Category Archives: I like it!

Astronest Review

While playing Vega Conflict, I saw an ad for another game – the oddly-named “Astronest: The Beginning“. That was before the brains behind Vega Conflict stopped offering coins in return for watching ads.. but that is another story.

I gave the game a whirl, and was delightfully surprised. While the initial concept looks similar to Vega Conflict, the execution is far different. For one thing, building ships and research are instantaneous, but use up a number of turns (called Access Points or AP), which accumulate over time. The player’s AP limit depends on the level of their “nation”.

Your Nation is a collection of colonized planets, Heroes (people that you recruit) and fleets. Each planet has facilities that generate Gold, Minerals, Research, Energy, Fleet Production and Cosments. Each facility can be upgraded for the requisite amounts of AP, Gold and Minerals. Upgrades are instantaneous, but AP takes time to accumulate, which amounts to the same thing. There is also one other currency – crystals – that cannot be mined, but may be received as a reward for missions or purchased.

Each planet may have a Minister – one of your heroes whose Governing skill gives the planet a bonus. Other heroes can be assigned to fleets (Destroyers, Cruisers, Battleships or Motherships). A planet can be operated without a Minister, but a fleet cannot go into battle without a commander. All heroes level up with experience.

The Good: Compliments

  • Boots fast – under twenty seconds, far quicker than Vega Conflict or Star trek timelines.
  • Runs on lower-end hardware than VC, and does not require a persistent internet connection.

The Bad: Criticisms

  • The game does a good job of explaining the basics of combat, but leaves the player floundering when it comes to Trons, training, LDs, cosments, colonizing other planets and lots of other stuff.
  • All of the female heroes (heroines?) are slim and pretty. I am not sure how I feel about this. I despise political correctness as much as anyone, but when you say “female head of a planetary government”, I think Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or Madelaine Albright, not some gorgeous Blonde babe. Having said that, I do not want to see old, unattractive women introduced to the game for the sake of political correctness, but at the same time I don’t want to see people who don’t look the part. There are some who may consider that attitude sexist; I don’t care – and that will be reflected in my purchasing decisions.
screenshot_2016-12-29-07-34-07Hi. I’m Kayla. You can like, take me to bed, or, like, put me in charge of your planet. Like.
  • On a similar note, half of the men look effeminate or gay. These are the less experienced officers. The other half, the most experienced S-class heroes – have the mature, grizzled look that one would normally associate with experienced fleet commanders.
screenshot_2016-12-29-09-51-04My Gaydar is going off. And the guy in the middle looks like George Lucas.

The Ugly: Errors, mistakes, and Bugs

  • Poor Grammar: e.g.: when fitting out a fleet, it says “Equipping” instead of “Equipped”.
  • Spelling errors: Nuff said:

 

screenshot_2016-12-29-11-59-28This. Should. Not. Happen.
  • In the Heroes screen, a Planetary Governor is erroneously described as a Fleet Commander.

Bottom line: A highly enjoyable game that I will continue playing, at least for the foreseeable future. Whether it will supplant Vega Conflict is yet to be seen.

Brave New World

Or: You can’t keep a good man down

More than two years ago I blogged about one Brendan Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla, who committed the cardinal sin of having a politically incorrect opinion.

Way back in 2008, he made a donation opposing Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that made same-sex marriage legal in the state of California. Even though the donation was made as a private citizen and even though he never discriminated against gays in any way during his time at Mozilla, his disagreement with the love-and-tolerance mob was such heresy that a witch-hunt was in order and he was figuratively burned at the stake. Following a political firestorm, he stepped down as CEO and resigned from Mozilla, and lived out the remainder of his days in obscurity.

Or so they thought.

What he actually did, as tech entrepreneurs are wont to do, is to start something new. A new initiative. A new vision. A new browser called Brave.

Brave is more than a browser, it is a new way of looking at, experiencing, and financing the web. Instead of the horrendous ad-supported model that we all know and… er… love, it allows users to financially support websites that they frequent, while featuring state-of-the-art ad-blocking.

I’ve been using it for about a month, and while it still has a few rough edges, but it is fast, smooth and stable (hardly surprising, given that Eich invented Javascript), at a time when predecessors like Firefox and Google Chrome are becoming bloated, slow and crash-prone. This blog post was written in Evernote running in a Brave tab.

Most important of all: No gays were persecuted during the making of this browser… though a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

My previous former life

eap_foto-bae

My first job out of college was working for a UK-based Defence Contractor, where I was involved in a very small way in the development of Avionics for the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP), a technology demonstrator for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Here is a video of the beautiful beast in flightHere is a more detailed description of the plane and its systems. Here is a rather nice write-up on the plane. Here is another.

“We worked all hours, we could be in until midnight and then back in at 6.30am, it was hard work but it was satisfying. You knew you were at the start of something really special, what we created was the forefather of the next generation of flight

I’m Sick of Being Right

Some weeks ago, I posted on why the SSA’s multi-factor Authentication scheme was a bad idea.

This morning I got another message from them:

SSA SOL2TL;DR:

  1. It is no longer mandatory, but it is recommended.
  2. We are working on alternatives.

I’m glad that they see things my way, but I am a little disappointed that an organization this big can make such a huge blunder.

The Price of Freedom

or: The Politics of Fear

Last week I wrote about Brexit, that I opined that Britain should leave the EU, and that they probably wouldn’t.

I have never been so delighted to be so wrong. Britain delivered a shocker verdict, and the vote says LEAVE.

Waah!

The initial fallout can be summoned up in one word: Waah! Calls for a recount abound, including petitions and protests. It appears that some people were so convinced of the rectitude of their cause and the moral superiority of the “Remain” vote that they didn’t bother to vote at all, and now they want a do-over.

Too late.

The votes have been cast and counted, and the johnny-come-latelies do not deserve a do-over. Democracy does not work that way. If you can’t be bothered to vote, you don’t get to bleat about the results when they don’t go your way.

This battle has been fought between Globalists and. Nationalists.

Globalists believe in all that “one world” stuff, and think that everyone should look after everyone else. They want to see a European Superstate without borders; one people, one nation, one language, one currency. They believe in the rights of the collective, that we are all one big happy family, and that we are all our brother’s — or sister’s, let’s not be sexist here — keeper. They usually collectivists, are often Trade Unionists, socialists, and in extreme cases, communists. In generally, they believe that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong, and must be silenced, censored, isolated or removed.

On the other side are the nationalists; they believe in competition, in the rights of the individual. They believe that good fences make good neighbors — that people can agree to disagree — and that while it is good to help others, one’s first duty is to tend to one’s own. They tend to believe in the rights of the individual over the rights of the state.

The most extreme case of this is the United States of America, which, coincidentally, has the distinction of being the most spectacularly successful nation in the history of the world.

The reason that I thought that the vote would go “remain” was that I believed that Britain had gone globalist. I was wrong. Older and wiser heads have prevailed, and there were enough of them to make a difference.

One thing that I have noticed is that people have voted along generational lines. The vast majority of younger folks are “Remain” voters. This is hardy surprising; Britain has been in the EU since 1973, so anyone under 40 years old has no memory of an independent Britain. In other words, they don’t know any better. And yet they are the ones who assume that those same elders who voted to remain must be mentally or morally deficient. I call this…

The “you must be stupid” defense: I have noticed that some people — mostly of the leftist persuasion — tend to assume that anyone who disagrees with them are stupid. This is particularly true when it comes to gun control; people who want weapons to protect themselves against bad guys are often portrayed as retarded rednecks. Some of the most sane and well-balanced people I know carry concealed weapons and have done so for many years. So it is with Brexit; those in the “Remain” camp — including, unfortunately, most of the media — seem to assume that those who voted to leave are mentally incompetent. This is particularly egregious in the case of the media, who really should know better, but then I suppose Freedom of the Press really is confined to those who own one; we have always been at war with Oceania.

We disagree, so you must be wrong

This attitude has permeated all the way up to the highest level; in the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker turned to Nigel Farage and asked “Why are you here?“. That is cheap rhetoric which only goes to prove that Democrats don’t really like Democracy, particularly when it disagrees with their own entrenched values.  But as the old saying goes, it is impossible to make someone believe in something if their paycheck depends upon them not believing it.

The Problem with Scotland

Scotland is in a particularly precarious position. A couple of years ago they narrowly voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. But they also voted in favor of remaining in Europe. From what I have seen in the news, Scotland is something of an Economic basket case, as not only do they want to remain in Europe, but they also want Britain to pay the bill — a clear case of wanting to have their cake and eat somebody else’s.

So where does this leave Britain?

The results of the referendum do not actually change anything. All they do is give the Government a clear idea of what the voters want. Nothing changes until Article 50 has been invoked, at which point Britain has two years to negotiate terms with the nations that form the European Union before they leave. At the end of those two years, they are out of the EU, ready or not.

In the meantime, the Swiss (who seem to be experts in getting the benefits of Europe without actually being part of it), have gotten it all beautifully in perspectiveSwitzerland gets itMeanwhile in the Fatherland, Germany seems hell-bent on making an example of Britain. This has, of course, happened before, and which just goes to show who is really in charge of Europe.

Will Britain be better off? I am not sure, and I don’t think it is relevant. What matters to me is the difference between dying on your feet and living on your knees.

I close with a quote from one Briton (Winston Churchill) to a German (Adolf Hitler)

You do your worst, and we will do our best

Vega Conflict Game Guide Updated!

The Long-awaited new version for Feb 2016 is done!

New sections include:

  • How Shields Work
  • Blueprint Weapons and Event Weapons
  • Tag and Find
  • Carrier Command
  • To Coin or Not to Coin?
  • Crafting Fleets and Supply Run Fleets
  • Resistance Tech.

New Ships Added:

  • Zeal Battleship
  • Lance Destroyer
  • Komodo Cutter
  • Hurricane Frigate
  • Taipan Cutter
  • Condor Frigate

Now 137 pages! Click  here to purchase it for $2.99.

Of Locomotive and Tenders

Mallard-model-engine

Only a century ago, steam engines criss-crossed nations, making travel easy and shrinking the globe.

Behind every coal-fired locomotive was a tender, a wheeled box that held all of the fuel that the locomotive would need to reach its destination. The tender was not particularly glamorous, nor did it get the attention and the admiration that the Locomotive did, but it was just as necessary.

The same is true in life: Too many western women seem to desire the power and prestige that comes with being the locomotive. They crave the power, the freedom, the independence that comes with being self-powered. And if that is truly what they are looking for, good luck to them. But too many women find out, too late, that after successfully transforming themselves into locomotives, that what they really wanted all along was to be a tender. And having done so, they now require an exceptionally powerful locomotive; an ordinary one is no longer enough, and they never find what they are looking for. And it is always men’s fault; never the media, the culture or third-wave feminism that persuaded her that she could “have it all”.

As I mature and acquire confidence, competence, and charisma, I find myself the subject of much unwarranted admiration from such women; women who have wasted their best years chasing what they thought they wanted, only to find out that what they really wanted all along is something that they cannot get anymore. But I am not interested in them; their best and sweetest gifts have been wasted on the undeserving, and no good man wants leftovers.

My lady and I have been “hitched” for nearly three decades; she is the tender to my locomotive, and she is bloody good at it. Our connection is strong. She provides me with that which I need to excel in life. And she never puts herself first. And for that she has my everlasting gratitude.

Thank you My Dear.

And here’s to the tenders of the world. You know who you are.

Vega Conflict – Carrier Command

Carrier Ragnarok Loaded

Of all the ship types in the game, the carrier is perhaps the biggest game-changer.

Once you have unlocked and built a carrier, the way you play the game changes dramatically. In fact it may be said that the biggest divide among players is between those who have carriers and those who do not – the Haves and Have-nots, if you like.

Nowhere is this more readily apparent than in events and Riots. Before I built my carrier, events were completed by auto-farming level-27 planetary fleets, with some manual sector-level farming of bigger fleets with Revelation Cruisers and Battleships. While these were usually insta-rep (instant-repair), this approach was brutally time-consuming and usually required 20-plus hours of farming over three or four days to get the top prize. With a carrier, however, the nature of these events changed; instead of hitting a fleet every minute or so for 1000 loot apiece all the live-long day, it was now possible to hit a few 50, 55 or even 60 VSec fleets for 100,000 loot, with 1-2 hours of repairs before the next round of attacks. This means that while the overall earning rate did not change, it became far less time-consuming and hence easier.

The carrier is the longest-ranged ship in the game, but that enormous reach comes at a price Carriers are relatively fragile and can be taken out easily by a determined opponent. Fortunately the enemy AI is easy to fool computer-controlled opponents always home in on the closest ship, and so a decoy ship can be used to draw fast-moving opponents away from the carrier. Decoys can also be used to draw enemy ships away so that the carrier is not overwhelmed by multiple enemies at once.

Slower-moving enemies such as Battleships can be fooled relatively easily – use a decoy to turn enemy Battleships so that they are heading straight at the carrier, This will allow the carriers squadrons to approach the battleship through its forward blind spot without  being hit by the Battleship’s weapons.

  • Keep your carrier moving! A stopped carrier is a dead carrier
  • When pursued by multiple enemies, angle your carrier off to one side so it engages opponents one at a time.
  • When faced with multiple targets, select a priority target (long-press on mobile, right-click on PC) so all carrier squadrons will engage that target and kill it as fast as possible. Remember that a near-dead ship does as much damage as a fresh one, so the faster you kill it the better.
  • A carrier costs about the same time to repair as a High-end battleship (Fury/Dread/Zeal/Vigilante), so it is actually a good idea to sacrifice a carrier to save a bunch of Battleships.

This article is an excerpt from my Game Guide, over a hundred pages of hints, tips, tricks and tactics that will help you get to grips with the finer points of the game, all for a paltry $2.99. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $1 off. Make me smile – buy my book!

Vega Conflict: Wormhole Tip

I recently discovered a little trick to find out the next ship spawning from a wormhole.

This may be old news to some, but for those who don’t know it could be solid gold. Tested on mobile, don’t know about PC.

  • Select a planet. The informational pop-up will appear.
  • Select “Info”. The informational pop-up will have added info.
  • Select the wormhole. The pop-up should appear as follows:

Wormhole

Vega Conflict: Ship Types

These Hints and tips are taken from my Game Guide, over a hundred pages of hints, tips, tricks and tactics that will help you get to grips with the finer points of the game, all for a paltry $2.99. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $1 off.

Frigates: Built for speed and maneuverability, Frigates can outrun and outmaneuver almost anything. But that agility comes at a price, as frigates suffer from restricted weapons coverage, a forward-facing fan shaped weapons-coverage arc. Frigates bring the fight to the enemy with great speed, but being small and light, they lack the armor to stay in the fight. For this reason, frigates tend to hunt in packs, and are often employed as escort ships for bigger ships. Frigates also have one of the highest sector speeds in the game, which makes them a great choice for deep-space reconnaissance.

In the late game, they are often used against destroyers; a fast-moving frigate is used as a distraction; to turn the destroyers so that they are facing the wrong direction when the heavy guns arrive within range. For this reason, Destroyer Captains have a particularly intense dislike for Frigates. The old saw about Frigates being bluish in color because of the Doppler shift caused by their high-speed retreats is just a vicious rumor circulated by disgruntled Destroyer Captains.

Enemy frigates have a tendency to head straight for their target and strafe in circles around it. A normal counter to this tactic is to keep moving; this stops their sideways motion and allows heavier weapons to be brought to bear against them.

Mark-upgraded Frigates an additional resistance slot (except the Harrier, which has an additional special slot instead), higher mass, extra cargo carrying capacity, reduced thruster mass, additional shield damage, extra damage to destroyers, and resistance to stasis.

Frigates are generally named after terms related to the bird world.

Cruisers: If Destroyer captains dislike frigates, they positively hate cruisers. Pound for pound the most useful and dangerous ships in the game, their longer range and 270-degree coverage arc makes them particularly dangerous to destroyers caught with their pants down and pointing the wrong way. Boasting no less than seven hardpoints (Shield, Special x2, Hull x2 and Gun x2), they can be fitted with a rear thruster to improve straight-line speed, giving them “Rabid Rabbit” mass-weapon-evading capability second only to frigates. Their only weakness is the lack of rear-quarter weapons coverage, which gives rise to the old Cruiser-Captain saying that “Cruisers never run”.

Mark-upgraded Cruisers feature an additional resistance slot, higher mass, extra cargo carrying capacity, reduced armor mass, additional armor health, and extra damage to frigates.

Cruisers are generally named after biblical terms.

Destroyers: Basically a light chassis built around a long gun, these ships are devastating at long range, but fragile and easily destroyed in a close-range knife-fight. As if that was not bad enough, only the most advanced Destroyers have a shield generator slot; the Longbow and Broadsword destroyers have no provision for shields, and are dependent on hull plating, maneuverability and moxie to keep them out of trouble.

Destroyers are the weapon of choice when attacking other bases, where the Destroyers’ range advantage really comes into its own. But while destroyers have the longest-range guns, this comes at a price; they have a narrow weapons-coverage arc, and are vulnerable to flanking by enemy ships. A heavily outgunned enemy frigate that can get outside of a Destroyer’s narrow engagement envelope can outmaneuver it and destroy it at leisure, as the destroyer cannot turn fast enough to bring its guns to bear, so destroyers always need support in FvF battles.

Due to their lack of speed and fragility, command of a shield-less Destroyer is often assigned as a punishment to a Frigate or Cruiser Captain who showed cowardice in battle.

Mark-upgraded destroyers feature an additional resistance slot, higher mass, extra cargo carrying capacity, reduced weapon mass, enhanced shield bypass and extra damage to cruisers.

Destroyers are generally named after medieval weapons.

Battleships: With an unmatched number of hardpoints – the base model, Rancor, sports nine, and the others go up from there), these ships unleash fearsome firepower on their enemies. Paradoxically, their greatest strength is also their biggest weakness: their bow-tie-shaped weapons-coverage arc gives them the ability to deliver truly awesome broadsides, but also leaves them vulnerable to attack from front and rear quarters. For this reason, Battleships prize the ability to turn swiftly in battle to bring their broadsides to bear – hence the common use of Rotation Thrusters – and the cry of “Turn and Burn!” being a common order from the bridge of a battleship.

One unique feature of this class is that they can deliver broadsides to both sides simultaneously. This means that Battleships are at their most dangerous in the thick of the battle, engaging two enemies at once. But all that firepower comes at a price; Battleships have only one shield slot.

Mark-upgraded battleships feature an additional resistance slot,  higher mass, extra cargo carrying capacity, reduced weapon mass, enhanced shield bypass, and extra damage to cruisers.

Battleships are generally named after terms related to anger.

Cutters: Designed for blockade-running, they are among the fastest ships in the game, but their poor maneuverability caused Fleet Admiral Douglas “Hitch-hiker” Adams to comment: “Looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a cow.”

They are however, incredibly useful in situations where you need to bring the fight to the enemy. They were designed first and foremost to be Carrier-killers; to withstand the withering fire of a carrier’s squadrons and unload some serious firepower on that gargantuan hull, and the raw speed to bring that power to the enemy Carrier as quickly as possible. A fleet of cutters can bring the fight to a Carrier and bring one of those big fellows down with ease, particularly if augmented with rear thrusters – or better, Fusion thrusters, which help overcome the Cutters’ legendary inability to turn. They are also useful against Apocrypha Cruisers – few ships can outrun an Apocrypha Cruiser, but these can do so handily.

Mark-upgraded cutters feature higher mass and extra cargo carrying capacity, additional armor health, reduced armor mass, enhanced shield damage, stasis resist and extra damage to battleships.

Cutters are named after lizards.

Carriers: The Carrier belongs to, and is currently the only occupant of, a very specialized class of ship – Flagship class. By definition, there can only be one flagship in a fleet. They are by far the largest ships in the game, and the slowest. Carriers do not have any conventional weaponry. Big, slow, ponderous and unarmed, a Carrier would be a sitting duck if it wasn’t for the two game-changing technologies that a Carrier brings to the battle:

  1. Support Field: All Carriers have a support field that provides a boost for either shields or speed of friendly ships, and a corresponding handicap for enemy ships. It is not known precisely what happens when two opposing carriers’ fields intersect; either the universe will cease to exist, or the two fields will cancel each other out.
  2. Squadrons: All carriers come with launchers for long-range squadrons. Squadrons come in several different flavors – Fighters, Bombers, and Interceptors. All are semi-autonomous drones which are launched from the carrier and home in on the nearest enemy ship. They will attack that ship until it is destroyed (in which case they will attack another enemy or return to the carrier) or they are destroyed (in which case another squadron is launched).

The Carrier is the ultimate long-range, stand-off weapon. Its long-range squadrons can reach out and touch enemy ships from a long way off. For this reason the canny player will always keep the enemy as far from the carrier as possible. In practice, this means beaming slow-moving enemies such as Battleships and Destroyers, and running away from faster enemies such as cruisers, frigates, and the Carrier Commander’s bane – Cutters.

Mark-upgraded Carriers feature an additional resistance slot, higher mass and extra cargo carrying capacity, extra damage to all ships, reduced squadron mass and additional shield damage.

Carriers are all named after ancient apocalyptic Scandanavian terms.