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 !

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Almost relax time

Just one more day of work until sleep for the week !

I feel like I well need it. I'm drained to levels I don't think I've felt before. I am repairing though, which is good and that's another objective of next week if I can leave the damage alone long enough for it to heal ! Good signs though.

It will be good to be able to resume heading out at the slightest excuse, that needs a little preplanning at the moment. But ... it's definitely getting there and being lazy next week should help more too.

What's the plan ?
Cricket watching - definitely. The 4th Test vs South Africa starts tomorrow and while I'll miss most of tomorrow's play, I fully intend to watch the rest of the game. And the domestic T20 games too. Wonder if there are any nearby games to go see too. The best prospect there is Worcester, although Hampshire has potential too, as does Taunton. I refuse to watch the most local games with Gloucestershire due to how they treated the works team.

(We used them for preseason practice for a couple of years and then they just stopped taking our calls and refused to let us use the nets again - no reason given).

There will be much music listened to and perhaps a few more albums will appear ... I have my eye on Ed Sheeran's latest, Lisa Hannigan and Agnes Obel for albums out there that I want but aren't in my library yet.

Much gaming will happen. Hopefully my Archer racing team will soon be in a position to repeat this without it being a freak :
That's my two boys taking advantage of the AI having difficulty deciding what tyres to use in the wet. We're usually finishing around 8th to 12th at the moment although the team is catching up. It's Motorsport Manager, which is a game I've hugely enjoyed playing since I got it.

There will be lots of space game playing ... Both from :
Cosmoteer, which I've started playing and will definitely put more time into. My fleet currently consists of the IceBrick interceptor, a simple craft with two big lasers, two little lasers, a couple of shields and lots of engines. It has a long way to go and develop. But like Cosmoteer, it's a hugely promising beginning.

Of course there will be time in Elite :
That's my workhorse ship, Chrissa's Potato along with its rover, the Pea. Yep. Pea and Potato had an amazing ring to it. The buildings in the top right are from an abandoned mining base which just happens to have lots of materials that the engineers want in return for big upgrades .... That was a profitable shopping trip.

I'm now in the Dorothy Drake :
It's another Asp, like the Explorer above ... but this one is the inferior Scout variant. One of the challenges in this run through is to own all of the ships ... but I'd feel cheap if I didn't use them for some good purpose. This one will be following the Road To Riches, which is a list of very high value exploration targets. I'll be hitting that over the next week and it might push the character a long way towards getting a first Elite.

It'll also help with the engineers ... The Asp above should jump up to 29 light years at best but with the almost-the-best (not unlocked best yet) modifications, it's reaching 41. That speeds up the exploration and travel a fair bit.

Why Dorothy Drake ?
Dorothy - after she who followed the Yellow Brick Road, in this case the Road To Riches
Drake - after the famous explorer who brought back the potato.

I've really enjoyed coming back into Elite and having real progress. It feels so much faster this time around and I keep getting that sense of getting things done. Like my time spent in game is seeing real progress. Which it is. Most of that it down to knowing how to game the game, how to get the best trading and what's effective. Early on, it was doing lots of missions for early money. Currently, it's running clusters of missions for ranking. I've been contributing to community goals for huge boosts in money and now the character is ready for it, the next step is to really boost that exploration.

Not a run to the centre of the yet, that'll be for when I have the top tier high value ships. I had another idea for that, to run two ships. One to get to the outposts near the centre, one to come back. The one going there would be called "It's a long way there" and the other "It's a long way back". Fits my strange sense of humour. Not yet though and the ship I use will be different.

Hopefully I think of a decent name for it by then ! (Anaconda cruiser built for hugely long range jumping)
Maybe even build one of them in Lego too.

One more day of work to go tomorrow and the work-ish mob will be watching the film Valerian after too. I'll watch a few more blurays on the week off and I really must read Revenger at some point.

Looking forward to a chilled out week off !

Monday, July 31, 2017

Space .... and an appeal ...

Yep ! More internet spaceships. But a bit more later too about a friend.

I suspect it's showing that I've been enjoying my time back in Elite since restarting the character ... I've definitely been in the game a lot (albeit in short-ish doses befitting my current attention span) and that's in comparison to spending a few months away from it after completing the preparations for the April Fools post.

I suspect the Plan this time is better. And that's to eventually own every ship in the game, trying them all out, instead of ignoring most of them and just driving up to the big ones. Who knows, the keenness to play may evaporate at some point as I find something different. Like going back to the game that pushed me back to Elite ! That'd be Bounty Train.

So what did I do at the weekend ? Outside of watching the cricket that is ! Well done to England again today. Great win and hopefully I'll watch almost 5 days of great cricket starting from Friday (the almost is because I'll be working in the morning on Friday).

I'm organising my time in Elite a fair bit around the weekly community goals. This time around the community goals were first to bring lots of rare booze to a station in the Harma system and the second was to protect the people bringing in the booze. So a trading run and a combat run and an excuse to try out a little fighter or two :
That's the Imperial Eagle ship called Katherine Of Space and I'll come back later to why the little fighter has that name. (Ha ! First pic becomes the thumbnail for the post and that's the thumbnail this post needs !)

The first fighter was an Eagle ship called the Elizabeth Sparrow after one of the more memorable characters on the HeyChrissa discord chat server. A name from a little fighter definitely befitting a little fighter.

I enjoyed taking the two ships out for a spin, although I was learning a little about handling them in flight too. Elite works partly on Newtonian physics, so if you Go Very Fast in a particular direction, you stay going Very Fast in that direction until the thrusters compensate. One idea I have is to turn off what's called Flight Assist in game to let me quickly flip around to bring the guns to bear. Doesn't quite work like that .... Because you end up several km away (and out of gun range) and moving further away.

Need to learn better space combat tactics.
That's the Elizabeth, which joined the growing fleet at the weekend. I now have 10 of the 31 that players can buy and the in game cash is coming together to buy a lot of those remaining. The community goals help a lot with that ...

But that's gaming. Gaming's fake. It's not real life.

It can be good to effectively hide in the gaming though. When I'm in the game, I'm only thinking about the next trade stop, I'm in the second to second of staying alive in combat, finding the next target and trying not to bite off more than I can chew. Where I'll be exploring next.

I'm not thinking of the state of my outsides or all the other problems I have. The gaming is an escape.

Which brings me back to the Katherine Of Space ... Why that name ?

It started as a tribute to KatherineOfSky, who is one of those lovely gaming people. Perhaps a clutching at a straw for finding names. Maybe.

But it's gone on from there as I remember a Katherine that was and a Kate that is. Katherine was someone lovely who used to be in the same team as me, who had a small smile that I still remember. I mirror people and how they feel and when walking past Katherine on the way to grab a coffee, if a smile was seen from the Katherine then it made me feel so much better.

Katherine was lost to us due to breast cancer a few years ago and inspired my Pink Hat cricket tribute where I wore that Pink Hat for a season of cricket. I thought about attaching charity collecting to that but ... I'm just too frail to support that. But it did inspire lots of questions, which I answered with memories of someone lovely. Here's the pic of that Pink Hat.
The Kate that is is someone I met a few years ago with the Psoriasis group. The mob hasn't had a chance to meet up since but it would be good to see Kate again before it's too late.

This Kate is a single mom who has been fighting all the challenges. She's a single mom, she has fought the life changing condition of Psoriatic Arthritis which isn't just the signs you see on the outside, it viciously attacks the joints on the inside too and as it's an auto-immune disease, the treatment severely damages the immune system. And she has terminal cancer as well.

But we know our Kate will keep on fighting as long as she can.

Hopefully long enough to meet up with us Patchy People of the Psoriasis group again and also for ...

Time for an appeal ! A couple of the ladies of the Psoriasis group have put an appeal together to provide the funding for Kate and kids to have a chance to build some great memories together. HERE'S THE LINK !

I very rarely post links to charity pages but I think this one is worth it. Only met once but some people you meet ? You get an instant feeling that they're great people.

Memories are very precious. I still hang on to the great memories of my nan and the good memories of my granddad, both are no longer with us.

I'm still hoping for a miracle that would see the Kate-that-is stay with us for a good while longer.

And if I name any of those Internet Spaceships after anyone, one that is a pretty little fighter has to be named as tribute to the Kate-that-is.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Coming up to a break. And ships.

Yep.

Coming up to having a bit of a break again, which will be my usual thing of having a week off work just chilling out around the house. At least, that's the norm at the moment due to the continuing state of my feet.

They are improving gradually but it's still very easy to set back that healing and some of the things I've used before (like the HC45) are very limited in use for me now. Like a lot of medicines, they can hinder as well as assist.

I'm still enjoying the Elites a lot, although I have a sense that the rapid progress my character has been making there is going to turn from going up with rocket boots into rolling a rock up a hill. But ....
That's my Dolphin class small passenger liner ship. I quite enjoyed bouncing around a few star systems in this one. (As usual, click for bigger plus .... I bought a nameplate DLC !) Another couple of Queen liners will appear but they're a fair way down the list of ships I'll be getting. I nearly lost this ship though after some complications when trying to take a tourist around a few systems. (I bumped into the visitor beacon while trying to scan it and got a bit entangled with the beacon ...)

The latest two ships in the fleet after the Dolphin are an Eagle light fighter :
She's the Elizabeth Sparrow, after a particularly combative and fierce lady with lots of character who brightens the HeyChrissa discord.

Talking of HeyChrissa ...
There was a half joking conversation on the stream the other night where I said I needed ideas for a ship to name after the Chrissa ... And the suggestion was : Chrissa's Potato. And the most potato like ship is one of my favourites, the Asp Explorer.

Here's a better view :
I'll be using that one for quite a while. The Asp Explorer is a great workhorse capable of doing lots of different jobs pretty well.

But I'll use the Eagle to do some crazy shooting up of ships first. The Big Plan is to go down the list of ships as they get bigger and more expensive and use them for the purpose intended. So at the moment, there is a Community Goal aimed at shooting people and turning in the bounties for them, so the Eagle will be thrown into that melee. And an Imperial Eagle after that, then the 2 Vipers and so on as they get more expensive.

I'll be going scouting again with the scout ships at some point too, which brings me to another thing ...

I need a pretty ship to name after KatherineofSky ! There's a new link on the right there to another Lovely Gaming Person. I've been enjoying watching a couple of people play a game called Cosmoteer, it's a (currently) free to play spaceship building and combat game that's in its early days but it has a massive amount of potential. Here's the KatherineofSky playlist. Her latest ship has been called "Dragon" ... Coincidence ? A wonderful one if it is :-).

But yeah - the games help to (mostly!) distract me from worrying at my damaged bits although they do tire me out. I'm done with the games for tonight, although I'll be watching the stream on the laptop while some other gaming videos are on.

I should probably be reading in these downtime times ...


And I should probably not be watching the Lego building videos too ! If I had the money and the space to put the models, a lot of Lego would be getting built. There's just something about watching something start from nothing steadily come together and take shape as something amazing. That's the thing with Lego.

The current kit that is attracting my eye is the Lego Air Race Jet although some of the trucks and cranes with all the technic motor and pneumatic systems look amazing.

Temptation is a wonderful thing - but expensive !

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fun with the ship names

Yep.

More Elite. It probably shows with the number of Internet Spaceship themed posts lately that I've been enjoying my time back in the game since the reset, with my head in the spaceship pilot seat most of the time ... even if I'm not actually in game as much as it seems. What can I say, it's a game that caught the imagination and I find it quite restful plying my trade amongst the stars.

After giving the current internet spaceship a proper name (It's the ICV Lisa Kelly after one of the Ice Road Trucker people), I want to give the other ships names too ...

But first .... how many ships ? What do they look like ? I found this pic :
As always, click for bigger .... although you might actually like to open it out into another window or tab for later reference. Maybe not if you have a limited amount of download though because it is a very big picture (14MB if Google hasn't made it smaller)

I also saw the video I'm about to link, which really does show off the ships pretty well. Here's the ship comparison video ! Good video.

The ships I already have are the starter ships :
Sidewinder - Humility because it was a return to humble beginnings.
Hauler - Dignity after that Deacon Blue song.
Adder - Algebraic.
Cobra Mk3 - Ranger, with it marking my first forays to the edge of the populated bubble.
Cobra Mk4 - Pathfinder, as a follow on from the Ranger.

And I'm now in the Lisa Kelly, a Type 6 space truck. Tool for the trade and that one is back to being unarmed. If you carry weapons in the game, the added weight and power requirement (leading to a heavier power supply) mean a lower hyperspace jump range which means it takes longer to get to where you're going. And there isn't much point in getting guns for the space truck as it's not fast or agile enough to bring them to bear and doesn't last long enough to win the fights.

It's always wise to pick your battles but sometimes you have to pick .... no battles. :-D.

There are another 3 space trucks and a trio of liner ships that I'll get ... I have names lined up for the Keelback - ICV Art Burke after a rather combative Ice Road Trucker. The Type 7 will be the Alex Dewey after another pair of Ice Road Truckers and the Type 9 will be named after Darrell Ward, a very colourful trucker from the series who was lost to us in an aircraft accident.

The three liners ? They're the Dolphin, Orca and the Beluga. Let's see ... I take some inspiration from the luxury liners that sail our seas and in particular, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. So I think our internet liner spaceships will be the Queen Karen, Queen Skye and Queen Jenny. I can't see me using those ships very much though as the passenger mechanics sound ... annoying. But they do look gorgeous though.

There are a series of fighty ships as well which I won't use too much, I'll come back to fightyness in the game later on when I can afford to wreck in the Federal Corvette. It'll be fun to zoom around in some of the smaller ones though.

Let's see :
Eagle - will be the Elizabeth Sparrow. She's one of the characters of the Discord servers, a small and very feisty lady who keeps us men in our place.
Imperial Eagle (a variant) - if the Eagle is Liz, then the Imperial Eagle should be another from the Discords. Perhaps the Quotation Raven.
Imperial Courier - and following the theme, this should be the Kaisha Louise.
Moving up from there are the Vipers, Mk III and Mk IV. Following the Chrissa discord theme, these have to be the ultimate in moderators, Lord Jms and Lord Nikmurder with their ban hammers.
The medium fighter ship is the Vulture with a pair of rather large guns. I quite enjoy reading the online tech news site called The Register, who have the Vulture as their prime symbol. So my Vulture can only be called Registrar.
And then there is the Fer-De-Lance - ultimate of the pure fighter craft outside of the chunky Federation ships. Not sure here, although there is a character from Chrissa's Discord who I haven't mentioned yet - Lady Monowheat.

The probably daft thing though is that while I'd like to collect all of these ships, I'm not likely to fly many of them very much. I'll leave the fighty ships until I have a battle wagon and I won't indulge in the awkward passenger carrying much. But it'll be curious to take them out of the station at least once.

The next ship was going to be Discovery but I'll name the Asp Explorer after Chrissa instead. It'll be Chrissa's Protatoe. I raised the idea in stream chat earlier and the response was to pick something potato like. And ....
There's an Asp I owned in a previous character. I believe that means the smaller Asp Scout just has to be the Lauren Radderss after the other streamer I enjoy watching.

Following that theme, there are another two exploration oriented ships. These are the Diamondback Scout and Diamondback Explorer. After enjoying their Factorio series, which involved exploring a Death world and cutting out their place in it, I believe these should be the KatherineOfSpace (actually ...ofSky) and the Nilaus.

Next up are the Federal ships, which are chunky combat ships. We have the :

Federal Assault Ship - Commander Warspite
Federal Drop Ship - Captain Hood
(After a pair of celebrated Royal Navy warships)
Federal Gun Ship - after his highly enjoyable series on Cosmoteer, (here's the playlist link) this shall be the Commodore Elysium. This ship must have big lasers in honour of EE's Chalice battlecruiser.
Federal Corvette - there can only be one name for the flagship combat ship and that's the Admiral Nelson.

After the Asp, the next ship will be the multirole Python .... which has to be named after my favourite of the Monty's, Michael Palin. And the biggest and most flexible multirole ship is the Anaconda which shall be named ... the Sarah Taylor. Perhaps not the most fitting name ! Sarah Taylor aka Squirt is the England ladies wicket keeper, who I think is the best keeper in the world at the moment. She did her part and then some in the World Cup final yesterday.

And then the last couple of ships are the pretty Imperial cruisers :
Chocolate edition Clipper and Chocolate edition Cutter :
(Paint jobs not actually available in game !)

If I gave a couple of ships above names based on Chrissa's mods, I can't leave out another fella. I believe Lord Silvernightwing would be appropriate for the Clipper of spoilers and other nastiness from Radderss' stream chat. Silver's a lovely mod, strict yep ... but a good egg too.

That Cutter though ... I think this one will be the Baron Stephen when it arrives for .... reasons :-D. Someone else spent lots of time in the original Elite as well as me when we were kids !

I'm sure I'll lose a few of these ships over my time in game so there's definitely room for more names, like calling ships names like the Luth Curmal (definitely!) and the Admiral Stone. Perhaps a bit of Doc FairosMakani and Krinza, Npralie, Tufflan/Camilla, Makai, Fubb, Zaphyr and Souleater from my Warcraft days too.

Post your ideas ! I think the comments are open again to anonymous people :-) (Although Google's not-a-robot might interfere ...)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Despicably Apeing Spacemen

I've been struggling again lately. I think one of the symptoms of that is when I don't put much here.

There's usually two reasons for that - busy is one ! And then I catch up later with what I've been up to. Or it's the other kind of busy where I've been putting everything into work with not energy much left over for later. It's been like that lately and work isn't something I'll be talking about here.

The other reason for not posting much is that old bugbear of the depressive cycles ... I've been in one of those lately. Depression is especially tough because it alters your mental perception of what's going on. It makes you doubt, it makes you look to negative explanations for things.

One reason my depression is kicking at the moment is the wreckage that is my feet ... Yep. Still lots of damage, not really helped by me attempting to clean up the bad bits. The trouble is that if I'm slightly too aggressive about cleaning up the damage, I cause more damage. It really needs time to heal up on its own, which means not attacking the damage.

And I'll be giving it chance to do that with a week off in a fortnight. At least it's currently planned to be in a fortnight. I am in two minds about wasting a week's worth of being able to park ... Which is silly because I need that rest and recuperation and healing time more than I need to park. My knees have actually recovered over this week, they were a wreck as well this time last week.

Another reason why depression is hard is that it's very hard to lift yourself out of it. I depend on friends to help out. The camaraderie that I see in chat on streams helps up to a point but it's nowhere near as effective as people talking to you, boosting your confidence with that reassurance of "Yes, you really do know what you're talking about even if you don't believe it yourself."

I know two (actually 3 !) ladies at work who help me out a lot with giving me confidence that I am actually a quality engineer who is equal to and better to a lot of my peers. They're actually surprised that I'm not higher up in the hierarchy (which is something I'm working on).

And there is one very special lady who makes me think I'm worth knowing socially as well. She gives good hugs.

As one example, I've watched Despicable Me 3 twice over the last week or so. Once, with the Work-Ish mob. Didn't enjoy it very much that time, the depression was in charge and colouring my perceptions of an actually quite funny film (even if it is a formula that's now gone on too long). Yep. Came out under a thundercloud metaphorically as well as literally. On Tuesday though, I go see Despicable Me 3 with Cupid's Gift, CG's sister and another friend. Really enjoyed it. Seeing the little lovely broke that depressive cycle and while it didn't get me all the way back to Happy Sleepy, it got me able to enjoy things again.

Talking to people helps out a huge amount. That's my plea - if you have a friend who is struggling and needs to talk, be a listener. Make time for your friends when they are struggling and they will hopefully return that favour when you're struggling.

And we all struggle at some point in our life. Life is tough. But fun if you're around the right people.

Game time !
I haven't been in Elite actually that much but I have been enjoying my time back in there since resetting the save. That's the latest ship in the fleet, the ICV Lisa Kelly. It's a Type 6 space truck and it's named after one of the more charming of the Ice Road Truckers. There are 3 more space trucks and I think the names for those will be ICV Art Burke for the Keelback (a more fighty oriented truck and trucker), ICV Alex Dewey for the Type 7 (a mix of Alex Dopogorski and Todd Dewey) and the Type 9 super freighter will be ICV Darrell Ward, after an Ice Road Trucker who lost his life in a plane accident after the last series.

Here's the fleet so far :
In the previous save, I would usually sell the ships after upgrading to the next. This time around, I will attempt to collect all of the ships. There are quite a few .... So far, I have the Sidewinder, Hauler, Adder, the two Cobra types and the Type 6 space truck. After the latest community goal finishes, I'll have more than enough to get an Asp Explorer multirole ship (Discovery) which I will continue to use for a rather long time ...

So that's 6 down so far, 1 more coming imminently and after that, 25 more to collect. I could afford a few of the cheaper ones quite quickly although it would be a shame to buy and then not use them at all. It'll be a while before I want any of the more fighty ships though.

It's not all Elite though, I've been enjoying playing Halcyon 6 although from what I hear, that's not one you really want to play into its end game. Another I have trouble playing into its end game is Stellaris ... which has been back in the playlist today. I have another hive race which is aiming to eat the galaxy. Although not quite in the same way as before ... This time, I'm looking to have super clever people with robots doing the donkey work with mineral collection. I haven't used robots much before.

I've been in the Motorsport Manager again, although that's a little frustrating as my team isn't catching up to the lead teams as quickly as I'd like. They're still 2 to 2.5 seconds a lap behind. But I still got them a win this year taking advantage of the AI teams making really bad decisions in wet conditions.

Need to read more though. I've been just after the first prologue chapter of an Alastair Reynolds novel for a while now. I just don't feel much like reading at the moment !

Soon.

Two more weeks at work, then chill out properly for a week. I've arranged it to coincide with cricket on the telly :-).

And that's the last thing to mention actually ! I really enjoyed keeping an eye on the Women's World Cup cricket final today with England playing India. I had Stellaris on at the same time but my attention was steadily diverting over to a cricket game that was steadily getting more and more tense to the finish.

Would England hold on in the field and defend a low total ?
Would India's batting depth see them home ?
Would the rain win with showers starting again at the end ?

In the end, it was an excellent win by England with it being great to see one of my old celebrations on screen again with Anya Shrubsole taking 6 wickets to give England the win with arms aloft, aeroplane style, for almost every wicket.

Great to see.

PS Apeing ? Almost forgot. Watched War for the Planet Of The Apes on Wednesday ... a pretty good film, quite dark though. Not an entertainment film but a good one to continue the story of that series. Recommended if you're a fan of the Planet of the Apes remakes.