Helios, 2nd Largest Star System

When a Door Closes

It’s been two weeks since I started working for a new company and in a new role. One that returns me to a past life in data visualization and analysis. I’m still nested in the Business Intelligence space. However, instead of being a product manager for internal BI solutions, I’m managing a team of analysts and data viz professionals. This aspect of metrics and performance management is what brought me to BI in the first place. Luckily for me, careers in Data Viz and Data Science have grown tremendously over the years. Based on my former experience with the tools that are industry standards, I was able to quickly find a rewarding opportunity within weeks of being notified of my pending layoff. Before the door officially closed, the window on a new job offer was already in hand. I definitely consider myself blessed!

Time to Catch Up!

I was at my previous employer for 8 years doing product management. Five years prior to that, I was entrenched in running a Program Management Office, even though I continued to provide analysis support. That’s a long time to be out of the loop in data viz. I have a bevy of books arriving on the tools of the trade and principles so I can catch up with my peers. As someone who learns by doing, I started fishing around for a practice project and landed on combining it with my favorite pastime, gaming. So it should come as no surprise that I went looking for something Star Citizen related.

Viola! Star Systems Meet Data Visualization

I’m fairly obsessed with the lore behind Star Citizen and the physical universe being built by Cloud Imperium Games. AlysianahsWorld.com features several pages dedicated to disseminating the information contained in the official ARK Starmap into an easier to consume and searchable format. Using formal data visualization tools would allow me to evolve an aspect of the site I continue to use on a regular basis while learning the newest versions of the tools.

An aspect of analysis and reporting, data visualization, is a more graphical representation of information that endeavors tells a story while providing insight. All though we’re likely years away from having all of the planned star systems, I still find the lore and planned physical layouts entertaining to consider. Those of us following the game closely and participating in the alpha will be fully versed in them as they come online. However, those joining after or following more casually, won’t be quite as fluent.

The end goal for this version is to provide PDFs that players can easily download and reference offline at their leisure.

Technical considers were to:

  • Present interesting aspects of the universe for discussion.
  • Construct a hands-free data-driven solution that feeds from my existing site database.
  • Integrate tidbits from my hand-populated lore database.
  • Assist causal and new players in navigating the persistent universe via this bird’s-eye view.

Consequently, the order in which I produce them will be impacted by when star systems are placed on the roadmap for introduction into the persistent universe, contain an interesting lore aspect or contribute to a broader topic of conversation. For me, it was essential that this new design be fully automated, with the exception of minor adjustments like moving around annotations if they overlapped or adjusting the scale of the planets being displayed if a system has a lot of items. But that’s it! Everything else is done programmatically and uses data from Aly’s World that already exists.

All things considered, developing this first mock-up/prototype went very well. I was able to achieve all of my objectives while refreshing my skills using the latest version of Tableau, one of the standard tools used in my new position. Now let’s roll into the real topic at hand, Helios.

Helios, 2nd Largest Known Star System

Once I decided that I wanted to evolve how I was presenting the official ARK Starmap data, the question became, where to start? Stanton, while necessary to do, is old hat at this point. The idea of starting there didn’t excite me. Then a question popped into my head that did. What is the largest known star system and what does it contain? Is it somewhere I’ll be spending time? Does it have activity related to any of the player professions I’ve decided to focus on?

The metric I used to quantify a star system’s size was the farthest celestial body from the star in astronomical units (AU). The underlying ARK data has several pieces of information that are not readily visible on RSI, one being the AU. However, I have all of the data already stored in the database that runs AlysianahsWorld.com and I’ve used AU previously to render horizontal star maps for each system.

LINK: Stanton Star System Dossier on Aly’s World

 

I landed on using the AU of orbiting bodies or areas identified as belonging to a star, as those objects represent the star’s sphere of influence. The size of its influence, if you will. After choosing that as a reasonable representation, all I had to do was find the maximum AU and the star system it belonged to which lead me to Helios.

LINK: Helios Star System Dossier on Aly’s World

Perspective

Helios is the second largest known system. The moniker of largest belongs to Tamsa. However, instead of having a star at its center Tamsa contains a black hole. It’s also a fairly empty system which wouldn’t provide much meat for developing this prototype. I will, however, produce a data viz for Tamsa in the near future. 

LINK: Tamsa System Dossier on Aly’s World

As the second largest system, how does Helios compare to other star systems we’re more or less familiar with? When I visualized the distribution of all the star system sizes based on the maximum (farthest celestial body in AU), I was surprised by what I saw. I suppose the locations we hear about loom large in our imagination without realizing that frequency has no relevance to how big those areas will be based on the current ARK Starmap metrics. Star systems such as Stanton, Pyro, Nyx, Tera, and Sol are very small in the overall scheme of things.

Here’s a subset, calling out the systems we know and hear about. Stanton, representing the persistent universe today. Pyro, the Jump Point we can see in Stanton now, and likely the next star system that will be introduced to the alpha. And Sol, the birthplace of humanity and a location many of us are interested in seeing CIG’s vision for how it has evolved. As you can see, they’re on the small end of things. Stanton, in particular, is very small!! It’s a bit mind-blowing knowing that the area of Stanton we’re in today is 25% of what it will be since we’re just around Crusader. Even so, it’s going to be nothing in terms of size compared to the other known star systems that have been planned.

How Many Years to Orbit? 

Other than the disparity in star system sizes, which I suppose shouldn’t be surprising given that space is a big empty place, is how many years it takes planets to orbit their sun. Talk about thinking that humans and Sol are the centers of the universe. I never contemplated that in Standard Earth Years (SEY) there are planets that take many years to make a full orbit of their star. Tangora, the only planet in Helios that’s openly populated and accessible to civilians takes 210.5 SEY to complete its orbit. My eyes bugged out of my head. It’s a metric I hadn’t bothered to calculate before.

When I see numbers in the thousands, it’s simply mindboggling and makes me wonder how we will communicate the passing of time when humans become an interstellar species. How will calendars work? It’s bad enough dealing with global time zones and keeping those straight at work. I can’t imagine what we’ll devise when a year no longer has the same meaning. Perhaps we will standardize on SEY. I hope to be alive to see how it turns out for myself. Until then, the Star Citizen will have to do.

Helios’ Discovery

Back to Helios, it’s a combination of natural beauty in the face of nature’s ferocity, abandoned junkyards, and military skunkworks. Helios is a Helium Strong type B star that creates powerful solar winds capable of causing havoc with ship sensors. This rarity attracts researchers, tourists and criminals looking for a place to hide, in equal measure.

Helios was discovered in 2509 and in a very unusual manner. An outlawed group called the Daybreak Marauders had discovered a jump point to Helios via Taranis. After robbing convoys in Ellis, they’d race to Taranis and disappear without a trace. After driving the Uros Shipping Concern into bankruptcy due to the activity surrounding these thefts, The Advocacy finally stepped in to bring order to the system. After several months of playing cat-n-mouse, agents eventually discovered Daybreak’s secret.

As is often the case, after it’s official discovery was claimed by the UEE, the region was stripped bare of any important resources and languished in obscurity for several years, beyond being used as a military staging ground.

LINK TO PDF: Helios Visual Star Sys Guide – Legal

The Rest of the Story

My intent is for the Visual Star System Guide to provide the casual overview of the system all on its own. Therefore, I’m not going to regurgitate the information here in text form. Hopefully, the elements I’ve elected to portray, provide a sense of the system’s composition, fun or important things to know, opportunities for activities related to player careers and a high-level assessment for the economy, population, and safety. You can find the official Galactic Guide for Helios on RSI and its associated Loremaker’s Guide on YouTube.

Your thoughts and feedback are welcomed. This being the first iteration of the format, I’d welcome feedback and suggestions. Do remember, that changes must be data-driven as I’m only looking to make minor manual adjustments each time I render the visual for another star system.  At regular intervals, I will assemble the visual guides I’ve published in ebook formats for those interested in collecting them as a set. For me, it’s more experimentation with skills that I’ve picked up recently, while was I doing freelance ghostwriting and interior book design this past year or so. No more time or desire to continue doing freelance work with my new position and fun challenges that lay ahead. However, I don’t want what I’ve learned along the way and enjoyed doing, to hit the dustbin so I’ll use those skills in conjunction with this project.

Ta-ta for now,

Aly out.


Star Citizen Alpha 3.2

Excitement abounds for Star Citizen Alpha 3.2. In addition to new ships, such as the first luxury yacht to roll out of the showroom, the Origin 600i, we have the first iteration of the mining mechanics. Quality of life improvements is also addressed with updates to the party system and quantum travel. Things are really heating up in the development now, with many new game mechanics and professions slated to be introduced in 2018.

Casual Citizen EP 31 – Alpha 3.2 PTU


Squadron 42 All-Star Cast

When you think of the biggest names in Sci-Fi, Mark Hamill would be high on any list. So for him to be only one of the major cast members of Squadron 42 says a lot about how amazing the cast of this game is.

Hamill’s relationship with Chris Roberts spans back to the days of Wing Commander. When he was approached to play ‘Lt. Cdr. Steve ‘Old Man’ Colton’  in Robert’s new single player game, he claims he didn’t even have to read the script to know it would be good. He was there from the moment the game was announced.

This must have helped to some extent. Whilst Hamill alone in any game would be a coup, the casting for Squadron 42 just gets better and better!

  • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, Dark Knight, The Fifth Element, Bram Stroker’s Dracula) plays Admiral Ernst Bishop.  
  • Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall, American Gods) has been cast as Captain MacLaren
  • Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sherlock Holmes) voices Captain Thomas Wade
  • John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) plays Randall Graves.
  • Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and probably the biggest name in motion capture technology has been cast as Thul’Óqquray, an alien character who speaks in a fictional language created for Star Citizen.
  • Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) plays Captain Noah White

We haven’t yet been told how big each role will be, but one can assume that casting such huge household names to take part in a game of this size would mean that their parts are substantial.

There are numerous other well-known names cast. At the time of writing,  the IMDB ‘main cast’ list sits at twenty-five people, with ‘Other Cast’  sitting at sixty-one people and rumored to be over one hundred!

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Origin 600i Series

ORIGIN Jumpworks GmbH

Origin’s notoriety comes from merging class and sophistication. They are the unchallenged leaders is providing luxury. Their designs are sleek with sophisticated lines. Their customers among the cultivated elite. When you purchase an Origin ship, you’re not just buying a vessel, you’re indulging a lifestyle.

While Origin was founded in Cologne, Germany, the headquarters was moved to New Austin on Terra in 2913. New Austin is now considered “ORIGIN town”, as they are a key employer in the region. In the Star Citizen universe, Origin is best known for its moderately priced 300 series of ships and the ostentatious 890 Jump luxury yacht.

600i Ship Series

Directly from CIG…

Let the voyage begin with the 2947 600i from Origin Jumpworks. This multi-role luxury vessel from Origin Jumpworks features an exquisitely detailed hull design that balances performance and versatility in a sleek and timeless form. The 600i is designed with a cutting-edge modular technology, allowing you to customize your ship for your needs.

End quote

The 600i concept sale was released with the flourish you’d expect for ships in this price range. A slick brochure which is still available online and a stunning in-lore ship commercial were included as marketing promotion materials. The 600i is intended to provide owners with an alternative to the Constellation Aquila for exploration and the Constellation Phoenix as a luxe party boat.

 

Highlights

  • The 600i comes in two variants – Touring and Explorer.
  • In its final state, an additional module that will allow you to swap between the Touring and Explorer variants.
  • Features two remote turrets which can be automated using an AI module.
  • Supports from 2 to 5 crew members.
  • Although intended as a multi-crew ship, for the size, it’s one of the most solo-friendly ships to date.
  • Touring module lets your guests relax in ease, with stunning furniture from some of the Empire’s top designers. The bridge has 3 seats for the pilot and crew members.
  • Explorer variant bridge has 3 seats for pilot and crew, in addition to two manned scanning stations, a deployable ramp for an exploratory ground vehicle (Origin-created Rover) and additional storage for artifacts you may discover.
  • Cargo capacity: Touring 16 SCU and Explorer 40 SCU.

My Impressions

The first iteration of the 600i ships arrived in Alpha 3.2, June 2018. I own the 600i Explorer variant. My original intention was to have a luxury version for exploration and RP-themed romps across the galaxy for groups smaller than the 890 Jump. However, as has been the case with many of the concept ships, they increase in size once concept meets the demands of physical reality. As such, it’s no longer the size I was hoping to acquire. We’ll have to see if it lives up to the claim that it’s very solo friendly in which case playing as a duo should still work well.

  • Every corner of the interior drips luxury.
  • Has the best cockpit and all ‘round ship views to date.
  • Best Captains Quarters by a mile… Until the 890 Jump arrives.
  • Handles well and floats like a cloud.
  • It’s a slow burn to top speed, so be careful and maintain situational awareness.
  • Landing gear doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the ship.
  • Some of the spaces are empty but I think that’s great IF we’ll be able to decorate our ships with flair items.

I’m decidedly happy with the 600i Explorer. However, this is all without being able to compare it to the Carrack. For me at least, I don’t care if the Connie Aquila beats the 600i in a size and feature comparison, I don’t like the Connie. Therefore comparisons between those two ships are moot.

My decision to keep the 600i Explorer will rest with how it compares to the Carrack. If the size and features are close, it won’t make sense to own both ships. I’ve melted a few very large ships to pick up the medium-sized profession ships coming into the game. This is intentional which leaves me a bit sad when medium ships become large during the implementation process. Here’s hoping there’s enough distinction between them.

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ORIGIN Jumpworks GmbH

ORIGIN Jumpworks GmbH

Origin’s notoriety comes from merging class and sophistication into their spaceflight designs. They are the unchallenged leaders is providing luxury. Their designs are sleek with sophisticated lines. Their customers among the cultivated elite. When you purchase an Origin ship, you’re not just buying a vessel, you’re indulging a lifestyle.

Origin was incorporated during the financial boom of the mid-28th century, that was fueled by the antimatter rush. Initially, the focused on producing high-end fusion engines procured by the UEE military and mounted yachts from their nearest competitor in luxury, Roberts Space Industries and Aegis Dynamics star yachts available to the public (at least, the well-heeled public) at the time. Eventually, Origin made the decision to enter their own brand of luxury transport into the market. Within ten years, they were producers of a top-five selling midscale composite transport. Within fifty, their well-paying customer base was neck and neck with RSI for gross profits in the manufactured spacecraft field.

While Origin was founded in Cologne, Germany, the headquarters was moved to New Austin on Terra in 2913. New Austin is now considered “ORIGIN town”, as they are a key employer in the region. Terra, a popular destination in its own right, also benefits from Origin’s wealthy buyers who think nothing of traversing the galaxy to stroll through Origin’s showrooms and purchase factory-direct.

In the Star Citizen universe, Origin is best known for its moderately priced 300 series of ships. The line up includes 3ooI Touring, 315P Pathfinder, 325A Interdiction, and the 350R Racing. And the ostentacious 890 Jump luxury yacht.


Anvil Terrapin Pathfinder

The Little Turtle That Could

Developed near the end of the 28th century, The Anvil Aerospace U4A-3 Terrapin Class ship is built for pure overwatch, scanning and exploration tasks. It’s the first ship to be built under direct Naval contract for the empire. Refocusing the military on a more defensive effort to ‘protect and serve’.

The Terrapin is built with absolute protection in mind. With extensive shields and deep armored layers, it offers the maximum level of defense for its 2 person crew. Unfortunately, the heightened defense does come at the cost of fast maneuverability.

The Terrapin is a slow-moving ship with a pair of primary engines and 10 small thrusters. For exploration and slow-paced surveying that isn’t an issue, as the design sacrifices engine speed for longer flight duration.

During space battles, you would expect the Terrapin to endure most attacks easily, if it hasn’t already avoided them with its long-range sensors. If you find yourself backed into a corner with no choice but to fight back, the ship’s array of hard-hitting weapons should help you carve out an exit without too much collateral damage.

The Terrapin is famed for mounting daring search and rescue missions, saving soldiers under fire, or traveling into remote far-flung areas with hostile and extreme environmental conditions.

This is a ship designed to remain self-sufficient for extended periods of time in areas where you are unlikely to find regular supplies.

Upgrades

When equipped with a high-end long-range radar, the Terrapin is ideal for finding new worlds and exploring new sectors. Coupling this upgrade with its high-level defense makes the Terrapin perfect for navigating asteroid clusters with precision, analyzing their contents or rescuing stranded crews who were less prepared. Beyond advanced sensors, the Terrapin is not designed for modular upgrades. There are no additional frills, bells or whistles to add to this pure military hardened exploration and reconnaissance ship.

Storage

In terms of Cargo, crew members can drop salvage where they find space, but this ship does not have a dedicated hold, as such – cargo will not be safe from harm.

Personal Impressions

The Terrapin is one of my favorite ships even without having its intended mechanics implemented into the alpha as of June 2018. It’s a nice looking ship and has ample space for two players to participate in missions.

  • Even without a traditional cargo hold, you can do fetch and carry missions.
  • Right size and defensive attributes to do escort and transport/rescue missions generated by players which are sometimes a trap! This ships hardened exterior will help the situationally aware pilot escape unscathed.

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Alpha 3.2 Prospector Mining Guide

As was CIG’s intent, mining will not support AFK behavior. They want all professions to be engaging and require some level of interaction by the player. They want there to be skill involved, in this case, monitoring and muscle memory are a factor in the outcome. For this first release, we can only mine on moons, asteroid mining will arrive later. Using the Prospector, there are (4) parts to the mining mechanic once you arrive at your desired location.

Edit June 26, 2018: Click Here for Enhanced Step-by-Step Video Version Available on YouTube

Step One – Scan the Area

Your first step is to scan the area for minable objects.

  • Toggle scan mode using the [TAB] key
  • Click the left mouse button to scan/ping the area.
  • Land the ship or float slowing over the surface of the moon pinging as you go.
  • Mineable rocks will be marked with a blue icon and orange outline.

Step Two – Start Mining Rocks

The next step is to fracture the rocks down into smaller units that can be extracted.

  • Hover over the rocks identified as mineable to view their composition. You want to spend your time mining rocks that contain the highest concentration of sellable materials. Even better, are those that contain decent percentages of multiple metals.

  • To mine, press the [M] key which activates the mining mode called Fracture.
  • Fracturing is a mini-game of heating the rock enough to break it into pieces without blowing it up. In order to accomplish this, you must watch the two gauges on the left part of the HUD.

Step Three – Control the Mining Laser

  • The mouse scroll wheel controls the mining laser intensity
  • Watch the Laser Throttle indicator to see your laser intensity setting.
  • Simultaneously, monitor the Rock Energy Level.
  • The Energy Gauge measures the rock’s internal temperature for combustibility.
  • Gradually increase the laser throttle until the rock’s internal temperature moves into the green zone on the Rock Energy Level.
  • Watch the Energy Transfer Graph (line chart) to see the trending effect of your current throttle setting. Is it stable – showing a flat line? Is it increasing – line trending up? Is it decreasing – line trending down? Use that to guide whether or not you need to increase, decrease or maintain your current laser throttle setting.
  • Once you’ve moved the Energy Gauge into the green zone, hold it there until the Fracturing Sensor on the right side of the HUD reaches 100%.
  • At 100%, while in the optimum energy zone, causes a successful fracture.

Note: If you overheat the rock it will explode causing damage to nearby objects, including your ship.

To avoid overheating the rock you should be slowly ramping up the throttle on the mining laser, watching to see how that impacts the rock’s energy and throttling the laser up and down as appropriate. You’ll hear a warning sound if the internal temperature is getting too high. If throttling down isn’t letting it cool fast enough, turn off the laser or point it away from the rock until it cools down a bit.

Step Four – Extract Ore

When you’ve fractured a rock successfully, it splits into smaller pieces.

  • Hover over the fractured pieces to locate ones with a purple outline.
  • Click the right mouse button to active Extraction Mode.
  • Extraction will vacuum up the smaller pieces into the Prospector’s cargo canisters.
  • Any rocks that still have an orange outline will have to be fractured further before you can extract the ore.

RECAP

In a nutshell, you

  1. Scan for mineable rocks
  2. Inspect them to find the best compositions
  3. Switch to mining mode
  4. Use the fracture laser to break the rock into smaller pieces.
  5. Monitor the rock’s internal heat temperature and control the laser throttle accordingly until the energy bar is sitting in the green zone
  6. After a successful fracture, toggle to the extraction laser to vacuum up your earnings.

Like most things in games, the harder it is the bigger return. For now, at least, Cellin has the lower level metals so it’s easier to learn the basics of mining there. Whereas Daymar has the more lucrative materials making them harder to mine successfully. This is likely to change over time as CIG rolls out more of the mineable components. Either way, mining isn’t as complicated as it sounds on paper. You’ll have the hang of it in no time. Head on over to Cellin and enjoy!

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MISC Prospector - Introductory Mining Ship

Manufactured by MISC

Musashi Industrial and Starflight Concern (MISC) are well known for their genius designs and incredibly ergonomic factories. Their ships are precision built by huge production lines spanning dozens of worlds throughout the galaxy. The main output of their industrial empire comes from their heavy industrial division, which creates a wide range of modular bulk transport spacecraft.

MISC is responsible for the majority of human corporate shipping, and have made impressive, albeit unexpected, gains amongst the Xi’an too. This is mainly due to their durable hulls and generous storage capacities, something that appeals to any miner, regardless of species. So far it seems as though Humans and Xi’an alike can benefit from MISC’s exclusive Xi’an partnership.

This is an unusual agreement that creates a rare opportunity for Xi’An technology to be incorporated into ships like The Prospector, a vessel that blends the technology of two rival people, to the benefit of all those who wish to spend their time mining for precious materials. For more information on MISC, please visit here.

Star Citizen’s First Mining Ship

Thanks to the Xi’an, the Prospector comes with improved VTOL Thrusters that enable it to maintain a sturdy position whilst navigating through dense clusters. It’ll also keep the ship still during precise mining tasks as you’re trying to snag that last chunk of precious metal from within a meteor.

As the name suggests, the Prospector isn’t just a mining vessel, it’s also built for Prospecting the galaxy for precious minerals. Underneath the ship, an upgraded scanner provides a huge search area for hunting out resources, without having to move around. This is useful as although perfect for mining and prospecting, these ships are not built for speed and every movement will feel like a slog. The default retractable mining laser was modified to enable more efficient extractions. The Prospector is capable of reaching ore in hard to reach places that lesser ships would have to leave behind.

Technical Overview

Like all smaller mining ships, The Prospector is fitted with only the bare necessities needed to maximize potential mining.  You get one seat for a single pilot but no room for crew members. However, other amenities have been provided such as a sleeping bunk, restroom, and space for hand-carried cargo containers. Whilst it will be lonely out in space, you’ll be protected by a top quality hull design, and can while away your time, loading your storage containers with up to 32 SCU of space.

In terms of additional features, The prospector comes with an upgrade to a more advanced scanner. It also comes with a basic CF-117 Bulldog Laser Repeater to blast apart bigger rocks, or to defend you from would-be thieves. Of course, there are also options for upgrading your mining laser as you become wealthier from your mining hauls.  The Prospector is a hardy ship, designed perfectly for mining your way through the galaxy. The only other resources you need are out there in the stars, waiting to be mined.

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Alpha 3.1 Impressions

SHOW TRANSCRIPT  |  Also Available on YouTube

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.