Monday, January 6, 2014

Signing Off

Well that was rude of me wasn't it? Disappearing for over 2 years without a word of goodbye? Shameful, and I would like to apologise for simply stopping, rather than putting this blog to bed properly as I should have done. This is not me starting Cryonite Cove up again, I'm just doing what I should have done once I stopped playing Pirate Galaxy (PG).

So why did I stop? Well one of my later posts was probably direct from my sub-conscious. I fell for another game. I knew it would happen, people change, and it's not PG, it's me. So who was the sexy young slut who led me astray? Well actually it was a mature older game with many miles on the clock, but still with a host of old flames and admirers, a classic, F.E.A.R.

Many years ago, before PG and I even met, I bought F.E.A.R. when it was a stunning young debutante, only to discover that my PC of the time wouldn't run it. I learnt the lesson of reading the required specs before shelling out on a new game, and put F.E.A.R. in a drawer. After 2+ happy years with PG, which is probably my longest relationship with any game, I started wanting something new, something fresh. I remembered that tasty morsel hibernating in its drawer, and loaded it up. After all it's just one date right? It was not as if it meant anything, no one would get hurt. Well one taste of F.E.A.R. and it was all over between me and PG. No row, no fight or break up, I just walked out and haven't been back since.

So are me and PG still friends? Well for my part yes. We were together for longer that I've probably been with any other game. I had a great time and would recommend it to anyone as a quality, enjoyable, well run and fully supported browser game. (At least it was, and I have faith it still is.) It's got a great community and is genuinely free. I did start to pay cash towards the end, which in hindsight that was probably me trying to bring a little spice back into our relationship.

What PG thinks of me I don't know. I see it post on Facebook once in a while and it seems to have moved on with its life. I doubt if we'd even recognised each other if we met up again. We're two different people now. No regrets, no recriminations.

Me and F.E.A.R? Well it didn't last that long to be honest. I was infatuated, and it's still the only game that ever made me shout out in terror. That moment when you turn to go down the ladder and you see...Brrr! Still gives me shivers. I played the story through and loved it, but starting over at a higher difficulty level didn't do it for me. I moved on again, and me and Skyrim shared 12 months of beautiful adventure. Main quest done I did restart with another character, but then Football Manager 2013 came into my life and that's who I spend my time with now. We've been together for over a year, probably because leading Birmingham City F.C. to win the Premiership title is flipping hard.

So that's why Cryonite Cove went quiet for so long. I moved on and didn't want to talk about it here. Why? I actually felt guilty. I loved writing this blog and didn't want to say goodbye, plus so many read and followed it (some still do going by the hit count) I felt like I was letting them down. In fact by just stopping, I probably did. Sorry, again.

However I didn't stop writing, and have now published my own book on Kindle. You wouldn't like it, but just in case you're interested it's called Hiding. That's the UK link, for the US it's here. For other countries just change the .com or to whatever's appropriate, as long as Amazon is there, then hopefully so is Hiding. I've also dipped my toe into the Twittersphere and actually quite like it. I'm @stephenallsop1 if that's how you roll. I may well kick start my old personal blog too, but I'll probably tweet that when I'm there.

Did I just come back to plug my book? No, I came to do the decent thing, but while I was here it seemed too good a chance to miss.

Well that's it, I'm done. I feel much better for closing up shop in a more gentlemanly fashion. The last thing to do is to say thanks.

Thanks to you for reading. I appreciate the support, and I'll always be touched that so many took the time to drop by.

Thank you to Pirate Galaxy, a great game. It was fun.

One last thought, Some romances are destined to be rekindled. Never say never.

Friday, September 2, 2011

'To Mantis Stronghold'

The Moustache King
The preceding story mission was: 'Colonial Counterattack'

The following story mission is: 'Probing The Enemy'

Another travelling mission. Just how many are there in the Vega storyline? One way to bulk up the total I suppose.

General Walter Victory has a word, telling you to get yourself over to Aurora orbit and await further orders. He's a bit sniffy about the fact that Natassia gave you the Colonial ship Blueprints (BPs) but seeing as how you have them you might as well buy one and kit it out. You've probably done so by now but good advice none the less.

Natassia reminds you that you may need to explore the route to Aurora first. Once you get there she says that she half expected you to do a runner and desert, so she's glad to see you. Allow yourself a small blush at her approval and the mission is done.

So now you have Aurora to plunder. Loads of white missions and the chance to find Rare BPs too. I decided that my first action would be to tackle the Defend Energy Collector mission. Why? Well when you arrive at a new planet the first order of business is to find the nearest energy field. Often they are a distance from the Landing Zone (LZ) and it's not easy to find them. If you take the Defend Energy Collector mission, then it will lead you straight to one. Cunning eh? Of course it turns out that the LZ on Aurora is right in the middle of an energy field so my brilliant idea fell rather flat. Mark my words though, one day, deeper into Pirate Galaxy, that tip will pay off.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Clan of 1

I find myself as the Admiral of an empty clan.

For a long time I was a member of The Ghost Warriors, a fine clan with helpful members and a relaxed atmosphere. The founder was an old buddy of mine which is why I joined, but he left a while ago. Since then the clan got a little thinner but the new leadership were still a good bunch.

A few weeks back the founder contacted me and asked me to join his new clan, The Order Of Heroes. I felt a little guilty about leaving the Ghosts but still said yes. There were half a dozen members or so and I was made to feel welcome.

Life is very busy at the moment so it was a few days before I logged back on. When I did I found that everyone had left the clan but me. What did I do? Does my ship give off poisonous fumes, do I emit dangerous geek rays?  I've no idea what happened, but as the only member I found myself as the Admiral of my own clan.

Now this is cool in some ways. For example I now have a Blue Tail.

I can also fly to Vega and pilot the conquest ship. That was a lot less exciting than I hoped. Maybe if I actually took part in a conquest rather than just hung about in orbit.

Now I really should just disband the clan, as I have no real interest in conquests or being an Admiral. However it seems a shame to let the 3,610 crystals and 61 log files in the clan fund go to waste. Anybody want to take it off my hands? You can join and I'll just leave, making you the new Admiral. This outstanding offer is for a short period only, because sooner or later I'll just have enough and go Ronin again.

Well at least I can say that I had my own clan, if only for a little while. Fear my Blue Tail.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'Molikar Search'

The preceding story mission was: 'Gaining Entry'

The following story mission is: 'Jogging Memory'

Time to see if the crazy theory, seat of the pants engineering and cunning flying has delivered the goods. Let's find out if that modified Fusion Drive will stop the Molikar Long Range Guns (LRGs) blasting you from the skies.

Fly to Molikar and try for the surface. Natassia tels you that Ethan Copernicus will meet you and help in the search for Vicius The Mutilator and the imperilled Rosebud. Now I don't feel that it would be a significant spoiler to say that you do reach the surface of Molikar safely. I'd have been more than a little cheesed off if the last few missions had been nothing but a wild goose chase.

Strangely though, Ethan lands scant seconds after you do, in a borrowed ship named Freedom's Force2. What the hey? Where did he get a modified fusion drive from? Did he get the first one off a production line that chugged into life after your prototype was built? I don't remember seeing him doing any of the legwork? Why didn't he test the damn thing by going first? He's to blame for all this anyway the bearded buffoon. Mutter, grumble...

Okay calm down, it's only a game. Ethan has a few areas of interest to search, and to be fair he does come along and absorb a lot of Mantis hate as you go. Eventually you find a confused amnesiac in a damaged ship. The Mantis are all over him so you have to kill them quick. When he's temporarily safe, the mystery man tells you that his ship needs an orbital thrust engine so it can break into orbit. Ethan stays with the poor soul as you search the one area the amnesiac has not yet checked.

In my first try at this mission the amnesiac was destroyed quickly. In my second try Ethan did a poor job of protecting him and he was killed just as I saw an object on my scanner. Third time was the charm though and I found the engine he needed. Mystery man must be related to Montgomery Scott because in seconds his ship is repaired and streaking up, up and away.

Next you have to return to Baumar and escort the amnesiac to Jogan, which isn't too difficult. Ethan and Natassia then wring their hands over the fate of Rosebud and the mystery man. Enough of this! Next mission.

Monday, August 15, 2011

'Colonial Counterattack'

Oh the warm glow of belonging
The preceding story mission was: 'Alerting Colonials'

The following story mision is: 'To Mantis Stronghold'

You've reached the orbit of Axiom, and Tobias has a final word before you get down to the surface. It seems that the Colonials don't know about the attack on Lyris so you have to warn them. Ivanova is at Administration City so find her there. He also generously says that he now respects you after your recent heroic exploits.

Finding Ivanaova is easy enough, and she's already told General Walter Victory of the Mantis attack so he's now preparing a head on attack. Go and find him at military HQ. On meeting the General all I could think was, 'What a Fantastic moustache.' All he could think was, 'Conscripted pirate scum.' Fair enough I suppose, considering.

He's prepared to give you a try as a messenger though. He sends you to deliver the call to arms to four bases. Off you go to reach the four Colonial Guard outposts at the cardinal compass points around the city, but you have to do it in under five minutes. I was in my Shock Speed Stun so this was the perfect mission.

I streaked away to the first base, using the Speed Actuator to let me use the Afterburner more often. No problem this mission. The Guards are keen to fight, so after you deliver the message to each base they fly off towards their HQ. After you've done all four bases, go back to the HQ yourself.

The General is impressed with your flying, and might be inclined to try your fighting skills later. He announces that it's war and there's a Mantis attack force on Aurora. It's time for revenge.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

27th July Update

The core of the latest Pirate Galaxy (PG) update was v2.0 of the achievement system. Splitscreen described it as a new system but I think that's a bit of a stretch. Some new achievements have been added, such as Grand Explorer, and some bugs have been fixed.

Best of all you can now find out what elements of the Blueprint (BP), missions and zone visited achievements you are missing. I've posted before about the need for this so I'm glad to see it at last. Before this update I was 1 short of having all the Gemini BPs, but had no idea what it was. I had assumed that it was a Shock ship Gemini BP as I didn't have a Shock so couldn't see BPs such as Stun Charges or Speed Actuators. I could see the Tank, Storm and Engineer BPs and I had all of the Gemini versions of those. I even wrote a list of all the Gemini Shock BPs and had gone through the system collecting at least one of each to discover which was missing. When I found that I had all of them I was not happy and assumed that either it was a bug or perhaps a paint job BP that I hadn't found.

Then came Achievements v2.0 and I found that it was a Warping Aim Scrambler. How a BP that you collect in Antares can be the missing Gemini BP I've no idea. Still it only took me 5 minutes to get to Terasa and collect via the deaths of a few level 19 Avengers. At last, the Gemini BP Collector achievement was mine.
Update: In the changelog for August 11th 2011 it says 'Fixed a bug in the achievement Gemini Blueprint Collector that caused it to also require Antares blueprints.' Well that resolves that problem. Thanks to whoever read here then went and got it fixed.

Every time I get a new achievement I check my position in the Hall Of Fame. At that time I was number 1,086 so the top 10 don't have to worry yet. However the Hall Of Fame ladder has a flaw. For some reason there is a cut off of some sort at 1,018. See the screen grab. I'm on the lower side of the cut off so should actually be some places higher. I'll try not to sulk until Splitscreen fixes this.

Update: I've recently realised that the names in the ladder at the top of the second section are all GMs. It seems that they are causing some sort of log jam in the ladder.

Friday, July 22, 2011

'Gaining Entry'

Are you lot ignoring me?
The preceding story mission was: 'Back to Mizar'

The following story mission is: 'Molikar Search'

Now then, this is a good 'un. At first glance it seems identical to 'Testing Aggro' but it's a lot tougher. While I was playing this there was a large squadron howling in frustration as they failed again and again. I can understand why, and I bet it's driven many a player to distraction.

I played it solo and in my first 8 attempts failed, by trusting to skill, judgement and luck. Then I realised that there is a systematic method of working out The Solution. In the next 8 runs in zeroed in on three numbers which would allow anyone to nail this blighter. Am I going to tell you what those three numbers are? No. Of course not. However I will tell you how to discover and apply them yourself. Then if you want to be a spoil sport and blab them all round Mizar then that's up to you.

The aim of the mission is to get three different Mantis types to damage the Aggro Beacon (AB) Layla Hornblower built for you. As on Terasa, you must get the AB to receive damage within a maximum and minimum value in 60 seconds. It's harder this time though as the Mantis are tougher. That means that the damage accumulates quicker and it's harder to stop it by fragging the Mantis. However Layla saw fit to install the AB with a Repair Droid (R2 unit), which is the key to beating this mission. You activate it by scanning the AB.

You are given directions to three locations where the following happens

  1. The AB is attacked by 4 level 35 Detonators and requires between 50% and 65% damage.
  2. The AB is attacked by 4 level 35 Marauders and requires 65% to 85% damage.
  3. The AB is attacked by 4 level 35 Pyros and requires between 80% and 90% damage.
In my first attempts I just tried to judge when I should start attacking the Mantis, hoping to kill the last when the damage was in the required range. However there were too many variables. Sometimes I got few critical hits and the Mantis lasted longer doing too much damage. Other times they did damage quicker, or slower which was just as bad. Half the time I got the Detonator attack right, but then I'd fail in the Marauder attack and have to start again. Luckily failing does not get you podded, so failure is free.

Once I realised that the variation in the Mantis and my own attacks was the problem, I came up with a theory.   If I stopped attacking the Mantis then that removed one variable completely. Second, if all 4 Mantis were allowed to attack the AB then the damage they inflicted, though greater and quicker, would be more consistent and easier to gauge. Third, the R2 unit is very consistent. I could turn it on exactly when I wanted, it always runs for 15 seconds, and it repairs damage at a fixed rate. 

Bare with me, I'm getting there. 

The practical application of this geeky variation theory is this. As the Mantis attack the AB, select it and leave the mission sidebar open, as in the screen shot above.  Watch the 60 second countdown (between the cryonite reward figure and the % complete figure) and when it gets to whatever number feels lucky to you (50 for example) scan the AB to start the R2 unit. The AB will repair faster than it's damaged and by the time it runs out it will be back at 100%. That leaves the Mantis what ever time is left in the countdown to damage the AB. So if you started the R2 unit at 50 seconds then the Mantis will have 35 seconds to damage the AB. Don't fire on them. When the timer runs out you will be told if the AB unit took too much, too little or a Goldilocks amount of damage. If the AB unit took too much then next time start the R2 unit a few seconds later. If it took too little, then start the droid a few seconds earlier. If the damage is just right then remember that number for the next attempt and move on to the next attack. 

There is still variation of course, so if in one run the Detonator attack worked with a 45 second start, then it may fail at 45 seconds in a later run. If so, just move the start by plus or minus 1 second. It just means that you are at the edge of the required range and need to nudge nearer to the middle. 

I've tried explaining that as clearly as I can without telling you the answer so I hope it makes sense. 

When I worked out my three numbers, which are the points in the countdowns to start the Repair Droid, I felt extremely smug. I'm sure others got there earlier and quicker, but I don't care. It's nice to beat a mission through using your brain every once in a while.