Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned




So I recently picked up Starbound.

I’m playing it via steam on my little mac laptop (not … really recommended because of the keyboard and mouse situation, but beggars and choosers and all that) though I know it’s available via a variety of different gaming platforms.

Like Minecraft, Only Not

Starbound is Yet-Another-Minecraft-Clone-Only-Different. It’s a pixel-based art style and you break up blocks of different materials in order to build things.

That’s where it departs from Minecraft, though. The art in Starbound is a bright, professional-looking 2D side-scrolling style. It has an innate storyline, sending you off into the cosmos on your ship just as earth is demolished by some sort of tentacle monster.

And, of course, you get to create and customize your character. (more…)

Habitica Update



Turns out I am VERY susceptible to intangible rewards.

My last post was all about Habitica. This post is EVEN MORE ABOUT HABITICA.

Because I’m gonna be honest, folks. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and it’s because I found a reason to get off my arse and do more than just rewatch baking shows and read books.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with EITHER of those, but moderation, dear friends. Moderation.)

Now that I’ve been using Habitica for a while, I’ve found ways to use it that really work for me. YMMV. (more…)

2 Common Misconceptions About Horse Taming in Zelda: Breath of the Wild


Zelda: Breath of the Wild Horses

Okay, I can’t be the only person excited to have one of the most fun horse games since Barbie Race & Ride for the Playstation.

Sure. Maybe SOME folks play it for the incredible adventure gameplay but I’m not even going to pretend the horses weren’t the main reason I bought the game.

Misconception The First: White On Horses

“The less white the horse has, the better stats it will have.”

False, and not just because one of the highest statted horses is the Royal WHITE stallion.

(Who I named Daisy, which is irrelevant but ADORABLE)

There is a kernel of truth to this one, but the handy mnemonic bandied about on the internet is precisely incorrect.

Championship Horse Bracketing For Beginners

In truth, there are TWO “buckets” into which normal horses can fall.

For the purposes of this discussion, we shall say that the special Giant Horse and Royal White Stallion are excluded, if it pleases the court.

The First Bucket: Variations on Spots

The first and “lesser” bucket contains paints, piebalds, and appaloosas. (These are the spotty ponies, for the equine-challenged among us.) It doesn’t matter if the horse is blue, pink, black, or one of several types of brown, if the BUTT of the horse contains white, it is in this bucket.

(Oddly enough, apparently ALL dun horses are also included in this bucket. Which is surprising, but didn’t affect me personally because although I love dun horses in real life, in the game I am AAAAALL about that gorgeous black.)

Oh. My. Gosh. Becky.

So. If you’re wandering one of the many available grasslands in Breath of the Wild and you come upon a field of magnificent ponies, look first to the hindquarters. If there is any white on the rump, that horse is guaranteed of two things.

1) It will be easier to soothe and tame.

2) It will have lower stats — for example, the stamina is capped out at 3 for these spotted horses.

Exactly which stats a horse has are unknown until you attempt to register them at a stable, but you can always check the stamina by urging your newfound pony into a fast gallop. The number of spurs you see on the bottom of the page tells you how much stamina the horse has. Strength and speed remain a mystery until registration.

The Second Bucket: Variations on Solid

The second and “better” bucket contains all other horses. Black, blue, pink, brown, that odd purple-y color that looks black when it’s raining at night and then you register it only to find that it WASN’T your Dream Horse … you know. All the colors. (Except the one specific brown called “dun”.)


If the butt is a solid color, then it doesn’t matter how much white the horse has … there is a good chance you may have landed one of the higher-statted horses in the game. Face, feet, mane/tail … doesn’t matter if it’s dark or white.

You’re looking for FOUR spurs on your test gallop (the best you can get on a regular horse) and when you register, you’re also looking for FOUR in the strength column … there are a lot of four-spur horses with only a single strength, so be ready for potential disappointment.

As far as I know, Four/Three/Four is the highest stat combo a regular horse can have.

Stats! What is it good for?

Stamina’s meaning is nice and obvious — it controls the number of spurs you can expend goading your mount to greater speeds.

Speed is … well. Speed. How fast can your friend run.

Strength is a fun one. It dictates how much damage you do when you run down enemies and wildlife while on horseback. As someone who prefers to do as much gameplay from the back of a horse as possible, this matters to me.

Wrapping Up This Misconception

The presence or absence of white on the butt of the horse is all that matters when it comes to stats.

Not everyone cares about having the highest statted horse in the game though. If it makes your heart sing, go forth and find that glorious beast of your dreams and say boo to any elitist who says you’re doing it wrong. If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.

Misconception The Second: Stamina For Taming

“You will need stamina-boosting food or upgraded stamina wheel in order to tame solid horses.”

False, although it’s really easy to tell why folks think this is true.

Every instant you are on the back of a bucking mustang, you are draining your stamina wheel at an alarming rate. (Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be an event at a rodeo, now would it?)

So it is VERY true to say that the more stamina you have, the longer you can stay on the horse’s back.

The misconception part of the equation comes in when you realize you have complete control over how long it takes to tame the horse.

Soothe like the WIND

The SOOTHE button is the key.

If you’re lacksadaisically tapping the soothe button, you will definitely need more time on the back of the horses in order to tame them.

If, however, you turn the controller sideways to get a better grip and HAMMER DOWN ON THAT SUCKER LIKE YOU’RE GETTING HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS EVERY TIME YOU CLICK IT … well, let’s just say horse taming just got a whooooole lot faster.

My niece was able to tame solid horses with only about a quarter of the stamina wheel spent on them using this method.

If I wasn’t so paranoid, I might even have gotten the Giant or White this way … but I’m not a gambler. I brought food backup. *wink*

Parting Pony Wisdom – Stable Slots

Remember, you only get five stable slots. If two of them go to the “special” horses, that leaves you with THREE you can keep for whenever you change your armor color and need something in a stately gray, perhaps.

Two if you share the game with your horse-crazy niece and she wants to keep her favorite. /wink

If you catch a sixth, you can simply register the new one at a stable as usual … but you’ll be asked to un-register someone else before you can do so. If you read a guide that tells you you’ll have to kill one of your other horses first, they are big lying liars who lie through their lie-holes and you shouldn’t believe them.

Horse Death

Speaking of horse death, they CAN die. I’m not sure what sort of crazy situation I’d have to put them in for it to happen, since enemies seem to ignore them when I’m not mounted and I’ve seen them take a guardian blast to the face with little more than some (well-deserved) bucking and scorching. IF your horse dies, do not despair. There is a special Great Fairy shrine that will let you resurrect your dearly departed friend. I won’t tell you where she is, but it’s comforting to know she’s there if you need her.

Mane Styling Is Literally The Best

Also, I adore the mane styling options. I’m partial to the sticky-uppy crew cut, myself. Makes everyone look like fjord cross. <3

I’m also partial to the floral mane on most horses.

And the purple mane and tail matches the royal tack you get when you register the Royal Stallion … and looks slightly better than the weak butter yellow the base mane and tail are for that horse (I’m sorry, but it’s just … not working for me on an aesthetic level)

Fluffy Feets

Also, there are two types of “feathering” on the hooves. (This is basically whether or not they have furry go-go boots, to my beloved equine-challenged friends). Most horses you’ll encounter have gorgeous fluffy feet.

Some of them … don’t. They’re smooth leg fur all the way down to the hooves.

It doesn’t seem to affect their stats at all, but if you’re looking for a particular visual combination, you might bear that in mind. My niece’s favorite pony, Sassy, is a pink piebald and she has the smooth legs, so I know they exist even though they’re awfully hard to spot in tall grass.

Unique But-Otherwise-Not-Special Black

Additionally, there’s a unique black. Instead of the normal vanilla-tinted white mane and tail, this horse has a blue-tinted white mane and tail. It also has ZERO other options for white — you’ll never find this guy with white face or feet.

Stats don’t seem to be anything special, so it’s just a neat little factoid.

All the Colors of the Wind

Here is a handy art reference to show you the color combinations possible. I, personally, haven’t verified that this is all of the color combos. I feel like I’ve seen more browns than that, and maybe even some solid blues with black mane and tail. But I’m not sure, and this is a superb starting place regardless.


You can also ride deer, bears, and the weird skeleton-horses you’ll whack gobbos off of … but the stable won’t register them for you.

You can’t really blame them, they’re not set up for long-term care of non-equines or dead things.

I recommend giving the deer a go — it’s really neat to see the difference in gait they have.

Horizon: Zero Dawn


Full disclosure, we still haven’t finished this one.

HOWEVER, holy bananas is it super well done.

It’s like someone took a ton of my favorite things and rolled them all up into a single bundle.

If you’d like to see some screenshots we’ve taken from our playthrough (yes, they look like promotional materials, but they’re literally us stopping during gameplay and noodling around in their extensive screenshot settings) check out Steven’s Facebook gallery.

1. Dinosaurs

Okay, sure, these dinosaurs are mechanical. They BEHAVE like animals. They move like animals. They breathe like animals. And the fact that they are mechanical makes them SUPER interesting to just … watch. Like the “deer” with rotating antlers that they use to grind up the earth. Or the “sniper cats” that go invisible and shoot land mines at you.

They FEEL perfect. When I’m fighting them, my heart races. Even if they’re fighting each other, there’s this very real feeling of SIZE and AWE to them. Even the little Watchers doing a body slam nearby feels impactful. The giant Thunderjaws are nothing short of amazing, even as you’re embroiled in a battle to take one down.

And riding them? Riding them is GORGEOUSLY fluid. My only complaint is that you can’t ride them all, because you bet your buttons I’d be rolling around on a Thunderjaw or Stormbird.

2. Hiding

Weird to list as number 2 perhaps, but I don’t like being forced to do battle out in the open. I LOVE that this game gives ample waist-high grass clumps to huddle in. Toss a rock or whistle to get someone’s attention, then BAM!

You can do a silent take-down or even turn one of the mechs to your side to fight for you. One of my favorite tactics is to huddle, whistle, make a friend, and then stroll around picking up loot while my minion rips his enemies to shreds. So much fun, you guys.

3. Weapons

Related to the previous, but worth its own note. There are subsets of weapons. Bows for long-distance and precision. Ropecasters for tying an enemy down. Slings for balls of elemental effect and damage. Mines. Bombs. Tripwires. Just enough to cater to your playstyle without seeming overwhelming.

I like finding the ground for an upcoming battle and just LITTERING that floor with tripwires and bombs. Lure your enemy into your minefield and watch his health go down without effort, then pick off the remainder from a distance with a bow.

4. Story

I am in love with this story. The weaving of the past and the future is masterfully done, with tiny tidbits of story coalescing into a giant reveal that we are only just getting embroiled in.

Side note: we haven’t finished the game because we don’t want it to end. It is SO good that we realized we were closing in on the final bits, and stopped to go back and complete all of the areas we’d already gone through.

This is good storytelling, my friends and contains one of my favorite pieces of plotting advice I’ve ever heard.

“You’ve chased a personal riddle into a cloud of larger mysteries.”

Love that so much.

There’s just enough personal choice in responses to make you feel like you’re not completely tied down to events while still maintaining Aloy’s no-nonsense, competent character — and this game absolutely would not be the same without her.

5. The World

This ties into many of the previous points, but it is SO stunning it deserves its own bullet point. Each tribe you meet is different, and each person within that tribe their own person. The environments — that moment of startlement when I rode through the gates from a lush forest into a windy, sand-riddled desert absolutely took my breath away.

Aloy shivers when its cold. Complains when she’s wet. Mutters when the sand blows.

The world feels real, folks, and that is no mean feat.

So, on to the negatives

I spend too much time managing my inventory. There are so many types of machine parts you can pick up for use or selling, and the backpack is only so big. Visiting a vendor and selling is unnecessarily time-consuming and tedious.

The expected visual glitches here and there — every time Aloy stoops down to talk to an NPC on the ground, she rolls her eyes in a way that I know isn’t intended.

… is that it? Yeah, I think that’s it.

Summary: TLDR

If you have the console, I recommend it. Even if you’re not really comfortable with first person shooters, I feel like the weapons allow you to take most fights at YOUR pace.

It’s fun. It’s pretty. It makes me say “wow!” more often than I believed possible in a single game.

Tami Parker Other Duties as Assigned