Prospective Pursuits

Despite claiming to be burned out from Elite: Dangerous, what little free time I have managed to focus towards a particular end has mostly been spent engaging in the most boring activity it can offer: mining.

Mining has been made a bit less boring than it used to be because of the addition of collector limpets.  These handy little robots will elegantly fly out, grab any asteroid debris or cargo containers they can find, and drop them off in your cargo scoop.  The fully upgraded limpet controllers expand limpet lifespan to a full twelve minutes... unless you have targeted something to pick up, in which case launching a limpet does only retrieves that and then it self-destructs.  Prior to the implementation of the collector limpets, you had to collect all the debris manually by ramming it with your open cargo scoop, which was challenging enough but overly monotonous.

The other half of what makes mining worthwhile is picking the right target.  I had originally thought mining in Elite:Dangerous was mostly a matter of flying out to asteroid belts, hit up the few rocks you find there, and then jumping to the next.  All that travel time takes forever, and it turns out a much quicker way to fill up your cargo hold involves finding resource extraction sites located within planetary rings.  Planetary rings are made up of effectively unlimited asteroids, so you can gleefully fill your entire cargo hold without having to go back to supercruise first.  Look for "metallic" or "pristine metal" planetary rings, because minerals are worth so much less than ore that I'm not sure why they even bother putting in mineral belts at all.

Currently, mining has me upgrading an Asp Explorer with a 64-ton cargo capacity.  I load up on ten limpets, leave the station, go to a nearby purely metallic planetary ring, zap rocks with my mining laser, use collection limpets to fill my cargo hold, leave the planetary ring, return to the station.  Takes about an hour, and I get about 500,000 to 1,000,000 credits depending on what I find and how many bulletin board missions want to buy those minerals off me.  Mining is a peaceful pursuit, but not very exciting, so I can't recommend it for anything other than taking an occasional relaxing jaunt into to space.

Other Things I'd Like To Do And Why I Haven't Yet:

1. Move out.

Since my little bro put us all through the wringer in June, his eventual release from jail is a bittersweet prospect.   I don't want him to suffer being on the inside, but neither do I want to be front and center when he's being a maniac.  Another major incentive to buy a space of my own is that I really like the idea of having a place completely to myself, along with the freedom to run it exactly how I want to run it.

The primary reason I have not moved out is because it's rather expensive.  In fact, the only apartment manager to give me the time of day first wants proof that I can actually afford rent and living expenses.  Apparently such a thing is beyond the humble part time wage of a library circulation assistant, but I am now scheduled for enough substitute hours to work full time for a full month!

In the meanwhile, the serenity of my free time is ravaged by the perpetual suspense of what tomorrow will have in store for me and my brother.  As one of my coworkers recently put it, "I thought becoming an adult was supposed to make life easier, but it only gets harder the older I get!"

2. Play Minecraft.

I still watch a bit of Yogscast Minecraft playing, primarily Sjin's "Rule The World" series, which is an elegant example of Minecraft at its best, leaning heavily upon the Ancient Warfare 2 mod.

At the end of May, I wrote about the ups and downs of that mod and came to the conclusion that Ancient Warfare 2 is a bit too finicky about its block types and NPC behavior handling to bother using it.  Yet, one thing that really appeals to me about this mod is the idea that you need to feed your villagers, which makes industrializing my food supply to grow my personal town into an important part of the game, and should pair well with many industrializing mods.

I found an interesting alternative called Sim U Kraft Reloaded, which also has conveniently starving villagers, but also require a great deal of resources to build prefab buildings.  On the downside, I get the feeling AW2 NPCs are probably smarter than SUK:R NPCs, and the SUK:R aesthetics (evident in both the building and NPCs) is modern themed, running counter to my desired fantasy vibe.

3. Play Sims 4.

I was thinking of going back and giving this game another spin now that they've had a few more months of development put into it.  I thought I might try something akin to The Asylum Challenge, where you do not control the majority of "insane" traited sims.  It has been my experience that letting the sims' autonomous behavior lead them to horrible mishaps is one of the more enjoyable ways to play the game.

So I stepped back into the mindset of being a Sims 4 player, saw that they released a cool Sims 4: Get To Work expansion pack, and then saw they wanted to gouge me $39.99 for it.  Perhaps "Get To Work" refers to what you have to do in order to afford EA products?  The reminder of how much of a ruthless economic machine The Sims franchise is somewhat soured my enthusiasm to partake.

4. Play Witcher 3.

I don't know why I'm not playing this game.  It's a glorious role playing experience full of rich characterization, vivid imagery, and above par gameplay.  Yet, oddly enough, it seems I am too finicky to play it.
Maybe all my time spent playing Skyrim has exhausted my quota for gorgeous, 3rd person action RPGs in this lifetime.  I'd rather play something like Caves of Qud, a post-apocolyptic roguelike.  Weird of me... I guess my brain gets something more worthwhile out of crappy-graphiced procedurally generated games than it does good-looking hand crafted content.  Maybe it is the additional leeway for my imagination to apply itself?

5. Make my own damn game.

If I could make a game that would satisfy me, among the most finicky of gamers, then I could make the game that challenge the entertainment value of reality itself.  Maybe that's the reason why reality seems to conspire against me every time I try.

Anyway, I am still waffling over the engine.  GameMaker is easier to use, but Unity has far more robust support for a real programming language (C#).   I am thinking I would like an engine that could simulate an entire virtual space at once with potentially thousands of entities, so maybe something that handles threading would be mandatory.  According to the Rimworld FAQs, Unity actually isn't all that good at handling thousands of objects.  I might just have to code my own engine, probably using an API such as LibGDX.

So we have our reason why I'm not right there: making games is hard, especially the way I'm doing it.  But it is self-evident that it would be a better use of my time than just playing them. 

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