Doing a show like The NightBus has been on my mind for many months. Paying homage to the Night Bus in the Harry Potter series, I wanted a show format where I could discuss whatever was on my mind about the game AND the often fickle backer community. One that allowed more flexibility in the content and didn’t require the considerable research necessary to do Casual Citizen which is aimed at helping to educate users. Moreover, I wanted to experiment with including fiction from CIG, fan fiction from others and some of my own to add more creativity in what’s being produced.
Unlike Casual Citizen, TNB doesn’t focus on the visual aspect of the show. It’s designed primarily as an auditory experience. There may be times when I don’t have video that’s pertinent to the topic at hand. I’m looking into options of what I can use for complimentary visual effects long term. It also won’t be available on SoundCloud. I’ve had to maintain an annual service account on SoundCloud to host audio only versions of Casual Citizen and my narration of the Star Citizens Writer’s Guide because of the total length of the uploads. If not, SoundCloud starts removing shows from the earliest uploaded. This would result in an incomplete series for the Writer’s Guide which is the first series of content I produced for Star Citizen. in 2017, I won’t be continuing the $200 annual subscription needed to host as much content there as I do. I’ll look into another means that can utilize the website infrastructure I’m already paying to maintain for Alysianahsworld.com.
You can listen to the first episode of The NightBus here on YouTube. I’m hoping that the reduced production requirements will allow me to release these more frequently. I have tons of ideas of things I want to share, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. *Smile*
I’m all for players being able to role-play a variety of topics in games. I’m okay with elements of morality. Even including the topic of slavery doesn’t bother me. However, it does make me skittish in a game that’s going to have a lot of realism, including the ability to capture other players. In a recent article for [REDACTED.TV], I discussed what we know so far.
Here’s an excerpt…
While diversity in game-play may make MMOs go ‘round, I admit to being surprised about the planned slavery mechanic in Star Citizen. Though it’s not the first MMO to include this theme, to my knowledge it is the first where it will play out with actual avatars. This particular fact makes it creep into an uncanny valley for me. It’s not something I’d ever want to be involved in roleplaying on either side of the coin – for or against. However, since it’s a planned feature, we should all be aware of its existence.
SLAVERY IN EVE ONLINE
EVE was the first MMO I played that included slavery in a present day storyline for one of the playable races. In the lore, almost one third of Minmatars are enslaved by the Amarr Empire. This conflict is reflected in missions. Minmatar are Amarr opponents in Faction Warfare.
In EVE, this all plays out as chits in your cargo bay since outside of a player’s instanced hangar no one has an avatar. You are your ship. Non-player characters are a ship. Transporting what EVE categorizes as livestock, appears as token in your cargo bay. A line of text. A stick figure icon. In Star Citizen, however, that won’t be case as it’s a first person MMO with avatars.
SLAVERY IN STAR CITIZEN
We’re likely to see avatars as slaves in Star Citizen. Slaves and indentured servants are legal in the Banu culture. We have present day lore discussing locations where slave activity occurs. We have a ship, the Banu Merchantman, capable of “displaying cargo” from a viewing room and conducting sales transactions while aboard the ship. This doesn’t sound to me as though slavery is going to be an off-screen mechanic.
Slavery is discussed in the official Star Citizens Writer’s Guide Episode 5. You can hear a narrated version in my SoundCloud library where I narrated the entire series. This was my first attempt at narration, a precursor to Casual Citizen. The sound quality isn’t the best but should suffice for learning purposes.
The Writer’s Guide tells us that there are two phases to a slave’s induction. First they are snatched, which can happen most anywhere, even in populated cities. Next the captive is transported, which results in a variety of methods depending on the sophistication of the trafficker’s operation. They may be shipped in cages if they’re being transported in a system where slavery is legal. Or anesthetized and shipped in scan protected sleeping coffins when it’s being done covertly…
Want to read more?
Head on over to my article on [REDACTED] and tell me what you think. Is this something you’re going to engage in? Do you feel it’s necessary to support this type of storyline and game play?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Excuse me Sir, are you Treebeard? No? You sure??
I enjoy exploring moody atmospheric fantasy zones.
Relic Weapon Quest completed
Oh wait... Another Relic Weapon Quest completed.
Experimenting on a co-working. Guess the Freezing gun I invented works!
Nothing better than a little woohoo before going to sleep.
The focus of this release is to deploy additional player career oriented dossier pages and continue to refine visuals and formatting of the lore information tables.
New Dossier Pages
Officially Released: November 13, 2016
Leave feedback in the comments section.
Estimated Release Date: Late November
Please leave feedback and issues found in the comments thread below. Thanks! Comments locked until released.
Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen is rolling along. We hit a couple of technical challenges developing my vision for integrating Galactic Guide and Live Game data into the back-end design. We’re having to reconsider one of the primary data templates. However, we’re still on track to meet my original estimate of mid November. Unfortunately, some of the issues are visible on the actual dossier pages, requiring an “Excuse our dust. We’re Under Construction” update on the website.
IT’S A JOURNEY
This journey started for me in October of 2015, when I undertook the effort of manually compiling information from the ARK Starmap into a Google Sheet to share with the community. As time went on, I realized I had a strong interest in the intel contained in the SC physical universe. Moreover, I wanted to combine it with hints about player career opportunities sprinkled into the RSI Galactic Guides and Dispatches.
Alysianah’s Original Starmap Matrix in a Google Sheet
The idea to create a website that automatically pulled the ARK Starmap data from RSI started in May 2016. By then I was producing Casual Citizen and writing articles for Redacted.TV. I quickly realized that I often used lore content on RSI and ARK Starmap as source material. Having the information in an easier to consume format would save so much time.
My biggest roadblock is that I’m not a web-based developer. I was a Software Engineer before moving into the Business Intelligence space where I now serve as a Product Manager. I can do web page design and development but not the web databases. After thinking it over for several weeks, I decided I wanted it bad enough to contract out the backend development.
LONG TERM COMMITMENT
I created the website, designed and developed all the webpages and embedded HTML hooks for where I wanted data to appear and provided visuals of data layouts. Having done database work for client side applications, I also provided a suggested database schema. Five months later, and we’re about 50% into my core vision. The site will be at 70% once the integration of the lore data is completed. Hitting 80% will be achieved after Passenger Transport/Tourism and Blue Planet Dossier pages are added. 90% when we add Jump Point sizes and a Lore specific Dossier page. 100% when I incorporate the standard set of analysis charts I use when discussing the composition of the known Star Citizen universe in to the final dossier page. After that, I’ll stop for a while, assess traffic, user feedback and go from there.
This is a large undertaking being done by one person for the design, data collection, webpage development, tracking and prioritizing defect fixes – me. And one person doing all of the back-end work – a freelance web developer. This sometimes means that things get put down due to our day jobs and personal obligations but I’m 100% committed to seeing my vision completed.
Alysianahsworld.com went live in June 2016 but I didn’t start collecting metrics until August 29th – basically, September. I’m not pushing or worried about getting the word out there until I’m at that 90% content milestone. However, it is interesting to see what’s going with the site now. Let’s take a look.
Since I started capturing site traffic data using Google Analytics, Alysianahsworld.com has had:
Other than being happy the website is getting consistent track, I don’t have a yardstick or goal in mind with the site being so new. I have noted that the New Sessions spikes right after I publish anything that mentions the website which makes sense. And the Bounce Rate is really small which is excellent. Bounce Rate measures what % of site traffic leaves from the same page they entered on. Depending on how your site is designed this can signal a problematic home page. In my case, the home page is meant to be consumed in and of itself. Therefore a higher bounce might not mean there’s an issue. More on that in a bit.
Not surprisingly, the home page which is my Starmap Matrix, has the most unique page views followed by:
And all of these pages have low bounce rates as well.
Top 10 Pages
The pageviews by country had a few surprises. I expected the UK to be the largest audience after the US. Mostly because this is a text heavy site in English. However, the data shows it’s Germany by a considerable margin. It’s also surprising that Australia is higher than France.
Visitors by Country
Top channels was what I expected. Most of the site traffic is via a direct link to the page. Either from my articles, show notes on YouTube or bookmarks/favorites. Within Referral the largest contributor are various Reddit threads. Almost all of Social is from Twitter.
Age and Gender are what I expected for a website about a space sim. Roughly 97% of the content is consumed by males under the age of 35. However, when I looked at how much content is consumed by age range, those counts show a direct correlation to age and the number of pages viewed. The older the visitor, the more pages consumed, with the exception of those 65 and older, who consume the least amount of content.
Sessions by Gender and Age
Eventually, conversions and bounce rates will be important to ensure ROI for the time, effort and expenses to build and maintain Alysianahsworld.com. For now, they’re merely interesting insights. For example, I created a custom goal to track user sessions that are 5 minutes and longer. My intent is for Alysianahsworld.com to provide easy to consume information to help with logistics planning for player careers. As a result, I would expect to see longer sessions due to people using the site for research. Similarly, I want to understand if the pages themselves – design or content is counter productive. A data point to consider for a page’s effectiveness is bounce rates / drop-offs.
At this juncture, more than half the visitors that start on the home page \ Starmap Matrix leave from that same page. That’s not necessarily problematic because that page alone can be used for high level research and is fairly static during this stage of the alpha. That shouldn’t necessarily be the case once the ARK Starmap is being updated based on player interactions within the game.
Customized Conversion Goal
Starmap Matrix Page Flow
From a website traffic point of view, things are good. When I have free time, I battle a choice between relaxing, doing the research for another Casual Citizen episode, recording or producing it, researching a new article for Redacted.tv, mining more lore data or working directly on the website. Some evenings I’m burned out and can’t accomplish much of anything. Overall, I’m happy with the sometimes slow but steady progress on all fronts. As long as I’m seeing consistent traffic even when I’m not focused on raising awareness, things are going as planned. *Smile*
I just published an article for REDACTED.TV discussing the current size and composition of the known Star Citizen universe. The idea for the article came from a question asked during a recent Redacted podcast. I got the impression that players might not really have come to grips with just how large the planned universe will be. I also included a dashboard the readers can interact with on their own to investigate the data used for the article.
It’s an interesting read for all players as it has some bearing on player professions too. Hop on over here to give it a read and let me know what you think. You can interact with my data using Tableau Public.
A quick post to share some pictures of hand-stamped key chain or pendant charms I made recently. It’s been on my mind to make a few for family and friends but timing being what it is, I haven’t had much time to play with the idea. While waiting out a quick storm passing through, the small telltale signs of Hurricane Matthew, I quickly made these. Nothing fancy. I’ll dress them up with colored stones to add more personality. They’re made of scratch resistant steel, making them a good choice for hanging on a key chain.
When I was in between MMOs for a long period of time, I enjoyed expressing myself creatively by designing handmade jewelry and accessories. I’m looking forward to having the space and time to do a bit more but just for family and friends. Selling became a burden that removed the joy from the process, as I tried to meticulously recreate my designs, some of which are very intricate.
Anywho – thought I’d quickly share these. I’ll update the pictures with the finished product. You can see some my designs I’d done back when I was actively working on the craft and selling items on Etsy.
To say that Star Citizen has a lot of keybindings is in understatement. On top of which, the default settings might not feel intuitive for your personal tastes. Good news is that we can customize the settings to our liking for the keyboard, mouse, gamepad and joystick.
To Access Keybindings:
If you do customize the settings, it’s essential for your mental health that you make use of the export feature to save a copy of your configuration to an external file. You should also copy the XML file that is created, to a location outside of the Star Citizen game folders. This will allow you to copy it back into the appropriate location after a new patch, which suggests deleting the USER folder, which would in turn delete your custom keybindings.
The other reason I recommend exporting/saving your custom keybindings, is that it allows you to experiment with variations. Using sensible naming conventions, you can try different settings until you find the one that works best for you, without having to muck with the keybindings back and forth.
I use very specific keybindings for character movement. I personally find that the QWERTY keys suit me better than WASD + modifiers to strafe and/or turn. As the behavior of features have changed, I’ve had to re-prioritize which actions are buttons on my HOTAS. Having different versions of keybindings I can test and retrieve at will, has been extremely useful.
With the continued refinement of the default keybindings, I’ve reverted to only changing the keybindings that are must haves for me. Things I can’t function without being set to my liking. Being able to import these back in after a patch is a huge time saver and a feature that all players should be aware exists. Here’s a link to the image in the video you can keep as a reminder of the steps.
Before charging forward with new pages, I’m implementing a few usability enhancements. This saves time for Dossier pages that are essentially using the same template. Expected completion date is September 10th.
Please leave feedback for this release in this post’s comment thread. Comments locked until the release is live.
Please leave feedback and issues found in the comments thread below. Thanks!
Last night I was thinking about a few enhancements that would improve the usability of the Starmap related pages. After reviewing the actual pages this morning, I’ve decided to make these changes before introducing the Galactic Guide data planned for Release 2.0. It’s better to do them now, versus adding more content across which these modifications would have to be replicated.
Because I depend on the Starmap data myself for writing shows and articles, you can count on continuous enhancements. Well, as time allows and funds allow. 🙂 Primary elements I’m looking to improve during this next pass are filtering capabilities and visual clarity.
Hope you’re experimenting and discovering useful information.