Friday, July 24, 2020

Final Step, New Journey

Hello everyone,

I have masks !

They're from a small scale supplier called Beverley's Masks (linky), which I found via one of the discords. I like the designs, they're cheap (£5 inc postage to UK) and they arrived on Wednesday after I ordered them on Sunday evening. Very happy with that. Would definitely recommend. I have my new Elite t-shirt as well, which was ordered as a second item to an Elite themed mask ... I haven't got the mask yet.

Three cheers for Beverley's Masks, a hearty BOO HISS for Frontier's suppliers.

I've been trying out a new game ... I might well be in there a fair bit over the next week (hands permitting) because I've been enjoying it so far.
That's Bashara Dannalae and she has a Pointy Hat. And an outfit that she'll catch her death of cold in. (A better one will appear later).

The game is Final Fantasy XIV and it's started out as a massively charming massive multiplayer game so far. They must have done a huge amount of work getting the facial expressions and emotes just absolutely perfect. It's a very pretty game and I've been enjoying my time in it so far.
Bashara ventures forth ... to adventure !
An upgrade later and she's visiting the housing district. I haven't checked this aspect of the game out much so far. I'm only on the free trial at the moment although I get the feeling that I might race through the content on offer and get to the free trial level cap before the game goes on sale again. We shall see !
And that's Bashara as I left her this evening. Better armour, a hat with Two Pointy Things and an eagerness to punch lots of things while in search of more story to play through.

But I needed to break for munchies and I have to manage my hands these days.

I'm on leave next week though ! So lots more time available. I'm not planning on going too far although I think I'll venture out at some point (with my masks!) when the latest cricket finishes.

So if Final Fantasy XIV is the new journey, what's the Final Step ? The Drew Wagar Elite Lore Tour came to a close yesterday evening and I had the privilege of being involved in the final stream. Fun times, quite probably the coolest thing I've been involved in with a game.

Let's see if this works ... oh well, (the movie clip thing only does Youtube) ... This link will take you to a 53 ship mass hyperspace jump at the end of yesterday's stream. It was pretty awesome to have my little ship along for the ride.
As usual, click for bigger. Spot little Tea-89 creeping in to the shot there showing off her markings.
It was great to see so many ships in one place.
There was a decent variety of pretty ships to look at too, most pilots had gone for the more long ranged ships but there were some of the different types too. That shot includes a Beluga Liner, several Anacondas, a couple of Imperial Cutters, Asp Explorers, Krait Phantoms, a Dolphin,, an Orca, an Imperial fighter, a Federal Corvette and a couple of Cobra Mk3's.
Time for a better look. Up in the top right is the megaship Zurara, which I'll talk about later.

It's been great listening in to Cmdr Wagar's Lore Tour. He's got a very listenable to voice and is massively keen for the Lore that's gone through the 4 major Elite games. (Curiously, he shares my frustration at the development of the lore dying a death since the start of the year).
But all good things come to an end and there was no more Lore for now to tell. This is just before the final gathering for a formation flight past the Zurara ...
Setting up for a spectacular mass hyperspace jump out of the system. It was great to see and I think Cmdr Wagar got a massive kick out of it during the livestream. It's always good to see a big grin. (Link to clip again)

As for me with the Internet Spaceships, I'll be making my way back more slowly ... hopefully visiting some places along the way. But a bit slower because I think I'm a bit burned out on the game. There are more pictures to come though !

Time to say good night though and I think ... open up Existence by David Brin.

We're not out of the woods yet with what's going on outside. Looks like there's still a lot of dangerous people out there who aren't taking the corona seriously enough. Live how you want to, if you don't feel safe in a particular situation, get out of there.

Be safe, be well, enjoy what you're getting up to.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Watching the Watches

Hello everyone,

More venturing out has happened. This time it was a probably overdue acquisition of a watch ...

My last watch did really well for me but it's been increasingly losing its accuracy and it lost its voice (beeps) many years ago. It was in need of a service, which probably would have cost more than a new watch and was starting to eat batteries more regularly too. So when it stopped on Thursday (Wednesday?), that was a trigger for heading out to the shops again.
I'd been doing a bit of research before, opened up the possibilities beyond Accurist and this appeared ...
Shiny ! And in range due to rather massive discounting. I don't think it would be fair to expect another 23 years out of this watch but I'll be happy with 10 :-D. Makes a fair bit of difference to the watches I used to go through at school. This Accurist :
Was acquired in 1997 and I think it cost £90. It's older than some people I know :-D. The ones before came from Lorus and Timex, those tended to break within a couple of years. The Xeon watch I got after was very inaccurate. At least I think it was by people called Xeon, that make isn't around any more.

Our local Mall was a mixed bag on Friday. I'm still hunting for masks (I have a selection coming in the post - so that's sorted) and was sad to see only one shop stocking them. Well, theoretically 2 but I thought the ones in HMV were a waste of time. I almost picked up a few from WH Smith. Not sure why I didn't. The Gromit shop had sold out.

The shops themselves were a mixed bag. Some were observing the social distancing rules with maximums set on the people allowed in at any time, some had hand sanitiser at the doors, some had one way systems. There was a one way system set up for the walkways around the Mall. Other shops were just open season, not limiting the numbers inside and having no idea how to deal with rude people pushing past.

Oh and there were also people coming out of shops and walking the wrong way on the one way system. Stupidity is real.

My advice to you if you are venturing out into shop areas :
If you're not comfortable going into a shop, don't go in. I should have just not gone in to the shop with the crafty gear where I was looking for a mask again.
If a shop isn't practicing distancing or limits, don't go in.
Respect the systems;
Use the hand sanitisers;
Sign in to track and trace apps if you're eating anywhere.
Be wary.

Idiocy is real. I'm not planning to go to that many shops in the near future, although I do need to initiate new glasses still. My Homing Signal started pinging very soon after that crafty shop that had way too many people inside and I disappeared back home without doing the glasses.

(Mind you, the Homing Signal was probably firing partly because I wanted to get back to watch the cricket and to not miss too much of the Fuzzy stream).

Internet spaceships ? The tour continues. Last time, I left things at the conclusion of the gravity dive at the home of the Empire.
The next stop was the very dark Thetis Generation Ship ... In the Elite lore, these ships left Earth from the end of the 21st century, continuing their departures into the 22nd century. This was before the hyperdrive was invented, so it was slowboat time at sublight speeds. In theory, there should be around 70,000 of them seeded in the game and the sublight speed limit means they should be within 1200 light years of Earth. Some survived to reach their destinations but most have very dark endings to their stories ...

The Thetis is no exception. As the comms logs go, they pick up a mysterious message on a planet they pass by. Apparently there is a subliminal message within inciting violence among the crew. Violence that quickly spreads out of control. Centuries later, the ship is dark. Lost amongst the stars.
Perhaps there was a way in ? We may return later when suitable gear is available for entry.

(Incidentally, No Mans Sky has just released a content update that allows exploration of mysterious space hulks ... may have to look at that game again !)
That's the Yellow Sidewinder, a base in the Lave system which was the next place to visit. This system and its neighbours hold a special place in the hearts of Elite players ... This is the screen that greeted the initial players when they looked at the galaxy map way back in 1984 :
The old systems were restored into the newer games, starting with Frontier Elite 2 and continuing through to the latest game. They are the home systems of the Systems Alliance, another independent power group. They've been updated for the current game, with names for the space stations within them being names like "Ridley Scott", "George Lucas" and probably a bunch more that I don't recognise. The Ridley Scott station lets you acquire Leathery Eggs as a rare, unique commodity. Wonder what would hatch out of those.
I moved swiftly on from there though, with the next landing place being 12 Trianguli ... at an abandoned base that I'll talk about ... next time !

Oh and there may be screenshots of a very cute anime inspired game coming soon, I'm being tempted in to trying out Final Fantasy XIV and the benchmark takes what you put into the character creator and turns them into people that combine utterly enchanting expressions with an easy Chop Monster In Two With Big Sword cutscenes.

Could be a fun one to try out, hands permitting.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Venturing Out

I've been out of the house ! Even further than the local supermarket place !

It was work though. Not sure if that really counts. It was good to see and talk to people I know in person again instead of just over the phone and Skype. Can't say what I was getting up to though cos ... work.
I'll be ending with more Internet Spaceship pics but before I get to that :

Being out and about more ? I'll wait a bit longer there I think. This current situation isn't over yet. I think I may actually have been lightly touched by the virus because I wasn't particularly well back in April. It wasn't serious enough to think about contacting for aid but I did have numerous symptoms that I put down to other things like : April allergies, dust, bad buns from a service station and otherwise adjusting to the new situation. I'm still incredibly lacking in energy though but that could also partly due to not doing much.

But yep. I need to be getting a few things sorted out, like new glasses in particular and a few other things as well. Plus I want to do one of those city centre wanders that tends to see me going past book caves, Lego shops and places that sell music.

I think I might have to look at alternatives for my next car ... I'm on my third Lexus IS300h at the moment. I'm not planning on changing it but they do keep trying to tempt me into changing. At the moment, it's to get one of the last ones to come into the UK. They're discontinuing it ... which feels mad because it was becoming an increasingly popular car in the car park. Looks like they're looking to move in to SUV type cars and are abandoning that particular part of the market. I'm not a fan of SUVs, I can see why people might like them but for me, all that extra metal isn't doing anything for me so it's just slowing things down.

What would I get if I had to change now ? It'd be between the bigger Lexus ES or quite possibly a Toyota Corolla ... they have a 2.0litre hybrid which looks fast and efficient. The Prius is efficient but slow and the CT I had was a wonderful little car but ... slow and less efficient.

We'll see ! But yeah, not planning to change any time soon.

Internet spaceships ? I've been continuing the tour. I'm hoping to catch up to one of the live streams, which is a definite possibility and might actually lead to some hanging around not doing very much. I think I've been burning out on the game again, or it might be a case of needing to do something different.

I've actually been in different games as well, courtesy of Steam sales.
That's Gear City, which I found while looking into a different game. This one sees you set up a car manufacturer and try to survive and thrive. I've been starting off in 1900, the era of vintage cars. We'll see where it goes.
I picked up the DLC for Battletech and have an early campaign game going there ... It started pretty well but then turned a bit rough. I've got a pretty firm handle on the tactics there now, basically speed is life and concentration of firepower is the way to go. Get guns off the field is a strong theory to run with.

I've also acquired Oxygen Not Included (CK loves that), Knights of Pen and Paper 2, Reassembly and Hardspace Shipbreaker. I still need to try those ones. I've managed to bin the Idle Champions addiction, that's a curious one. You barely interact with the game, outside of figuring out the strategy you're going to go with but you feel like you have to keep monitoring it.

Still doing the miles in Elite though. I left it last time at Tau Ceti. The next step in the tour was to visit Achenar, home of the Empire.
But first, that's the latest ship in the fleet. The name is Maverick, callsign GO-05E. Some of you may catch the reference. She's built for speed.
Speed and fly bys of towers. I built this one to go really, really fast (we'll get to that) and to zoom around the features both in space and on planets.
Back to the tour though. The first place to visit was the Homestead, close to the home star.
I couldn't resist a closer look at the farm.
Quick peek at one of the planets too.
The Imperials have their own capital ships. Far more stylish than the very functional Federation capital ship design.
Coming in to dock at Dawes Hub. One of the things I wanted to try out in the Achenar system was a gravity dive. This is where you start at altitude at a high gravity planet and see how fast you can go, preferably without needing to lithobrake (ground assisted braking, usually involves dents).
The dive started out at 1000km up and the gravity meter is already showing 5.94g. That's a lot of weight. The technique is to start off at the ship's top speed, point slightly downwards and thrust "up". Oh and you turn the flight assist off so that you go more like Newtonian physics instead of the ship trying to keep you to your maximum speed.
After dropping around 250km, the speed is up to 3,817m/s. The ship is already a fast one, as seen in that first screenshot. The normal maximum speed is about 700m/s.
I thought about doing a tower flyby but ... kinda missed it, shooting over the top at an altitude of 375km.
This is where I thought I'd just about hit the top speed I was going to get, with me pulling the brakes on at 7,500m/s. The altitude was a mere 34.7km up (I wanted to leave some room in case levelling out wasn't simple) and the gravity at this point is 6.7g.

Pretty good for a first attempt at doing a gravity dive. Speeds of above 10km/s are possible.

I didn't go for a landing this time (6.7g is heavy !) but it was a fun little thing to do.

Bit like getting out of the house and on the road again ! I'm still pretty tired from all that though, so gaming sessions have been short and I haven't opened a book since finishing Murderbot 2 either.

Hope you're all good out there as well.

Be well, stay safe, have fun !

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Potato On Tour

Hello everyone,

More internet spaceships today ... Perhaps while I ignore what's happening in the world outside still ! The shops are steadily opening here but I haven't ventured out to them yet partly because I know this crisis isn't over yet plus I don't think there's actually much I want to buy at the moment !

What are things I want to pick up ?
Graphics card - I'm starting to pick up games that push past the limit of what my current card can do so I'm looking to upgrade from my 1060 3GB card to a 2060 or even up to a 2070. With a Next Gen card on the horizon, prices are finally starting to drop.
Keyboard - mine continues to have an issue or two. It's currently repeating occasional o's and the light up keys are stuck in set colours at the moment. (I could probably fix this by unplug / plugin).
Hotas upgrade - Not sure about this one actually but I am having increasing hand issues which might be down to my current stick and throttle.
Oven - needed one of these for a while but mine is still perfectly capable of burning food.
Glasses - these are becoming much more urgent and will require a trip out to get some more.

Internet Spaceships ?
As always, click for bigger. I left things last time at Cortes Base and have since embarked on the Drew Wagar Elite Lore Tour (youtube link), following that path and hoping to catch up before the end. The Warp Factor Potato may make an appearance on his stream at some point if I catch up.
The first stop was Mercury, closest planet to the Sun.
Venus is next up, still too hostile to land on.
And then we move on to our home and I'm pretty sure that's Australia. One thing I'm really curious about is that while the game is on GMT, that's the wrong side of the planet to be in the day time !
There's Europe, with rather curious lighting if you have a closer look.
Both Earth and Mars have capital ships in orbit. Nice big chunky ships and the Federation ones look like they mean business. Earth is no longer the place where the Federation is run from in the Elite universe, massive ecological damage led to the end of most of the superpowers and then the Congress decamped to Mars.
There's still a lot to look at though, this is one of the space stations in orbit.
Moon's still there too, a station here is the starting point for the speed runs to the galactic centre.
Mars is the next stop, the 4th planet in our solar system. In the Elite universe, it's been fully terraformed and is actually in better shape than Earth is. I think the pimple there is Olympus Mons.
There was a megaship to have a look at too.
A bit further out we have Jupiter in the background, with the moon Io orbiting. This is the setting for the 2001 and 2010 stories ... at least as they were done in the films. In reality, this is a really unhealthy place to be because Jupiter is massively hot radioactively.
Of course I had a closer look.
I had a stop off at Europa too, which is another important part of the 2001, 2010 and 2061 stories. "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there." Erm ...
There's a base there too, which I mostly landed on to get a picture with Jupiter :-D. (Jupiter is at something like its highest point in the sky in the previous pic).
Saturn is the next major gas giant in our solar system. In the original 2001 book, the Incident happens at Jupiter and then after Hal is disconnected, they fly on to Saturn which is where the monolith is with the Discovery being run remotely from Earth. That's changed for the film and subsequent books, probably for the better to be honest.
Next up is another gas giant, this is me probing Uranus. Yes, I went there. I have no shame.
Last place for the tour is Neptune, another smaller gas giant. The sun's a bit far off in these pics hence the lack of general illumination out here.
Bit more lights in there. What are Fuel Rats ? They're a wonderful organisation in Elite that will come out and rescue pilots who run out of fuel. I've never had to call on their services but they're quite possibly the best player run organisation I know in any game.
Plenty of room in that tunnel by the way ...
That's what I flew inside ...
It became time to move on though. The Voyager probes are apparently in the solar system, somewhere ... I didn't stick around to find them though. Next stop, Tau Ceti, which is the first extra solar colony in the Elite universe. There are a few more curious bits of lore to pick up on in the tourism beacons in this system too. That's probably enough pictures for one day though ...

There are a bunch more from today ! But I'll hold those for another post.

For now, be well,
Stay safe. Have a great week everyone.