Playing Cities: Skylines

CitiesSkylines1

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and I received the game Cities: Skylines from my boyfriend who purchased it via Steam. I’m obsessed! He bought me the deluxe edition, which had a few real life structures, like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.

Cities:  Skylines is a city builder game, very similar to SimCity, but I have never been as addicted playing SimCity as I have playing this game. For the past few nights, I’ve been staying up late (on Saturday night past 3:00am), constantly trying to improve my towns and cities!

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So far I’ve made a few different towns and cities. The first one I made was to basically learn how to play, learning how to connect electricity, water, and building roads. After I got the basics down, I made another city where I tried to master plan the zones and use the entire map right away! That didn’t work out, and I had issues with the fire department and other services not being able to get around the city efficiently. Everything was too far out, and it wasn’t built how a city would naturally grow and develop.

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The third city that I made, I did a lot better! I was getting the hang of things, and my zones were placed properly. However, I almost destroyed an industrial sector of my town. By placing a sufficient amount of schools, eventually your whole population becomes educated, whereas when you start building, no one is educated. Those uneducated people are able to easily fill the jobs provided in the industrial zone. However, this depends on what industry you make it. My industrial zone had no specialization until I changed it to a forestry district. Over time, however, as the population became more populated, they had a lower desire to work in places that they were overeducated for, and so my forestry district began to suffer. Companies were closing down, and I had to bulldoze quite a bit. I eventually got it back to normal by having a better balance of industries, commercial, and office zoning, but that was a lesson that I learned.

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In the latest town that I made, I wanted to see how long I could go with only elementary schools and no other higher education. I did pretty well! I created large farming and forestry districts, but I noticed that many of the commercial buildings still lacked educated employees. There was a low demand for commercial zoning, so I didn’t bother with it too much, until I began to seriously expand the town. The demand for residential zoning was increasing, and I didn’t want to continue sprawling out with the low density residential zones, so I zoned out a few high density residential zones, which are your mid to high-rise condos and apartments. When the demand for commercial zoning increased, I didn’t want to continue building if they were unable to find enough educated employees, so I finally built a high school and a university. I had a lot of money at that point to do whatever I wanted.

Suddenly the demand for industrial zones became insatiable, and I noticed when I added to the forestry and farming districts, they also could not find employees because a lot of the population was overeducated and didn’t want to work there. You can also see the unemployment rate of your city, which at that point was at 18%, which is abysmal.

Eventually I built out lots of office zoning along the river, which I think looks fantastic and San Francisco-esque with the hills and sloping roads, and my unemployment rate decreased back down to less than 5%.

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So far, I have not tried to power my cities with anything other than wind and incineration trash power, so I’m going to try to build a town with a coal plant and the other power alternatives. I’m also going to put a little more effort into putting public transportation in my town and improving highways, which I’ve seen so far as unnecessary, since my citizens don’t seem to “tweet” about traffic.

Another fun thing I enjoy about the game is seeing land/property value increase based on the parks and amenities you put around an area. Sometimes I have to stop and place a park or two in areas that need an uplift!

I also like that the game is easy enough to work on perfecting one town in a night, and then trying something new for the next. When I get over the honeymoon phase, I’ll probably stick to one town for shorter play periods over a few days instead of a marathon playtime like I’ve been doing, but I’m excited to try different scenarios. I like that you can make it as easy or as hard as you want. There is an option for unlimited money and all the unlocks, but the game is easy enough that you are not hurting for money unless you’re really, really bad at managing it.

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For me, the game is so fun to geek over, especially considering the type of work I do in real life! I love working out the economics of industries and zoning types and keeping the citizens happy and healthy. If you liked SimCity or any type of city builder at all, I would highly recommend Cities: Skylines! It’s well worth the base price of $29.99 considering all of the hours I’ve already enjoyed the game.

Dinner w/ my Guildie Sleeth at Mon Ami Gabi

Sea Bass

Sea Bass

A few weeks ago, one of my guildies, expert crafter, GSF player and <Despair> guild officer, Sleeth and his wife were visiting Las Vegas, so we went out to dinner again! I’ve written about a few of our previous outings, which you can read here and here.

There are so many great places to eat here in Las Vegas, and I wanted to make sure that what I chose wasn’t too unreasonably priced and was also a cuisine we could all agree on. They were going to have steak the next day, and the last few times we’ve gone out to eat, we went to BurGR (Gordon Ramsey burger restaurant at Planet Hollywood), Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria and Cucina (The Shops at Crystals Las Vegas), and Texas de Brazil in San Antonio. This time I wanted to go back to a restaurant my boyfriend and I went to the last time he was here in town, so I chose Mon Ami Gabi, a French restaurant, at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

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Mon Ami Gabi has a great outdoor seating area with a view of the Bellagio fountains! However, the weather was looking a bit overcast that day. I made a reservation for three at 7:00pm using OpenTable! In Las Vegas, even on a Wednesday night, I would always recommend making a reservation at a restaurant if you can, because it can get very busy at dinnertime! Additionally, I hate waiting to get seated for a table! A few minutes before 7:00pm we got into the reservations line (there were only a few people in it), and we were thankful that we had reservations! We were seated just a few moments after checking in, and I thought it was amusing when a random dinner guest followed our hostess to our table on accident. He said, “I think I was following the wrong girl…” Heh.

Escargot

Escargot

When we sat down, I ordered an iced tea and a fresh baguette was brought to us with butter and some other spread with shredded apples and some other stuff in it. I didn’t really like it, but I also didn’t want to get full off of the bread! We ordered the escargot for our appetizer, which was my first time trying it. Escargot is snail! I thought it tasted like a mushroom, which makes sense since snails hang out with mushrooms! There was also some garlic and I think pesto on the escargot as well. I probably wouldn’t order it again if given the option, but I would still eat it if it was served to me.

Glazed Lamb

Glazed Lamb

The server listed off a few of the daily specials, which actually sounded so much more scrumptious than what I was reading on the menu! Sleeth and I ordered the crisp sea bass, and his wife ordered the glazed lamb! I was debating on which dish to get, and I think I actually should’ve gotten the lamb after sampling her dish. The fish was still good, though!

During dinner we talked about quite a few things, including Harper Lee’s upcoming novel, the new canon Star Wars novels, SWTOR, dogs, and my new house! It’s always fun being able to meet and talk to your guildies in person about in-game things!

Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs

For dessert, I ordered the warm chocolate cake, Sleeth got the bread pudding, and his wife got these chocolate cream puff things. They were all delicious!

The Republic Episode 200 Video is Out!

Best screencap of me ever.

Best screencap of me ever.

I know a few of you have been asking when episode 200 of The Republic that I recorded with Larry Everett (Hyperspace Beacon), Chuck (Bad Feeling Podcast), and Andrew (SWTOR Economics) for GAMEBREAKER.tv would be available on YouTube, and here it is! I think this is a great episode! We talk about some of the positive aspects of SWTOR and what we like about the game, and you can see me pull out my pink lightsaber!

Happy watching!

Corellian Run Radio Ep. 140 is Out ft. Snickerr and Upheaval Gaming!

Corellian Run Radio

This week on Corellian Run Radio, Jason and I talk about SWTOR news from the past two weeks, including patch 3.1.1, class changes, community cantina announcements, and win-trading. We have a guest on the show, streamer and progression raider Snickerr from world first guild Zorz and a Guild Ready Check spotlight on the Upheaval Gaming guild!

I think this is a fantastic show! You can download it via iTunes or your favorite podcast app, listen to it directly from the CorellianRun.com, or you can watch the video here:

Beating Bulo HM: Tips for Melee DPS and More!

On Sunday in my operations group, we downed Quartermaster Bulo, the second boss of The Ravagers operation, in 8-man hard mode for the second time in a row! Last week was the first time we beat him, so I’m glad to see some kind of consistency on beating the boss, even if we still had quite a lot of wipes.

In my group, we have three ranged DPS and one melee (me), so I just have a few tips for other melee players on this fight! I know that there are other things to worry about on this fight that I’m not assigned to do, like the barrels and the other adds, but as a single melee DPS (Deception Assassin) in the group, this is what I do to stay alive as long as possible and put out competitive DPS numbers with the other ranged players.

Drios, our operations leader, was really emphasizing maintaining the DPS last night during our pulls. The week before, I had simply been concentrating on staying alive for the entire fight, but this time I made an effort to put out more DPS. A lot of times, I manage to be one of the last ones alive long enough for our ops leader to tell us to /stuck out. A couple things I do to avoid damage:

Stay at max melee range from the boss

  • My tanks were also at max melee range in the opposite direction, so when the mine carts come out and explode on the tanks, they are not as close to me (avoiding damage)

Use damage mitigating utilities and abilities

  • The utilities I used for this fight allow me to take advantage of Force Shroud more often, which makes my character resist a lot of damage during this fight! I tried to use Force Shroud as often as possible when I anticipated getting hit by something. Here are the related utilities I took for this fight:
    • Insulation
    • Disjunction
    • Fade
    • Shroud of Madness

Stay on boss during Mass Barrage… kind of

  • In story mode, and when we first started doing this boss on hard mode, I simply moved my character out of the blue circles that would drop during Mass Barrage. At one point I was assigned to using them to get rid of the adds, but that has been assigned to someone else. What I do now is continue hitting the boss during this phase until two circles come up, and then move out of the circle. This way I’m hitting the boss longer and putting out more DPS. Also, if I can, I don’t stray too far away from the boss so it’s easier to get back in melee range of him.

Watch for and kite load lifters

  • Load lifters are the other damaging enemies that come out besides the mine carts, and they go after a specific member of your group. I don’t have to move away from hitting the boss if I can see that the load lifter is going after someone else. Usually I can see if they’re coming after me or not, but sometimes it’s difficult if I’m centered right in the middle where Bulo starts, because sometimes I don’t have enough time to realize the load lifter is after me and run away.

Keep your camera zoomed out as much as possible.

  • There was one pull where I died unnecessarily because I wasn’t paying attention and had my camera zoomed in. A few things exploded around me! I couldn’t see through the smoke and ended up moving my character in the way of one of Bulo’s blasts at the tank. However, if I had my camera zoomed out, I would’ve been able to see a bit better to avoid this.

Drop threat!

  • Use threat dropping abilities so that you don’t aggro the boss, especially at the beginning! My class and discipline starts with a lot of burst damage that can sometimes overtake the tanks before they’ve had enough time to establish threat.

I hope this helps you melee players and ops leaders looking to help the melee players on your team! Good luck!

Blood Hunt HM Flashpoint

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Last week after our normal operations time, I asked if anyone wanted to run a flashpoint. I hadn’t yet tried Blood Hunt hard mode, even though it has been out for about a month now, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about! I heard that it was very difficult to do with PUGs in GroupFinder. That was definitely sound advice!

I was able to gather up three of my guildies, an Assassin tank, a Hatred Assassin, and an Operative healer. It just so happened that everyone could stealth, but it didn’t make a huge difference when we ran the flashpoint. The whole group was melee, which I guess is supposed to make the flashpoint more difficult.

Kyramla Gemas’rugam

We two-shot the first boss! On our first try it was extremely difficult, and there were so many things on the ground to avoid (blue circles, electro tent things) and we had to quickly burn down the adds that popped up. The adds weren’t too difficult to kill, and after we saw the fight once, it was pretty easy to down the boss the second time around. I still consider it an accomplishment because our team was all melee, and it is much more difficult to DPS when there are reticles on the ground or things blocking you from your target.

Challenges

The challenges were no big deal, but we didn’t do enough of them to do the bonus boss. It was pretty late since it was after raid night. One day when I’m more motivated and get some guildies to go with me again, I’ll see if they want to try it!

Valk & Jos Beroya

This was so hard! I can’t remember how many times we wiped, but after every wipe, we learned something new. I don’t normally ever read guides, so I was learning the fight as we went along. At first we were trying to burn the woman down first (Valk), but that wasn’t working that well. We switched to burning the man first (Jos) and that worked a lot better! The creatures that come out in the middle of the fight hit very hard, and I died when I aggroed one of them. We collected them in the middle and had no trouble AOEing them down. AOE for three Assassins is basically just Lacerate, LOL. For a while the tank had his guard on the healer, but I asked to switch it to me since my crazy burst DPS creates a lot of threat, and this was detrimental when getting caught by Valk’s Sweeping Gunfire. On our last pull we also had dropped three Phase Walks to buff the healing.

In this fight, the tank also gets stacks on him, so since we had two Assassin DPS, we did a taunt rotation where the first DPS would taunt off the tank when he had 9 stacks, then I was supposed to taunt off him. I didn’t have to taunt as much though because the tank took back the boss.

We finally had at least gotten Jos down, but Valk was still up and I had to DPS her down by myself with my healer. Thankfully my healer is awesome and kept my squishy character alive! My guildies were watching closely and telling me to run away from something or use my defensives, but I didn’t want to respond because I was DPSing so hard and didn’t want to interrupt my DPS to Push-to-talk! My defensives were all on cooldown and I pretty much had nothing left, but my healer was awesome, and we downed the boss. We were so happy to have beat this boss, because it was absolutely challenging!

More tips:

  • Jos does a casted AOE fire ability, so you’ll want to move away from him before that happens to take less damage.
  •   If Valk is on you and you’re not the tank, try to drop your aggro as the Sweeping Gunfire will follow you wherever you go.

Shae Vizla aka “Torch”

This boss was super easy after that last boss. We simply killed the droid that popped up in the middle, avoided the big fire tornado, and made sure not to step in any fire.

I enjoyed this flashpoint a lot! It took us a little less than an hour with the wipes. Lately flashpoints have been too easy for me, and I really like a challenge. This one had me on my toes and it was so satisfying when we finally beat Jos and Valk! Thank you BioWare for designing this flashpoint! I hope in the future we can see more flashpoints like this, and maybe an increase to the level of some existing level 50 hard mode flashpoints.

BioWare Austin Assistant Community Coordinator Opening

Courtney Woods and me at 2014 Las Vegas Community Cantina

Courtney Woods and me at 2014 Las Vegas Community Cantina

A few weeks ago when Courtney Woods was promoted to a Writer at BioWare Austin, her position became available, and an Assistant Community Coordinator position was listed on the EA Careers website.

I was extremely tempted to apply for it, since I thought I met the qualifications. To me, the job sounds like a dream and something very similar to what I am already doing in the SWTOR community. I love meeting and talking to players, spotlighting guilds and streamers and promoting community content contributors. I thought it would have been so much fun, and an absolute dream if I had that job, working for BioWare, and being in the gaming industry.

However, I did not apply, though I debated it for quite a few days. I think I have a spectacular resume and cover letter for the position but no one is going to see it! I realized that it would be extremely difficult to make such a huge life change considering what I currently have going on in Las Vegas (great job, new house). I am very happy with my life currently, but I wanted to tell you all that I didn’t apply, in case anyone wanted to ask or was speculating if I had.

I want to wish a huge amount of luck to a friend that applied, and I hope that we will get a great new Assistant Community Coordinator!

Corellian Run Radio Ep. 139: PvP Goodness is Out!

Corellian Run Radio

Hey guys! The video and podcast episode for Corellian Run Radio episode 139 are out!

On this episode, my cohost Jason and I host a PvP roundtable with Geldarion (fanaticalswordsman.com) and PvP streamer GoukenPT, along with a Guild Ready Check segment featuring <Unholy Alliance> on the Harbinger!

Unfortunately we did record this before the announcement that the Operation Victory Tournament was canceled, so keep that in mind when listening to this episode!

Operation Victory Tournament.. Canceled!

SWTOR Community Manager Eric Musco has announced that the Operation Victory Tournament has been canceled due to issues with the Coratanni encounter in The Ravagers operation.

My first reaction was literally a tweet to Musco saying, “whaaaat,” but then I came to my senses and gave a more thoughtful response, which is that I totally understand and agree, because it was something my guild was worried about, as I wrote in my post a few days ago.

However, I hope they can come up with another similar competition (not necessarily PvE or Operations related, but something with real life prizes), because I thought that it got the community very excited! However, with over-excitement comes possible disappointment, and I’m not surprised to see people acting negatively to the decision. I feel bad that people are disappointed, but I do think it was a wise decision from BioWare to cancel the competition if there were not going to be fair circumstances (some groups encountering bugs, some not).

Personally, I did try out a speed run of The Ravagers in 8-man story mode with my guild, but I think we definitely would have needed just a little more practice to compete with the top guilds.

How do you feel about the decision? Did you practice the speed run with your guild? Leave me a comment or tweet me @Heather_PLS!

Gaming and Long Distance Relationships

"Gamers Love" by ochiba1110 via deviantart.com

“Gamers Love” by ochiba1110 via deviantart.com

A few weeks ago before Valentine’s Day, Swtorista posted a question on Reddit asking, “Has anyone had an online relationship via SWTOR?”

I thought it was an interesting thread, especially because of the status of my own current relationship, which is long-distance. You’ll be happy to know that he is also a SWTOR player and that I have already met and hung out with him in person several times. In my opinion, he’s a much better player than me (though he adamantly disagrees), but I can confidently say that I play a Deception Assassin a lot better than him.

It’s nice dating someone that enjoys the same game as me (or even just gaming in general). I used to date someone that was uninterested in video games and even more so probably disliked SWTOR. I don’t really want to explain the complexities of how I felt back then, but amongst other things I felt like I wasn’t able to do anything I wanted to do.

I actually play much less than I used to back when I dated someone that didn’t like that I was playing video games, but back then I think I needed the gaming to burn off whatever crazy emotions I was feeling. I’m pretty happy now, and I don’t constantly need to be killing things (in-game) to dispel anger.

However, there are also not so happy things about maintaining a long-distance relationship. I don’t get to go to the movie theater, out to dinner, or do fun things in person with him. A lot of times it’s really lonely, which is probably why I keep myself constantly busy. Interestingly, we don’t play together as much as you may think. This is mostly because I have a set group of guildies I raid with, and he is on a separate server completely with his own group. I think this is best in the case that either one of us ever becomes tired of the game–that our relationship is not solely based on a video game. I’m excited though that I will get to see him at least two times (hopefully) in the next three months!

I have some advice for those of you that do have long-distance relationships with another SWTOR (or your game of choice) player. If you haven’t already met in person, I would recommend meeting up at some type of gaming convention or Community Cantina, because it is important to know if you actually like someone in-person, especially if you think the relationship is something serious that you want to pursue. Additionally, I would highly recommend meeting in a well-populated, public place and letting others know where you are going, what you are doing, and who you will be with, because safety is absolutely important when dealing with people you meet on the internet (though, this is not how my boyfriend and I met!).

Do you have any SWTOR or gaming love stories you want to tell me about? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @Heather_PLS!