Saturday, May 11, 2024

Cargo Cargo... Now WhereTF Did That Go?

 ~or “Moving Shit Around & Loving it!”

“Hey there (wink)... Wanna haul some cargo?”

In Star Citizen things are really Heating Up!! With the feature-completion of “Squadron 42” (SQ42, Star Citizen's “Theme Park Single Player Game”), CIG is now focused on Star Citizen's “Persistent Universe” (the PU, the “Open World Sandbox Multiplayer Game”) set in the same virtual universe.

What this means is... well, A LOT of shit that so many have been whining for is finally getting done. The Mechanics and Tech that was “required” for SQ42, is also “required” for the PU (both games are after all in the same verse), so a majority of developers and teams that were on the Push To Complete SQ42, have been reassigned to the PU and this is SOOOOO GOOD!

The New Map!!!  This is a Game Changer!

The pic above shows where I logged in. I am in my (random) room in the Greencircle Habs tower, Cloudview Platform, Orison, Crusader, Stanton System, UEE.

Please understand gentle reader that we intrepid souls who paid to fly and die in SC, are ALL Alpha Game Testers. We accept that we are playing a game that is NOT finished, ie Not Ready for Prime Time.

Yet this is also a game that, in it's Alpha State, is still more meaningful, deeper and vastly more IMMERSIVE than ANY other game on the market today... but, my god is it buggy when they drop a patch!

So to understand how we Star Citizen Alpha Testers work first know that there are multiple Versions of The Game...

We have the PU, the “Persistent Universe”,
we also have...
the PTU, the “Persistent Test Universe”,
and now we have...
the EPTU, the “Experimental Persistent Test Universe”. Yea, it's crazy, we get that, but... it does allow CIG to roll out and bug-fix patches incrementally for testing.

There are also multiple levels of Alpha Testers...
The “Evocati” is a group of player who are “vetted” and “under NDA”, they get first crack at a New Patch, and when they have banged it around enough and CIG has fixed what can be fixed...

It goes to the EPTU where a larger group gets a crack at it (as a monthly Subscriber, that means me), and once CIG has fixed the fixable and made it stable enough...

It goes to the PTU, where an even larger group gets a crack at it, and again, after CIG has made it stable enough...

It goes to the PU... as the most stable current version, where anyone who has bought a Game Package can join in AND where “Free Fly” events are open to the public and ANYONE who wants to try SC gets to experience it first hand... for free.

So while many of us Alpha Testers do have THREE full installs of this over 100GB game on our systems... there are “reasons” and they work for what CIG is trying to create... a game unlike ANY other in depth, detail and scale.

We are currently on ver. 3.22.1 in the PU, the PTU is currently closed, and I am play-testing ver. 3.23.0 on the EPTU. And Alpha 3.23 is HUGE! There is actually too much to cover (heck I haven't seen it all yet!) and my preference is to tell the tales of my time spent in Stanton, or at least base my posts on my experiences, so instead of a “News Report” listing features and such, I will just tell you what I DO in the game.

OK, so when a major patch drops, the first thing you often have to do is re-create your character, your ingame Avatar, your “toon” as we used to call them, because they looked like cartoons.

Your avatar in most, well really ALL PC (etc) games have always been cartoons. Photo Realistic Characters (Humans or Orcs or Elves, whatever) have in the past been simply far too complex and resource heavy for use in games... Well, not any more!

Back in 2011, in EVE Online when CCP rolled out their ill-fated Incarna Patch with the new Character Creator I was simply blown away... We went from a “cartoon” to something a helluva lot closer to a Photo Realistic Avatar.

Well, CIG's Avatar Creator is quite simply amazing. The header pic at the top of the post is the newest rendition of my Avatar, Turamarth Elrandir. (I have been “Tur” in every PC game I have played since 1981... yes, I'm that old)  =]

I am simply amazed at the detail of the Character Creator in SC
2010                       2011                         2024

Here you see all three of me. Tur in EVE in 2010, then in 2011, and Tur in SC today. My hope is one day to be able to 3D scan our head (yes my real head in real life) and use that for my Avatar in SC. THAT would be truly awesome!!!

After re-creating your Avatar, now you select your Home Location. You can choose between one of the 4 planetside cities as your Home. I usually select the cloud city Orison on Crusader the gas giant in Stanton system. I like Orison because supplies and contracts are bountiful and I like the hustle and bustle around Seraphim Station, the Space Station in geostationary orbit over Orison.

So, once logged in I...
Well first, I always make a cuppa coffee... Yup, you get a WORKING coffee maker in whatever random Hab you wake up in! Happy Days!!

Note: Check out the HUD map display at the top left in the pic below. A NEW little holographic 3D map, obviously an incredible QOL upgrade!

Ahhhhhhh.... nothing like a cuppa joe first thing right?

Then I go straight to the Kelto (a general store, think 7-11 but with guns & ammo!), where I buy food, drink, ammo and other sundries in quantity. Then I walk over to Orison General Hospital and stock up on Med Supplies, in quantity. Next I take the shuttle to Providence Platform and visit Covalex Shipping and Providence Surplus where I get my uniforms, work clothes & the boots I prefer (you lose shit in this game... a lot, so again, in quantity).

Once provisioning is all done I shuttle over to the August Dunlow Spaceport and have just my Freelancer Max delivered. You see I, like so many in SC, prefer living in a Space Station. You avoid the longer flight times from dirtside to space and back... and I really like the view. So I prepare to move permanently from Orison to Seraphim.

I carefully pack my ship with my assets... Weapons & ammo, food & drink, med supplies, clothes, spacesuits & armor, utility tools, etc., etc. from my local inventory to the ship's inventory. Space is limited in the ship of course, so I have to pack carefully, it's gonna take several trips.

Several assets such as Armored Spacesuits and Ship Paints are very large, and of course, I have a crap ton of armor, weapons, clothes, etc. I usually physically place the largest Spacesuits and Backpacks directly on the ship's floor in the cargo hold to leave space in the internal Inventory. This patch it took 5 trips up and back to move everything.

There is something SOOOO satisfying about “real” cargo...

I considered filling these (I don't trust the game that far,   yet)

So off I go...  Load up, take off, dock, offload, take off, land, load up, take off, dock, offload, take off, land, load up... till all my gear and stuff is stored safely on Seraphim... And yes, there is a very VERY real risk to doing this... If I was attacked by some random “sealclubber”, some A-hat griefer with nothing better to do than attack random players for the Lulz, and my ship was destroyed and I was killed (to be reprinted at the Clinic in Seraphim)... then ALL of my cargo drops in cans floating in space with my wreck... ripe for anyone to just grab and run off with.

That is unless he or they go for a Soft Kill (soft death)... leaving my ship disabled without power or shields or weapons, but with me still alive and well armed... well, then I just might have a chance to fight back (I LOVE PVP, just for the right reasons is all) and hell, maybe even yell for help in local.

Remember dear reader...
Risk is the Spice that makes SC SOOOOOOOOOO good!!

I lived in Anoikis (wormhole space) in EVE Online for 10 years... Where we owned and operated our OWN Space Stations! And those stations and EVERYTHING in them... ALL of our ships and gear and loot were at risk of attack and loss every second of every day, for 10 years. And yes, we lost Stations, and yes, we took down other player's Stations. I like PVP, when it's for a good reason. I was a Bounty Hunter and a Merc for most of my EVE career. (Griefers & bullys have no honor)  =]

In EVE we always said, “Don't fly what you're not willing to lose.” and we lived by the creed, “HTFU” (Harden The Fuck Up). Risk is REAL in both SC and EVE and that gives you that “frisson” of real gut level excitement that you ONLY get when there is NO real safety, NO “safe space” when you undock... and I personally love it.

So many new features impact how I go about my day in Stanton... The New Map and HUD Map are the BOMB!! Keep in mind we didn't have ANY map AT ALL in this game until now, so this is huge.

Zoom in to the room you are in... or out to see the star system

Also, Master Modes has dropped. This is a HIGHLY contentious mechanic that is royally pissing off the Hard Core PVPers and the Griefers and Gankers. Those players who are good with the Flight & Fight mechanics “As They Were” and DO NOT want them to change.

There are always those who have a natural talent at, well, anything... from music to math to muckraking, there are also gamers who have a natural “talent”, an understanding, a “grasp” of different game mechanics. And those in SC who are invested in the old F&F Mechanics (because they can WIN with them), HATE the new F&F Modes with a PASSION.

“Master Modes” is a mechanic that ARMS but SLOWS your ship down for Fighting, and it DISARMS but SPEEDS your ship up for Flight. I love it and I get what CIG is trying to do. You see most fights in SC devolve into “jousting”.

You don't want to stay too close to the enemy... it gives him a shot at you, so you end up boosting away, turning around hard and boosting back to fly past your opponent at very high speed while strafing him as you zoom past... then boosting away, turning around hard and... well, you get it... rinse and repeat until one of you explodes.

it's a perfectly understandable tactic when there is NOWHERE to hide. In space you can't “take cover”, you can't fire from “defilade” as there is nothing to defilade behind in space. Imagine riding a horse on a wide open plain... no trees, no hills, no ditches, no bushes, NO COVER... just FLAT wide open country... and Your enemy is on a horse approaching you. How do you fight him?  Do you pull a John Wayne and channel Rooster Cogburn, put the reins in your teeth and yell... “Fill your hands you sonofabitch!!!” while galloping madly towards each other?? Actually... yup.

The way jousting works in SC is to PASS close by your enemy at high speed, using your Elite Talents and hitting him with killing effect over and over while the poor slob pubbie carebear misses you completely with each pass (because he hasn't “got gud” at PVP or doesn't “get frens” to fight for him) so he cries “UNFAIR!!!” in local as he assplodes.

So, how do you make Flight PVP in SPACE (and Atmo) more “fair” for the poor untalented slob pubbie carebears who are NEVER EVER gonna “get gud” or “get frens”? You SLOW everyone DOWN so that in order to engage, you simply have to be closer because you are ALL slower. Simple. Yes, there will still be those Talented Elites who will find their PVP Heaven in “Master Modes” but...

“Flight Mode” is for RUNNING!!! And it makes perfect sense to me. In Flight Mode, your weapons and shields cannot work but my Freelancer Max seemed to accelerate faster and I think it now has a higher top speed... (I never tested that before with the 'Lancer Max though)

In Flight Mode and burning hard

(Segue... Player Created Lore:
As far as I am concerned this is because when you power up your Quantum Drive, which is how you switch modes, the warp bubble that builds up during “spooling”, interferes with those systems, or at the least it interferes with targeting AND your computer which needs every FLOP in order to calculate the warp, or something like that...)

So what does this mean? It means if someone is in Fight Mode and attacks you, their weapons and defenses will be online but their ship  will be very limited in it's top speed... and if you are in Flight Mode, your weapons and defenses will be offline but your ship's top speed won't be “limited”, meaning you have a real shot at RUNNING for safety.

If they switch to Flight Mode... well, depending on the ship, they could possibly catch up and switch back to Fight Mode and try to get some hits on you as you pull away, maybe try to disable your engines or Q-drive. And the spooling timers have been overall reduced which helps get you outta Dodge even faster... The point is, the poor untalented slob pubbie carebears now have a chance, maybe even a fair one. (and won't THAT just piss off the PVP Elite)

You see carebears do NOT want to PVP, and because they are not AT ALL interested in PVP, they will never “get gud” or “get frens” to fight for them. Master Modes gives them a running chance. It's all they really want. Same as the Elite PVPers only really want a chance at a fair fight...  (right)  OK, that's BS, what a large number of PVPers (and ALL Grifers) really want is what a guy said to me recently... He really enjoys undocking and “Sealclubbing Bob's” as he puts it... (attacking and killing players all the live long day for no other reason than 1. he can (ITSA PVP GAME!!!) and 2. for the lulz and sweet sweet tears.

Anyway, I like Master Modes for the above reasons and... I really like Flight Mode for traveling. You see on my Seraphim runs I stayed in Flight Mode as long as possible. On approach to the station, I was really MOVING BABY! In space my Freelancer Max was clocking 1100 m/s. What I do is I set a course to pass really close BY the station, maintain 1100 m/s until I am really close TO the station, then at the very last moment... I punch the Q-Drive OFF and BOOM! I slow down inna damn hurry!

This allows me to be super close to the dock when I request landing permission. I just turn and burn gently to the dock well within the defensive perimeter of the station guns. Same applies when boring down through atmo to the spaceport. I drop out of warp and burn hard until I am really close then BAM! Disable Q-Drive and I slow down faster than I ever could using my engines... then, under the protection of the Spaceport, I take my time and dock at my leisure.


And no, I have not yet gotten into any PVP in Fight Mode, yet...
Simply too busy getting used to all the new mechanics and as a patch has dropped like 3 or 4 times in the last few days it seems, I am always pretty busy re-creating my toon and moving my stuff around or off away from the madding crowds trying to figure out the new keybinds and how the new stuff works etc.

So, all in all I am as happy as I can be in my space virtuality. All the things and hopes and dreams are coming together slowly but surely... We are on the road to SC V1.0 and I could not be more content with the progress CIG is making in bringing us all a true PVX FPS SciFi Space Sandbox Game. I have wished for this all my life...

Fly Fast & Safe or Slow & Dangerous and I'll look for you in my sky!