Thursday, April 25, 2019

Heading back into the pilot's seat

I've gone back into the internet spaceships !

Also Lego happened. And Thorntons Easter eggs. (Other easter eggs are available too)

More on the Lego in a future post but I would happily recommend the 20th anniversary Pod Racer model. Nice build and a lovely model.

I've been thinking about going back into Elite for a while but one thing that has kept me away has been the various new changes that have been introduced since I last played almost a year ago. I've been enjoying coming back in, although I have retired a character again. Cmdr Keela Danne has retired to one of those Earth Like planets she found for some serious chilling out while the space ship empire gets handed over to new management.

Enter Cmdr Iceangel (again) as I go back to the name of my first character. The ship up above is the Money Spider, named for the smallest ship in the game, the Sidewinder. These ships are like paper ... if a laser goes off in the next star system, this ship will probably explode.

But it's a nice ship to start in, even if you take off the shields and weapons and pray no one has a go at you.

Oh ! Cmdr Keela retired with 348m credits in assets over 19 ships and .... zero insurance claims. As in, no deaths for that character. And I was occasionally poking things with the lasers, just running away quickly when the damage was getting too great.
Ship 2 is the Undaunted, an Eagle class light fighter ship. I've been playing the new new player experience thing that's ... new with the latest patch that arrived on Tuesday. That's added a few systems that are permit controlled, so only the newest players can jump into them. The intention is that with those safe areas and a nicely beefed up set of help menus, new players can learn the game.

Definitely weird starting off with a ship that's capable of autodocking and (another new thing) autolaunching. I've actually turned those off because I don't trust them yet. I did a little docking and landing tutorial a while ago (video link). Gosh that's quiet after watching someone else's video. Maybe he's loud. And I hate my voice still. Oh ! I think that may have been video 3 where I messed up by not realising that the nVidia Shadowplay was recording my voice as well as Audacity, hence the bad volume settings.

Anyway ! Eagle. Good ship for fighting and it's one of 6 that's available in that starting area. Oh and you're limited on modules too, with only E and D modules available. Only lasers too. The 6 ships are the starting Sidewinder and then the Eagle, Hauler, Adder, Viper 3 and the ship I'll leave the zone in, Cobra Mk3. It's a good selection of ships. (Although the Hauler is still nasty !)

And then there's the Dragonbug :
A little ship, built for being your starter hauler ship. But it's slow and only has one laser hardpoint, so I'll be in an Adder or Viper 3 next time I play.

Oh and the game is still rather pretty :
Criticisms :
The texture work of the asteroid interior is a bit dodgy.
Anti-aliasing has done a number on the yellow guard rails on the walkways.

But it's a starbase dug into an asteroid. This is awesome ! Elite is definitely one of the prettier games out there and there are stellar sights which look so much better. I do like how the spot light is illuminating and scattering off the dust between it and the spaceship. Also nice reflection off the right hand side of the pad.

Other things from resetting : has recovered from the save game reset, with a few niggles.
EDSM is very confused and wasn't updating. Hopefully that fixes before I go out exploring again.
The trade system is so much better now, you can find the best trades from within the game now, instead of having to ask sites like EDDB. It's still a good idea to ask EDDB for trade routes ... but if you're going from one station to the next running courier missions, this is so much better than it was before.

So yeah ! Back in the pilot seat, enjoying it too. Hopefully my hands hold up to it. My right hand is getting more prone to RSI issues now and didn't like the Skyrim session that I had on Monday. And other bits of me don't like the play until eyes close of a Stellaris session.
And it's so pretty.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Games, music, more games, broken sleep pattern

One more day and then back to work !

And hopefully back to the normal sleep pattern. Stellaris isn't good for normal patterns.
What have I been up to .... I was feeling pretty burned out at the start of the break. The way my body works is that I'll soak up pressure and tiredness up until a certain point ... and then probably go beyond that point into areas that get a bit silly.

I'm not talking about opening Stellaris at noon and closing it again at 1 (am). No, this is more like not anticipating conditions (it's suddenly gone into near summer weather here !), possibly nearing heatstroke and generally hitting the limits of what I think I can do at the moment ... and then going beyond.

(The latest is Friday, which I promised someone I wouldn't talk about too much !)

Friday was a good opportunity to grab the pizza though. Even if that ended up being a still eating at 11pm thing.

That's another sign of my personal time clock shifting when I'm on leave, or playing Stellaris. I was munching dinner at 11pm again last night, that's not good for all sorts of reasons. But that's bad stuff, what about the fun ?

This week's been about chilling out, to the games, to the music, to catching up on watching stuff. Stellaris has soaked up a lot of time again, with a fella called Quill18 (youtube guy who I watch a little of) going for the 200 years of peace achievement. So I thought I'd see about turning the gameplay back to something simpler and seeing about collecting the achievements. I'm up to 52 now out of 95, with 40 coming in the last couple of weeks. Including that 200 years of peace (it was actually 325).

Fun times, mixed in with a lot of terror when the crisis events happened. The trick to the peace as a pacifist race is being strong enough that no one wants to try and attack, which is harder than it sounds because the AIs in Stellaris can be quite aggressive ... in the first attempt at the achievement, AIs were attempting to attack even when their cause was hopeless because they had nowhere else to go.
That's how that game essentially ended, with my combined fleets taking on the AI Contingency which was attempting to sterilise the galaxy. Oh and it went a little further than that for one of the achievements :
I think that star was a little bit bigger than the Dyson Sphere my people had created to capture its output.
The latest game sees me playing the complete opposite, they're a bunch of murderbots called the OTHAN Core (Over The Hill Artificial Nexus) with that name reflecting how I was feeling on Saturday after lots of walking on Friday !
We're on the left there having worked our way through 3 competing races so far. The next war will be against the 4 neighbouring races who have joined up in a federation. The main disadvantage to playing as the Fanatic Purifier, Devouring Swarm or in this case, Determined Exterminator, is that diplomacy is impossible and the other races will gang up in defence ... because they're scared.

Makes for challenging games.

I've also enjoyed finishing off the Battletech campaign. A curious game, they brought out the gameplay in the tabletop game but I wasn't convinced about the scenarios they put it in. It's like the difference between having a set of rules to play with and having a fun world to play in. I'm not sure that the Roguetech mod allows for that. It greatly expands the rules but doesn't do much about the world. I may well give it another shot, especially as I've given Avast the boot after thinking that it was hurting performance too much.

Lots of music has been happening too as I steadily work my way through the library again. There are less than 4000 tracks to go now until I've listened to everything ... and along the way more new music will appear. I have my eye on Jade Bird and Emiliana Torrini after hearing a couple of their tracks over the last few days.

I'm up to listening to the G albums now.

I have an episode of Titans on at the moment in another window. An interesting modern take on it, which I've been more intrigued about than enjoying perhaps. I'm wondering where it will be going.

I'm up to series 6 with Stargate SG-1, which I have more mixed feelings about. If you watch that after reading the British Stargate fanfic thing, the series is very much a dumpster fire in comparison. O'Neill is a decent character but .... he's also very often written as a bit of a prat. Stealing technology, the Red Sky episode where he allows impetuousness to override how he deals with the locals. It's a much loved series but I have reservations about it now.

I'll keep watching though. It was one of the best series on when it came out but ... is probably ageing a bit badly now.

Now though, I think it's a little bit of Skyrim !

Thursday, April 11, 2019

7 Films

Another meme sighted ! This one is :

You have to pick 7 films for a marathon all-nighter, but the rules are: 1) the films must be franchise films & 2) all 7 films must be from different franchises.

Let's see. What can we come up with from that one. Oh and you know already that a lot of these are going to be scifi don't you ? I'm totally ignoring that must be franchise film rule by the way.
First up is the inevitable Star Wars film, it's Rogue One.

This was an incredible film when it came out with a compelling storyline that just happened to be set in the Star Wars universe. The characters really sprung to life and made you feel what they were going through. The visuals were incredible. The digitally resurrected Tarkin was utterly chilling.

Next up is Passengers, a love story set on a space ship in the reasonably distant future. A small cast ... but there is great interplay between the two leads. There's great drama and .... a tear or two were genuinely shed while watching this movie. Oh and you gotta watch the gag reel in the extras especially for Jennifer Lawrence's incredibly filthy laugh. I suspect she had huge fun with this movie.

Time for a super hero movie and I'm picking Thor Ragnarok. This is one film that definitely didn't take itself seriously at all. I was head bopping to Led Zep's Immigrant Song right at the start and there was a bemused grin on my face all the way through watching it at the cinema. Twice.

A film I haven't watched for ages is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Actually it's a toss up here between this film and House of Flying Daggers. Crouching Tiger led the way here bringing this genre back to popularity and it was a stunningly beautiful story, cinematography and setting. And House of Flying Daggers continued and extended that.
Is that two picks or one ? I need to watch both again !

Number 5 is 2001 which was an incredible movie in its day. Bit boring perhaps but an absolute triumph for the visuals. The modelling work still looks great today.

Up at 6 is Pacific Rim. Another soft fluffy absolute FUN movie with big silly robots fighting sillier big monsters. This list had to have some daft fun in it and Pacific Rim definitely fits that for a movie I'd happily watch over and over again.

Last one will surprise many and I'd urge you to go see it if you haven't. It's the Handmaiden from 2016, a gorgeously shot and played film set in Japan. A nefarious scheme has been hatched to separate a young heiress from her money ... But will it go as everyone plans ? This one kept me guessing all the way through and it was a delight to experience it. (Adult warning though - there's some strong stuff in this one)

Honourable mentions go to the Matrix films. To Interstellar for a story that also got the tears at the end ... but it suffered for the silliness that broke it's scifi. I didn't think I could add a Star Trek movie but Wrath of Khan, The Motion Picture and Insurrection are definite candidates. I thought Battle Angel Alita was a marvellous film this year, as was Spiderman into the Spiderverse.

I need to watch Studio Ghibli movies too. I loved Spirited Away when I watched it many years ago.

Hmm ... any more ? I do have a sizeable dvd/bluray collection. The Riddick movies were excellent scifi.

And then there's the Resident Evil movies, the Independence Day movies, Mad Max, Die Hards. Armageddon and Deep Impact (and Meteor). The Jurassic Park movies. Yes I'm trolling but you should definitely check out Troll Hunter as it's a marvelous film too.

And I just looked over at the blurays and instantly spotted The Martian ! How could I leave that one out !

Monday, April 08, 2019

Tired, Break soon. Then Games !

I'm pretty tired at the moment.
Soon. The run from Xmas to Easter always seems really long and that burns me out after a while. What I really should do is find a time around March time to take a week and rest up before More Things happen around Easter. This time around, work took me away on trips away for a day which were great (apart from the meeting day which was meh but had to be done) and I actually felt far more hyper after a couple of those than I have done all year. But that gets to the limit of my energy after a while.

That's improving though, I think my general health is improving as my outsides improve. Probably due to being able to sleep a bit better recently.

What isn't helping is multiple threats and worries, within and without. I won't talk about those here. But they are weighing on my mind a lot.

While I haven't been reading much lately, I was enjoying Embers of War and I really need to reopen that one. Similar with the drawing. I need to get the pad out again at some point and practice again. Because people seem to like the drawings.

Games have been dominating my downtime lately, both in watching videos of games and in the playing too. Oh and if you have Netflix, check out Love, Death and Robots. I enjoyed the first 6 of these. Well, maybe The Witness was a bit too weird but Three Robots was amazing as was "When The Yogurt Took Over" and Suits.

Let's see ... the Battletech campaign has been continuing with mechs stomping the opposition and the occasional tragedy on our side too.

Iceangel (yep, old name back) leads the company from her Highlander mech called Can Be Only One. Yep. I went there :-D. I have a melee specialist in the For Behemoth ready to get close, thump things and then barbecue what remains. That one was piloted by Quarterback, who was the latest casualty of optimistically trying to stay around when the best choice would be to eject and save the pilot.

You can take 4 mechs along, so the other two are the lighter (still heavy!) mechs of varying roles. Like the long range missile mechs of Storm Of Bees, Fuzzy's Fireflies and Lurking Doom. There's a couple of long range gun mechs in Elysian Fire and Rumbling Thunder. The idea is to engage at range while the heaviest mech runs in close to barbecue things. It seems to be working, although the AI doesn't give you an easy ride and tends to pick on already wounded mechs. I do too, all's fair in war and all that.

Here's the fallen so far, including the daftest so far. Most of the pilots have been lost to shots to the head bit. Very lucky shots ...
Poor Apex getting mugged on her first mission. I named a mech Apex Predator for that one but it was an ill fated mech too. There are also the Remember Behemoth, Rise Seneschal, I really need one for Medusa and the next big mech to be reclaimed will be something like Quarterback Sneak. The game does a decent job of having you keep an eye on your pilots. Glitch is great with random comments "Will there be bears?" and I actually feel bad about losing some. Medusa too, who returned from massive injuries, to get injured again in his next battle and then eating a head shot in the battle after that.

And then there's mech names like Prickly Hedgehog and Bunnies. Sometimes the names come ! Sometimes the brain only has bunnies in it.

I also went back into Stellaris for the first time in a while. This was totally without mods to see about getting some achievements collected. The true target was 200 years of peace, which won't come in this game. The two nearest neighbours keep declaring war, keep getting crushed and ....
My mob are in the south in the light green with a Heart symbol. They're Fanatic Pacifists, the heart symbol seemed appropriate. The two belligerents are just to the North and North West but the big threat is the blue Swarm guys to the East. They're a devouring swarm that is just as powerful as my race economically and .... they have an overwhelming fleet advantage. I suspect they will declare war while I'm fighting the two close AIs again and ... the best course of action if they do will be to modify my species to make ourselves Delicious (yes, you can do that !) and throw ourselves on to the Swarm's dinner table.

I have a Cunning Plan to get that 200 years of peace achievement. I'll roll up a Devouring Swarm, eat everyone and put the game on fast forward for an hour or so.


Yep. Games have been fun again lately. Hopefully I can get my Skyrim game running again soon, as the latest patch did a massive number on all the mods I use. A stable game suddenly became very unstable and the mods wouldn't link up between themselves. The Cunning Plan there is to delete everything and start again. The deletion happened at the weekend and I'll put things back on at some point.

On leave next week though. I'm hoping to escape the house for at least a couple of days too ! Stow on the Wold is fairly close by and I remember it being a nice place to visit. It'll be good to go back.

Be well everyone.

Monday, April 01, 2019

A couple of changes

I'm pretty tired as I type this, so sadly no drawings to back it up but there does appear to be a few photographic bits of evidence that have been left in my wake after the latest rampage events.

I've had trouble with my insides for a good while. My insides make too much acid and that gets pretty uncomfortable. Especially when attempting to get to sleep.

(Last night was a doozy ! Both me and my mum had the fish at the pub and we were both affected by nasty cases of acid as we discovered this morning)

But. There is much to be said for taking a disadvantage and turning it around to your advantage.

In this case, I've been keeping it quiet but for the last few months I've been undergoing experimental gene therapy. I had a little foretaste of this after eating the garlic bread at Turtle Beach, burping and I'm sure a little bit of flame came out.
(credit - Ines-ka of Deviantart, see link)

Of my mouth ! Not the other end. That could have been bad.

But yeah ! It sounded like a great idea. Start with that excess hydrochloric acid that's being made. Add something to liberate all that flammable hydrogen. It also helps if it makes something tasty. Salt is good and one half of that is Sodium. This video has a demonstration involving Aluminium. Sodium is really reactive though (think - explosive in water) so the gene docs had to make a few modifications so that I wouldn't go the way of pigeons that have been fed baking soda laden bread. (Don't do that folks)

We thought about Iron too and I do have a taste for Irn-Bru (made in Scotland from girders) but Iron isn't quite reactive enough for what we wanted.

I'm getting sidetracked.

A few bits of gene modification later, a strengthening of the stomach lining, addition of a second stomach as a reaction chamber and some membranes behind my front teeth as igniters too and ...

I breathe fire now. How cool is that !

Bit of a drawback when trying to put out the candles though. One of the Double D boys has a birthday today ! Happy birthday !
Picture credit - ZookieDragon of Deviantart again.

It's great for the cooking too.
That totally wasn't a horrible accident that happened during experimentation. Honest.

 I picked up more marshmallows too this weekend ! Totally looking forward to trying out the new abilities on those. It's also a good way of disposing of the junkmail we all get too. Smoke alarm doesn't like it but ... smoke alarms are a bit rubbish anyway.

One thing I'm not looking forward to are the cramps they warned me about. My metabolism was always a bit odd when it came to cramping and dehydration and salt balance. I'd like salt bomb myself into cramping by having too much salt on my dinner after running around. And that Sodium Chloride waste product from the hydrogen production could well lead to muscles that want to go bang.

I guess that just means lots of water or. Come to think of it .... Something more flammable to increase the flame effect !

I had nothing to do with that. Honest.