Fallout 76: Microsoft & Bethesda

I’ve been committed to Microsoft since Windows 3.0 and even participated on a couple Microsoft projects because the company I worked for was a Preferred Vendor. I began developing Windows applications using Visual Studio 1.0 (with AFX framework, C/C++) which kind of sucked, but subsequent VS versions (with MFC, Visual C/C++, Visual Basic) to be great dev products. Also, I’ve used all Microsoft Office products exclusively even before they were combined as a suite. During the 1990s & 2000s I lived just a few miles from the Redmond campus and visited many times, plus I still have friends who work there. In short, I feel I know this company pretty well, for an outsider, and I’m thrilled that Bethesda has been purchased by Microsoft.

What does it mean? Why would Microsoft do this? In short, what is going on?

I don’t know but there is a lot of buzz right now and one comment I heard (maybe on CNBC?) was that this signals a content gold rush something like Netflix acquiring or creating media content. But who knows? Following is some commentary from a couple of gamers that I follow regularly. I think you’ll find their points of view interesting.

JuiceHead: My gaming style is very different than his but he has so many great insights that he’s become one of my most trusted voices. Here’s his latest:

InnovSurvivalist: She’s another high level player who brings a great deal of insight to her reporting. She does extensive testing of virtually every feature of the game and here’s what she says:

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is a visionary and executive behind the Xbox. And Xbox is an idea that seemed like an odd child back in the beginning, but today it is a strong contributor to Microsoft’s success. I didn’t even buy my first Xbox 360 until Christmas 2014, but have since bought Xbox One S and X, and am in the queue to order Xbox Series X.

I’ve always felt Bethesda’s visionary, Todd Howard, had an ego that was cashing checks he couldn’t cover but the guy has proved me wrong. It’s hard to heap too much praise on him though because the Fallout series (I have FO3, FONV, FO4 and FO76) is plagued with defects and all manner of anomalies. But this is the guy who delivered FO4 and FO76 Wastelanders and I have come to respect the challenges he has overcome to achieve these successes. And in thinking about several comments about the Zenimax board (owns Bethesda), I suspect he’s had his hands full, but now, Howard works for Microsoft.

So: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO TODD HOWARD!

But I suspect Microsoft’s approach to product development will help Howard avoid embarrassments like launching Fallout 76 as a Beta. (Yeah, Microsoft used to sell Windows 3, 95 and a whole lot of other products that were closer to being Beta than production software, but they learned how to improve quality a couple decades ago. I’m hopeful that with the backing of Microsoft, the financial and marketing demands Bethesda has faced in the past will become a thing of the past.

I hope all Bethesda employees will get on that Microsoft pathway that has led so many software professionals to becoming millionaires. Jus sayin.

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Yo Second Life!

I haven’t been around Second Life much since I started Xbox gaming about six years ago. And I realize I probably haven’t changed my outfit in all those years that have passed, so a couple days ago I dropped in. I still have my Linden home and the furnishings are exactly as I had left them, and all my clothes were exactly where I left them too. So, I put on a new outfit and changed my hairstyle. Yeah, I know. I’m soooooooooo old school.

Yordie Sands in Second Life

This is my living room and that’s me. Yo!

I really need to sort through my inventory and upgrade my EVERYTHING. Maybe I need to fall in love again. HEH!

 

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Fallout 76: Yordie (157), Zahava (161)

When the “Wastelanders” DLC was released around April, I decided to start from the beginning of Fallout 76 again. From what I’d read, it was a massive upgrade to the game and I wanted to experience everything as if it were new again.

My existing character, Zahava (a character from my novel), had already made her way to Level 161 and I suspected I might return to her after getting a feel for Wastelanders. I mean, I’d already worked my way through some demanding challenges, like the Pioneer Scout line, and it was extremely time consuming, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t want to go through  all that again. But I was wrong.

In fact, I’ve stuck with my Yordie character all the way from Level 0 in April and now in mid-September, she’s level 157. And what’s more, I’m glad I took this route. Well, until Bethesda released update 22 and the Legendary perk system. Had I stuck with my original character I’d prolly have many more of the Legendary perks.

I tend to like combat armor over power armor, but power armor is a must for certain situations. Anyway, here’s a pic of me in my full Brotherhood of Steel combat armor; kinda tough, no? *smiles*

Yordie Sands is author of The Temporal Expeditions

That’s Yordie in her best Brotherhood combat armor.

Here’s a picture of my inside Silo Alpha as I solo launched my fourth nuke into the Cranberry Bog and triggered the Scorch Beast Queen. I’m wearing my Blackbird X-01 Power Armor but hope to build an even more advanced power armor soon.

Yordie Sands is an author and blogger

That’s me inside my beautiful X-01 Blackbird Power Armor.

BIG NEWS: On Monday, Microsoft announced that it has acquired Bethesda Softworks and I’m really excited about this development. For one thing, I think this will draw Bethesda much deeper into maintaining the Xbox version of Fallout games at a much higher level. I really prefer playing games on the Xbox console because I believe it is a somewhat safer environment than on PC. And now Bethesda will have access to higher level support from Microsoft’s Xbox team (at least I hope so). So bravo to Microsoft and Bethesda both. I think this will be a great partnership.

I’m still learning about the Update 22 and aside from the Daily Ops I’m pretty excited about the changes introduced. It is a lot harder to deal with much more powerful vermin and other monsters that roam the wasteland, but it’s a good challenge. I’ll have more to say about 22 soon, but for now I’m just all smiles about Microsoft’s commitment to Bethesda.

Here’s a couple of other photos I shot ingame. The first one is on the quest to get The Motherlode drill for cracking open vault 97.

Yordie Sands is author of The Temporal Expeditions

That’s me confronting the ghoul scientist who’ll control the giant drilling system.

The other one is from inside Vault 97 where the Secret Service defends the nation’s gold supply.

Yordie Sands is an author and blogger

That’s me watching the Secret Service oversee the gold supply.

More soon.

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Fallout 76: New CAMP at Twin Lakes

I was an explorer in Second Life and I’m an explorer in Fallout 76; well, I’m just an explorer by natures. Anyway, one of the most beautiful areas in FO76 is Twin Lakes. I had a camp there once before but it was too close to a Super Mutant breeding ground, so I was finding my home under constant attack. This time I’m trying a different area and I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. I started building the new camp yesterday and finished today; unlike other camps I’ve created, this one focuses on my house. I’m still learning what I can do with the new build resources, so I might change the look again. But for now I’m happy with my new inworld home. What do you think?

Yordie Sands is an avatar.

This is a view from across a creek nearby.

The interior is much more important to me than in the past, but even though I think this first layout is comfortable (by FO76 standards), I still have a lot of ideas I want to tryout. Whaddaya think?

Yordie Sands is a writer.

This is the great hall, so to speak. Also have a bedroom.

ALERT: Marta Branco (the Innov Survivalist) advises that Griefers have a new trick: destroying your Camp. The C.A.M.P.s ‘restore all’ feature makes the rebuild easy but it can cost a great of your resources for the rebuild. Marta says this type of griefing seems to be limited to PC games. I’m on an Xbox One X, and generally I think this is a safer place to play if you’re a gamers. Just sayin’.

FOLLOW-UP: YORDIE’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURES

Well, I don’t know. I still considering my adventure club for FO76, but I can’t get past the temporal nature of gameplay. Specifically, unlike Second Life, there are thousands of instances of the game and each instance has between two and four dozen players at any given time. That means, you have to link up with friend in advance, unless they just join you on your private server. A private server will allow eight people to play at once, and there’s a lot to be said for that but one of the features that was so great about Second Life is, you can drop inworld anytime and it’s all one world. Anyway, I’m still mulling this but if old friends from SL would like to join me, let me know. We’ll figure something out.

 

 

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Fallout 76: Atop Seneca Rocks

A few months ago I mentioned my curiosity with one of Fallout 76’s beautiful mountain rangers, Seneca Rocks. It was screaming out to me to find a way to the top but only in the past month did I find a way to get there, and I’m not sure you can get there without a certain mutation that increases your jumping ability. Nonetheless, following are some photos I took, one fortuitously when someone dropped a nuclear bomb on Monograph Mines. Hope you enjoy!

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76

That’s me in the X-01 Power Armor watching the explosion.

These other photos aren’t as dramatic but they will give you more perspective on the view from atop the giant rocks.

Yordie Sands, Author

That’s me searching for a path to the top of the rocks.

Yordie Sands, Blogger

That’s me on my first visit to the top of the rocks.

I have other photos, but hopefully these will give you a reason to make your own trip to the Rocks, near the new base of the Brotherhood of Steel. See you in-game.

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Fallout 76: Wastelanders Progress Report

Yesterday I reached Level 96 with my newest character, Yordie. Things are going well but I haven’t rushed forward into all of the higher level quests even though I’m looking forward to more of the new content.

I’d heard that new weather was coming.

The Road Less Travelled

I’ve been taking a different path with this new character. I’ve maintained my CAMP for over 80 levels at a pre-built stand just below the Flatwoods Lookout. It’s a relatively safe location plus there are two seemingly permanent resident Scavengers that hangout there. I didn’t expect that the scavengers would stay once I built a shack, put in some workbenches, planted my crops, but they did. And when I started inviting in various Allies, the place began to feel homey. Here’s a couple pics from the camp where I’ve lived for about 90 levels. On Friday I moved but may return here someday.

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76

That’s my shack which has been my CAMP home for 80 levels

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76

This is the pre-existing platform that I built my CAMP next to.

Yordie Sands in Fallout 76 Wastelanders

These are my crops and I still rely on them for making adhesive.

No Longer Focused On Store

Another change I’ve made with the new character is that I’m no longer focused on my store. In the past, I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from having a really good store, but it almost became the focus of my game, and that wasn’t working for me. For one thing, keeping the store well stocked is a grind. So, I still have a store, but I only open it when I have some things to sell.

I’ve also been less concerned on a large caps income. SPOILER: You can only have 30,000 caps max, so once you reach 20,000 caps, you need to start looking for things to spend them on. If you have a bunch of stuff for sale in your store then someone might come along and buy over 10,000 and everything over 30k disappears. And here’s the thing, having built several characters now, I know what I need and more importantly, what I don’t need. I know the plans that I’ll probably find and the ones I’ll need to pay for. So, at level 96 I tend to travel the land with ~20,000 caps, so if I find a major item I can snap it up. Caps hunger is a real thing until you reach level 50 or thereabout, but the truth is, you should be able to build and maintain a large caps stash but it does take some effort. Heck, you can sell crops if you are desperate.

More Exploring New Areas

I’ve been doing a lot more exploring and taking on many challenges and dailies. There are some amazing landscapes in Fallout 76; for example, below is a photo of a place called Seneca Rocks. I’ve seen it in the past, but never tried to climb it. The other day I tried and even with the Marsupial Mutation I found it was too formidable. I suspect I’ll have better luck with Power Armor with a Jet Pack, so I’ll be trying that soon. Maybe there’s some quest that will take me in and up through some secret route; I don’t know yet.

Fallout 76 Wastelanders

This is a pic I took while on a quest. I tried to climb but no luck yet.

Some Thoughts

In my view, Fallout 76 Wastelanders is a huge success and portends to be even better in the future. HOWEVER, Bethesda seems to be oblivious to the bugs, defects, anomalies, and every other problem that plagues the game, especially GRIEFERS. They need to stop constantly delighting the power user. As with all software, the belief still exists that you need to satisfy the power users first and all that kind of thing. That mantra goes only so far. Okay, but they are a noisy bunch. Yeah, there’s that but I didn’t listen to those noisy guys when I took a chance on Fallout 76 in April last year. I stuck with the game because I saw the potential and was willing to take a chance because I really liked the gameplay.

Here is what Microsoft finally learned about Windows in the late 1990s: Good enough software is no longer acceptable. I’ve seen and heard other players make the observation that Bethesda developers don’t play the games they create, and I think that’s part of the problem, because if they did they’d become very annoyed with persistent problems that might be important to fix. Nonetheless, they’ve created an incredible game and I expect to continue playing for the remainder of this year and maybe beyond.

Coming soon: I plan to tryout the public teams in the not too distant future. If things go well I may move forward with Yordie’s Excellent Adventures team; it’s already setup but I haven’t tried to recruit anyone yet.

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Fallout 76: Fasnacht & Fasnacht Griefers

On Saturday and Sunday I attended seven separate Fasnacht events. The pic is of me in my Fasnacht beret waiting for the next event to begin.

That’s me in my cute Fasnacht beret.

I attended three events on one server, two on another, and the other two on separate severs. Every event was well attended with  a dozen, and usually more participants each. Six of the seven events were great with fun people, all–more or less–working together and having fun. The one event that wasn’t any fun was the target of multiple attacks by griefers.

For those who don’t know what a “Griefer” is, it’s a game player who does things that will inhibit or otherwise annoy other players simply for the joy of causing others grief. I’ve known about griefers since I took a chance and played World of Warcraft in 2007, and got a huge dose of griefers when I played Second Life that same year. A lot of people choose to ignore the griefers, but it’s sort of like people trying to protest something then a gang shows up and begins burning down the cities they live in. Yeah, it’s the same type of person that does that. They enjoy seeing other people being hurt. Anyway, the griefing of Fasnacht has been reported by others (Marta Branco, others) but this is my own take on what happened.

First group of griefers showed up shortly after the event began. As the parade made it’s way to the little bridge leading across the river, they dropped their power armor in two separate groups. They realized that their power armor would automatically be returned in a couple minutes, so they dropped a second group (3 power armor sets in each group). Below is a photo of the blockage that was created by the prank.

Two sets of three Power Armor suits were dropped.

I tried to report the griefers but there was no identification to identify then with, so I began blasting the heads off each suite of power armor with my 5.56 Handmade Rifle with exploding bullets. It was effective, but I really needed my 50 cal Machine Gun with exploding bullets to do the job fully. Loosing the helmet of a piece of power armor isn’t a particularly big deal, but at least I caused them some grief. For example, if the armor required any type of Stable Flux to install advanced features, they’ll have to use this precious resource to restore them. OTOH, my 5.56 didn’t have the power to do the job on the X-01 power armor, but I prolly caused damage.

I decided to solve the mystery, identify the griefers and report them. I went into stealth mode and saw a likely trio setting up for the next Fasnacht. They were building a fortress on the spot where Super Mutants spawn, thus requiring the mutants to spawn in a more vulnerable area. I took photos of the bad boys and have their names. One had a 400+ level, one was 100+ and the other was 70+. I’m not positive it was them though, so I didn’t report them, so I waited to see what they would do at the next event. But just as the next event began, another griefer nuked the entire area, sending everyone far away from the chaos, including the three suspects. Below is a photo from the beyond the impact zone; the gray cloud is the nuke cloud.

Watching the aftermath of a nuke dropped on Fasnacht parade.

NONETHELESS! If you aren’t driven off by the inevitable arrival of griefers in Fallout 76 or any other online multi-player game, then stick with it my friend. This game is a lot of fun and with events like the annual Fasnacht parade, it makes it a much more social experience.

If you are a griefer: there will come a time when criminologists will be able to build profiles of people like you. And some prosecutor will give you a lot of time to mull over the importance of things like rules, morals, citizenship, kindness, respect…and many other things.

 

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