February 28, 2006

Chapter 13 .. Unlucky ? Nah !

The last few days as I have mentioned have all been about building my reputation in the starting areas, so that I can buy some more powerful ships. As it stands the Argon won't let me buy an M3 from them but these things happen, and anyway it's what the game's about - as it says : Fight Trade Build Think :)

While exploring as I may've mentioned I came across 2 more of those 'dumped' ships, a Boron Mako (M5 I think) and a Pericles Vanguard (M4). The first picture is the Mako itself, the second is one of both ships from my spacesuit whilst claiming the Pericles.
Once I had these I put the Xenon L onto autopilot and jumped it into a safe area and piloted the 2 craft back with one protecting the other and called into the first equipment dock on the way to kit them both out properly which cost a nice sum of 250K once I'd kitted them out with everything.

Over the course of my return journey I met about 5 lots of pirates which the 2 ships got rid of pretty well considering they're only little buggers. I managed to capture 2 Novas as well thankfully (both for the 'new' ship and that it shortened the fight).
Both had some shields onboard, one had a couple of missiles, the other an AHEPT (pictured) which is a potent but energy draining bright green weapon.. too powerful for either of my current ships to use, but even so since I was in relatively safe space I decided to escort them back.

During the course of those battles my 2 newly found craft got a bit more than scuffed. Teach me to go brawling without my trusty Xenon L I guess. That I got my arse pretty well kicked and had vessels to repair had nothing to do with it. Serious :) The Pericles was down to 34% hull. One more hit from an AHEPT and pop.. even with full shields. Put it that way.

You reckon that's scary you should see the bill! Just under 500K to repair both.. so I left them at the dock and jumped into the Harrier for some bulletin board scanning to find some rank raising missions. No real luck there, however the trader is doing well, and so is the mine. I've not lost any ships, only sold them, but I must admit to using a lot of salvage insurance :)

I have spent several hours in the Argon sectors continually looking for missions and found very few that I've been allowed to attempt, and amusingly although I have managed to take out an M2 craft with my wingmen (excluding the ones with damage :) ) in an assassination mission, I've never remembered to save afterwards .. and then died by some stupid means like crashing into an asteroid.. or in the case of the one pictured, not doing it in time :)

On a more interesting note, satellites are so cool. You buy them and they give you live sector information wherever you put them. It's hard to show how nice they look when animated but consider these 2 pics from either side of one .. now you see it, now you don't. The transition is kinda instant too :)

February 26, 2006

Chapter 12 : Stabilising ..

Over the last few days of play, I've gradually moved everything back into what I consider to be 'safe' areas which is pretty much all of the Argon sectors where you start. On the way from where my ship was, there were a few Khaak vessels which, with the aid of salvage insurance (save at any time)I took them out on the way in and finally got promoted to 'Fighter Chief' rank.
This means I get some decent missions to take on, such as assassinations but I'll get to those later. There's also a shot of some Khaak action. Note that they have 'proper' lasers - a nice funky beam that hurts you. When a cluster splits and starts laying into you from all angles you know it's gonna get nasty !

For now, suffice to say my Ore mine is making money, I've taken the starting capital back and it has 130K in its coffers. Still need another 500K before it 'officiailly' pays for itself but I ain't so fussy.
However I have bought something more expensive for my freighter.
In case I didn't mention it, I bought a smaller freighter to transport ore from my mine, and left the original one also selling for a bit, so it had 2 ships supplying and 2 unloading it. I have now reduced this to one each way, by putting one ship permanently on the distillery cash cow, and the other .. well I spent 500K on some software for it - yes the most expensive thing I've bought yet excluding the freighter itself, but now it can trade automatically in a given sector, just fire and forget. It need to make a million before it's paid for itself so let's hope !

Now it looks to be mainly cruising, managing my factory and other ships, while travelling around and capturing ships. I'll write a bit more detail later but there's the basics. Here's a shot of my entourage so far on a sector map. There's not much there really, besides a few ships. It'll be more exciting once I manage to get my hands on a big big big ship but that's ages away!

February 23, 2006

Chapter 11 : Guess who's coming to dinner !

Those bloody Khaak, I tell you. They're nasty intolerant bastards who should be shot. Oh, they are ? Great.
I know I've mentioned clusters before but while I've been hooning around I've seen some beauties. Check these:

Normally one Khaak is one little triangular segment, maybe 2 'blocks' of one of these clusters. The first two are huge, and suffice to say I did not get as close as the screenshots make it appear. Even with my 6 ships following me, I did not feel safe taking them on.
Little buggers like the one here are no hassle at all, there's at most 10 ships (one M3 and several M5s). That might give you an idea of why I don't like messing with them.
About the only GOOD thing is that when a cluster splits you get maybe 5 seconds where they're 'stunned' for lack of a better word, and you can usually time a missile hit so that the splatter effect gets many of the small ones.
That said it's still something not for the faint hearted if it goes wrong.
Historically game-wise nobody knows where the Khaak come from, they arrive, they kill, they leave. Nobody has communicated with them so they're very much an enigma.
The Xenon however are actually caused by people - apparently some terraforming droids were sent out into the galaxy at some stage .. and they became the Xenon, who are apparently self aware if not sentient. They don't communnicate either. Be nice if either one spoke gibberish at you, 'coz otherwise they seem very wooden. Scary but still wooden.

Chapter 10 : Repeating myself

What the hell ? Where's chapter 10 ? I know I wrote it 'coz people other than me READ it. Fnarch.

Oh well I guess I'd better put my rememberinationing cap on.

Basically since I posted (the time before last) I've been exploring, making sure I have as much of the map covered as I can safely reach, and generally finding what I can. Part of this involved going to the far south of the map, and opening a few sectors up down that way.

The first half of the journey was relatively uneventful, a couple of pirates, some stations to dodge and generally flying past asteroids. That is, until I reached a Split sector. Now they're definitely not keen on me, but they've not been overly hostile. Well that was until I entered some of their more central sectors. It seems on the borders they don't care who you are but if you're entering their home areas, rather than sectors they own, they're a little fussier. Anyway I arrived and got a "Bugger off or we'll kill you, you've one minute'" message.. So I left! The sector I had just come from was also Split, but it was Border. So, I spent some time in there looking for some stations to trade at, or more helpfully some missions to do. After visiting a few stations there were no missions and no moneymaking opportunities, so I undocked from the station and found a pirate ship nearby, so I went to snot it and gain some reputation that way. Once I got him there was another ship just in range, and a third one near it. Once I took all three out, I was advised I'd gained rank, so I decided to try the Split sector again.
This time, no message, and no reds. Err .. except for a lasertower in the centre of the map. I managed to get past it without getting hit but my 3 wingmen were not so lucky, they got attacked and then went it, as you would, but they failed. Losers! So I kicked its arse myself just to show it I was no pushover - I then reloaded my save and went through the sector the long way, staying out of range of the tower. In comparison my best weaponry reaches about 2.5km, so it's not something you want to mess with.

Much of the exploring I wanted to do involved getting to "lost" items I've learnt of, including more ships (apparently there are 12) and cargo. Using my trusty map based on all the other shite ones online, I made Lotus 123 draw the map up based on a database. This way I can add something and just click draw. No more screwing around with formatting. Yay ! As a result though, I've explored 24 sectors, found 2 ships (an M4 Mako Raider and M4 Paranid Pericles) and also captured 2 Falcons and 2 Busters. I sold the captured ships to make some money to spend on outfitting the 2 ships I found. In addition to the 2 ships I got some nice cargo, some big freighter shields (180K each) and some missiles which I am holding onto rather than selling.
This picture is of a bit of biffo with a pirate. You can see the shots I've fired in the centre screen (and a warp gate) and also on the monitor at topleft, said shots arriving where they're most likely not wanted.

February 22, 2006

The weekend away

Well it was good .. should at least write something ! :)

Firstly, I must admit I was not keen on getting the train from Wauchope to Wollongong but figured it was something I could deal with .. well not really, even tho it was 1st class on the XPT it was extremely uncomfortable. The seats were not something you could really sleep in put it that way. It was pretty much bang on time at each end, so there's some consolation, but I didn't sleep more than half an hour I reckon. As my luck'd have it the old bastard sat next to me snored and smelt bad but pff.

I dropped in at the station and got collected by Dad, went and had a well earned cuppa and a chinwag. Gotta love that :) My sister and nieces came over and we had a nice BBQ tea.

The next day was spent with Dad in the morning then collected my children from Mum and went to my sister's. Brandon being Brandon wanted the XBox on, and Phoebe wanted to go to the pool which is very conveniently across the road.

We settled in and had some fun around the house first, and waited for Head (my sister) to get back. That afternoon one of my sister's friends held another barbie so we went to that. The kids, as they do ran rampant.. here's a game of 'slap your sibling on the arse with a thong'. Brandon's winning as you can see :)

Later on they're all kicking the balls around and stuffing the dry bits of recently mown grass down each other's shirts .. then complaining they're itchy .. as you do ! Ah the joys.

Later that evening we went 'home' and had baths, and played some more fun stuff 'til it was Kiddie Bed Time®. Then Head and I got the XBox and Crash Tag Team Racing out and proceeded to have a ball. That's one excellent game and -almost- makes me want an XBox. In addition to the craziness and stupidity the series is well known for, now when racing you can team up with another player by joining cars, and them shoot everyone who comes near you 'til you run outta ammo. Brilliant ! Even better pressing buttons while it's loading makes fart and burp noises .. brilliant-er!

The next day Brandon and I went to a computer fair with Dad and Nigel, which is where all the bling came from, and had some fun looking at swish new stuff. Dad got himself a mobo thinking it'd solve a problem he was having but no :( it turned out to be RAM after all that. Once we got back from that we had lunch and then went to the pool for a splash. The rest of the day proceeded like the one before .. showers, bedtime for kiddies (and hometime for mine :( ) and some Crash.

The next day was spent making sure I'd organised everything not missed anything and had room in my bags .. which I didn't .. so I borrowed one and was still short ! Also a good deal of Crash action happened ..

Baxter the adorably cute, gentle and dopey Collie features below. He's such a dork though.

February 21, 2006

PC : Lights are better in the dark !

The title pretty much says it all :)

The first image is just the main lights, no blue cold cathode or sound light. Just fans, the 'powereyes', the power supply itself. EL string and the UV ring. The exposure time's 1/10 second. You can also see the big blue power light at the front (reflecting on a cable) and USB light shining on the desk (it's extremely handy for scanning maps in the dark :) ) It's slightly blurred but you get the idea.


The next one's 4 seconds which makes it all look way cool. You can see the upper fan shining out of the top of the case, there's been some drive activity (the 2 red lights above/below power). The cable you could just see is fairly visible now, and there's a nice smear of colour reflecting off the LCD.


And the last one is the lot on, for 2 seconds :) You can see the cathodes shining very brightly, and even shining through the front grill. I reckon this shows the wiring more clearly .. which the more observant of you may notice .. I tidied up ! Unplugged the lot and rewired the beasty from the ground up.
To be honest it seemed to get a lot hotter so I figured I'd better rewire it and make sure the airflow was improved.. let's hope otherwise I might need (god forbid) another fan ! There's room for 2x4" behind the front grill .. wonder how much those fans with multicolour LEDs on the blades are .. hmm.. :)

PC : Lights + Power + Blu-Tac = Bling Bling

On the weekend I went to see my family in Wollongong and went to a computer fair. Previously my Dad's generously given me an Akasa 21 function panel. (http://www.akasa.com.tw).
For some reason anyone I've tried to show it to doesn't manage to find it so I'll try again..
In the list of products on the home page search (browser search the page) for "21 function" or click the item in the topright of the product list. Yes, one of them. Cool huh ? I can tell you all my fans are doing 3180 RPM and it's 43.4c in the case near the CPU and 35.6c where the inverters are next to the power supply.
But when I went there to look at that, me being me I decided to check out the bling bling too. :)

Anyway in the grey/blue bar along the top (home, products, new products) click products then 'case lights' section. I got for myself a pair of blue 'cold cathode' lights, one internal EL string and 5 of the 'powereyes' which show under 'other illuminators' on that very page. mmmm ... sweet.

So as you can imagine there's a bit of stuff in my PC .. 3HDs, 2 DVDs, an Audigy 2 and an ASUS / NVidia 6600Gt with 128Mb. The processor's a P4@3.0 with hyperthreading and it tools along with a gig of quick ram. So it's only fair to display its awesome power by lighting up the room it's in (and making the rest of the suburb dim for a sec when it powers on :) ) Previously installed bling bling includes a sound sensitive light, 2 tricolour case fans (top and side) and a spunk ACBel power supply with a big fan with lights that change colour.. so maybe a bit over the top but well I don't mind at all.

The image here shows the PC on, with the side case off. You can see (on) the EL string just strung across the inside of the case, a shitload of cables (hehe .. fun getting them in there!) the five powereyes, and (off) the sound sensitive tube along the bottom of the case, and the lower edge of one of the blue tubes vertically along the back side of the case (next to where the screws go to hold the side on). The second cathode is at the front, same spot if you follow. Hey look ! X3's running on the PC too.

This image shows it all turned off, however I've relocated the EL string to being attached to the side of the case with 'uhu tac' which I think is just yellow blutac but hey. I think it looks nicer like that than strewn across the case.. :)

This last picture shows it all on, and the BIOS screen on the LCD :) Needless to say that by this time I'm getting pretty keen on the idea of switching it on :)

And lastly, the whole thing closed up and on from close up.
Realistically I don't think I can fit anything else in there if it needs wires.. at least not without completely rewiring the PC .. and I figure you'll agree that sorting that spaghetti out is much less important than whether the Split and Teladi like me or not .. which neither of them really do.

I might do another couple of 'my PC in the dark' pics now .. I seem to have misplaced the ones I took a while back. Anyway, some aliens gotta die (or sell me stuff and then die) so I'm goin' to get 'em.

February 15, 2006

Chapter 9 .. Things get even more funner !

Well .. sorta. I got fed up of running around destroying the one or two Xenon that came in the sector so as you would, I buggered off somewhere else.

Right on entering the next sector there was a bunch of pirates so I decided that they had to die.. you know how it is being evil pirate scum (except for the FSM worshipping ones of course). Maybe this particular universe felt sorry for me not getting so much out of the invasion who knows, but 3 of the 4 pilots bailed with good damage (hate but love the Nova) so I sent their sorry asses off to get sold. There's 2 caps and the resulting fleet (docked, from the Xenon).

There's some stupid bug with anti aliasing and screenshots not saving. Since I play in 1280x1024 I don't give a shit about AA and have it off now I know. :) For this reason tho I try to grab a pic of everything I think is interesting, since I've had that setting on and off for a while seeing if itaffects performance too much, I've missed a few potential pics .. if you care, that is ;) Hence there only being 2 ships here not 3 for instance.

The upshot of all that was once I sold those ships and the missiles, I had 4 fighters and 3 transporters and more impressively .. a million credits. Talk about pitching a tent ! :) What to do what to do ..

Well I still haven't fixed the Xenon but only have about 300K left (the Xenon is kitted out and I'm flying it) but what happened ? Why do I sound calm ? :) I bought myself an Ore mine, as you would. That simple tho ? No. First.. as you can imagine any station is pretty bloody big, let alone one with a dirty great asteroid hanging off it.. so to get it from the shipyard to the end location you need to buy a 'large transporter' or as I prefer .. 'mass hog'. Now big is an understatement. Like a freighter they're long and thin. Here's me flying over it's rear end. The 2 yellow things at the bottom are engine exhausts .. I'm the pissy thing in the centre. You hire it, send it to the shipyard then wherever you need it to dump the stuff. There's a fee, of course, on top of the 400K I paid for the mine :)
KItting the Xenon out with some goodies took another 150K, and of course you need to give the station operating capital. It's also keeping the freight transporter buyst selling the ore it makes, and the 2 passenger vessels occupied getting energy .. so there's 3 ships out of the way ! Ah, fun. :)

So what's a broke person going to do .. I then set about being a very naughty boy and annoying people into dropping their cargo or making their ship explode .. but just for fun I went and harassed some laser towers (station defences, very nasty) for the hell of it. I saved first but there's some very sweet pics here of the Nova (hate the Nova) copping some lasery death. Testament to it, it coped and I took all 5 towers out with no damage ..

Even so, I reloaded then as the pirates were shitty and I couldn't be bothered rebuilding my rep with them in that sector :)

There's still more to come before I catch up completely but really I have all 3 freighters working, and the 4 fighters (2M3, M4, M5) all in a bunch. Still, only having just over 150K makes me realise how quick cash can go. By the way one of those freighters is either 48, 66 or 86 million .. I do intend to have one .. but after I get a carrier ! :)

February 12, 2006

Chapter 8 .. It's just a jump to the left ..

[screechy singing] Let's do the time - warp again !

Meh, that's showing my age. Anyway .. In light of the fact that I pretty much wound up making stuff all from that venture once I had repaired everything, and also that by the time I could get a freighter into the sector, most of the flotsam had been collected. So I went back .. way back .. well just a week. I spent a day of so moving all my ships around so they're all together near where I found the Xenon last time. Me and all my mates managed to dock at the Ore Mine the sector relatively safely, though I did have to escort one ship through the pirate sectors in between, as I could not afford a jump drive for it. :( Since I went back a little further than I had hoped, I only have 6 ships, an M3, an M4, M5, one TS (freight transport) and 2 TP (passenger transport - they hold a good chunk of cargo but nothing like a freighter).

I left one of the TP ships at Herron's Nebula where the space fuel distillery is, and during the few short gaps in the battles, I managed to keep it stocked with energy, and have a route going PowerPlant -> Distillery -> Trading Station, selling Fuel at the DIstillery when it will take it and otherwise getting energy which is a small-profit reasonably sure journey. The most you'll make it 7cr per unit tho, buy for 12 sell for 19. At one stage I got some Fuel for 685cr .. I filled the ship (985 units, 675K) which made me broke. However selling 166 to the Trading Station for 1252 netted me a nice sum. At that price I can sell it all for a total of 1,233,220cr .. almost doubling the amount I outlaid. Problem is that it will take some time to sell it all. So while it's doing that ..

I docked all my ships and shuffled all of my already collected stuff into the TP and stripped it bare of shields and weapons to make some room and to make sure I had some spare stuff in case stuff gets busted (as it does). Annoyingly, there was nowhere near as many Xenon this time around but that just meant it was able to be sorted quicker. Besides I can always go back there later :) I kitted out the Nova with 3x25Mj shields which is the most it will carry, threw some heavy weaponry on it, set the M4 and M5 to follow me, and the TS off to a safe corner behind an asteroid and set to work.
This pic is a Xenon M4 getting hit from several directions at once. Dead aliens .. don'cha love it ?

Anyway as always the battle's not so one sided. I found myself saving frequently - not 'coz I got killed but because my wingmen are idiots. In the end I sat the freighter on 'collect wares in sector' and the M4/M5 protecting it. I trailed around behind them and blew the shit out of anything that looked at us sideways. Of course i got close to as good as I gave (I nearly died a few times :) )

In the shot here it's me, on fire. Lower left shows shields (10%?) and hull of 100 just under my rego number. Nice fire though.
In the end after 2 days of heavy biffo I managed to mostly empty the sector of bad guys, and collect all their stuff. Way to go .. there was 5 'unknown objects' which turned out to be $80K missiles. I was happy to sell those, as you can imagine. In addition I got some weaponry and nice cargo, probably made a million out of goods I 'found'.

The last ship in the sector was an M3. He was the only Xenon to bail, so I decided I'd have his ship too. It'll cost me 310K to repair or I'll get around that to sell it. It carries the same shields as the Nova but has no rear turret and only has 6 front weapons instead of 8 (plus turret). It is 33% faster (97vs125) and a good 40% more agile, so I am tempted to keep it and kit it out .. then see if it's a real death machine or not :)
I know there's a Xenon cap in recent posts but due to the Time Warp Factor (©) that never happened :)

February 03, 2006

Chapter 7 .. Shit ! More bad guys

Well off we went into the next sector, owned by pirates just as the last one was. In this sector however there were around 100 Xenon ships at any one time. The Xenon are Not Nice as opposed to the Khaak who're just Plain Nasty. Anyway 100 of them was a bit of a shock to the system. You can see a few of them on the small map in the lower right of the screenshot .. yes each little red triangle's a bad guy. The lines above/below them show their vertical position if that makes sense .. if not tough :) Since it's a pirate sector there are also pirates which is why I have a Falcon in the targeting monitor topleft.

After having a bit of a peek around I realised they were streaming from a sector they own which was to the south into a sector to the west, but destroying anything stupid enough to get in its way. I got in the way a few times myself :) Once I'd seen 'The End' a few times I managed to keep away from the main bunches and just lure away small groups of 4 or so which are not so hard to handle. You have to be quick as otherwise the remaining ships notice and come swarm you.. and well you get the idea I am sure :)

They're funky looking buggers though .. this is an M3 here .. left to right Plain, Incoming, Ouch.

After many losses though, I noticed an absolute shitload of goodies being dropped by all the destroyed ships - and after a while the bad guys usually moved away to chase something else. Sadly though most of it was in quantities my pissy little fighters can't handle.. the 2 ships I found I've realised are both passenger class vessels and don't have as much cargo space as the monster I bought.. but the monster's slow and a long way away. I set it off to the Goner Temple to grab a jumpdrive, so it can pretty much teleport right to where I am, but it's still going to take it a day of game time.

Things are getting tight, most of my ships have some damage to repair, the nearest shipyard's a trip you'd at least take a change of undies for, and I'm scared to leave the sector in case some other thieving bastard takes my cargo.. so I keep filling my ships with stuff and sending one off to unload what it can but sadly I'm running out of space .. and unless profits start coming in soon, repairs will send me broke yet again.. but luckily I managed to capture myself a relatively intact Xenon M4 so selling that might be worth it.

Ah the temptation, quick risky dangerous profits .. mm .. profits.

OK so I'm a capitalist pig.. meh.

February 01, 2006

Chapter 6 .. Fun in space

I took a squiz at the map I have and remembering the one from X2, I knew I'd missed an area that could prove interesting .. so purely to have the sectors on the map I plotted a course through the area. Once they're on your map and known to you you can jump to them from anywhere providing your ship has the right drive and enough energy. On the way through the territory which belongs to the 'Split' race who're apparently serpent-like, I came across a rather disturbing sight, a Khaak M2 (battleship) .. so I took a happysnap for my album and pissed off quicksmart. I was not game to get myself in close enough to show both ships .. I ain't that stupid : that thing's huge. The asteroid almost touching the base of it is a bit further away, but close enough. It' alones easily 5x the size of my biggest non-freighter ship. The story behind the Khaak is essentially that they're nasty bastards who don't want to negotiate just kill. Shame 'coz that purple trim's very cool .. I want one of their ships :)

The most horrible Khaak 'ship' from my perspective is the cluster. One looks like this and basically it's a whole slew of smaller ships, generally one M3 at the centre and the remainder of the ships being M4/5 classes - but from my experience you can find upto a dozen ships in one. This is definitely a small cluster, I have seen ones with two discs easily twice the size of this one's rear. Once attacked the cluster splits into its elements and swarms the poor bastard that pisses it off.

Needless to say I'm not game to take one on yet.. not with plain lasers. I know a weapon with an area of effect exists and once I get one of these, I might take the Khaak cluster on next time I see one. Not yet tho, that is for sure. I first have to find who sells them and convince them that I should be allowed to have some. That generally involves being nice to them, trading with them, that sort of thing. Knowing my luck it'll be a race I've annoyed by pirating their ships .. he he !

On the trading front, I managed to get some dirt cheap space fuel from the distillery I'd been stocking, enough to half fill my smaller freighter at 680 per unit; I managed to sell 166 for 1252 each so there's a tidy profit.. with more to come - the best kind! Aside from the trading and exploring I found nothing of great note, and did one set of 'take me here then here then here' missions which was cool fun but well I was filling in the map but it was pretty late. The next sector ahead was a pirate one so I docked at a friendly station and saved up.

As always click a pic to see it bigger :)