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 !