Trip to Maia; Lost in Tamriel; Grand Theft Coaster

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Elite Dangerous, Planet Coaster, The Elder Scrolls Online

Trip to Maia; Lost in Tamriel; Grand Theft Coaster

This past weekend was rather dull: Saturday was spent…I can’t remember what the hell I did on Saturday, to be honest. It was kind of overcast and blah, and I know I didn’t do anything that I should have been doing, so I guess that makes it a success. On Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day at the in-laws. Because it was Father’s Day, I was allowed to return home before the ceremonial Canasta game. Hooray for small victories.

Trip to Maia

Speaking of small victories, I spent a good deal of time in Elite Dangerous this weekend and fulfilled my long-delayed goal of venturing to Maia in the Pleiades. The only real significance of this is that the Pleiades is where all of the alien activity has been going down, although I didn’t do any investigation of such while there. Maia and it’s surrounding environment is basically a ghost-town, as most of the nearby systems aren’t as well populated with stations as other parts of the bubble that I’m used to. There is a community goal happening in Maia as of the writing of this post, but it requires the delivery of materials that are only available a good number of jumps away. Traveling in Elite is one of the absolute worst, most boring parts of the game, so I quickly lost interest in participating once I learned that.

However, I did need to hit up Maia to pick up meta-alloys. I needed this to unlock an Engineer. The Engineers are NPCs that can create new or boost existing ship gear. As you play the game you’ll come across various materials that are needed for the creation/upgrade process. Each approach has a specific outcome but of a random magnitude, so you spend these special materials on a single spin of the RNG. If you like what you see, you can have the Engineer apply the changes; if not, you can spin again if you have enough materials. The meta-alloy was just an introduction gift to get me in to see the NPC but thankfully I had a hold full of several of the materials needed to squeeze some better performance from my FSD and sensors.

The good news is that I’m now only less than a dozen hops away from my current home range of Wu Guinagi. The original trip to Maia was something like 33 jumps; the trip to Deciat where the Engineer lives clocked in at only about 11, and I only have about 11 or so jumps back to Wu. Yeah, the math doesn’t add up, but Elite‘s route calculation is sometimes screwy like that.

Lost in Tamriel

Of course, I’m back to playing The Elder Scrolls Online since I had gotten a great deal on the Morrowind expansion. Although I’d only been off the wagon for a few weeks, the One Tamriel setup is officially screwing with my ability to figure out where the heck I am, and where I need to be.

The good thing is that I don’t need to focus on the main story (although I do on occasion). I can do nothing but side-quests because the design is such that quest visibility is organic: while you’re in an area doing quest A, B, and C, you can also pick up D, E, and F, which will lead to an area where you can get G, H, and I, and so on. This is great when the game forces you into a level-based box because you can only focus on the quests that you are lead to. With One Tamriel where levels don’t matter, you can skip D, E, and F and go straight across the continent for quests J, O, Pi, 721, and the Realization That The Universe is Ambivalent Re: Your Being, just to name a few.

I’ve been playing with Mindstrike and my brother Egon, and we’ve gotten to the point where the best content is currently dungeons and collecting the delve sky shards that we’re missing. So we’re all over the map, basically. That means I’m sometimes picking up quests that need to be solved within those dungeons or delves, or “accidentally” pick up a quest out in the world, or at least see quests in other zones. When we’re done, I head back to my current “home” zone and…forget what the hell I was doing or have no idea what I might be missing in the current zone by way of quests so I can get that all important zone closure achievement.

I’m not sure if there’s a way to track quests that need to be done in a zone in order to reach the closure achievement, or if there’s an add-on to help with that. I’d like to be able to close things out zone by zone since I can do so as if each zone were level appropriate thanks to One Tamriel. Nevermind the fact that I’ve not even considered touching the DLC content. I’m trying to stay away from the Morrowind official content (except for dungeons and delves) because I want Sedya Neen to be my first official landing spot — once again — in that region.

Grand Theft Coaster

On Sunday evening I sat at the desk and lamented my lack of streaming time. At this point, I’ve spent a lot of time and money getting things ready to put together the best-looking stream I possibly can, complete with multi-focal lighting, green screen, upgraded webcam, custom graphics AND animations, and the Elgato Stream Deck. Really, the only thing that I’m missing is a dedicated game capture device before I can say that I am officially the most overprepared non-streamer in existence.

Streaming is fun and non-fun. It’s fun because you get the warm fuzzies when you see people tune in, and even better if they interact with you. It’s also non-fun in many ways, such as seeing strangers vanish without having engaged, or even the pressure to “put on a show” in an effort to get people to stick around longer than they might if you’re just concentrating on playing the game. Streaming is, after all, a show. On one hand I know that this is patently false but on the other hand, you might as well aim high if you’re going to make the effort. I find myself caught between the desire to make the effort and my desire to just play the damned game without feeling like I have to emcee everything.

That’s why I decided to stream on Sunday evening, but not announce it. 75% of crossing the hurdle is to press the STREAMING button on the Stream Deck to get the broadcast started, and I figured that if I wanted to overcome my reticence to make the effort, I could make the effort in anonymity. That way I’d technically be streaming, but would also probably not have an audience to play up for. I did garner one random viewer who came and left (I hardly knew ye!) and got views from two Combat Wombat friends who were notified of the stream via our Discord server announcement bot.

I played Planet Coaster, a game that I find more relaxing than the high-stakes planet of RimWorld. I started the Campaign over from scratch and managed to cap the HIGH marks on the first scenario. One thing that constantly vexed me in the game: my visitors are apparently really easy marks for pickpockets. Every few ticks I’d get notified that someone was robbed. I hired a whole platoon of security guards, and they eventually apprehended a lot of the thieves, but I couldn’t figure out how to get out in front of that problem. In the end, it didn’t matter, though, as my park became popular enough for me to attract the 1100 guests and earn $15,000 needed for the third star in the scenario.

I enjoyed playing Planet Coaster with strict goals because it meant that I only had to reach those goals, and anything after that could be considered arson for the insurance money. It was also a good game to stream, I think since there’s a lot to do, a lot to keep track of, and a lot of ways for things to go hilariously wrong. I’ll probably stick with this as my streaming game and hopefully, in doing so I can overcome my hesitation to broadcast.

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Elite Dangerous: Steerage Edition

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 in Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous: Steerage Edition

Sadly, I haven’t gotten to really work with the latest Elite Dangerous update to the extent I’d like to. I jumped in last night, a day after it was released, and had two whammies working against me. 

The first was that I was trying to set up OBS to stream ahead of Extra Life on November 5th of this year. It’s a Known Issue that the Windows 10 “Anniversary Update” screwed up video, specifically video cameras, because Win 10 now allows for camera sharing between applications at the same time, which apparently screws up the decoding of compressed video. What that that mean? Every app that uses a webcam since…I dunno, the Kennedy Administration…that relied on compressed video for quality purposes is S.O.L. The OBS forums are putting the “blame” on Microsoft (which is a recognized national sport) even though the reason why Microsoft did it is so cameras aren’t unavailable for systems like their Hello facial recognition and Hololens hardware. The issue is that OBS would work for a while, but would then sieze up. Since I have it running on my secondary monnitor, I wouldn’t notice for quite some time, and since I rarely get any viewers, there’s no one there to tell me that things are getting squirrley. 

Anyway, The Magnificent Otterdown of Twitter fame suggested I turn off OBS’ preview window. This is the “feedback monitor” that streamers use to keep an eye on how well OBS is working. After doing that, the stream seemed to be working just fine. I’m assuming that the webcam usage in OBS is fighting with other software that’s also trying to access the camera…It might even be OBS itself: streaming the camera through one input, and displaying it in the monitor through another. By turning one of them off, it frees up the camera to do whatever it needs to do without interruption. 

That’s the answer I’m running with. 

The second whammie I ran into was that I don’t have a ship that can work with the new Passengers update. There were two big additions to the 2.2 patch. The first was passengers. Passengers are a new kind of cargo we can take, but which behaves differently from the usual banannas and textitles we’re asked to cart around. First, you need a passenger cabin, and the quality of the cabin determines the quality of the passengers. Second, passengers have weird requests. Some people want you to go on a sightseeing tour to the hinterlands of the universe. Others want you to stop off and buy them some nachos (not kidding, although they want more appropriate luxuries for the Elite Dangerous universe). Not only do you need to get people to their destination, which may or may not be legal, but you need to keep them happy. If you don’t, you’ll get reduced rewards, and worst case scenario, they’ll take your escape pods and leave your ship like it’s on fire (which it very well might be). 

The thing is, some of the missions pay a shitload of money. One passenger fare was paying out six million credits, but I would have had to move that person many, many lightyears away. I had a time window of several weeks to accomplish this, and that kind of made me sad because I don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to just flying someone out to the elbow of the galaxy, and that lead me to another realization. 

I don’t have a ship that can handle this. The second update was the addition of a fight craft that you can store in your ship and either remotely pilot or hire an NPC to pilot for you. My Type 6 isn’t large enough for either the passenger cab or the fighter hanger, and to get a ship that is, I need a lot more money. Considering I’ve been playing since the game has launched, and I only have almost 3 million, these cool new additions to the game are well out of my reach, and will be for some time. Maybe never. I could get the money if I had a ship that could take a passenger cab and if I had the time to fly them way out there for big paydays, but…I don’t. And I don’t see how I can. Catch 22. 

Once again, the curse of the expansion hits me: great stuff that I’m excited about, but I can’t use any of it because it’s aimed at people who are significantly farther along the progression curve than I’ll ever be. 

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