TIME IS FLYING BY

The past few weeks have been quite busy. The week before last I was sick for 3 days. A short duration flu-like episode. I was sick enough that I had to take 2 days off from work. I usually end up losing my voice as a result because of sinus and allergies issues. Colds tend to hit me in the chest and throat the most. Luckily, that didn’t happen this time.

Halloween has come and gone, which to me, signals the end of the year. November and December always seem to rush by in a frantic blur of shopping, cooking, hosting, cleaning and overeating. It’s been a little more subdued the past two years because of my brother’s passing on Christmas morning, the day before his 42nd birthday. But we have to keep the show going for all the children, so we do the best we can. I’m grateful not to have little ones. After kids have opened their gifts I can disappear if I’m feeling overly sad, without having to worry about ruining someone else’s holiday.

ALYSIANAH’S WORLD

I’m still very consumed with Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen. I’m working on the final set of profession related dossier pages and digging through the mountain of lore that’s been released so far. Plucking out and categorizing lore that’s relevant to the careers is a huge undertaking. And for now, I end up doing all the entries twice. First into a spreadsheet and then into the website database.  Doing the spreadsheet is a safety net until the site performance stabilizes.  We’re having erratic behavior with the WordPress mechanic we’re using to automate importing data from the RSI ARK Starmap, called WP Cron.

Unlike a Windows Cron job, the WP version is scheduled BUT depends on website traffic too. Trying to get very specific update time has been a test of patience. It will go from updating once a day to updating every hour which is completely debilitating to the site performance.  When that happens the backend databases become unresponsive, saves fail and pages crash, all of which may cause me to lose data that I was entering at the time. For now, the safest way to ensure I don’t lose information, is to collect it offline first versus entering it directly into the site as I find it.  That way I can do a comparison if the site starts acting the fool.

I expect to have two updates to Alysianah’s World in this last part of 2016. The one that’s underway now to add the final dossier pages for quite some time, which should hit in 2 to 3 weeks. In December, I want to work on incorporating jump point sizes on the back-end, in preparation for including jump point planning in 2017. On the front-end, I’ll at least display Jump Point size information on the existing dossier pages.

WHAT I’M PLAYING

I want to be careful about burning out on Star Citizen. I haven’t had much gaming time available but when I have, I turned to other games. I’m also taking a break from watching SC videos and Twitch Streams.

I’ve dabbled in World of Warcraft Legion, very casually leveling up my Paladin to 105, halfway to the new max level. The most enjoyable aspect of the journey is exploring the new zones. I’m so over the traditional questing system. It’s only barely entertaining to me now. This fact is one of the reasons planetside missions don’t excite me at all when it comes to Star Citizen. I really don’t think there’s much new that you can ask me to do on foot in any MMO. At this point, I’ve done millions of quests and am pretty much over it.

My level 105 Protection Paladin
My level 105 Protection Paladin

When I see zones like the one shown below, I can stay there for hours just roaming around. I get a kick out of watching the NPCs and what they’re doing in this little part of the world. I’m entertained watching other players go about doing quests. This kind of zone is quintessential in showing the romance, magic and ethereal nature of fantasy. And loving these types of zones as I do, I wonder will I really enjoy the darkness of deep space?  Will I love Star Citizen’s universe as much as I’ve loved fantasy??  The closest thing to it is EVE Online and I’ve never played that for years at a stretch. I’m hoping that exploration planetside might give me some of what I’ll miss from fantasy settings, while getting my outer space fix too.

Feels like an updated version of Darkshire.
Feels like an updated version of Darkshire.

Already on the verge of being ready to stop my WOW sub, a new Sims 4 expansion released this week that caught my attention. I watched a few live streams of people playing. City Living piqued my interest enough to buy it and re-install The Sims for the thousandth time.

I ALWAYS enjoy customizing a city and building houses for the Sims I want to be party of the community. I have fun playing a particular person or family unit for a time. And then it all feels so familiar.  We’re essentially re-buying the same features we had in the previous generation of the game but dressed up differently. I swear EA are diabolically genius to keep re-releasing the core game with new tech but lacking features present by the time the last generation of the game concluded and getting people to re-buy this shit all over again!!!!

They don’t get as much out of me anymore. Back in our The Sims hay day we had multiple copies of the base game and all expansion packs.  These days I’ll buy the base game and an expansion or two.  But I’ve yet to buy them all again after The Sims 2.  To me their business model is a bit exploitive but clearly it’s working. For Sims 3 I purchased two expansions, and they were new themes. One provided a community that was very Harry Potter esk. And another medieval.  Both content they’d not previously released.

I’ve basically done the same with Sims 4. City Living is a new kind of world / map where the dwellings are all apartments. From 2-story brownstones, typical of something like the lower east side in NYC to opulent skyscrapers with penthouses. And I have Back to Business, which lets you go to work with your Sim.  The rest? Nope, not re-buying old stuff – again.

I’ve spent sometime during the last two evenings redesigning the two work locations my Sims are employed at, making the layouts more convenient and visually attractive. This is game play I always find very relaxing. When it comes to playing through it, we shall see. It would be nice to play a family until generation one at least hits “old age”. I haven’t been that invested since The Sims 2.

At work in the science career where I've completely redesigned the lot.
At work in the science career where I’ve completely redesigned the lot.

VOICE OVER AND NARRATION

I’ve written the next episode of Casual Citizen which will be about flight ready cargo ships. This is in preparation for Alpha 3.0 which will introduce the cargo hauling mechanic. I HOPE I can find a stretch of time when the house is quiet enough to record this weekend.  If not, I’ll have to do it during one of my lunch breaks in the coming week, as that’s when no one else would be around.

Ugh – I’m so ready to have my house back to myself again and arrange things so that I have a dedicated space to record audio. In the past two months I’ve turned down 3 audiobook contracts!! And one would have been my first attempt at fiction. It was for a romance novel.  However, taking on contracts of that size that require very high quality is simply too stressful under the current circumstances.  I’m hopeful that since I’m getting work requests unsolicited, I’ll be able to easily find work when I’m ready to actively pursue it and do auditions. Until then, I continue to practice and try to teach myself new techniques while recording and editing Casual Citizen.  It’s a win-win of learning SC game mechanics, lore and continued experience doing voice over.

Who would have ever thought that doing a podcast for Star Citizen would lead to opportunities in voice over?? It’s not anything I’d even remotely considered before. However, since Casual Citizen, I have done paid work for radio spots, corporate training materials, internet marketing campaigns, business phone systems and two audiobooks. It’s insane how this all came about.  I’ve enjoyed it very much and am interested in doing it as a secondary career, as soon as I can work out the logistics of a real home studio.

Screenshots of my recent adventures. Click images for larger view.