Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May time hibernation

Gosh - 8 days since last post.

I've been pretty tired again lately. I suspect the bugs that I had over a fortnight ago now are having a more long term effect on my overall energy levels.

I was able to rouse the old bones for Comic Con on Sunday (worth it !) but apart from that, the exhaustion hits quite quickly. I can do what I need to do (like the shopping today !) but I'm definitely looking forward to being able to crash out for the rest of the week. I'm off work this week and hopefully that'll allow me to get some healing in for my outsides and to replenish those energy reserves.
I have the photos from Comic Con but that enervation is getting in the way of me pulling the photos off the camera so I can organise them for Facebook etc. Soon :-).

Comic Con always brings out the special, the odd, the beautiful, the ... revealing, the downright wonderful and always outfits that the wearers and makers can be pretty proud of. I haven't done one yet but I think I have an idea for something that could work and be suitably understated. Here we are :
That's the Alliance Dress Blues from the Mass Effect game, although I think I actually prefer the Cerberus outfit.
Looks good. They did a good job with the outfits in the game.

Yep. Comic Con was pretty good this year. It feels like it is getting bigger each year, although that's me remembering back to a few years ago when I went to London MCM for the first time. It's definitely bigger than the version at Birmingham NEC. It seemed like there were more artist stands this time around. I really must ask one of them to do a Dwagon Waving Hi for me at some point.

It's a long, tough day but the show and most definitely the company makes it very much worth it. And if you're going to one of these events yourself, look into the whole day and not just the convention. You really need to look after yourself to get through a day like this so you can Really Enjoy It, which means making sure you're topped up on things like water (the location is very hot and humid inside - very unhealthy enervating conditions) and having breaks when you need them. Take a few minutes to chill out having something to eat and drink. It's worth it because that fuels you through the day.

The Lords run is a longer day (starts earlier) but works well with this too. With 3 games, there are short breaks at half time where the teams change sides (loo break for spectators !) and longer breaks between the games where you can scoot around the stadium looking for foods, drinks and scouting the usually excellent Lords shop. I think I've well and truly mined out that shop though but I'm sure I'll find something good this year.

Like at Comic Con !

The lovely Cupid's Gift came away with an excellent selection of goodies (and a smuggled plushie !) and I acquired 2 Star Wars themed t-shirts which will get shown off at work on the Fridays soon, plus 2 Nanoblock kits (BB-8 and Cookie Monster - pictures to come when they're built) and I also got a book of Mass Effect posters.

Good loot.

That other bit of planning involves what you do around the show too. So for Comic Con and the Lords run, there is a Westfield trip after. It's a massive shopping place ... which also has munchie areas. Good food is fantastic for fuelling you through a day. And it's tasty too. I'll have a good scout around before leaving London on the 8th. The alternative is to head off down the motorway until you find somewhere acceptable and motorway service stations are all about fuel food, not tasty food.

I'll be doing the cricket watching as well this holiday - extraordinary game yesterday where England almost got demolished in record time. When that happened in my playing days, it would often result in what we called a Beer Leg, where the teams would hang around for a friendly/practice where we'd have bowlers batting and batsmen bowling. Bit of fun to get us more cricket in during the day.

I was about to say "Where I could have more fun being a nutter in the field too" but this was when I still had fear of the ball, before I figured out that being fearless hurts less in cricket than when the fear hesitation leads to fumbles and ouches.

Comic Con pictures soon. I need to get them off the camera.

Perhaps games soon too, I have a selection on my current play list :
Stellaris - yep. I'm on this one again. After starting a game with a bunch of Space Raptors who were the Devouring Swarm, I'm in one with Space Snakes who will turn into a Devouring Swarm (everyone hates you because they think you're out to eat them - which is true) later. The Raptors had too many enemies to survive that game but the Snakes have been able to slice up races peacemeal. To ermm ... make meals out of them.

Yep. Stellaris still gets my attention.

I've opened Rebel Galaxy again, which has confused me because I'm having to recalibrate my play away from "I can take on anyone !" to running at the first sign of trouble. It's a good space game, more about space battle barges than the fighter type craft in Elite.

Darkest Dungeon might get some more time ...

Then there's Motorsport Manager, where my campaign has been on hiatus because it got boring. My team is a long way ahead of the competition. Incidentally, this is why Formula 1 has been better this year, as Ferrari have caught up with Mercedes and you genuinely don't know which of them will win the races.

And I really should go back to Mass Effect Andromeda and make a push to finish that. It has good outfits too :
You can probably tell that if I were to find myself in a science fictional universe, it would almost certainly be Mass Effect as the preferred one. There is good variation in races, huge potential to explore and they just created a galaxy full of wonder.

Back there soon !

Monday, May 22, 2017

Conserving Strength

Gosh !

I'm proper exhausted at the moment. My brain is still good for barking off in random directions doing all sorts of things, usually several at once. But the body is needing new batteries.
I think it's a combination of things. The first and big one is the bugs that I'm still fighting off. It was a classic 4 days of gunky nose bug plus sneezes. On the Saturday, it took all I had to put the washing in the machine.

I was able to do the work thing all last week but that's mostly sitting at the desk getting stuff done. That takes mental energy but not necessarily physical energy. I'll be ok with a break, which will happen next week and I should be good to get through this week, the weekend and the Lords trip on the 8th. Oh the other thing is potential Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is becoming more widespread. I definitely have a kind of feeling where I should have energy but that energy is locked up in an iron cage and I can't release it.

It be Comic Con next weekend. It's been great for the past few years that I've gone to them. Lots of shopping yes ... but also lots of amazing stuff to see, particularly the cosplay mob. Maybe this year there will be stream meet ups too. I'll keep my eyes open, although I don't think we'll dive into the video people's stand. Perhaps though .... a little learning from last year to meet a celebrity actor or two. That's awkward though. The way they organise it involves a long queue to buy a ticket to get into them and then more queue to actually get the photo with them. And this needs to be done an hour or so in advance.

Good to see that Yogscast is back in the good graces there. There was a falling out last year which seemed a bit silly. I watch barely any of their stuff now (I'm not their target audience any more, they've shifted to catch young adult/adolescent) but we need content creators like that to get on and succeed, because that opens doors for other content creators.

It'll be great to go back this year. I must collect pictures for posting.

Had a great day yesterday too. Pub lunch with great company :-).

Friday - Alien Covenant. I actually quite enjoyed this movie, which probably showed in me not finishing the popcorn bucket (it was a rather large bucket). It's a pretty decent scifi movie but like Prometheus, it has no business being in the Alien franchise. In that, it's a cheap cash in on the Alien universe, a classic example of how you can destroy a story by telling too much of it.

Without dropping into spoiler space, it adds detail that completely and utterly clashes with events in other movies. I just can't see how they would resolve those conflicts.

That said, I'll probably pick it up when it goes ultra cheap on the bluray. Not a 2 for £25 movie like Passengers and Fantastic Beasts or a £10 movie like ST Beyond and XMen Apocalypse. (Guess which 4 blurays escaped with me last week !) Maybe a 5 for £30 movie.

I've also picked up Alastair Reynolds Revenger which has a promising start (and is reminding me about writing narrative!) plus Jack Campbell's first prequel to his Lost Fleet series.

I'll enjoy reading those.

When I have more energy !

Oh wait .... reading doesn't actually need much energy.

Read more !
Reading is good for you. As is orange juice apparently, which is on my list of "drink this and die" (It stops me breathing).

I promise that reading will not kill you ! Erm. Going now before my exhausted rambles get too random :-).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A few more writey ideas

First up :

I'm improving after the ManFluPlague ! As ever, when I write about something that's getting me down or making me anxious, expressing the feelings seems to either trigger some kind of weird karma or helps me turn around the not so good feelings.

So .... I got through today at work without too much trouble from the ManFluPlague. The main symptoms let up a fair bit, my nose behaved and I don't actually move around that much at work so the energy problem wasn't a handicap.

And my friend who had gone off the grid is back ! Hurrah ! I had a feeling I knew what she was up to, although I thought that was actually happening next month. Must listen better.

That's me feeling better (not fixed yet) and the anxiety about the friend dispelled. How about the writey ideas ....

A lot of the writey ideas at the moment are for the book and they centre on two themes. Setting up the colony, expanding the colony and ... how to murder a planet full of people. (The murder thing is essential for part of the plot)

I think I have the idea for the murdering thing. A Big Falling Rock usually does the trick but .... it's the build up to that incident and the how to make that work which is the trick. If a culture has the technology to tow Big Space Rocks around a solar system, then just a standard Big Falling Rock isn't going to cut it. The Naval ships in orbit would see it coming a long way off and just tow the Big Falling Rock to somewhere safe.

Unless it's actually a small moon that's being dropped on a planet - I saw that written into David Weber's Armageddon Inheritance. Gave me a Holy Carp moment when I was reading that. Oh and it was also in Star Wars - Vector Prime, which is a book that is now in the Star Wars Expanded Universe which has been cut from the canon. It had the end of Chewbacca, howling his rage at the moon as it dropped on him, having been left behind by Han. That set up themes that ran on for a few books.

The original set up of a Destroyer and an Auxillary ship stands, although I won't land the Auxillary ship any more. The vision in my mind is of fleets supported by Auxillaries that have to deploy for long periods away from an industial base to support them. So the Auxillary ships basically eat asteroids, smelt them into minerals and metals and then 3d print spare parts and new bits. It makes sense to keep your factory ship in orbit so it can eat asteroids that are towed to it. It doesn't make sense to land the ship and then drop the asteroids down on it.

So the Auxillary ship creates prefab bits for the colony, which are then landed on the planet. It would also be on station to provide emergency response from orbit while the Destroyer has fun rolling around the system. The explanation for them paying off is that the ships have a limited number of hyperspace jumps they can before the hull crumbles and our two ships are very close to that limit. (A new Battlestar Galactica idea !)

How to do scouting ?

Bike gangs !!! This colony is about the disadvantaged, the unwanted escaping a society that's basically out to get them. There's not much love for cyclists out there, except by the cyclists themselves. Car drivers don't want them on the roads, pedestrians definitely don't want them on pavements and the cyclists don't stick to the cycle paths. But .... what if there are no cycle paths ? What if there is open country to roam in ?

I'd see a cycle gang or two recruited to basically tour around the countryside around the colony, mapping it, taking pictures of everything, taking samples to either analyse on the spot or send back for further analysis. It's a new planet to these people, the best way to explore is to be out there seeing what there is. And cycles give a chance to cover decent ground while still being able to see Stuff.

The bikes would be built in the colony too - things like solar charged hybrid motor assist bikes, which is good cos these people will be sleeping in the open. Light weight is important for letting them carry the survival gear. Not too much though because :

Drones are getting more popular now aren't they ?

We'll take that, we'll use it. First, set up a low orbit space infrastructure with an equivalent of GPS satellites. GPS is pretty nigh on essential to our daily lives now. It doesn't make sense not to have it in our colony. Our bikers (and everyone else) could be located via their GPS which would allow help and supplies to get to them quickly.

So our biker scout gangs would be resupplied in the evenings by Drone carrier bots, which would also allow the samples to be returned.

The 3d printing would also extend into elements like medical science. Bit like Star Trek has its replicators which magically appear Stuff out of thin air. I don't think our replicators can be quite that advanced though. 3d printing inorganic stuff (metals, plastics) seems fairly feasible but I'm not so sure about doing that with organic stuff. Better to grow it.

This society has most medical stuff licked though like being able to produce replacement parts that Just Work without any of the rejection or matching problems that we have at the moment. One element I'll draw in is more ethical and it's to do with reproduction and sexual orientation. I touched on this in the April 1st post ....

In an advanced medical society, it makes no sense that it hasn't stretched into methods such as cloning. Or even tailored babies. I'm not going to go as far as tailored babies though, at least ... not to the point where the parents choose sex and looks of the kid. That cuts out diversity and ... a new colony needs genetic diversity to survive.

The idea is that any two people who want to have a child can. Best to do it with a womb (if the mom agrees !) but the medical science also allows for artificial conception and incubation of Little One. Not just for LGBT+, also for the couples who can't conceive in the natural way and for ladies who can't carry to term. This society would not require couples to go through the anguish of not being able to have a child if they want one.

The need for genetic diversity is far more important than an outdated of idea about what type of sexuality is right or wrong, especially in a Space Colony when there aren't that many people to work with. The rule would be that everyone has to provide their genetics to at least 2 children. I.e. 2 people's genes needed per child.

The secret though is to make all this sound very natural. Like it's the done thing. Like doing anything different (i.e. how we live today) would be odd. To expose people to a different way of thinking.
To make people think more. To have them question their ingrown beliefs, their prejudiced ingrained through their history. If you can make someone think, to challenge their preconceptions.

If you can do that, you're winning.

I haven't talked about entertainment yet .... I talk a fair bit about the Youtube watching and the Twitch stream watching. I think we'd continue that. Perhaps a disabled streamer coming with us who has problems in the higher gravities which the medical science can't fix. She'd stay up in orbit, enjoying low gravity and would broadcast from there. It would also be a substitute for colony news.

Entertainment and a way of getting the important info across.

And I think I just invented Reality TV. IN SPACE !!!

Pardon me while I run and hide from my conscience.
Only kidding. I'm curious to hear what people think though, even if I'm still not back to the level of mental focus that would allow me to write something coherent.

Nite !

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Beware Patient Zero

So I picked up a ManFluPlague again ...
It's not too bad. Certainly not something that'll keep me away from work tomorrow.

I'm actually far more worried about a friend at the moment. They've been out of contact for a little while now. Hope they're ok. If you're that friend and you're reading this, drop us a text or a FB message (my phone has been reluctant to receive texts ...), let us know you're ok.

As for me .... ManFluPlague started to make itself felt on Wednesday and I kept my bugs home on the Thursday with a first spell of working at home for a while. I got away with it on Friday before going splat when I got home. Saturday had the Radderss 12 hour charity stream going and now back to regular streaming today. I'll be back at work tomorrow.

I have my work laptop again now .... although it's actually stationed at work again due to a daft desk sharing policy we're starting next week. Yep. Even dafter than cramming a team that needs maybe 20% more desks than we have allocated to us into the space we have. Tomorrow morning could be mayhem.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Yep. That ManFluPlague isn't too bad. I don't tend to get sick too often, at least I don't usually notice it when sniffles are actually sniffles and not the ever present allergies. This time, it's a bunged up nose, stuff in my lungs, a distant lack of energy and focus that's going missing.

The energy debt is what leads to the lack of focus though. I did manage to put the washing in the machine yesterday but that took pretty much all I had. It took a while before I could summon up the energy to take it out of the machine. (I did and it'll be good for work tomorrow).

It did mean that while I did dive into the games, I found myself making the daft errors that tend to be costly in the games I'm playing at the moment :

Darkest Dungeon - maybe I'll see this one through into a campaign playthrough again ? Maybe :-).
XCom 2 - this can be brutally unforgiving. Run a soldier too far ahead of support and they'll activate a group of enemies with murder on their minds. I'm making excellent progress on the current play through. I have a group of soldiers with the skills and gear to complete the final mission now but I'm farming as many Steam Achievements as I can get.

And I didn't even think of going back into Elite or Mass Effect Andromeda. Elite wants focus and shooter games like the Mass Effect series wind me up to a level that demands energy that I don't have at the moment.

I think I'm coming out of the bugs at the moment though.

It was good on Thursday to listen/halfwatch into a stream by Kim, who I used to talk about a fair bit here. I'd lost touch because the videos had gone away from what I'd been interested in. She's best with indie style games with a story, where she can ramble on around the story and genuinely include the viewer in what she's playing and talking about. And that came through very strongly on stream too.

I'd originally tuned in to have acceptable background noise (I'm not inflicting daytime TV on me) on while doing the working at home thing. I find silence to be intensely distracting and need something in the background. I'm glad I tuned into Kim again and it's got me talking to some of the great people in her Discord chat server too.

So yeah - ManFluPlague and the continuing effects of the damage to my outsides (it is gradually repairing still ... gradually) but hanging on in there.

Good people to chat to;
Fun people to watch live;
Warm feelings from having people say "Get well soon";
(in person behind a breath mask and online!)
A lot of worry about a missing friend;
(she'll just be busy - I hope!)
A steady supply of tissues (for the nose);

And hopefully not too much longer until the bugs are gone.

Be well everyone ! Which probably means not being near me until I'm no longer contagious.
Can't promise anything about those smiles though :-D.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A novel meeting in a pub, far, far away

I mentioned book writing a while ago didn't I ? The ideas have been bubbling away still. I thought I should probably let some of them out of my head. Because you know, there isn't that much room in my head and sometimes it rattles.

A "vomit draft" excerpt starts after :
"So, what are you having Charles ?"
"Thanks Matt. After that meeting, something really strong but .... just a soda please."
"Ahh. Yes. Ok !" said a slightly confused, rather worried looking Matt on his way over to the bar.
The two suited men made a curious counterpoint to the varied denizens of the Lonely Spaceman, a joint most people would describe as a den of despair, a pit of piracy, a lounge of larceny or a place where they sell drinks you can't get anywhere else on the planet. The spacers' bar was actually a central point for the various traders ... and smugglers ... filtering through the planet of Larson's Point. You could obtain almost anything in the Lonely Spaceman, an always temporary cure for loneliness in whichever form you chose, legal items and the occasional illegal item. But don't tell anyone about the latter.

Whatever happens in the Lonely Spaceman, stays in the Lonely Spaceman. Or in the various docks around the port. The spaceport was typical for a developed planet like Larson's Point. It could handle all sorts of ships, from the smaller hyperspace capable fighters, through shuttles, through orbital cargo lifters, up to the sub capital corvettes. Proper freighters, trade ships, naval warships stayed up in space. Once those came down to a planet, which was possible, they didn't tend to leave. Built in space, staying in space.

"Here you go Charles. It looks like you have something on your mind, out with it bro." As Matt made his way back through the smoke to the private booth Charles had taken up residence at.
"After that meeting ? After what's been on the news lately ? Tonnes. Booth, privacy screen activate." Charles had invoked a rather standard feature in the Lonely Spaceman, a system that isolated them from the rest of the lounge. No observation was possible, either by visual means or recordings. Now you see why this bar was so popular with those who didn't necessarily want to have the authorities knowing all about their business.
"Matt, I'm worried. Sooner or later, this planet is going to blow. We're seeing it already with intolerance, some very strange politics, hell there's a general breakdown in the behaviour of people around here."
"Sure Charles, we saw some of that today as well. The board were definitely looking to protect their own interests even ahead of the company. They've never done that before, the company has always come first. But now ? They'll happily drive the company into the ground if they can retire, fat and happy on what the asset strippers will pay them for the shell of the company."
Matt looked up at this point, the first dawnings of comprehension that his friend might well be about to suggest something radical. Dangerous even. But definitely out of character.
Matt asked, intrigued, "You have a plan don't you. Go on, out with it ! And you're right too, the board will tear down what we built together. How come you let them in anyway ?"
"Aww Matt, you know that we're the builders and the movers ... all that corporate stuff is just downright boring." And, hiding a smile behind the glass holding his untouched drink Charles whispered in a conspiratorial tone "I have a plan."
"You're going to make beat it out of you aren't you. Come on ! I'm damn curious now."
"The next colony mission, I want you", pointing a finger, "Matt on it. With me. And we stay this time instead of running at the first sign of authority starting up."
"Yep. Setting up is fun, running the show is boring. Are you sure though ? Being the Man in charge is a huge step."

The two directors of Larson's Point Colony Movers paused and looked at each other as if contemplating something so unpleasant, they would prefer a short spell in the New Snowdon Uranium mines. Nobody had long spells in the uranium mines. Even with the advent of biological prolong, which effectively ended ageing and 33rd century medicine which largely eliminated natural causes of ill health and death, there were occupations so dangerous that they were widely regarded as death sentences on a world where the death sentence had never been introduced.
However, Larson's Point was not a unified world, it had fractured shortly after establishment and some of the factions were, let's say, not as enlightened or forgiving as others. There was no death penalty but there were the mines where the unwanted might end up. Temporarily. And there were places around Larson's Star which were deadlier than the mines.

Charles broke the silence with a sentence laden with foreboding, "Something is coming Matt, I can feel it." And the drink disappeared in one gulp.
"Gosh Charles, you are spooked ! Ok. I'm in, your instincts are always spot on, although there was that incident on Obsidian Rift." Matt chuckled, that twinkle in his eye shining all the way into a half smile. And a wink.
"Oh Matt ! What happened on Obsidian Rift, has to stay on Obsidian Rift. How was I to know she was a nephew ! I mean, I got nothing against gender fluid ... except if it's in the family."
"Haha, ayeaye Captain Admiral Charles. They had me fooled too. Besides, I think they were trying to drag you back to the rest of the family on Earth. You would have had to follow if it had got serious. True Earthers treat family ties like iron chains. And the mess they made of our old home ! So crowded. Earth is a dead hulk of a planet now, a shadow of what it was. The only thing living there now are the people and with True Earth Unity in charge, I'm not sure if they count as living."
It was now Matt's turn to down the remnants of his drink, as Charles saw a pair of particularly noticeable individuals at the bar.
"Another one Matt ? My round."

Charles left his friend in the booth and made his own way through the scented atmosphere of the bar, stopping beside two figures, as conspicuous as the two men in suits. In their own way. One was short, with a clean crisp naval uniform. His eyes darted across the bar, simultaneously sizing up the denizens, evaluating whether they would be threats both in the bar and whether he would be facing them in space. The other was a very imposing figure. She also had the bearing that instantly identified her as military but in an effort to blend in had attempted to wear civilian dress. Clothing that apparently had been acquired in a rush, from a person 20 centimetres shorter and considerably less wide.
"Ken, Carrie, you had to murder anyone here yet ?"
The short man replied in a drawl that must have had its origins with the TexAm faction, "Hell Chuck, we've only been here 5 minutes ! I was getting worried about Hulk though. People round here are looking upwards at that outfit ..."
"Ken, one more word about this outfit and that pole you keep glancing at after looking at me ? I will bend that around your head." Commander Carrie "Hulk" Banso of the Naval Auxillary was not one to be taken lightly. Especially by tailors who were typically gripped with feelings of terror at seeing her walk into their shop in search of new dress uniforms.
"Chuck - two spacehoppers, whatever shortie is having and we're yours for an hour. Seriously, just an hour, we have to be back at Wellingrad before we're missed."
Charles passed the order onto the now very apprehensive barkeep. You see, if naval personnel entered the Lonely Spaceman, it usually ended with violence ... and breakages of furniture. Or violence and breaking of people. There was usually less fuss about the furniture and Carrie was starting to look at the people instead of the furniture. The party made their way back to Matt and the booth.

"Matt, I brought friends. I think it's time."
Matt responded with "Your plan ? Let's have it then. I sense these two are involved ? The typical colony set up with an Auxillary ship as base and a Destroyer having far too much fun running around the system ?"
"Aye. Commander Ken Warner here is in charge of the LNV Dauntless, which is due to pay off in a year. It'll be his last command. Commander Carrie",
Carrie interjected with a "Just call me Hulk, babe, I don't bite."
Matt laughed, said "No biting huh ... I'm guessing that with a nickname like Hulk, you smash instead ?"
"I like this one. He can stay. Do we have to keep the Navy Pygmy though ?" There was a light chuckle from the giant, plus an actual half smile towards Commander Ken.
"Hey ! That's Commander Pygmy to you ! Or I'll call you Stoopy again." The look of feigned indignation from Ken drew a giggle from Hulk and relieved laughter from the two men in suits. There was to be no violence today. Perhaps.
Charles gave a quite cough before continuing, "Yes, Hulk of the LNA Star Rider, which is, you guessed it, due to pay off in a year."
"It is so convenient for us when ex Larson Navy Vessels and Larson Navy Auxiliary ships are about to pay off isn't it ? Older ships, still capable", Matt had noticed the knuckles of the two military personnel whiten as they tightened their grip on their spacehoppers. Navy people don't like the suggestion that their vessels might not be useful any more. Matt continued, "Ideal for our purposes actually. Still used, still maintained, usually with good systems, much better than pirates at least and ...."
".... Yes. We use the Destroyer to run around the system scaring off the pirates and setting up the space side infrastructure, while we land the Auxiliary and make her the centre of the colony. And you two are happy to join us ? We're not planning to bail out at the first sign of impending responsibility this time, we're staying."
A chorus of nods, accompanied sips of spacehoppers.
Matt was curious, "Say, what's in those spacehoppers, I've never actually had one."
Ken explained, "It's a traditional Navy drink. It's related to old Navy Rum from the old days. Legend has it that press gangs would descend upon a bar, offer a free round of the rum to everyone and then the locals who couldn't handle it would be carted off to a sailing ship and wake up in the Bay of Biscay, next stop Australia."
Hulk continued, "And now all the young, smart spacers have left, the old spacers are looking at the exits instead of us and the young, dumb, drunk spacers have been left in the middle as a target. We don't do pressgangs any more but .... Well, Larson Navy doesn't. I wouldn't say the same of those nutters over at New Holyhead. Either a pressganging onto one of their hulks they call frigates or ... the New Snowdon mines."
Charles laughed, "You know New Snowdon might be on the list of places to grab people from ?"
Matt nudged his friend, "You should be aware, this one is a bit of a risk taker with who he takes on board."
"Ahh, you start with a strong core, people you trust for skills, motivation, persistence, loyalty. You need investors as well, we try and get skills and motivation with them too. This planet has tonnes of money, you can usually afford to be choosy although you do need a certain amount of muscle around too."
"And your Colony Movers company foots the big bills and does the negotiations for ships like ours that you need ?", an interested Hulk said.
"Yes. We still need the company to actually make it happen. Usually, we'd land the colony, stay for 6 months and then come back to start preparations for the next. There is so much population pressure here that the Larson government, at least, help subsidise fairly constant emigration. But that's typically for flearidden rat trap setups that can't fend off pirates, or set up with an infrastructure that can't sustain itself. We move someone in, they stay."
Ken looked at his watch, "Hulk, we better get back to Wellingrad. You have to be back for repairs, I'm shipping out for patrol tomorrow. Chuck, you got an idea of where we'll go ?"
"As you happen to mention it ... there is an interesting looking system on your next patrol route. Goldilocks zone planet, normal 0.9g gravity, Nitrogen Oxygen atmosphere. That's what spectrograph tells us anyway. It could do with a proper survey. If you happen to find yourself there. I'll send the coordinates."
"Haha, I think I could find an excuse to find a new home to bounce around for a while. Maybe even set foot there, scope out my house, pick the best beachfront spot before you two reprobates and Hulk get a chance. Hulk will need the whole beach. OW !" Ken started to rub the sore rib that Carrie had just tested.
Charles stood, turned off the privacy field and said "That's great. It was fantastic catching up with you two again. And you bro. I'll see if I can get the barkeeps here to lay in an ample supply of Space Hoppers for next time."
The older spacers remaining in the bar started shuffling towards the exits at this point.

And with this, the group of 4 departed the Lonely Spaceman and melted into the gathering gloom.
That's enough for now I think !

That would be an opening chapter perhaps after a prologue that saw these 4, plus assorted other characters actually departing. I'd see these meetings in the pub being interludes showing a tension gradually building before the leaving date happened. Perhaps even having a couple of elements of tension building in parallel. Danger before, danger after, with both dangers getting steadily getting more real as the story progresses.

There would be lots more to come, as well as what I've written above. That's essentially a Vomit Draft, where the words come out of your head unedited and unpolished. Names would change, although I'd like to keep Ken and Carrie in there as tributes to Kenny Baker and Carrie Fisher.

I'm curious as to what people think. Did you enjoy looking in on that meeting in the far off spacer bar ? Would you want to read more if I wrote the rest of the book ?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

May the Fourth

And all that !
It's about the Star Wars thing but it's also a great excuse to wish people a happy day. How was mine ? Exhausting. Things are hectic at work at the moment, although that hectic is being combined with getting a few things done that have been held up. Always satisfying to clear awkward stuff out of the way.

Bit like on certain games ....

I loved the various Star Wars games I've played over the years but they were made in a time where games weren't quite so accessible to players ... To stretch out the content somewhat, they went in for incredibly challenging missions .... The main one I can think of for that is Star Wars X Wing where you had two missions like that :

Scan an Imperial Fleet ! In an A Wing fighter that is pretty much made of rockets .... and paper. And you're being chased by TIE Fighters.
Disable a shuttle carrying prisoners to rescue ! Not so bad, except the shuttles liked to suicide on fighters which would be an instant mission fail.

There were a lot of those instant fail conditions and it didn't necessarily come down to the player doing something wrong. But these games though ....

XWing was the first and was one I came back to later. It was playable on quite early PCs. The legend was that XWing sold more 486 processor PCs than any amount of the business software the machines were intended for. It brought starfighter combat to a world of gamers that previously could only play things like this in arcades. (Or on the BBC micro playing Elite).

I was highly addicted to the TIE Fighter game which followed, which had you working as a small cog in the big Galactic Empire. You got to fly with Darth Vader in your wing at one point and one of the missions was to protect the Emperor's shuttle.
Yep. Emperor.

I gave up on the XWing and TIE Fighter games after a while as the missions became more and more intricate and silly. They kinda offended my sense of strategy by just having stupid setups. TIE Fighter got it right by having a storyline that effectively showed how the pressures of a long term deployment wore down the squadrons. Like having to use Bombers because the Fighters and Interceptors were either destroyed or needing repairs. In XWing vs TIE Fighter's campaign, the end mission sent starfighters into an anti-fighter minefield to attack a space station. This was from a Super Star Destroyer that would have pounded the station to dust from outside the minefield.

Yeah - the games got to be more frustrating than fun.

It was similar with other games like Star Wars Rebellion (or Supremacy - it had multiple names) which I hoped would take over from Master of Orion 2 - they were both space strategy games. However .... it was just BORING ! And there isn't usually much comeback if a game is boring like that.

I played other Star Wars games too, although not actually all of them. I'll almost certainly get Empire at War again, it's another strategy game and at £3.50ish it's worth another look.

I really enjoyed the Pod Racer game. It was fast and fun. It hasn't been re-released though and it would need some work to make it playable again. It came out when Windows XP was still a thing and it has amnesia when you run it on Windows 7 (couldn't find the save games). I've seen a possible way around that though. Worth a shot.

I also enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic. This was a role playing game set 4,000 years before the films and instead of being a straight shooter, it owed a lot to translating D&D rules to something that looked real time and it did a great job both with that and the story.
Spectacular too.

I played the first Star Wars shooter game too - Dark Forces. I quite enjoyed that, although I didn't bother with any of the sequels.

I still have Lego Star Wars unplayed and on my system !

(If you want to indulge the nostalgia for the Star Wars games, there are offers on right now on Humble Bundle and GoG for the old games)

Oh and the Lego too. There are offers here as well in several places. However .... there's not much I want to buy at the moment in the Star Wars !

I know. Tragic.

I would heavily recommend the black X Wing and the Falcon. Not so much the Tie Advanced. You like your Lego to look like the original ! I didn't get that so much with the TIE. But it's definitely there with Falcon and X Wing.

It's not all about the merch though. Ok. Maybe it is ... Lucas created a universe that was great for selling lots of Stuff and everyone with that merch takes every opportunity to try and get us buying more of it ... There is a lot of fun in there though.

And I am having severe temptations for dropping some cash on that Empire At War game !

May the Fourth be with you. Today and every day.

One last thing though .... I need to go back into Elite at some point. Soon. A new megaship was added to the game in the last update with a unique name and Commanders have been making a pilgrimage to this special place.
Yep. I too need to have my spaceship clinging on to the side of the Fisher's Rest.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Novel voting

I did something I haven't done .... ever !
We're going to have an election over here in the UK on the 8th of June. It's a bit quick for us, coming only 2 years after our last one. We usually have elections every 5 years but our current ruling party want to make sure they're in power for the full extent of our withdrawal from the European Union.

So we're choosing our ruling party again ....

This poses me a bit of a problem because I fully intend to be in London for all of the time of day that the polling stations are open for. It's the Interservices Twenty 20 tournament again (cricket) and I've been enjoying going to that for a good few years now. Here's the post from last year (link!).

You might be thinking there .... I'm away for the day :
Today's activity was to initiate the postal voting process. I haven't actually done that before, I've been able to do all of my voting in person on the day. But this time, I'll put that early postal vote in. It only took about 5 minutes to register that I needed to do the postal vote.

I'm not entirely sure who I'm voting for and I wouldn't dream of giving you advice on who to vote for. There are far more obnoxious people who will do that for me and you'll be sick of seeing their advice over the next month. I will say a few things though :

Vote on people's records. Not just on what's reported (because our media is very biased and self interested) but on the facts. And those facts of how people really behave often contradict what they say they are going to do.
Don't overdo it with the propaganda. I have a few Labour fanatics on my Facebook timeline .... I would actually quite like to mute them for a month because they're more biased than the media. I can't believe anything they say any more when it comes to politics.
(I similarly know Conservative fanatics who try to push your vote the other way)

Don't believe anyone when they say your vote might be wasted. Vote in the way you want to vote but ... above all else : PLEASE VOTE ! The only wasted vote is the vote that was not cast.

I'm pretty sure I know which way I'll be voting. I won't be telling anyone or advising anyone. I'll just be happy that I've had the chance to vote for a leader.

And that's what counts.
Don't disappoint staring puppy !

Oh and ....
I think I need that t-shirt. Or ....
I'm not sure if I believe that.
I haven't been piloting in the Elites. It's been a while, I should really blow the dust off the hyperdrive again at some point.

Hopefully you can ignore all the lies we'll be peddled over the next month and rise above the temptation to indulge in the nastiness that always mars election campaigns ! But .... above all else :
A politician said that a few years ago and it just highlighted his increasing megalomania.

Go vote !