Fallout 76: Going For Gold

After my year layoff, I’ve been playing Fallout 76 regularly lately and thanks to events like the Test Your Metal events, Radiation Rumble, and Scorched Earth (I finally killed the Scorched Queen, yeah!), I’ve reached Level 235 this past weekend. Yay!

I’ve also have plunged into the Gold economy; basically, gold is used to buy superior armor, weapons, and other items. Also, in the “Gold Economy” you can’t trade or give away items purchased with gold; previously, most of the economy was based on Caps currency. Gold started a while back, but I finally plunged in full bore.

The differences between traditional armor and weapons is not huge, but is significant. For most of my FO76 gaming I’ve been using the always sexy-looking BOS Combat Armor as my body armor, the not-so-sexy X-01 Power Armor for big battles, and the ever deadly 50 Cal Machine Gun has always been my Go-To weapon since Level 25.

Yordie Sands, gamer in Fallout 76

That’s me in my full set of BOS Combat Armor. It’s carried me most of the way through the game.

Yordie Sands, Fallout 76 Gamer

That’s me on top of Seneca Rock in my X-01 Blackbird Power Armor watching a nuclear blast.

However, in recent months I’ve added the Secret Service body armor (I’ll drop a photo in my next post), and this past weekend I’ve gone to full bore into the T-65 Blackbird Elite Power Armor. WHOA! Let me say this about my new power armor: Okay, it isn’t very ladylike but it gives you better chances of surviving a battle with the Scorchbeast Queen.

BTW, I also have the Hellfire Power Armor but haven’t put the necessary mods in yet.  I also have full sets of Excavator, T-45, T-51, T-60, Ultracite (with Calibrated Shocks!) power armor. More on that next post.

Yordie Sands, Gamer.

That me in fully “pimped out” T-65 power armor with the new Blackbird Elite paint job. I finally got all the gold needed for essential mods, especially the Calibrated Shocks. It’s a funny notion, but Power Armor is like a military tank that you can wear and walk around in.

I’m thrilled with my latest acquisitions but it takes a lot more work to go with gold economy equipment. I haven’t moved on to the gold weapons because I’m still studying them. It’s going to take a lot to dislodge me from my trusty 50 Cals (I own 8 of them).

Below is a photo from my early days in the game, it features a downed Scorchbeast Queen and me in a puny set of Excavator power armor. I think the reason for power armor is understandable when facing a monster like the Queen.

Fallout 76 Gamer Yordie Sands

This pic was taken a couple years ago when I first started playing Fallout 76. THAT monster is the Scorchbeast Queen and the battle to stop her tyranny is the penultimate and most exciting event of the entire game. I was wearing Excavator armor and my 50 Cal was puny by comparison to the 50s I have now. BTW, this is probably the biggest beast in the game and when it is standing it is MUCH bigger and it’s bat-like wingspan is VAST. Period! Well, oh, and it flies in the air and blasts horrendous scorched poisons and blinding soundwaves at you. So, there’s that also.

A decade ago, I felt that all online multi-player gaming was infested with griefers and psychopaths, but Bethesda (now owned by Microsoft) game designers have done a good job of providing countermeasures for controlling that kind of player. In fact, if you’ve never played an online game, I think you can learn as you go with Fallout 76.

I’m way over the age of what most people would consider to be a Gamer, but I’ve become a Gamer. I really enjoy as an entertainment. If you are interested in learning more about how to get involved, let me know (Twitter, Reddit, email or here). However, gaming can be addictive.

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Fallout 76: Getting Settled in Again

I restarted playing Fallout 76 a few months ago. I’d left for nearly a year because I was so disgusted with the “Daily Ops” events being touted as the new gameplay, and I haven’t changed my mind about that. But now that I’m playing FO76 once more, I notice that a lot has changed for the better.

A couple weeks ago “Test Your Metal” events were introduced and I really enjoy engaging in those three different events. I play either as part of a public team or solo in group play. So far, the penultimate event is still “Scorched Earth” but I’m enjoying a lot of the other team events more thanks to Test Your Metal.

Anyway, my main character is now Level 218, and that’s pretty puny by many standards. I mean, I see a lot of players above 500 and have seen a couple 1,000 level players. The thing about “level” is, it doesn’t necessarily reflect relative strength or knowledge of the game. I also have level 178 and 56 characters that use in my gaming. SPOILER: extra characters can be used to store valuable items.

So, I’m really enjoying this game again and I’ve been building new camps with some of the newer building materials and objects. Below I’m featuring three of my five camps: Yordie’s Store, Beckett’s Bar, and Wanderer’s Farm. I’m still working on each of these but plan to rebuild my store because it’s kind of a hodge-podge.

Yordie’s Store

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76

This is my main store near the White Springs railroad station. BTW, I also have grumpy ole Settler Forager hanging out there to handle unruly customers.

Beckett’s Bar

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76

I like Beckett and he needed a bar because that was his dream. And I liked the idea of having a bar & store near a convenient railroad station, so I built this place for him.

Yordie Sands photography

Here’s Becket inside his bar where he enjoys serving wasteland visitors.

Wanderer’s Farm

Yordie Sands photography

This is the Wanderer’s farmhouse. There’s a large farm behind the house.

Yordie Sands photography

And that’s her on the right, the Wanderer, playing her guitar and singing a lovely tune.

Yordie Sands

This is a special upstairs bedroom & den at Wanderer’s Farm.

As you can tell by Wanderer’s Farm, it is now possible to create some pretty nice looking settlements in Fallout 76. And having the ability to build five settlements (only one active at a time) is quite a bit of fun. The main thing I strive for is to position my settlements strategically around the map to facilitate better Fast Travel. By giving each settlement a theme and a different Ally, it makes each visit just a little bit more enjoyable.

I have a couple of other camps that aren’t much to look at, but I’ll feature them in an upcoming post. I’ve also been taking some photos of really unique landscapes and features that I think Fallout 76 gamers will enjoy.

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New: Yordie Sands Videos

I’ve been wanting to create an online movie, a Machinima, for years. Yeah, just what I need, one more epic project! I may do that someday, but recently I’ve begun creating Xbox video tours of my Fallout 4 Settlements. I’m new at this and the videos pretty amateurish, but I’ll keep working on my techniques in the coming videos.

The thing I loved about Second Life was creating my Japanese Gardens, Zen Gardens, and Geisha Houses. Unfortunately, all I have of those building efforts are those blog posts and many photos still available on Google.

Nonetheless, I have many other building projects, both in Xbox One for the Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 games. It has taken years to develop my building techniques and design ideas, but the latest iteration of Fallout 4 has some of my best build ideas. Following are a couple of videos of a couple of my largest settlements. The largest settlements have over 24 settlers and you’ll see farmers, soldiers, bar tenders, doctors, storekeepers, and even some special companions. I even have a dog named Dogmeat, and a son named Shaun (long story, but no I didn’t give birth).

The Sanctuary Hills Settlement

The Starlight Drive-in Settlement

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Commentary: Online Gaming is Spiritual Opium?

[UPDATED] During the past weekend, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made the Chinese people aware that playing online games is equivalent to “Opium for the mind” or “Spiritual Opium”.

So, is the CCP’s assertion true: Is online gaming addictive? And if it is, does government have a duty to suppress gaming companies, or suppress individuals from playing games?

First of all, I agree with the CCP’s assertion. I believe that online games are additive.

My experience with computer gaming and online gaming is that it is a type of “spiritual opium”; that is, assuming opium is a metaphor for addiction. I believe that if you play online games you already know that they are addictive. In fact, these games can be so addictive that they keep you from living a “normal” life; meaning, a life where you interact with human beings and navigate your way through life’s challenges. This last part is much more complicated than you might think, but I’ll stick with basics.

I started playing simple games that shipped with Windows 3.0, games like Solitaire, Tetris, and others. Maybe it was because I worked in technology, but I found computer gaming fascinating and I spent many hours playing the games when I should have been sleeping. I think that was a kind of addiction. However, I backed away from those games because my interest in programming, databases, and the Internet was even more fascinating. So, in hind sight, that was a brief interval of my life, but would I have been better off if our nation-state had turned off my access to the games? I don’t think so. I played games to relax after a hard day’s work.

BTW, tech workers in China live a “996” way of life (“9am to 9pm, six days a week”) and this has enabled China to make the massive technology gains they’ve made in the past twenty years. Put another way, China expects its tech workers to devote themselves to the projects that propel the country forward. They’ve openly criticized activities that don’t  directly contribute to the advancement of the states objectives. They aren’t even shy about saying this.

I made progress in my tech career and was online before the Internet. I played some of the early online games. I played various online games on Prodigy, and enjoyed running the  Golden Streams Brewery business game. But the early online games weren’t that awesome, and I graduated to other computer games like Might & Magic (a solo role play, adventure party game) and F-15 Strike Eagle. I had a fancy fighter control stick for Strike Eagle and loved flying up to 40,000 feet and descending on enemy targets at Mach 2. So, I had a taste for gaming and that gave me a certain connection with fellow software developers. I was even a “Guerilla Programmer” (meaning programmers that did not to surrender the software industry to foreign countries) back in the 1990s.

I joined a Redmond, Washington software development company and that led to my greatest achievements. I fit in with this group easily because of my devotion to the art and science of software technology, but also because I could walk the walk as a computer gamer. In fact, I played online multi-player games with the guys on our team in the afterhours at our office. We used the company’s servers to run our own versions of popular multi-player games like Doom, Rise of The Triad, Duke Nukem, and many other crazy games. That gaming was part of my company’s culture. We’d play from 6pm to sometimes as late as midnight, and it was a lot of fun, even though the guys saw us girls as easy kills.  If I had been a staunch women’s libber, I probably would not have fit in, but I’ve always felt comfortable letting guys be guys.

The question arises: Were we addicted to online gaming? Maybe, but I just don’t know.

I am sure that all of us were addicted to our careers. In fact, I think everyone who lived in Redmond at that time was addicted to their careers as well. And we helped invent the future of software in our own small pocket of the software universe. We also helped build our company from a small shop to a public company within a few years. So, there’s that.

The real question is: Could we have done more to contribute to the art and science of software technology or to our company? I really doubt it, but I understand that there are people who would disagree. The thing is, unless you live the life, you don’t realize how important the shared developer experience is. Was that share experience really necessary. I’d say yes, but others may disagree.

Were we addicted to gaming or addicted to our careers, or both? Addiction is real. Gaming companies are well aware of how dangerous it is. But should a nation-state attempt to force it’s tech workers to be addicted to their jobs and give up gaming? In America, the answer is obvious. In China, well, there is evidence that tech workers are getting tired of being bullied into devoting their lives to this level of work.

My Conclusion: Online gaming is addictive. I’ve battled that addiction and had to make decisions to disengage from games when they’ve become too addictive. Again, it’s like drugs, some people can stop and some can’t. If you believe human beings must go into the world and make their own stupid mistakes, then you have to let people follow their own paths. No, you can’t protect everyone and some young people will make terrible mistakes. For me, I enjoy some types of online gaming and frequently have to decide whether I’m becoming too addicted to a game.

Just my humble opinion.


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Second Life: Coming & Going

I’ve been hanging around Second Life for awhile. I’ve checked out some land for sale and have found that self-styled land barons have bought up a huge number of the desirable lots; they try to sell it at exorbitant prices or rent it. Sure, that’s a classic real estate play but it assures me that I don’t want anything they are selling. I’ve also been hanging out at a couple places I still love to visit.

A nice place to come home to

I even rented a room at the Blue Moon Motel in the Junkyard Blues sim complex. The nice thing about the Blue Moon is, it’s not over-priced and is kind of cool. It reminds me of olden times when my family rented motel rooms at the coast.

Yordie Sands is a blogger, writer, photographer, and gamer.
That’s the beach adjacent to the Blue Moon Motel.
That’s me in front of my motel room. Just thinkin’ about stuff.

And a place that’s gone

Since dropping my premium account I’ve been landing at the abandoned club, PIER. I’ve written about PIER several times in the past. I have a place in my heart for the joys I found there when I discovered PIER back in 2007. Sadly, it’s gone now.

Recent photo of PIER, my landing site.
That’s me this past weekend at the site where PIER once stood.

Ambrosia — Always Cool

The only other night club I visit regularly anymore is Ambrosia. I’ve written about the club many times in the past, but thanks to Phil Kearny, it is still going strong. I think part of Ambrosia’s success is the enthusiasm of Phil’s personality.

That’s the quintessential Phil, but you have to be there to really get the experience.

And this is the Ambrosia Dance Club before the crowd overruns the place.

I’m not sure how long Second Life will exist in its present format, but I’ll keep checking in. The one thing I always come back to is the music and dancing, especially on special holidays. Also, I have to remember to get back to the Motel and pay my rent each week.

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Sha’Carri Richardson

She’s America’s top female sprinter.

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Below is the video of her qualifying for the #1 spot on the USA 100 meter team. The thing about her is, she has an amazing ability to unleash her top end speed. Check the video of Sha’Carri’s qualification run, and I think you’ll be thrilled as her top-end is released. It is particularly amazing when you consider that she is only 5’1″ tall. In sprints, physical height, especially long legs, has proven to be decisive for many top sprinters in the late stage of a race. For example: the top sprinter of all time was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt (6’5″ tall). And among women Olympians, Florence “Flo-Jo” Joiner was 5’7″. And top female sprinters do not “run like girls”, just saying. Simply said: Her ability is awesome to watch.

I’m deeply saddened that this magnificent young athlete made an impulsive mistake. She has been suspended 30 days and that will cost her a chance to compete in the USA Olympic Team’s 100 meter dash. I doubt that the US Olympic Committee can make an allowance for her, because of the precedent it would set, but her suspension expires before the 4×100 sprint relays and I’m praying for to be part of that team.

Sha’Carri is a great talent and has a lovely spirit, and she would represent our country proudly.

I ran sprints in high school, but never had Sha’Carri’s talent. Nonetheless, I did come to understand that 100 sprints have at least two stages: the start (first 30 to 50), where you run as fast with all your strength; the later stage (50-100), where the best sprinters transition up to their top end speed. Many sprinters that are good in the start get overrun by other sprinters in the second stage because they can’t make this subtle transition. And the best sprinters do something that very few sprinters understand, they relax and let their bodies loose; it is an almost transcendental experience. And very few coaches know enough about this to really coach it.

In the above video, you’ll hear the commentator refer to Sha’Carri’s ability to relax, and how it is unusual for a 21 year old. But the relaxation is a real thing and I’ve rarely heard track coaches mention it (but my experience was a long time ago); although once, I heard one coach refer to a male sprinter, saying: Watch him coast. That’s was the coaches observation, and it was a poor description of what happens. I discovered the power of relaxation by watching a world champion sprinter at a track meet at the University of Miami. My mind translated what I saw in the context of my Zen studies, and a old saying about horseback riding: “Give the horse its head.” I came away with a theory that I must transition from my fast start and release my body’s strength naturally. The very next day I tried the technique and my 100 speed showed an immediate improvement: 0.3 better than my personal best (0.3 in the 100 is a lot).

It’s easy to identify people who don’t understand relaxation, regardless of their speed: They seem tightly wound up through the entire race. But the people who can relax are equally easy to recognize; remember how easily Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt cruised to his victories? The guy was egotistical to an obnoxious degree, and in the China Olympics his behavior offended the Chinese people. But he clearly was a master of relaxation. Being short is a big disadvantage for Sha’Carri but her incredible top end speed is a gift from God.

Praying for you, Sha’Carri.

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Second Life: 15 Years at Junkyard Blues

Fifteen years is a long time and in the time distortion field that surrounds a virtual world it seems even longer. Many things have changed in that period of time, nightclubs have come and gone, people have come and gone, friends have passed away. Maybe it’s no more amazing than real life, but the fact is, almost everything in a virtual world is a product of a massive network of computers; everything except the people behind the avatars that live there.

On Sunday evening, people came to SL to celebrate 15 Years of Junkyard Blues and it’s owners, Kiff Klutterbuck and Dina Petty. In fact, people who hadn’t been around for many years showed up for the event. In fact, I spent five straight hours inworld and enjoyed every minute from an early set with DJ Seven and through the full show of the longtime DJ Fiery Otaared. And there were nearly 60 people at the JY when I left at midnight; that’s a big crowd on a Sunday night. I was so engaged with old friends that I only snapped a couple photos, so I hope they capture some flavor of the gathering.

Dina & Kiff are the owners of the Junkyard, and its heart & soul.
Much loved Fiery Otaared has been spinning great blues as long as I remember.

I was a regular in Second Life for about seven years. I did so many things but I found it too addictive for me and faded away for another seven years. Last night reminded me of many of the wonderful qualities of this virtual world. It’s hard to grasp why I feel so much love for the people that all are part of the experience. Several people were surprised to see me show up but hey, I spent many of my Saturday nights at JYB and was a JYB hostess for a couple years. I was also a REAL JYB Dreamgirl even longer. And I wrote many blog posts about the goings on at the JY. So, how could I have NOT been there.

Great love and appreciation to Kiff and Dina, and Fiery and all the other great bluesy DJs that bring us the music that we love.

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