Monthly Archives: March 2017

Interstellar Pilot

Those of me who have been following my blog for any length of time will know that I am a big fan of Space games. Two of my All-time-favorite games were Elite and Freelancer. Elite was billed (rightly) as the first MegaGame, featured wire frame graphics, and ran on the BBC Model B in only 32k of memory. The second was a Windows PC game. Both of those games allow the player to interact with the universe in various ways instead of just fighting and shooting. You could be a trader, a miner, a bounty hunter, a mercenary.

I recently discovered a new game that is a magnificent addition to this genre. And unlike the previous two, it is available for the Android platform (but not IOS – ha-ha!). A game so surprising and delightful, that I have all but ceased playing two other games (Star Trek: Timelines and Astronest: The Beginning), and, following one bone-headed decision after another, Vega Conflict ison life-support.

The game is called “Interstellar Pilot“. It takes place in a “Universe” that consists of eight “Sectors” linked by wormholes.Each sector has stations (trading stations, shipyards, outposts, factories etc), asteroids (of several different types that can be mined for free resources), and lots of ships zipping about. All ships and stations belong to one of a number of factions; some are friendly, others, not so much.

There are only two in-game purchases currently available: $2.49 to unlock the Capital ships (Destroyers, Cruisers and Battleships) and $1.49 to unlock the Thunder Frigate. This means that you can unlock ever ship in the game for four bucks! I would advise that you purchase at least the first one as soon as possible, as I suspect that the price will go up once word gets out and the game becomes more popular.

This is a beautiful, beautiful game. I will write more on it later.

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Vega Conflict: Rebalance this!

I’ve been playing VC for more than two years. I have been a lone wolf, an alliance leader, officer and soldier. To some, that makes me one of the ancients, to others, a rank Newbie. But it is long enough to say that I know my way around the game. So here are a few suggestions for improvements.
  • Ship construction times are unbalanced: A Tier-4 Corinthian Cruiser hull takes longer to build than a Tier-6 Punisher Cruiser, for Heaven’s sake!
  • Give us a damn refit bay! It is bad enough having to wait a week or more for a ship, but having to wait another week or more to put special weapons on it is a joke. A refit bay would solve this problem – or giving a big (50%) discount on all stuff built with the ship.
  • Revise crafting times. One ridiculous side-effect of the recent introduction of Tier-5 and -6 ships is that crafting a mark-upgrade for a lower-level ship may actually take longer than the same mark-upgrade for a higher-level ship. For instance, a Valkyrie Carrier takes 39 hours per mark upgrade, compared to 13 for Freyja and 26 for a Dominion. Similarly, the Zeal Battleship is 33 hours, Vigilante 32, Hellfire 25. Hellfire is the cheapest, Zeal is the most expensive.
  • Gold Spend confirmation – “Are you sure?” when spending more than 100 credits. This one has been done to death on the forums, and Kix have made it clear that they absolutely refuse to do it. But this is the reason why I generally buy $5 tranches at a time instead of $50. It is also the reason that I haven’t spent serious money on this game — about $37 in total over two years, though I would be happy to throw $20/month into the pot if it wasn’t too easy to accidentally spend it all. I know you want us to coin, but this is costing you money, at least in my case. And no, a “one-off courtesy” and an admonition to “be careful out there” does not cut it. Put in a confirmation screen and give your Customer Service peeps a rest.
  • Meaningful notice – from time to time there are discounted refits, builds and repairs. Most of us are sick and tired of seeing a six-hour warning for “20% discount for refit/rebuild” when they are in the middle of a fourteen-day build. This is the only online game I have ever played where the players have no in-game advance notice of when important stuff is happening. Give us a week’s notice. It’s. Not. That. Hard.
  • Earn or Wait – pick one. A credit that was earned in an event should be immediately usable without having to wait hours or days. Adding 7x Infernal Wave Driver III to a Hellfire battleship should not take three weeks! Having farmed for parts to buy a\n improved Javelin Jump Drive, you should not have to wait for two weeks to have it fitted. The principle is this: if you bought or unlocked the blueprint, it is reasonable that you should have to wait for it to be fitted; if you bought, won or earned the item it is not.
  • Resistors should be reusable. The new ones introduced for Xeno Division are re-usable. Make the older ones re-usable as well.
  • Omni. Bus. Your Javelin should be able to carry all of your fleets, not just those within five levels of theirs.
  • Design a Black Market that doesn’t suck: I would like to congratulate Kixeye for reducing the Black Market from “the coolest part of the game” to “almost useless”, in a matter of months. Replacing quick-and-easy Mk II Black Market Credits with the endless and tedious Crafting system was not a smart move. Make the BM cool again. You know you want to…

Strike! And be damned.

This just in from the Trump-got-elected-and-I-can’t-stop-crying department.

I recently ran across the announcement for a “women’s strike”, scheduled for March 8th. I must confess that I found this highly amusing for several reasons.

  • The strike was organized by the same folks who organized the women’s marches.
  • As best I understand, the women’s marches were originally supposed to be a global celebration of Queen Hillary’s Coronation Inauguration. Once the unthinkable happened and – shock horror –Donald Trump won, the organizers were unable to get their money back, so like sore losers, they organized the women’s march.
  • If those marches had any effect, I have yet to notice it. The joke that Trump got more fat women walking in a week than Michell Obama could do in eight years is just delicious schadenfreude.
  • A large number of white women voted for Trump? Why? Because is a man. In a world where masculinity is denigrated and maligned by feminism, the culture and the media, a strong, confident, powerful man who works hard, goes after what he wants, and has wooed and wedded some of the most beautiful women in the world is a rare and desirable man.
  • Non-college-educated folks turned out to vote for Trump. Some people (i.e., the Media) trumpet this as “only rednecks who live in flyover states would be so stupid as to vote for Trump” (also known as the “you-must-be-stupid” theory). Perhaps this is true, but it is also true that America’s colleges have become hotbeds of Socialists thinking and, in some cases, indoctrination. It would be interesting to slice this by age; how did college-educated people over 40 vote?

This got me to thinking: what would happen if all of the women simply failed to show up for work?

The first thought that came to mind was a quote from Deep Thought: “And whom would that inconvenience?” What are the commonest career choices for women?

According to the Department of Labor, the commonest choices are secretarial, teaching and nursing.

  • Of those three, the lack of nurses would hurt the most. no doubt about it, people would die… until the hospitals were able to replace them with junior doctors, orderlies and other volunteers.
  • The lack of teachers would not hurt all that much. After all, mommy would be home, and the kids would no doubt be disconsolate to not have to go to school.
  • I’m not sure about the loss of secretaries and clerical assistants. A significant number of those are in Government, and a significant number of those are paper-pushing functionaries. I suspect that in the short run, nobody would notice their absence. In the long term, their employers will either discover new efficiencies that get the job done, or discover that they can get along just fine without you. And fewer Government Employees means lower taxes – double-win!

I then followed that train of thought to its logical conclusion: “what would happen if the men went on strike?

  • No police/military/National Guard: No law enforcement or military? Every man for himself? The thugs would have a field day. If you want to know that they would look like, look no further than the Louisiana Superdome in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: “Inside the Superdome, things were descending further into hell. The air smelled toxic. People had broken up into factions by race, separating into small groups throughout the building… A few of these groups wandered the concourse, stealing food and attacking anyone who stood up to them….A man had been caught sexually assaulting a young girl. Reports of other rapes were widespread.”  Without law enforcement, women lacking the protection of a man would be at risk.
  • No fire services: If your house burns down, tough.
  • No engineers: Remember those pencil-necked Geeks you made fun of in school? They are now the guys who keep our society running. And the overwhelming majority of the engineers who keep our water, power, communication and sanitation systems operational are male. How long would it be before the power went out? How would all of those smart-phone-addicted women survive when their iPhones ran out of power?
  • No plumbers/heating/Air-conditioning/electricians/mechanics: Good luck when your stuff breaks down.
  • No roofers/builders.construction workers: Nothing gets built either.
  • No truck drivers: Think about this: no food deliveries to our major cities. Stores would run out of food in about three days (the normal gap between deliveries), and then the food riots will start.

Basically, without men, nothing gets built, fixed, designed, manufactured, shipped, transported or defended. And they get no recognition for this.

So go ahead with your “women’s strike” Personally, I doubt that you will get anywhere near the turnout that you expect – the women’s protesters are looking even more deranged than the Tea Party at it’s worst moments. I doubt that anyone besides the media will even notice. Life will go on without you. And some of you will likely get fired. But will that be enough for you to realized that you might be wrong? I doubt it.

I will end with the words of Churchill:

“Do your worst, and we will do our best“.