Archive for the ‘Rambles’ Category.

MunNet Scramble

Blaugust 2015 Day 10

It was a perfect launch, the rocket was gorgeous.

KSP 2014-11-06 18-50-16-51

 

Watching the fairings fall away as the vehicle left the atmosphere to reveal four communications satellites nestled snugly had me grinning like a Kerbal. I’d sent two of my brightest, if not bravest, Kerbalnauts to complete the deployment of my new MunNet. These communications relays were needed to support a pair of mapping satellites that were going to be used to pick a spot for my first Mun colony. After breaking atmo, the craft made a burn that put it on a transfer orbit to Mun and then Mission Control moved on to other things while the mission made the trip to Mun. Everything looked perfect.

KSP 2014-11-06 18-58-47-81

After the rocket transitioned from Kerbin’s sphere of influence to Mun’s and made an orbital insertion which put it in a perfect circular, equatorial, orbit at 275 kilometers. The mission was on track and everything was great until it came time to inspect the launcher assembly. At some point between the initial inspection after leaving Kerbin’s atmosphere and arriving at Mun, the relay satellites had shifted. My first thought was to send a Kerbal on EVA and fix them. Except these satellites had no decouplers on them, and couldn’t be detached from the launcher platform. Even had the satellites not shifted into a scrambled mess during the trip there would have been no way to actually launch them.

KSP 2014-11-07 13-36-44-62~01

So while the KSC engineers fought over whose fault it was, operations built a new craft making sure to add the missing decouplers. This second mission was given to the legendary Kerbalnaut Jebediah Kerman to make extra sure it went right, while the first mission out in Mun orbit jettisoned the entire satellite launcher platform (that decoupler had been included) before making a deorbit burn to return to Kerbin.

On the second mission, Jeb left the fairings intact for the transit to the Mun as a precaution, so no one knew until they reached Munar orbit and blew the fairings open whether the satellites were intact this time. When all four satellites appeared undamaged and ready for use, the cheers from the tracking station could be heard all the way across the KSC at the administration building.

Mission Control got a little busy when the initial launch returned mid-way through the MunNet deployment. Unfortunately the ill-fated first mission had one more surprise. Mission commander Kelfin waited too long to jettison the orbiter’s engine before landing and managed to hit a fuel tank next to the VAB.

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It was a one in a million shot, but the repairs are still coming out of his salary.

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As always check out the Blaugust Initiate Page if you’re interested in joining the blog-every-day fun.

Marvel Collector Corps

2015-08-07 23.16.46-1Blaugust 2015 Day 07

In September of last year I signed up for Loot Crate because I’d heard there was Firefly and Star Trek stuff in it. There was a nice little Malcolm Reynolds figure in it but not T-shirts and there rest of the stuff in the box was pretty disappointing to me. I canceled my subscription after that and gave up on the idea of subscription surprise boxes until July.

I ran across mention of Marvel’s Collector Corp on the Marvel subreddit and was curious enough to go check out the site. At $25 per month it’s basically twice what Loot Crate costs, but it’s all Marvel stuff and looked like it usually includes at least one Funko Pop figure. I decided to give it a shot and ordered the previous two boxes, Avengers and Ant-Man, since they were still in stock. Both boxes came in today and they’re both pretty nice. I’m excited to see what the upcoming Secret Wars box has in it.

Avengers

First off, the boxes are pretty striking both inside and out with the bold black character art and the red comics printed on the inside. While each box contains a patch and pin that was pretty forgettable, the big stuff inside is really nice. The Avengers box included a Hulkbuster figure, small Ultron figure, a nice t-shirt, and an Avengers comic.

Avengers Collector Corp Box Avengers Box Inside Avengers Stuff

 

Here’s a shot of Agent Coulson with the Hulkbuster figure to give you an idea of the size of this thing.

Agent Coulson and the Hulkbuster

 

Ant-Man

The Ant-Man box is just as good including a regular Funko Pop figure and two of the small mystery boxes, plus a t-shirt and comic. I love the tiny bobblehead that came with the regular Funko one. I’m super happy with both boxes, I can’t wait to see what’s coming in the next one.

Ant-Man Collector Corp Box CollCorp Ant-Man Box 1 CollCorp Ant-Man Box 2 CollCorp Ant-Man Figures CollCorp Ant-Man Shirt

For more about Blaugust go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

Bits or cardboard?

Blaugust 2015 Day 06

I think I’m nearly recovered from GenCon last weekend. Today’s the first day that I didn’t end up taking an hour nap after the kids went to bed before waking up in a panic realizing I hadn’t done my blog entry yet. Anyway, I thought I’d continue with the GenCon theme a little longer, and write about what happens when I get an app version of a boardgame that I love.

In some cases like Star Realms and Summoner Wars, I barely or never play the board game version. I don’t think these games make good examples though, since they offer online play and are two player games, giving me many more opportunities to play the app than the board/card game. Not really a fair comparison.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a better test case. The card game has a lot more content available for it than the app, yet I haven’t gotten my cards out once since Handelabra released Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game. The convenience of having a device handle all of the housekeeping is just too nice to pass up, not to mention being able to play it in situations where I don’t have the table space for the card game. Base on my GenCon demo expierience, I think the upcoming multiplayer will have me playing the app even more than the card game.

I don’t see myself giving up boardgames ever, but I wonder what it would take to get me to prefer an original game over a well-done app conversion. Maybe miniatures?

Any bets on how many more blog entries I can wring out of GenCon for Blaugust? Don’t forget to go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

GenCon 2015 Part 4

Blaugust 2015 Day 05

2015-08-02 09.42.18Sunday at GenCon is Family Day. Sunday is also the day I’ve been bringing my oldest son with me for the last few years. On the drive down Sunday morning I asked him what he wanted to do at GenCon and his reply was: eat at a food truck, collect buttons, and say hi to Todd. I knew he really enjoyed the button hunt that we did last year for the first time, but I hadn’t realized how big an impression the food trucks had made. I guess for a six year old, getting food out of a truck and sitting on the sidewalk to eat is a pretty cool experience.

2015-08-01 09.07.03The new thing we did this year was watch and participate in the destruction of the balloon monster. This year it was a Kraken. These are made and then an auction is held to pick a winner to destroy them at noon on Sunday. This year they did something a little different by holding an auction just to destroy the head and they let all of the kids assembled take on the arms. I have some video of this that’s just insane to see, I hope to get it posted later this week. There were a few dozen kids turned loose and going feral. Balloons were popping so fast that it sounded like the end of a fireworks show.

2015-08-02 14.18.12The most surprising thing to me that Thing 1 enjoyed was a World War 2 tank game. This was near the end of our day and usually by then he’s tire and beginning to have trouble focusing, yet we stood for nearly ten minutes watching other people demo this game. Then he actually sat down and played through a demo himself for nearly fifteen minutes. I was amazed, to say the least. The guy doing the demo recommended that I check out Brikwars which is a set of miniatures combat rules for use with Lego.

That’s it for my GenCon recaps, now I have to actually come up with topics for the rest of the month. As always go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page if you’re interested in joining in.

GenCon 2015 Part 3

Blaugust 2015 Day 04

2015-08-01 09.17.27On Saturday, started out back in the Golem Arcana area of the play hall. Enough of the east and west coast regional players hadn’t been able to come to GenCon, that most of the midwest regional players got into the national tournament, including me. So I got to play far more than I expected.

2015-08-01 11.23.22My first round was against the ten year old son of one of the other players, Alex76. The game started off badly for me but I managed to tie it up, and then we ended up going back and forth both trying to get the last point we needed to win. In the end it came down to our last two golems, each down to their few hitpoints when I managed to get a successful attack and win the game. While I like to win, I’m not a super competitive person. Most of my favorite games of Golem Arcana were super close ones like this one, some of which I’ve lost and some I’ve one. This one has some great close calls one both sides.

The other thing I really enjoy about this game is the community that’s building up around it. Likely because the game is so new and the player community is small, but everyone is very friendly. Case in point being in this match, where partway through I noticed Alex was having trouble thinking through all of the moves in a turn and I told Alex’s dad he could help him out. I didn’t want to do it myself because I didn’t want to accidentally give him bad advice. There were a lot of instances like this of players helping each other out, and while I hope that the game continues to grow, I really want this friendliness in the community to continue.

Unfortunately for me the next round in the tournament wasn’t nearly that close and I lost about four turns in. As it would turn out on Sunday though, I lost to the play who ended up winning the entire tournament.

Fleet Captains MeetupBesides the Golem Arcana tournament, the other big thing I had planned for Saturday was a meetup with Wininoid, Todd, and Greendragoon, fellow Star Trek Online player and Foundry fanatic, for a game of Star Trek Fleet Captains.

We had a lot of fun and what turned out to be nearly a four hour game flew by. This was the first time I’d gotten a chance to actually get the game out and really play aside from a brief solo attempt to learn the rules. I was really impressed by how well the game captured the different feels of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, something Todd commented on as well. I’m already hoping to get a chance to play this again with them next year.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my GenCon recap. If you’re curious about this Blaugust craziness go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

GenCon 2015 Part 2

Blaugust 2015 Day 03

I spent the first half of Friday at GenCon in the Exhibit Haul Hall.

2015-07-31 10.37.18Harebrained Schemes was demoing a new game called Necropolis.  It’s a take on the Roguelike genre, which I’m usually not a fan of, with a really cool art style that reminded me a bit of Massive Chalice, which I really liked. I didn’t get very far the few times I ran through the demo, but it’s definitely something I’m going to keep an eye on despite the fact that I’m not totally sure it’s the kind of game I’ll enjoy. Not to mention my already ridiculous backlog of games to play.

2015-07-31 11.27.44The other video game I demoed was the new multiplayer for Handelabra’s Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game. This is a really great adaptation of my favorite super hero card game. Sentinels the original card game has been criticized for being too fiddly. I can sympathize with that but don’t mind it myself. If that did bother you or your just interested in trying out the game without investing in the tabletop version, the video game adaptation is really excellently done.

The multiplayer session I tried out is still in beta but looks to be just as high quality as the single player game. Too be honest I wasn’t super enthused about it before my demo, but I’m pretty excited to play more multiplayer in the Steam beta and cross-platform on my tablet after it launches.

Besides video games, I demoed and purchased Apocalypse Chaos from Z-Man games. It’s like a puzzly smaller cousin to Space Hulk. I picked up a Kickstarter edition copy of a interesting looking tower defence game called The King’s Armory. And despite my preordering the most recent Firefly the Game expansion through my local shop in order to  keep from impulse buying it at the convention, Gale Force 9 had a gorgeous playmat version of the board for $40 that I just couldn’t pass up.

I only attended one panel the whole convention. The Writer’s Symposium track at GenCon included a panel on Interactive Fiction that Joe Dever was on that I couldn’t miss.

IMG_0303I also go the chance to meet up with Nos (in the center of the photo), one of the hosts of Kerbalcast. We hung out for forty-five minutes with another listener who was there and got to talk about the podcast, Kerbal Space Program, and board games. I’ve guest hosted on podcasts before, but this was the first time that I’ve met someone I listen to regularly in person.

After that I met up with Todd again and we did a D&D session of Harried in Hillsfar. This was my first ever role-playing experience at GenCon and my first in-person D&D session since college. I was a little nervous about it to be honest, but it went very well. I had a lot of fun, and my Dragonborn Sorcerer Kaar narrowly survived his ordeal.

Todd and I finished off the night playing Android Netrunner ( he won) and Apocalypse Chaos (we lost).

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One “small” section of the GenCon Play Hall

It was another early morning, late night for me but well worth it.

As always, it isn’t too late to join in and catch up. Well it is if it’s not still August 31st, but go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page anyway, there’s always next year.

GenCon 2015 Part 1

Blaugust 2015 Day 02

GenCon kicked off on Thursday morning and I started off the convention in the giant Will Call line. It stretched across the length of the convention center and looked pretty daunting, but I had been through the same thing the year before and found that the line moved pretty quickly. I ended up getting through and picking up my event tickets in about fifteen minutes.

I passed even that short of a time pretty quickly by talking to the people in front of and behind me in line. That isn’t the kind of thing I normally do, but it’s part of the magic of GenCon for me. It’s four days surrounded by thousands of people who are at least as weird as I am. It’s a very liberating experience.

Lone Wold 1 SignedThe high point of the first day for me and possible the whole convention was getting to meet Joe Dever and getting my copy of Lone Wolf #1 signed. He was super friendly and very generous with his time. The Lone Wolf gamebooks were a big part of my childhood, second only to Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and it was a complete thrill to get to meet Mr. Dever and tell him that. I was giddy the rest of the day and thinking about it still makes me grin.

2015-07-30 13.56.34Most of the rest of the day I spent in Hall F which is where Harebrained Scheme’s Golem Arcana play area was. I had signed up for the Midwest Tournament and a large number of the other people in it were from my playgroup here in Indy (note the bowling shirts), so there were plenty of other games to watch when I wasn’t playing myself. I had a bye for the first round as a result of League Play earlier in the year, and I managed to narrowly win my Round Two game. Unfortunately I lost my Round Three game so I didn’t play in the semi-finals on Friday, but it was a super close game.

2015-07-30 16.41.27By the way, I say “super close” not cause I’m trying to mitigate losing. I really enjoyed that game. Both myself and my opponent played extremely well, and the game literally game down to dice rolls on the last two rounds. Had I’d rolled a hit, or had my opponent rolls a miss on the following turn, the outcome would’ve reversed. I totally prefer games like that over just steamrolling someone. Although winning is always nice.

I capped off the day by meeting up with my friend Todd (Wininoid) and playing games in the convention center until they shut the lights off in the play hall at midnight. We had to pack up by cell phone flashlight.

I’d gotten up at 7 am Thursday and didn’t get home and get to bed until 2:30 am. I was pretty amped up from the day even though I was exhausted, so it took me an hour to wind down enough to sleep.

One last thing! It’s not too late to join in, unless you’re reading this after August 31st. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page to see how.

Blaugust is Back

Blaugust 2015 Day 01

It’s August which means Blaugust is back. The second annual insanity thought up by Belghast as a way to motivate bloggers like me to actually post stuff. Having to write everyday last year finally got me past some of my hang ups and bad habits about leaving drafts unpublished. Usually after writing something I’ve save it and want to come back later to proof it before publishing. A month later when I’d finally look at it again, I’d delete it because it wasn’t relevant anymore or I’d moved on to other things. While I didn’t stick to any kind of schedule, daily or otherwise, for the blog after last year’s event, I haven’t dumped any articles into daft limbo in the last twelve months like I used to.

Besides starting Blaugust, I’m just past the halfway point of GenCon. I’ve had three days of getting up at 7 am and going to bed at 2 am, and I’ve walked a ton. I don’t use a fitness tracker but I’m sure I’ve been getting in 5-6 miles a day between walking to the convention and roaming the halls. I’m exhausted and I’m sure that going to work Monday morning will be tougher than usual but I’ve had an incredible amount of fun in the last three days. The timing for GenCon worked out well as I’ll have a lot to write about from the last few days of getting to meet people and play games. And I still have one more day to go!

Star Trek Online 5 Year Anniversary

Five Year AnniversaryWhile the anniversary event started in-game last week, today is the day it actually launched five years ago (at least according to my calendar and STO Academy). The event includes a new episode Dust to Dust that does one of my favorite things: expands on plot lines from the television series. This one revisits Harry Kim’s complicated relationship with Jhet’leya/Lyndsay Ballad from the episode Ashes to Ashes. I won’t spoil anything about it, but it’s one of the best episodes that Cryptic has done yet and includes some great voice work by Garrett Wang and Kim Rhodes.

The anniversary event has also finally gotten me out of my Kerbal Space Program rut and started me finally playing the Delta Rising expansion content. I think I am about half way through it, but I try not to look at the episode list to see since the mission titles might provide spoiler for me. The story episodes have been excellent, it’s been a real treat to hear Tuvok, Kim, Seven, Neelix, and the Doctor again. The patrol missions are fun although they pale in comparison to the story episodes. On their own though, they are fun, and a few notches higher in quality than the original patrols that were in the game the first few years. I’m particularly enjoying that the new enemies use more powers, really makes the fights more engaging.

Speaking of engaging, I’ve only stopped playing through the missions for now because I hit a level gate, something that’s not happened to me since the first year I played the game. I probably would’ve hit one earlier had I not been messing around with Duty Officer assignments the last several months and so only started the DR content once I was about level 52. My next mission requires level 55 and I’m just a few hundred points shy of that now, so I’ll get back into the story line soon.

I’m still trying to figure out my plans for remaining ships to upgrade to tier 5U using the free upgrade tokens I got, my current ship is a Vesta-class so that one was an easy decision to make. I also need to look at my equipment and decide what items I want to invest tech upgrades in. I usually get a serious case of analysis paralysis when making permanent decisions like that. So far though I haven’t felt a need to upgrade anything in order to complete the content.

Onwards to 2015

I always get excited for the start of a new year. It’s a good opportunity to take stock and attempt to get back on track.

The first for me that’s meant for me this year has been getting back into my wood shop where I haven’t been in months and working on getting things cleaned up and ready for a project that I’ve been procrastinating on for about two years. I’m in dire need of more shelf space in my home office for all of the books and other stuff that I collect. When I originally started the project I got hung up on getting my plans drawn out and trying to make sure I had all of the cuts and raw materials figured out. This year I finally spent an evening learning Sketchup and finally managed to come up with good plans. If it’s the only thing I do all year, I’ll be happy if I finally have my office shelving project finished this year.

I’m keeping the lists I made in last year’s resolutions and going to keep plugging away at them. The thing I learned from last year is I’m not good at rotating from one thing to the next. Instead I would read several books, then stop and read a ton of comics, and then stop and go back to video or board games. My goal this year is to stay more cognizant of what I’m spending my time on and not focus so obsessively on one thing at a time.

One of the big things I regret not continuing was Fleet Nights in Star Trek Online. I really want to get those started back up, which means I need to get through some of the Delta Rising content to unlock some of the new events since that’s been the easiest thing to get a group together to do.

Really the only thing I’m not looking forward to is new games. I couldn’t tell you what new MMOs are scheduled for release this year. There are a few non-MMO games that I’m looking forward to like Massive Chalice and Star Crawlers, but those are games I backed on Kickstarter and I’ve already be able to play early versions, so I don’t quite count those. Honestly, it feels pretty good as maybe I’ll finally get around to finishing a few games from my list-of-shame like the DLCs and extended ending for Mass Effect 3 that I still haven’t played.