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The Sims 4

The Sims 4 – Best mods in 2020

A couple of weeks ago I made a post on COVID-19’s new symptom: Playing The Sims 4. After 7 years of development, The Sims 4 is now a mature game with a solid modding community that has worked to expand and optimize their mods over the years.

As you might have guessed, I too have been playing this game for quite a few hours during this lockdown. As you might also know, I truly love using mods in my games.

Please note: in this article I won’t delve into any Custom Content (CC) – just mods.

In The Sims 4, some people prefer to avoid using mods altogether.

While it is true that mods can affect the game in ways that are detrimental to the game’s vibe or performance, it is also true that mods can add a lot to The Sims experience. They expand the base content and improve gameplay, which adds replayability and fun.

I’m using several mods in my current 2020 The Sims 4 build. They all seem to work together without any conflicts and greatly expanded my game.
I’ll be sharing a list of the top mods in my current build:

One mod to rule them all

The Sims 4

This mod should be at the top of our list, due to the vast array of features and integration with other mods.
It doesn’t add gameplay features, but it allows you to customize almost every aspect of the game and its characters. It also helps to track down issues with in-game notifications and detailed logs.
We’re talking about MC Command Center by Deaderpool (MCCC). A common, must-have, mod.

LittleMsSam’s plethora of juicy mods

Whether you’re a newbie to modding The Sims 4 or an expert family planner, there’s no avoiding LittleMsSam’s vast collection of mods.

Most of LittleMsSam’s mods are actually really small and simple, but the huge collection of useful mods available that actually affect gameplay is astounding. It’s like picking free candy from a candy shop.

Some of LittleMsSam’s mods fix base game bugs and issues, while others expand the game by adding small bits of gameplay mechanics.

When used together, these mods become even more interesting – like adding layers and filling to a cake. And then a cherry on top.

All mods are very well documented, although sometimes the language used to describe them lacks some clearing up. If you’re new to modding The Sims 4 however, this is definitely the place to start.

Some of LittleMsSam’s most interesting mods:

The Sims 4
  • LittleMsSam’s Live in Business – This is my favorite mod in this article. Live in Business allows you to run your own little shop on the same lot where your family lives. Using LittleMsSam’s Live in Business, you won’t have those pesky loading screens, or Sims splitting away for work. Build your own family bakery or art gallery on the same lot where your family lives!
  • LittleMsSam’s Live in Services – A great addon to Live In Business – you’re able to hire services by providing rooms for your maid, gardener, or a nanny. They’ll work harder, better …and you get to spy on them when they’re not working.
  • LittleMsSam’s Roommates – This mod allows you to invite people to live with your household on the same lot. They will pay rent and you get to watch their lives unfold. Useful if you wish to build a small active neighborhood in a single lot. Just don’t forget to lock your doors! (there’s also a mod to help you with that!)
  • LittleMsSam’s More Buyable Venues and new Venue Types – Customize your lot and make it whatever you want it to be! You’ll be able to build prisons, motels, movie theatres, gyms, museums, etc. The astonishing part is that they actually work well and feature some interesting gameplay loops. I built a haunted hotel where my character actually has to use a computer to check-in guests, collect payments, and assign bedrooms. Immersive and fun!

Making money in The Sims 4 is a bit too easy.

Satira’s Lower Salaries and LittleMsSam’s (Zooroo’s) ATM mods make The Sims 4’s finances a bit more interesting, by lowering your job payouts and allowing you to go for a credit loan instead of selling your TV when things go bad. Staying at home picking up collectibles still earns you more than most jobs though.

I haven’t yet found a mod to make your financial life more challenging by adding cool new events. SacrificialMod’s Life Tragedies does add armed robberies, ransoms for kidnappings, and disease treatment costs, but it also adds a ton of non-essential death mechanics, violence, and other unnecessary stuff that kind of breaks The Sim’s happy vibe.

I’m looking for mods that boost this financial aspect of the game. Let me know your suggestions in the comments section below!

Add personality and life to your Sims

A few years ago, I ranted on my Twitch channel that Sims are too flexible with their emotions. They may feel very upset but that doesn’t prevent them from doing certain activities that drastically shift their mood to the exact opposite.
Here’s a list of mods that not only help balance emotions but also add cool new lifestyle mechanics to the game:

The Sims 4
  • RoBurky’s Meaningful Stories – it makes your Sim’s emotional state veer more like a cruise ship rather than a mosquito. It aims to make emotional states more natural and flow through intermediate states. The events in your Sim’s life will feel more important.
  • Simsmodelsimmer’s Realistic Reactions – This modder’s webpage features a bunch of interesting mods to explore, including Set Family Relationships, which adds family degrees to Sims. However, Realistic Reactions is on this list because it adds reactions to cheating between couples and how children react to their parents fighting.
  • Have Some Personality Please! by PolarBearSims – Default Sims are too quick to jump into a relationship. This mod makes romance a bit more challenging and progressive by restricting the number and type of interactions available. It also cuts idle chat and adds additional autonomy to your Sims.
  • KawaiiStacie’s Slice of Life – bring a new level of realism to your The Sims 4 mods with SoL. Your character will blush when embarrassed, cry when sad, or even bruised from a fight. It includes a personality system that acts as traits do. You will experience sicknesses, menstrual cycles, and body insecurities. Also, pimples!
  • Wicked Whims (+18) – This is a very extensive and very graphic mod that adds a ton of sexual interactions and animations. However, if you feel it breaks The Sims 4’s vibe, you are able to disable or tone it down and instead value the other aspects of the mod, such as nudity, pregnancy, STDs, window peeping, emotional reactions or pubic hair.

Quality of life mods

Some mods aim to make things easier to play or to fix small annoying bugs.

The Sims 4
  • Don’t Wash Dishes Where You Angry Poop by Scumbumbo – The very visual name of the mod is actually very accurate. It prevents Sims from washing dishes in bathroom sinks.
  • Nisa’s Lot Trait Extender – Because we always need more lot traits! (especially with other mods that require you to add lot traits)
  • LittleMsSam’s No Auto Food Grab – If you’re planning on setting up a custom bakery or a restaurant, this is a must-have mod. It prevents your Sim from taking a bite out of each cake he bakes for his customers.
  • LittleMsSam’s No Inventory Sharing – This mod prevents stuff that’s in a fridge or chest from being accessible in every other fridge or chest in the lot. Very useful if you’re using LittleMsSam’s Roommates, as it prevents your neighbors from eating your stored food!
  • LittleMsSam’s Force to Leave & Lock Door – Tired of those annoying neighbors dancing all night in your living room? Expel everyone from your house immediately! Then lock the door and sleep comfortably.
  • Scumbumbo’s Unlisted Phone Number – Sims can be kind of creepy, but mostly irritating by regularly calling you in the middle of the night. This mod prevents other Sims from calling you unless you give them your number (which also adds some fun RP to it).

Refresh your game!

When you really like a game, but you’ve explored most of the game’s options, mods are the way to refresh it.

Besides fixing bugs or adding content, mods are able to enable new gameplay mechanics that can be very fun to explore. Being able to play your favorite game as if it was the first time is well worth the time investment of finding the right mods.

So go ahead and push the boundaries of The Sims 4 now!

What are your favorite mods? What mod ideas would you like to see added to The Sims 5? Let me know in the comments section below!

Also, don’t forget to support your mod developers on Patreon!

See you in Strangerville,
-ViLa4480

NVIDIA RTX Voice

Remove microphone noise FREE with revolutionary Nvidia RTX Voice

This COVID-19 situation has many of us working, studying, and streaming from home. But for many, this may be a very difficult task, due to unavoidable sources of noise around them. NVIDIA RTX Voice to the rescue!

The sound of kids running and screaming in the back, dogs barking or mechanical keyboard strokes might be extremely difficult to muffle and may affect your performance or credibility.
You might at first want to gag your kids, but this tool might just solve your problem.

Oftentimes, however, the issue is on the other end of your Teams video call with very loud video partners.

To tackle this, NVIDIA has developed a technology that is currently in a free beta stage. This is called NVIDIA RTX Voice.

Oh, you don’t own an RTX graphics card? Don’t despair!

Even though it is “officially” limited to the RTX range of NVIDIA video cards, we’ve found a way around that and you’ll be able to use it with your non-RTX video card.

Fixing sound with graphics cards?

As many of you might know, dealing with sound has been a reference of what’s trickiest to do in computer sciences since its inception. The fact that it requires very fast computational power demands specific processors and tools to handle sound efficiently.

Ray-tracing in computer graphics has exactly the same problem.
Considering this, then it might come as no surprise that NVIDIA has now tackled complex real-time sound processing with RTX graphics card software.

Nvidia RTX Voice is surprisingly good

There have been many ways to subtract or reduce background noise. However, NVIDIA’s AI solution seems to clearly outperform other approaches.

As a reference, I was talking to my microphone while violently punching my table and having my girlfriend yelling next to me (please note: not at me). The results of NVIDIA’s RTX Voice were outstanding.

My voice did have a slight fluctuation in volume as I hammered the desk. But considering how much noise we were making, in the final recording, I was unable to hear anything else but my voice.
I would say that the result was pretty good and well worth the try.

As a reference, my non-RTX graphics card is an NVIDIA GTX 1080 non-TI. Using this software did increase my old CPU load by 5%, which is perfectly manageable if you toggle it off after each call.
RTX cards shine brighter because the loads for RTX cards are minimal.

How to install NVIDIA RTX Voice

If you own an RTX graphics card, things are easier to set up.
Simply go to NVIDIA RTX Voice’s official website and follow the instructions they provide.

If, however, you DON’T own an RTX NVIDIA graphics card, there’s still a way to make it work.

NVIDIA RTX Voice
NVIDIA RTX Voice

If you own a non-RTX NVIDIA graphics card, you’ll need to manually remove the constraints from the installer. They prevent you from installing the tool in non-RTX computers.

To install it in your non-RTX computer, follow these instructions from the Guru3D forums:

  1. Go to NVIDIA RTX Voice’s official website and download the free beta version (v0.5.12.6 – 386Mb).
  2. Run the file you downloaded. A message stating that your graphics card is not compatible is expected and the installer quits to desktop.
  3. Go to your C:\Temp\NVRTXVoice\NvAFX folder and open the file RTXVoice.nvi with a text editor such as Notepad.
  4. Search and remove a section that reads:
    <constraints>
    <property name=”Feature.RTXVoice” level=”silent” text=”${{InstallBlockedMessage}}”/>
    </constraints>
  5. Save your file and run setup.exe, located at C:\Temp\NVRTXVoice\
  6. Proceed with the installation and follow the configuration instructions at NVIDIA RTX Voice’s official website.

Using this tool to minimize your own background noise is pretty simple.
Just run the app and select your microphone as your input and your regular output (usually speakers). Then go to the tool you wish to use such as OBS for streaming or Skype for meetings. Finally set NVIDIA RTX Voice as your microphone input.

NVIDIA RTX Voice

If instead, you wish to protect your ears and sanity from loud or obnoxious meeting partners, there’s a solution as well.

You are able to set your output device on Teams, Zoom, or Classroom as NVIDIA’s RTX Voice. Then all you need is to set NVIDIA’s RTX Voice’s output to your speakers/headphones.
If you’re having trouble setting up this sound route, you might want to try the free donation-based Voicemeeter Banana/Potato, which gives you full control over input/output paths for sound.

Peace at last

Whether you are a Twitch streamer with a loud mechanical keyboard, using Discord or OBS, or having a Teams meeting that your kids are keen on ruining, or even attending classes via Skype, Google’s Classroom or Zoom, this tool will help you muffle your background noise but also protect your ears from everyone else’s noise as well. The results are stunning and well worth a try.

Let me know how it worked out for you!

If this helped you, consider subscribing to Popcorngamer.com!
-ViLa4480

The Sims 4

COVID-19’s new symptom: Playing The Sims 4

The 7-year old game is apparently making a comeback. Why are people playing it again? What changed in The Sims 4 and how come that this dinosaur is not yet a fossil? What led to this resurgence of the stale-genre game? Who plays it and how?

The rise of an oldie

7-year-old games are considered old by videogame market standards.

A sequel was due for some time now, but it never came. Instead, Maxis and Electronic Arts opted to keep releasing mostly cosmetic but expensive DLCs.

The Sims is pretty much alone in its own market, there’s not much of a competition to worry about (until now with the upcoming Paralives). They’ve always controlled the Life Simulation genre they’ve created and aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Instead of releasing a new game every two years (like most AAA game sequels), they were keying on setting solid foundations with a solid base game and then update and add new content with expansive (and expensive) DLCs. EA has released 9 large expansions already, yet 12 are expected until the end of The Sims 4 lifecycle.

Even though this strategy keeps current users feeding them with each DLC, it doesn’t do much in the way of attracting new ones.

In March 2020, things were about to change – but not in the way they were expected to.

Trying times

The Sims 4

Nowadays, every social media platform talks about The Sims, plays videos about The Sims, links to podcasts about The Sims, and, like me, people are blogging about The Sims. It almost feels like The Sims 4 had just been released. Also, Animal Crossing.

COVID-19 is the root-solution to our question.
COVID-19, the coronavirus that won the game by putting the world on pause. No more lines at the Post Office, traffic jams, crowded malls, delayed flights, air pollution, noise pollution. Was it not for the sad side-effects of social distancing, this would sound more like a blessing.

However, this horrible virus had an unexpected super-power. It managed to lock most of us in our own homes, afraid to go outside – waiting for it to leave us alone and abandon our doorstep.

Influencer lockdown

Self-isolation caused a huge number of social influencers to stay indoors. It was fun for a while – plenty of exciting chitchat about the situation filled their blogs and vlogs.
…But after a week or two, these fashion and travel influencers were still stuck at home with nothing new and exciting to report about their awesome way of life. No new clothes or makeup to show, no restaurants to try and no foreign places to explore. Their blogs and vlogs were running dry.

Some turned to cooking – but apparently, their cooking skills were not that great… or they just couldn’t make it captivating enough for their audience to enjoy.

Then they turned to gaming – a sensible marketing decision since gaming ranks high in social media projection. Even though these fashion vlogger’s streaming/gaming rigs were pretty much non-existant (as were their games list or gaming skills altogether), they still had their hordes of loyal fans thirsty for content and stuck at home with nothing to watch.

Some of these (mostly female) vloggers, in their early 30’s, went through their early years in an age where The Sims 1 and 2 were all the rage. So they naturally leaned towards The Sims 4.

The fact that it is a non-competitive sandbox game that features endless fashion and decoration customization options, that requires no skills at all and that supports a Mac version, and low computer specs certainly did help those fashion and lifestyle vloggers to take the leap.

The fact is that the stuff that made their Youtube channels popular was all there. In The Sims 4, there were new clothes to try, new makeup to show, new restaurants to experience and plenty of virtual foreign places to explore.

A cringy reality

I noticed some really sad streams, where the host used an uncomfortable wall shelf instead of a desk for gaming/streaming. Where they were unaware that their camera was on or that their microphone was off, that their lighting was terrible or their FPS were lame. Then some of them didn’t know how to handle the controls or built very large concrete boxes instead of real homes for their Sims. Naturally, none of them knew how to interact with the audience properly.

Even though this was a sad thing to watch, what truly frustrated me was the huge numbers of viewers watching. There are plenty of interesting, well-performed streams on Twitch, Mixer, or Youtube that don’t get half the views they deserve.

Some of these streams and videos drew quite a crowd and lead other vloggers to follow their example. Nowadays, Youtube is flooded every day with The Sims 4 videos by popular non-gamer influencers. This drives ads and posts on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube/Google results.

Nowadays, The Sims 4 seems to be everywhere.

The Sims 5 and sharp marketing pencils

In a typically sad EA move, they did once threaten The Sims fanbase by stating that The Sims 5 would never happen if The Sims 4 wasn’t successful. However, and even though it had a rough start with mediocre reviews, The Sims 4 turned out to be a very successful investment. But with 4 DLC expansions to go, EA isn’t going to stop milking its cow and replacing it with a new one anytime soon. The Sims 5 is, for now, just a marketing ploy.

When it comes to marketing, timing is critical …and EA has sharp pencils and minds.
EA cashed-in on the coronavirus unexpected wave of new users and influencers by starting to drip some bits of info regarding The Sims 5, which seems to be in the early stages of development.
In order to cause the most impact, they even started with one of the most anticipated and controversial features: Multiplayer.

There were several Twitter posts that caused some sensation. We’re likely to get more juicy info on The Sims 5 over the coming months.

How has the game changed and how are people playing it today?

Going back to playing The Sims 4 in 2020. I noticed that there’s a surprising amount of new content out there. Not just the official 32 downloadable content packs and expansions, but also the absurd amount of Custom Content created by users.
These mods didn’t just grow in quantity. They also improved their quality significantly over the many years of updates that a stable build of the game provided for.

As a dedicated PC gamer, I love modding my games.
More than adding customization options to my characters, I really enjoy adding new gameplay elements that make the game more realistic, immersive, or complex.

The Sims 4 is fertile ground for great Custom Content.

Some of the best Custom Content like Slice of Life, Meaningful Stories, Live in Business, or even Wicked Whims (18+), truly add a host of new features and allow you to explore multiple new ways of playing the base game.

A new look

I’ve recently started a brand new The Sims 4 household. I’m trying to create a small neighborhood with multiple families living on the same lot (thank you Roommates mod). I’ve also got my own bakery business on the same lot (thank you Live in Business and ATMs). It’s just awesome seeing an empty lot turning into a small venue and meeting new Sims. My Sims have interesting personality traits and awesome jobs, there are gangs, drugs, and violence on my streets and I’ve got a ton of furniture to decorate my house with.

7 years past, the game is fresher and more polished than ever with many many new ways to explore.

The Sims 5 isn’t really around the corner. When it finally gets released, it will likely lack the depth and polish that The Sims 4 offers right now.
The upcoming life simulation contender, Paralives, will be interesting to explore, given the type of customization it provides. But Paralives’s success will be limited by the lower amount of gameplay content provided by years of development and mods currently available in The Sims 4.

Give The Sims 4 a new try!
There has never been a better time to explore this green gem of a game.

If instead, you’re looking to play something fun in multiplayer, check out the awesome Sea of Thieves.

See you in San Myshuno,
-ViLa4480

Red Dead Redemption 2 Online – Moonshine Recipes

Moonshine recipes in Red Dead Redemption 2 Online give you the ability to make your special booze, own your very own speakeasy and earn a lot of money. It’s a fun addition to the world of RDR2 and in this article I’ll be covering all there is to know about RDR2‘s Moonshine Recipes.

If you’re new to this whole moonshiner business thing, you should first read my Guide to Moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2.

To make the most of it, I highly recommend that you also check out my previous post – Red Dead Redemption 2 – Moonshiner – How to lower mash prices. It includes all sorts of tips on how to optimize your moonshining business, including Moonshine shack locations, recipes, and strategies for the Bootlegger Missions.

In this post, however, I will simply go over the recipes and ingredients that are required to make the best moonshine.

A cowboy resting in RDR2
This is what happens when your ‘shine is too strong

Add power to your booze!

First things first: upgrade your distillery as soon as you can.
That will increase profit drastically and the distillation takes longer, which allows you to do other stuff in the meantime. Sure, the upgrade costs are steep, but the value you get in return is well worth the investment.

Here’s a rundown of the upgrade costs:

  • Condenser Upgrade: 2 Role Tokens + 825$ + Moonshiner Rank 5
  • Polished Copper Upgrade: 3 Role Tokens + 875$ + Moonshiner Rank 10
Moonshine Shack Décor Upgrades

The best booze recipe!

Booze recipes come in 3 strengths:

  • 1 Star: Weak Moonshine
  • 2 Stars: Average Moonshine
  • 3 Stars: Strong Moonshine

A stronger distillation sells for a higher price.

To make a batch of a more valuable moonshine you need to upgrade your distillery and then gather all the ingredients.
Some recipes only become available by progressing in the Moonshiner role.

Also, keep in mind that buyers change every two hours or so – so you’ll be wise to account for ingredients for different recipes.

Distillation was strong in this one…

Here’s the full list of recipes available

(click the green bar to open)

★ Tropical Punch Moonshine
  • Canned Pineapples
  • Vanilla Flower
  • Pear
★ Wild Cider Moonshine
  • Apple
  • Currant
  • Ginseng
★ Berry Mint Moonshine
  • Canned Berries
  • Blackberry
  • Mint
★★ Evergreen Moonshine
  • Evergreen Huckleberry
  • Wintergreen Berry
  • Ginseng
★★ Apple Berry Crumb Moonshine (Bootlegger Story Progress)
  • Apple
  • Blackberry
  • Vanilla Flower
★★ Berry Cobbler Moonshine (Requires Rank 2)
  • Red Raspberry
  • Peach
  • Canned Peaches
★★★ Wild Creek Moonshine (Requires Rank 6)
  • Wild Mint
  • Vanilla Flower
  • Creek Plum
★★★ Spiced Island Moonshine (Requires Rank 12)
  • Caribbean Rum
  • Golden Currant
  • Canned Apricots
★★★ Agarita Sunrise (Complete Bootlegger story)
  • Agarita
  • Canned Strawberries
  • Evergreen Huckleberries

Time is money

Some of these ingredients are available by picking herbs in the game world. However, others are canned fruits or liqueurs and may be harder to find.

Pro tip: many recipe ingredients are buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. Rather than the cost, consider them as an investment of …time – as you won’t have to go find them in the game world.

These will allow you to make higher quality moonshine that sells for a LOT more money, which justifies their initial cost.

Always keep a healthy supply of fruits, herbs and liqueurs with you at all times.

Always keep a healthy supply of fruits, herbs, and liqueurs with you at all times. You should guarantee enough fruits and herbs to fulfill two or three 2-star or 3-star recipes.

Simply buy batches of up to 30 cans of fruit and fetch them from the Post Office and try to gather the few remaining ingredients from the game world.

Rise and ‘Shine

You should aim for the more valuable drinks. Namely, the Wild Creek Moonshine, Spiced Island Moonshine, and the Agarita Sunrise whenever possible. Keep this list at hand:

  • Wild Creek Moonshine: Wild Mint, Vanilla Flower, Creek Plum
  • Spiced Island Moonshine: Caribbean Rum, Golden Currant, Canned Apricots
  • Agarita Sunrise: Agarita, Canned Strawberries, Evergreen Huckleberries
RDR2 Moonshine Shack
Moonshine Shack in Lemoyne

Again, keep in mind that some items are buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. I highly recommend that you use the Catalogue’s Online version, as it allows you to quickly find your ingredients by using the search functionality.

In the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue you’ll be able to find:

  • Canned Apricots (0.75$)
  • Canned Strawberries (1.20$)
  • Canned Peaches (1.00$)
  • Orchard Apples (0.40$)
  • Canned Berries (1.20$)
  • Canned Pineapples (1.50$)
  • Bartlett Pears (0.65$).

From Madam Nazar’s shop you’ll also be able to buy:

  • Currant
  • Ginseng
  • Caribbean Rum (via collector map)

Other ingredients are rather easy to find:

  • Golden Currant – West of Van Horn, near Kamassa River
  • Red Raspberry – South East of Stillwater Creek
  • Vanilla Flower – South East of Lake Lagras
  • Wild Mint – South West of Valentine, near the river
  • Wintergreen Berry – North of Brandywine Drop

In order to find these items more easily, consider using JeanRopke’s RDOMap.

The elusive Poison Poppy recipe

There’s one other recipe that I purposely avoided talking about in this article. The reason is simple: it is difficult to understand how to make it and find its ingredients. I will attempt to clarify this topic:

In one of the Moonshine Story missions, you are required to brew a vial of Poison Poppy. However, you don’t get to keep the recipe for this drink. In order to unlock the Poison Poppy recipe, you must first find a recipe pamphlet. There are multiple locations where this spawns.

Try to find a small moonshine operation camp in one of these locations. Go there at night to easily spot the campfire.

Credit: Fun2, Tez

Look for the recipe inside the camp’s chest. Once you have read the pamphlet (in your satchel), gather the following ingredients:

  1. Oleander Sage
  2. Prairie Poppy
  3. Absinthe

Go back to your Moonshine Shack and it should now be available.
This recipe is harder to find, but it is worth 247$, like the most valuable ones. If you’re having trouble, check out GTAO W’s video.

Don’t forget to optimize your Moonshine business by following my tips at my other post – Red Dead Redemption 2 – Moonshiner – How to lower mash prices.

Let me know in the comments section if this guide was valuable!
-ViLa4480

Marcel the Cook Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Online Moonshiners

Red Dead Redemption 2 – Moonshiner – How to lower mash prices

How to lower mash prices in RDR2

Moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2 can be a surprisingly profitable business. There are ways to increase revenue and reduce costs (to lower mash prices and even save on supplies). Some up-start investment may be required.

But before I give you a couple of tips, if you’re on the fence on whether to start moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2, let me start by saying that it is a rather fun profession to explore. There are plenty of missions to do and they feel quite varied. Playing with friends also seems to increase the number of available bootlegger missions.

Becoming a moonshiner in RDR2 will also allow you to purchase some fancy clothes and items. However, it is the money aspect that most players are after.

Okay, so how do I lower mash prices in RDR2?

Straight to the point: in order to lower mash prices, all you have to do is to accept Bootlegger missions from Maggie. Talk to her and hold the R key.

RDR2 Maggie
Maggie will guide you through the Moonshiner life

Be aware that there’s a 15-minute timer between missions, during which you’re unable to do another one.
Sometimes Maggie isn’t there, or she’s stuck in an animation sequence – in which case you should go out of the moonshine shack, give it some time and then go back in again. If this becomes a repeating issue, try using my new tool that helps you optimize CPU performance. Its called RDR2 Launch Argument Composer Tool

Bootlegger Missions

By doing Bootlegger missions, you will eventually be able to lower the cost of producing alcohol significantly. As an example, you will be able to lower the 30$ mash cost down to 10$.
This is most noticeable when you upgrade your distillery to be able to produce stronger moonshine. Stronger moonshine requires more time and mash to produce. Instead of paying 30$ per mash dosage, you’ll be paying 50$. The upside is that stronger moonshine sells for a LOT more money. Depending on the quality of the ingredients you’re using, you could sell a batch of booze for up to 247$ per trip. Doing Bootlegger missions also earns you plenty of collectibles, since you’ll be fighting Revenue agents and rival moonshiners that have plenty of expensive items and ammo to loot.

One may argue that the time it takes to do the Bootlegger mission isn’t worth the 20$ discount on mash prices. However, the loot you get from all those revenue agent bodies is worth it in the long run. It earns you special bullets, antique liqueurs, and gold watches, which makes it all much more profitable.

Making the most of your Moonshiner role means optimizing your business in the long run. I highly recommend you check out my additional suggestions on how to make the most of the Moonshiner role:

Oh, and if you would like a detailed overview of the Moonshiner role, Bootlegger mission tips, as well as some other ideas on how to make the best use of this new content, make sure you check out my other postA Guide to Moonshining in RDR2 (my most popular post EVER!).

The best Moonshine Shack Location

RDR2 Moonshine Shack
Moonshine Shack in Lemoyne

Location, location, location

Start by considering where you’ll be placing your Moonshiner shack.
Keep in mind that if you’ve already bought the Moonshine shack, you can talk to Maggie to move it somewhere else for 250$.

It may, at first glance, seem irrelevant or hard to figure out the pros and cons of each location. Here are your options:

  1. Bayou Nwa (Lemoyne)
  2. Grizzlies (Ambarino)
  3. Hennigan’s Stead (New Austin)
  4. The Heartlands (New Hanover)
  5. Tall Trees (West Elizabeth)

So let me give you some perspective: Some locations are easier to access. Some are safer or quicker to traverse. It all pays (literally) in the long run.

I’ve seen a lot of players debating this topic, but none seem to ever have mentioned what I consider to be crucial when picking a location. RDR2 will have other businesses coming out in the near future. Making sure that all your businesses are close together is key to maximizing profits over time by reducing trip lengths.
We may not know exactly what other businesses are coming, but we may have an idea of where Rockstar is going with their updates and try to guess their new business locations.

Upcoming specialist roles in RDR2?

Rockstar has confirmed that they are interested in seeing more roles arriving in RDR2. They are also considering expanding the playable map, which allows new roles to become feasible.

Grand Theft Auto V Online has always surprised players with their extensive expansions. There are lots of new varied businesses, each with their own missions, upgrades, and perks. But all of them required a physical location to use them.
Rockstar did that again with the Trader and Moonshiner roles in Red Dead Redemption 2. Bounty Hunter and Collector roles don’t require a player-controlled HQ or shack, but they do rely on the Sheriff’s office’s Bounty Board and Madam Nazar’s traveling wagon to operate.

Marcel the Cook Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Online Moonshiners
Marcel the Cook

Rockstar seems to be extremely creative when coming up with stuff to do. Let’s see what the community comes up with – here are some community-suggested roles and activities:

  • Rancher
  • Farmer
  • Horse Tamer/Breeder
  • Miner / Hauler
  • Herbalist
  • Bank robbing
  • Monster hunting
  • Chariot robbing
  • Train robbing
  • Photographer
  • Sheriff
  • Pleasure giver

Here are my 6 additions:

  • Cook
  • Gold miner (panning on a river)
  • Miner (in the mines)
  • Funerary services
  • River trader (transporting goods on a ship)
  • Army Mercenary

These ideas are not that wild. Most use gameplay mechanics already in place or easy to add to the game. If Rockstar decides to add any of these roles, they will likely either require a large plot of land, being close to a town, or a brand new map expansion.

Where will the new roles appear?

They will try to pepper the map with new interactive locations, but the far reaches of the map or the most rugged terrain areas tend to become less populated (like the snowy Ambarino regions up north and the Grizzlies to the East). Most of the coastal regions have towns that tend to be crowded and hard to navigate in. The far West towns (Armadillo, Tumbleweed), even though they do feature some mines, are way too barren to be expected that they grow with many new industries.

RDR2 Transporting Moonshine

This leaves us the center core of the map as a prime region for placing role buildings. from the Tall Trees region to the west, most of the New Hannover area, and the non-swampy parts of Scarlett Meadows.

Being at the center also provides you with more options for expansion as every new location option should be close enough.

Van Horn, Annesburg, Tumbleweed, Armadillo, Strawberry, Valentine, and Rodes, all lack either a butcher or a tailor. Both very important requirements for a very practical town.

This is the reason why Blackwater is my favorite town.

Blackwater has most of the stores that you may ever require. It’s small enough that it’s easy to navigate in. It is also very easy to reach via the Great Plains (an amazing hunting ground). Blackwater is also a coastal town with two rivers nearby and it features a Fast Travel post and a bounty board at a convenient location. It doesn’t have a railway line, but it is close to a military fort. No tricky swamps or cliffs to fall and lose your cargo.

All things considered, when choosing a Moonshine shack location, these two would be my ordered best picks:

  1. Tall Trees (West Elizabeth)
  2. The Heartlands (New Hanover)

The Tall Trees region is beautiful and brimming with wildlife. It is easy to transport goods across the Great Plains and to avoid enemies, players and roads entirely. It is also near other areas of potential future interest such as MacFarlane’s ranch, or Thieve’s Landing.
To make the most of it, set your trader camp in the Tall Trees or Great Plains region and supply Cripps while waiting for the booze to be ready for delivery.

How to increase profit when making Moonshine

Some of this information is also covered in my latest special article Red Dead Redemption 2 Online – Moonshine Recipes. It also includes info on how to get the elusive Poison Poppy recipe pamphlet!

There are two ways to increase profit.
Improve your distillery to make stronger moonshine and improve the quality of your recipe.

Add power to your booze!

I highly recommend upgrading your distillery as soon as you may, as it increases profit and the distillation takes longer which allows you to do other stuff meanwhile.

  • Condenser: 2 Role Tokens + 825$ + Moonshiner Rank 5
  • Polished Copper: 3 Role Tokens + 875$ + Moonshiner Rank 10

The best booze recipe!

Booze recipes come in 3 types:

  • 1 Star: Weak Moonshine
  • 2 Stars: Average Moonshine
  • 3 Stars: Strong Moonshine

To make stronger moonshine, all you have to do is to have the right ingredients when you’re picking your flavor. Keep in mind that some recipes are unlocked by progressing in the Moonshiner role. Buyers change every two hours or so – so you’re best going for different recipes each time.

Here’s the full list of recipes available

★ Tropical Punch Moonshine
  • Canned Pineapples
  • Vanilla Flower
  • Pear
★ Wild Cider Moonshine
  • Apple
  • Currant
  • Ginseng
★ Berry Mint Moonshine
  • Canned Berries
  • Blackberry
  • Mint
★★ Evergreen Moonshine
  • Evergreen Huckleberry
  • Wintergreen Berry
  • Ginseng
★★ Apple Berry Crumb Moonshine (Bootlegger Story Progress)
  • Apple
  • Blackberry
  • Vanilla Flower
★★ Berry Cobbler Moonshine (Requires Rank 2)
  • Red Raspberry
  • Peach
  • Canned Peaches
★★★ Wild Creek Moonshine (Requires Rank 6)
  • Wild Mint
  • Vanilla Flower
  • Creek Plum
★★★ Spiced Island Moonshine (Requires Rank 12)
  • Caribbean Rum
  • Golden Currant
  • Canned Apricots
★★★ Agarita Sunrise (Complete Bootlegger story)
  • Agarita
  • Canned Strawberries
  • Evergreen Huckleberries

There’s also the secretive but very profitable Poison Poppy recipe, for which you will find in-depth info on how to get it here.

Some of these ingredients are available by picking herbs in the game world. However, others are canned or liqueurs and harder to get.

So here’s my tip: many recipe ingredients are actually buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. They’re not that expensive and they will allow you to make higher quality moonshine that sells for a LOT more money.

Always keep a healthy supply of fruits, herbs and liqueurs with you at all times.

Always keep a healthy supply of fruits, herbs, and liqueurs with you at all times. You should guarantee enough fruits and herbs to fulfill two or three 2-star or 3-star recipes. I usually buy batches of up to 30 cans and fetch them from the post office whenever I need them.

That being said, you should aim for the most valuable drinks. Namely the Wild Creek Moonshine, Spiced Island Moonshine, and the Agarita Sunrise whenever possible.

  • Wild Creek Moonshine: Wild Mint, Vanilla Flower, Creek Plum
  • Spiced Island Moonshine: Caribbean Rum, Golden Currant, Canned Apricots
  • Agarita Sunrise: Agarita, Canned Strawberries, Evergreen Huckleberries

Again, keep in mind that some items are buyable via the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue. I highly recommend you use the Catalogue’s Online version, as it allows you to quickly find your ingredients by using the search functionality.

In the Wheeler Rawson Catalogue you’ll be able to find:

  • Canned Apricots (0.75$)
  • Canned Strawberries (1.20$)
  • Canned Peaches (1.00$)
  • Orchard Apples (0.40$)
  • Canned Berries (1.20$)
  • Canned Pineapples (1.50$)
  • Bartlett Pears (0.65$).

From Madam Nazar’s shop you’ll also be able to buy:

  • Currant
  • Ginseng
  • Caribbean Rum (via collector map)

Other ingredients are rather easy to find:

  • Golden Currant – West of Van Horn, near Kamassa River
  • Red Raspberry – South East of Stillwater Creek
  • Vanilla Flower – South East of Lake Lagras
  • Wild Mint – South West of Valentine, near the river
  • Wintergreen Berry – North of Brandywine Drop

How to minimize losses

Once your booze is ready you will have to deliver your batch to a local buyer. When delivering your moonshine, make sure you stick to the road at a medium-fast pace.

Going off-road will guaranteedly break your bottles and your profit will take a toll. I highly recommend using the cinematic camera (V) and then control the vehicle’s speed using Shift or Ctrl.

RDR2 Transporting Moonshine

I don’t usually stop at the Revenue Agent’s roadblocks. There are a couple of reasons why I don’t do that:

Sometimes they won’t stop you at all. If you stop, there’s a very low chance that they let you pass unharmed. Their shots damage your cargo but only slightly. It is much more dangerous to the integrity of your cargo to go off-road.

If you’re being chased, you’re best served by slowing down your vehicle, kill them and then proceed with your trip. Going too fast will likely send you off-track. Stopping will consume time and their bullets will start to hit you.

I’ve seen players kill the revenue agents before they reach the roadblock. But the truth is that you’ll be fighting a lot more agents than you really need to – and in this business, time is money. Just go past them as fast as you can without going off-road or breaking your bottles. You may also want to experiment with the Toxic Moonshine bottles thrown at the roadblock Revenue agents, although I think it might be too expensive to do so every time they show up.

Closing thoughts

Moonshining is a fun specialist role to experience. It certainly earns you quite a bit of money – and you’re able to go hunt or do other stuff while you wait for your next batch of booze to be ready. However, some argue that the bootlegger missions are pointless, as the 20$ savings don’t justify the time cost of doing them. On the other hand, revenue agents tend to carry pretty good loot and collectibles. Thus, in order to justify your time, make sure to always go for their loot!

Keep this page and its useful hints at hand!

If you’re new to this business I highly recommend you check out my other in-detail post called A Guide to Moonshining in Red Dead Redemption 2 in which I share a bunch of other useful tips.

Oh and check out my new tool that allows you to optimize your game – RDR2 Launch Argument Composer tool.

If this article helped you, let me know in the comments section below!
Which other specialist roles would you like to see?

Stay WANTED for life!
– Rui Sampaio AKA ViLa4480

Star Citizen Black Hole

Star Citizen – One game to avoid or one to embrace?

…and will Star Citizen ever be delivered?

Ah. Star Citizen.
I avoided posting anything about Star Citizen on my blog for years now.

I’m an original backer since when it first was announced way back in 2012.

I wanted to distance myself from the game before posting on my blog since Star Citizen is (still) in development.
Thoughts about the game’s development tend to be polarized and I did not want my fan enthusiasm to compromise my perception of the game.

I used to stream Star Citizen all the time on Twitch (you will make me smile if you go follow my channel right now!).

Maybe now’s the time to clarify some misconceptions and point some concerns regarding Chris Robert’s massively crowdfunded project.

I won’t hide it.

I am biased in favor of Star Citizen.
The skepticism of some people is understandable, and the wait isn’t for everyone. -Are you one of these people?

Hopefully, you’ll find out after reading this article.

I will try to analyze some of the frustrations, doubts, and expectations that the fans and the haters are experiencing or discussing – hopefully enlightening newcomers to the game.

The aim of this article is to clarify and avoid buyer regrets.

Should you avoid Star Citizen?

A little bit of context first.

What is Star Citizen?

Star Citizen Cockpit
Star Citizen is hard to define, but let’s start by saying that it is one gigantic sandbox for many different types of emergent gameplay. Composed of two parts, it will feature a single-player campaign (Squadron 42) and an online Persistent Universe (MMOG-like).

They create the universe, you make the rules.

As with most 4X space games, FREEDOM is the keyword for the universe. Star Citizen allows you to become a space farmer, a miner, a bounty hunter, an explorer, a smuggler, a racer, a law enforcer and anything in-between.

The Star Citizen team is looking to develop a sandbox universe that provides a fertile ground for emergent gameplay. They are creating the tools for you to become whatever you want to be.
As an example, for a while, I had fancy a ship called Constellation Phoenix, which I planned to rent out to factions interested in using it for important meetings. During their stay, I would provide them with drinks, entertainment, and security.

I eventually traded the Connie for the Endeavour – a sprawling modular ship that will allow me to cultivate plants and make drugs on the same ship (legal …or otherwise) – it even stars a hangar to allow willing traders to dock with my ship!

The game will feature unprecedented sci-fi realism and a ton of complex missions and mini-games that will require learning and skill to master.

Nothing is dull or simple in Star Citizen.

Star Citizen FPS Mining

As an example, mining requires foreplanning and skill – unlike most space games, you actually have to learn how to mine and be very careful when doing it in order to avoid damage to your ship or even loss of life.
Selling your minerals won’t be linear either. Prices fluctuate according to supply and demand in different parts of the Universe, influenced by real-time player and NPC interaction. This was also analyzed in my other post that discusses economics.

This sandbox gameplay leads to many venues of gameplay exploration. This freedom to do whatever you want is the core focus of Star Citizen.

I also expect this game to become a major social hub for me and my friends.

COMPLAINT #1 – The game has no objective.

Objective – Achieve fun (0/100)

There’s no denying it. It’s true.
Is that REALLY a problem though?

Just like Grand Theft Auto online, or Red Dead Redemption 2 online. Star Citizen‘s Persistent Universe won’t hold your hand or set you on a campaign path. You get to choose what to do, where to go, what to see and who to meet.

If you really think you need guidance, then why not set YOUR OWN goals?
Why not set a personal goal to explore every single system?
…or instead to amass wealth and spend it all on a luxury liner like the 890 Jump?

890 Jump
890 Jump

The ghost cruise ship of enjoyment

A long time ago, I used to play a game that had very much the same essence of Star CitizenFreelancer, a game by the same head developer (Chris Roberts) that I mentioned in my previous post.
When playing Freelancer online, you would find yourself cruising the star lanes for long periods of time on your way to make a trade.
One day I was crossing a remote part of the game’s universe when I spotted a massive player ship that was constantly communicating in system chat. Oblivious to my presence, this was his message to his own imaginary crew of tourists:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at the Tau-31 system. To our left, you will be able to spot the beautiful semi-desertic landscape of Planet Harris, one of the first terraforming efforts by Planetform, Inc.
Please return to your seats.
We will dock at the Holman Outpost in 5 minutes.”

To think that this player was investing his time roleplaying as a tourist cruise ship really blew my mind. That route was probably not even profitable – but he didn’t care – because having fun was his objective. And whatever he was doing was fun for him.

Oh, by the way, there’s no “endgame” in Star Citizen either. Sandbox.

If you can’t understand the concept of setting your own goals, then please stop reading now. This is NOT the game for you – Abandon ship!

COMPLAINT #2 – The game is pay-to-win.

As I discussed in one of my previous Youtube videos, the concept of Pay-to-Win is that you get an edge in a competitive environment by injecting real money into the game.
Whoever pays the most has the most chances of “winning“.

Star Citizen Pay to Win Youtube Video

Although it is true that you are able, through various means, to buy in-game credits or ships with real money, the real question is WHY would you do it when the game has no end-goal…

Star Citizen is not about genital length comparisons. There’s no point in spending money in this game except for two very honorable reasons:

  1. To support the game development process if you believe in it
  2. To unlock new gameplay layers without having to grind to get there

However, if grinding is made fun (which seems like it will be with so many different things to do), you will actually be LOSING content by skipping gameplay aspects that you would otherwise have to explore and experience to achieve your final objective.

That sense of progression

This is exactly the reason why I’ve considered giving away all my ships – so I could start with the smallest, cheapest one ever and see my own game story grow from there.

If you believe SC is still pay-to-win then embrace it this way – or Abandon ship!

Instead, think of the guy cruising his tourists for fun.
-Does it really matter how he bought his ship?
-How does his enjoyment affect you?
-What are his goals?

Star Citizen Cockpit

COMPLAINT #3 – The game is too expensive!

You’ll often see news titles like “Player X has spent over 15.000$ to play Star Citizen“, or “Star Citizen’s new ship pack costs an absurd amount of money

Today, the cheapest game package costs 50$.

A few years ago you could buy one for 26$…

Sure, there are ships that cost over 400$ and there are ship packages which include a ton of ships (which are actually at a bargain price when you consider each ship’s individual price). But those ships and packages are NOT intended for just one person or a newcomer. They require several people to play.

Think of the Banu Merchantman which has a crew capacity for 8 people and costs 430$. Divide 430$ by 8 people and you get the price of the cheapest game package. Go gather your friends and buy one!

Banu Merchantman

These massive ships are NOT intended for solo play.

People who buy large ships now are simply trying to support the game’s development.

Also: every ship will be available to purchase with in-game money.
GTA V does this well. It gives people a reason to try to make in-game money. Something to strive for. An objective.

COMPLAINT #4 – The game will never be finished

Star Citizen has been in development for 8 years now.
The same amount of time as the sci-fi single-player game Cyberpunk 2077 by CD Projekt Red studios – which is expected to be delivered in 2020.

However, unlike Cyberpunk, Star Citizen is nowhere near completion.
At the same time, and unlike Cyberpunk, it shares its progress with the community regularly, instead of working behind the scenes and ultimately presenting a finished game. The complexity of developing each game is also radically different.

Some claim that the game will never be finished because of the feature-creep-Cthulhu. Others say their plan is actually to never even deliver a finished game. Even more skeptic ones say that Chris Roberts has run away with the crowdfunded money to a tropical island in the Pacific.

Feature Creep

Star Citizen Drake Dragonfly
Drake Dragonfly – hover bike

If you’re one of the investors (a.k.a. players) who feels frustrated by the way that they seem to keep adding new features and delaying the final delivery – then consider accepting it as a requirement or, instead, by blaming it on the idealistic dreams of the community.

A couple of years into development Chris Roberts suggested he could deliver a simplified game in two or three years.
One day a poll showed up on the Star Citizen website. The developer wanted to figure out whether the community would prefer to see a simplified version of Star Citizen within their initially planned timeframe or instead to deliver a more in-depth experience, one which would require a longer development stage.

As I somewhat expected, the community overwhelmingly (I believe almost 70%) asked for the later without knowing exactly what the real timeframe would be.

This meant that Chris Roberts could freely deliver his dream game. One he had been preparing for most of his career as a film director and game developer (Wing Commander, Privateer, Freelancer). Now he had big plans for Star Citizen and hiring the feature expansionist Tony Zuroveck (Ultima series) would only reinforce his interest in developing very in-depth and detailed game mechanics.

Innovation and delay

Even though many of these features or minigames are a gameplay delight, they take time to develop. A very long time for some. They also exponentially increase the number of bugs to tackle and problems to solve.

One of these features is the planetary tech they’ve developed. To render such massive planets and avoid loading screens sure was impressive – but it was also one of the reasons why the so-difficult 64-bit precision had to be accomplished in the engine.

Ships, in order to support the newly added features or concepts also have to be redesigned from scratch, like the Cutlass Red which serves as an ambulance and integrates with the health system, or the Carrack for the exploratory aspects of the game.

As a result, yes, feature creep is real and a real concern. It does divide the community between those who just want to play the game as is but in a more polished state and those who instead want the game to become better, with more content, features, and professions to explore.

star citizen medical

Star Citizen will never be released!

We should consider that the initial team for Star Citizen was rather small (50 employees) and the company had to slowly grow. Now they employ approximately 500 people in 5 studios across the world. This meant that more people had to be introduced, and teams still had to learn to work together on core aspects of the game, which ultimately lead to a slow start.

To support the growing number of employees, the initial record sales of the game wouldn’t suffice.

Looking at their latest financial report, one would quickly realize that what’s keeping this game in active development aren’t the initial sales anymore, but rather the on-going ship purchases, upgrades and merchandising. These sales sustain the whole team throughout the year.

Some people claim that they’re only making ships and concepts for ships to make money.

Well… this is… true.
They need to do so, in order to keep the project alive and proceed with development.

The reality is that the players are frequently buying paper ideas that aren’t yet realized in-game and are likely to change. Understandably, spending a lot of money on something that doesn’t yet exist seems difficult to accept for many outsiders.

Tic Tac Tic Tac

Adding to all this, as time goes by, age takes a toll on the game’s engine and assets, which has to be updated from time to time. Physics-Based Rendering (PBR) wasn’t a common feature in games back in 2012, but as time passes and technology evolves, it had to be introduced to avoid the pitfall of ending up with an already outdated game on release.
This meant refactoring all ships once again.

The same happened when the components feature was introduced. Ship components are parts of the ship that can be handled, fixed or replaced. The ships weren’t prepared for that and had to be refactored one more time.

Due to the live development approach, CIG prefers to deliver functional updates to allow the players to access other features or content.
These features are developed iteratively, being later on optimized, improved or further developed to add new innovations. The fact that they keep revamping the same features over and over is not a pre-planning issue but instead a requirement of the live development process.

Star Citizen Tumbril Ranger Bike
Tumbril Ranger Bike

Drinking Mojitos

I don’t think Chris Roberts is on an island in the Pacific.

This is his dream work. His unique chance to build his masterpiece.

His previous games have revolved around this theme and now he’s finally got a chance to make his vision truly come to fruition on his terms without any form of corporate pressure. Why waste the opportunity?

This is what led me to back this project. I’m a huge fan of his sadly incomplete Freelancer and I really want to see Star Citizen succeed.
I’m usually relaxed and I don’t excited about a game easily. Well maybe except for Red Dead Redemption 2 and Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020!

My concern

The fact that the game development costs are just as high as their regular revenue is a concern as there’s a point when players stop investing in new ships and merchandise. They will constantly need to reach out to new players in order to keep development going.
This could also be seen as financially and strategically sound to work as fast as they can with the assets they have access to.

Apparently, last month was one of the most profitable ones for Star Citizen with many new citizens joining the ranks.

I’m convinced by my peer’s attitudes towards this game that there is a significant amount of people who are actually interested in the game but still patiently waiting for it to release before buying it. Maybe still afraid of it being vaporware.
If true, this should act as a life-saving device as they can “release” the game whenever they want and get a large influx of fresh new money to sustain development for a few more months or years. The truth is that the game is more than playable right now, even if it still lacks content.

Eclipsing thoughts

Star Citizen is said to be being developed to achieve a 10-year longevity goal. This is the main reason why they wish to build a solid core game engine that allows for improvements and extra content over time.

Game development tends to become faster and faster as more of the foundational game mechanics are set in place.
We should see a LOT more content coming in 2020.

What are your thoughts on Star Citizen and this article?
Do you share my view? What are your concerns?

Leave me a comment below, or check one of my other posts!
If you liked this one, you might also like THIS one.

You should also check out my Star Citizen Ship Comparison Tool which is currently on standby waiting for some support from the community. Leave me a comment if you would like to see it shine again!

I just made a new post on the economy of Red Dead Redemption 2 that analyzes Star Citizen’s economy layout. Go check it out!

See you in the ‘verse!
-ViLa4480

GTA-Online-Casino-Exterior

Not everyone is allowed to play at the new GTA Online Casino

GTA Online – Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase.

ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to:

This is the message that a bunch of players are seeing when they try buying chips from the cashier at the newly established GTA Online Diamond Casino Spa & Resort in bloody Los Santos.

The very anticipated Casino has just opened today – but gambling is not for everyone. Killing, stealing, trafficking is all well and good in GTA Online but DON’T YOU DARE GAMBLE!

Apparently, people from at least 50 countries, including Portugal, Hungary, Israel and Argentina have been prevented from trading in any chips.

These left-out players aren’t able to access the free daily bonuses at the cashier, or the wheel spin at all. It may also affect bonuses from the Penthouse, missions, world collectibles, and unique clothing and items.

GTA Online Casino
GTA Online Casino

Apparently, there’s a region lock to access the Casino’s features. This includes buying chips and playing with them – effectively limiting all gambling activity for some players.

We’re talking funny money here. In-game cash translates to the same amount of in-game casino chips which can only be refunded to in-game cash.

If there’s one thing Rockstar is used to deal with …is lawsuits.

Apparently, the reason for this region lock is that Rockstar does not want to register as a gambling entity (such as with other online gambling websites). Even if you now have to accept a new EULA, this effectively means that they’re not able to deliver this type of content to a large number of countries.

As far as I understand the law (and other games that do this), the real problem here is the fact that players are able to buy in-game currency with real money and then spend it all gambling (instead of buying new in-game cars).
Well, if that’s the problem, then the already present chip currency could be used to *legally* buy stuff without having to convert it to the real-cash-connected GTA bucks – that wouldn’t be gambling and that would solve the legal conundrum. Think about it Rockstar!

Make sure you follow me on Twitch if you wish to stay up to date about when these things change or a legal alternative has been found!

Most countries have grey-area laws on online gambling.
Most regulate physical gambling effectively but lack online regulation.

Here in the EU, only a few players in Germany seem to be able to access the Casino features. This has sparked a rush to VPN services. Players are trying to connect via VPN to get a German or American IP address in order to play at the Diamond Casino. Note: Some people argue that this practice may get your account banned for trying to bypass common online identity checks.

ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to:

Rockstar support is inefficient

Rockstar support is completely inefficient at informing players why they’re unable to use the Casino. There’s not a single official reply to queries regarding this situation and the players were left to figure it out for themselves.

I’m hoping that they eventually revise their region-lock limitations or that, at the very least, they inform players that they won’t be able to access this content beforehand. Some people are complaining that they bought Twitch Prime to access the “free” content and Penthouse at the now pointless Casino.

Players will eventually find a way around this issue. They’ve done that before with private servers, hacks and the RP server boom in the past couple of years.

They will find a way to make it work – legally, or otherwise.

Nope. She ain’t givin’ you no moneys.

In any case, it feels lame that the largest GTA Online update in years is locked to so many players around the world.

And there I was. Looking at the shiny new slot machine.
Press E to interact.
ALERT: Your account does not have permission to complete this purchase. For further help, go to: www.rockstargames.com/support

So frustrating!

This update should never have been developed in the first place. Their energy should have been spent on new content that everyone would be able to enjoy. Besides the Casino and the Penthouse, the remaining content is just a couple of missions, a few new unremarkable vehicles, and a pair of easily-outdated cosmetics.

Heists is where GTA Online truly shines – co-op missions with cinematics and a story to play with your friends. Yet, no new heists have been released in a VERY long time. Instead, we’ve been stuck with mostly cosmetic updates that don’t effectively expand the story or the replayability of the game.

GTA-Online-Casino-Exterior

The truth is that the game is still fun.

Rockstar-outlawed private servers and RP have given it a boost recently. But the updates have mostly been delivering content that is both very expensive and insubstantial.

I live in Portugal. I’ve got a casino across the street from my home and I’m not able to play on GTA Online with funny money. *shrug*

If, like me, you’re not able to play at the Casino, check out my post on How I became an Undead Pirate in Sea of Thieves. A fun read. I promise. And you won’t lose any chips.

Alternatively, you may also want to check out my Twitch channel and join me playing this and other games!

I’ll see you in Los Santos (but not at the Casino),
-ViLa4480

Steel Division 2

Steel Division 2 – A battle too far

I got the chance to try out the new Steel Division 2!

Before we start dissecting Steel Division 2, let me clarify that most official screenshots suck.
They’re done at a very high zoom level to showcase the 3D unit model details.
The game isn’t played like that so let’s cut the crap.
Every screenshot I will add to this post will feature the average camera angle and zoom for most players.
Sorry if it doesn’t look as pretty as those incredibly detailed tanks and planes – but that’s the reality of how the game looks because that’s how you will play it.
The game is beautiful in its own way, but the screenie close-ups aren’t fair to what the game truly plays like.
This bad habit of showcasing aspects of games that aren’t relevant really upsets me as it tricks players into buying something that doesn’t look like what is shown. I also hate cinematic trailers btw. So this will be the first and last close-up you’ll see in this post:

Steel Division 2 – I was excited but slightly skeptic at the same time.
There were a few good reasons for that.

Steel Division 2 picks up where Steel Division: Normandy 44 left off. Instead of hitting the beaches of Normandy in operation Overlord, this time you’ll be fighting its eastern counterpart, Operation Bagration.

Eugen Systems has been developing this engine for quite some time now. The game shares similarities with one of my favorite games of all time:
A magnificent war tabletop-like game called R.U.S.E.
Man, I wish I had this blog when R.U.S.E. first came out back in 2010!

I promise I won’t spend this article talking about the oldie.
The truth is that most of the game mechanics present in 2019’s Steel Division 2 were already present in 2010’s R.U.S.E…. as well as every game in the Wargame series.

The 3 rules of war: location, location, location.

Steel Division 2 features a GIGANTIC war map where you’re able to scheme, plot and outthink your opponent using clever unit maneuvers and critical timing for moving your troops. 

The game demands that you think in advance, that you prepare for all possible attacks and counter-attacks. It demands concealment, ambushes, suppression and quick battle-critical decisions.

As a general, you focus on securing key locations on the map. It’s simple: the more you have, the more likely you are to win the battle. To achieve that you need to put boots on the ground.

Occupy and fortify villages with your infantry units. Place anti-tank guns at the main roads and anti-air units in the forest. Support with long-range artillery and have a couple of big, heavy tanks ready to flank any attacking force. Fuel and repair your planes to help push back the enemy.

Yet, you’re going to lose this fight. Sorry.

You forgot to place your recon units where they can spot the enemy at a distance. 

The enemy force advances towards the town.
You know they’re advancing as they slowly push the red line that splits the map between your sector and the enemy’s.

You don’t know what’s coming your way so you move your tanks towards the enemy. BAM! They’re blown into tiny pieces by the enemy tank destroyer. You can’t even see it as it is too far away and your recon units are nowhere to be seen. The enemy rushes towards your position. Once they’re in sight of your anti-tank gun you realize they actually have no tanks and your gun is useless at this point. 

Too late to fall back.
A number of storm infantry rushes towards your anti-tank gun and quickly take care of it. Your infantry units are holed up inside the village houses and are able to effectively suppress the enemy infantry. Enemy artillery falls on your units and it completely destroys their hideout. As a final act of despair you send your planes to destroy the enemy artillery. Unfortunately, they’re shot down by a couple of enemy anti-air units hiding in the woods.

The inevitability of war

The truth is that Steel Division 2 feels a bit pre-scripted in the sense that it is hard to bounce-back once you’re losing a match. The story of the match is mostly written during the first 15 minutes of it.
Efforts to change that are often met with resistance. It is pointless to throw new units to lock your position as they will take too long to get there. 

Your allies won’t help you. They’ve got problems of their own – and due to the size of the map they’re too far away to be of any help. In fact, it kind of feels like your allies are mostly just cosmetic.
Fortifying and defending a position tends to be easier than to attack an enemy outpost, but you can’t defend forever. The enemy will eventually score.
This inevitability of battle actually forces you to keep adjusting your tactics. You will now need to use choke-points for ambushes and to support your troops with a different mix of units. Hopefully, the enemy won’t be prepared for those.

Good timing and a plan for falling back is most times a requirement and a prelude to a successful counterattack. A counterattack victory is glorious but oftentimes happens due to the enemy spending all of their units before the battle timer runs out.

Fighting time

The Phase system splits the match into three timed phases where you’re able to deploy different types of units. It allows you to set up your forces in any way you like during each phase, allowing you to carry more units and more experienced ones as time progresses. You lay out your own strategy as a tabletop card game.

You will decide how many tanks you’re carrying into battle, how many artillery pieces, planes, snipers, but also which vehicle is transporting them and which weapons are they carrying.

This breathes new life into any stagnant fight. It ultimately forces players to re-adjust their tactics to fight the new enemy units.
Even if daunting at first (when you just want to rush and play the game), it becomes the key to your strategy. Something uniquely yours to surprise your enemy with.

One-man army

The game truly shines in multiplayer, where battles are dynamic and unpredictable. Even though communication is lacking and, in most public games, pointless.

Singleplayer, however, lacks that.
The AI is very slow and very predictable.

Matches seem to last for hours. It seems like both AI sides are just too polite to hurt each other. 

The most exciting single-player feature is the Army General maps. In this game mode, Real-time battles are just a fraction of a much larger turn-based conflict. Akin to the likes of a Total War campaign map, you’re able to move your armies in a large conflict map and fight the battles in real time. This however is a brand new feature that still requires some polishing. 

The UI lacks context information and it is unclear how units move and which units will fight in a battle. The missing tutorial is also a major downside. The fact that real-time maps are always the same (instead of being dynamically generated based on the campaign map) is also a downside.

I would love to see Hearts of Iron sized maps of the whole conflict and being able to truly wage war at a continental scale. However, these maps only represent a few hundred square kilometers. Due to the scale of the units on the map and how fast they reinforce, you’re not really able to plot a major flanking or bubble maneuver with your units. Instead you’ll see a blob of units spread along a slowly-moving borderline. The fact that you’re forced to reach a destination within a limited number of turns also prevents you from planning a massive invasion.

Afterwind

This game tires your brain. In a good, albeit costly way.
I really enjoy playing just a single match per day. 

The constant need for micro-management at a massive scale and battles taking longer than 30 minutes (up to 2h in single-player AG) really tire your brain and I usually turn to a brainless shooter like Battlefield V afterwards.

To be fair, Steel Division 2 doesn’t feel like a brand new game. It is very similar to other games being developed for the past 10 years by the same company. However, its game mechanics are solid and it feels like there’s plenty of different battle strategies to explore. The complexity of war and the tiny victories you get in each battle makes it very enjoyable. You’ll feel that losing a match can be very enjoyable if the battle was fair.

Steel Division 2 is a realistic and complex combat representation that really forces you to think ahead. 

The learning curve is steep.
Especially if you’ve never played any previous games of the series – or if you wish to become an expert and keep track of all the stats and micro-manage each unit. 

However, the massive scale, beautiful graphics, detailed and accurate combat systems and the dynamic multiplayer, make it one of the best and most realistic games of its kind. 

Just don’t expect to have your hand held in war.

I would value this game at 60€ if you’re a war enthusiast, 25€ if you’re a Tropico 6 player and 15€ if you prefer non-RTS games. 

Popcorn Score:

I’ll see you on the battlefield!
-ViLa4480


Tropico 6

Tropico 6 – Guess Who’s Back!

The red carpet is set, the people have been groomed, the rebels silenced.
All is ready for your speech, El Presidente!

With Anno 1800 on the very near horizon, Tropico 6 has just released.

With its unique serious-but-silly tone, Tropico 6 sets itself apart from other city-building and management games.

Take a vacation from the polluted, traffic-ridden, industrial metropolises in Simcity or the cold and way-too-clean streets of Cities: Skylines.

Come to Tropico.
Now! -Or else.

Welcome to Tropico!

Eyes in the skies to “protect” your people!

If you’re new to Tropico, let me explain why you need to try it out:
‘Dictatorship is just a rude label.
You have been divinely appointed to guide your people… but now you need to stay in power. By any means necessary.

Things get trickier over time, as each and every decision you make tips the 8-sided scale of your people’s support towards a certain faction. If you appease the communists with a shiny new school, the capitalists will surely dislike the costs it imposes on your budget and might even rebel.
Ah… do not worry Mr. El Presidente, bribery is still an option, and there’s plenty of jail cells available in your island!

Draw tourists to your beautiful nuclear powerplant!

The game becomes more and more complex as you play it. It steadily grows the number of actions you’re able to perform, the number of buildings available to build, and the number of factions present. This level-up scalability keeps things fresh and interesting, even for experienced players.

Shiny, sweaty engines & bananas

The landmark game in the city-building genre has a brand new game engine – and it looks amazing. It allows for even prettier graphics, which have always been key to the Tropico series.

This is Tropico 6 – the banana-republic simulator!

One of its major improvements is the new archipelagoes system.
El Presidente is now able to expand his godly benevolence to nearby islands.
This new iteration also adds true multiplayer features. There might be some concerns over saving 4h-long multiplayer games. However, the prospect of having an archipelago run by several dictators with different ideologies is quite thrilling.

A lot of the game has changed but the essence is still there. You get to run a beautiful Caribbean island whilst struggling with famine, poverty, explosive cigars, religion, rebellions, allegiance to foreign superpowers and rivalry with Caribbean neighbors. You are still able to turn your island into a religious commune or a capitalistic intellectual haven.

Why bother making new landmarks when you can steal them instead?

The introduction of world landmarks (that actually serve a purpose), raids, and the expanded trade options feel like all previous Tropico DLCs have been added to this new game for free. It also seems like it has plenty of room for new, solid, expansions.

The combat system is still bad, as it has always been in the series, but they’ve added plenty of new buildings, factions, and abilities, which keeps things interesting.

Final speech

Tropico 6 does not set itself apart from the series.
We wouldn’t want that anyway – but it does a few things very well.

The game is really fun to play and explore. New and experienced players will enjoy the type of complexity and progression it provides – and it feels like a substantial upgrade to previous iterations of the Tropico series, without changing its core concepts. Even though it seems like there’s a bit of “soul” missing to the game, it still gets my vote and I can’t wait to play more.

Popcorn Score:

5/5 Pops – a solid score for a solid game that orders you to go play it. Now.

If you enjoy this soviet-era funny-but-not-so-funny approach, you might be interested in checking Papers, Please: The Short Film! Go check it out now!

If instead you would prefer to support this blog and get Tropico 6 at a discount price, buy it through here!

I’ll see you at my speech,
-ViLa “El Prez” 4480

Between The Stars – A Space Oddity

Between the Stars is an odd game. In a good way!

We’re talking about a new successful Kickstarter campaign. It raised almost 38.000$ for the indie game dev studio Isolated Games in Barcelona. It is scheduled to be released in Q1 (maybe Q2) 2019.

This game set in space is actually an RPG hybrid with roguelike, management and shooter aspects.

Following the story of an experienced captain who just lost his/her ship, your objective is to upgrade your ship and crew, make decisions, convince others to join your cause and, obviously, fight the baddies.

The RPG aspects of the game have been reinforced with dialogue choices that actually matter and …dice throwing. -I know. Throwing dice in space is funny.

A space oddity

To be honest, I had a hard time figuring out where to start my analysis for this game. It is so different from other games that it becomes hard to pick a corner to start unveiling it.
At the same time, it shares similarities with so many “very” different space games like Star Citizen, Freelancer, X4: Foundations, Fractured Space, Avorion or FTL.

Your path through the stars

Something I love about space games is the inevitability of movement. You’re always going somewhere doing some thing – and the way game devs mimic the movement of a large ship truly enthuses me. I love feeling the (weightless) weight of a large ship moving slowly and sometimes carelessly through an asteroid field.

Oh, by the way check out my post on Sea of Thieves! You’ll understand where my poor space sailing skills come from!

Even though Between the Stars focuses on combat between medium-sized ships, it does that very well. It is not that easy to fight in an asteroid field and you’ll notice that it almost feels like you’re commandeering a real sea ship instead of a space combat fighter.

This somehow adds glimmer to that special Enterprise feel of exploring space and interacting with other crews – which happens often. Combat can be dangerous and …unnecessary.

As expected, they’ve added space stations and planets where you’re able to dock, trade, repair and interact with quest givers. Crew combat is also possible against other ships and it relies strongly on dice throws and crew experience.

To boldly go somewhere

You never really know where the game will lead you to next – you get to interact with other ship crews, explore abandoned shipwrecks or delve into dangerous uncharted territory. Your choices on how to approach these events are critical as they will affect the outcome of the situation.

When exploring an abandoned ship stranded in space I came face to face with a beserk A.I. in critical defense mode. It was trying to protect the ship’s components from intruders.

I felt like my poor choice of words mattered. Even though I knew the final outcome was likely going to be similar since it was still an early mission.

The fact that the game tries to present itself as unique in each playthrough is very refreshing as it does so gracefully.

Procedurally generated space, crews and events work well with the space theme, since you truly feel like an explorer in an unscripted universe.

Here’s a notice to the general public: please stop comparing procedural games to No Man’s Sky. Don’t take one bad marketing example to kill a dev technique that can be incredibly fruitful.

Sound in space

The audio experience is great, except for certain dialogues that seem poorly recorded and an average voice acting.

This is not yet the final release version of the game, but it feels a bit sad that the game lacks characters with a strong… character… and an enticing voice to go along.

The audio graphic representation is incredibly accurate though! It feels like they’ve spent more time coding the audio bars than actually recording the audio!

In the absence of physical characters and advanced facial expressions, the sound is critical to convey strong emotions that will drive the narrative! I know we’re in space but… sound matters!

The color of a black hole

The graphics are incredibly sharp and colorful.

Even though the UI, space stations and asteroids lack some style and sophistication, the ships planets and backdrops look amazing and combat and special effects are a delight to the eye. 5760×1080 resolution is supported, but the UI does not adapt well.

The game also lacks the complexity of trade lanes that Elite Dangerous or X4: Foundations sport, but we must keep in mind that this is not really a trading game.

Trading is somewhat present, but this is more like a shooter action-based game where trade lanes are, for the most part, purely cosmetic.

Overall I did enjoy this fresh new take on Space RPGs. I tend to prefer longer campaign-based games, but it felt fresh and I’m curious to explore the release version which will feature more content, stories and new gameplay mechanics.

It is not a triple-A game, but considering the budget for the game it truly is fantastic.

Development is still unfinished and unpolished. I will refrain from rating it. But I will point out that it looks gorgeous, has great potential for an enticing storyline and I’m looking forward to playing the final version.

I will add this game to my “Best Upcoming Games 2019” list. Go check it out!

I will see you in my ship,
-Capt. ViLa4480

Oh and by the way – do you enjoy refreshing indie games? Check out my post on Volcanoids – A steampunk survival-management game!