The number of comments I read and opinions I hear, where a group of gamers is trying to define how to play a sandbox game, never ceases to amaze me. I’m floored by the narrow perspective and beliefs in an idea of progression and winning, that doesn’t allow variation beyond their playstyle. Those for whom having more ships, grinding money, beating others in combat, having the best gear, etc., is perceived as the only possible point of it all. While players who deviate from this narrow view of enjoying an MMO are doing it wrong.
There’s so little tolerance in the world, in general. It confounds me that people bring the same problems into a game.
There’s so little tolerance in the world, in general. It confounds me that people bring the same problems into a game.
Games are a form of entertainment. An environment designed as an escape from everyday reality. I don’t play them to feel better about myself as a person. I don’t play them to make others feel less. It’s unfortunate when we choose to create new battlefields over how to play a damn game. I suppose my live and let live nature simply can’t comprehend their closed and demanding point of view.
In considering the incessant debates of … Is Star Citizen is P2W? The insistence that people who have multiple ships ruining progression for themselves! Why play if you already own the ships you want? Clearly, there’s only one way to define enjoyment in a sandbox game. If you can’t hear it in my tone, feel free to insert me rolling my eyes and shoving a finger down my throat.
One the back of all this nonsense, I concocted an exercise that illustrates how differently someone such as myself, goes about playing MMOs. Having more isn’t the aim, goal or victory. It’s about having a diverse toolset with which to experience the content. This doesn’t work for completionists or killers. It’s probably a weird combo of a semi-social adventurer.
The rule of this musing is assuming all professions. For one year, you can only do one profession and possess only two ships, what would your choices be? And no matter how much money you earn, for that year, you can’t buy any additional ships. Literally, one year, one profession, two ships and go!
Of the professions I’m most excited about, I think medical will provide me with the most content and group composition diversity.
Solo, small group, large group – all available in one profession with two ships.
There are three ships dedicated to the medical profession. The Cutlass Red, RSI Apollo, and Endeavor Hope. Other ships that have a medbay, but for this exercise, I’m choosing to pick dedicated vessels.
Given that the Apollo is a Connie sized ship and only has two crew stations, it will be viable as a solo operation. I imagine myself free-roaming densely populated areas. In particular, locations where FPS missions or PVP skirmishes occur. In those instances, players likely want to return to the action as soon as possible. Unless there’s a medical outpost nearby, a field medic in the area will be considerably faster than seeking attention planetside.
We’ve also been told that there will be missions generated to service NPCs. Accepting missions in the Apollo is precisely my plan for doing causal solo gameplay. This is my preferred M.O. during the workweek. Accept a mission, do the mission, and on to the next, while enjoying the atmosphere of being in that virtual world. For me, this is pleasant, relaxing, low key and avoids trying to coordinate with other players when I’m short on time and patience.
The Apollo will also be perfect for small group sessions – structured or ad hoc opportunities with my family, friends or gaming buddies. We can take on relatively safe content via missions in high-security areas or venture off on freelance journies to where other players become our content pipeline. Outfitted to defend ourselves and with an escort in tow, we can venture into locations where players are participating in FPS or ship combat. Unless there are medical outposts nearby, our services will be more convenient.
With the expanded planetside content, I think FPS will be a staple for some players. Player run outposts, contesting harvestable resources, and bounty work, both the lawman and the target, will provide ample opportunities for an eager field medic.
I can see myself participating in structured combat encounters such as the scenarios Rexilla is popular for orchestrating. Instead of the combatants being sent elsewhere, the Apollo can be located in a no-kill zone where players from both sides can be healed and sent back into the breach.
Lastly, is the hulking Misc Endeavor Hope. A ship I’m only likely to use in high-security areas unless part of a coordinated event. When I’m captaining a ship of this size, I’m after experiencing the top tier interactions for that profession. I’m looking for the contemplative immersion of being aboard a ship of that size, likely crewed with up to a dozen people just to maintain that one ship. I’m not interested in combat or orchestrating external activity such as escorts. I simply want to have fun being a doctor.
When captaining a large ship, I’m in it for the onboard experiences and interactions.
When captaining a large ship, I’m in it for the onboard experiences and interactions.
In most cases, I’ll float around an armistice zone, acting as a spawn point for players who’ve died and tend to any residual damage. Players who are arriving at the starbase to conduct business or summon ships can also stop in to have old wounds healed. Much like we repair our ships before heading off to the next adventure, the Hope can do the same for the player character. Here again, if the current travel on planets holds true, my hospital will be considerably more convenient than going planetside just to see a doctor.
If the organization I’m part of is having a large scale skirmish, I would also participate by having the ship close enough to give us the advantage of returning our people back to the fight faster. Of course, this would be the highest risk scenario and I’d expect to have escorts and protectors. If we go boom, we go boom.
Other professions can provide similar diversity in content – game generated versus finding freelance work. A spread of group size – solo, small and large. Opportunities where I can choose to take calculated risks. However, of them, I think medical will be in higher demand.
So with one profession and two ships, I can experience all the facets of gameplay I expect in any MMO, especially ones that lean toward being a sandbox. I don’t care what other players are doing, how many ships they have or how much money they can make in comparison. I focus inwardly on defining strategies that let me be successful in doing whatever content I enjoy most.
The reason I have so many ships is the result of setting up these options for the professions I’m most interested in experiencing. Whether it’s medical, transportation, data running or exploration, I’ve simply pre-established the scenarios that suit my personal objectives for playing Star Citizen.
Any modern MMO worth its salt should cater to a wide range of player types – social, completionists, adventurers and killers. When, where and how they take risks should never be forced. The content should be compelling enough across all spectrums and the risk versus reward artfully designed, that enough players will choose to cross their normal boundaries on occasion.
Games should entice players into deliberate interactions not coerced hack job conflicts.
Games should entice players into deliberate interactions not coerced hack job conflicts.
For me, content options are king in MMOs and combat-only scenarios will never be an inducement. This is why I harp on professions. Without them, there’s no content I’m interested in consuming. I’m fine with combat being a means to an end, which is all it is for me in games that have levels. But if that’s all you’ve got, you don’t have a GAME by my standards. Therefore until the professions arrive, Star Citizen is little more than an attractive husk for me. She’s gorgeous, innovative and complex and yet, just a shell without more professions.
For more details on what we know about the planned medical profession, you can check out a full discussion here.
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
Your first step is to scan the area for minable objects.
The next step is to fracture the rocks down into smaller units that can be extracted.
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.
When you’ve fractured a rock successfully, it splits into smaller pieces.
In a nutshell, you
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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As this will be one of the professions many new players gravitate toward, here’s a quick overview of the mining profession. It was one of the first career design documents published and is supposedly representative of their philosophy for all careers. Which is that career associated tasks contain activities that require skill, dext, rity and intelligence, where mindless repetition or idle monitoring are explicitly avoided.
This is after all, deep space and although a career isn’t combat oriented there’s danger present. In the case of mining, the more valuable materials will reside in dense asteroid fields that must be piloted through without suffering serious damage to your ship. While mining, you can encounter compressed pockets of gas and other volatile materials that can explode in the presence of excessive energy or detonate from seismic activity. In other words, this isn’t an auto-pilot profession and careless players can die.
IN THE BEGINNING
Visiting your local Trade and Development Division (TDD), which serves as the marketplace for commodities, can provide a sense of what’s in demand, at what price and where. Once you’ve decided on what you want to attempt to mine, it’s time to decide between going freelance or acquiring a contract for those materials from a NPC run corporation.
There are benefits and risks of working freelance. On the good, you are your own master. You set your mining schedule and pace. You may be able to sell your cargo for a higher than average price based on market changes. However, the opposite is also a risk. By the time you return with your cargo and list it for auction, the prices may have decreased.
If a committed payout is preferred, working on contract is the better option. You know exactly how much you will be paid for your cargo. However, this isn’t completely without risk. If during the excursion your ship suffers damage OR unforeseen setbacks delay your return or reduce your cargo, your reputation will take a hit. In the end, you are paid less than you expected because of your performance and that performance has a lasting impact on future employment.
LOCATING THE RIGHT ASTEROID FIELDS
After deciding between freelance and contract, it’s time to locate asteroids that contain the materials you seek. Every solar system will contain a variety of public information on major asteroid fields. It’s probably best to head into the known when you’re starting. However, don’t expect to find the more lucrative materials there. If they existed in that location, they’re likely long gone. However, it’s still a good place to start mining common materials.
Freelancers wanting to maximize their profits can opt to spend money on an Information Broker. This is someone who has knowledge about asteroid fields which aren’t public. They either bought the information from someone else or obtained the coordinates through exploration and are using that information to provide a service.
Lastly, you can explore the galaxy yourself. This will be the most time-consuming approach and not likely to be feasible for contract work that contains deadlines. However, combined with an emphasis on exploration, a freelancer could turn an excellent profit by harvesting from isolated/unknown locations and/or selling the information to an Information Broker. You could also be an explorer and information broker yourself but we’re here to talk about mining. *Smile*
GETTING THE JOB DONE
Mining consists of multiple roles, and is done using a ship configured for mining, such as the Orion. The more proficiency you have with performing a role the more efficient the results, which ultimately impacts effort versus profit. Note that any or all of these roles can be performed by NPCs. The NPC’s proficiency will be commensurate with their fee.
As for solo play as a miner, the design document leads me to believe that it’s not possible to mine completely solo – without players or NPCs. Roles that happen sequentially can be carried out by the same person. However, there are activities that take place simultaneously and as such, require multiple bodies.
The pilot is responsible for safely navigating the ship to and within targeted asteroid fields. This may not be as simple as it sounds. Rarer materials will be located in dense fields which require nimble navigation skills to avoid costly ship damage.
A scan operator is responsible for identifying an asteroid’s composition. This is accomplished by injecting remote material analysis packages (RMAPs) into nearby asteroids. The telemetry data is sent to the pilot and scan operator. Once a site is selected, the optimal injection orientation is displayed. The scan operator launches and manually controls RMAP-equipped missiles used to impact the asteroid at the correct location to expose the materials you want to mine. Actual mining efficiency is impacted by the accuracy of the scan operator’s efforts to expose the asteroid’s components.
Next up is the beam operator who is responsible for wielding the mining beam affixed to the ship’s robotic arms. They have direct control over beam output and if they’re good, are able to precisely extract materials. Their control of the beam is also critical to safety, as an injection of surplus energy into volatile materials can cause explosive chain reactions. The result of such a mistake can range from ship damage to the loss of the ship and its crew.
The cargo operator is the sifting and pick-up role. Mined materials are NOT automagically deposited into your vessel. The cargo operator monitors the fragments being excavated by the mining beam and interrogates them using an integrated Fragment Scanner. Fragments of interest are directed into a ship’s input port. The input port houses a crusher that pulverizes the fragments into rubble and stores the contents into cargo modules. The skill of this person also impacts the value of your payload. They can miss important fragments or be so slow that they impact your efficiency, putting you behind schedule for contract deliveries.
If your ship is equipped with a refinery, the refinery operator will process raw ore into its purified forms, ejecting waste elements out into space. Purified materials consume considerably less storage space which allows your operation to continue for extended periods of time before it becomes necessary to dock and unload.
Whew, that’s more involved than the mining I’ve done in other games such as EVE Online. I have no intention of mining in Star Citizen. Even in this interactive model, there are other things I’d rather do to earn a living. However, I’m sure this is going to appeal to a lot of people which is why I wanted to provide a short overview of the mechanics involved. Here’s a link to the design document for a more detailed look at the profession.
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OH MY GAWD, they had me at profession…
For a long time now, I’ve had a vision of the role I wanted to play in Star Citizen. I saw myself playing out a female version of Mal from Firefly. My love for FF is undeniable. I create and sell FF inspired jewelry. On some level, this role would also mirror my career in EVE Online, which existed long before there were salvage specific ships available.
In EVE, salvage appealed to me because I liked the freedom to engage random rats and salvage their ships while exploring, salvage kills from riding shotgun during mining ops, leech cleaning around AFK miners and cleaning up after my own PVE missions. It certainly didn’t hurt that salvage was lucrative, even for freshies, which is what I was when I started. I suddenly had a license to print ISK in EVE, after a long suffering stint of poverty. As such, my vision for SC was a more RP and environmentally lush version of this. I knew there would be piracy/PVP, FPS pew-pew, industry/mining, etc., none of which excited me as a primary focus. I was content and excited about the vision I held.
To cement my vision, I purchased a Freelancer, now upgraded to Freelancer MAX before they announced the salvage specific ship, the Reclaimer. Even so, the FM would be good enough until I upgraded in the future to the Reclaimer. La la la, all was settled in my SC world.
That was until I saw a YouTube video discussing the recently unveiled Genesis Starliner and the accompanying transport career. My mouth fell open, hit the floor and remained there. I watched the video multiple times. I went to the RSI website and read the content for myself. Why oh why, did RSI include interactive content allowing you to see the travel brochures someone might read when planning a vacation and then choose a destination from an airport departures board, which tied to a short RP story of a passenger aboard the ship. It was a sucker punch to my gut that excited me for a SC experience that was very different from the one I had planned in my head.
I could pilot and manage a civilian transport business. I COULD PILOT AND MANAGE A CIVILIAN TRANSPORT BUSINESS. I could do this with friends. I could do this with guildmates! WhatchootalkinboutWillis??
WHY I’M ENTHRALLED
I shouldn’t have but I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF. I pledged / purchased the Genesis Starliner. As I said, they had me at profession.
The majority of MISC’s business comes from the production of their heavy industrial division. One of MISC’s claims to fame, is their technology partnership with the Xi’An, which came about due to the popularity of MISC ships within their culture. That popularity led to MISC becoming the only Human spacecraft corporation to sign a lend lease agreement with the Xi’An. The details of which, are a closely guarded secret.
In recent years, MISC has turned its attention to advancing its two ship lines marked for personal use – the Freelancer and Starfarer. They’ve funneled profit from their corporate revenue to break into this crowded segment, battling against giants such as Roberts Space Industries and Drake Interplanetary.
Our discussion of the Starfarer will be solely on the refueling variant. We’ll save discussion of the Gemini for a future show.
The Starfarer is a niche spacecraft which has become the defacto standard for fuel transport. Its design is the result of an 18-month survey that yielded a 15,000 page study on ship roles and the deficiencies faced by pilots. That insight influenced the core design philosophy for the Starfarer. And led to it being fitted as a dual-role fueling craft, capable of collecting fuel in space and refueling ships in-flight.
The Starfarer’s massive internal fuel tanks are welded directly to the ship’s core superstructure. This makes safer for fuel transport than ships modified to carry out this role. The tanks use external probes and pressure access nodes to provide easy access. In this manner, the ship can scoop hydrogen from a gas giant and just as easily funnel fuel to a nearby ship.
Starfarers can be upgraded to include a basic refinery to allow for processing unrefined fuel themselves. The hydrogen tanks can also be modified to carry liquid food products. Although this modification isn’t popular, you can replace the tanking machinery with a cargo chassis to transport bulk goods.
Even though the Starfarer can be modified for other roles, remember that it’s primarily a dedicated fuel platform. And designed from the ground up to be that. It won’t perform in these other roles, as effectively as a dedicated option.
Although the Starfarer supports multiple crew stations, it can be run as a solo operation. Management of the ship and its resources will take more time and require a lot of running back and forth. But it is possible.
Detailed Design Doc Still Incoming
A detailed design document will be made available as soon as all of the mechanics involved the refueling process have been finalized. That said, here are some aspects which have been more or less “confirmed” based on CIG Q&A responses:
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Our first encounter with the Banu occurred in the Davien system. In 2438 an independent nav-jumper named Vernon Tar, opened fire on what he thought was another privateer trying to steal his meager claim in the system. The pilot of the other ship turned out to be Banu. Luckily, the incident didn’t lead to any deaths and became humanity’s first introduction to the Banu Protectorate.
Baachus is believed to be the Banu’s home world. We say “believe” because the they haven’t been forthcoming on the subject. The Banu Political System is a Republic of Planet-States, each run under its own policies. The representatives of each planet gather for a quorum to debate legal and trade issues that affect the entire species. Otherwise, each planet is left to their own devices.
The Banu do not maintain a standing army. Local militia keep the peace within their systems and they’re not especially selective. Even criminals can and do serve. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this makes the Banu worlds an easy target. On the contrary, they have the means to muster a formidable fighting force if necessary.
In comes the Merchantman
The Banu are the traders and culture-hounds of the universe. There are a lot of things they’re willing to overlook in pursuit of commerce. They trade with the Vanduul and if you’re looking for shady, check the back alleys of any Banu city.
Their planets are varied and colorful and they take pride in being unique in their culture and traditions. However, their pursuit of wealth through trading is their one true ring. And why the ship designed to support that lifestyle, The Merchantman, is prized above all others.
The BMM is categorized as a trade vessel within the cargo ship classification. As far as available cargo size units, it’s carries more than the Hull C, coming in at 5018. It’s 100 meters in length and supports a maximum of 8 crew stations. Compared to the other cargo ships, the BMM on paper has more defensive and offensive technical capabilities – wolf in sheep’s clothing. However, remember this is still concept ships and such, things are subject to change.
Why is the Banu Merchantman a lifestyle?
One of the things that sets the BMM apart from other cargo ships is that it’s designed for sustainable deep space travel. A traveling business with residential accommodations. Instead of bunks stashed conveniently in a passageway or galley-like area, there the BBM contains dedicated living quarters a short distance from the cockpit. It also boasts an observation room where business negotiations take place and allows customers to view a portion of the cargo hold. The BMM is designed for you to go to your customers and reside at that location for a time while conducting business. When you’re done, you close up shop and move on.
The BMM Can’t be an Island
While the features and lifestyle of owning a Banu Merchantman may instantly sound appealing, having one is only part of the equation. Unlike a pure cargo hauler whose primary role is transport goods, not sell them, the BBM needs merchandise to sell. I doubt you’ll be running NPC cargo hauling missions with your BMM. That’s doesn’t sound like an efficient use of the vessel. Therefore you need a consistent means of filling up your cargo bay.
Pairing the BMM up with a resource acquisition ship like the Orion, Reclaimer or Endeavor could be an option. Like an airplane segregates seating into economy, business and 1st class, you might consider the same strategy with the Merchantman. Commonly needed ore, food supplies, industrial materials, etc., could be your economy merchandise. While the more exotic lower quantity higher margin cargo. For your planning, you’ll need to know which systems produce luxury items that are in demand elsewhere. For a headstart in ideas, you may want to start reading the Galactic Guides and taking a look at where those locations are in relationship to each other on the Starmap.
CIG has said that not all merchandise is available in every system. Therefore savvy merchants will need to stay informed on pockets of consumer demand for merchandise versus where the items can be acquired. In that scenario it doesn’t have to be exotic or luxury to be profitable. I wonder if we’ll be able to purchase wholesale quantities of goods from NPC managed businesses?
Although pirating and unlawful conduct isn’t my cup of tea, I recognize it’s a valid play style and the BMM can play a role in such activities. CIG has suggested that the capabilities of the Banu Merchantman make it viable as an armored smuggling ship or blockage runner. I wasn’t a pirate in EVE Online but I owned a blockade runner for transporting salvage and low level manufactured goods into hostile territories, where listing them on the auction house was considerably more profitable. I also used it to transport my own ships and equipment to whatever system our organization was defending during Faction Warfare – a form of territorial PVP in EVE.
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To provide a gaming experience that is more tactical and varied, Star Citizen has devised a limb-based injury system which includes varying degrees of damage severity and permanence. It’s not going to be the more common scenario where after sustaining damage, a player runs and hides until his health magically regenerates to full.
In Star Citizen, various areas of the body go through damage states from Normal (no injury) to Ruined (not usable or gone). To recover from a state below normal, player intervention is necessary. A detailed overview of the health system can be found here.
WHAT WE KNOW
If a player is incapacitated in proximity to his allies, they can be dragged to safety. Some assistance can be provided on the spot using field tech, such as the ability to stem bleeding. However, field tech cannot be used to heal a player back to full capacity.
Beyond moderate injury or to be returned to a normal 100% health state, a player must undergo more intense treatments, such as those provided by Medbays and Medstations. This is where Search and Rescue (SAR) comes into play. Given that Star Citizen has a permadeath mechanic, I expect SAR services to be in high demand.
Based on the Healing your Spacemen article, we know for certain that a robust SAR system is being designed. Requests to rescue players and NPCs is one of the major mission types being planned. Players will be able to send distress calls if they’re shot down or otherwise stranded in space. A fellow player, whose ship is SAR equipped, can retrieve them and provide medical services aboard their ship. If the injuries are beyond what they can provide, the responder can stabilize the patient and transport them to a dedicated medical facility.
Beyond what CIG has published on the topic, we know that providing SAR will range from small operations to larger player run medical services, based on the ships being developed. They’ve talked about a large medical treatment ship being delivered in the 4th wave of Persistent Universe ships. I have no idea what wave we’re on now but SAR capable ships are already in the line-up.
Here are the small to mid-tier SAR capable ships that have already been announced:
If MMOs have taught me anything, it’s that the vast majority of players like to pew-pew at every opportunity and even a cautious PVE carebear dies. There will be no shortage of players needing medical attention. Even if you die in space, there’s a possibility that your body can be healed if you receive intensive medical attention in time, which will save you a tick on your permadeath life counter. Yup, medical services will be in demand.
Even with the little, we have to go on beyond the ships announced thus far, player run organizations are forming around this career. One such group is Corporate Search and Rescue, which is 325 members strong at this point. And there’s a SAR association for players who are in the medical/SAR career – even though the career itself hasn’t been announced.
SC backers are not short on imagination or enthusiasm for carving out their personal niche in space. Here’s a player made video illustrating what he thinks the SAR/medic role will be like in Star Citizen. And a thread where players are discussing which ships can be used as space ambulances – no real treatment, has gotten traction.
As for me, I think SAR will be an interesting and diverse career that will also provide a lot of social interaction with the community. I’ve already decided on commercial civilian transport as my primary career. However, there’s always room to play multiple roles in MMOs. I’ve picked SAR as a secondary.
I think SAR is a support role I can provide for guild/corp PVP operations or any endeavor where one of us might get hurt. It’s also a service you can provide after the fact! A friend is hurt while out mining, exploring, doing PVE, etc., and makes it back alive but with long term injuries. I can bring them aboard my ship to take care of their injuries, likely saving them some coin and hassle. I can also do sporadic rescue services while exploring.
DRAKE INTERPLANETARY CUTLASS RED
My decision to purchase the Genesis Starliner to accompany my goal of obtaining a commercial pilot license left me with redundant ships based on their roles. I had a Freelancer MAX with the idea of doing salvage and hauling cargo but I missed the concept sale for the dedicated salvage ship and am not sure when/if I’ll pursue it at all now.
Lacking an exploration focused ship, I exchanged the MAX for the DUR variant, which left me with a store credit. I also had the Aurora LN which is a combat ship but one that’s inferior to the Origin 325A I purchased. I decided to melt the LN, which gave me full credit for the original purchase price. Using my store credits plus $50, I bought the Cutlass Red, a dedicated SAR vessel.
It’s the smallest of the SAR ships announced thus far which is all I need. I’m big on PVE in MMOs. Although not typically a completionist, I like to do as much of the PVE content as possible, assuming that it’s decent. Knowing that there will be missions specific to SAR, I decided that owning one was a something I wanted up front. I also plan to team up with my guild from ArcheAge which contains a LOT of PVP/FPS gamers. I think I’ll have a plenty of bodies to mend.