enemy difficulty or expensive recipes. Rather than just trying to make everything a slow and painful grind Safety Lost tries to make things tense by using mods like Hardcore Darkness and Tough As Nails to add new pressures and dangers rather than filling the world with monsters and increasing resource costs and tedious amounts of work. " And finally on the other end of the spectrum are townys, harvest moons, stuff like Peace of Mind, etc. and any sort of play that is centred around building. Are these types an exhaustive list? Probably not. I personally think that a combination of these leads way to a 'purposeful' pack - i.e. something that moves away from the degenerate fantasy escape / slot machine with extra steps. Though we can completely remove singled out elements like combat (e.g. Peace of Mind) or exploration (skyblocks), and that's perfectly fine. But if you were to remove most ~ all but 1 element it feels more and more like a fabricated game that just happens to use Minecraft as the game engine. It stops being a world / simulation and starts being a casino. Take Factorio as a simpler example. If you remove the threat of combat then it becomes a crafting loop and is edging closer and closer to being like a dressed up idle game or something. Similar can be said for SkyFactory, and if we are going to be cynical we could say that the major game loop is basically the same as an idle game, who's saving grace is complexity of automation and not merely just clicking upgrade. Personally I've struggled with the addiction that comes. Nothing can feel better than sitting down to start a new world a build a little cabin, when life is stressful and you don't feel like you're going anywhere. That's what I mean by enjoyment and purpose - like actual enjoyment and purpose. In a way it's actually hard to conceive of any instance of Minecraft that isn't ripe to be extremely addictive and psychologically regressive. After all it's designed to be a 'children's game' (despite the median consumer being well older). We can point the finger at Minecraft as a base or the mods themselves as a game that is inherently designed into addictive and often shallow loops; but I don't think that's completely true. And obviously it's entirely up to how someone chooses to spend their time in a healthy way. In saying that I think it's largely just how the potential of modded has developed. For instance the massive popularity of SkyFactory can be attributed simply to the fact that it's the most obvious direction to go with the modded feel, e.g. rf feels very modded as opposed to vanilla. SkyFactory is simply the top piece of a pyramid which at the bottom are mechanics like pipes, rf, etc. Likewise with RL Craft, and so on. One solution is to see Minecraft as a simulation as opposed to a game. What I mean is that all of the above analysis is analysis of Minecraft as a game. If we analyse it as a simulation, then primarily Minecraft is about spaces and form, and the primary factors are things like movement and block types. From this perspective we could say Minecraft is quite underdeveloped. You can walk, sprint, swim, and that's about it. Modded tends to opt for obtaining something close to creative flight. And block types are largely trivial (maybe Mojang had a similar idea with powder snow). When I think about the ways Minecraft was constructive or 'served its purpose' as opposed to being a drug, it's when I stepped back and learned the more broad principles about what I was doing - like how to build in a way that's open to future needs, 'functional aesthetics', or simply viscerally feeling that a 100x100x100 cube really is made up of a million blocks - something that while we know mathematically is hard to appreciate until you're placing them. Some of my memorable experiences in Minecraft: Building my first shelter, building a nice shelter, completing the crappy cobblestone stair case down to bedrock the first time, realising I could just jump into a water pool and get down in 3 seconds, building a tower near my base so I could find it because I didn't know about F3 coords, connecting a river to the ocean, creating a waterfall and ridding it down in the boat (we've all done this, right?), laying minecart track when I was still blissfully unaware how useless it is, nether highway, building a wall around a village and then having a zombie spawn inside and kill everyone anyway. Setting a modded fan to max vertical push and using it as my hand glider launch pad, etc. etc. Clearly I'm biased towards building but don't get me wrong I love melting my dopamine receptors on Omnifactory as much as the next guy. I said most memorable, not most enjoyable. If anything I love automation, resource amassment and power creep cause it's addictive af and appeals to what nerds are good at. We could say that Minecraft is doomed to be degenerate because there's no nuance in crafting or building. Plugging Lego pieces together. And on the other hand we would say: Why ruin Minecraft's simplicity. I mean you could literally make a pack where people have to learn to program Lua just to progress. (and I'm pretty sure something like that exists already). I think it's less about adding legitimate barriers to dopamine as it is removing the necessity of quick shallow dopamine loops to progress in the game. Paradoxically, making things easier and moving away from Avaritia would actually make the game harder. What all of these memories have in common is they gave the adult lego blocks an in-world purpose. OK, towny is the best? Clearly not. Obviously towny can be basically just as bad because it can be it's own power creep. It's not merely in-world mechanics over magic box. One continuation is heavier platforming; to have more block types and movement. Here we can give more movement abilities by default or easy to renew, like double jump, leap, side step mods (these already exist). Different move speed on different blocks is tempting but it could easily kill the fun. Or make all the blocks slippery like ice, speed up the mobs, hilarity ensues. It's not the platforming that's important. The general idea is to just 'be' in the world is more pleasing - to 'incentivize' building of projects that are fun to test, not fun to complete, caving because it's fun, not because you need ore W for magic box P, etc. In vanilla these might be the many carnival style games seen on SMPs and so on. My point isn't that this is what would make a 'better' pack - just one example of a pivoted philosophy. And to, immediately contradict myself, a big appeal of modded is obviously, exactly; Get ore W for magic box P. It appeals to the git r' dun mentality. Previously I would fuss over various 'psychopathic' aspects of the game - As many have pointed out, Survival should really be called Conquest. You are the pillager of the villages, not the hero. You're the one that desolates the environment for consumption. It's a power fantasy. So you have mods like pollution of the realms, Nature's aura, etc. Yet it's hard to see these as anything more than chores and minute hurdles to be automated over. And it's impossible to remove the Mine out of Minecraft even with mods like Harder Branchmining, Heat & Climate (makes you suffocate in underground airblocks). These will all simply be interpreted as chorelike things to be overcome with more power. Speaking of - that's the exact 'issue' with things like Tough as Nails and Hardcore Darkness. (I'm not saying they're not part of a solution, just that they aren't the secret sauce). I'm not sure exactly what this would look like. Prospecting and adventuring for biomes can be boring, on the other hand if it is varied enough it's a lower dopamine, higher engagement activity. I also had the thought that mods like Bountiful and Vending Machine more accurately resemble the reality we live in. The question becomes; On the one hand playing the game exists as an extremely accelerated version of tangible success (which we can learn from and/or get addicted to) on the other hand it exists as a realm for the things that we would never do in real life - an outlet or sharpening stone. And then there just the simple fact that the purpose of the game is be an extreme fulfilment of the natural drives. Tl;dr I don't think it's things that need to be added to the game, rather a minimalism that avoids certain dopamine high activities, such as grinding for ore tripling or unlocking heavily gated content. That way players can be in the moment as opposed to chasing some addictive completion curve.
"Some Simple tips for CD devs to make CP2077 feel more alive in upcoming DLCs (Please read) First off, this game was an aesthetic treat and compared to GTAV, it is indeed much more "dense" with the core areas so much more beautiful in that regard... But no game is perfect, nor is it realistic in this decade to expect a full "city simulator" for any dev or in any game, so that's not what I'm expecting out of Night City not even under the most ideal of circumstances... That said, there are plenty of room for improvement, bug fixes sure, but also beyond that I'd like to see more in the upcoming DLC's that make NightCity more alive, not even necessarily newer and larger maps, but just practical added-elements and additional functional components that would go a long way towards making the city appear more 'alive', and immersive and dynamic and all that was illuded to but never fully manifested... So in terms of most bang for buck and the low-hanging fruit (80/20 principle):
1) Bring back (or rather develope for the first time) the promised subway system... this shouldn't be that hard to do... it would add an element of connectivity of the different parts of the city... Leave fast travel as an option, for those that want to ride the train shouldn't be forced to use loading screens 2) Air taxi(s) -- in the age of Telsa self driving cars, hyperloops, drone taxis we should have plenty of automated air taxi options in the world of CP2077, basically like the taxi hailing component in GTAIV (Liberty City) except the player can hail an air taxi that lands close to where he is standing, he gets in, and then chooses any destination and it automatically flys him to the location, while allowing him to look out the windows and enjoy the night city from above / higher perspective... this is simplier than simply giving the player ability to fly hovercars/etc since an air taxi is just from point to point and its trivial to code a system that flys the player from any point in the city to any other point without crashing into any buildings... we've seen NightCity from the ground, now lets see it from the sky! 3) Rented transporation -- user pays to be able to rent jet packs, hoverboards, scooters at different locations in the city so he can use a public transportation but on a personal level... for the jet packs cap a max height so that its still basically hovering at or around slightly above ground level, giving the user the discretion of travel but not allowing him to fly or scale above buildings etc... this requires money to rent and if the equipment is damaged, lost, stolen or not returned properly the users bank account will be deducted for the amount ( see #ECONOMY)
1) Skyscrapers with observation deck -- in every major city there is a theme like this, take Seattle for example you can visit the tallest building in Seattle downtown and go up on the obs deck and see the city view from high above, I would say incorporate some options like this where user can enter some of the taller buildings in NightCity, ride up the elevator to the higher decks and see the city from that view... maybe even add a floor with fine dinning where user can take a friend/date/group to the restuarant and eat while enjoying watching the scenery of the nightcity below etc... 2) All major buildings enter-able (is that a word? lol) with at least a ground lobby.... right now most of the buildings are just fake exteriors, nice to look at from the outside but completely fake and empty with no insides... Due to system restrains its not practical to simulate every room of every floor of every building in nightcity with furnished interiors and real windows and all that... but at least make the first floor /lobby area of every large and major building enter-able so that the character can walk in and out of them... for certain buildings you may want to make a working/functional lobby elevator that leads to an underground garage and/or allows the user to ride the elevator to above ground higher floors of the building... or have the elevator only allow certain floors to be accessed and furnish these floors with realistic settings/environment and this can tie in nicely with the job/work/career paths discussed in #ECONOMY section with gives you the office space to put a number of companies in which the user can find and switch jobs and work in corporate paths etc... for example allow the user to customize and decorate his own "office/desk", and if he has a window office, then that would provide another unique view/scenery of nightcity from above ground perspective, one that can only be gotten from working at that particular company/job, and gives him an incentive to work late to see the city from nighttime while burning the midnight oil￼ 3) Multiple apartments, the user should be able to pick and choose from a vast selection and array of living arrangements and this necessities a lot of hotel/condo/apartment options which means these buildings need to have interiors and furnished and environments fully built out...
1) Ability to find and work a job, with multiple career paths and with ability to move up in the corporate world... this provides the user with a stead stream of income for which he can use to buy fancier cars, to move into newer and better apartments /condos etc.. and to buy fancier items like designer cloths and the suches... not to mention to spend on fine dinning in high end restuarants which can tie in nicely with going on datings, impressing women with luxury cars and expensive meals and "date nights out" at elaborate events.... basically there has to be a purpose and meaning to making more money, and the process of making more money has to be derived from a job or work or career of some sort as the main component... Have a real economy with unemployment, inflation, commodity prices, and all of that impact and influence and affect the user in his everyday life... for example if a major terror event or pandemic causes the Nightcity to suffer an economic depression for a few months then its possible the company that the user is working at has to lay off people and he gets canned and has to downsize to a smaller apartment, loses his girlfriend/wife, and then has to find another lower paying job and stuck in the downward cycle for a few years until he is able to win the lottery (#GAMBLING/SPECUTLATION/BETTING) or his luck somehow changes... Everything should cost money, it costs money to rent an apartement and it should also cost money to eat and drink... basically he user has to spend money to eat otherwise he will starve to death... and the user has to keep paying rent every month for whatever apartment he resides otherwise he gets evicted and could even become homeless and have to live in one of those nasty tents in tenty city or under a highway bridge etc etc Grocery stores, restuarants, movie theaters, hotels, and shopping malls... There should be at least a few convinennce stores, shopping malls, restuarants and other retail places spread throughout nightcity, this is a component and element of the economy as well as a means for the user to spend all the hard earned money he worked towards... for example if you give a homeless a few bucks he should be able to use it to spend at a store on the corner to get something to eat and then that makes him happy because he is no longer so hungry... there should be a tie in for economy, money, and the ability to exchange that for goods and services (barber, tatto artists cough cough) and associate these goods and services to emotional feelings of happiness and satisfication for both the user /player and the NPCs...
There should be a distinction between autumn/fall, spring, summer, winter etc... This gives a big cycle sense of passage of time that cannot be simulated with the current day/night cycles along... in the winter the sun should rise and set at different times/angles than the summer... In addition, I'd like to see an accurate night sky map/ stars. NightCity takes place in SoCal, its trivial to map the nightsky for the year 2077 in the SoCal area... even in the latest Flight Simulator 2020 the stars are now accurate at night... Ability to choose LIVE weather based on current user location (see Flight Simulator) so say its raining in Dallas Texas where a user is playing, then in NightCity it will match that and we raining in the game as well... also ability to customize weather on-the-fly in real-time (see Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020) and have that instantly change in the game without reloading... Along with seasons I'd like to be able to see holiday celebrations for example Christmas time espeically... I want to hear holiday music and see buildings decorated with Christmas lights and the jolly spirits of it all... Think the ambiance and environment of say Polar Express, bring that alive to Night City for Xmas...
MINI GAMES and other Microcosm
There is a "Go" board in Chinatown... but its fake... and the players aren't even attempting to play Go... See what Google Deepmind did with AlphaGo, Facebook made an OpenGo that they open sourced... there is also LeelaZero and KataGo free AI engines that have already been trained using deeplearning/machineAI to be far better than the Go masters... the same applies to Chess by the way... but I didn't see a Chess board in Night City yet... in any case all these board games the computer AI can now master... make these games playable in NightCity, so the user can watch two NPC's play a round of Go/Chess/etc (Ai vs Ai) or can join and sit down and take a seat and play against an NPC a real game of Go/Chess, (or in the future if CP gets a multiplayer than humans can play against one another etc) basically a microcosms and games-within-a-game.... Spotify/Netflix/youTube integrations... I'd like to see the user have a portable/personal mp3 player or app on his virtual smartphone that allows him to link to his personal -reallife- spotify account to listen to music while in the game... also on the TV screens at home to be able to watch netflix movies while in this virtual apartment chilling with his date/friends... and things like YouTube integration would be nice... maybe even pornhub integration.... Other simple games like darts, bowling and even toys like RC cars or DJI drones... give the use the ability to fly drones (check out DJI Simulator) or operate rc model cars etc... basically toys that he can buy at electronic stores or corner outlets that he can then use these toys in real life for any variety of enjoyments... this also ties into #ECONOMY and why its important to have a good job /career that pays good money!
Have some form of virtual casinos in the game, NightCity reminds me of Vegas, yet not one slot machine and not one means to gamble or bet? How about the ability to play the stockmarket, bitcoins, and make bets and well as go gambling, cards, poker, etc this not only provides a form of entertainment but also gives the user a way to quickly win / lose a lot of money and for the risk takers they may wish to invest their money in high risk high reward speculative stocks in the stock market instead of immediately spending it on a new apartment, new car, new tech gadget etc etc... this would also tie back to #ECONOMY since the more the user earns the more income he has to spend on gambling/stocks and the better the economy does the higher his stocks return on investment...
Should be able to court any pretty woman on the streets, to walk up to her and say hi and have a path/chance to a dialogue that leads to setting up a first date... and following that if it goes well can progress to more dates and evetnually her moving in with the user and eventually even having a kid, getting married, and the works... each female NPC should have a male preference and a threshold of compatiblity... so that for example if on the first date the guy is cheap and takes her to low end resturant, doesn't have a nice car to pick her up with, and otherwise seems like a low life then she wouldn't process/continue with him... whereas if he is already established with a multimillion apartment, supercar, takes her to most expensive restuarant in NightCity, then I could see her going back to his place on the first date and maybe even getting pregnant right then and there that night etc..."
Analysis: Does Robin charge you too much for house upgrades and how I concluded she is a diety.
Ever since a Let’s Play got me into Stardew Valley, I’ve fallen in love with the world. It’s something special, a place to relax and get away from the world’s problems. Here, you can pay bills with the sweat of your own brow, make friends, fall in love, and can escape the drudgery of modern life. It’s magical in its own way. I’ve played hundreds of hours over multiple save files. I’ve been wondering one thing just recently, however. I remember when I first asked Robin for house upgrades and the sheer bowel-emptying amount she asked for. Seriously? That much for a kitchen? Now that I haven’t left my house for the past several weeks, fear human contact, and have deep dived into the paranormal, I’m overthinking something constantly: with regards to modern housework, does Robin the carpenter over or under charge you for her work? To figure this out, it’s going to require a fair bit of math and a lot of guesswork. I’m going to have to establish a lot of ground rules but I’m going to try and be as accurate to real world costs as I can. We need to learn four things:
What year does the game take place so we can calculate accurate inflation?
What is the square footage of the house and its upgrades?
What is the exchange value of gold, the game’s currency?
What is the cost of Robin’s labor?
Let’s tackle the first. To do this, I scoured around to look for modern conveniences. Primarily, I found these five:
There is what appears to be an old Apple computer monitor in Harvey’s clinic and Maru’s room.
Sam has an electric guitar and what looks like a plasma screen computer monitor in his room.
In Mr. Qi’s casino, the slot machines do not have a lever. This is important because that gives us a firm earliest date of 1963.
Another interesting factoid is the number of Cathode-ray TVs you see in Stardew Valley. These are the precursors to plasma screens, which were in turn succeeded by LCD screen TVs. Additionally, a large number of your starter houses comes preequipped with Cathode-ray TVs. Granted, this may be because the farmhouse was abandoned for many years before you came along, but there exists another such TV in 1 River Road where we often see George watching his shows. I will concede that George and Evelyn are quite old and may not have the tech savvy nature of Sebastian to get something more modern, so that can’t be an accurate measurement. Plus, Alex’s mental acumen is a little... questionable. As for crafting recipes, there really isn’t anything worth talking about. Magic items I won’t talk about because it has no real world comparison; that also throws out the wizard shop’s items. The furniture catalog has nothing of note to pinepoint a date, and nor does Pierre’s General Store, Joja Mart, Joja Warehouse, the Blacksmith, Stardrop Saloon, or Marnie’s ranch. Leah doesn’t mention anything about her laptop, so that is of little help. So the casino gives us a low bound. Although manufacturing of the plasma screen TV stopped in the US in 2014, plasma screen TVs were losing their market shares around 2007 and factories were shutting down. As you can buy them like hotcakes and fill a shed with them, 2007 is our upper bound. The price for plasma screens was quite pricey for residential homes. 1995 was the year 42 inch plasma screens became commercial, and some had home installation priced somewhere around US$15,000. Still not quite the size of the queen or king sized bed you and your spouse have (the size of the plasma screen in the game), but sixty inch plasma screen TVs were sold around the year 2000, and that is plenty big. Given the size of the screen in the game is roughly three tiles just like your bed, I think it’s safe to say this is around the size of our estimate. Our rough year range is now 1995 to 2007. Let’s split the difference and say the game takes place in 2001. We have our year. To calculate the size of our farmhouse, we need some baseline measurement. Luckily, the game is pixelated so we can be quite accurate in our measurements. Unluckily, we have no confirmed height of anything, so we have to intuit some things. Reddit user asparagus made this excellent size chart, so while I can just use that and save myself a lot of work, let us do some measurements of our own and then measure the farmhouse with both this method and asparagus’ method. First, there is the height of plants, but those can vary widely. For instance, you can pot prickly pear cactuses in your farmhouse, but their height can vary anywhere between one and seven feet. Plant height is a no go. The average height of a minifridge is forty three inches (109 cm) tall, so unless you are a dwarf, that’s not right either. The fences are also a good starting point, as most agricultural fencing stands at four feet (1.2 m). Here we don’t have to do much; all fences are forty eight pixels in height. Four feet equals out to forty eight inches (121.92 cm). It doesn’t get more perfect than that! Trigger warning: incoming math. Now comes the really tricky part: getting the dimensions of each iteration of your farmhouse, and squinting at my computer screen like a mole in order to count pixels; we must include walls as well as that is included in square footage. Our first iteration has pixel measurements of 704x496. Add in the doorway (136x64pixels), and then we’ll still convert for square feet. 704 * 496 + (136 * 64) = 318,452 pixels/sq, which (dividing by 12^2) converts to 2,211.47 ft/sq. Damn, we’re well on our way for most modern mansions. I have to have messed something up (205.45 m/sq, btw). The average firebox (the inside of a fireplace where you burn wood) tends to be around 32x20 inches (81.28x50.8 cm). Ours is... 72x40. Twice as large. I also haven’t even begun to calculate the farmhouse’s height because Robin is beginning to scare me. Alright, new plan, we’re going with asparagus. I married Haley and took her measurements. She is 104 pixels tall, and since she is 65 inches (165.1 cm) according to asparagus, that gives us a measurement of .625 inches/pixel (1.5875 cm/pixel). Side note, I really want some Twizlers right now. So instead of having pixels as at a 1:1 ratio, we have something a little more lenient, but things are looking a little... grim. We’ll have to convert each individual amount, so we have (704 * .625) * (496 * .625) + ((136 * 64) * .625^2) for 124,395.31 inches/sq, 863.86 ft/sq., 80.25 m/sq. But still, we haven’t even begun to calculate the actual volume of our farmhouse yet, so these numbers are going to explode. I’m beginning to think Robin is Hestia. Yoba is not the only deity in this town. Alright, calculating the rest of the floor spaces is a little boring so let’s speedrun this. Wall height for the farmhouse is 140 pixels, so (140 * .625) * 124,395.31 inches/sq / 12^3 = 6,298.95 ft^3 (178.36 m^3) for the farmhouse, and 25,800.51 ft^3 (730.58 m^3) using my method. Just... let’s move on. Second iteration has me doing a fair bit more work. Wall height is 135 pixels, and rightmost—wait, the walls are shorter? Weird. Anyway, the rightmost room has dimensions of 486 for width by 375 for depth (and the same cubby dimensions), giving us cuboid dimensions of 24,603,750 pixels^3, which converts to 14,238.28 ft^3 (403.18 m^3), and 3,476.14 ft^3 (82.83 m^3) using asparagus' method Middle corridor has a dimensional width of 42 pixels by 87 depth, giving us a total of 285.47 ft^3 (8.08 m^3), and 69.69 ft^3 (1.97 m^3) using asparagus' method. Leftmost room (the kitchen) has a width of 870 and depth of 375, with a doorway of 136x64. That gives us a cuboid area of 314,019.38 ft^3 (29,173.11 m^3), and 6,388.74 ft^3 (180.91 m^3) using asparagus' method. That gives us a grand total for a tier two home of... ... 328,543.13 ft^3 (29,584.37 m^3) using my method and ... 9,934.58 ft^3 (281.31 m^3) using asparagus' method. So Robin added at a minimum 3,635.63 cubic feet to your house in three daysby herself. Even if you extend the days and months to roughly align with our own calendar, that would be a mere nine days. How much powdered starfruit did she snort in order to do that by herself? I 100% believe Emily is the town’s dealer. I didn’t even calculate the length of the farmhouse loft. It’s doable, and even though you can’t enter it in the game, a bigger farmhouse means a bigger loft judging by the look of it. Anyway, I’m not going to calculate the loft area right now. I’m not going to calculate the other tiers of your farmhouse either, even though that was my intent when I started this analysis. The math is easy enough, but it gets boring to type, and no doubt to read. Plus, I’m a little stunned by Robin's carpentry acumen. C’mon Robin, stop upgrading my house. Exercise with the girls, dance with your husband, smoke some weed, I dunno, RELAX. But in a strange way, it makes a weird sort of sense. Pretty much no one plays the game with auto-run turned off, but do so for a moment. See how fast you move. That is your normal pace, and auto-run is you, an Olympian god, sprinting around town every second of every day, helping the shit out of everyone whether they want it or not, snorting the same starfruit mixture you got from Robin to keep going, who may have gotten it from Linus (my money is still on Emily). We’ve become so accustomed to seeing the run animation as our default I almost didn’t realize it doesn’t translate to modern life. The boards in your house, I almost took those as your normal 2x4 planks of wood (which actually measure 1.5x3.5, the world lies to me). They are not. They are almost the width of your entire body, and your walking pace (sorry I can’t get an exact pixel measurement) covers roughly one and a half boards, a similar length to a normal human gait. The art style fooled even me until now, but your house is massive. Let’s just answer our other two questions. What is the exchange rate? Calculating the exchange rate of a fictional world is always tricky as they have different concepts of rarities, but I’ll give it the ol’ college try. Once again, I can’t do anything with magic. Let’s first list some things of note:
Iridium is fairly easy to get around Stardew Valley once you are able, and that is a rare and valuable metal, with a current price of US$1,510 per troy ounce.
You can purchase a golden column to place on your farm, and gold has a current price of US$1,643 per troy ounce
Conversely, while the first two are rare and valuable metals, crops such as corn are valued at prices like 150g, a very unusually high amount if exchanged 1:1 to USA dollars.
Going back to plasma screen TVs, we can use its price history and then convert currencies to Stardew Valley gold.
Now you may be tempted to say we can’t translate iridium and gold’s prices to real world market values, and normally you may be right, but there are some extenuating circumstances in the game: the town is right next to two very large mines. It is even a plot point once you clear the glittering boulder that the water carries ore from deep inside the mountain. Yes, gold and iridium are valuable, but your location to ore veins is important; gold and iridium may be uncommon resources but you have access to very specific places where they are more common, otherwise known as the scarcity heuristic). This also explains two facts about iridium: discounting magic, iridium is quite rare in the game, just like real life. Secondly, Clint’s prices make a lot more sense not only because it’s endgame material, but because iridium is super dense and has a very high melting point, thus making it a very difficult material to work with. But by far the biggest challenge of this question is figuring out whether or not items you produce factor in the cost of your labor or not. For instance, lace is made of simple materials that even in the days of Victorian England, it was easy to get. However because lace was so time consuming to make, it could command absurd prices. Thus, one of the first things we need to discover is whether or not the game takes into account cost of labor or not. So I am going to take you all back to school and talk about someone who’s old and dead: Adam Smith. It was he who talked about the cost of labor in his book The Wealth of Nations, and because of that, I bring up this particular line:
“...From century to century, corn is a better measure than silver, because, from century to century, equal quantities of corn will command the same quantity of labour more nearly than equal quantities of silver.”
Why did I mention corn above? This is why. Prices may vary, but agriculture has been around for thousands of years and the cost of a farmer’s labor equals about the same. According to Dylan Baumann, Stardew Valley corn plants have a profit value of 535 gold per plant. Our corn plant profits are about as high as they can get without adding something new into the mix, and we don’t want that yet. Let’s set some ground rules:
Cultivatable farm space on the standard farm equals out to 3,427 spaces, but we’ll round that down to 3,350 for iridium sprinklers, iridium watering can, and scarecrows, equaling maximum farming with no loss of crop.
We’ll keep Dylan’s ground rules, so no fertilizer.
No preserves, jams, wine, and juices.
No farming efficiencies and crop selling bonuses.
No use of the greenhouse to grow crops outside of the growing season.
If you plant the entire farm with corn and stop harvesting on Fall day 28 when the growing season ends, that lets you harvest a total of 11 ears of corn per plant. Multiply that by 3,350, we get a total of 36,850 ears of corn for your entire farm. Corn is measured in bushels, and a bushel of corn can be anywhere between 40 and 60 ears of corn, but we’ll say you really pack it in for 60, meaning your growing season for corn produces 36,850 / 60 corn for a total of 614.17 bushels per year. The USDA has a 2001 labor value of corn at US$2.92 per acre (and that matches the Iowa labor statistic), and using 156 bushels per acre, that brings our labor cost per bushel at... US$00.02. That’s a real pittance. Considering bushels of corn retailed around $2.11 per bushel in 2001, that is an incredible markup of 184.85 times. We’re almost done with the dreaded math, I swear. Corn retails at 100g apiece in Stardew Valley(You get 50 gold from Pierre, so he has a 100% markup), meaning the labor cost should be around 184.85 times less that amount, meaning it takes about 0.54 gold to make one ear of corn. Your average US farmers salary $55,000 and $100,000, and we’ll take the middle of $77,500 for our measurements. Dividing the farmer’s salary by the total ears of corn our farmer grows in Stardew Valley, we get a labor cost per ear of corn in US dollars of $2.10 per ear of corn. Now we multiply this by our markup ratio to get the IRL retail cost of corn in Stardew, getting US$237.08! Damn that better be some good eating! We divide that number by the Stardew Valley retail cost of corn, netting us a real world conversion of gold of, drumroll please, $2.37 US dollars per gold in 2001. Now just for funzies, let us calculate the actual salary of your famer in Stardew Valley. Multiplying your 36,850 ears of corn by 50 gold (your selling price of gold, not the retail price of 100g), that nets you 1,842,500 gold per growing season. Multiply that by the dollagold conversion we just calculated and your real life gross income comes out to be US$436,672,500. Give me all of the golden clocks, wizard. Three questions down, one more to go. Currency conversion was rather tricky because it involved quite a lot of math, but this last question, what is the cost of Robin’s labor, that requires the most assumptions. There’s an easy answer and a hard answer. Robin’s upgrades, except for the last, require you the farmer to give her resources in addition to gold. The simple answer is you are providing materials in order to keep the raw gold cost down. This means that the first house upgrade, 10,000 gold, is strictly her labor cost as the 450 wood is all the raw materials she needs to build. 3 days * 3 months (to adjust Stardew month lengths to our month lengths) comes out to Robin working an IRL equivalent to 9 days. Taking 10,000 gold / 9 days equals a cost of 1,111.111 gold per day, and considering Robin has snorted enough powdered starfruit to have 20 hour work days, that comes out to 55.56 gold per hour. Just to be sure, let’s see if the math holds up for the last upgrade. That one requires a cost of 100,000 gold and comes preequipped with 33 casks. You do not provide the resources for the casks, meaning that comes included with the cost. Casks cannot be sold, but the materials required to make them are 20 wood and 1 hardwood, which Robin will provide for the same 100% markup (meaning 4 gold and 30 gold respectively). 4 gold * 30 gold * 33 casks comes out to 3,960 gold. Using the same calculations for the first house iteration, we get (100,000 gold - 3,960) / (3 days * 3 months) / 20 hours for a total of 533.56 gold per hour. Not even close to our first estimate. We could just average them together for (533.56 + 55.56) / 2 = 294.56 gold, and that would be the easy answer. It would be nice to settle for the easy answer. Let’s find the hard answer. We are going to calculate labor cost per square footage, and luckily most of the work has been done over the course of several google spreadsheets. To find the cost of materials and money per upgrade volume we get the formula (Upgrade volume - Base Volume) / 10,000 gold. This gives us a grand total of cubic material built per gold of... ...2,573.26 in^3/gold, 30.27 ft^3/gold, 2.89 m^3/gold using my method and ...628.24 in^3/gold, 0.36 ft^3/gold, 0.01 m^3/gold using asparagus’ method. Let’s see if the math holds up for the basement upgrade and dammit I just realized I got to do more pixel measurements now. Hold on, be back in an hour. Alright, I’m back. We don’t need to do any subtraction for the previous volume of the house considering the cellar is its own little area, but we still need to subtract the value of the materials used for the casks. The cellar comes out to a grand total of cubic materials built per gold of... ...386.91 in^3/gold, 0.22 ft^3/gold, 0.01 m^3/gold using my method and ...94.46 in^3/gold, 0.05 ft^3/gold, 0.0015 m^3/gold using asparagus’ method. Huge discrepancy. Before I get into my reasoning why, let us outline what we know first.
We’re pretty sure the game takes place in 2001.
We have the exact sizes of each house upgrade calculated with two different methods.
We have a certified exchange rate of US$2.37 at that point in time.
We have two different methods of calculating the cost of Robin’s labor.
The amount of work Robin does during her three(nine?) day job is absolutely obscene.
I come to one conclusion: Robin is a god that has settled down in the world of Stardew Valley. Here me out. I have three pieces of evidence. The first is when Robin is hired to take on a house upgrade job no one helps her, not even her husband Demetrius. Your house is right next to hers, so you’re not paying for travel. As we have shown by our calculations above and in the gDoc spreadsheet, that is a massive amount of work. It’s simply not possible for a human to accomplish such a monumental task. Robin claims she built her own home herself with this line from the game...
“Have I told you that I built our house from the ground up? It's definitely been the highlight of my career so far.”
...so we know her carpentry acumen is impressive enough for the job, but she has severely understated her skill. Homeadvisor pegs a house costing anywhere between US$150,000 to US$500,000 (US$102,005.53 to $340,018.44, adjusted for 2001 inflation), but even adjusted for inflation, Robin absolutely underbids the current housing market. Those inflation adjusted values, when converted to gold, come out to a range of 43,040.31g-143,467.70g. Granted, these prices are for a complete house, not adding onto a current house, but even if we half the value you are getting one hell of a discount. The second piece is Robin’s language. The sheer passion for her work speaks wonders..
“Wood is a wonderful substance... it's versatile, cheap, strong, and each piece has its own unique character!”
...but perhaps she is just passionate about what she does. Many people are, but knowing what we do about how dirt cheap and blindingly fast she works let’s go into more detail about some things, specifically three lines. The first...
“Our little plan worked out well, don't you think? Pam and Penny seem really happy.”
...is said after Pam’s house undergoes an upgrade. “Our” plan? Sure, you are the one that buys the upgrade and Robin has to build it, but I can’t help but feel there is a double meaning behind this language. It is done out of the kindness of Robin’s heart and the materials have to come from somewhere, so she can’t do it for free, but it wasn’t about the money, as we have stated previously. It was about Penny. Pam is a somewhat contentious person because of slobbish and slovenly nature. She is immediately and irrationally angered when Penny tries to pick the place up. She drinks heavily...
“\sigh*... My mother definitely has a problem with going to the saloon too much. But it's best not to dwell on bad things, right?”*
...doesn’t seem to understand not paying her tab has some consequences, and doesn’t realize what her habits have done to her daughter’s psyche. Then you, the player come along. Pam is okay with the simple things in life, but you help Penny with her worries and insecurities, and then with you and Robin together, you give Penny everything she needs to help her shed those worries. She has a house that doesn have problems with rain, two friends who look out for her, her mom has a job, and most importantly she has peace of mind and in a world fraught with problems, that is truly priceless. This is the second line...
“Hey! I heard some weird noises last night, and woke up this morning to find the quarry bridge completely repaired! It's a miracle of woodworking!”
...and it occurs once you offer items to the community center junimos to get the quarry bridge repaired. It is also a bald-faced lie. The junimos are good, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve seen what Robin can do with our own two eyes. She is absolutely incredible at her job, and while I may give it to her she has no idea what junimos are or what they are capable of, we have proof that the act of restoring the bridge in one night is not out of the realm of possibility for her. A miracle, yes, but I’m certain she can beat the junimos’ time. Lastly, there is one quote from her that is just... it opens up some very interesting questions. When she says...
“My parents were bewildered when I told them I wanted to be a carpenter. They were pretty old-fashioned.”
...how old are her parents when they consider carpentry too new-fashioned for them? Carpentry is one of the world’s oldest professions. If they were old-fashioned, why were they bewildered? This line is just so fascinating to me. Robin is incredibly skilled, but I cannot rationalize carpentry being too newfangled for parents to wrap their head around. Who were they? Where are they from? I know your secrets, Robin, I know your parents are gods, too. The third and final piece is the contrasting pieces of the world at large. Just like ours, it’s a little depressing. Joja Corp runs dozens of what even Cyberpunk would consider a dataslave farm. The world is flooded with consumerism run amok, Orwellian surveillance, and rampant urbanization. The Ferngill Republic is in the middle of a war with the Gotoro Empire and Kent still suffers PTSD from being in a prisoner of war camp. Stardew Valley isn’t just a town to retire in, it is a place of respite and healing. There are threeconfirmed magic users deeply tied to the town’s mystical roots. The bears speak and encourage you to manage the world around you. You are rewarded for restoring balance to the valley by being able to recycle things you don’t need. Your main resource in the game, gold, also doesn’t matter that much; if it ever slips into the negative, nothing bad ever happens. You must just work to raise it back up. There is no lose condition in the game. In many respects it is similar to the Gaiaism philosophy that all living beings are connected, each relying and depending on each other in order to maintain a peaceful coexistence. You help Shane with his nihilism and depression, Sebastian with his ability to express and accept affection, Sam with his dreams, Kent with his problems, Leah with her ambitions, Haley with her generosity and narcissism, or even simple goals like Penny’s idea of a quiet domestic life. Whether it is the addicted, lost, or scorned, everyone is welcome and everyone can have a home in Stardew Valley. No one embodies this more than Robin who just wants a simple life. Whether it is her own house or her own boat during the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies, Robin builds it herself. The feel of wood grain, the smell of lacquer, the stickiness of stain, the thrum of the saw, and the bite of the axe. Robin doesn’t charge you nearly enough for your house upgrades because it is not about the money. Woodworking is what she loves and she lives in a place where barterism, kindness, family, and friendship substitute so many of life's modern problems and inconveniences. Friendship increases in the game aren’t just a measurement of achievements, a means of getting more recipes, or more candles lit on a grave. You are making friends and getting to know these people for who they are and everyone’s life is bettered because of it. The amount of love I’ve seen for Linus is just staggering. Shane, in all of his melancholy and despite him not being a suitor in the original version of the game, is loved by so many. I know some despise Haley, but I love that I was able to show her what kindness can do for people. You are in a gentle and loving place, and you are loved. What a better place for a god to reside? A quiet town filled with peace and love, seeped in nature and the old magics of yore. A loving mate, a family to raise. Land to share with those that forage from its bounty. It’s all she needs. Robin’s role in all of this? She desires neither worship nor admiration. She is just a friend. A god, certainly, but a friend first and foremost who is just settling down in a quiet town looking for a little peace. https://preview.redd.it/fkugiuh4nwv51.png?width=507&format=png&auto=webp&s=146d3dabaa63c0ce3bfd281712434e9b2a655be8 Image by MagicallyClueless
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