7 things I wish I knew before playing My Time In Portia

My Time At Portia is a farm-life sim RPG that arrived in Early Access this week, and so for the past two days I've been harvesting, crafting, building, farming, exploring, and adventuring. And most importantly, learning. While at times Portia can be a bit of a grind, it's quickly proving to be a colorful and absorbing world to spend time in.

Below, I've come up with a few tips to make your early hours a bit easier to navigate while you bring your own workshop up to snuff. They're all things I wish I'd known before I started playing.

Keep an eye on the clock

In Portia, the clock is always ticking, and ticking very quickly. In a lot of sandbox crafting games we're used to staying up all night, hammering away at stone walls or hacking down stubborn trees. despite how late its gotten.

Not so in the world of Portia: when it reaches 3:00 am, you will quite literally fall asleep wherever you are and whatever you're doing. This isn't always problematic—you wake up fully rested at home, so in some ways it can occasionally be convenient—but if you're in the middle of something it's decidedly a nuisance to suddenly slip into a coma. If you're planning an excursion to a distant area, or have some specific goals for the day, keep in mind that when the day ends, it really ends. Leave early if you've got something major to do.

But don't leave too early. If you get out of bed and sprint into town to visit a shop, you're going to discover the shops are still closed. They open at 8, so give the owners time to get out of their beds and get to work or you'll be standing around tapping your foot.

Mining costs money, so plan your spelunking

Mining is not only my least favorite activity in Portia, but it's also something you have to pay to do. Using the starter mine costs you 80 gold per visit (the game calls currency gols, which feels to me like a typo, so I'm just gonna call it gold), and with so many crafting items requiring copper and tin, you'll need to be spending a lot of time in the uninteresting, gloomy mine smashing a pickaxe against the floor.

In your early hours, gold won't be the easiest thing to come by, and you'll want to be saving it for certain expensive items like upgrade kits or, well, mine visits. Which means your trips to the mine should be as fruitful as possible. When you find yourself needing just a couple more units of copper for something, it's tempting to just pop in and pop back out, but doing that too many times will be a drain on your finances. So, when you're going to mine, make a full day of it and get as much as you can on each trip. Free up room in your inventory and prepare to spend the entire day grinding for relics and resources.

Read your mail, even if you don't want to

Outside your workshop is a mailbox, and just about every day there will be something new in it. I kind of ignored it for a while, simply because I had my own to-do list I was working on (and who needs more mail in their life?), but not only will you find new jobs in the mail, but also news about special events.

For instance, I was wondering why there was a little icon that looked like a present blinking on my screen. Turns out, there's a holiday in Portia where airships fly over the town and drop presents.

I'd have known that if I'd read my mail, but I hadn't, so I didn't, and thus was late to the festival and had to run around like a madman trying to grab the remaining few presents before all the kids did, which left me feeling like some kind of desperate, greedy jerk. Which, quite frankly, I am.

Workshop jobs get complex almost immediately

To prove myself as a builder, first I had to make a hatchet of stone and wood. Then I had to craft a pickaxe. My third job was to put together an entire multi-section bridge made of copper pipe and hardwood, which required several new workbenches and resources (including a different hatchet capable of cutting down the proper tree for the hardwood). My current gig is to build an entire friggin' car. So, there's quite a sudden leap in complexity going from making a hatchet to taking on a massive construction job.

Luckily, there are lots of smaller jobs you can nose around for while you're waiting for days to pass and your copper to melt into bars that you can then turn into pipes. If you take on a job that seems a little too complex, don't feel like you have to get it done instantly. You can still find other, smaller commissions that you can tackle in the meantime, sometimes something as simple as fixing someone's fence or crafting a fishing pole. 

Spend money to increase your inventory

With only 16 slots in your inventory, and another 8 on your hotbar, you'll fill up your pockets pretty quickly. I assumed there would be a way to unlock all the locked slots, perhaps by finding a backpack or possibly by leveling up, but it's simpler than that. Click on a locked row, and you'll have the option to spend gold to pay for more slots. I had no idea it was that simple until I actually did it.

Stamina is weird

I was running around at top speed, leaping over fences, and gathering berries and sticks, when I suddenly noticed I couldn't gather berries and sticks anymore. That's because I was out of stamina which, oddly, doesn't stop you from running around at top speed and leaping over fences.

Think of stamina almost as special action points, since you can still move and run like the energetic kid you are while at the same time you're so exhausted that you'll be unable to, say, pick something up, or kick a tree or swing a sword. You can't even go fishing when your stamina is drained. There's something frustrating about having an object in front of you that you're simply too tired to pick up, especially if that object is an apple that would give you a few points of stamina.

Simply standing still won't recover your stamina (though it will replenish your sprint meter). Recovering stamina can be accomplished by eating certain foods, so keep something to munch on in your pocket at all times. But mostly you'll want to sleep in your bed to completely refill your stamina meter.

You can win certain fights by running away

At one point, in order to gain access to a particular mine, you have to best one of the other characters in a sparring contest. I had not had much luck sparring at the time—in a fight with a newspaper reporter, I punched her roughly 100 times, and then at the end of the fight she knocked me out cold with just a couple jabs. So, I wasn't too keen on getting my butt handed to me again.

So, when it came time to prove myself worthy of entering the mine, I simply spent a minute running away from my opponent. I just ran in a big circle like a coward. And it worked! In a regular sparring session this would be considered a draw, but here it was a successful bout of survival. See, you don't always have to put fist-to-face to get what you need.