Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Boring is Mining, but Mining isn’t Boring…

~or “A Mining We Will Go, A Mining We Will Go…”

OK, I think I figured out mining in E:D… and I like it much moar than in EVE. Mining in EVE is all but a fully automated process and hence quite boring as anyone who has ever done it knows... even those who LIKE it know it is boring but they use the ‘staring at screen’ time to do other things… read blogs, work on spreadsheets, watch streams, play League… etc., etc.

In E:D however, mining is real PvE, and a quite active PvE to boot. Several things I have learned along the way… Your ships fit is, same as in EVE, critical yet very very different. The modules interactions are more granular, more detailed than in EVE and in many ways more realistic.

So I fly out to a “Resource Extraction” site… IE asteroid field, which in themselves are a bit more realistic too in that they are not silly little partial arcs of rocks with no sensible reason as to why or what they are arcing around… These are fields of rocks of varying sizes usually very (very) close to a sun. And the first time I landed at one I trundled over to a rock and hit mouse1 to run out the mining lasers and… my ship shut down. Powered off. Dead in the water… there I was… adrift in the black...

Yup, all powered systems shut the eff off and I see this timer, in RED telling me my oxygen will run out in 8m24s… 8m23s…8m22s…8m21s… wait, what? WTF??

After a few very interesting minutes I finally got the power back on… turns out I was badly overbudgeted for power. IE out of Cap. There are 2 modules that run your ‘grid’ in E:D, the Power Plant and the Power Distributor. The Power Plants are nuclear fusion reactors and the Power Distributor manages the power output to the ships Systems, Engine, and Weapons. It uses capacitor banks and has a set recharge capacity.

These 2 systems provide all the power to run all the systems on your ship. Ask for more power than your plant and distributor can provide and you blow fuses and melt busbars and…  BZZZZZzzzzzz  zzzzzzzzz  zzzzt!… everything goes offline.

So you have to do like we do in EVE and balance your Power and Distribution (as compared to Capacitor and CPU) as you fit up your ship. You can even run higher capacity mods by offlining some while onlining others and swapping around as needed… but unlike EVE, this is a simple flip of a switch without any need to wait for the grid to recharge to 95% or be at some set distance from X thing or whatever… So there I was overbudget on power by like 120% with all mod on, and deploying all hardpoints promptly tripped all the breakers… oh joy.

Anyhoo… once I got past that (by shutting off ALL defensive and offensive mods) I mined up enough creds to buy a Power Plant and Distributor that easily handles all my power needs… Now I’m running at 90% power draw with 100% mods online, Schweet. So I can head back out and concentrate on actually mining instead of being all focused on not asphyxiating in my ship cause Im’a derp.

Now as to the mining itself… that was interesting, and fun. I have found my best method is to… but first, a few notes of importance…

You have to buy and load up on Collector Drones. They are cheap but they take up 1 ton each, IE 1 space in your cargo racks. If you have 16 ton racks (currently I have x2 8 ton racks), you can carry 16 Collector Drones. But… you need to leave at least one space free for your first completed bin. Plus the drones have a limited lifespan.

Lifespan ranges from 300 to 720 seconds… yup, 5 minutes to 12 minutes max. Depending on class and rating you can have from 1 to 4 active and they can have ranges from 600m to 2,380m.

Mining solo with one laser and one ship I carry 10 drones. I found I can keep each one quite busy with the above method until they die and I have enough drones to make it through to a full 16/16 cargo racks. My only wasted drone up-time is travelling between rocks and as you can’t (as far as I can tell) order an active drone to dock up, and they are cheap, 120c each, I moar than cover the losses. Plus, if you think on it you soon realize you need to free up the cargo racks those drones are taking up for your completed refined ores anyway… so 10 drones at 1,200c against a 30k to 50k cred haul? Yeah, I’m ok with that.

I tested Prospector Drones early on. Fire and forget throw away drones, their job it to tell you the exact composition of a given rock… useful stuff to be sure and I can see the value in carrying them, I just don’t have the cargo racks for it yet.

NOTE on Rocks:
As far as I have been able to find out so far (PLEASE correct me if I am wrong here ok?) but there is no way to mark or tag rocks you have already depleted… I guess maybe Prospector Drones might help with that, but the HUD is limited and the rocks don’t POP (despawn) when done so you run a very real potential to get confused and waste time burning on a rock you already depleted… that is a bit of a pisser TBH.

OK, back to the How Tur Mines in E:D…

1. Warp in, land, get your bearings, choose a rock;
2. Approach till it’s clearly defined on your HUD;
3. Open Cargo Scoop;
4. Hit Fire1 to deploy weapons/mining laser/launch & program a Collector Drone;

5. Line up your laser so it’s getting a good hit near the center of the rock… some rotate fairly fast and you want to be burning rock the whole time without having to change your aimpoint;

6. Start burning the rock;
A. Chunks of the rock will be cut free and float off, the Drone will automatically fly out and snatch them up and pop them into your cargo hatch where they are loaded into the Refinery;
B. Keep burning continuously and chunks will be cut off slightly faster than the drone can collect them keeping the drone very busy;

7. Toggle ‘mouse free look’ (button push the mouse wheel) and turn slowly to your right, until the right side control panel just opens up;

8.   Switch to the “Cargo” tab to manage the Refinery and your Cargo hold. (see below)
A. I have upgraded to a 3 hopper Refinery, you will want to buy and fit the highest grade Refinery you can, more hoppers = less wasted ore = moar credits;

9. Once the drone delivers a chunk the Refinery will tell you what it is composed of and you can select what to refine.  Keep in mind you will be stuck with refining whatever you select until each hopper is filled (1 ton)(or you decide to vent the refined ores… not) once full, the ton of refined ore is automatically moved to the cargo rack freeing up that hopper. This means upon occasion you may/will find yourself throwing away very lucrative ores… so save up and get those upgraded Refineries.

OK, so now you settle in… The laser burns and cuts, chunks of rock break off and drift away, the drone zips back n forth collecting and delivering, you sit and actively hold fire on the laser while deciding and selecting what gets vented and what gets refined and while keeping an eye on the asteroid watching for when the (square white) chunks stop popping off… IE for when that rocks worthwhile ores are depleted.

10. Once the rock is depleted, stop burning and allow the drone to clean up the last of the chunks while picking out your next rock then get over there and get started as soon as possible to maximize the time you have on your drones…

Rinse and repeat.

Once your cargo racks are full, head in to a station and sell your ores. Even the way I am doing it solo is better money than the hauler contracts. I tried smuggling once… may give it a go later when I am better situated to cover the loss of cargo, the fines and repair the damages to my ship from hammering off the docking port while under boost while getting scanned… And I have yet to try any PvP or fighting PvE as I am simply not confident of my fight n flight skills… though I seem to be a god in the training simulator.

Anyhoo, to put it all in pitchers…

Fly reckless and see you in the Miningfield =/|)=

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Livin’ the L33T Life…

~or “Muddlin along Not-So-Dangerously…”

I had done the trading thing and enjoyed it quite a bit so I decided to try the mining thing, and bought a Cobra. The Cobra Mk. III is a midsized hull, with a very good cargo capacity, 16 tons, matched with a low heat sig and the ability to outrun most ships.

I fit it up for mining… x2 Mining Lasers, a Refinery and Prospector “limpets” err…  droans. (limpets are what they call droans in E:D… I simply cannot call them limpets as they are most definitely NOT aquatic snails with broadly conical shells.… so I shall l henceforth call them droans and you can ping me all you want about it, I will not change) I also really want to fit Collector Droans but they were not available at Worlidge Terminal in LHS 3447.

So I fitted her up, upgraded a few base modules then ran out of money. I then promptly went out, warped to an asteroid belt and tried my hand at mining in E:D… I lasered the fuk outta’ a rock or 2 afore I figgered out how to find and target the pieces that I was blasting off… even depleted one rock completely and never saw one piece of it.

For that matter I never got even one piece at all because I discovered I can’t, or don’t know how to, open my Cargo Scoop… supposed to be the “Home” key but nothing works to open it… so I bumbled around and promptly crashed my ship into a number of rocks, causing damage I could not afford to fix.

So I returned to trading and stuck with it ‘till saved up a touch over 400,000c. Not just so I could afford to fix my mining ship but so I could also move that ship over to Dalton Gateway station. I have come to prefer, from a RP viewpoint, Dalton gateway over Worlidge Terminal as my ‘home’ in E:D. Worlidge is one of those ‘box’ stations, what they call a “Coriolis” station… I don’t like Coriolis stations much.

They are a “Cuboctahedron” and they are so uniform in shape that when you land at one, unless you land on the dock side, you have to sorta guess which end to fly to… but first you have to watch for a second to see how it’s rotating so you can determine which of the ‘sides’ the dock might be on then I look to see which of those sides ships are flying around, if any… All in all simply too much bother. In fact it is so much bother people have even made HOW TO videos on this… sheesh.

Dalton Gateway however is how I have always seen working ‘real’ space stations in my mind… Dalton is an “Orbis”. Now the Orbis looks like a SPACE STATION!! It’s a Stanford Torus and this makes sense to me. The location of the docking port is blatantly obvious at the hub end of a huge wheel, and it has torus (the wheely part), a doughnut shaped hollow ring that rotates to give artificial gravity via centrifugal force. The interior is open with a floored space that has dirt and farms and lakes and buildings and parks and trees… a simulated ‘natural’ ecosystem for food and living space… in space.

This is my new home. I instinctively know where to head to in order to dock up…

And here is where I live... or where I'd like to... really really would like to!  =] 

There is one thing I noticed the first time I idled over and sat a few K off the hab ring roof and looked around inside… A Stanford Torus design always includes a mirror system to magnify and reflect sunlight into the interior of the torus. These mirrors are adjusted to simulate the day/night rhythms all planet evolved species need. E:D’s torus stations do not have this… the light from the sun is interrupted in many and fascinating ways as the ring revolves… but not in ways conducive to healthy crops or healthy people for that matter.

But it is just a game right? I mean, what could they possibly DO about it? Hmm. So much attention to SOOO much detail… and yet.  =\

Anyhoo, so I decided to move my Cobra from Worlidge to Dalton. Now in EVE we do that by podding or shuttling around, or we pay a corp group or a hauling service such as Red, Blue or Black Frog Freight to haul the ships for us under contract. No such luck in E:D. Your ships are yours alone and I can find not one hauling services much less ships capable of actually hauling other ships around, E:D dunt work like that.

So you have to fly them around yourself. And there are no PODs nor cheap as dirt shuttles either… you have to buy a noob ship, the trusty Sidewinder Mk I. At approx 32,000c not too bad and like in EVE you can sell it when you swap to the ship you are wanting to move for I think most if not all of the buy price so meh… it’ doable.

I brought my Cobra to my new home and at last have all 3 of my ships in the same station. Sweet. I was also happy to discover that Dalton Gateway’s market has Collector Drones! Schweet! I got rid of the Prospectors and loaded up on Collectors and went back out to chew on some rocks.

It is a fascinating and incredibly different from EVE, mining in E:D. You choose and target a rock, toggle a Collector Droan off (he sits patiently underneath your ship below the cargo hatch), you open the cargo scoop (IE hatch… OH and I did find out that I can open and close my cargo scoop from the left hand panel Functions tab, I guess I need to set a key bind…). Ok so now yer set… you fire on the rock until a chunk breaks off and drifts away and you target the chunk, the Collector Droan automatically swings out and snatches the chunk and pops it into your cargo hold.

Now you have to Allocate the Resource. The Refinery tells you what you have and you have to decide what you are going to refine and keep, and what you are going to throw away... wait, huh? It turns out with the base model Refinery you have only 1 refinery bin and well you see with only 1 bin you can refine only 1 element… then you have to vent, IE throw overboard, IE throw AWAY all the rest… no matter what it is. I was refining for Palladium and got a chunk with silver and gold in it… and had no choice but to chuck them overboard. Geez really? And you have to do this multiple times until you fill the bin (1 ton) and move it to your cargo hold and free up the bin again.

OK, so I did that long enough to get a feel for it and said to H with this until I can upgrade to a multi-bin Refinery. Simply not in me to throw good credits right out the window cause I don’t have good enough equipment. Eff that.

So… back to trading. Though I just might buy a second Cobra and fit it specifically as a hauler… it does carry 16 tons, twice my little 8 ton Hauler and it is supposed to be faster and a little better at the GTFO. I am not looking at any of the TypeX Freighters yet… they start around 1mil Credits and I aint there… just yet.  =]

Fly reckless and see you in the hab =/|)=

Ohhhhh hells yeah.  =]

Monday, July 6, 2015

You Know That I’m No Good…

~or “Faithless…”

I have a confession to make… I have cheated… on EVE… as Amy Winehouse crooned…

I cheated myself,
like I knew, I would.
I told you I was trouble,
You know, that I’m no good.

I also will confess to having quite the thing for Miss Winehouse’s singing… (before the drugs…) whatta voice.

I have said afore that I am a one game man. By this I mean I only ‘really’ play one MMO. And that MMO is EVE. I do play other games occasionally but they are basically mindless time killers for when I simply don’t have the time to properly devote to EVE or I have a need to, well, mindlessly kill time.

I play Minecraft, an amazing creative world, but I have not ever played on multiplayer servers and don’t plan to. I have been trying to get a MC server running at home for my kids and I, but I haven’t been trying very hard… I also occasionally play Quake Live… but that is the truest form of mindless mental violenceturbation I have ever known. I know no one on the public servers and don’t ever want to. I go there only for storyless, mindless, unadulterated pure PvP.

My (real) gaming began with Doom. I was a FPS player for many years… Oh, I have trialed many other games over those same years, a few, Planetside 2, The Evil Within, Diablo 3, still reside on my hard drive, taking up space, ‘rarely used’… and at some point they will be uninstalled. Very very few games have ever really grabbed my interest, and until EVE not one of the MMOs had… and I tried many if not most of what’s out there. I really did… and either simply could not get into them or downright hated them.

 Until EVE… to say that I was enraptured, enthralled and overwhelmed barely touches on how deeply I was affected when I first undocked in EVE. I have been a SciFi nerd since I was 6 and an IT geek since my mid-twenties. The combination of the 2 in a game as deep, broad and immersive as EVE was what it took for me to finally take the plunge and become an MMO player. That and the wonderful fact that my sons, both Marines at the time, were the ones who brought me in and who I have flown with ever since… well, what can I say? EVE is the shit.  =]

And until now it was the ONLY MMO I actually played… until Saturday the Twenty-Seventh of June in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Fifteen that is, because on that auspicious day, I downloaded and installed Elite Dangerous… and THIS is something altogether different.

First I created Cmdr Turamarth Elrandir (Yea!!! I’m still ME!!!) then I ran the undocking practice 4 times, then ran the docking practice 4 times, then I did the supercruise and warping about the place practice 4 times… after that, feeling I could now move about with a modicum of confidence, I logged into the verse. By the time I had landed in a new station at the end of my first foray out, I was sold and I knew from that moment on I was at the very least a two game player.

Gidzenko Ring Station in Chamunda System...  My home in Elite Dangerous
All I’m doing now is the easy, safe, low pay contract hauling stuff (delivery missions)... I’m a Courier. I’m making noob bank, slowly but steadily and I spent a only week in the noob ship, the Sidewinder Mk. I. But just like back when I was a noob in EVE, I’m not trying to get rich, I’m learning the ropes and the ways of this new, FOUR HUNDRED BILLION star system ‘verse I am now a very small small part of.

I’ve been kilt in non-consensual PvP already… once so far on my first day in game, about 3 or so hours in. That was a LOT faster than it happened the first time in EVE. What was I doing? boofing around trying to learn the ropes. I had seen ‘stuff’ in space and was sort of exploring… I was trying to figure out how to open the Cargo Scoop and some 5 or so ships landed in a gang… I saw some smack in ‘local’ like, “Ooooo a snack!” and I was attacked. I tried to run but, well… I’m an EVE vet so it was what it was and I was also curious how death in E:D worked. Still haven’t looked up the mechanics or logic or lore behind it but there I was in my starter station being asked if I wanted the free Sidewinder… yes of course.

I Looked it up, they call it Death Penalty Rules:
“When a commander’s ship receives catastrophic hull damage (breaks apart) or becomes incapable of supporting life, the commander automatically escapes via an ever-present, indestructible escape pod.

Ahhhh… the old Escape Pod that never fails gambit…

Not an escape POD... Exterior view of the Gidzenko Ring Dock (the ships actually fit inside it! Yeah physics!!)
- The escape pod transports the commander back to the last station that they docked at. - Commanders losing a ship can accrue an excess fee which must be paid straight away.
- Starter ships with starting equipment have no excess fee.
- The excess fee is a percentage of the ship’s total value (including equipment)

And there is no warping out of a lost fight… when it says transports, it actually mean teleports. It’s just like how Scotty the Docking Manager handles docking in EVE… “Poof” and yer outta there. They went to so much trouble to give us realistic ship handling, undocking, docking and an amazing series of Stations (that unlike in EVE make SENSE!!!) and incredibly detailed planets and suns etc., etc … only to fall back on the age old automagically respawn at death thing, my first real disappointment in the game.

Once the ‘excess fee’ has been paid the commander is given a replacement ship and equipment identical to the load out when the ship was docked (the context is that there is an automatic insurance premium applied to all sales)

And again we have a fall back to the old standard gaming “Your stuff is Permanent.” IE no ‘real’ loss, meaning no real ‘consequences’ for actions in the game… meh.

Anyhoo… so I have been playing about 2 weeks now… I have bought the next up hauler hull and been making fairly steady bank. I found a few websites I am getting good use out of… Thrudd's Trading Tools, Elite Dangerous Central and Elite Dangerous Trader. So far I prefer to start with a contract from the Bulletin Board if there’s a decent one up. I look for sourcing ‘tracts (IE go find us ‘X’ Stuff for ‘X’ Credits) and then I research commodities between the 2 stations involved and pad my cargo with goods based on imports and exports at each system and hopefully make some extra bank while filling the ‘tract.

I have upgraded my ship basically all ‘round as a dedicated risk adverse carebear trader. I do have weapons, well A weapon (1 Seeker Missile Rack) and defenses (Point Defense Turret close in missile and mines and Electronic Countermeasures, EWar target lock breaker turret and one step up in hull armor)… I have increased my jump range (no cargo) over twice the noob ships base (empty) range and all other stats are equally as increased.

I wish we could name our ships... bad oversight there Frontier
I have yet to engage in PvP, well intentionally that it, I did get kilt that once and I have been Interdicted (Travel; Pg 73) numerous times with no losses… yet. I’m not sure about Interdiction… as a noob I would assume I am a good (read easy) target and yet I have only been dropped out of warp once and the guy what did it either din’t attack or was not able to for some reason… I immediately FrameShifted back into SuperCruise and docked up safe n sound. I don’t know if it’s my mad piloting skills (I am good at it, nat’ral born flyer I am I am) or if it is a harder mechanic to effectively use than I supposed.

Anyhoo… so that’s what’s been up with old (and new) Tur… he’s still flyin, he’s just flyin different skies for a bit. You may not see me quite as much as I used to be around, but you will still see me in EVE… I have no desire to ever stop flyin our deadly skies. Gotta admit I do like the variety though…  =]

Fly reckless and see you in… which Sky? =/|)=

A little side note… I installed Star Citizen 3 weeks ago… and while the FPS walking around and getting in and out of ships part is pretty sweet… I am still waiting on the rest of the actual GAME before I can say whether or not I will really get ‘into’ that one or not… so far though, not so much.

And lastly… just throwing this on at the end here… There was this one other game I was really nuts about in my 20s though… not a MMO, a kind of FPS… Descent. I was sooo incredibly taken by Descent that I bought the (then brand new) Thrustmaster F16 FLCS HOTAS set… (without the RCS peddles) and damn if Elite doesn’t have me seriously considering going into hock (approx. $400 to 500 US retail FFS) and buying the newest set… the Thrustmaster U.S. Air Force A-10C Attack Aircraft HOTAS set…  O  M  G…  ‘nough said.