Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sun ! Cricket ! It Happens ! Sometimes ...

See ?
Yep. Sunshine just trying to break through the clouds over yonder.

Thursday was the now traditional day out at Lords to watch the Interservices Twenty20 cricket matches. It's a tournament held at the home of cricket, Lords, that sees three games played over the day between RAF, Royal Navy and the Army. First up was a decent tight close game between RAF and Army and then the tournament format is that the losers stay on and the winners get a break.

Not quite sure what I'd think of having a break in games like that. Sure, it gives a chance to rest, recharge, get the munchies on board but you'd also stiffen up somewhat over the downtime.

Someone mention cricket ?
As always with these pics, click for bigger. All of these were taken with my proper camera which I get more and more impressed with the more I use it.
You can zoom in really close to the action and still get the sharpness in the pictures. This one sees the RAF keeper being pretty sharp, having taken one stumping already in the game.
This one saw a potential 3rd Umpire decision as the Army's player of the tournament had a disputed catch which I thought was a bump ball (bounced immediately after being hit). It was well held out near the boundary and the decision of OUT was eventually given. Army guy was not happy.
But dubious catching (seen it before in these games where the RAF get the benefit of dodgy catches) was to no avail and the Army win the first game in the last over. Closest game of the day.
On to game 2 with Lords welcoming the RAF into bat and the Navy on to the field. After a reasonably tight start, RAF commenced ultimate THWACKage with a score of over 200 being rattled up. The friendly pigeons in the crowd were looking for helmets.
There goes another one into the crowd.

Oh I should say - the camera techniques here involve nothing more than an instant camera (Ixus 265) being braced on my knee with the pictures posted on the day going via my phone. The Canon can broadcast its own wifi signal which the phone can connect to and either control the camera or pull off the images for onward posting. Nifty. And the camera didn't even budge off full battery despite the 80 pictures, while the iPhone battery died at around 3pm.

Navy couldn't live with the Thwackage and succumbed to a hefty defeat. Bring on the Army for the concluding game.
With the RAF boys going back to the 5* hotel for tea and medals.
Decent crowd in to, bringing the atmosphere. Lords was almost at its best as usual. Not all of the ground is open for these games, plus the Warner stand is being rebuilt and modernised at the moment. One of the four floodlights is currently down, plus the building site is out of bounds for us public people. I like Lords because you can walk all the way around the compound around the stands. It's an excellent cricket ground with great facilities. Wonder what the new Warner stand will be like when it's opened.
Navy had a bright start to this game but lost a few too many wickets in clusters and couldn't recover enough. A reasonable total of 129 was posted and then ...
Bash. That target was bashed into submission with a quarter of the Army's innings remaining. Player of the tournament finished with an admirable 88 not out in this game.

And then it was me heading off to Part 2 of the day. Long day this one. Let's see :
0700 - get on the road to Lords, target arrival time at the Underground station 0930. I happened to start late (misread the clock!) but still got there roughly at 0930. (It's when off-peak fares start).
1900 - depart Lords, head on the Underground to Westfield. I had a mission ...
2200ish - depart Westfield to the Underground station.
0100 - I think this is when I got home after a 2 hour drive shouting along to the music on the phone (it can charge up in the car) to help me stay awake.

The Westfield side trip was to solve one major problem I've had on the London trips - having adequate munchies to keep me awake and active. I've usually had to resort to service station munchies which are ... pure fuel and not particularly great fuel at that. Having a Wagamama's munchie was very much appreciated.

And will almost certainly* be repeated on Sunday after MCM Comic Con :-). Really looking forward to that especially as :

*almost certainly ? I'll have someone lovely along for Comic Con and she's a Wagamama's addict. Final decision on where we munch is up to her ... but I'm pretty certain it'll be Wagamama. There is a huge amount of choice though.

I should have really posted this on maybe Friday but I was pretty wiped out after the long day. I must get out more as, even though it was a long day, I shouldn't be as wiped out as I was then. Perhaps it's digging into the reserves so much, the reserves need time to recharge.

It was good seeing England win in the cricket again yesterday :-). Plus I've been on the Planetbase again ... I have 3 planets complete now out of the 4 and I'll pick a time over the holiday to do the fourth.

I was hoping I could get the Fast Colony achievements done but that wasn't to be this time. Something to do with meteors hitting domes with people in a bunch of times and an out-of-food speedbump hitting at about 80 people. I think I'll manage the fast colony achievements at some point though.

But not yet. Chill out time for me at the moment ahead of diving back into work next week. Oh and I need to clear my box of recorded stuff before a forced upgrade happens on that holiday week.

First though - Comic Con ! Looking forward to that, especially as it'll be the first time I'll have seen one lovely person since just before Xmas.

See you soon ! And enjoy what remains of your weekend. It didn't rain on Thursday but I think it's been making up for that. Bit damp out there at the moment ...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Basking in the light of the suns

There's been a few game related posts lately hasn't there ?

It started with someone lovely asking me a question along the lines of "So what games are you enjoying at the moment ?"

And I think that reminded me that I really do enjoy playing the games. I find them relaxing, enjoyable, interesting. Depends on the game of course. Something like the new Doom would stress me out with its high paced action. I have my eye on a new strategy game called Stellaris but I think that one would annoy me as soon as I ran into end game micromanagement and the various AI bugs it has.

(Will still most likely pick up Stellaris the first time it goes on sale).

Games should be for relaxing with or for fun. Or in the best of times, both fun and relaxation.

That's how I'm finding Elite, some of the time. Also Planetbase. The thing about modern games is that you have to learn their characteristics. They have much more complication built in because that's what modern machines can handle, it's expected from the players. I'm enjoying Planetbase as a space colony builder, much more than I did with Banished. I found Banished quite frustrating when your colony would just go into death spiral for very little reason. Planetbase is much simpler and its AI rules can be understood, warts and all.

Let me tell you about some of what I've been doing in Elite over the weekend ... But first !!! Pictures.
As always with these, click for bigger.

Aww look. The beast was sleeping in her hangar. There are a few ways to make the money in Elite and I'm needing a fair bit of cash to fit out the Beastie in the picture above. She's called Imperial Merchant Vessel Min Maxer. I had been running a much smaller ship which felt like a race car after flying the big ones. The littler one was all about dashing around the galaxy quickly trading small volumes of cargo.

Making the cash ?
Combat is one way - I'll do this later because I want to get to the maximum pilot ratings for combat, trading and exploration. But I'm not really in the spaceship game for lots of mindless shooting.
Exploration gets a reasonable amount of cash but it is slow. The fortnight trip to the centre of the galaxy and back netted I think around 20 million credits.
Trading rare goods is a decent option if you don't have much capital or cargo space. You can get profits of around 16,000 credits per tonne and upwards. But you do need to travel long distance to get the profits.
Running long range smuggling missions - this can get you loads of cash but ... if you get caught by the Rozzers, you lose all the reward.

And the last way, which I'm doing now, Space Trucker.

This is where the enjoyment comes in and the relaxation. As a wannabe astronaut in my early years, games like this, like Planetbase, like Take On Mars (be The Martian) when it's ready (not bought it yet but I know what it could be) really speak to that kiddie in me that wanted to be on a different planet.
It was feeling too long since a picture. There we go ! I grabbed this one because I couldn't believe how close the big companion planetoid was to the one that I was looking to land on. They were about the same size !!! Orbiting really closely too. Like, probably closer than our Earth and the Moon.

That's one thing about this game that keeps me coming back. All the new things. The sights. The sparkly objects in the skies :
There she is, basking in the light of Facece's sun, with the heat dissipators open over the stern section. Definitely a pretty ship in near silhouette;
And with this particular line of ships, they designed in some beautiful organic lines. This level of complexity of ship model wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. The suns are active as well, most of them rotate, many have streamers of solar flares erupting from the surface. There are black hole gravity distortion effects;
I can't remember which sun provided the redness there. There are some amazing graphical effects coming in there though. The Main Sequence of stellar objects is modelled, which brings in all the variation of stars, as well as the proto T Tauri stars and end stage stellar objects like white dwarf stars, neutron stars and black holes.

Astronomers definitely lucked out in being able to study some incredibly beautiful phenomena.

It does help that it's a really beautiful game. Perhaps a little empty ? I'll be curious about No Mans Sky when it comes out. That could have the gorgeous outer space graphics combined with lush landscapes on the planets. We'll see there.

Oh ? Those trading things ... I got frustrated with what I think might be a bit of a bug at the moment. The police are really good at scanning you right now, better than what I remember. So when the Rares Trading involved smuggling illegal items, they'd spot those even when I hid in the station. When I tried the Long Range Missions, I got spotted after the first drop off.

So I went back to the massive ship, which is trading 720tonnes (the Python carried 240 tonnes, the Asp 80 in long range smuggler mission spec) at a time. I have no guns though, so if anyone tries pirating me, I just run. The Cookie Cutter has the turning circle of an asteroid (could be worse, the big freighter has the turning circle of a small planet) but it's pretty nippy. It'll get nippier too when I upgrade it.

And there are so many upgrades to come. I'm 54 million credits away from a "Starter Spec", i.e. way below what I'd call a proper minimum spec. Lots of running away to do until then. I'm 287 million away from the top trading spec. That's maybe 287 trading runs ...

And I'll enjoy every one of them. Especially with the inflight snacks that Cookie SpaceWays promises :
Yep. I did the Cadbury Does Spaceships thing again :-).

Fly safe, drive safe, be safe. Enjoy yourself !

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Are your ears ready ? Eurovision

It's here again !
Yep. My twitter feed is going nuts at the moment. Oh - I've that picture before but it sums it up so well. I've used this one before too :
That sums up some of the entries pretty well too.

Eurovision is a curious thing ... and that's before you get to the nationalistic judging. It's a cultural thing we indulge in every year, a song contest where you have the occasional cracker mixed in with so-so songs, wannabe popstar songs who are just missing something, the toneless hacks, the weird, the attention seekers and the just plain bad.

But we still watch it (or I'll have it on for the songs and then put my own music on while the judging is happening).

If I remember right, Sweden's song won last year on the back of a very gimmicky stage show and a highly repetitive song. That's one of the themes, a mediocre song is buried underneath a boppy dance track or the gimmicky stage show.

You also have the curiosity of performances so bad they must be planned that way. (I don't think Sweden wanted to win it again this year).

Who do I like so far ? It's on song 12 by Poland so far and from what I've seen, Belgium and Bulgaria are fairly ok. (I'm not going nuts over them by any means).

Apart from Eurovision - I'm having a chilled out weekend after burning myself out somewhat in the week. I really need to curfew myself from the games because the Pixel People Planetbase game has a combination of Just One More Day ridiculous addictiveness combined with being supremely easy to play. You just tell your Pixel People what buildings to build and what to put in them and that's pretty much it. There's a little more interaction and the orders take some planning but ... that's it.

Actually makes for compelling gameplay as you see if your Pixel People can get through the latest disaster. So far on this planet, the Ice planet where you are dependent on wind power only, they've escaped* death from running out of air due to lack of power and they nearly ran into a food crisis ...

*(escaped - translation : after half the colony died at once due to running out of air, I reloaded an earlier save and then learned how to manage the power better).

Yeah - I'm putting the time in on this one and really enjoying building up the bases. On the Warm Out There Base :
I'm in that Job Done phase where the colony needs to grow to 300 people and I need one more technology. Job Done being where you have all 10 milestones for having the colony a certain size, for surviving, for having robots, all the techs, building daft monoliths, things like that.

But I have been playing it at daft times like 2am, 3am, even 4am. That's when you have to look in the mirror and ask "Am I addicted ?" and answer in the affirmative. And addictions are really bad things to have.

(We have a definite Boy Band wannabe on Eurovision at the moment - definitely not my type).

I've also been playing the Elites, as I tour around the galaxy trading in all sorts of rare goods. If you don't have much capital (and I started this run on 800k credits), then rares trading is really effective. Normal trading tends to net you around 500 to 1500 credits per tonne. In the Cutter, that will be far more effective with its 700t cargo hold. Rares trading gets you 16000 credits per tonne. It can get the balance built back up again fairly quick.

Oh - Croatian tailoring and dressmaking - there are ... no words suitable.

Elite ? I'm about 6 million up so far and just started the next run around the rares circuit. When I finish that run, I'm going to try out the Long Range Smuggling which supposedly gets you up to 20m-30m credits per hour. Not a bad boost !

But I may be having a break from the Elites because the rozzers caught me smuggling stuff and I didn't realise until a few systems away. They first give you a fine and if you don't pay the fine within a week, you get a galaxy wide bounty on your head. And then the cops and stations shoot you. That doesn't end well. So I'll keep my pilot in the station while the bounty is active.

Eurovision - I think Spain forgot to fill in the gaps in the lyrics in their song. Pretty lady, has a bit of a voice but needs to stop with the heavy breathing.

Where was I ?

Possibly enjoying the gaming a little too much. I was pretty wrecked yesterday after finishing work. I'll reserve my strength for when I need it but then go zonk when I don't need the strength. So I started switching off after walking out the door from work.

So nearly bought the Lego Le Mans car though. It's on offer for 20% off.

Oh - another Boy Band wannabe ! Seen an Ed Sheeran wannabe tonight too. Haven't seen anyone that I'd be interested in following up on though. There are usually one or two.

On another note though - telly cricket season starts very soon ! Awesome !

Yep. I heard that groan. It's just like the one from the last entry (didn't catch who ! Malta up next). (oh - it was Ukraine, terrible song, not the way to put a poolitical message across)

Time to disappear now into maybe more buzzing around the galaxy.

Oh scary ! Big Disembodied Head ! Phew. She got her body back. Not many more left now.
(picture is from story at the link)

Again with the flashing light show ! Georgia have actually gone for a song that you might hear on the radio. Shoulda finished it off though.

If you don't hear from me again, I'll have been reduced to a dribbling photosensitive puddle courtesy of the various light shows.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Cookie Cutter Cometh

I think I need a bigger Internet Spaceship hangar.

Or hanger too as I just nearly typo'd there. That's such a common typo !

But before I go off on one about typo's ...
Shiny. And with a boarding ramp beckoning ...

Hangar :
Is something you put aircraft in to protect them from the weather.

Hanger :
Is something planes hang from.

Haha ! Enough of silliness ! Internet Spaceships ?

The picture above was of a brand new ship for me. So new, I haven't taken it out of the station yet. (I need more in game cash to fit it out properly). But I did take it out of the hangar with the intention of Cadburyising it :
That's not the Cutter, it's an Imperial Clipper that I actually still have. It's in mothballs in one of the other space stations. It's so pretty I wanted to keep it instead of stripping it for parts when part exchanging it for the next ship.

Yep. Finally finished that rank / reputation grind I've probably mentioned here a few times. No more having the game open in the background, occasionally hitting the "donate money" button when it was available. Nah. I had a good little session flying around the place doing missions in the Python called "Michonne's Wagon". If I get another Python it'll be named after Guido van Rossum, the inventor of that programming language.

(Name comes from the HeyChrissa stream. Michonne is the main character in something she'll play soon and Wagon comes from what they keep calling me - I go by the name SleepyDwagonman there and they keep calling me the Wagonman ... haha ! And Michonne is said very similarly to Mission, which has been the prime purpose of the Python)

The Imperial Cutter is going to be called the IMV (Imperial Merchant Vessel) Min Maxer, unless I find a better name for her when I get more cash. My trading vessels have all been named with various cookie related themes and Min Maxer combines Cookie Cutter with how that phrase is applied to gaming. The Cookie Cutter build is designed for a purpose, to beat a specific opponent. It protects against the attacks and attacks the weak spots. It minimizes certain elements, maximizes others.

I will Cadbury-ise it (make it partly purple !) at some point but the base screenie I grabbed didn't have the right lighting. Here it is :
As the Imperials say, it needs to bask in superior lighting.

The problem with making it purple is being able to select the ship, instead of the surroundings. I may try again later, selecting the ship with rubber band lines instead of the similar colour selection tool.

One thing that hits you in these games is a definite feeling of "Ok, job done, what next ?". I probably won't go back to Planetbase after completing the 4 planets (almost complete on the 1st) and getting all of the achievements.

With Elite, the plan is to set off in another ship, the "Fly You Cookies Fly !". It is an Asp Explorer and I'm going to set off around the populated systems bubble trading all of the rare items. I'm going to try the long range smuggling route as well. I may even ... set off around the galaxy in the Fly ...

Picture ?
Shiny gold ship is shiny.

Oh and I'm also trying to stop myself buying yet another game. It's called Stellaris and it's in the space strategy genre that I've enjoyed playing for a very long time. The sad thing about the genre is that there hasn't been much to come out to beat the ancient Moo 2. This one does look promising though.

But I will resist.

I will fly my Internet Spaceship around the galaxy. I will build colonies for the Planetbase Pixel People. And only then, will I look at putting those two together with Stellaris.

Enjoy the rest of your weekends !

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Software Choices

This might be a bit geeky today and for that I humbly apologise ... But I do hope you see some similarities here with choices you're likely going to be making with your various electronic bits and pieces.

I might have to do a few choices soon with the various bits of software I use at home, due to ... a couple of things actually. So what do I use ?

I have 4 main computing devices, an iPhone 5, an iPad Mini 2, a desktop PC running Windows and a Macbook Air running MacOS X. It's a fairly decent mix, although the iPhone is starting to run into its forced obsolescence and I might need to look into alternatives soon. Translation - the home button isn't working as it should and the battery connector is ... pretty unreliable.

The catalyst for my choices is a couple of happy messages :

The Firefox web browser on my Macbook deciding it wasn't going to update any more. This is pretty serious because the web is a pretty toxic place now. If the vulnerabilities are present and unpatched, you can be hit by so-called "drive by downloads" where you visit a site and pick up malware Nasties without realising it. The malware is usually not part of the site you visit, it's usually coming from the third party advertising on the site. And in the worst case, they'll happily start encrypting your files without you realising. So it's good to have a browser that's protected.

My Macbook Air is from 2013 and I still have it running the software it came with, MacOS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion. I've seen no compelling reason to move to a newer version and have many compelling reasons to stick with 10.8.5. Apple are definitely people for the forced software obsolescence to drive you into buying more of their kit. It's as if they think that your money should really belong to them and them alone.

It doesn't work like that Mr Apple, you have to give me a product that is compelling enough for me to buy and that I think will be around until something significantly better comes along.

My Macbook is still going very strong after 2.5 years, the battery life is still a guaranteed 12 hours under fairly normal usage and it does (most of!) what I want it to do. It runs iTunes 10.7 constantly (see below), it looks after my email and I use it for my web browsing. It's failed to run the games (Planetbase, Elite and Darkest Dungeon attempted) but I don't use it for the games, that's the desktop's job.

The iTunes 10.7 thing is crucial. I exclusively use it to run a method called "iTunes DJ" where I pick an album and a few tracks from rules I have and iTunes DJ will suggest more random tracks to fill the gaps. It works well for me and rotates me through the music library without me having to exert brain cells on too many choices. Keeping that iTunes DJ is non-negotiable and I won't be updating the software until it's back in iTunes. The newer versions of iTunes are an abomination to use anyway compared to 10.7.

Of course it means I can't update the Macbook to newer versions of MacOS and I can't update the iPhone to newer versions because it will then refuse to talk to the 10.7.

That's the forced obsolescence working again. And it's likely to get me swapping back to Android again when my phone breaks.

How about the desktop ?

My desktop PC is 4.5 years old now and is still going strong, having had 2 new graphics cards since it was built. Development of PC bits has slowed to a crawl and it means the current machines just keep on going. This gives the whole PC industry a massive problem. How do we get the consumers to keep buying the product ? Forced software obsolescence again.

Windows XP worked fairly well for a while but ... remember back. It was a cantankerous old beast that didn't work too well when it did work, it hated to accept new hardware and it would often decide a part of it was broken and you couldn't fix that without a reinstall. And then MS broke it when Vista came out by making a disastrous change to the disk access.

To show how much XP got worse, I used to run it on 64MB machines. After a while, it needed 512MB minimum, preferably 1GB. That's a ridiculous amount of bloating. And you would need a SSD to run it on to mask that disastrous change to the disk access.

Windows 7 actually works really well.

(Although it has always refused to talk to my camera - grr-mutter-grr)

But ... and here's the big butt. Windows 10 is out there in all of its flawed development and misguided concept glory. It's currently free up until the end of July where MS will start expecting quite a few £££ for it. MS just updated their malware (the one that comes in disguised as a security update) to push their shoddy upgrade again.

What will happen to Windows 7 after the free upgrade period finishes ? Expectations are that it will have its support blighted as MS shifts emphasis over to its Windows 10.

So how will I be tackling these various software issues ?

The desktop will go to Windows 10 at some point. Not just yet. But before I have to pay money for it. There's just too much risk that I get left with an unusable or poorly performing system.

Note - if you do go to Windows 10, make sure to disable as much of the telemetry/spyware that comes with it as you can. There's a lot there.

The Macbook will stay on MacOS X 10.8.5. There's just too much risk that I get left with an unusable or poorly performing system if I update it. (Yep, deliberate copying there !). The problem with the newer MacOS X versions is that I've heard too many stories about Macs becoming unusable due to irreversible changes being made to the software. I see tales that their disc access becomes incredibly slow or their battery life gets hammered.

The Macbook works really well for me at the moment, the only reason I have to update it is to get more games running on it and ... that's what the desktop is for.

But how about that web browsing ? I'm getting around that by checking out a program called Waterfox. It's based on the Firefox browser but I'm hoping it combats a couple of issues I have with Firefox :

Firefox has memory leaks which make it crash after a while.
Firefox updates were going to finish on the Macbook next year.

The iPhone will stay on iOS6 (and a bit) because then it'll stay talking to iTunes 10.7 on the Macbook. The iPad is on iOS8 (and a bit) at the moment, should really update it to iOS9. The iPad talks to iTunes 12 on the desktop. I only use the desktop iTunes for a backup and for getting music off cds and into the Macbook, that's more than enough time with the abomination that is iTunes 12 for me.

Lesson - before blindly hitting that "upgrade" button, make sure you know the implications of it. See if there are alternatives that let you avoid the downsides.

I think I've rabbited on long enough for now though ! How's me ?

Tired after the traveling last weekend. It's so worth it but it does knock me out for the rest of the week.
Relieved that my insides are behaving better now, they really weren't happy with me at the start of the week and I don't know why. Better now.
Hoping my back doesn't decide to betray me ! I injured it as a teenage bowler, which left a weakness that can be triggered by something as simple as leaning over and twisting. Ouch.
Happy that my outsides are genuinely recovering now. Not long left now until I can stop worrying about them.

And now chilling out to the World Endurance Car race now, gaming videos on the desktop, music on the laptop later and another HeyChrissa stream tonight playing one of my old favourite games, Mass Effect.

The weekend is a good time to rest, recharge, do some of those neglected chores (the washing is about to come out of the machine) and regain strength for the week ahead.

And the sun is shining too !

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Defending England From The Molehill Of Unusual Size

I was off to see the parents again this weekend !

And this fella :
Yep. Ben being tough to get pictures of again. He'll give you lots of fuss but if he sees a camera, he's usually off somewhere else or otherwise hiding. Unless ...
You attract his attention or his almost one tracked mind has cottoned on to potential treats ... He has his people well trained this one does. Here he is exerting his telepathic mind powers (he doesn't have them but he doesn't realise that) on my mum.

Oh ! Mum's birthday this week, hence the reason for the family having a little gathering. They're still doing ok. Getting older as we all do but apart from that, we're still all good. I have my worries about them ... but that's not for here.
Ben's getting older too, here he is giving us big GO TO BED! hints as we stayed up late to watch a Cilla Black documentary. That lady had an awesome voice.
And the next morning demonstrating yet again that if you want to get a DoggyBowl super clean, just add bacon. The pooch will do the rest.
After all, it is his just reward for valiantly protecting us from the evil window cleaner people. Here he was, singing the song of his people (think woofwoofwoof dubstep style) and with a tail wagging so fiercely, he may have been about to start levitating. Ben protects with love, his weapon is the fierceness of his slurping.
And when Molehills* Of Extraordinary Size appear and super mutant moles appear to threaten the motherland ...

*It isn't a molehill, it's a delivery of soil that is being steadily transferred to veg patches in the back garden.
... Puppy Patrol is on hand to monitor the situation. Don't worry, England is safe from the threat of Moles Of Enormity. As is the grass from the threat of sun burn. Yep. Guard duty is all the better when there are sunbeams to soak up.
Ah ha ! The excitement of when the People return from the shops. Anything for Ben ?
Of course there was. But all that excitement tuckers out the poor pooch, here he is making the zzz's by my feet and giving that paw a rest from the stress of bouncing.
But what's this ? Is there potential for meatscraps ? Must fire up the Puppy Power of Mind Control again to transfer meatscraps from plates to doggybowl.
Full up pup is happy pup.
There is always room for more scraps, although here he is having just been told he must wait a whole 5 minutes for the next adverts before more treats may appear. Puppy does not understand human time.
But the time does come ... and that half starved image of a pooch barely able to lift his head is instantly transformed into one who is in one moment, graciously waiting (he does too, he was very gracious in the accepting of the meatscraps) and in the next, BOING. I think there was more in that parcel than just a little ham ... (It's how they sneak his painkiller tablets in to him).
And then rest. Look into those eyes ... give the puppy treats ... you know that is the right thing to do.
And a little more sunbathing. England is still safe from the Mole. I think Ben caught the Jasper Carrot sketch and it gave him ideas ...
As well as regally surveying the front of the house, Ben is also the master of his own backward. Here he is saying "Yes, this is my domain, no you will not find the bones." See that little half smirk ? He's put those bones somewhere we will never find them ... Archaeologists in the future will look at them in wonder ... what creature could this collection of bones have been ?
All good things come to an end though and it was time to say farewell to the family, mum, dad and the pooch.

Until the next time !

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What to write ...

Nooo !
Not writing about games again today. At least not directly. I have just dragged myself out of a session with the Planetbase Pixel People though. Sticky Wicket Base is steadily growing and I think I'll be able to keep going with it until it reaches the max.

Wait - I said I wasn't going to talk about games. I thought I would tap out a few words though about the words that appear here. How do I choose them ? It's pretty random isn't it ?

One of the way my brain works is that someone will ask me a question and I'll have a quick answer fast but the whole answer takes a little thinking about. Or I'll have something in my mind that's been eaten away at my sanity and the fix is to sort out those thoughts and write a few of them here. I might be reacting to something I've seen, like the Prince and Golden Oldie singers post.

I like it when I have an onrunning theme to talk about, like the Photo Challenge posts, the A to Z music posts and the Alphabet of the Human Heart posts. Memes too. You could call that easy content but that can belittle the amount of thought and self that can go into those posts. Especially the memes and the Alphabet posts. I'll miss the Alphabet posts when I've gotten to Z.

But that question thing is a big trigger. I do like to put stuff here that I think people will want to read and part of that challenge is picking out subjects that other people are interested in and that I can produce a good post around.

And then there's the keeping it positive angle. There are lots of things that annoy me in this world. It would be better without a lot of the people who are in it but I'm not going to be the one who chooses who shouldn't be here. Cyclists shouldn't ride on the pavements (especially when there is a cycle path provided for them). Why is discrimination still a thing ? And why are some people just genuine arseholes.

I've been following the debate around Warcraft's so called private servers. I'm not going to give an opinion on that. Ok, I think they're silly people. I do have nostalgia for when I first played Warcraft but nostalgia is something that should just remain as a fond memory. Things improve over time.

The mention of Warcraft actually brings me back to a trigger for this post ...

A lovely lady asked me the question "What games do you enjoy most ?" And I didn't have a ready answer. Of the games I've most recently played :

Astronest - iOS empire building game. I've given this one up because it was just clicking and seeing numbers change. No skill outside of pay to win.
Elite Dangerous - I enjoy the nomadic life in this game. I haven't been enjoying the rank progression grind. Not long left in that and then I can go back to wandering, trading, exploring, maybe a little combat too. But I would call it more cathartic than enjoyment.
Planetbase - oh yes. I have been happily losing myself in this one and am up to 22 hours played already. I suspect I will play this one until I have all of the achievements. That will take a while.
Deus Ex Human Revolution - lots of enjoyment in this one. It isn't as flexible as some games but what it does, it does extremely well. It has an interesting storyline and some comedy easter eggs thrown in too.
Mass Effect series - these were amazing, combining excellent gameplay with a compelling storyline. Somehow, after playing the first two games to death, I haven't replayed number 3 yet. It is a very fitting and very dark conclusion to the trilogy. And those feels in there ...

I put a lot of time into Settlers IV and Defense Grid. That's mostly putting my hyperactive mind into a set routine to keep it busy though, perhaps aiming for a high score. Not so much the enjoyment factor.

And then there are the older ones like :
Master Of Orion 2 - Another catharsis game. It keeps my brain busy. I need that sense, otherwise fidgeting will take over.
XWing and Tie Fighter - I loved these 20 years ago but now ? They are very dated and the gameplay mechanics and mission set up is ... painful.
X Beyond the Frontier - this was a spiritual successor to the original Elite games but somehow it just wasn't satisfying. There was far more in it compared to modern Elite but it was somehow missing a soul. Or was it the certain knowledge that there was tonnes of grinding to do in order to set up a trading and manufacturing empire to build the end game items that were otherwise unavailable.

It's back to that Enjoyment thing.

We should do what we enjoy. It's awesome when you find a job that lets you combine enjoyment with getting things done. I have to admit, I'm missing the enjoyment where I am at the moment. The people are good but what I work on isn't technical enough to keep me interested. Most of the time at least. I've been reading a document today that will shape the future of one of the projects I'm involved with.

Oh and it satisfies my engineering solutioneering geekery too. There is a task (which I can't go into here) which has a number of ways in which it can be done and the challenge is to find the best way to do it. And there are multiple ideas for how it can be done.

I like figuring out how to do stuff. I'll either figure it out on my own, or I'll adapt what I see from other people. With this writing, the style is mostly my own but it borrows a little from every person I've spoken to or every bit of writing I've read.

Well. Apart from tabloids perhaps.

I'm rambling now - better leg it !

If there's a subject you would like me to cover, or a meme you find interesting, questions you would like answering (see below), let me know.

There is a line though - I do like to keep things positive. It's things like praising the lovely Chrissa streamer person, or Enter Elysium for his videos (see right hand side for links) but not saying anything at all about the people who I have stopped watching because their content is just plain bad now. While I'll be hooked on the Chrissa/EE streams, I've turned off other ones quickly because I find them annoying.

Who are the annoying ones ? I'm not putting that here. It's a negative thought and there is far too much toxic aggressive negativity on the internet already. There are also those who tune into something and try and change it. If they were interested, why are they wanting to change it ? (Star Wars fanbois take note)

Encourage the creativity, praise the good, walk away from the bad.

PS Forgot a game ! Rebel Galaxy had a good start for me. I was enjoying it and then hit a breakpoint where you go from the starter system into the next and the difficulty ramps up. I should really go back in and investigate the story more. Tomorrow. Maybe !

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pixel People Need Proper Diets Too

I wrote the other day about a game called Planetbase ...

You could say that it has my attention at the moment. One genre of game I do enjoy is the builder game. It's the sort of game where you just sit back and watch things happen as they unfold in front of you. It's a more restful type of game.

Other games like shooty games tend to wear me out fairly quickly. Plus they have typical break points like the end of a scenario or a mission, with the break point being an ideal point to stop and walk away from the game for a while.

Builder games tend to be a bit different. In Planetbase, one of the mechanics is power. You have solar power and wind power available, although some planets stop one or the other from being available. The starter planet is easy though and allows both. It does mean that your colony is at the mercy of the elements, with solar power only being available in the day (I bet you guessed that already) and wind power only being there when ... yep. You don't need me to tell you that. The colony also has big batteries too.

One "Just a little more !!" compulsion this game has is "will the lights stay on through the night ?"

Another is - will the food supply hold out ? Will the sleeping colonists run out of air ? Will the stupid idiots actually make some medicine !!! (they were taking an essential component everywhere except where the medicine is made and we had a few colonists suffering from broken bones due to mine accidents)

You can probably tell I am a tiny bit addicted to this one.

Pictures ? After Iceangel Base was evacuated due to a death spiral of starvation, I took a few attempts to start up Sticky Wicket Base. Yep. Daft names are us. The base on the airless moon will be called Mysteron Base and the ice planet will be Rain Stopped Play Base. The lightning planet may have to be Is There A Little Static In The Air Base.
Click for bigger as usual !

That's Sticky Wicket Base as it stands at the moment. I have just under 40 colonists now, up from 7 at the start. The base is actually overproducing on food and mostly has plenty of air. Both are a limited quantity. What's holding it back at the moment is bed space. The dorm only has beds for 12, hotbunking is definitely a thing at the moment. But they're working on it with that construction zone off to the left of picture.

It was just about even on power but that is sorted too with more wind turbines, batteries and solar panels. The other limited resource is water, that's fine too.

It's a tough game to get started in. Which I'm actually fine with because if it hits the fail state where you don't have enough materials to make the things that get you more materials, then you can quit and restart quickly.

Other games are a bit different, they can switch into the Fail State half an hour or an hour before everyone starts dying.

They may be Pixel People. But they're my Pixel People and I feel sad when the dome they are in gets hit by a Big Falling Rock. (That doesn't end well for the Pixel People).

Yeah ! I'm really enjoying this one. It's on Steam for £15 but if you wait until the next sale, it'll probably be half that or less. It is defined by quite tight rules and those rules work well. It is simpler in that it has less resources than a Banished but for me, less complication makes it a better game. Because computer intelligence and complication tends to lead to abject frustration.

And frustration doesn't lead to fun.

Nah - what you want in a computer game is the possibility of failure because that is where the challenge comes from. If there is no challenge, there is no interest and no reason to keep playing for ... just ... one ... more ... game day to see how the Pixel People end up doing.

Proper Diet ? You have 15 different types of growing plant in this game. 15 !!!! Crikey that's a lot. But you can't just pick them at random, because that doesn't lead to good nutrition. Nope. What you need to do is match up the veggies like Lettuce, Tomato and Maise which makes salad. Wheat or Maise plus artificial meat make burgers. And so on. You need to mix in starchy planets too because the inedible starch goes to make plastic for building and other things.

There's far more in the wiki.

I am going to try and avoid the game tonight (says he knowing that I've broken that to get the screenie above) because a 9 hour session the evening before working the next day is Very Silly. Yep. I stopped at just past 3am with me emerging from my pit at 7.30 (erm, make that 8am). Oops. I managed to resemble a human bean today at work. I might not play until next week actually because I'll be busy watching other people play the games. I find that oddly relaxing.

Back to it actually ! The current one I'm listening to and half watching is Rimworld, which is another space colony building game. They land on a planet with air we can breathe, which instantly makes it wholly different to Planetbase. I'm curious about Rimworld too, although it's not done yet. I do have a fear that they are building too much complication into the game though. Complication not only leads to frustration, it also makes for a learning curve that's like a cliff.

As long as the logic makes sense, that's good for me.

Especially when things go wrong. Definitely when things go wrong ! Because you like to know how you messed up. Like this :
Click for bigger again !

Can you see the traffic jam at the airlock ? Only one Pixel Person can use it at a time and I repeatedly asked them to take lots of supplies to traders.

The queue got so long on both sides, Pixel People are running low on sleep, water, oxygen, food and generally getting very upset at me (especially the fella with the orange anti-smiley - that's real bad). Bad Sleepy. They got over it and I'm building them a gym and a bar. The landing pad just out of shot is being replaced by pads with multiple airlocks to service them and an anti-Big Falling Rock laser will be built in its place.

What this post hopefully shows is that I really enjoyed the long sessions on the weekend and last night. I found the gameplay compelling and logical. That's much better than my experience in Elite on Sunday where I found certain illogical mechanics to be intensely frustating and those mechanics are changing my approach to the whole Get Imperial Rank For Shiny Ship quest.

Anyone got any recommendations for games ? Colony builder games where you occasionally interact and they get on with things ?

iOS especially because I've just stopped playing one called Astronest which I got bored with.

That's the thing ! Stay in games as long as you find them interesting. If they become boring, switch ! Plenty of games out there.

Play for fun !

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Alphabet of the Human Heart - O and P

More Alphabet !

O and P today. I more usually see those letters together as OP or Over Powered, which I don't think has resembled me with the gaming over this weekend. Let's see -

Iceangel Base in the Planetbase game has been evacuated, I think I let too many people in which can lead to a death spiral as the over population breaks the food supply. And attempts at starting up Sticky Wicket Base (yep, going for the odd names !) didn't lead to anything viable. I'll keep at it because I'm quite enjoying the game.

And Elite was trolling me today ! Maybe 10% to go (can't remember what I started on this morning) and you think - a few missions, this'll go quick. Oh well. I am that next step up at last but also reached that fed up with game stage.

Alphabet ?

O is for Overwhelmed.

It's when things get on top of you, it's time to get on top of things. Stop, make a list, identify priorities, prioritise the priorities. Be realistic. Do one thing at a time. And the book has much more !

Yeah, it's felt a bit overwhelming lately. There's a few things happening in May and the one at the top of my mind is cosplay ! I need to find a realistic idea (Space Marine armour isn't realistic) that I could pull off and have look good. And I'd like it to be both ME and economic.

Apart from that, there's all the work that still needs doing on the house. I would kinda like to have visitors again someday but won't be happy until the house is in a fit state. I know, work on one room at a time, tick them off. Work is busy too, although most of work at the moment is running around after other people trying to get them to do what needs to be done. Some are good, some do what they think needs to be done (their assumptions are usually wrong) and some are a real pain. It is much better when you have your own things to do that don't require work from other people to support.

Enough about work - if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to take stock. Write the tasks down, put down how much YOU care about them, tick off one at a time.

Talk to people about them. If you're overwhelmed at a daunting task, ask for advice, it can help you with finding a place to start.

O is also for Optimism
However scary it is - you can do the thing.

Optimism looks for the best in every situation, the upside of all the downsides, the yes in every no.

I like to think I'm an optimist shackled by my own depressive sides. The optimism comes bubbling out whenever nice messages come in from friends or Streamer Lady spots my jokey comments and chuckles at them. Yep. It's an optimism that is driven by interaction with other people. I do depend on other people somewhat for my own happiness.

P is for Perfectionism.

Oh boy this one is a whopper. You saw the From The Depths ships but you didn't see me running round in the background trying to make them as perfect as I could make them. Or the frustration when I couldn't find parts of the interface that I needed.

I hang on to tasks at work for far too long, because I want the output to be absolutely perfect. I'm doing better at that lately, because I'm recognising the valuable of Good Enough. And that can be something that doesn't have everything included, because giving someone everything can lose the important stuff in too much detail.

You have to give people what they need, not the perfect answer. Or put it another way, the perfect answer for someone will be an encyclopaedia, the perfect answer for someone else is the pocket guide.

What does the book say ?

"Trying to get something exactly right is the best way of getting it wrong. Perfection is a kind of paralysis. The tighter you hold on to something the more it will hold you back. Often the best way to improve something is to let it go."

This happens with the pictures too, where I'll spend so much time on the little details losing sight of what the whole thing looks like.

Last one for today ! P is also for Passion.

I spent so much of my life suppressing my emotions to a certain extent. I didn't let my feelings out. The passion was suppressed. I'm learning to counter that tendency now, although I still Think things about people and don't tell them. Or I just stand/sit there gawking and wish I'd told them things later. Maybe that's something from the past, where the occasions where I have let inner feelings out have led to people running away screaming (metaphorically).

"Passion has the power to transform your life - to reveal your purpose, your reason for being, your life's work. To find out what your passion is, ask yourself what you would do if money were no object."

I think I would look into running a boat. Either as a cruise around the UK and then the world, or a trading vessel. To go to new places, new ports. To see new things. I think this is why my head has been turned by the idea of living on a canal barge, although I'm nowhere near ready being able to give up work to do the cruising thing.

Perhaps 10 years ago, it would have been the gaming. Although remembering back, 2016 is around the time when odd things were starting to happen in the Warcraft guild and guildlink and Warcraft was pretty much my only game of that time. It was fun while it lasted and I gained a good few friends from back then, some of whom may well read this !

Time to go I think !

If you're feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone about it. They'll help you sort it out in your own head. Stay optimistic, good things happen, even if it seems really dark. Try to avoid the perils of perfectionism but to try to let your passions drive you. Being passionate makes things more exciting.

As always, if you'd like to read everything that is in this excellent little book, it's the Alphabet of the Human Heart (Amazon link).