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All Work and No Play

It’s been a few months since my last show and I haven’t played very much Star Citizen. However, I have spent time over the past couple of weeks, enjoying the changes introduced in 3.1. But let’s start with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since it all began with Star Citizen.

For me at least, Star Citizen turned out to be the gift that keeps giving. Regular listeners will know that I’ve been playing and blogging about MMOs for the better part of 20 years but until Star Citizen, I’d stopped doing fanfiction. There are many reasons for this, being extremely busy among them but lore and vision for Star Citizen ignited a fire. Taking up the hobby again and penning a few stories reminded me how much I enjoy writing short fiction.

In the intervening years since I started blogging about games, podcasts and vidcasts became the popular choice for consuming content, so I tried my hand it, as you know and found a new form of creative expression to enjoy. Resurrecting my writing and doing the narrated shows eventually led to doing freelance work in both areas. Suddenly, I’d added a part-time job into my hectic life but I was doing work that I really enjoyed. So much so, it made me wonder if there was an opportunity to push the boundaries into a new career. Well, as they say, you’ll never know unless you try.

In the past 8 months, I’ve ghostwritten over 150,000 words.
That’s 2 novel’s worth of freelance writing.

“Trying” is where I’ve been the past several months. So in addition to my day job, I’ve ghostwritten over 150,000 words. That’s two novel’s worth of freelance writing work. I’ve narrated on 115 different projects – commercials, 5 radio spots, 4 indy games and lots and lots of corporate training materials.

Some weeks have been insane, working 7 days a week and long hours but it has validated for me, that this might be something to pursue in a serious fashion. For now, I’m stepping back and deciding next steps which leaves me a bit of room for gaming. As a result, here I am again.

Nope, I don’t Give a Flip about LTI

I’m sick to death of the LTI trial of tears. For all I care, CIG can give it to all ships acquired before release or stop awarding it all together. Sure, I have it on most of my ships because I bought them during the first concept sale. But not having it, didn’t stop me from purchasing concept ships during subsequent offerings, when LTI isn’t available and there was no way to CCU into having it, such as with the 890 Jump.

Buy them or don’t.
I wish the LTI and tears over ships prices would die already!

If I think I’m going to enjoy the gameplay offered by a ship, can afford it and am willing to part with the money, I buy it. If not, it doesn’t matter what’s coming with the ship or not, it’s a no-go and I’ not buying it. To me, it’s always been and will remain, just that simple.

I agree, that no one is being forced to do anything — purchase anything. Buy it or not. Melt it or not. CCU to it or not. I’m just over the incessant tears about LTI and ship prices, in general. Hindsight is 20-20, as is quarterbacking plays from your gaming chair.

Life in Alpha 3.1

Overall, 3.1 is the best performance I’ve had since early 2.6. It feels good to see an end in sight. I’m sure we’ll have more hiccups as new technology and features are integrated but for now, it’s smooth sailing. Consistent FPS in the high 20s to mid-30s feels magical in the PU. 30s with no micro-stuttering will be amazing. Higher than that? Well, that’s the dream ladies and gents. Based on what I’ve experienced, 3.1 is a breath of fresh air in performance.

Ship, Ships, Ships.

I am all about the ships in Star Citizen. I equate ships with the classes you have in other MMOs. They are the gateway to interacting with the planned space content. I never get tired of hearing updates. I don’t get tired of seeing new concepts. It’s a treat when your ships arrive, and two more of mine landed in 3.1 – the Reclaimer and the Terrapin. Even missing their planned mechanics, it’s exciting to finally see them in the game.

Aegis Reclaimer

The Reclaimer is a beast. It looks like its role, a ship that eats other ships, for breakfast. Figuring out where to enter the Reclaimer while it was sitting on a dark platform was an exercise in patience. Finding my way to the bridge a puzzling adventure. Along the way, I toured the various rooms and compartments. The quality of the ship interiors never fails to impress. Every detail has been considered. The lighting and animation contribute to the atmosphere of making the ship feel grounded in reality. I can only imagine when it’s full of players running around, manning the various stations.

The growing concern I have, as the larger ships make their way into Star Citizen, is the sheer size of them. The Reclaimer, not nearly the biggest ship in my fleet, feels like a floating neighborhood. With the older concept ships growing in size as concept meets the reality of the space needed to support game mechanics, I’m starting to feel I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

My preference for solo and small group is my jam.
Why so many large ships??

My playstyle includes a lot of soloing and small group gaming. I enjoy large fleet operations but that’s not my bread and butter. It’s been years since I had the time and patience for the coordination effort needed to corral a large group of players. It can be like herding cats. I’d rather be off accomplishing a task or wandering into a new adventure. And yet, staring down the list of ships in my fleet, more than half are large.

If there’d been medium-size ships offered, I’d have gone that route instead. To date, however, we mostly have starter and “end game, with very little in between for the profession ships. Nothing to do about it now but see how things play out and make adjustments if my concerns remain.

Anvil Terrapin

I spent most of my flight-time scuttling around in the Terrapin. I gotta say, she floats my boat. Size, style and handling, I can see myself hurtling into danger zones rescuing players or doing fleet reconn. Several short story ideas instantly popped into my head while zooming place to place. The only thing I didn’t like so far, is that the guns on the nose are a single turret instead of separate weapons. This prevented me from swapping the T1s out for gimbal T2s. She’s not designed for combat but with NPCs interdicting me, left, right and center, I wanted an upgrade. Hrm, the ship’s description claiming that it has hard-hitting weapons is a bit suspect.

Hovercraft Fixes

I didn’t expect much from the Dragonfly. It’s not designed for traveling long distances. I purchased a pair as a way of traveling around cities and small areas where a ship is overkill. 3.1 fixed many of the issues the hovercraft vehicles were experiencing. I took mine out for a brief spin around Port Olisar and it was quite satisfying. Much more so than I expected.

Zooming around deep space, with nothing between you and the view, is exhilarating. It was surreal. I mean, c’mon, it’s a space motorcycle! We don’t see many players using them in space so when I did, ships pulled alongside me to check it out. Staring down a Starfarer in one exchange, I felt very much the bug on a windshield.

I’m suddenly looking forward to whisking through different biomes with the wind in my hair. I’m suddenly wondering if I need to buy back my Nox?

Missions

I haven’t tried them and don’t really care about them. I don’t plan on doing many game generated missions, especially of the type currently in the game. I’m waiting for content that is directly tied to the player careers I’ve pledged into – medical, exploration, luxury tourism, base building, and food production. I’m hoping to combine game generated with fulfilling player contracts when I want task directed activity. Beyond that, I more interested in creating my own opportunities and moments. So nope, haven’t tried a single mission.

Persistence

Persistence improvements have been hit-and-miss for me. Twice I was disconnected while taking a spin planetside. When I rejoined the game, I was still aboard my ship, which was awesome! Other times, I’ve DC’d while in combat and rejoined the game laying in a bunk on Port Olisar. Boo! It’s still very much a work in progress and I hope to see a more solid character and the ship with its contents and location persisting sooner than later.

Flight Model Changes

As a HOTAS user, I LOVE the flight model changes introduced in 3.1.  Flying and aiming have never felt better. I was a fan of the flight model prior to 2.6 but it didn’t take too long to reacclimate myself when that changed.

There are ALWAYS complaints about the flight model from some of the backers no matter what CIG does. This is one of those instances where they’ll never please everyone. I was surprised to hear that joystick users were kicking up a ruckus over changes I thought were great. Oh well, to each his own.

Chasing Them Rats

None of my primary career choices are on the roadmap for 2018, much to my dismay. However, by year’s end, we’ll have planetary mining, salvage, ship repair, refueling and land claims. That’s a huge injection of game-play in a comparatively short period of time. And we’re finally starting to have the makings of the MMO backers are greedily awaiting.

3.1 has added the shell for activity that brings us a few inches closer. I can sense the shift in my own attitudes about what to do when I log-in. As I’ve said, I’m not into chasing game generated checklists aka missions BUT the beacon system creates random opportunities for adventure. I’ve done a few pick-ups while out test-driving my ships, and am looking forward to the expanded options coming in 3.2. But the real signal to me, that Star Citizen is starting to feel like a game, is that I’ve been out ratting.

Now we’re cooking with gas. My gamer’s soul is ready!

Roaming the system and picking fights with NPCs is an activity I often engaged in while playing EVE Online. The end goal was looting their cargo and salvaging their ships. Ergo, earning a living from a self-directed activity. I chose the where and when.

It’s like farming mobs for crafting components in other MMOs. This activity suits my style and temperament. It’s a free-roaming enterprise that lets me explore, set up in favorite zones or pick a location purely for the convenience. I also find it relaxing and often end gaming sessions with farming comps or mob for comps.

Finding myself logging in just to do that – chasing rats, signals a shift from fiddling with mechanics and ships to logging in with an objective. And even though it’s the least of my plans for Star Citizen, it does, for the first time, resemble behavior and gameplay from other MMOs – finally. Bring on 3.2. My so soul is ready.