My Star Citizen Spaceships

I have been thinking about my career path in Star Citizen, specifically about what ships I wanted in game. I keep revisiting the ships I want, trying to focus on the gameplay I want in game and to have more bang for my buck in using multi-role ships. Still, I get those times when I want to have those vanity ships.

I just joined the subscriber program for Star Citizen, and part of the program is to let subscribers try out a new ship each month. This month it is the Drake Caterpillar. Walking inside and exploring the Caterpillar is like an open house. I can imagine owning the ship and walking through the corridors. I can see myself with a crew in the habitat area having meals. I can see myself hauling freight to the far reaches of the universe.

As tempting as it is, I have to pass on this ship for the moment. Who know, like last year at Star Citizen’s end of year sale I might get the fever and buy something, but for now I’ll pass. These are the current ships in my catalog.

The Drake Caterpillar. If I had the money I would so buy this ship.

Avenger Titan – OK, this is a vanity ship in my roster of ships. I got it when there was a limited-edition sale because it has the markings of an Advocacy agent (best described as FBI styled agents). I just can’t see myself selling it because this ship seems, for me, like the “I have it for fun” ship. It’s the take a Sunday drive ship.

The Herald – This is the info runner ship, which means it can eavesdrop on electronic messages and sell that information. I see this as related and is part of my side profession. As a side bonus, it is a really fast ship at the moment in game. When the best option in a battle is to run away, this is the ship to bolt out of a sticky situation in style. Once the electronic warfare and espionage component becomes prevalent in the game, this will become incredibly useful.

The Terrapin – When I first saw this ship I fell in love. It is touted as a very good exploration ship and supposedly has similar characteristics as the Herald. It has more staying power (meaning shields and protection) than the Herald, but, when things get rough this ship can run away or take cover in hostile environments. This is also a very capable surveillance and explorer ship.

The Dragonfly – This the space motorcycle of the ships and I had considered it a fun vehicle, but I’m realizing the multi-purpose uses it has for my gameplay. Being a motorcycle essentially, this ship can be used to scout out environments and travel to areas I probably wouldn’t want to bring a ship into. It can also be deployed in space to investigate phenomenon. This ship can be stored as cargo in a few ships I own, which makes this versatile.

The Freelancer Dur – The main, dedicated 2-person exploration ship. This will probably be the workhorse, as well as the Terrapin, for exploration, but what this has that the Terrapin doesn’t is cargo space. This ship can double as a hauler, which means I can use it to transport goods and possibly make a profit when exploration work is slow. This vehicle can store the Dragonfly, giving it a lot of flexibility for gameplay.

The Cutlass Black – I traded this ship in for another exploration ship, the Reliant Sen. I bought the Sen for the “a cool look” but I found it OK for battle and the Freelancer Dur, the Terrapin and the 315p had better scanning ability. The Cutlass Black is geared towards piracy in the unofficial descriptions, but what sold me was with the rework being done on the ship, it will comfortably hold the Dragonfly. It would give a bit more living area and would hold, according to current stats, good a cargo space at 30 without the Dragonfly being loaded. This would be the day to day workhorse ship.

The Origin 315p – This is questionable for me because I keep coming back to this ship, this is my second purchase of it, but it quickly gets traded because other ships have better capabilities for my needs. It’s a good one-person explorer that can do quick reconnaissance missions, but the DUR and the Terrapin are better suited for those trips. It has no cargo capacity and as a fighter, the DUR or Cutlass Black have more versatility.

Essentially it is a ship looking for a place in my gameplay.

I’ve explored getting a large multi-crew ship to trade in for the 315p. The Constellation Aquila is at the top of the list, along with the Carrack and Endeavor. They have pros and cons for each ship, but I wonder do I see a real use and a justification for the expense of the ships? An alternative is the Prospector, a one-person mining vessel or the Reliant Mako news van.

For now, this looks like a good batch of ships for me.

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Recommendations for Star Citizen Game Play

I have a couple of recommendations today that are related to gaming.

I have really gotten hooked on Star Citizen. Not much of a big announcement there. I have an ongoing series about my alter ego (Remitar) who writes articles in the Star Citizen universe. I have an organization (guild) that I’ve set up in the universe. Just last week I started posting videos of explorations I’ve done in the game.

One of the struggles I’ve had in the game has been remembering keyboard commands. As you can imagine, there are lots of key commands and combinations in a MMO and I had cheat sheets with notes and shortcuts for those commands. Frankly, it’s a mess!

I started off mixing joystick and keyboard controls, and it was OK but a little cumbersome. After a month or so I decided to go with what I called the StarFleet model; keyboard and mouse control. It was better, but I still had the mountain of keyboard combination I had to learn. It got easier to learn the commands, but all I really did was get really good with some commands and not understanding the subtleties of more effective commands.

The best example I have of this would be in dogfights. I could hold my own in a dogfight, but it was tough for me to lock onto a target and fire because I would look around to find the missiles, guns and then trying to track a moving target was another complication to the mix. I wouldn’t say I would fly and get lucky with shots, but luck was a big factor with my infrequent kills.

HCS Voice Pack Tom Baker (4th Doctor Who)

I found out about VoiceAttack and HCS Voicepacks. VoiceAttack is a program that link your voice to execute in game commands. Instead of searching for the key combination for locking missiles on a target then firing the missiles, I can say “Lock Target” and “Fire.” This set up is really StarFleet like because you can issue commands for tactical, power, shields and other options, allowing you to be very immersive in the game universe.

It is similar to Cortana for Windows, and at a cost of $10.00 it is an affordable option to making game play easier. This pack can also be used with other games.

To see the full potential of VoiceAttack, you need to build a profile. This can be an insurmountable task, but the work is made easy because there are number of free profiles available for the game. However, if you want to have interesting AI experience you’re going to want to buy a HCS Voicepack. The great geek selling point for this product is they got famous scifi luminaries to record the vocal tracks. How cool would it be for your AI to be William Shatner, John De Lancie or Brent Spiner? The way the packs are designed they can interact with thousands of situations, not just for voicing commands. They can relay information about star system within the game and other useful information.

Think how cool it would be to have Data as your AI companion? OK, of course he’s not Data from Star Trek, copyright infringement and all that, but he sounds an awful lot like Data.

Roccat Juke

For me, I REALLY wanted Paul Darrow (Avon) from Blake’s 7, however he was available for Elite Dangerous and not for Star Citizen. I came really close to choosing Brian Blessed, however is persona was based on an AI with lots of pop references. While at first hearing the bad puns and movie references spoken by Brian Blessed was cool (ex: Firing a missile one phrase he says is “Say hello to my little friend”) I could see in the long run I might get annoyed by it. My choice was Tom Baker because it was just right balance for me of familiarity. In other words, in the game immersion I could see traveling around with Doctor Who.

The gameplay is incredibly immersive for me. My gameplay style is focusing on secondary functions. For an example, back to the dogfight model, I can now verbally match the speed of the target while firing manually on guns to weaken shields. I can verbally launch missiles or shoot off counter measures. I can fly with AI assist effectively.

Sades SA-708 stereo gaming headphone

A piece of equipment I bought over three years ago, the SADES SA-708 gaming headphones and microphone, I am using now. I’m using this in conjunction with the Roccat Juke. Connecting the headphone to the Juke is incredible because the sound puts you in the game and the Roccat Juke enhances the sound on a budget. One drawback to Voicepack, as I had my setup initially, was my microphone was picking up words for other sources and sounding off commands. In some instances, it wouldn’t “hear” a command and I would have to get close to the mic for it to work. The headphones eliminated the problem the mic is close to the face. A great feature to the headphone is there is a switch to mute the mic. There is a command where you can tell the AI not to respond, but with a switch that’s very to do, plus you don’t forget what command is needed to reactivate the listening command.

 

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Wonder Woman and the New Standard

There have been lot of comments about the new Wonder Woman movie. I liked the movie, really enjoyed the story, action and I felt it was everything that is cool about current superhero movies. What I have been a bit uncomfortable about, as usual, has been reaction of what I would call flavor of the week supposed comic book people. You see lots of comments from these folks on social media, but some have filtered into traditional publications. For instance, USA Today has quite a number of stories over the weekend about the Wonder Woman movie.

One story asked, “Did ‘Wonder Woman’ really need a boyfriend?”

The Washington Post did one of those predictable “10 things you didn’t know about” stories about the Amazon princess. What a lot of these stories illustrates is the need to feel relevant and to lock on a trend. Now, the big meme is the supposed lack of female superheroes. It has been a notion promoted for years. Why are there no female superhero movies?

It’s not as simple as that, and you have to define what you mean by superhero in terms of a female character.

If your definition is the traditional tights and cowl variety, there are very few female superhero films, just as there are few minority films in general of the superhero variety. Whenever you talk about the success of superhero films in general, what has to be remembered is the rode to this renaissance of heroes is paved with many failures. For every Wonder Woman, there are tens of Catwoman, Elektra and Supergirl films. For every Superman there is Superman III, Superman IV and Steel.

There are lots of failed projects which looked like blockbusters on paper and many success stories that were questioned. How many rumors of failure were generated in the year before Wonder Woman became a hit? Some were subtle warning (Gal Gadot wasn’t superhero looking enough) some predicted utter disaster (massive rewrites and reshoots) and even after the film is a qualified hit, there are some second guessing ideas (the boyfriend question).

First of all, I would say enjoy the movie. I found it entertaining. Second, if you like the movie, that’s all that matters. Look, the Monday morning comic book fans are going to put in their 2 cents worth. They’re going to be hyped up, amped up, jazzed and proclaiming this the best movie ever . . . until six month to a year later they will claim another film captures the girl/woman power spirit. The larger question is will the film hold up over time? Superman the Movie and Superman II made us believe a man could fly, but by the Quest for Peace it would take decades to get some glimmer back to the franchise. Let’s enjoy the movie, but I think it is too early to anoint this film as the touchstone of female superheroes in cinema.

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Incident at the Phoenix Comic Con

At the last minute (yesterday morning) I was planning on attending, just for a few hours, the Phoenix Comic-Con. With the scare with my parents a few month, and because I couldn’t attend the San Diego convention, I figured a one day trip to the Phoenix convention would do some good. I didn’t plan on any events I wanted to see, no stars I wanted to meet; I was just going to bring a camera, take a few photos and enjoy the day off.

This afternoon, word got out that there was an encounter with a man at the convention who posted threats to the police. The man was taken down, no one was harmed. He had a number of real weapons on his person, including a shotgun.

A few things concerned me about the incident. A report said, “The man was wearing dark clothing but police didn’t say if it was dressed up as a character.” Now, this is really much ado about nothing, but I find it a little off putting that a person in dark clothing would be considered a possible character. To me, it’s that weird consideration about conventions and characters that fits a disturbing stereotype. Wouldn’t bright colors denote a character? Wouldn’t a logo, going with the dark theme, denote a character? Today I wore dark clothes to work, so if I had gone to the convention would I have been considered a person of interest?

Let’s be real, I wouldn’t have been a suspect and it is possible I’m being a bit silly. However, a lot of people, like my parents for example, aren’t going to know the intricacies of costume making, or the evolution of comics. They’re going to think about the silliness of grown men (and women) dressed up in costume and not being responsible adults. They’re going to snap guess and wonder could it happen somewhere else. They’re going to believe that only mentally disturbed people would dress up in black and want to hurt people.

A decision made because of the incident is the immediate banning of prop weapons. There will also be fewer entrances accessible and increased screenings. This is all being implemented in protecting guests and attendees of the convention, so the officials say. I can speak of “the good old days” where you could bring realistic weapons to a convention without an incident. I hated when “orange tips” were added to weapons and even bladed weapons, even if they were kept sheathed, were banned. I think, under the banner of public safety, more precautions will be made in favor of public safety. It is what it is, and I suspect more conventions will take up stronger safety measures to protect the public.

I always have to question “at what cost,” and the problem I have with that thinking, which I have to constantly remind myself, is that the world I remember isn’t the reality we have now. I don’t like the changes, I can question the changes, but I’m just one of a few people that remember “the old days.” When you have people in general spout the general line about public safety, it’s hard to argue the point when the truth is a person with weapons, threatening safety, had to be taken down by police. I can argue how much I hate the changes, but the incident happened, and if I were in their shoes, I would have buried my nostalgia and would have gone in favor of public safety.

I don’t like how the real world has marred this convention. I’ve had so many wake up calls the past few months and this event is another troubling reminder that the world is changing. I won’t say for better or worse because a seemingly bad incident can lead to a better and safer environment. The future is unclear of that.

I might change my mind. I might wake up this morning and just like a Vulcan afflicted with Pon farr, I might feel the urge to be among my people and journey home to geekdom.

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Finished Season One

I’ve been deep into the grind on the Star Citizen Fan Fiction project (I guess that’s the official title) and now I have time to take a break. One thing I have worried about on this project is I wouldn’t have the materials/articles available to keep up with a two-week schedule.

Well, I’m happy to report I’m finished with stage one!

This is world of Remitar Mizell; a freelance reporter for Whitworth Frazen Guttman Journal. Every two weeks he will explore the cultures, systems and conflicts in the UEE. From the music scene with media mogul Kuan Sioufas, life of a troubled young man to the death of a young woman in a small community, Remitar will take you into the lives and events of people in the UEE.

The goal for this project, in the first stage, was to lay out the groundwork for this little corner of the UEE. Like a television series, I would, as my character, report about events, but the small glimpses into my reports would reveal links, ideas and the framework for the larger environment.

I just finished season one, which is the way I want to describe it. It has been a challenge to find the right tone for the articles and move the larger story forward. Yes, there is a goal to the series and with season one, there is a hint to the larger narrative to these stories. For instance, Abdel SeVast mentions in his article about the changing music scene and corporate interest outweighing talent. With The Curatus and the Dibao, religion and small town politics lead to a cover up of a death. Within each article there are hints and clues to larger themes and they are revealed more clearly throughout the first season of articles.

Over the course of this season Remitar will take time to explore small events in the universe. Through the articles, you will get a glimpse into triumphs and tragedies facing everyday citizens and civilians in the UEE. You can find the series, with updates every two weeks, at: http://www.chaoticfringe.com/WFG/

 

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If You Don’t Expand the Base, Stunts Won’t Increase Sales

There was an article in the NY Times that focused on a comment made by an executive at Marvel Comics and used that as the tagline for slumping sales at Marvel, which laid the blame to slumping sales to the increase diversity of comic book characters. It was implied that the change in establish characters, such as the black Spiderman, the female Thor, the black female Iron Man and the Asian Hulk (NOTE: I didn’t know there was an Asian Hulk) was turning off customers and was a contributor to low sales of the books.

The statement and the article caused all sorts of debate with comic book fans.

Brian Hibbs of the Comix Experience stores in San Francisco explained in a paragraph or two the real reason for the slump, and it wasn’t due to comic book fans showing prejudice. The reason for the slump, Hibbs explained can be found in “the frequent restarting of series with new No. 1 issues; fan fatigue over storylines that promise changes but fail to deliver; and the introduction of a deluge of new series. There is also the expense of comic collecting.”

There was something else he stated that got me thinking about sales of comics in general. Hibbs said that he didn’t believe Marvel had more than one or two comics selling over 60000 to 70000 copies. It was shocking to me to hear those numbers because with graphic novels and especially media awareness of TV shows and movies I thought sales would be bigger on comics books.

In the mid-80s, when I did some part time work for a local comic book shop, I got looked on studying the order numbers the shop would have for comics. When the internet grew, those figures were available on line. A site called Comichron probably has the best estimated figures the public can have for sales on comics.

I decided to take a look at some quick sales information. Looking at December 2016, there were 26 comic book titles selling that had over 60000 orders. To be clear, these are orders; not returns or sales but orders that retailer placed for titles. There were 13 DC titles, 12 Marvel titles and 1 title from Image Comics, which was The Walking Dead. Justice League Suicide Squad from DC Comics had the most orders with 179643. In second with 167703 was the Marvel title IVX (Inhumans vs X-Men). I would not that the DC boon was listed at $3.99 and the Marvel book is listed at $5.99 so while DC got more units ordered Marvel, with the extra $2 per book, potentially made more money on their highest order for the month.

With Walking Dead coming in at 11 on the chart, I decided to use that as a benchmark for comparison. Walking Dead first appeared as a comic in October of 2003. I wanted to see what the numbers were for titles coming out in October of 2003 and for October 2013, which was the tenth anniversary for Walking Dead and when the publisher re-released the first issue in color.

In October of 2013, there were 23 titles with over 60000 in orders with Walking Dead 115 at the top of the heap with an impressive 310584, more than double that the leading DC and Marvel title respectively. Batman was number two at 124652 and Infinity from Marvel came in at number three with 113003. In this instance, it was DC that had the more expensive top title with a $6.99 cover price and Marvel was a $3.99 cover. DC had 8 titles with orders over 60000 while DC had 8. The Walking Dead anniversary edition came in number 50 on the chart with 39780 in orders. The Batman issue was a double sized issue and was part four of the Zero Hour storyline. What was interesting to me looking at the figures was Marvel was dominant on the charts, but I saw a number of DC books were in a slump due to their own revamping of the brand at the time. Two years earlier DC Comics began their New 52 project, which did some reimagining of characters, which was met with mixed reviews and slow sales. The core titles of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman strong to OK in sales, but books like Earth-2 and Mister Terrific stumbles or were canceled before the first year ended.

For October 2003, there were 25 comics that sold over 60000 and Marvel dominated the competition. A company called Dreamwave, publisher of Transformer comics at the time, had 2 titles of the 25, DC Comics had five titles with the Avengers/JLA the top orders with 167309. Marvel had 18 titles of the 25 with Amazing Spider-Man 500 coming in second with 148939. Take a notice that Amazing Spider-Man was on issue 500! Batman was in the top ten or orders at issue 640 at a little over 108000 in sales. Uncanny X-Men was at 13 unit at issue number 432. There were a lot of long running issues on the chart like Detective Comics 787 with 37881 in orders listed at 57, Fantastic Four 505 with 52854 at 36 and Action Comics 808 with 30981 at 75. The long run comics were doing decent sales at that time.

When I checked, the units ordered for October 2003, October 2013 and December 2016 things got odd to me. The sales are relatively the same for those time periods with October 2003 having 7.4 million orders, October 2013 with 7.7 million and December 2016 with 7.3 million for all comics ordered. What all comic companies are dealing with is the number of people buying comics hasn’t expanded. That hurts the entire industry when new buyers aren’t in the market.

All comic companies are trying to bring new readers into the market, but the efforts haven’t worked. There is a greater awareness of comic book characters because of mass media, yet that doesn’t translate to the shops consistently. A blub with Obama on the cover or a female Thor will get you talk about one day on The View (owned by parent company ABC) but a one note blurb isn’t going to sustain you, especially if the same comic shop people will ultimately be the ones who will give repeat business.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – U-wing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Wing Wave 9 – Rebel designation – high performance transport vessel. From Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. New purchase for the collection.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Sabine’s TIE Fighter

X-Wing Wave 9 – Rebel designation – TIE fighter captured by Sabine Wren that she modified with a unique paint scheme. From Star Wars: Rebels. New purchase for the collection.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Shadow Caster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Wing Wave 9 – Scum and Villainy designation – This ship is owned by Ketsu Onyo, a bounty hunter in the employ of Black Sun and an old friend of Sabine Wren. From Star Wars: Rebels, New purchase for the collection.

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No Love for Rory and Snart on The Talk

I get disappointed when talk shows, especially mid-morning puffy shows like The Talk, have guests from genre shows. My geek side hopes for some geek love from the hosts but what usually happens is the hosts prove they have no knowledge of the genre past the information printed on their cards.

On The Talk, they had a guest line up that was geek and CW heaven. Lynda Carter, from Wonder Woman fame, was on the program promoting a new live concert she was doing. After the perfunctory Wonder Woman love fest given by the hosts, the hosts did mention the Wonder Woman movie and her recent appearance as the President on Supergirl. They talked about her reveal as an alien and Carter kind of gave a hint as to the design of the character.

Lynda Carter was the last guest on the show, and for me it made up for what I considered the missed opportunity with the previous guests; Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. Both appeared and discussed the show Prison Break: Resurrection. Judging by the standing ovation from the audience and the breathless questions from the hosts, the two men were favorites. The story gave by Dominic about the female stalker in the grocery store and Wentworth’s story about a Mariah Carey were hilarious. The story about the injury Dominic sustained on filming Prison Break got a lot of gasps and respectful applause.

All through the interview segment with the two men, I got the feeling that the hosts had no idea what the two had been up to between Prison Break. I got the impression the hosts assumed they were working on other thinks and the return to Prison Break was a reunion for the two actors. There was no mention of DCs Legends of Tomorrow, no mention of Wentworth’s character returning to the show, thus reuniting the two actors. I must assume the research department on The Talk was aware of DCs Legends of Tomorrow, if for no other reason than they knew about Lynda Carter on Supergirl and had a clip from this week’s episode. This is the second season of DCs Legends of Tomorrow and Snart, Wentworth’s character that died at the end of last season, has had a recurring role this season.

The production staff talked about the Mariah Carey music video as if it was something shot last year. I Googled and saw that he worked with Mariah Carey on two videos in 2005. Prison Break premiered in 2005 and ended in 2009. Both have worked periodically since Prison Break but it was The Flash then DCs Legends of Tomorrow that had the two back together and both consistently on the screen.

Now, I don’t think their appearances on the two CW superhero shows got people at Fox thinking they should revive Prison Break, but to not acknowledge the work they did on the two CW superhero shows is a minor insult to my geek mind. It’s a disregard to a show that has a good fan base and might get those fans to watch Prison Break: Ressurrection. To the screaming Prison Break fans in the audience of The Talk, maybe saying that the two men they had been screaming and fawning over were on another show might make them watch DCs Legends of Tomorrow. They showed Lynda Carter on Supergirl, and she’s a reoccurring character. If the audience loves the two men show up, they can watch Prison Break, then watch DCs Legends of Tomorrow for their fill of Miller and Purcell.

I think it would have been nice, considering the years these two actors have worked on DCs Legends of Tomorrow, if the show had gotten a shout out by the hosts of The Talk.

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