Archive for the ‘Rambles’ Category.

Windows Upgrade

Yesterday I worked from home since I had Comcast scheduled to come out and fix my Internet issues. I had been intending to upgrade to Windows 10 for a while, but hadn’t done it yet as every evening I decided I’d rather play games than deal with waiting on the upgrade and fixing any issues afterwards. Since I was at home for the day though it seemed like an ideal time to upgrade.

This was actually the third time I had gone through the Windows 10 upgrade process. I upgraded my old netbook and my wife’s laptop pretty quickly after release. So the actual upgrade itself was pretty uneventful. I did have a bit of fin getting it started though. I had “reserved” an upgrade via the system tray icon months before, yet clicking on it now to start the upgrade just had it sitting on the initial window. To actually start the upgrade I had to get the media tool off of the Windows site. Not a big deal, but it felt like an ominous omen.

Despite my difficulty getting started, the actual upgrade went off without a hitch. Even my Nvidia drivers seemed correct, which I’d heard were problematic initially. Unfortunately when I tried to launch the Nvidia Experience program to make sure my drivers were up to date the program hung. I tried uninstalling, rebooting, and re-installing to no effect. What did fix the application hanging was checking the “clean install” option during a custom install. Besides Nvidia, I also had a slight issue with Cryptic’s Arc launcher. I was getting an unhelpful error dialog when trying to launch any of the three MMOs I had installed. I’m not sure what the cause was, but I found that launching the individual games from the Start menu first fixed it.

But that was it! Considering I was upgrading from Windows 7, I’m pretty impressed that I didn’t have more issues. I haven’t gotten to do much with it yet, so I can’t say whether there have been performance benefits of 10 over 7, but I didn’t notice it being any slower which is a performance increase of a kind.

My plans for the holiday weekend are to launch my Jool exploration, play some Golem Arcana, and get going again on my MMO multitasking experiment.

Jool Five Lander Launch

Getting back to my mission preparation for my first Kerballed mission to Jool, the next piece that needed to get into orbit was the Jool 5 Lander (since it’s going to land on five different moons, not that it took five designs to get it right).

Jool 5 Lander pre-launch Jool 5 Lander mid-launch

Jool 5 Lander fairing jetison Jool 5 Lander in Orbit

The launch went well, although I had to jettison the fairings below 20 kilometers which isn’t usually a good idea, but could have been much worse. I did end up using quite a bit more fuel than I expected. I still had plenty for rendezvous, but I knew then that wouldn’t have enough on the Explorer to completely refill the lander.

So of course that mean I needed to launch a refueling ship. I do have a refinery set up in orbit around Bop in the Jool system, but my plan was to go there last to refuel the ship before returning to Kerbin. I didn’t want to have to go there first, hit the remaining moons, and then  go back again. Far easier to do the refueling in Kerbin orbit instead. I happened to have a large refueling rocket design already that was over kill for  my current needs, but that’s kind of how you’re intended to play KSP anyway.

Kerbol Explorer Refueller launch Kerbol Explorer Refueller booster separation

The refueler launch and rendezvous went off without a hitch. I always enjoy watching booster stages separate and drop away. Here’s the completed ship, fully fueled, and ready to receive crew once the transfer window arrives.

Kerbol Explorer 1 - Ready for Jool

 

 

 

 

Gameus Interuptus

Some nights things just want to work out. For whatever reason my intermittent Comcast disconnect issue was being very consistently disconnecting last night. When it finally did finally stabilize, I tried logging into STO but was still getting disconnects in Cryptic’s games. Or maybe it was my connection being flaky enough that it was causing problems for a game while being fine for streaming video from YouTube. No idea.

Despite my short time in game, I did hit a milestone. Bryn Aev was promoted to Fleet Admiral, that’s level 60 and the current level cap in the game. Granted it was just as result of assignments completed by duty officers aboard the U.S.S. Vyrael, but I’m sure he played an important leadership role in their success. Or could just be Starfleet politics. Despite hitting the cap, I still have a few more missions to complete in the Delta Quadrant before Season 11 arrives, not that there’s a date for it yet but I’ll be surprised if it’s not planned for October some time.

GameClient 2015-09-02 21-20-43-98

Since my internet connection wasn’t cooperating, I tried playing some KSP but my head just wasn’t in the right place for that either. Mostly because I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to fast forward to the transafer window for sending the Kerbol Explorer to Jool and didn’t have enough time to really finish the mission preparation. Instead I crashed on the couch and watched part one of the two part season finale of Dark Matter (which got renewed along with Killhoys which I like a bit more) and went to bed before midnight. It made me feel like such a responsible adult.

Blaugust 2015 Wrapup

blaugust_2015_logoGoodbye Blaugust, hello Restember! Well hopefully not.

Yesterday marked the end of another successful Blaugust. Thirty-one posts in as many days. Unlike last year when I apparently hit a speedbump after the first week, this year I didn’t start to struggle with topics until around the 12th or 15th. Even then, I just stopped worrying about having a topic and just started writing and figured a topic would show up. Some times it did. Some times it did not. That for me, was really the point this year. I basically relearned last year’s less of “just write and publish” don’t worry “is it ready.” That’s not to say I published anything I wouldn’t normally publish, it’s more that I would’ve just not sat down to write or I would’ve saved it as a draft thinking I needed to come back and proof it, and then deleted it three months later.

My favorite thing about Blaugust this year besides just getting back in the habit of writing, has been the success of my multitasking experiment over the last week and a half. Needing something to write about daily, and having a bout of nostalgia for a couple of games that I always mean to get back to, gave me the push I needed to finally pick LotRO and Champions back up. Even better is the fact that I’ve seen other people get interested in those games as a result of posting about it here.

Last year, I trailed off in September posting eleven times in the first half of the month. Then only twice in October and nothing until January. Unfortunately, it seems like if I’m going to be consistent, I have to do it every day. That certainly has been true for Blaugust, and was also trued for me during Nanowrimo. But daily blogging full-time feels like a huge commitment. Weekends especially are difficult to make sure I sit down and write. It might be enough if I schedule a daily task in my organizer that just runs Monday to Friday, but I think that’s what I want to try starting out, along with a reminder to check in on the blog and see how I’ve been doing after a few weeks.

Cryptic Connection Woes

Blaugust 2015 Day 31

My multitasking experiment has hit a speed bump. It’s hard to rotate through three MMOs when two of them are having connection issues. According to the Neverwinter community manager, Cryptic is having an issue with their ISP. As someone whose been on the phone with Comcast twice in the last seven days and having a technician come out Thursday to check the wiring both inside and outside, I can sympathize. At least they’re taking care of players and extending active events.

I didn’t play any games last night. Yesterday’s Golem Arcana write-up took longer than I expected, and I burned quite a bit of time on YouTube and Reddit, but I did get some LotRO in on Sunday that I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post. My return to Middle-Earth had made Wininoid nostalgic, and we got together with a pair of low level characters (Loremaster for him, Champion for me) and completed the post-tutorial quests in Comb. I hadn’t done any of those since the last revamp was done. I don’t expect I’ll spend a ton of time on alts though, as my main goal in LotRO for the multitasking experiment is to get my hunter, Brynulf, back to the level cap, and more importantly experience Isengard and Rohan.

Tonight’s plan will be to check in with STO and Champions and see if I have any luck. I’d at least like to review my completed duty officer assignments and schedule some new R&D projects. Failing that, I’ll probably end up in Kerbal Space Program again. I still have a Jool moon lander to put in orbit and dock with the Kerbol Explorer 1.

Golem Arcana Indy

Blaugust 2015 Day 30

Saturday was my day to meet up with the Indy Golem Arcana group. Only four of us could makes it, which is about half as many people as usually show up, but it was enough to have two games running. We used 100 point armies rather than the usual 500. If you’re not familiar with miniatures war games, every unit has a point cost to it. So game scenarios are usually designed with a certain amount of units in mind, and it also helps to make sure that teams are evenly matched.

I had some trouble initially putting an army together since I hadn’t put together a large build in a couple of months. Having a large pool of points to spend might not sound like a big deal, but it can make it harder to build good synergies in when you have a larger number of units. Once I finally got my mental gears switched over though I actually ended up putting two different armies together that I played with.

Zikia – Fen Prowlers

Zikia - Fen Prowlers

With three Titans (Fen Lord, Wildwood Dryad, and Fend Lord) and three Ogres (all Prowlers), this is a big army. The three Prowlers are so mobile though that I wan’t too worried about getting out maneuvered. I also really liked having three Prowlers in this build since they generally end up destroyed pretty quick, as most opposing players will attack them first because of their Caustic Spray attack and their passive ability which gives them a 5 point damage-over-time for three rounds after they move. Combine that with the two Fen Lords’ ability to pull enemies in and melee, the Dryad’s ranged abilities, and I ended up with a pretty well rounded army and enough points left over for some relics and an Ancient One.

This army went up against a Durani build with a couple of Winged Preservers (very mobile Titans), a Jeweled Harpy, and a trio of Fire Rams (think artillery). I ended up losing two Prowlers early on as I wasn’t careful about staying out of range of the Fire Rams. At the midpoint of the match I was down two Prowlers, my remaining one was highly damaged as were both Fen Lords. The Dryad was the only golem undamaged. My opponent hadn’t lost any units although two of his Preservers and his Harpy were heavily damaged.

Fortunately for me, the match turned around pretty sharply when I destroyed both of his Preservers before he destroyed one of my Fen Lords. He moved in his Rams to try and get range on the rest of my units, but I moved my remaining Prowler in originally intended to soften them up and then follow up with the remaining Fen Lord pulling out the Rams individually and destroying them in melee. I had forgotten about the special effect on Caustic Spray though. I very rarely get to use it against a group of enemies in the same region, so I had forgotten that the Spray bounces and causes each golem in the region to do 10 damage to every other golem in the region. So instead of doing 8 damage to each golem with a 15 DoT over the following three rounds, I actually did 28 damage plus the DoT. Rams only have 60 hit points to begin with and I had gotten in some attacks early on so all three were reduced to 4 hit points and then died at the beginning of my opponents turn.

That was basically the end of the game. I did have to contend with his Warsprite Harpy, but with two Titans and an Ogre remaining it was quickly over.

2015-08-29 14.17.05

Urugal – Dread Vanguard

Urugal - Dread Vanguard

The Ashmogh Colossus in the back, then left to right in the front are the Corpse Collector (Ogre), two Crypt Ticks (Warsprites), and the Morrow Witch (Ogre). The Ashmogh is the newest Colossus released for the game, and one of the reasons why the group wanted to play 1000 point armies. I basically threw this one together by picking the Ashmogh and most of the units from the most recent Urugal release. I left out the Relentless Brute (Titan) since it’s a melee powerhouse which I didn’t need with a Colossus on the field. Instead I went with a Corpse Collector because it was more mobile and had a nice ability to drag enemies to neighboring regions.

My Urugal army went up against a Durani army containing a Jagara Colossus, one Titan a Growling Phalanx, two Ogres a Prowler and a Fire Ram, and one Warsprite Vigilant Sentinel.

2015-08-29 15.35.40

With two Colossi on the field, this turned out to be a pretty long match. I started out with a really nice combo by using a relic on my Morrow Witch that added 10 regions to her range, and which let her use her ranged attack, Surging Hex, all the way across the board. Surging Hex is a damage-over-time attack that does no damage initially. Instead it does 5 damage the first round, 10 the second, and 15 the third. Even better, unlike most effects, this one stacks, and I hit his Jagara with it three times. So the Witch’s hex did 15 damage to the Jagara on my opponents first turn, 30 on the second, and 45 on the third. That’s 90 damage against the Jagara’s 250 hit points.

The next round my opponent led by bringing his Prowler across the board to get some early Caustic Sprays on my army, and I countered on my second turn by pulling his Prowler in with my Corpse Collector and bringing both Ticks in for melee. If I hadn’t missed, I would have been able to destroy his Ogre with their healing attacks, but sometimes the Random Number Generator likes me and sometimes it doesn’t and early in this game it definitely did not.

I ended up losing both Crypt Ticks and the Corpse Collector in the first half of the game, while my opponent had only list his Fire Ram. But all of his other units were heavily damaged between the Ashmogh wading into the middle of the combat and the Witch staying at the edges and throwing out Hexes. Usually Morrow Witches are the only units with a bigger target on their backs than Prowlers because their DoT is so nasty, but my opponent was so focused on my Ashmogh that she managed to hang around for most of the game and I think that made the difference in my win.

This was a tricky army for me to play. The Urugal faction is powerful but most of their abilities are fueled by sacrificing hit points, which is counter to my normal play style. This was also the first time I had used the Morrow Witch or the Crypt Ticks in a real match. Surprisingly to me, I think I played better in this match than the previous one as I didn’t have any unintentional good moves like the one I pulled with the Prowler against the Fire Rams. I think because I’m not as familiar with Urugal as I am with Zikia, I’m more careful and pay better attention to what abilities I have available.

Jool Explorer Assembly

Blaugust 2015 Day 29

I had planned to spend last night’s gaming time in Champions Online, but the patcher was running extremely slowly, so instead I tried Star Trek Online and it timed out on the character loading screen. Cryptic seemed to be having some kind of network issues, although I didn’t try Neverwinter to see. Instead I took it as a sign to go play more Kerbal Space Program.

In Kerbal, I decided I’d messed around with the planning stages of my Jool mission enough. It was time to start launching rockets. I started with the crew module for the explorer ship. I figured that way I could rendezvous with the hydrogen tanker, dock it, and then dock the engine module with out having to do and undocking and rearranging.

KSP 2015-08-28 22-46-28-01 KSP 2015-08-28 22-46-46-54 KSP 2015-08-28 23-00-09-39 KSP 2015-08-29 00-05-05-52

 

I took me three tries to get the launch right. I ended up having to go straight up more than I wanted before turning the ship, so I used more fuel getting into orbit than I planned on, but I still have enough fuel remaining to rendezvous. Docking also turned out to be quite challenging. I used more than 60% of my mono-propellant getting into position and closing the remaining distance. A lot of that was due to the mass of the vehicle compared to the reaction wheels and the fact that I didn’t include RCS at the base of the rocket. All of the thruster blocks were on the crew module. I also made the whole process harder by launching when the hydrogen tanker was on the opposite side of Kerbin, so it took quite a few orbits to catch up with it.

The engine module launch when much smoother. The total rocket mass was a bit heavier (387 tons versus 316 for the crew module launcher), but I added extra fuel and engines to the initial stage to compensate and account for a less efficient ascent path. I also saved myself a lot of headaches and waited until the hydrogen tank and crew module were nearly overhead before launching, so I wouldn’t have much work to catch up.

KSP 2015-08-29 00-25-15-56 KSP 2015-08-29 00-31-29-63

KSP 2015-08-29 00-39-25-01 KSP 2015-08-29 01-16-38-08

I only needed one try for this launch. I actually managed a better ascent path as well, although I did still end up in a high orbit than I wanted to. But it didn’t take much fuel to correct that. You can see from the third picture with the fairings off that I sent the engine module up backwards. I wanted to keep the engine and reactor weight at the top of the rocket to help with stability (think of a dart if that’s confusing), and the large docking port that would eventually couple to the crew module was a strong spot to attach to the launcher. Rendezvous was very easy this time since I’d made a better choice on launch time. Docking was also painless, especially compare to the crew module, since the engine module was empty of fuel and only 31 tons where the crew module was fully stocked with supplies and 72 tons during docking.

After completing assembly of the explorer, I transferred hydrogen from the big tank over to the ship. I was able to fully fuel the explorer and still have 66% of the big tank left. The tanker will stay in Kerbin orbit awaiting the ship’s return from Jool where it can refuel for a return voyage or a mission to one of the other planets.

My next play session, I’ll send up the lander vehicle and get it docked to the explorer. It’ll attach to the nose with the hydrogen tanker is currently docked. I’m a little concerned about the thrust-to-weight ratio of the ship once I do that. If it’s too low, I’ll have to make a different transfer vehicle attach to the lander and send it out to Jool ahead of the Kerballed mission. In testing it looked like it would be okay though. There are about 280 Kerbal days remaining before the transfer window, so I have plenty of time to finish assembly and send up the crew.

Jool Mission Planning – Engine Thermal Test

Blaugust 2015 Day 28
I played Kerbal Space Program last night and spent a couple of hours fine tuning and testing my lander and explorer ships designs as well as planning out the launch sequence and orbital construction process.

My current plan is to put the lander up one it’s own, followed by the crew and engine halves of the explorer ship. The engine module of the explorer will be empty of fuel, in fact I’ve already managed to launch a massive spherical tank of hydrogen fuel into orbit in preparation. I pretty much just threw this together and brute forced the launch, but I wanted to put something into space.

Hyodrogen Fuel Tank

Once all of the pieces are in orbit, then I’ll rendezvous the two halves of the explorer ship with the fuel tank and assemble the ship and transfer as much hydrogen as it will handle. Then, I’ll deorbit the left over launch vehicles and bring the lander craft in to rendezvous and dock nose to nose with the explorer. The last bit will be to send up a crew shuttle once the Jool transfer window gets close.

I have the lander contained in a fairing now with enough of a launcher to get into orbit. I’ll use the lander’s existing fuel and engines to dock it with the explorer ship, which will be carrying fuel to refill the lander anyway.

Jool 5 Lander Launcher

 

Before I package up the explorer craft, I wanted to make sure I had the fission reactor and VASMIR engine set up correctly. I’ve not used either on a mission before and I didn’t want to have problems with heat before I even left the Kerbin system. So I set up a test using a stripped down version of the engine module and let it run for fifteen minutes. I’m glad I did because my original thermal system had some issues and needed tweaking.

VASIMIR Thermal Test

 

Unfortunately it turned out to be 1 am before I noticed so I had to stop there. I’m getting close though. I need to get launchers set up for the two halves of the explorer ship and then it’ll be time to start putting stuff into orbit for assembly. It’s exciting but nerve wracking as well. I keep double checking things to make sure I haven’t made any mistakes or forgotten a part. I really don’t want to have my three Kerbals arrive at Jool after a two year trip and realize I forgot something stupid.

 

Meandering towards Isengard

Blaugust 2015 Day 27

I played LotRO last night, continuing my multitasking experiment. I nearly cut my play session short though as the next quest I picked up after completing some small errand quests involved a solo instance required me to help four NPCs defeat multiple waves of enemies for 8 minutes. By about 2 minute remaining mark, all of the NPCs were usually dead and my Hunter would be overwhelmed shortly after that. After three attempts I almost stopped for the night but I decided to give it one more shot and barely managed to finish the quest. It was so close that I actually thought I’d failed it again. I didn’t realize until I attempted to talk to the quest giver to reenter the solo instance and got the completion dialog instead.

The cool thing though was that quest was the last one for the current area. I had one last quest which involved riding to a different area and talking to an NPC and then riding back, I’d forgotten how much of that type of busy work was in LoTRO, and then it was off to the south into the Gap of Rohan. More specifically to the Heathfells which are beautiful. I’m pretty sure that’s Isengard in the distance, if so it’s my first sighting. The Gap of Rohan outlines three different regions, so I doubt I’ll get to Isengard quickly unless I decide to skip content. I have time though.

lotroclient 2015-08-27 00-01-40-44

 

Kobali Primed

Blaugust 2015 Day 26

Last night I got back on track with my multitasking experiment and logged into Star Trek Online. I loaded the game in the middle of a fire fight which made for an exciting start to things. I had forgotten I was in the middle of the Kobali ground combat zone when I was disconnected because of a Comcast outage. So once my away party had dealt with the immediate threats, I set about finishing the remaining missions.

I had four or five left but I did finish the Kobali ground missions finally. I’m a little late the the party on completing those as they finished with a teaser for the featured episode, Dust to Dust, that came out back in February. Still it was quite fun, although I don’t think my Captain, technically Admiral, and officers were well geared for Vaadwaur combat. They died quite a bit, which doesn’t normally happen.

Between finishing up some missions and the steady stream of XP coming in from duty officer assignments, Bryn is nearly level 59. I imagine he’ll be maxed out before hitting the end of the Delta Quadrant content. I hope to have everything finished before the next major release, Season 11, comes out. There’s been no official date announced yet, but I’m expecting sometime in October. I’m excited to see a more hopeful story line emerge.