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Frozen Developments

Another odd little week, but not quite as bad as the last.  It went quickly enough, it seems only a few things of note happened:

1. More unplanned use of vacation time due to adverse weather.

As "Winter Storm Decima" passes through the states, I bailed out early on Wednesday and it was perhaps a good thing I did because a lot of people underestimated just how hard the snow would hit.
I stayed home on Thursday for good measure.  I regretted that, on the grounds that the snow might have melted off enough that I could have made it for a few hours, but where me and weather driving is concerned it is better safe than sorry.

2. A bit of The Division.

I ended up playing it for part of Sunday evening and a lot of the following Friday and Saturday.  Me and a buddy from high school are now approaching level 20.
The Division is a game of breathtaking content detail, even though it seems I have already learned most of what I need to know about the gameplay from the Mass Effect series.
Before too much longer, we'll be at the end game, where leveling stops and gear grinding begins.

3. A lot of Elite: Dangerous.

This surprised me a bit.  After all, it seems that sooner or later I find the game to be a waste of time.  However, this was a week of much transition to more interesting pastures in the game.
The ship I had at the beginning of the week, a Fer De Lance, is essentially a one trick pony that does combat well but little else.  I decided I was bored of shooting up pirates in resource extraction sites, and tried my hand as a mercenary in conflict zones only to find it paid worse for much of the same.  I only ever really managed about 1M/hour with my Fer De Lance.

So I got bored of it and traded it in for a Python, essentially the multirole equivalent of a Fer De Lance (both the biggest ships that can fit on medium-sized landing pads) but the Python can be a bit more expensive to outfit for combat.  Fortunately, as I was sick of the combat, I could afford a much cheaper layout, one more dedicated to making the Python a beast of burden instead of a knife fighter.

I started out by doing a bit of passenger missions, which were reputed to be the best way to make money outside of exploiting (which I would never do).  Passengers are a recent addition of the "guardians" patch, and are interesting because passengers often have agency and try to get you to do things.  For me, that is extremely refreshing, because most of the Elite: Dangerous universe is reactive, not active.  Unfortunately, the pay for moving passengers was poorer than expected, mere peanuts, so I decided to do mining instead, where a good Python loadout can get me about 2.5M/hour.
If you need to find me, check the metallic pockets of the rings of gas giants, where I will be hovering alone in the dark.
I decided to try one more ship, the Type-9 Heavy.  As the name suggests, this mutha is HEAVY.  It turns like a house and is so large that it frequently ends up bulling other ships out of the way as it tries to pass through the docking "mail slot" on stations.

While it was fun playing with mounting a fighter hanger on the Type-9 Heavy, essentially giving me a little NPC companion, it was otherwise not as much fun to pilot this ship as I hoped it would be.  I was expecting it to be more of a challenge but found it not all that much harder to pilot than other ships if I put 4 power pips to thrusters and keep an understanding that the pilot's cabin is mounted on the lower half of the ship.  Though it is still rather slow, much to its perpetual handicap.

I went mining with my Type-9 and came back with some very respectable hauls.  However, it seems to me that collector limpet drones give the huge ship a very wide berth, and this significantly slows their rate of resource collection.  I ended up compensating by dropping the fighter hangar and mounting another controller, giving me nine of the little buggers to grab asteroid chunks, but it still seemed slower to me than how effectively I was able to use the Python.

I had recorded some numbers about my hauls, and deduced that I was able to mine faster with my Python, making a profit of about 40k/minute, where the Type-9 managed a respectable 37k/minute.  The time used in the calculation included the trip to and from the dock, so basically this was a per gaming session measure, taking the worst of two Python runs and comparing it to the better of two Type-9 Heavy runs.

This meant that, for my purposes, there was just no point in having a Type-9 and dealing with its poor speed, maneuverability, and general defenselessness against pirates.  Maybe if I were a trader it would be a different story, as the Type-9 can easily carry twice the cargo capacity.
So I am back in the Python again, wiser if perhaps slightly poorer for my experience with the Type-9.  It is not a bad place to be, as the Python is perhaps the most capably versatile ship in a game that prioritizes ship versatility.  A recent feature added to the game was the ability to store ship parts and have them sent between starbases, and this has only supercharged the ease of changing my Python's role spontaneously.

Looking forward, the goal is to earn about 200,000,000 million credits so I can upgrade to an Anaconda, a true end game ship, no mere fighter, more of a corvette,  and nearly as versatile as the Python.  I even have an exclusive Black Friday skin waiting for it.  I am currently at about 100,000,000 credits if you count my current balance and trade value of my existing Python.
One thing I will miss about the Type-9 Heavy is that it gifts its pilots with an absolutely lovely view of space.
At about 2,400,000 credits an hour, I am looking at about 42 hours of grinding asteroids until I can afford the Anaconda.  That is a better number than the 100 hours I was estimating for de-pirating resource belts with my Fer De Lance... but still a damn long time to watch limpets at work.  Fortunately, given the Python's versatility, if I bore of mining, I can do literally any activity the game offers.

I have a bit of a love:hate relationship with Elite:Dangerous.  Yes, it has successfully captivated me a lot over the last week.  However, I feel all of the credits I have been earning in the game are ultimately a hollow pursuit.  In the end game of Elite: Dangerous, all there is to strive for is the experience of owning and piloting ships.  The pilot federation is apparently some kind of intergalactic yacht club!  I feel that this is a dreadfully blunted use of such a fantastic game engine, and await the day that Frontier can do better than this Powerplay mentality of never-ending community stretch goals.

4. Progress in Divinity: Original Sin.

I have not put as much time in this game as I did Elite: Dangerous.  But, egad, does it ever surprise me with how quickly it can blow through my free time!  Having convinced myself to stick to my current party rather than start over with one that made better use of Scoundrel skills, I just completed the Cyseal map, and am moving on to the second of four big areas.

5. A Smidgen Of Independent Development.

With all this weather and gaming fixation, my healthy independent game development habit has been good and derailed.  However, I managed to make enough time in Unity to redesign some important data classes as well as come to  a relative decision that what I want to make a Roguelike of is something related to what I was talking about at the end of this entry.

It is honestly important enough that perhaps I ought to cut out all of my game playing entirely except for The Division (being a social activity) and just focus on programming whenever I have time to my self.  But perhaps I still had a touch of cold, or whatever, to get over from last week.  If so, I suppose I can count this week as a necessary vacation.


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