Elite Dangerous – Thoughts of Returning

I know the Odyssey expansion for Elite came out a little while ago, to what I would call the opposite of great fanfare. It seems to have been a great idea with rough execution. I’ve not tried it yet, but I keep thinking about it off and on.

The main selling point is space legs. Say what you like about the way Frontier runs and designs the game, but they’ve been very slowly expanding the feature of Elite Dangerous to the extent that it’s a quite nice simulation. It has always been a fairly nice, realistic, and immersive space flight sim, and old space legs was always a feature I thought would be a nice one.

Near as I can tell from loosely following things, the three main complaints were glitches, performance, and relatively bullet-spongey content. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the general sense that I’ve gotten. I still haven’t purchased the expansion myself, but I’m thinking about it.

It’s been my observation up to this point that each new expansion usually has this phase. Everyone looks forward to it, it comes out, much complaining is has, and Frontier slowly tweaks and modifies things until “the community” is only mildly annoyed by it. I actually have no idea what the preferences of the vocal segment of the community are, as I’ve never paid that much attention. Honestly I just enjoy feeling like I’m actually flying the spaceship in much the same way I imagine people enjoy flying planes in a normal flight sim.

One thing Elite has that I’ve always wanted to try is VR. It seems like a perfect compliment to an immersive game like Elite. Unfortunately it’s taken quite a long time for that technology to become affordable enough to make it worth considering. I’ve been looking at some of the slightly less than new headset on eBay, though, and I think some of them are in a price range I might be able to justify.

Unfortunately most of the VR content I’ve seen seems more gimickey than immersive. Maybe that’s just a lack of experience, but it’s why I considered Elite a good place to try it. It’s a full game designed to be immersive and playable in its own right rather than one that was designed to be a “VR experience.”

Either way, the idea is on the table. I like the game and I don’t think the developer is all that bad, really.

Y’all take care. Fly safe commanders.

Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Update All the Things!

Feeling a little fried from trying track, use, and keep up with so many updates at the same time, and it’s really only three games.

Elite Dangerous has an ongoing update reveal and beta. I’ve gotten semi-familiar with the exploration tools, but failed at mining testing by forgetting to bring a prospector controller. In addition to that, I’m a bit behind the ball on how to outfit a ship for this. It just need so many dang module slots. I’m currently eyeballing a few different potential candidates, but I can’t test any of them in the beta because the beta snapshot was before I earned all my money. Quite honestly I’m not going to invest the time grinding faction and money again just for the beta, there’s just to much to do.

Warframe’s Fortuna update launched last night as well. I’ll do a more in depth post about it next Wednesday, but overall it’s been positive so far. The various “currencies” used seem fairly well balanced so far. At least in the sense that I can get something, but not get all the things at once. The K-Drive is kinda fun in a Tony Hawk’s Pro K-Drive kind of way. Grinding, literally and figuratively, that Vent Kids faction to get the K-Drive parts is probably the slowest moving thing I’ve done so far.

Last, my brother and I are also tinkering with the LOTRO progression server as well, which also launched yesterday. I followed the advice of some other bloggers to eventually make my way through the queue and created a Hobbit Guardian names Kenido. I have no idea what I’m doing and haven’t even made it through the intro quest yet. I did play about an hour on the normal servers and the only major difference to me is the xp gain rate, which is intentionally slower on the progression server. I’ll probably have more to say about it Sunday.

Hardest part going forward is where and how much to spend my available time. I simply don’t have the time to give each of them as much as I would like to, and Warframe will probably get the majority of it this weekend. Gotta get that faction up there to get the blueprints to build the new warframe parts.

Y’all stay safe and grind it till you find it.

Fortuna Needs to Hurry Up and Other Irrelevant News

I was really hoping I’d have a solid post on Warframe’s Fortuna update today, but that relied on “this week” meaning “Monday or Tuesday” which obviously didn’t happen.

In the meantime I’ve just been getting up to random things. I did some powerplay stuff in Elite. I switched factions a while back in order to pick up some prismatic shield generators, but never actually did the work to get them.

Outside of that, we’ve been fishing around for some other games to mess with. One proposal on the table is Raft. We also ducked back into Bless and poked around there for a little bit. Might actually do a short update post at some point, though there really isn’t much to say. I also heard that Shroud of the Avatar now has a permanent free-to-play/trial tier, and that LoTRO is starting a progression server, so those are penciled onto the list of options as well.

In other news, I replaced my phone’s battery this morning with minimal damage. That’ll help quite a bit with communication. It was in a sad state where it only pulled a couple hours of light use between charges. I called the phone company last week when my internet was out and that took me from full charge to 75%.

My city and county also passed measures to allow alcohol sales on Sundays, liquor by the drink, and in a couple of cases, package sales. It’s about time. The senate remains a republican majority but the house has a democrat majority. We’re also returning to a board of commissioners with something along the lines of 80% in favor.

Don’t think I have much else to say today, at least not within the time frame available to think something through and write about it.

Y’all take care.

Elite Dangerous -3.3 First Impression and Current Fleet

So I finally managed to get the opportunity to jump into the beta and start testing some of the upcoming features. The snapshot they used to set up the testing instance was apparently from when I was in Coalsack. Good news is that it gave me a great opportunity to play around the new exploration features.

Which I’d say are generally positive. Much in the same vein as Sylow’s comments the other day, the hardest part was setting keybinds up in a workable manner. I got something usable in the first pass for the new scanning system, but it needed some adjustment. I bound look up/down to the forward/back axis of my stick and the look left/right to the side-to-side axis. I put zoom in on the hat up and zoom out on the hat down, and the tuning was originally on the twist/yaw axis. I had to change the tuning over to the throttle axis because I kept applying just enough force to change the tune a little while moving. I may rebind the look left/right to the twist instead because that’s the natural movement I make when flying the ship.

That worked out fairly well and it’s certainly an improvement speed-wise over flying to every single planet to scan it. However, the new planet mapping system still requires you to do this. It also doesn’t have independent keybinds like the signal scanner and I believe Sylow said it uses the multicrew keybinds. I just sort of tolerated the default setup, but this meant that I had to constantly jump in and out of the planetary scanner to adjust my position, fire a new probe, then repeat. It seems like it may be possible to get it done with less repositioning, but it has a much steeper learning curve than the discovery scanner. I did get a first mapped though, not that it transfers over to live, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen the message.

I’m assuming they’ll sort the controls over the course of the beta, which leaves my current complaint that all these activities are done while in supercruise using a complete overlay of the UI. This means that if you’re playing in Open and/or in a populated system, you’re a sitting duck target for anything hostile. I’m assuming it does like major events and would immediately cancel out the overlay if you get interdicted, but since you’re pretty much at 0 throttle anyway you’d immediately submit and get dropped. The silver lining is that, for the most part, exploration doesn’t tend to take place in populated systems. Things like the Road to Riches exploration route may become much more dangerous though.

I took the time last night to watch the live stream regarding the mining changes, which I think get rolled to the beta next week, I’m guessing Tuesday? That looks like fun to play with too. Though I didn’t have a ship outfit for that in the snapshot, or now come to think of it.

Since that snapshot was taken I’ve been rebuilding my fleet, especially in light of my newly acquired money.

Imperial Courier

Okay, so this is my “why would anybody buy this” ship. It’s absurdly expensive for the functions it provides, but it’s sleek and I love the way it handles. My plan is to outfit it for very light passenger transport.

Krait Mk. II

This is my future combat ship. It hasn’t been outfitted properly yet, all I did was buy it, put a better FSD in it, and park it. I haven’t really chosen a dedicated loadout for it yet, but last time I tinkered with it it looks like it’ll take about 100m credits to get it where I want it, not including the time and resources to engineer it. I did snatch up one of the body kits on sale this morning, but this screenshot was taken last night. I’ll try to get a final picture for my next update.

Type 7 Transport

This has been my breadwinner. All the money I’ve made in the last week has been with this guy. I don’t love it, but it’s just so dang functional. It will probably be refitted as a mining ship in the future. Seems that it would be well suited to that task.

Type 9 Transport – The Great A’Tuin

This is my future state cargo ship. It’s slower than Christmas and has an abyssmal jump range. In fact, I can’t really use it yet because I’m still working on the outfitting. It’s only selling point is the ridiculous amount of cargo it can carry. The more profitable wing transports we’ve been doing can be done solo in one to two trips with this thing. Y’know, once it can leave the system. It’s possible that it’ll be replaced in the future with the much sleeker and much more expensive Imperial Cutter, but for right now it should be more than capable of doing what I want it to do, carry large quantities of stuff.

Stay safe commanders, may the fuel rats be ever in your favor.

Elite Dangerous – The Quest for Space Cows?

My brother managed to get his flight stick back up and running and joined Mobius, so we got back to doing stuff in Elite.

We started off trying to recoup losses from the last time we played and lost an entire load of goods each, more expensive for him because he’s using a Type 7. My hauler was just a Keelback gutted and filled with cargo racks.

We started doing the current community event in Niflhel delivering water purifiers from Cubeo. He asked what I was bringing back cargo-wise. I wasn’t, just flying empty. So I started doing source and return style missions for the trip back and was making a pretty decent profit. Think that session was around 10m or so profit.

Enough that I bought and outfitted a Type 7 of my own so we could do some of the larger wing transport missions. We can run just under 600 tons of cargo per trip, combined. We put this to work yesterday and I made some serious cash. Like 22m in four hours cash.

It’s worth pointing out that was part luck and part mission snob. A lot of these wing missions will be something like “Industry needs 1024 units of gold” and it’ll have like a 5m payout. The problem is, and it shows this in the description if you look for it, the actual cost of 1024 units of gold is around 9.6m. Yeah, I get it, these are wing missions, you’re supposed to split that cost across several people. There’s only two of us, 4.7m cost each for a 5m payout is only 300k profit, not really worth the time or the effort.

If you look carefully though, you can find stuff like 900 units of palladium for 13m. Now that has a material cost of 11.9m, so I could make a profit doing that solo. Split the cost so we’re only 6m each and now we’re both making 7m profit, it only takes two trips, and we can still take a load of cargo on the way there and get additional trade profits in the process. We had a couple of missions like that yesterday, which is how we made so much money. In between I just run more water purifiers and small trade missions which provide a steady bonus.

It’s proven profitable enough that I think we’re both saving up for the infamous Type “Space Cow” 9. Yeah, I know, the jump range is low, the speed is low, and I’m sure it steers like a solid core rocket strapped to mount Everest. There are only six ships in the game with more cargo capacity than our Type 7s. The Type 9 is the second highest capacity in the game, with the Cutter having 8t more, but is the least expensive of all six ships. A really quick and dirty loadout on each one(Cutter, Type 9) shows that where cargo space goes the T9 is a much better value. There are, of course, other considerations, but I’m not going to wait until I have 250m, much less the amount of faction grind between me and Duke. I’m at Master, which is Rank 3 to Duke’s 12.

I do believe that the Cutter is a good option, for the people it’s available to. The ability to defend itself would be a nice perk. Let’s face it, if there’s one thing the Type 7/9 aren’t suited to, it’s self defense.

There’s also some barely contained excitement regarding the impending beta for the update. I don’t think it will have a huge impact on the trading activity we’ve been engaging in, but I’d like to take a look anyway. Especially curious to see the mining changes and squadron feature this Thursday.

That’s enough for now though. Fly safe commanders, and may your source station always export to your destination.

Screenshot Shenanigans

Right, so I’m still messing with this while I’m playing Elite. I’ve made some tweaks to Snagit and took back to back screenshots with it and Steam. We’ll show the screenshots then I’ll discuss a few things.

Snagit Stars


Steam Stars

Snagit Station

Steam Station

So, the first thing I learned when comparing these is that in a direct side by side comparison on my monitor, they are for all practical purposes identical. The effect I’m complaining about is not present. So right off the bat I can say that Snagit doesn’t immediately appear to be the issue.

When I look at my editing preview, or use the actual preview button however, the effect I’m chasing is clearly visible on the article itself. Now, there is a difference in the files themselves. I have Snagit set up to save all captures directly to a folder as an autonamed PNG file. As formats go I’ve liked PNG for quite some time as a reasonably good lossless format. The more old school JPG we used back in the day was a lossy format that’s pretty good to take a bitmap and make a smaller file size but degrades quickly if used continually.

Now, while I didn’t see much difference side by side, I can see some loss of quality in the preview for the Steam Station screenshot. I have a hypothesis that it’s how WordPress is processing the png, so we’ll try a jpg from both.

Snagit JPG

Steam JPG

Still seem to be losing a little bit of detail here, but I’m losing a lot of patience messing with it and running out of ideas at the moment. Maybe I’ll revisit this after I’ve had some more time to think about it. I’m also open to suggestions.



Elite Dangerous – Back from Coalsack

I had a few hours of unallocated time yesterday, so I set out to poke around coalsack some more then head back to Cubeo, where my other ships are currently at. Honestly I want to get some engineering done on my FSD and that’s not going to happen out in the middle of nowhere. I need, among other things, data from high wake scans.

ringed planet

For an hour or so I just meandered from system to system scanning everything and slowly tweaking my  screenshot settings. I’ve been trying to get the screenshots to look more like what I actually see. I may ultimately have to abandon the software I’m using for screenshots and return to using Steam’s internal system. This shot, while somewhat better, still seems to be suppressing the stars in the sky. Maybe it’s some form of built in noise suppression?

Anyway, I realized after I’d been going from system to system scanning my way back to Cubeo that it had been four hours and I was still about a dozen jumps away. I pretty much gave up on scanning everything and just started jumping back to back, occasionally taking time to scoop a little fuel and honk the horn.

selling nav data

I honestly wasn’t expecting this much return for the scanning that I did. I expected maybe 1m or so, certainly not 4m. It’s a nice return though, especially considering I spent about twice that on upgrades right before I set out.

On the upside, there’s not much more that I feel I need to do with this particular ship, outside of some engineering tweaks. We do have the new update coming though, and that may or may not alter my plans.

Unfortunately the first livestream covering exploration is this afternoon during work hours so that a really big question mark on my plans at the moment. I’m sure I’ll be writing a barely informed opinion piece in the next week.

This feels like such a short post compared to the amount of time I spent playing. That’s exploration though, it’s a very slow and quiet experience for the most part, especially when you there’s a sun with gas giants full of moons 500kls away from the drop point. I reckon that’s why they’re updating it. Heaven forbid we actually have to do something.

Stay safe commanders, watch out for those crazy buggers and their weird ships.

Good news day for me

Apparently I missed all the news that came out yesterday. Good news that gives me several things to look forward to though.

First off MHW will be getting a MegaMan crossover event this Friday(10/19/2018) I haven’t exactly been poking it that much lately, but might make and effort for that. Not sure if I like the look of the Palico stuff from the event though. I mean, I like MegaMan and all, but in the media shots it looks kinda rough. I haven’t really even worked on the other events all that much either.

Elite Dangerous got a schedule of livestream dates and subjects leading up to the next big update. Every Thursday starting on 10/18 and lasting four weeks, with a beta launch date of 10/30.

The first livesteam(10/18) is discussing exploration and visual updates, it seems. Background sim and “scenario interaction,” whatever that is, will be on 25th. The new squadron/guild system on the 30th, the launch day, which happens to not be a Thursday. November 1st we’ll see the new mining system, and apparently wrap up with new ships on the 8th.

Overall I think I’m happy with that schedule. Naturally they’re doing the first one, and I’m assuming the others as well, at 7 PM British Summer Time. This is around 2 PM for me so I’ll unfortunately still be at work and will have to catch myself up after the fact. The two on the 30th and 1st will be a little strange, as BST will have ended but Eastern Daylight won’t. I’m going to assume this will put that livestream at 3 PM for me, which is still a bit early but I might at least catch the end of it.

These line up well with my current schedule, as I’ll probably have hit “max” level on Maplestory 2 and finished the MSQ by Friday, at which point I can spend some more time with MHW for the event(s) while we ride out the wait for Elite updates. Guess I need to add my brother’s joystick cable to my short list of wants. All this overtime going on; maybe I’m in the market for a new flight stick myself.

Hang in there hunters, commanders, and stay safe. Tomorrow is Warframe day, so I’ll see you Thursday.

To Coalsack!

So I had a wild streak of crazy and went back to Elite Dangerous recently. Just a little bit. I upgraded my Diamondback Explorer with a better Frame Shift Drive and a better Fuel Scoop and decided I was going to go… somewhere.

I didn’t really have a specific goal in mind, I just wanted to take the thing for a test drive somewhere off the wall. So I pulled up my galaxy map and zoomed out to look around. I saw Coalsack pretty close by, relatively speaking, and decided that’s where I was going. I always wanted to see it anyway.

It took, well, a lot longer than I thought. See, I stopped in every system to honk the horn and discover all the celestial bodies, then I flew around and did a detailed surface scan of each one. Sometimes this is quick, only one or two stars to deal with. Sometimes it’s not, with 26 bodies, half of which are 500,000 ls away. I did it though. At the time of writing have just arrived at the edge. I had a system with 30-something bodies and just kinda went “nah, not today.” I think I was one jump away from my target system at the time.

almost normal.png
Something vaguely similar to normal space. I know it’s hard to see, but there’s some stars in there.

Coalsack, on the other hand is mostly just… black.

Now, having never been there, coalsack is WiErD. Large section of what would normally be stars, systems, and cloud in the distance are just… black. Empty, nothing. Hopefully I’ll get some more time in at some point and have more than a few words and a picture to show you.

Part of the Coalsack Nebula
Actual image of the actual Coalsack nebula taken by the “Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope.” From webpage here.

Also started is the process of joining the Mobius PvE group. In addition to chickening out of a post, I’m also not a huge fan of PvP. I mean, I’m okay with a little here and there, but having a private group with absolutely none means that I can assume any players I run in to are friendly. I typically assume they’re hostile until proven otherwise.

This also frees me up to engage in any activity I want without having to worry that someone from an opposing superpower is going to show up and undo a session or more worth of work. It’s a good alternative to solo, which I’ve considered before.

mobius member

I hadn’t heard anything last I looked, but it’s also been a couple of days. By the time I got a chance to take screenshots it was already approved, yay! Hopefully next time I’m talking about it we’ll be seeing “There and Back Again – A Coalsack Story.”

Stay safe commanders, and remember, don’t fly without rebuy.

Black Body Radiation – Heat dissipation in Space

This just in, today’s train of thought has derailed somewhere in left field. The authorities are urging everyone to remain calm while their team of engineers work to get things back on track.

I was making my usual patrol around the reddit and came across the type of question I like to see.

Explain Like I’m 5: why is it freezing in space if there is no matter in the vacuum to transfer body heat into?

Now I was already aware of the vague idea that heat dissipated really slowly in space. Heat transfer as us earthbound people think of it is from one object to another. From a heating element to a pot, from a radiator to the air around it, and so on. In the vacuum of space though, there really isn’t much matter to transfer heat to.

The top comment from a user called afcagroo said this:

The other mechanism is radiation. Your body is constantly radiating infrared light, carrying away heat energy. (This is known as ‘black body radiation’.) Black body radiation isn’t all that fast, so freezing in outer space will take a bit of time.

This gave me a couple of things. First off, it gave me a solid concept to hang the phrase “black body radiation” on. I mean, I’d heard the phrase used before, but I’m not a physicist and didn’t have anything specific to relate it to.

It also returns later to make me do some quick internet research that I’m not qualified to really comprehend. I wandered off on a weird tangent for a while but I eventually came back to this idea. I thought, Elite Dangerous has a heat mechanic, and it’s about space ships with a slight bent toward the realistic, did they actually consider this or just hand waive it?

I started with trying to determine how much “heat” an ship has in the game. Honestly it’s expressed as a percentage in the game and bad things start happening around 100%, but that’s not really a useful number. I decided then that 100% should be about 90c, figuring that’s around the temperate that modern microprocessors start having issues. Everything on the internet about this was using Kelvin so I rounded it off to 360k, which is really 86.85c but I’m just ballparking an idea anyway. I vaguely remember one of my ships running at 32% most of the time, my vulture probably, and went with that. 115.2k or -157.95c for anyone interested.

After some math involving the general volume and density of a diamondback explorer how long would it take to get from 360k to 115.2k? Over a month. That’s a super rough number with a lot of problems, but it answers the initial question of how close to reality heat dissipation in Elite is. It isn’t.

Now, I must admit, I expected this answer, but you never know. Having ruled that out it occurred to me that I couldn’t possible be the first person to ask this question, so I googled it. Sure enough it’s mentioned on the wiki. Ah well, it’s just a game anyway. Let’s face it, sitting around a system for a month waiting for your ship to cool down from a single jump wouldn’t be very much fun. We play games to escape reality, not recreate every frustrating detail.

So that’s what I did this morning. Ran around the internet with a calculator and google converting units of measure back and forth and approximating the size, density, and temperature of a hypothetical ship just to sate my own curiosity.