Vital tips for playing “This war of mine” and surviving till the war ends.

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Contents
Introduction
Part one: Starting tips
Part two: mild spoilers
Part three: spoilers
Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

 

Introduction

(1-12-2014 :Important update in the mildy spoiler section!)

“This war of mine” is a game that was released on 14 th of November 2014. It is a survival game which gives control over a group of civilians trapped in a derelict house in the war-torn city of Pogoren. It is up to you see to it that they survive the war. There are similarities with games like Dead State and State of Decay in that these two also allow you to run a group of survivors in apocalyptic settings, but the feel is different. The first two mentioned games have a very important fighting component in them and in the end your heroes eventually become very good fighters and able to deal with most of the threats, including those from the military. Not so in This war of Mine. The game is no doubt inspired by the situation of Grozny during the Chechen wars and has a very realistic feel. Everything that happens in this game probably has happened and will happen in future wars. You are vulnerable civilian and it is wise to avoid combat, not only because of the lack of (good) weapons, but also because the enemies -thugs, rebels, looters and soldiers- are usually better armed and have the numbers on their side. But avoiding combat is also important because any injury vitally impacts the survivability of the group as whole. In this game there is no instant healing and even slight wounds can cause a character’s health to deteriorate to the point that he or she gets so sick that the whole group suffers and even lose moral.
This post give some is not a review, I will make one in due time, but made to give a few vital tips to get people started. In vital I mean that the game would otherwise be a very frustrating experience. There is no manual at the time of this writing, although there are two wikis being worked upon. Thus basic knowledge is lacking and this game needs this basic knowledge.
The post give below tips which will range from minor, but essential tips, up to tips that some might consider spoilers and cheats. I marked each section,  so if you don’t want to read more than you need to get started then just read the parts you like. I will mark them as best as I can.
Note that there are also two wikis that you can consult:
http://this-war-of-mine.wikia.com/wiki/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki
http://thiswarofmine.gamepedia.com/This_War_of_Mine_Wiki

 

 

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Part one: Starting tips
Scavenge the house
(This part has changed after an update of the game after the first of December 2014)

When scavenging the house, try to scavenge what you need. This is a bit of a trick and requires you to consult the creation manuals. Therefore it is of vital importance to take a look at the creation guides that you can find in the wikis(See links above).

Don’t sit around but have your companions clear the house, even if it means using hands to remove dirt. Get the stuff together to make the things you need.

Make a bed or even better: make two beds
Beds are vitally important in the game. Beds will allow your companions to sleep during the day so you can have them guard or scavenge during the night. There are four states of tiredness: normal, tired, very tired and exhausted. Each state takes about 4 to 5 hours to change to a better state, so during the day you can get a character from very tired to normal provided you put the character to bed at once in the morning. I think this does not work for the night. It seems only to improve the condition one step.Beds are also good for curing and recovering from wounds. Companions that are slightly sick or slightly wounded have a good chance to recover when put into a bed. Worse health have a good chance of improving when you combine medicines and bandages with a bed.

Make a crowbar
The house provides enough materials to make a metal workshop and that allows you to make a crowbar. You need it to open the doors and cupboards in the house.

Make a radio
When you can spare the electrical parts make a radio. A radio gives vital information(it really does!) and even might raise moral.

Priority number one: food(and water)
Food(and water) are vital to the game. There are three ways to get them. You can scavenge for them, you can trade for them and you can make them yourself. Basically you want to do the latter, but until you can make them yourself you have to survive on what your scavenge. Trading is the last option to do as food is hugely expensive and should only be traded for as a last resort.It follows from above that your main strategy must be to make your own food and water. Since how to go about it is possibly a spoiler it will be listed lower down the list. You companions will get hungrier during the game and you need to have them eat. You can get away with skipping a day, which is very important at the start of the game.

Look at your character’s abilities and desires
Most characters have a special ability which could be very important. I like the combination of Bruno and Katia. Bruno is a good cook which allows him to create food and moonshine with reduced ingredients and Katia has good bargaining skills, which allows her to sell things against better prices. By using them both you can actually make a reasonable profit. Another character with a very good ability is Marin, who is a handyman and he is able to create things for the house for less. Especially when you have to make very expensive upgrades this can be a lifesaver as some components are very hard to get a hold of, such as electrical parts.Also, almost all characters have a desire, such as smoking or drinking coffee. Be aware of that so you might provide them when you have some to spare.

Avoid combat
It gets you killed.

Do good deeds
Don’t hesitate to help out other people, you raise moral and sometimes they give you something in return.

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Don’t steal
Well, maybe you like to, but stealing generally doesn’t sit well with your fellow companions, lowers moral and might make enemies.

Talk to them
When companions get depressed they are in need of a talk and therefore a chat bubble will appear above their head. Have one character of yours talk to them by selecting him or her and then pressing the other’s chat bubble. Note that this might take the better part of the day. One character has a ability that helps with this.

Be frugal with rare items
Some items are rare in the game and yet vital, such as parts and electrical parts. Especially electrical parts are very hard to get, so never sell them. Normal parts usually can be traded for. Books are also rare and you shouldn’t use them all for fuel. Books can raise moral with characters that like reading.

Put people on guard during the night if you can
One is okay. Two is better. Give them weapons. Knives seems to be enough. Guns are only effective when you have ammo.

During the night make a careful study of the locations you can visit.
When it says dangerous.. it is!

Priority number two: safety
This might be a personal choice, but I generally concentrate on boarding up and getting a reinforced door and making weapons. There might be other viable strategies.

Scavenge thoughtfully
You can only send one person to scavenge and he or she got a limited backpack. When you scavenge note that one slot of your backpack can contain a certain amount of things. To optimize your scavenging try and fill these slots as best as possible. In other words, don’t just grab the first things: collect them in groups of two(wood, books, etc), of four(materials, parts, electrical parts, etc) or ten (water, sugar, etc). Also make note of what you might need to make the next thing you plan to build and plan accordingly.

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Part two: mild spoilers

The trader
The trader comes every three days. He usually starts at day three but sometimes he starts at day two. Sometimes he might skip a day further into the game, but usually he sticks to this three day visit routine. You can use this pattern to get ready for a trade.

Raiders
It is my experience that the first day there will be never a raid on your house. Thus you can put everyone to sleep.

Hospital
There is a hospital in the game that will be available at some point. You can have your wounded and sick characters treated at the hospital for free. In general that will fix the character. It cost you a night of scavenging though.

Some items created have to be picked up
Some items that you create such as a meal, moonshine, alcohol, raw food and vegetables are left on the upgrades that you use to make them. They need to be picked up. One advantage: they can’t be stolen by raids as long as you don’t collect them.

Make or get a hatchet
Part of the furniture in your house can be turned into wood and fuel provided you have a hatchet. You can get a lot of fuel and wood that way.(Warning: pick these items up before the night, otherwise they are lost!)

Trade locations
There are some locations on the map where you can trade. Some of these places have lower prices for certain products, others sell things that are hard to get. More on this in the spoiler section.

When creating a stove.. try to go for the improved stove
It saves on resources in the long run.

Don’t waste resources on a shovel
At the start of the game every resource counts because you have to concentrate on making upgrades that provide food. A shovel is handy, but not vital, not even in locations where you need to clear debris. Clearing debris without a shovel cost around two hours, not one location has more than two debris blocking the way. Maybe when you got a working food system you can make a shovel.

Keep a cupboard in your house
(Important: this feature has been blocked since the 1st of December 2014. You no longer can stash your stuff in a cupboard in the house.)

I am not sure if this is a cheat or a spoiler, but it is so very important for the game. To avoid being robbed of your things during a raid you can maintain one cupboard in the house. As long as you don’t empty the cupboard you can put everything in there before the night begins and it won’t get stolen during a raid. I use one of the metal ones in the corner of the house as the wooden can be cut up for wood.

 

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Part three: spoilers

Warfare
During the course of the game fighting in the city will intensify and thus make some areas unavailable for a while. Usually these are not the two first area’s you start out with. Note that both the start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Winter
Unless you start out in the winter you will be inflicted with winter during the game. This means two things. One: the rain water collector will no longer function and you have to make water by collecting snow and melting it on the stove. Two: you need a heater and fuel to keep warm. It is an extra burden. The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

End of the war
The end of the war will be announced on the radio.

Crime wave
Sometimes a wave of crime will burden the city. It basically means an increased amount of raids during the night. Boarding up, weapons, a reinforced door and guards help, but you never get to the point that you are completely free of raids.  The start of this period and the end will be announced on the radio.

Food and water
There is one foremost priority in the game: make a self perpetuating food cycle. To do this you need to make two animal traps, at least two rain collectors and a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden is hugely expensive to make as it requires you to make a herbal garden first, then upgrade that to a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden will allow you to create four vegetables every three days, the trap creates two meat every one or two days. However you need to reinvest a vegetable into the garden to create the next four vegetable and the traps requires one meat to work again. Note that the garden also requires ten water. On average if you set this up right and cook right you can feed four persons.

Trading
Prices are set against what the trader, who visits you every three days, is asking.
The garage. Materials and shovels are dirt cheap, Katia general can fill all the slots with material bought here. Sometimes you can buy a hatchet here. Wood, parts and such are also cheaper. Weapon parts are okay. Special note: don’t use the saw-blade to open the door above the garage as it seems to trigger a bug that makes the garage owner hostile later on in to the game(to Roman foremost I think) and eventually everyone in other locations too.
The church. The church might be a hostile location depending on the scenario. If it is not, then a priest resides here and you can trade with him. Materials are cheap. The rest are standard prices.
The hotel. The hotel might be a residence for some armed thugs. They are willing to trade. Watch out where you click though as the trade icon is usually close to some of their private things. Materials, parts and wood are cheap.
Military outpost. Nothing is especially cheap here as far as I can tell. You can get weapon parts in abundance, weapons templates and weapons, so that might be the reason to buy here. Personally I avoid the place as the soldiers turn hostile at the drop of a hat.
Central square. Could be considered a place to trade because you can get almost everything. Only no cheap deals, as far as I know.
The brothel. Another place to trade. No cheap deals, nothing special. Probably only useful when in dire need.


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Part four: big spoilers(cheating?)

How long does the war last?
The war last around forty days, give and take. Pay attention to the radio,

Restarting the day
When the night passes a day will start and generate certain events like a raid. Some raids can cause serious wounds to your companions. You might want to restart the day by exiting the game session and then press continue. A new random series of events will be created.

 

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Game flow
The game starts with a few areas and then more areas open up gradually. The first lootable area will always be either one of these: abandoned cottage, shelled cottage or ruined flats. They will never be together on the map. There is no danger. Take a crowbar with you when it is a cottage. The ruined flats require sawblades, which you don’t have at the start of the game, nor can make that easily so might have to return later. The next area might be the decrepit squat of shelled school. If the shelled school appears next to the decrepit squat it will be filled with armed thugs. The supermarket will usually open up soon too.
You will get a winter somewhere in the third week and this last perhaps one or two weeks.
During that time fighting will make areas unavailable thus you must be ready before that happens. You need to set up a food cycle, stack a lot of water and fuel. The water you make by using a rain collector, and that requires five hours for four parts of water. Since it is almost undoable to do it twice a day, you need at least two, three is better. You also need a lot of materials to make water filters.
If you have Katia and Bruno you might want to make one or two moonshine stills. Bruno makes moonshine with less ingredients and Katia sells it against better prices.

Getting on the good side of people
During the game some people will come by and ask for help or resources. Also some places ask for specific donations. Here is what I found.
Hospital:Bringing medicines, bandages and such to the hospital raises moral, especially for the one that brings it. This is a one time bonus, I think. Curiously enough, this did not affect Emilia.
Decrepit Squat:Bringing raw food to the squatter in the decepit squat gets you a moonshine and a valuable and raises moral. You also help the guy to survive.
Garage: Bringing bandages or moonshine to the garage owner raises moral. He also gives you a lot for them.
Sniper Junction: Take a crowbar with you as there will be a guy wounded by the sniper and he asks you to help him. You need the crowbar to open a door. He gives you a few valuables(I got 2 or 3). Keep track of the time though as he is wounded and he takes a long time to get home and give you the valuables.
The supermarket: depending on the scenario you might run into the soldier that is about to rape a girl. I have had a hard time killing him, until I got boris using a crowbar on him, which wasted the scumbag in three blows without a wound to boris. So bring a crowbar with you. You need one even if the soldier isn’t there as there are some locked cupboards with valuables.

Setting up the food cycle(an example)
During night scavenge for materials mostly, but keep your food supply in mind(water and food) also pick up valuables for selling to the trader. Do not forget you need wood.
Day one
Make a metal workshop, make a crowbar, make a bed. If katia and bruno: make a moonshine still. Loot the cottage. Maybe get some raw food and vegetables. You need them for day three. If enough time left and resources.: make moonshine. Make a second bed.

Day two
You might make a stove for day three. If enough materials make an improved stove or upgrade the workshop to an improved workshop. Make moonshine with Bruno, if possible: two moonshine. If  the trader arrives on this day: trade for parts if possible. Materials next. Fuel is a also a good option. Usually you get raided the second night, so prepare.

Day three
Make an improved stove if you did not do so the day before.. Make food for at least two of your companions. Make moonshine. If the trader arrives: trade for parts or materials or fuel. Depending on parts either make a rainwater collector. If enough parts: make trap for small animals.

Day four
If you have enough parts try to make either another rainwater collector or make another trap(requires 10). Priority is on the traps.

Day five and onward

Collect materials, wood, parts and electrical parts for making a vegetable garden. This requires 120 materials, 60 wood, 10 parts, 13 electrical parts(advanced workshop > herbal garden > thermal lamp > vegetable garden.) Don’t forget the radio. You also need fertilizer and 10 water.

Is the game random?
Yes and no. The groups that you can select are randomly offered, but they seem to be taken from a pool of set combinations. They range from two to four. Both two and four are rare. For instance: A two group is Anton and Cveta. I never got another two group. There is a group which consists of Katia, Bruno and Pavle. There is group that consists of Marin, Boris and Emilia. A group made up out of Pavle, Marko and Bruno. A winter group made out of Marin, Katia and Arica. Another group is Cveta, Anton, Pavle and Zlata. You never get an all women group for instance, nor is there a group that combines Marin and Bruno. Or Marko and Boris.
From keeping track of resources I noticed that crucial resources that you can scavenge are a given. Materials, wood, parts and electrical parts all seem fixed. There are items that have a slight variance, like sometimes you find moonshine instead of valuables. Food might vary in amount but often less raw food might mean more vegetables and vice versa.
The maps seem fixed up to a point and tied in with the groups. Some locations will not appear in the game together such as sniper junction and central square.
The game seems to offer new companions every two weeks. It seems that the max is seven according to the wiki,  although I have my doubts as it seems to me that the game stops offering newcomers when you have four in your house.. But then I might be wrong.

Doing other things
I tried various other things like making a herbal garden for making medicines or selling off alcohol.. Considering the amount of resources you need the investment hardly pays off. Just making a pair of bandages requires that you to make a moonshine still, a distillery and an improved herbal workshop. Then you have to go through a long production cycle of: making moonshine, making alcohol and then using that with materials to create a handful of bandages. Considering the scarceness of materials this hardly is worth the effort as you can for instance get healed at the hospital for free.
In addition some items require certain ingredients that you can’t make or buy. Medecins for instance require medicinal ingredients. You can find a few at the supermarket and perhaps buy some at the central square perhaps, if that is available.

 

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Some locations. What to expect and what to bring.
Supermarket.
Bring a crowbar. If there are looters you have to make a run for the resources. Another option is to leave the location at once as that stops them from looting and they will not appear the next time you visit. Another option might be that the soldier is there, that is about to rape the girl. If you feel heroic you might go for him with the crowbar. Attack him from the rear when he is still talking to the girl. The supermarket has a mixture of items, food, ingredients and such. The assault rifle you get from the soldier after killing him is a pretty worthless trading item for some reason.

Construction Site
Bring a crowbar. If there are sounds of shots being fired at regular intervals there are armed people at the top. Avoid them for they shoot you on sight. Only scavenge the lower part of the building. Next time you return the place will be deserted. Sometimes you start out without any shot being fired, in that case there might be soldiers up on top and you might get caught in a struggle between looters and soldiers. You find mostly materials and wood. But if you can get to the top you can get canned food and better loot.

Sniper Junction
Bring a crowbar and a sawblade. A sniper shoots at you when you expose yourself. Move from cover to cover. Wait for his shot, then move. The first time he hits you, you get slightly wounded, the second time you get wounded. I assume you get a deep wound next and then next you are killed. Lot of materials, wood and other stuff.

Shelled School
The danger free version offers only squatters who leave you be if you leave them be. Lot of materials and wood. Parts and some electrical parts. Water and medicines. There is an area behind a grate that requires a sawblade. This could give you randomly broken rifles, guns and helmets. If you are lucky. Note that you have to clear dirt once to get over the top. There is also a dangerous one that has armed men. I ran when they started to threaten me so I can’t tell much about this version.
Decrepit Squat
Bring a crowbar, a saw blade and raw food. The raw food is for the squatter who gives you valuables in return. The crowbar is for the cupboard in the back and the saw-blade for the grate at the top. Lots of materials, woods, sugar, water and some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Ruined Flats
Deserted. Bring two sawblades for two apartments. Materials, food, wood, weapon parts.

Garage
Bring bandages for trading. You might bring a saw-blade for opening the grate on top, but this might trigger a bug(?) that makes him hostile later on. At least that is my explanation. Since I avoid doing that I have never had any problem with the garage guy becoming hostile.

Shelled Cottage or Abandoned cottage
Bring crowbar for both and expect to dig dirt either once or twice. Deserted places, so there is no danger. Materials, wood, sugar, food, water, some (electrical) parts and some weapon parts.

Hospital
Bring a bandage to donate or trade. Some food and materials can be found here, including a vegetable. Pick up everything you scavenge because it seems to get lost the next time you return except for the part at find at the start of the map.

Church
Crowbar, a saw blade and maybe a shovel. When there are no armed men in the back you can trade with the priest. You will know when there are armed thugs because  when you need to get into the church using scaffolding there is no priest, but armed gunman in the last part of the map.. You can scavenge for materials, wood and such when the priest is here. When the thugs are here you can scavenge the church for things and find some broken rifle, or gun or helmet or vest. Stay away from the house at the back.

Hotel
Two versions. One has armed men willing to trade. Don’t steal their stuff and you are fine. You can loot the rest of the building. Other version has a harmless lunatic in which chase you might bring a crowbar as you either have to dig through two heaps of dirt or open a door with the crowbar and then dig through one heap. You need to open a few cupboards with the crowbar. Lots of materials and wood. Even some weapons parts and I found a shotgun with ammo here.

Brothel
Bring a saw-blade. You can loot the entry areas which gives you some vital parts and electrical parts. You can also trade here. The sawblade can open a grate at the top of the brothel so you can loot some more. However this is a dangerous place as the trader warns you not to get beyond a certain point, expect to be attacked when they find you did.

Military Outpost
Not much to loot before you run into the soldiers. You can trade here. The soldiers are a dangerous lot and will start shooting after perhaps one warning.
There are more locations, mostly listed as lived in, either by armed people who are unwilling to trade or harmless people equally unwilling to trade.There is a warehouse that is listed as very dangerous. It requires a crowbar to enter. Since there was no real need to explore it, I never returned there with a crowbar, but I got the feeling they shoot you on sight.

 

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That was about it. Maybe I add some more information and pictures later.
There are two wikis being worked upon and some guides that help you with things. I would suggest to go there if you want to know more.

Changelog:
Changed 1-12-2014(Update of post after change in the game. Also cleaned some of the text and added a index).

Sucker Punch, Tacitus, atheism and Orwell

” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

I don’t like quotes like these, because it feels like mindless repeating something that someone else has thought off and is probably quoted out of context anyway.. I heard  this quote when I watched the movie Sucker Punch, just to give you an idea of the context..
Sucker Punch is a curious movie. On the face it seems to be an over-the-top action movie filled with scanty dressed women who are facing various diverse unrealistic situations such as world war I with zombie Germans and so on.. The whole is tied together by a double layered story. The first layer is the ‘real’ world in which the main character is locked up in a psychiatric hospital. She fantasizes to escape her dreary environment and impending doom(being lobotomized). The next layer has her and her other inmates being held by a sleazy guy who acts like a pimp and the environment has a definite vintage feel. It is the layer in which she escaped to the next world.
Sucker Punch has not been received well and I think I can make case  that this has much to do with the pretty women dressed in fetish outfits and the over the top action scenes. It is too flashy and too sexy to look like a profound movie and as such it isn’t.  And that is ironic. Perhaps more quotes would have helped, even if these quotes are totally out of context such as the quote above. And as the case may be: quoting things out of context and cherry picking is a well established practice.

The quote made me also think of an issue I have been struggling with these last few months. I have been watching a lot discussions surrounding atheism on you tube. Atheism can be described as a rejection of the claim that a god(or gods) exists on the ground that there is not enough proof to think otherwise.  In the western world this discussion focuses mainly on the god of the Christians because that god is culturally tied to those areas.

In the Netherlands(my native country) there are almost no discussions surrounding atheism and as far as I can tell nobody takes exception when you say you are an atheist. Perhaps it might lead to an exchange of views, that eventually ends with stand off, but nothing more.
In the US and on You Tube however the discussion is on. There are good reasons for that.  In the US the obvious conflict is the one between fundamental Christians, spearheaded by creationist and apologists, and the atheists. But it isn’t just a fight between ‘extremes’ but one that has a profound influence on our world and thus affects us all. The well funded extreme Christian basically denounce anyone who oppose their claims and want any other claims suppressed. And this is scary because the US is the most powerful nation in the world both economically and military and also very influential in many other areas. A right winged extreme Christian United States is no blessing too the world.

An example of a group of people that are seen as enemies of the faith are those scientists who hold views that are contrary to the views held by extreme Christians. If their scientific investigations do not match with the Christian claims  or even contradict them then science has to take a backseat and adapt to fit the Chritian. claim. Such extreme views are propagated by the likes of a Sye ten Bruggencate.
An example is a passage from the works of the Roman historian Tacitus. When describing the burning of Roman in 64 AD he tells us that the emperor Nero shifted the blame to a group of people called Christians by the populace.. He then tells that the name Christians comes from a man called Christ who has been killed on orders of Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.  More about this can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ
This is the only passage on Christians and Christ that exist in the extant works of Tacitus. It is often pointed to as proof of Christs existence. The whole issue comes down to the interpretation of this sentence: Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,[]
Either this sentence builds upon the previous sentence in which Tacitus says that the name Christians is a name given to these people by the populace.. and then what is said about Christ is also derived from that source(whatever the value of such a source) or this sentence does not build upon the previous one and is one that stands on its own: this is what I Tacitus have found about about Christs(from other sources than mere hearsay). As you might have gathered, even the best of ancient writers do not out of habit mention their sources.

Whatever viewpoint is  the most valid one is very much in dispute, but one thing can be said for sure: this passage is not undisputed proof for the existence of Christ for the passage inself is disputed.
But extremist Christians still keep submitting that Tacitus offers precisely that: undisputed proof for the existence of Christ.

In the US the conflict is taken to the classroom where intelligent design is pushed as valid alternative scientific idea next to ideas such as evolution. These attempts have often failed, so an alternative strategy is develop: remove disliked theories such as evolution from the classroom.
And here we touch a profound  pattern. This is no longer about a conflict over opposing ideas,. this touched on  the progress of humanity. Evolution is not the only view that collides with intelligent design and creationism. Ideas about how the universe and life evolved contradict extremist views and eventually any critical thinking will. So when evolution is removed, this will be just the first of ideas that will be removed, because evolution isn’t a stand alone idea, it is part of a bigger picture, remove one and you need to remove the next . And then the next will follow. And the next. And the next. Until nothing remains.
But these are the idea that are born from critical thinking and eventually critical think will need to go. But it  this same critical thinking that underpins progress and inventions.  Without critical thinking there would be no internet or mobile phones or cars or advanced medicines or science.
Critical thinking, out of the box thinking, qualities that are so readily demanded from applicants by companies and institutions alike, have to be suppressed to make the world match with  extreme Christian concepts .And so we are now entering Orwells world of 1984 where history is rewritten to match the current state of affairs between the superpowers, because suggesting that it might have been changed is to suggest that ‘Big Brother’ has changed his mind, which suggest that he might have been in error. And ‘Big Brother’ does not make errors. The world will be eternally frozen into the now.. there will be no past and no future. There will be no progress.

I have often seen these discussions about atheism as fringe discussions,  interesting only to inhabitants of the United States and not ‘us’  Europeans. In addition I do not always like the methods and arguments of those that fight Christian fundamentalism. But the fact is that they, atheist, sceptics, scientists, artist and anyone else who are not liked by extreme Christians) are actually fighting for something that we accept as normal and we are not helping them.  They are up against some pretty powerful well funded organisations that do not hesitate to stoop to lies, deceit and manipulation to advance their agendas, and which will include an attempt to brainwash the next generation in thinking that the bible is the only proper source of knowledge and truth. And although  I don’t feel on any level qualified to join the discussion, I can at least report on it.. for even writing about it will be contrary to those who like to drag humanity down into ignorance.

So more posts will follow…

 ” If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” might seem to be a reason to take a stand on something. But as a matter of fact, if you do stand for something it doesn’t mean you are doing better than those that stand for nothing. Fundamentalist stand for something.. and see what that leads to.

A game review: Dead State(a tale of errors, a chicken, a murderess and a ghost.. and lots of zombies too)

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(Note: This review is about the Early Access version and not about the full release. I have not had the opportunity to replay the full release game. )

Welcome to my review of the game Dead State,  which is about to hit the market on the Fourth of December, according to their press release. I have to excuse myself for making a rather long post, but I have to because I initially made a review based on wrong assumptions and now, after playing, this game for about 70+ hours I feel that I can make a better judgement of the game.

First an introduction:

You are in restaurant. The waiter asks what you would like to eat and offers you the opportunity to select the ingredients yourself. In fact, you are invited to visit the kitchen and point out what you would like to have, to tell how much of it you think is sufficient and to describe how you like it to be prepared. After doing so you return to your table to await what must be a memorable eating experience.
Some time later the waiter enters the room holding aloft three plates.  He walks over to you, puts one plate in front of you and then tosses the ingredients of the other two on top of the first plate and then shuffles the heap of food. He leaves Then wishing you a most enjoyable meal.

This then, is the condition of Dead State at the end of early access: full of things that would make for a memorable gaming experience, but the overall result is a mess.

But first let’s get you an idea about what kind of game this is.

Dead State is an isometric role play game set in the zombie apocalypse where you take charge of a group of survivors holed up in a school in Texas. The game has two parts: one part is managing your group of survivors, the other part is heading a party of up to four characters to scavenge for supplies, do quests and deal with the various enemies.

Those who are familiar with fallout 1 and fallout 2 should be at home with the mechanics of this game.The game has two map modes that each come with a different way of movement. There is a strategic map that you use to travel from one location to another in which time progress as you move. This movement can be done in three ways: on foot, on horseback or with a car. Each mode has advantages and disadvantages: foot is slow, but cost nothing; travelling on horseback gets you there faster, but requires food for the horses and the car is the fastest of them all, but costs fuel; a resource that is scarce.

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The strategic map…early game(left) and late game(right)

The other map is the local map. Local map movement occurs on a tactical map and is real time until combat is imminent. In combat mode you move turn based. As far as I can tell there is no progression of time on the local map.

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Local map movement: real time(big picture) and turn based in combat mode(insert)

During combat mode actions cost action points. Walking cost one point for instance, fighting with a small weapon three, shooting a handgun perhaps four, up till complex attack movements which cost perhaps eight points. Therefore, the more action points you have, the more you can do in one turn and the more powerful you become, provided you have other good fighting statistics as well.

Characters have varied attributes and varied skills. Your main character can be customized at the start and can be developed further during the game. Other characters also develop, but you can’t control that directly. They grow over time on their own, although it seems as if you can steer this progress by assigning them to do jobs that require a certain skill which they will thus improve.

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Character sheet

You can improve your base by building various upgrades like a wall, a watch tower, a science lab and a recreation room. These upgrades often enable other upgrades or give the ability to create new objects, like the science lab, which allows you  to create such things as improved armor, antibiotics and ammunition for guns.

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The job board where you assign jobs such as building upgrades for your shelter. To the right an overview of various upgrades you can build.

The game has a kind of flow.. At first even a single zombie is a challenge, but gradually as you and your companions get better equipment and advanced skills they become less of a threat and you deal with looters, gangs, rogue cops, militia and finally the military.  This shift in enemies means also a shift in weaponry. At the start you deal with you enemies with melee weapons, later on you start to depend more on ranged weapons.

I would like to special mention is that the game has implemented that people killed by zombies become zombies themselves. Which is a great idea. In addition the game also makes zombies appear when you make a lot of sound and especially gunfire, most notably shotgun fire  draws in zombies. This is also a nice aspect of the game.

One important aspect of the game is handling the community of survivors. You become the leader and thus you have to deal with various challenges, like recruiting more survivors, getting to know your fellow survivors, assigning them jobs, bolstering their spirits, handling conflicts, dealing with community politics and making decisions, including those concerning life and death. It is up to you to deal with the situation.

Now doesn’t this all sound great?

Well,  here is the other side of the game…

The game is beset with many issues. Just a list of random examples: a character dies, but her avatar stays on the map the rest of the game; doors return to undamaged state when you reload a game and you haven’t bashed them open; the fresh food you gathered on the day is not preserved when you restart the game;  some doors allow no entrance after being opened; locations are unfinished; you have to reassign jobs to your characters every day even if you just want them to prolong the job; your fishing rod is removed from your inventory and put in the storage every time you enter the shelter and thus has to retrieved again when you want to go fishing again; somehow the fourth party member is afflicted by bad pathing which could make him/her run the other way and right into enemies.

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My four avatars facing off a group of zombies . There are plenty of zombies on this map, but nothing else. Note that one of my party members is Fiona.. We will have a special part about her further down.

A rather annoying aspect of the game is that there is no log of conversations so you can’t find out what you have heard the other day: you have to write it down yourself. Sometimes a character tips you on a location, this location might or might not appear. There is no check if a location has already been found nor does the location offer new things..
And more: you can build a chicken coop, but that requires a chicken, when you bring a chicken, it is slaughtered automatically because there is no chicken coop. There is quest where someone offers you to trade medicines for food, but you can’t bring food from the shelter as any food that you take to your shelter disappears into an inaccessible storage. Some quests are broken: like one where you are asked by Aggro to pick up her friend Alan at the Dublin bar: he never shows up. There is one where I got a tip to go to Eden next to the Wicked Lily. Whatever Eden is remains unclear and I could not find it.

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The chicken and egg problem: to make a coop you need a chicken, to bring a chicken to the shelter you need a coop.

One of  broken story line is the story of  Fiona Parks. At some point during the game Davis, the wheelchair guy who is your sidekick, comes up and told me how sorry he is about what Fiona did. I was left to wonder what he was talking about, but I through she was killed or commited suicide. But whenever I checked Fiona, she was alright and could be assigned jobs and taken along with parties, just like all the other party members. From that moment onwards Davis kept telling me every morning the same thing: that he is sorry about what happened to Fiona or was she did.

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Davis telling me about Fiona.. the same story every morning.

Then one time I am told she has killed someone. A trial is organized and after the trial I had her expelled, and just after the trial has finished, I am told another murder has occurred: Fiona had killed again!. After a second trial Fiona is expelled again!Then the next morning Davis approaches me yet again to tell me how sorry he is about what happened to Fiona or what she did, and the morning after that one and the morning thereafter:basically every morning I have this same conversation.

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Oh… you did do what???
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Funny detail: Fiona is a supporter of Sandy, who votes to have her killed…

After a while it becomes clear that there is no progressing storyline and there seems to be no finish to the game. There is a conflict brewing between the militia and the military, but you can’t do anything with it.. They even have accessible headquarters, but I never get the ability to talk to their leaders and even killing them outright doesn’t seem to do much. It for instance doesn’t even make the rest of the militia angry when you shoot their fellows at the militia hq. It seems like this part still needs to be worked upon.Just like for instance the suggestive skill of Karen. She can fly a helicopter and at one point this is brought up in a conversation, which seems to imply that it is something important. but what it is, has still to be revealed.

Now all of this and much more needs to be looked at(just another bone: the dogs in the game can only be attacked from the front and the back) and fixed, but we are to believe that game has entered Beta in Augustus and should be in state that will allow it to be released to market on the 4th of december. It could be that all these issues will be solved around that time, but it is strange that they haven’t been solved in the current version and I have my doubts if all these issues can be fixed in that time.

The final straw that makes me give this game the thumb down is simply the price. The developers asked to be funded via kickstarter and got more than double the money they asked for. In addition they ask a whopping 27 euro for an early access indie game(compare that to state of decay: 18 euro’s). Yet the game is not finished and I wonder in what state the game will be released. There is a lot of fixing to do and we have to believe that all this fixing is done at the time of the official launch.

Some random  things that need to be looked at:

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Some errors: at Coleman(left side) you can walk right through this barricade. Items still need icons(top middle). The interior of that shop is on the move(top right). And sometimes you are blessed with a random 5th party member(lower right). The door is no obstacle for this soldier(bottom middle)
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The ghost that haunts the shelter: Elaine killed herself early in the game, but her presence lingers on. Even the sun won’t chase her away.

“Gott mit uns”(God with us)

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand-Guignol-Gott_mit_uns-1928.jpg

I can’t help it to  write this post. I resisted several times and I even have a complete rant hidden as post someplace that addresses this issue, but I decided against posting it.

But now it happened again!

“What is the issue?,” you might ask.

It is the use of the “Gott mit uns” argument.

The “Gott mit uns” argument usually pops up in discussions between atheists and theists. It is an extension of Godwin’s law: the longer a discussion on the internet last, the higher the chance that Hitler or Nazis will be mentioned.  And Hitler is a hot button.

The argument comes down to this: and the Germans(or the German army) under Hitler used “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles(which means that he supported Christianity or was a Christian, but certainly not an atheist) In an slightly less charged discussion it might also mean: for any argument you have that he is an atheist(and therefore by association atheists are evil) we have an argument that he is a Christian(and therefore by association they are evil).

I have heard Matt Dillahunty use this example twice(once in his debate with Father Jacobse and once on the ACA podcast) and now I hear it repeated by Jacquelyn Glenn(1).

I think they usually have good arguments, but I would like people to stop using this argument because it speaks of a lack of knowledge of history of Germany, Hitler and the Second world war and therefore illustrates a lack of insight. And here is the reason why.

“Gott mit uns’ was a slogan displayed on the buckle of the privates and soldiers of the regular German army( and not on that of the SS for instance, who used: Meine  Ehre heisst treue: my honor is loyalty).  The slogan was used by the Germans under the Empire(1870-1918), during the Weimar Republic(1918-1934) and even by Prussia before the German unification.  In other words, it wasn’t implemented as part of a conscious decision by Hitler but part of a tradition of the German and Prussian army(2)
Now you might say, by not removing it, he supported it, but this speaks of a lack of knowledge of German history. For one when Hitler went on his program of rearmament in 1933 he needed the German army to make it happen. In addition Hitler came to power through a series of power deals, most specifically with the conservatives which were well linked with the German army, industry and with the churches. In addition, Hitler did not attain full dictatorial powers until after after the burning of the Reichstag, the death of von Hindenburg, the president of Germany and one of the leading exponents of the Germany army, and the elimination of the SA.  And those who are informed about the German army, know Hitler did not acquire full nominal control of the German army until the removal of von Blomberg in 1938(3).
We basically have no idea what Hitler’s vision was on the buckle. You could claim he supported Christianity because of it, but you could equally state that he was against it because the SS had a different slogan. Against the latter views speaks for that the SS slogan was not introduced by Hitler, but by Himmler and the SS had nothing to do with the army, even though the waffen-ss became a rival of the army during the war.

I hope that the above will convince people to be cautious when using the argument that the belt buckles of the German soldiers say anything about Hitler’s religious convictions. It is a small point, but it makes me cringe every time when I hear people refer to it as if it is a proof in one way or another.

(1)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbtDQYAk09Y#t=387

(2)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gott_mit_uns
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meine_Ehre_hei%C3%9Ft_Treue
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schutzstaffel

(3)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_von_Blomberg,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler’s_rise_to_power
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_von_Hindenburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_re-armament

Second Life: Dirty Rat & Vintage Village

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Vintage Village during the day..

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I haven’t been posting much of late due a very exhaustive real life. Also I am working of various projects that take long to finish, partly because I am struggling to find a graphic style I am happy with and I am not too happy with the results. Currently I am working on a graphical version of my bridge story. But more of that in another post.

Here follows a set of pictures I made at two places called Dirty Rat and Vintage Village respectively. The pictures were taken quite some time ago, but I like them and I wanted to post them anyway.
There is not much too tell. Second Life is mostly an empty place for me. I am basically a loner and a very private person, so I don’t mix easily with people. Besides, most people that I knew in SL left, mostly because after a while Second Life no longer interest them in one way or another.

Dirty Rat is the name for a shop selling various  buildings, furniture and the like. Next door is Vintage Village, which is a small town that looks nice, containing various shops. I am to believe that at times events are held at the place.

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Vintage Village during the night//

This is the url for the location: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Verdigris/207/85/66
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