Monday, September 18, 2017

Popularity, connected, mother

Ahh ... where to start.

I think my router is scared and died in fright. I think it got wind that I planned to talk about a film I watched on Saturday. A quite scary film, it was called Mother! and it's an 18 rated psychological horror. There was very little actual blood and guts (although it is there and it's truly nightmares level shocking - no spoilers) but it really hit its mark in terms of getting you on edge and totally in sympathy with the main character.

That central character is played by Jennifer Lawrence and I don't think we ever heard her name. The film was completely from her point of view, either showing the actress and her reactions (and she is BRILLIANT in this movie) or showing what she's looking at. It is amazing in terms of visuals and especially in sound.

You hear the silence (happily not disrupted by rustling from the audience!) and, when it's quiet, you hear every creak and crack in the house.

Yep. It's set in a house in the middle of nowhere, in which live an author and his wife. The author is suffering from creative block, the wife is steadily putting the house into excellent order while being frustrated that she isn't getting any attention from her love. You can see the depression and anxiety building in Jennifer Lawrence's character and this brings me to :

This is an amazing movie ... but I would not recommend people see it.

It evokes a lot of feelings, it asks you questions about yourself, it will definitely shock you, it may well leave you with very disturbing after thoughts. (I know my friend who saw it with me is definitely still disturbed by it). And it tackles depression and anxiety head on.

However, one aspect that drew my attention was the attitude of the author in the film ... He feeds on adulation. He has an ego that requires stoking, requires feeding and that ego doesn't care where the acclaim comes from. It lives and breathes on the applause of random strangers and totally misses the thoughts of his love, his actual inspiration. And when his love realises that, it is utterly crushing for her.

I like to think I'm the opposite. A certain creative instinct has awoken definitely since I started this blog oh so many years ago. And it's blossomed more in the last few years since I've found a few very special people to write for.

While I have that need to be creative, I'm not very good at doing things for me, I'm far more motivated to do things for other people. People I care about. And sometimes that's driven me into a form of madness, where I need to know what those special think about what I've written for them. I've come to realise that I can't make people look at what I write or create, it has to be good enough to grab their interest and keep it such that they come back to see the next things I write or create.

So in a sense, I think I'm the opposite of the writer in the film. I'll look at the hit counter and get a little sad if the hits over the month go below 1000. But I know that a decent proportion of those hits come from random bots.

I don't care about bots. I care about the real people.

So when a hit comes in and I recognise the pattern of the fingerprint as being from someone familiar, that's when I smile and get the happy feels. Because those familiar fingerprints come from people who like what I write and who care enough to come back for more.

And I think those people are awesome. You are who I write for and I try not to forget that.

So in that sense, I am the opposite of the character in the film, who would be despised by those who see it. I'm quite comfortable in that realisation and I hope it's the best way to be.

So that's Popularity and Mother, how about Connected ?

My cable modem has died ! OH THE HUMANITY !

I've gotten far too used to having constant connectivity to the internet. Watching gaming videos has replaced reading books for me. Sad but true. That said, I might well be opening up Revenger again after finishing this post.

Yep. The main router has died but I've managed to get partial connectivity back via using a mobile hotspot. And the desktop sees internet again due to resurrecting the old USB wifi dongle that I used on my Macbook (before Apple killed it).

It's actually pretty good too, at 18MBits/s download and 15Mbits/s upload. That's 3x quicker than my cable internet upload. But there's a monthly download cap on that, so I'm not watching the videos I'd normally watch. I should be getting a replacement in a few days.

Soon hopefully !

Friday, September 15, 2017

Shiply Creative

I've been seeing ads and suggested posts on the Facebooks lately about a t-shirt made up of spaceships that were the big influencers ...

It's a good t-shirt but I ain't gonna buy it. But it has given me an idea ...

I could do my own design !
Not that one. Although that's pretty cool too with all the various spaceships on it. What would be on mine ?

I have to say first up though that even though I could happily create the design and get someone to turn it into a t-shirt, I don't think I could ever post it anywhere the internet can see it. So many of these ships (probably all of them !) are wrapped up in copyright and outside of that, I'd probably see the design stolen and put up on Redbubble before the end of the year. I'm not making someone else money.

First and most spectacular has to be the Enterprise. You know the one. The original. The best one. The NCC-1701. Although perhaps the one after the refit with the squared off engines. I grew up with Star Trek and the various spin off series but that original Enterprise will always be the one in the heart.
I also grew up playing a lot of Elite, so the original Cobra (below) ship from there and the Coriolis space station (above) would have to be on there.
Frontier do t-shirts with the Cobra and Coriolis already.

Star Wars is a big one too, I'd want to see a Star Destroyer (preferably the iconic old Imperial Star Destroyer) on there. More coming soon there actually because my Lego Star Destroyer is nearly completed .... Oh and there needs to be X Wing, Tie Fighter and the Millennium Falcon too. I see part of this design being dominated by Lego.

Death Star ? Maybe. Definitely a snow speeder and a walker. I happen to have some little Lego versions of those. Wonder if I have the bits to create a mini Lego Death Star.

But it's not just the obvious ones. The big ones. The ships that everyone has heard about. As well as watching every episode of Thunderbirds going, I was very curious about Space 1999. I watched that again recently and .... it's a bit naff. They didn't really have the budget or the ideas to put the effects and storylines in that the setting Space 1999 set up deserved. I did like its classic Eagle spaceship :
The Eagle was essentially a big skeletally framed modular lander, with command cabin at the front and big engines at the stern. In the middle, it used mission specific modules, like the medical module above. A good ship that made sense for the setting.

The Firefly class transport Serenity has to be there too :
Another good design, with detachable shuttles, a pair of atmospheric engines that swivel to allow vertical flight, a big central cargo area and the iconic stardrive at the back. An excellent ship and a better crew. If you haven't watched the Firefly series yet, I'd recommend it.

Of course there would also be a TARDIS spinning around the picture somewhere and ... the one no one would expect :
The Odyssey from Ulysses 31, a cartoon from the 80s. Loved that series, must watch it again soon. (Credit Link for pic)

I'm sure all those pictures and ships could be made into a stunning looking T-shirt. I must see about creating the design ! I'm thinking that the Snowspeeder and the Walkers would be at the bottom, with a battle going overhead involving the other Star Wars ships. Perhaps a Death Star hovering over the horizon of Hoth ? And then the Coriolis station and the Cobra at the top.

There's a bunch more ships out there. But only so much room on a t-shirt ! (I'm not that big. Honest).

What other ships would you add ? Leave a comment !

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pondering Upgrades

I've been pondering the computer upgrades again.
I do this every once in a while, usually when something comes along that pushes the machine I have a little bit too far. Either that, or something has gone bang or got too annoying and I want to throw new hardware at the problem.

This machine has done extremely well for me actually. At about £900 6 years ago, it's been very cost effective as my desktops go. Although that doesn't include the 3 new graphics cards, 1 power supply, 1 sound card, hard disc upgrade and a couple of other things I can't remember.

It's actually still doing pretty well, the only thing that is stressing it at the moment is the video encoding, which is actually just a matter of time. If I was to do the video thing more though, I would need a beefier computer to do it. Let's see what I would get now.

First up - just the gaming. The spec below represents a pretty good gaming PC, albeit without monitor, keyboard and mouse. These items are quite subjective but I am a fan of what I have now. My keyboard is a Steelseries M300 with mechanical switches (very recommended) and mouse is a Logitech (which is ok). I have an AOC 1440p IPS panel monitor, which I would also thoroughly recommend for quality and sharpness of image. I see monitor, keyboard and mouse as things you buy separately though, as you can transfer them between old desktop and new desktop.

Most of the prices below come from Scan, although not the memory. Scan are only offering Corsair memory and I've had problems with Corsair stuff before. Memory price is from Novatech.

Bits that make it go :
I'll switch back to AMD next time with their Ryzen processor. Intel haven't made any significant progress with their processors since mine came out 6 years ago and then AMD come along with something radical again. AMD Ryzen 5 1600 with 6 cores - £188.
That goes in a motherboard and I'm happy with the Asrock I've had for this machine. Asrock B350 Gaming K4 for £102.
And those two need memory - up to 16GB of DDR4 - 2.4GHz. I'm alarmed at how memory has gone up in price. I bought 8GB for £45 six years ago, that should have reduced. Yet ... it has gone up to £70 and 16GB is £139 by Kingston.
Graphics - if I were to get one, it would be an nVidia 1060 3GB for £200. But I have one of those already so I wouldn't have to pay that this time.

That still makes the upgrade a total of £429 without the graphics card.

You need a bunch of ancillaries to make the PC though :
Power supply - Silverstone Strider 700W for £53. But bigger than my usual because it has to support more hard discs.
Hard discs - for the gaming machine only, it's a 525GB SSD by Crucial for £148 and a 2TB drive by Western Digital for £60. Windows goes on the SSD, things that need speed go on the SSD and the rest goes on the 2TB conventional drive. This is a bit over the top (a 256GB is good enough) and you could shave £££s off the total by lowering these.
Cooling - £32 for a Silverstone cooler with a 140mm fan. The bigger the fan the better, you don't really want fan noise coming through to that microphone. And this one looks like it has enough separation to allow many sticks of RAM into the machine.
And it all goes in a case - I'd choose a case by visuals or finish but .... £37 for another Thermaltake case would be good enough.
Add Windows as well for £90.

The ancillaries there come up to £320 for a total of £949 with the graphics card. That's a bit more than the £900 ish I paid last time, although it excludes a cd rom drive. These are pretty much defunct now for PC with most software coming from downloads.

To make a video making machine though, that needs a little more.
Turbocharge the hamster wheel !!!

Bits I'd change :
Graphics - I'd up this a little (but not crazily as the prices really ramp up). nVidia GeForce 1070 cards bring more power .... at double the cost. That'd be an extra £200.
Hard discs - I'd add at least one extra 3TB drive, probably two for recording on. That starts at £75 for a Toshiba and £88 for a Western Digital (ain't touching Seagate again). These would go into a RAID array spanning the two discs. The reason for getting 2 drives by different manufacturers is so that if one drive dies, the other drive should not. It's a reasonable expectation that 2 drives in the same batch made by the same people would die at about the same time if subjected to the same conditions, hence going for difference as a priority.

You see ? Different is good ! In many things :-D.

The software I've used so far is nVidia's capture software, Audacity for audio and Magix Vegas for the editing. I'm happy with all of these so far, although I'd switch it up to something like OBS if I was to do the video editing more. A second screen would be handy for that as well.

So there we have it - £429 for the core upgrade, plus £200 if I were to get another graphics card (don't need one) and £320 for the bits in the case.

I don't need to upgrade yet but .... still thinking about it :-).

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Tireds, Trips, Trades

I've had one of those periods where I just really don't feel quite with it.

You know when you're not quite exhausted but you keep making the daft mistakes that you would if you were exhausted. Missing things out, confusing words, forgetting to do the obvious.

Hopefully not so much today but I was definitely doing that over last week, culminating in making more mistakes on Friday. I still have it in mind to do a Friday pm cinema trip to use up a few vouchers I have (and to see some great films) but retreated home this time around mostly due to the knowledge of being prone to those mistakes. I definitely didn't want to be driving back in an overtired state.

Besides, Friday had a couple of good games to finish off the Women's T20 cricket season followed by the men's finale on Saturday. It was tempting to make another trip out in search of Star Wars Lego. The kits for the new movie came out (in typically overhyped fashion to feed the marketing machine) on Friday and I have my eye on the Star Destroyer and BB-8.

And I did kinda want to finish off the epic exploration trip in the internet spaceship.
That's my Diamondback Explorer, stopping off at a colony run by the Party of Yoru, with a lovely nebula in the distance. After finishing off the trip, I had a couple of objectives in mind (all done) to use all the data collected in order to unlock a couple of engineers and to prepare the way for another.
Trip complete ! Green lines meet up again. Since then, I've been helping out with a couple of the week's community goals.
First up, a few trading runs in the Type 7 freighter, Alex Dewey. This one is named after a couple of the Ice Road Truckers. I'm looking forward to that series starting up again, although it's suffering somewhat by a feeling that it has been phoning it in by the numbers lately. That's unfair on the stars of the show, who get well and truly battered by the roads they're attempting to drive on. It's more a criticism of the producers of the show. But I'll still be tuning in for the next season.
That one's looking a bit battered as well now. I only bounced off stars twice ... and one of those was a bit of inattention where I didn't pick up where the "You're too close !" line was. Oh and I was almost blown up by station guns for another little bit of inattention where I completely forgot to ask permission before entering the station. They don't like that.

I did mention that I was suffering from not being quite right in the head lately wasn't I ... Hopefully that'll improve over the next week or so ! Must not overdo it. That's another reason I'm not likely to do many more videos (still got the footage I did last week !), I need that rest and go splat in the evenings after throwing all I got into work, although it has been great to read the comments of a few people who were encouraging me to make more of the videos. They seem to like my voice :-)

The Diamondback well and truly earned its place of honour in the hangar. I think it covered maybe 60,000 light years and earned 100 million credits (this is a lot) for the spacepiggybank. The next time I go out exploring will probably be an expedition in the luxury liner ships to a sizeable collection of beauty spots reasonably close to the populated areas. That might see my character through to its first Elite ranking.

But first - lots of trading to come in a Python, possibly to be called "Shipka 3.141" (Pi-Thon? I know ...) and before then, I enjoyed indulging in a bit of ship to ship combat in the latest glorious little fighter ship :
The Imperial Courier ship, Shaname's Sword. This one did itself proud as well helping out for one of the community goals. I do like the little ships, they are small, nippy and fun to fly around. They don't quite have the combat endurance or hitting power of the big ships though.

On to the next ship soon though which I think will be that Python with other fighty ships coming along as I need them for community goals.

Back to work first tomorrow though. What challenges await !

Monday, August 28, 2017

Videoing, cricket, trips

We've been enjoying a fairly sunny bank holiday here, which effectively means an extra day off and a 3 day weekend.

I have, of course, been inside looking after my tortured toes and watching the cricket while doing lots of internet spaceship flying. I have to admit, the addiction is waning a little bit although I think that'll come back more when I'm back in the bubble getting new ships to fly.
I've had that particular ship for very many light years so far :
The green line is approaching the start point again .... Although I will admit, I have abandoned the thought of coming back along one outer galactic arm in favour of straight lining it back again.

And seeing sights like :
I came out of hyperspace at the White (actually very very blue) star and quite possibly bounced off the yellow star behind it. This is after I turned around to take a look.

Yep. Still enjoying seeing the sights in the game. I've produced a third video (which is starved for views so far, I have 19 total to date and this one on docking has just 2), although that one saw the return of nvidia's capture software also unintended, capturing my voice too. I'd recorded that separately and told nvidia to ignore the mic (I know why it happened, I have my mic set to "Listen to this device", so Windows mixed it in).

I think I have sufficient footage to put a fourth video together, involving bimbling around the Colonia region and doing flybys of a megaship plus there might actually be an asteroid base in there. I also have footage from the open beta site. I must put a voice on that at some point. I won't be doing many more videos, unless I decide to make series out of games like Halcyon 6 or Cosmoteer. I've gotten what I wanted out of figuring out what goes into video making, it's up to others really to ... give me the motivation to produce more and the views aren't telling me that's something people want. Plus the days of making a fortune from youtube in your spare time are long gone !
Outside of that, I'm doing ok. I'm seeing slow repairs happen on my outsides. Situation normal there, it's ridiculously easy to set back any healing that happens but it is happening albeit slowly. I just have to give it chance.

My neck has got better ! It started recovering on Friday I think and has relented over the weekend.

I've been watching the cricket too. It's shaping up to be an exciting finish tomorrow, although hopefully not too tense a finish. I'll be happy to be able to disappear from work at about the normal time tomorrow (need supplies again) with the game done and dusted by tea with another England win.

I do like not knowing who's going to win in a game but I also like England teams to win. (Except maybe the footballers cos they ain't really an England team are they ...)

It'll be a great weekend of cricket next weekend too. I still need to watch Spiderman Homecoming ! First thought was to watch that on Friday pm when there was no cricket but .... I hadn't realised the ladies were having their finals day. Want to watch that. Solution - tv box recorder ! And then the mens T20 final is on Saturday. Been saving up my pizza tolerance for that.

Dark Tower was pretty good this week. It kept the tension up and did the required thing of bringing the viewer in steadily to a new and complex world. Definitely enjoyed that. I also enjoyed watching Valerian, making me the heretic amongst the Work-Ish mob.

I'll quite happily be a heretic if it means I'm enjoying something. Hmm. Maybe out in public isn't the best place to admit that.

Let's see .... I need ..... A DISTRACTION !
(Yes - the paint needs a severe case of retouching !)

First Earth like planet I've found so far in the travels.

Signing off for now but not before :

If anyone reading this is in Texas, stay safe !

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making .... better movies ?

Video number 2 is uploading as I type ... (addon - upload complete ! Here's the link)

I didn't link my first effort because, to be honest, I don't think it's anywhere near the standard that I'd want to see from anyone on Youtube. And way below the standards I expect from myself. But that was a lot of the point of making the video, to learn, to test, to figure out what I'd need to do and what facilities I should have in order to make videos.

You can hear people talking about stuff .... but you never really fully understand until you're in the same position or doing the same things.

Tonight's is showing off some of the more beautiful sights I've seen so far in Elite ... and the most dangerous too.
Neutron star pulsar - yesterday. I talk about this one a bit in the video but typing is always more coherent with me. A neutron star is a stellar object that's gone through the lifecycle of being a star, exploded and left behind a fragment that condenses and compresses into the smallest possible object short of a black hole. It is a mass of protons and electrons all mashed up into a quantum soup of neutrons.

They're not so dense that they collapse further into black holes, instead they stay as these highly luminous micro-stars throwing off particle streamers as they rotate. I found a couple that rotated quite slowly, producing gorgeous effects like the one above.

I read an excellent short story covering these Neutron Stars too, by Larry Niven as part of his Known Space universe of novels and stories. I'd recommend trying that short story if you can find a copy.

There are some black holes in the upcoming video as well (it's still uploading as I type but a link will arrive later). They are definitely more terrifying as a moving image as you see the distortion of spacetime around the object of ultimate doom.

It has got me learning though, what would go into making these videos if I were to do them more.

Wot dat ?
Space and storage seems to be the big thing.

You need hard disc space for the games but the video capture, footage and ultimate output take up a lot of space. Tonight's video is about 25 minutes but the captured footage (not using all of it) takes up 15GB. The final video takes up 3.5GB.

I'll run out of hard disc space soon if I keep all the videos !

Processor is another thing that takes a hit. My i5-2500k processor renders the videos at about 4x the run time of the video. So an hour of video will take 4 hours to render. Newer processors are faster, more cores help with Magix Vegas studio.

And a big factor is the capture of sound. You can hugely tell the difference in quality between a headset quality mic and a broadcast quality mic. The sound is hugely different. I wonder how many people recognise my voice from the videos ? I don't recognise it but that's partly because you hear your voice through the direct connection between mouth and ear (the sound travels through your skull). You don't hear your voice how other people hear it.

Graphics .... will depend heavily on the game. To show off a new first person shooter type game, you'd want the super powerful £300+ and better graphics cards. But to capture Elite, my £200 nVidia 1060 seems to be good enough.

I'd want to build a new PC and get a decent microphone set up if I was to do the videos more. At the moment, it'll be occasional videos when I find something I think will amuse people. Perhaps Kerbal Space Program ... that's always good for sudden and hilarious failure leading to massive explosions.

I'm hyped at the moment and I hope people enjoy the video when it goes live ... soon ! (I am looking at the Youtube upload window in another tab and it's taking aaaaages ....) I ain't giving up the dayjob any time soon though. Youtube has turned hostile to its content creators and it wouldn't pay its way now.

Besides, I get to be involved with some very cool kit via work and I work with some great people. Not looking to change that just yet !

Friday, August 18, 2017

Making Movies

Something new today.

I have a video rendering at the moment .... I've done the picture editing and the writing here but video is something I haven't done yet.

It didn't quite go as planned. Haha, I wanted to upload something around 30 minutes but it's ended up being just over 1 hour. Oops. I talk too much and I've fast forwarded through some of the bits of me talking as well.

This is a learning thing really, I fully expect to be hiding the forthcoming video (it's still rendering) and making it private because it falls far below the standards that I'd want to have out there. But .... it's a first learning effort and the point is to pick up all the lessons from it.
It should, however, look amazing. We shall see ! It's currently halfway through the rendering stage, where the 1 hour video will take 4 hours to convert. And then there will be more time needed to upload it to Youtube. That's another point of this learning exercise, to go through that whole process to see what's involved.

Anyway ... I used the nVidia GeForce Experience thing with its game overlay to do the recording. This seems to work really well ! Except for it capturing your microphone in the same audio track as the game audio. This is a problem because you can't independently adjust the levels or mute yourself when you're sniffing or sneezing.

It happens.

I'll update with a link to the video or try to embed it when it's up. We'll see how it ends up ! There's a lot of me rambling, lots of pretty spaceship piloting periods, 3 bits where I fast forward all the jumping and treat you to some non copyrighted music ...

And hopefully you can forgive some of the things like really bad mic sound !

Ahh - one thing I'll do next time is still allow nVidia to record the gameplay audio and video but I'll record me through the Audacity software. That way I can boost my still not working that well microphone up to balance with the audio of the game. Until it's split, you're at the mercy of the levels being a bit odd.

And I think that will up the quality no end.
Perhaps enough to do justice to the pictures ?

I'll also watch out for that length, as 1 hour 5 minutes is really too long. A lot of people do their splits by running to the end of missions, or breaking at 20 to 25 minute points. I don't think that would have worked here, although I can do short videos when I'm at the black holes or later when I'm back in the populated bubble doing trading or other things like that.

Perhaps a script as well ? Nah. I like freeform speech/rambling and making up that script as I go along. I need to watch the umms and arrs though.

The render is scheduled to finish at about midnight here, where I'll hopefully be heading off to either sleep or start it off uploading to Youtube. We'll see.

Before then though, I'll be resting up the pilot at Polo Harbour before heading off into the core :
(Shush whoever spotted that the pic is actually Gagarin Gate ! You shall expose yourself as an incorrigle spotter :-) ).

I'll be picking up more video making ideas though and hopefully making polished shiny ones soon. I think Cosmoteer will give me good material to talk around ... and some of the role playing games with their storytelling.

Later !

PS Addon. Someone I know at work is celebrating a birthday today ...
Happy birthday Miss S ! There may have been cake ... It has mysteriously disappeared now ... :-D

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back, tired and planning ....

Back at work yesterday !

Definitely appreciated having the break, I was more bouncy yesterday and definitely more with it. Before the break, I'd been struggling to keep up with everything that was going on. I don't like to be in that kind of condition because it means you're chasing what's going on instead of directing what's going on.

Not that I direct too much in my position ! Need to move to somewhere I can influence new things going on.

It's good getting out of the house again. I didn't feel the cabin fever too much last week (too busy with Internet Spaceships !) but I've been out and about both last night and tonight. Tired now though.

Last night - initial thought was to see Spiderman Homecoming but I abandoned that due to leaving work a little earlier than intended combined with the traffic being bad. Shopping instead followed by one of the worst movies I've seen (new Ghostbusters, it's horrid). Tonight was a run up to the Mall for a general wander and checking out whether I could get a couple of techie supplies.

The acquired - Lust For Life by Lana Del Rey and Once I Was An Eagle by Laura Marling. Should both be excellent albums.
The nearly acquired - LEGO !!! Smyths have a Technic digger for a silly discount (£90 instead of £130 for a kit with moving bits and motors.) I resisted. But I'm also very tempted by the Air Race Jet and the Ocean Explorer.
The can't find in Bristol - enough leads and adaptors to make my headset and mic work.

I have a HyperX Cloud 2 headset which, in theory, would make it very easy to switch between headset and normal speakers. The headset plugs into a USB widget, which plugs into the PC. Plugging in the USB widget switches it to headset, unplugging sends the noise back to the speakers. But .... there is a software clash somewhere (could be a bunch of sources) that is stopping the microphone level going above 0. The microphone works but is far too quiet.

Solution - don't use the USB widget and plug it into separate sockets. Scan will sell me an adaptor and cables to make that happen.

Why do this ? I wanna try my hand at making videos. I'd start with occasional Elite videos. The game is actually pretty boring to watch (cathartic and relaxing to play though) so I'd make a mix of : Talking into Take off, heavily compressed travel, talking into landing. It has very pretty visuals and those visuals work much better when they're actually moving around ....

I definitely want to have something ready by the time I get my little spaceship to Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. Or to the Great Annihilator system which I plan to go to first. That's a pair of much smaller black holes, which are still scary because you drop out of the hyperspace much closer to one. I even have the music picked out - I reckon I can make Candyland fit right in with what I want to do for that first video. It's a happy tune that I first heard gracing the HeyChrissa streams as chair boppy warm up music.

Ooo - I mentioned spaceships again and I haven't posted any pictures yet ...
I haven't been back into the game since Sunday (no plans to tonight - tired) but that's where I left the JMS. It's Sacaqawea Space Port, just under halfway there to the core.
And that's the map for how far I've got so far. The perspective is a bit odd with that.
That's how it looks from the inside, skimming a sun to top up on fuel, basking in the rays, toasting marshmallows on the consoles.

The video making is a new skill I'd like to try out and learn. I'm rubbish at drawing, which frustrates that part of what seems to be a creative instinct hidden within me. I can do the picture editing and come up with what I hope is entertaining writing. Haven't tried speaking and video yet. There are a few blockers though :

Hardware and the mic - need to get that microphone working ... but that's easy.
Hardware and the PC - I'd want more hard disc space as a minimum but the i5-2500k with 8GB of memory that I'm currently on is almost certainly insufficient for video editing.
Software - I'm looking at Sony Vegas, the pros seem to like this.
Time - for every 15 minutes of gaming video you see on Youtube, it probably needed at least double that to film it plus at least double again to edit it and clean it up to a point where the creator is content that other people can be allowed to see it.

It's the time and energy thing that intervene most, as like tonight, I simply don't have the energy or interest in firing up a game for entertainment let alone what would be a second job.

There's another thing with doing the youtube videos, I might well be about a year too late. There had been an explosion of people making videos for youtube but that's changing to the youtube people gradually doing more and more with services like Twitch streaming as youtube's advertising model becomes less ... lucrative ? Lucrative is the wrong word because not many youtube people are particularly rich. Most are struggling to get by, with developments with advertising this year making it even tougher. Twitch gives a more reliable money stream but .... you can only watch one Twitch stream, it's live and you can't really hold the video back for when it's convenient for YOU to watch it.

Nope. Not gonna give up the day job to suddenly start making gaming videos. Although I think it would be fun.

And it would give me a chance to show with pictures and spoken word what gets me excited in the games. Written word doesn't really cut it there I believe.

And you can hear the edge in the voice with games like XCom2, which has an expansion coming out which looks like it could be amazing. But not yet because it's too rich for my blood at the moment. It'll get cheaper and I have Elite to be addicted to before then.

And real life stuff too ! I'm not going to go see our new aircraft carrier arrive in person. Maybe if it were Friday but it's been brought forward to tomorrow morning ... At 7.10am ! Does such a time exist ? :-D. If I'm alive early enough tomorrow morning I may watch a streaming video of it.

So that's another project to add to the book writing (not forgotten that, although writing it would dredge up too much familiarity with some of the horrible things happening in the world at the moment).

Oh - some really bad singing might happen with the videos ... like "We're all flying in a yellow rocket ship, a yellow rocket ship, a yellow rocket ship".

You have been warned :-D

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On a trip

More Elite !

I've been enjoying my time back in the game since resetting (as I've said a few times). Well, mostly enjoying. Sometimes it feels like a job, working to a goal instead of enjoying the trip to that goal.

The mining was definitely feeling like work, although that's pretty much done now (There's another engineer who wants stuff you get from mining). The combat was feeling a bit like work too, there are certain places in the game where bad guys gather but there's also a certain random element to what bad guys appear. Plus I'm not in the class of ship yet where I can happily take on all comers with a good chance of success.

But I'm still enjoying it. Not much holiday left actually - I'll be back at work on Monday. Not all healed up but in a lot better condition than I was before the week off started. It's getting there, slowly, although I still have to be very careful to not make the condition go backwards rapidly. My outsides are still very delicate, so it's quite easy to attack the half healed wreckage of my ankles and set the healing back.

It's getting closer though.

Pictures of spaceships time !
That's where I've settled the ship down for the night. It's Amundsen Terminal in the Lagoon Nebula. The tiny ship on a very large landing pad is a Diamondback Explorer, which has had a fair bit of attention from the ship customising people. When I took a ship to the galactic core a couple of years ago, that ship could do 35 light years to a jump. This one does 54 ... That speeds things up a fair bit. Every 1000 light year leg I was doing took 34-36 jumps last time, this time it's 20 maximum. (The exact course isn't a straight line because you're jumping from star to star ... and they aren't conveniently lined up !)
That's the plan at the moment. Start off in the Populated systems, jump between Colonia outposts on the way out to the galactic core and race back along the galactic arm you'll see on the left. I'll add a link to the route map on the right. And ... here's the link for here ! That green line will steadily grow as I do more of the journey.

It's curious though. Game playing can vary wildly in whether the experience is actually fun or tedious. I was finding the mining tedious. And the combat between fights when I was looking for another ship I could take on. I've given up on several gaming video series lately because I was finding the game they were playing tedious to watch despite the efforts of the presenters. Sometimes the game seems designed to frustrate, not purely out of bad mechanics but out of making the game awkwardly stupidly silly hard. I gave up on Battlefleet Gothic early because the mechanics of most of the fights were just annoying.

And if you're not enjoying something, it's time to do something different. The game I'm listening to HeyChrissa play at the moment just sounds so annoying (Evil Within) due to looking like it's designed to frustrate instead of enjoy. It's not one I'd play.

In Elite's case, it's taking doses of the game of sufficient length to enjoy but not burn out on.
And it's pretty.

In the game, sights like the one above of the Lagoon Nebula are generated as you jump by the game. It checks what's around you and generates what's called a skybox (spacebox?) that is quite eerie and beautiful. At 4,500 light years from the populated areas, I'm starting to see more stars in the backdrop as I'm moving out of a relative gap between galactic arms and the star density goes up as you enter the core regions. And then there's that nebula ...

(As per usual, click for bigger on the pictures).

I'm up to 15 out of 31 ships now, starting to slow down but still rattling through them. The speed bump comes from being able to afford the new ship and fit it out to the point where it excels at the job, that gets much more expensive with the bigger ships.

The other two were a pair of cheap fighters :
Nik is a mod for HeyChrissa, that's the Viper class ship called Nik's Hammer. One thing about naming the ships like this, it definitely adds something to being invested in keeping those ships alive and enjoying flying them and giving them a purpose. Even when the ship itself just isn't very good. So the Diamondback Scout (a pretty bad ship) will be the Pilgrim, making trips to places like Fisher's Rest and Pratchett's Disc. I was going to name the other Viper over Chrissa's other main mod (and a keen Elite player) but had better ideas.

Meet - Space Viking :
Yeah - it's very much like the other Viper isn't it ... I didn't enjoy flying this one much to be honest, although that's because I gave it too many lasers and not enough cannons.

And the ship for the trip to the galactic core is :
Something appears to have gone wrong with that name ... (I had an idea that I couldn't resist !)

Yep. I've had a chilled out week off, I should be pretty much ready to head back into work on Monday if I can get decent sleep ! My sleep pattern gets disrupted on holiday especially when I don't do enough to get tired. I've been going to bed at reasonable times (cough - occasional 2am - cough oops) but not falling asleep. Need to figure out something for that.

So yep - not perfect yet, not healed yet ... but in better shape than this time last week. Just gotta keep up the discipline and not disrupt the partially healed bits of me that actually do want to get better.

Plans for next week ? I want to see our aircraft carrier whenever she makes her way down south. That should be an incredible sight. Haven't seen Spiderman Homecoming yet. First ever day-night Test Match starts on Thursday. Been enjoying watching the cricket on the telly this week. It's odd actually, I've almost cleared the tv box of recorded stuff ! I'm just not recording much new at the moment - Dark Matter, Killjoys, Deadliest Catch and Mountain Men ... but no dailies like I'd usually be recording.

Need to do more reading actually !

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Continuing those voyages

I've been enjoying my chilled out week at home and away from work so far.

There has been a lot of Elite played so far. Perhaps a little too much ! It has been an excellent accompaniment to some outstanding cricket on the telly too. The Test series between England and South Africa has turned out very one sided in the result but it's actually been far more even than that in the performances on the field.

A good series all round, with England coming out winners by taking more advantage of the skills they have and the conditions they played in. The South Africans summed it up pretty well by saying that the games were even, except for when an England player stepped up and took the game away from them. Like Moeen Ali through the series with runs and wickets. He's not the best player we've had for England ? But he's very lucky and sometimes one of our best talents is actually luck.

I think what I really mean to say there is that some players can rise above the skill and talent level they have and perform far beyond that. (I was probably the opposite, especially with the bat !) He's outbowled Liam Dawson and Adil Rashid consistently and they're both supposed to be main spinners.

Cricket is like that. Skill counts for a lot but if you have a certain amount of luck, then that helps a lot. And you can make your own luck in the game too.

Enough about cricket ! I will admit that I didn't notice yesterday's play going by too much due to having it as the backdrop to some mining ... One thing I'm trying to do with this character is to unlock everything. With the previous character, I played a more optimal style, which led to flying just three ships a lot : Asp Explorer for long range stuff, Python for trading and some combat and the Imperial Cutter for trading. That got boring fast. This time around, I'm looking to own and usefully fly every ship and unlock all of the engineers (people who improve your ships).
That's O'Brien Vision, an outpost that sits above the planet in the Sirius system where one of those engineers lives. This one took a bit of work ... But work that sees the character advance. I think what really broke me in the last play through were the weeks where I'd have the character sat in the station rolling through missions where you'd donate money in return for rank. (I was watching HeyChrissa streams at the same time).

The star off to the right that lights up the scene (and incidentally lowers the contrast level for the rest !) is Lucifer, a white dwarf star which is the companion to Sirius. (Actually modeled from the real stars, although the name Lucifer is an invention of the game). It makes you pay attention on the trip out there to hear "Warning - elevated radiation detected". The white dwarf and neutron stars throw off particle streamers that both damage the ship and hyper its hyperdrive. You can take advantage of that to go places quickly and I may try the Neutron Star Highway at some point to speed up a trip to the galactic core.

But not yet. This weekend's activities have been :

Starting off a scouting run in the Dorothy Drake :
That run incidentally went towards making one of those engineers like me. I'll do another, longer run later in the week to make another engineer like me.
Those trips do take a toll though. Could do with someone cleaning the windows.

The latest ship is the Art Burke, one of those space trucks. However, this time I figured the Keelback, which is a ship which is an unholy combination of space truck and fighter, could be put to good use as a mining ship. It got a few kills as well from pirates wanting to interrupt the mining. Mining is definitely not something I'd want to do too much of in Elite, although when I found a good place (Google shows you places that will tell you where !), I got what I wanted fairly painlessly and profitably. But never again - haha.
That's the Art Burke with a faithful collector limpet drone going off to fetch more bits of asteroid to turn into stuff to sell.

Definitely enjoying the time back in game again, living in that imaginary capacity as an independent starship captain, free to set his own course amongst the stars, seeing as many of them as possible. And the places to go look pretty too :
One thing I didn't do much of in the previous character was the planetary landing aspect of the game. By the time that came along, I was using docking computers pretty much all the time. I haven't quite got to that point yet ... (It takes up space which is far better spent taking cargo)

I've had a few more ideas for ships too. I have no idea what I'll use a Diamondback Scout for (it's a pretty rubbish ship) but I think instead of doing "It's a long way there", swapping to "It's a long way back", I'll build a Diamondback Explorer ship and call it "Stolen from Jms". That's an in joke in honour of the people in the gaming communities. That means his Viper will need a new name, that'll be the "Salty Cracker".

I suspect I'll be interested in the new Community Goals that will appear on Thursday, which will see a queue of 6 combat ships take turns ... And a 7th which will be the bigger freighter. But I have other scoot around the galaxy schemes to go through as well :

Rares and smuggling - to unlock another engineer;
More scouting along the Road to Riches - for a bunch more engineers (and the credits);
A big long rares route - which I developed before the reset and never actually did ...

And it helps distract away from the real life. (Except for the cricket, I want to pay attention to that).

My outsides have been fairly neutral so far this week, although that's mostly down to how much damage there is. It's taking time to repair but it is repairing given the chance.

There's what's happening in the world as well at the moment. Sometimes you do think to yourself : "Stop the world I wanna get off". And for that, there is the escape into the fantasy game which helps you ignore that real world for a little while.

Definitely some crazy stuff happening at the moment, which I won't bore you with here cos you're probably sick of it from the news already. I'd like to make the trip to Portsmouth over the next week or so to welcome our new aircraft carrier home though.

More chill out time before then though.

Commander Sleepy - signing off for now !