Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Day Four and Counting...

~or “The Liveaboard Lifestyle”

Breakfast, day two

So with the advent of the Star Citizen Alpha 3.15 “Deadly Consequences” patch I began an experiment that I have wanted to do since I first logged into the 'verse... To live full time onboard a spaceship. This has been a dream of mine for over 11 years now.

In EVE Online we lived in our ships... hell, as we were basically a component, a “module”, plugged into our ships we really had no other choice but to live aboard. Except it wasn't “me” and it really wasn't “living”.

You see in EVE our bodies are packed away into capsules... armored buttplug shaped single person escape pods (with warp drives no less!). Inside these “pods” our bodies are pressurized inside and out with life sustaining “pod goo” with electrical umbilicals plugged into ports all over our bodies connecting our nervous systems directly to the ships systems.

This is the basis for the idea that just one person can fly and fight every ship in EVE from the lowliest noob ship to a Titan. Really? Titans are capitol ships up to 18 KILOMETERS long... I mean, seriously, an Eighteen Kilometer Long Single Seat Fighter?

When we are docked instation in EVE we can have the “pod” removed from whatever ship we were in and then actually exit the pod ourselves. You would be “decanted” to the floor in a pool of pod goo... hacking and coughing and needing a towel and some clothes (yes, that is how the Lore graphics made it look). But then we would have been able to be our actual selves in our actual bodies actually in the world.

First Person Experience in EVE...    (yuck)

With this idea of creating new FPS Gameplay for EVE back in 2011, with the attendant whole new FPS playerbase and the new income and the new content and the well, you know the GROWING-the-godsdamned-game-is-good-for-BUSINESS-thing, CCP had been working on WIS (Walking In Stations) which could have let us get OUT of the damned “pods” and play the game on foot, on the ground, in stations and maybe even inside our ships!!

But CCP dropped that ball like a radioactive potato when the playerbase lost its collective mind over WIS, the Incarna character creator and Micro-transactions and a huge number of players thew a Vehemently Anti-WIS “Space ships ONLY!” tantrum, IE the Jita Riots of YC113.

So CCP backed away from WIS and that was that... I'd never ever be able to walk around inside the Caldari Navy Assembly Plant, better known as “Jita 4-4”, the greatest trade hub in New Eden... or walk the concourse in the Emperor’s Family Station in Amarr Prime where I stored my shadow fleet while I lived and died in my beloved home, Anoikis.

And so for 10 years I “lived” in my ships and I was as content as I could be given the limitations in EVE. But no more! With the new features of Physicalized Inventory, Loot Generation & Server Crash Recovery (scroll to Core Tech), Medical Gameplay and Regeneration brought to the PTU & PU through Alpha 3.15(.1) now I can!

The Experiment.

I just bought one of the new Entry Level Medium Cargo Haulers showcased at the recent 2951 IAE, the Argo Astronautics RAFT (Reinforced Advanced Freight Transport).

My Argo RAFT, SV “Kon-Tiki” on Wala loading up 96 SCU of Laranite

I am SO smitten! I LOVE this ship! First off I love the ARGO “HTFU” Industrial aesthetic, very similar to Drake, my other fav ship maker.

Second, this is a dedicated medium cargo transport designed for long range deployments with 2 crew and it has all the necessary “liveaboard” amenities... Bunks, nice galley, wet head and ample Locker storage (1.5 SCU) for provisions such as food, clothing, armor, guns, ammo and medical supplies. She also carries 3 external 32 SCU containers to give her 96 SCU total capacity. She is lightly armed with just 2 S3's in a remote turret and 2 S1's for the pilot, but she comes with a very tough hull, tougher shields and a comprehensive countermeasures suite.

After I bought “Kon-Tiki” I immediately provisioned her with water bottles, cola, beer and a variety of sandwiches, fruit, snack bars, candy, etc. I bought Med-pens, Med-guns and refills, a spare undersuit, a spare set of armor, a selection of firearms and ammo and 2 Multitools with attachments and a selection of clothing for all occasions.

Then I started doing some trading. Mainly quick one-way Agricium or Laranite runs, with Titanium to fill in the corners, from moons to the planet hubs. I haven't been doing any 2 way hauling as Scrap is still not a viable commodity.

Even so I have still been banking roughly ~130k cr per day (login to logoff) without really working too hard for it. So financially it has been quite decent so far but... the real thing is, I have been able to live full time on my ship for the last 4 days and nights.

See those bottles? been there 2 days, full backpack still there from last night

THIS was AMAZING... for the last 3 days I pulled and re-racked as needed
I wear whatever I feel like, sloppy clothes aboard, business casual or a uniform if I'm gonna be in atmo or in public, undersuit and armor if airless... I go armed when needed, unarmed when warranted. The FEEL of it all is absolutely amazing.

I now usually wear pants and a T-shirt or something comfortable while shipside. I change into whatever is appropriate to my destination, land, do my business, take off and change back to comfy clothes for the flight. GODS how GOOD this feels!! It feels REAL.

Feels good to be out of my armor... time to make the run to a market hub

After I finish for the day, I warp out somewhere far far away from the madding crowds (is 50 players a crowd? have you met us?)... then I MANUALLY drop out of warp deep in the black or maybe somewhere out in the Belt. I go on the float, power down my engines, go aft to the hab, change into sweats and a ratty but comfy old sweater and make some dinner (while “I” do the same IRL).

Then I chill out watching ancient vids from old Earth... SxyBisuit, BoredGamer, Citizen Kate or Cobra TV until I decide to turn in then I undress and simply go to bed... (as “I” do the same IRL).

Looks like the pantry is getting low again...

For the last 4 days I have spent my time in Stanton running cargo, banking cred, shopping for supplies and living full time aboard my ship... and in general, I have been as happy as I believe I can be in a virtuality.

When 30Ks happen (they have been few thank Bob) Crash Recovery has been working great. I either log right back into my ship in space where the crash happened or, at worst I find myself planetside and simply pull the ship back out finding that everything, cargo and supplies, are all in perfect order so I just get back to work.

Has it been glitch and bug free? Nope. Last night I lost the ship and everything in her. I had had another profitable day, It was late and I was on the float eating dinner... Bacon Club sandwich, apple, chocolate bar and a water. After I was done, I went to get up from the table to throw away the empty bottle... but, the game decided to exit the booth to my left. To my right was the interior of my ship, to my left was... the rear window.

Yup... to my left is the window I fell out of...   sigh>

I glitched through the window and out into space... found myself gently spinning, gasping, freezing and dying in sweats and a ratty sweater while holding that empty water bottle.

So is it perfect yet? OH Hell no! It is still very much in Alpha and still definitely a Work In Progress but... AMAZING PROGRESS!!!

Even in “Alpha” Star Citizen is still THE MOST deeply detailed, MOST deeply immersive and simply THE MOST FUN MMOG that I have ever experienced in my entire life.

Please be Neat, Wipe the Seat! and don't forget to Flush!

 Fly it like you actually LIVE in it!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Cargo, Cargo, Oh Where Will it All Go?

 ~or “I Need a Bigger Storage Unit”

Whatta mess...

Physicalized Inventory... Making Virtual Stuff Real.

I love trading gameplay, but I didn't used to. One of the games Chris Roberts is best known for is Freelancer, a SciFi space based trading and combat game released in 2003. I never played Freelancer or any of the other titles CR produced or even worked on until Star Citizen.

I came to PC gaming through DOOM and Descent. The very definition of simplistic FPS gaming. Immediate gratification without complications like logistics and supply. Everything you needed simply lay all over the gameworld and once you knew where they spawned, you just ran over them and BOOM!, you had a BFG9000 with limitless ammo, BAM! you were Perfectly Healed, WHAM! you are teleported instantly hither and yon.

Logistics, mining, refining, manufacturing (crafting) and buying, selling and trading did not exist in those games and, TBH while I knew about Freelancer and such games and I was just not interested... at all. But I was wrong, it's not that I was not interested at all, it's just that the gameplay that existed back then for logistics... mining, refining, manufacturing and buying/selling/trading... was not at all interesting to me.

Even in EVE, I never got into manufacturing or trading. I tried it of course but found it deadly boring. I did get into PI (Planetary Interaction), the process of setting up automated mining, refining and manufacturing on planets, but that was because it was (1) enjoyable in that it was fiddly and rubbed some OCD part of my psyche but (2) mainly because it was, aside from hauling to market and selling, it was passive ISK, but that was all. It was logistics gameplay I could sorta deal with for the profit.

I played Elite Dangerous pretty much just for the joy of flying spaceships in a game where the flight mechanics are really damn good and the stations are realistic in size and more so in operation. EVE's stations and POSes are a joke in this regard. In ED I didn't like the fighting and mining gameplay, so I tried Rares Trading. And yes I did enjoy making credits but it was more just a reason to fly, still not a reason in itself.

Then I tried trading in Star Citizen. TBH I was thinking it would be a lot like trading in ED... until the first time I walked up to my ship and lowered the ramp and saw the stacked crates of actual virtual cargo... I nearly cried. It was fascinatingly beautiful to me.

A full cargo hold, so strangely satisfying...

Then I realized, it's not the game aspects I like about gaming so much, it's how close to reality gaming is now getting. I feel I have always been chasing that indefinable feeling of reality, of what we in SC call Immersion... the reality in the virtual.

I want exactly what Chris Roberts wants... what ALL of us who love what SC is now and what we hope and dream it will become. A true SciFi Space Based Virtual Reality, a Virtuality. Only Chris doesn't want to create an Oasis, or re-imagine the real world as Hogwarts or Arrakis or Reach or even The Shire... he wants to create a whole new 'verse where things are not all Quests & Magic or Fantasy Make-Believe... he is creating a 'verse grounded in science and well... reality. It's a very interesting form of escapism to leave one reality for another.

I also believe that the detractors, the naysayers, all those who hate Star Citizen, Chris Roberts, Cloud Imperium Games, and incidentally look down on those of us who love and support this game, they hate it because they don't have the same dream. They don't want a virtuality, they want just another “game” to play. They don't have the same passion we do for this project, well except when it come to hating on it, then they can get pretty passionate indeed.

As for me, I have that passion. I spent the last 2 weeks 30King (server crash) and Client Crashing and warping deep into planets, and exploding, or warping off into uncharted space and dying over and over and over. There have been multiple updates now to the Alpha 3.15 build on the PTU and finally, on Halloween night FFS, I was able to play a whole session and did not lose any ships, equipment or cargo and died only once, and that by my own hand... helmets, it turns out, are IMPORTANT in a vacuum.

An MSR full of Medical Supplies...  just wow.
Every time I died or 30K'ed or just glitched out I just smiled and logged right back in. Why? Because it's worth it to me. I understand and accept that I am taking part in the creation of a game that is fulfilling my dream of what a SciFi Space Based Virtuality can be. And I understand that this is the process that leads to the end product and I really like being a part of that. And a really fascinating and newly introduced mechanic in that process is...

Physicalized Loot... and Shoplifting

As part of the new Inventory system, CIG also kicked off the Loot Generation system that will spawn containers throughout the PU (crates/lockers/boxes) that will contain dynamically populated randomized loot. Stuff just lying around that you can steal... hey, just being honest... grand theft firearm, Crime Stat 1 anyone?

Anyhoo, I have been toiling away at the credit grind. Hauling Agricium around ArcCorp. I buy Agricium, and/or Titanium when the Agricium stocks run low, from Shubin SAL-2 on Lyria and sell at the Area18 TDD. It's decent income especially as it is a really short moon-n-back run. Plus I'll occasionally make a few Med Supply runs out to Jumptown on Yela. Yea, that Jumptown, the drug den that actually has “history” in Stanton.

On the ground at Jumptown with a hold full of Med Supplies

Look at us will you? The Game that is a Permanent Scam, this Game That Will Never Be, this Pre-Alpha Tech-Demo, already has Player Lore. And yup the genesis of that lore was a glitch, a software bug, but the interactions, the player experiences and stories that came out of that... are pure player lore.

Anyhoo, back to Looting. After I sell the Med Supplies, I check all the buildings for lootable crates and boxes. Hold “F” and sweep the area you are in. You don't have to be close, just close enough and the crates will “highlight”... as they do.

See it over there?  Hold “F” and sweep around to find lootable crates.

Go ahead, click on it... you know you want to...
Move close enough to get the “LOOT” pop-up... Now remember your Bad Guy Training, hunch over a little and glance around furtively while wringing your hands with evil sanitizer... you are about to steal stuff that just ain't yours. This is Shoplifting at best, and if the value of the purloined goods is over 1,000cr... man, that's outright grand theft.

The act of Looting opens your inventory. On the Right you see “External”, this is the Loot Crate. On the left I switch tabs to “Local” then I drag & drop everything in the crate over to my Local Inventory.
Loot All The Things from External to Local

I quickly check every building on the site and empty every crate and box into Local. Once I am back on my ship, I open the Inventory, select tabs for “Local” and “Vehicle” and move everything to Vehicle.

In for a penny as they say... I steal every thing from every box every time, even the low cost stuff because (1), most of that is free “food” and (2), Guns, weapons and ammo are useful and (3), I sell everything that can be sold because a credit is a credit is a credit, and they all add up.

Move all from Local to Vehicle... (one trip to Jumptown)
You can't sell the guns and accessories yet, but you can now sell the consumables listed above. I have so far only tested this at ArcCorp. There you sell your trade goods at the Trade & Development Division but the consumables have to be sold at the Trading Terminals in the lobby of the IO-North Tower in Area18.

Finally, stuff other than cargo that we can sell.
My only complaint is one born of the simple fact that you can't “create” a finished game, it has to go through stages from idea to finished product, it just fekkin' takes time. This is the first iteration, “T0”, of the Inventory system and so of course it is very rough, we need all kinds of details and actions added that we can perform with and to cargo and loot... but everything is rough when it's brand new, so meh.

I know they are working to add things like Right Click action menus for stacking, grouping and moving items. I expect we will be able to “pack” and “crate” goods and assets something along the lines of how we did in EVE. It just takes time and lots of effort and so far, IMHO, CIG is showing excellent results in the effort category. I am well pleased.

To Sum Up...

Physicalized Inventory is one more step deeper into a truly Immersive Virtuality. To make All The Things in the 'verse Real. Making all the objects that surround us and that we interact with into 3D models we can make, buy, use, store, enjoy, lose, etc., etc., etc. just like any real 3D object outside of your computer screen. The end effect is to make the game more and more Immersive and THAT is the Holy Grail Chris Roberts is seeking.

Are we there yet? Well, no. As you can see when we buy cargo, such as the crates of Agricium below, you do get them delivered to your ship (yes magically, for now), and when you sell them they are (again magically for now) offloaded when sold, but the crates themselves?

Well, yea they are still just placeholders at the moment, not actual crates with actual stuff inside... but it'sa Good Start and to get to The End you gotta Start somewhere.


Fly safe and...  can someone help me out of this?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

He's Only Mostly Dead Jim

 ~or "This Changes Everything."

Yup, that's me...  dead me.

So, in order to bring Death of a Spaceman to fruition, one must have Medical Gameplay to fulfill the requirements of Mortality and so create Heredity and Generations. Of course gamers being gamers Medical Gameplay kinda naturally leads to, I am sorry to say Medical Griefing (this was fixed)... and, believe it or not other even stranger Medical Shenanigans... like suicide.

You see I have been playing exclusively on the PTU since Star Citizen Alpha 3.15 dropped and I have even cleared the keybinding for "Backspace" so I can no longer "reset the game" or "restart from last save point" with just one keypress.

I did this because I have opted to play the game as it is "intended" to be played, like it was "real". I have been playing like I not only do not want to die, but I am actually trying very hard to not die like it was, you know... death, with costs and consequences and the whole at some point not being Tur anymore... ever again.