rangifer’s diary: pt. lxv
Taxonomising odd jobs, pt. iv: Microtaxonomy & encodings. §1
In the previous part of this series (“Taxonomising odd jobs, pt. iii: Exploring the space of possible taxonomies”), I considered what the structure of an odd job taxonomy could look like, and also investigated some formal (and semi-formal) methods that we might want to use for creating such taxonomies. However, throughout that entire part, I assumed that we already have a notion of discrete odd jobs, i.e. some finite set consisting of objects called “odd jobs”, each one of which has a distinct encoding* into some metric space (which, if we’re lucky, is also a vector space). For certain strategies (viz. explicitly constructing a tree by hand), the metric is not so important, so formalising an encoding is not necessary per se. However, even in this seemingly simpler case, we are still imposing the restrictions that our finite set of odd jobs is indeed finite, has a cardinality of at least two, and that — importantly — each member of the set is a well-defined “odd job” that exists on the same conceptual level as, but is distinct from, every other member of the set, in a way that is more or less analogous to the biological notion of “species”.
This more general, looser set of requirements doesn’t have anything to do with metrics or any fancy stuff like that, so it might look like an ordinary, structureless set from the outside. But be not fooled: such a set has a vast amount of structure tucked away within it, and this inner ontology is, arguably, just as important as the outer structure that we ultimately want to impose with our taxonomies. Again referring to the biological case for the purpose of analogy, this “inner ontology” is known in biology as the species concept. Briefly, a species concept defines what a biological “species” even is. The study of species concepts, and how to organise real biological organisms into them, is known as microtaxonomy — hence the title of this part. Microtaxonomy is perhaps lesser known than its macrotaxonomy counterpart, because for many practical purposes, a handful of practical guidelines for delineating species tends to do the trick, making the boundaries between species “obvious”… except when they’re not. Nevertheless, microtaxonomy is deeply contentious, with there being one understanding of species concepts for each biologist/philosopher who has ever studied the subject. Quoting a 2003 paper by Massimo Pigliucci† (hyperlinks mine):
The so-called “species problem” is one of those topics of discussion among evolutionary biologists that has been present since before Darwin’s publication of the aptly titled Origin of Species (Darwin himself referred to it as an already old problem), and will probably never go away. Furthermore, biologists have a schizophrenic attitude toward the whole issue: on the one hand, they tend to turn away in disgust when species concepts are brought up by colleagues, are the subject of papers, or are discussed at conferences. On the other hand, they simply cannot resist the temptation to offer graduate seminars on the topic and avidly reading anything that is published on the subject.
[T]he reason why the species problem has not gone away is because it is not as much an empirical problem […], but rather one that has strong philosophical overtones. Indeed, the philosophical literature on the definition of species is as extensive as the biological one, with some biologists contributing to both. This does not mean that empirical information is not relevant here, but rather that the problem represents a paradigmatic example of a philosophical question that requires empirical information (provided by science) to be settled, not of a scientific problem with unwelcome philosophical characteristics.
In our case, the subjects (odd jobs) are not — and are not composed of, nor intended to represent — natural physical entities, unlike in the biological case. The closest thing that we have to “empirical evidence” falls, roughly, into two categories:
- Concrete game-mechanical distinctions that are either:
- explicitly put forward by the game,
- or tacitly (i.e. never explicitly explained, nor even named, in a way that the player is exposed to) enforced by the game’s programming.
- Historical distinctions, as explored in a previous part of this series: “Taxonomising odd jobs, pt. ii: Building up a modern perspective”. These distinctions, should we choose to respect them in one way or another, count as “empirical evidence” in a kind of anthropological sense.
And, much like in the biological case, the union of these things still leaves many gaping holes. Simply having the evidence does not magically produce a microtaxonomy, and likewise, we will need to put in the philosophical hard work to arrive at the kind of finite set mentioned in the first paragraph of this section.
Luckily, we at least have some starting points for this task. One obvious point of reference is the list of odd jobs on the Oddjobs website, which I created and curate. Another comes from a previous part (pt. ii) of this series, in which we considered some of the earliest recorded evidence of odd jobs — to quote from the conclusion of said part:
Well, let’s take a look at some of the odd jobs that have been explored, or at least mentioned, in the archive entries that we’ve looked over in this part:
This would seem to outline some of the most primitive odd jobs: we have our permabeginners (both on-island and off), our weird-statted mages, our “jobbed beginners”, our weird-statted warriors, and last but not least, our blood warriors.
As another few points of reference, we have yet more lists of odd jobs. Both predate the Oddjobs one:
- “General List of Experimental Classes”, posted on 2010-01-13 by BasilMarket user GunDelHel.
- “Alyssaur’s Kind of Unnecessary Compilation of Unusual Builds” (archived), posted on 2015-07-17 by MapleRoyals user Alyssaur.
And, in the end, we will need to come up with one or more encodings of these odd jobs (with a metric, and all that jazz) so that we can apply our numerical/statistical methods as well.
Footnotes for “Taxonomising odd jobs, pt. iv: Microtaxonomy & encodings. §1”
*In this context, an “encoding” doesn’t necessarily refer to coding in the technological sense (although it could), but rather, it just has to be a formalisation of some kind.
More ToT w/ cervid, xBowtjuhNL, & Gruzz
In pt. lxiii of this diary, I talked about going to the Temple of Time (ToT) for the first time, alongside Gruzz, xBowtjuhNL, ducklings, and Harlez. I played as my pure STR bishop cervid, and we did the first handful of quests in the ToT questline to unlock the first few maps. Well, this time, I continued along that same questline with Gruzz and xBowtjuhNL:
We had to finish massacring — I mean, subduing — 999 Chief Memory Guardians:
This airfaring (as opposed to seafaring…) whale wears a spiked helm atop its cranium, has 5.9M MAXHP, and a fairly hefty magical attack that can hit for over 4k damage. In fact, after being hit by the thing several times, I was so surprised by an attack that was suddenly stronger, that I died (oops!). I rushed back to the map to take on this thing for real, with my party members:
With Dodo slain, in order to continue the questline, we had to meet up with the Memory Keeper:
The Memory Keeper wears a blindfold and has what is, apparently, a prehensile beard… although I’m not sure exactly what it’s holding. A telescope? Surely not with a blindfold… Maybe a loudhailer? After all, it is pointed at his mouth, not at his eyes (or rather, his blindfold)…
In any case, the Memory Keeper instructed us to go back to the beginning, where it all began. I suggested reinstalling the game, but instead, we went back to our first job instructors to talk:
I was relieved to hear that Grendel was happy to see what I had become. I had come to fear that maybe Grendel would be disappointed at how much time I had spent at the gym, instead of studying magical spells. I have some bad news about my ability to effectively use the Energy Bolt spell, however…
With that, we unlocked a whole new frozen area of the Temple of Time, and resumed business as usual. Time to kill 999 Qualm Monks!
And, just as we were finishing up those 999, cervid hit level 124!!:
A lil viclockin’
My vicloc dagger spearwoman, d34r, and her vicloc bandit husband xXCrookXx (Sangatsu, Level1Crook, Lv1Crook) have developed somewhat of a ritual of APQing once daily, and BPQing afterwards. Of course, this can only last for the duration of the current summer event, as BPQ is a summer event exclusive. But APQ is forever…
And, after completing such a ritual one day, we headed to TfoG to duo grind 23% or so EXP for xXCrookXx, so he could level up. With no special buffs whatsoever (no GM buffs, no Echo), I tried an
@epm 4, and was pleasantly surprised to see the result!:
I also took a snapshot of d34r’s ETC inventory — this is slightly outdated at the time of writing, but gives an idea of what it’s like to be a Victoria islander who has a penchant for keeping anything that might… be useful… for someone… eventually:
And I’ve continued training my vicloc clericlet, d33r. As detailed in the previous diary entry, I have been training at Line 3 Construction Site: B2 <Subway Depot>, which requires completing the entire B2 jumpquest (JQ) each time that I want to train there. I kept track of my approximate completion times for the JQ, and I can now add to that list with some more times. Below is the new list:
- 12.5 minutes
- 9.2 minutes
- 7.5 minutes
- 5.5 minutes
- 6.0 minutes
- 8.0 minutes
- 5.3 minutes
- 5.5 minutes
- 5.7 minutes
Which does somewhat improve my best time so far, from 5.5 minutes to 5.3 minutes.
The Jr. Wraiths that spawn there drop three kinds of ores: Power Crystal Ores, Adamantium Ores, and Opal Ores. Again, this is a little outdated at the time of writing, but even after NPCing a number of Power Crystal Ores (as this is their only use in vicloc; they cannot be used for crafting), I had a rather impressive stash:
Most recently, I duoed the B2 Subway Depot for the first time; previously, I had always grinded there solo. xXCrookXx’s I/L LPQ mule Sangatsu joined me there:
Although Sangatsu deals far more damage than d33r (using Thunderbolt), an
@epm test ironically revealed that I was actually getting worse EPH there than I would get solo… But oh well, the EPH was still pretty good, and it was great to have company in my lonely napkin dungeon!
alces & xX17Xx doing the main Magatia questline~
I invited permarogue extraordinaire xX17Xx (drainer, partyrock, attackattack, strainer, technopagan) to do the main Magatia questline (the one that begins with A Deal with the Broker and culminates in For Phyllia*) with me, as xX17Xx has been trying to do quests for EXP (as an alternative to killing Fancy Amplifiers all day…), and was not previously aware of the main Magatia questline. I mentioned that I had only just barely started it on my daggermit, but I had done the questline multiple times before, and commented that it’s one of my favourite (if not my favourite) questlines in the game. xX17Xx was intrigued, and so she came to Magatia to start the questline.
As it turned out, she had (sort of) already started the questline some time ago (level 3X or so), at least far enough to get the level 35 Alcadno’s Cape and Zenumist’s Cape. But, for better or worse, the level requirements for this questline are quite spread out — the initial quest is level ≥30, whereas finishing the final quest requires level ≥75. So xX17Xx didn’t realise, at the time, that the questline continues, and threw away the level 35 capes. So we had to get those back, which required doing Re-acquiring Zenumist Cape and Re-acquiring Alcadno Cape, more or less entailing a run to the Free Market for some jewels.
Then we started the questline in earnest:
Magatia questline w/ xX17Xx
Then, Destroy the Roid!:
And likewise, for the Zenumist side, we completed Getting in the Way of Alcadno, which requires killing not Roids, but rather, Reinforced Mithril Mutae. These things are a slight oddity, as they only spawn in one map — area A-1 of the Alcadno Research Institute), which is a dead end — their ETCs (Hardened Piece of Mithril) are not used for anything in the game†, and their only other appearance in the game besides this quest is another Magatia quest (Yulete’s Request), in which they are stronger and have a different name: Obstacle Mutae.
This is followed immediately by Zenumist and the Missing Alchemist, in which Carson transported us into the Closed Lab (unfortunately, it’s instanced, so we were in different copies of the same map) where we were stuck until we could recover a Magic Device from the special Homun that spawn in there:
I had, in the past, had rather poor luck with getting this thing to drop. Luckily for us, we both had pretty good luck and were not in there for very long. The Closed Lab also has a facility for sucking the light out of these devices, producing the Lightless Magic Device that we needed for the quest.
Then, Alcadno and the Missing Alchemist, which involves paying a visit to Eurek, the wandering alchemist. Being a wanderer, Eurek can be found variously in Sleepywood, Ludibrium, Leafre, and El Nath. It was this last location in which we met Eurek, as we also wanted to see Alcaster to complete Acquiring the Seed for the Snowfield Rose for the purpose of completing the Humanoid Just Wants to be Human questline. Acquiring the Seed for the Snowfield Rose requires cleaning up some Leatties, so that’s what we did:
In the process of visiting Parwen, we completed Parwen’s Lab by killing 200 Sites‡, and also did the The Secret, Quiet Passage questline to gain access to Secret Basement Path (and the maps that it leads to).
We talked with the wife of the missing alchemist, Phyllia, who didn’t believe us when we said that we had talked to Dr. De Lang via re-living the disembodied memories of a ghost that we found in a corner of the Alcadno laboratories. Frankly, I don’t blame her. So we broke into Dr. De Lang’s house and started indiscriminately rummaging around in search of something that would make Phyllia believe us, and hopefully make her less mad about the fact that we burgled her husband’s house for no apparent reason. Thankfully, we found that something: Phyllia’s Pendant.
With this, we had earned Phyllia’s trust, and she sent us back to the house with a special password (
my love Phyllia), which we used to uncover Dr. De Lang’s Secret Book and place the pendant inside:
This caused the book to unlock itself, revealing itself to be a short manuscript, which we had to travel back to El Nath to decipher. Alcaster told us that parts of this manuscript had writing in a kind of invisible ink that could only be revealed through the use of highly advanced alchemy. Unfortunately, neither I nor xX17Xx as master alchemists, so it looked like we were out of luck.
But Alcaster then went on to mention that there was another, easier way to read the writing: just pour a bunch of blood on it. Ah, but not just any blood: Homunsculer’s Blood. So we went back to Magatia to find these blood-filled beasts:
While we were there, I came across a stray Deet & Roi:
And we went back to Alcaster, who demonstrated the dousing of the manuscript in Homunsculer blood, thus revealing the manuscript’s full contents. The manuscript is a personal log/diary that Dr. De Lang kept, and contains some juicy details. As it turns out, all of Magatia is founded on the dark alchemy of The Black Magician: Zenumist, Alcadno, everything. As usual, this is some very evil, but very powerful, stuff. So when Dr. De Lang wanted to extend his own life so that he would never have to leave behind Phyllia (who is a fairy, or something like that, and never dies, or lives for a long time, or whatever — you get the idea) and their half-fairy(?)-half-human child, the whole black magic thing seemed kinda sweet. Unfortunately, this led De Lang to blow everything up and ruin the town of Magatia.
Luckily, Alcaster had an idea to fix up Magatia. By collecting a bespoke triad of magical stones associated, respectively, with three virtues (humility, honesty, and trust), we could… uhm… ameliorate(?) the trigram (presumably used for nefarious alchemical purposes) located in The Black Magician’s laboratory and restore Magatia to its former glory. Alcaster was kind enough to provide us with the stone of humility, which meant that we only had to retrieve a stone of honesty from Homunculuses, and a stone of trust from D. Roy.
I actually had already gotten a stone of honesty earlier, when we fought some Homunculus for an earlier quest in the questline. But xX17Xx still needed one, so we went back to unit 203 of the Zenumist Research Institute and got her one:
…Which leaves only the issue of actually finding D. Roy and getting two Magic Stones of Trust from them… Stay tuned for the end of this questline~ :)
Footnotes for “alces & xX17Xx doing the main Magatia questline~”
*The questline can also, alternatively, culminate in either For Zenumist or For Alcadno. But these other two endings are… less desirable. The level 80 capes are actually not terribly bad (although none of their benefits go towards DPS; no STR/DEX/INT/LUK, no WATK/MATK, and just the usual 5 slots), but the much lower EXP reward and the lack of fame reward just isn’t worth it. Plus, are you really gonna do my homegirl Phyllia dirty like that?
†Later versions of MapleStory have a special ETC item called Shovel which is used for the Keol’s Order #3 quest, and requires 30 Hardened Pieces of Mithril to craft using the Maker skill. Also, I found a quest called Stability in Magatia that requires 90 Hardened Pieces of Mithril, and is part of a game called “MapleStory M”, which I guess is a mobile version of MapleStory? News to me.
capre… hunts… more… you guessed it: cards
It’s time for moar card-hunting with my woodsmaster capreolina~!
c a r d
Now, it was time to kick things up just one notch, with the Fantasy Theme Park region of Kampung Village. The eagle-eyed reader may notice some funky things going on with some of the screenshots here; for some reason, the Fantasy Theme Park region (much like many Orbis maps) doesn’t play well with my setup, so I have to crank the graphics quality all the way down to make the game’s framerate work out. In any case, the first Fantasy Theme Park map is Hibiscus Road 2, which is home to Scaredy Scarlions:
Then, on to Fantasy Theme Park 1 (which is, confusingly, not the first Fantasy Theme Park map at all). This map has Jester Scarlions and Froscolas, but there’s a nifty minidungeon — accessible through Fantasy Theme Park 3 — called Longest Ride on ByeBye Station that makes it easier to hunt these two species:
These things refused to give me any cards whatsoever for like 45+ minutes, but eventually they started to cough ’em up.
I already had (thank god) 2/5 on Booper Scarlions (also found within Fantasy Theme Park 2) because I had done the Scarlion/Targa prequests before on this character (documented in previous diary entries). So finishing them was a little easier as a result:
Then, onward to Fantasy Theme Park 3 to hunt the Vikerola set. This is where they start to simply get much harder to kill for me: 36k MAXHP, 820 WDEF, and a penchant for spamming heals in a large radius. Additionally, Vikerolas’ hitboxes expand quite a bit during each attack, which can be a pain in the ass for ranged combatants (who magically become melee combatants as they start bow-whacking, claw-punching, and buffaloing):
…But I did finish them! And so, on to the final card set of Malaysia (not counting Scarlion and Targa…): Galloperas. (I was already 1/5 to begin with, which was nice):
And I only died once in the process! Cool~
With Malaysia all wrapped up, I headed to Ellin Forest to finish up the card sets there. I had already obtained quite a few cards long ago, when I did the Ellin Ring questline on capreolina. In fact, I already had the Mossy Snail set completed. But the others were in need of completing, so I headed to finish the Tree Rod set:
And the Mossy Mushroom set:
Plus, the Primitive Boar set:
And last, but not least, Stone Bugs. This was the only somewhat painful one, as it took me quite a while to get them to cough up a card. But I did finish it eventually:
…and Paper Lantern Ghosts:
Now, it was time for the most difficult (at least, in terms of actually fighting them) card-bearing monsters in Zipangu, with the exception of Black Crow (which spawns in the same map on a 23-hour timer…): Dreamy Ghosts (a.k.a. “Himes”).
Midway through card-hunting these, I had already chewed through 1.5k Chicken Rices… so I had to restock. But I did, eventually, get that precious 5/5 (and again, only died once in the process! Wowie~)!
And now, it was time for the (apparently) most difficult non-boss card set in Zipangu: Nightghosts. I know that Cortical (CokeZeroPill, SussyBaka, GishGallop, MageFP, WizetWizard) had an extremely hard time with this set (I took a trip to A Desolate Cemetery on my darksterity knight rusa to help them out), and at least one other person told me that they gave up when Nightghosts didn’t appear to drop cards at all. But I figured I’d at least give it a whirl:
Nice! This set wasn’t exactly easy (and of course, I didn’t expect it to be), but I did finish it~! That left just one last set (as I was definitely not planning on getting the Black Crow set…): Lucida.
While I was at Hall of Mushroom hunting these things, I took a break to do a special summer activity: booming PSBs! The PSB is a particularly important weapon for my darksterity knight rusa, as (unlike most polearms) it has no STR requirements — indeed, no stat requirements at all. I had been using a 111 WATK and 4 STR one from the previous summer event — I had hoarded three and boomed/ruined two of them, so that was all that I had left. Well, fast-forward to the current summer event, and fast-forward through me throwing 97M(!) mesos into the void, and I made this thing:
Not bad! It remains to be seen how greedy I want to be (is 116 WATK enough for me?? Or do I impoverish myself for 117 WATK???), but this is at least a solid upgrade for now! I put it to the test on these Lucidas (using just self-buffs, Cider, and Echo):
In any case, I finished the Lucida set, meaning that I could leave Zipangu 5ever. Speaking of cards, xXCrookXx has been kind enough to give me the excess area boss cards produced in the process of generating vicloc goodies:
These cards are especially important to me, as I have (for my entire card-hunting career) self-imposed a rule to never kill area bosses that are used for quest(s)… unless I need to for the purpose of a quest (or if I’m a viclocker, as area bosses are a very special resource for viclockers, for obvious reasons). This is as a direct result of my own frustration, due to being unable to complete quests due to card-hunters. Rather than inflict that same punishment on other questers for my own card-hunting ease, I just skip those sets. But being able to look viclockers’ cards helps this!
I’ve card-hunted here (during the last St. Valentine’s event, on my pure STR bishop cervid; see previous diary entries) before, and I’m well aware that Genins are the only reasonable card set here. Everything else has an abysmal card drop rate, so — at least for now — I took my Genin 5/5 and got the hell out.
Next, I wanted to at least try to take on the Ulu City region of Singapore. The monsters here get really tough, so I figured that I may want to give up halfway through, or something like that… In any case, I started out in Ulu Estate I with Veetrons:
But I’ve only just started, so I think I’m still 1/5 on both of these critters. More critters next time~
And now, ’tis time for the staple of summer event: beep e-queues!
Take that, Levi!! Although my zerk threshold is still rather low (5.5k), I did manage to briefly zerk against Levi (without really making a concerted effort to) a few times, when my HP happened to land around the safe zone where my HP < 5.5k, but I still knew that Levi wouldn’t kill me.
And here I am, fighting Levi in BPQ yet again — but this time, as my woodsmaster capreolina, alongside a team of random folks (xMAGiEx, s1uTpr1ncess, Jiwie, 2001, & Snoopii) who I met by responding to a smega:
It was in this BPQ that I learned (thanks to s1uTpr1ncess explaining it to all of us) that one of Levi’s magical attacks (viz. the one for which its eyes glow orange) can be dodged, by jumping into the air at the right time. I admit that, even with this knowledge, I probably only dodged 40% or so of said attacks, thanks to my attacks causing me to be unable to jump for a while afterwards (and thanks to me being bad at the game).