Star Citizen – Arena Commander and First Person Shooter updates.

Hello everyone.

This is another short blog espousing on the merits of the work being done on Star Citizen. The Arena Commander module is getting a major update with control function and interface changes. The FPS module is shaping up to be quite entertaining as well. You will be able to do combat in zero g! That’s right! Zero g!

This was all released at the recent PAX in Australia Event. i would say more, but I think it best to let the devs speak for themselves. Watch below, I think that you’ll really enjoy it! Until next time!

 

 

M.I.A. but still in the fight!

Hello everyone!

I’ve been away for a week playing through the Delta Rising storyline. It’s been a blast, but it’s also very time consuming. This is just to let everyone know that I’ll be back soon! In the meantime, however, here’s another video from Star Trek Online. It’s features the returning actors from Star Trek: Voyager! Enjoy!

Until next time!

Ian

Star Citizen – Citizen Con – Reveals and much more!

Hello everyone!

Star Citizen’s birthday was October 10th. Coincidentally my sister’s birthday as well. Anyway, It was a great time. All of the developers were there, from all the studios from around the world. They introduced new content, ships and other great things. There will be more on that in the future. They debuted a new ship commercial and the first taste of the Persistent Universe or PU. Take a look at these! They’re AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Until next time!!!!

Ian

Star Trek Online Delta Rising – All new content to experience and to explore!

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to my next installment of reporting. Star Trek Online is a F2P (free to play) game that has been around for about four years or so, now. The game is set 30 years after the last Next Generation film Star Trek: Nemesis. This places it in the year 2409. For most of the games history it has stayed in that year. Season 9: A New Accord, finally advanced it to 2410. That’s when Delta Rising takes place.

There’s so much new content, ships, maps characters, etc., that it’s a lot to take in in one sitting. This is my first introduction, so I’ll be brief. Besides, the old saying still holds true. A picture is worth a thousand words. I’ll give you a narrated movie that explains some of the details and content of the new expansion pack. Enjoy! There will be more to come later! Until next time!

Ian

Space Simulator Games – Realistic Space Simulators – Part Two

Hello everyone! It’s time to continue your education! The second of my two realistic space sims is called Kerbal Space Program (also known as KSP). It’s a spaceflight simulator developed by Squad. It’s now in public alpha testing for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This one however is not a freeware program. It must be purchased. The cost is $27 at the moment. Is it worth the price? I believe that it is. You not only get to learn about aeronautical engineering and spaceflight, but you are also helping with the development of another real educator. And they said that you can’t learn anything from games! Sheesh!

Unlike Orbiter, this actually takes place on another world with little green men called Kerbals. They have a completely functional spaceport ( AKA Kerbal Space Center or KSC) on their homeworld that’s called Kerbin. It’s very Earth like so we have a place of reference. Realistic????? With Aliens?????????? I know, it’s a bit of a stretch, but what you can do and learn is really the star of the simulation.

You as the player have to construct rockets and spaceplanes from a set of parts that are provided in game. Once the vehicle(s) are constructed, they are launched from the launch pad or runway (depending on whether it’s a rocket or spaceplane). The goal is to make sure that the flight goes successfully without catastrophic failure. This easier said than done. The player has many variables to monitor and this includes the understanding of orbital mechanics. The game has a “learning curve” that’s very high, indeed. That being said, it’s not without merit.

There are also many missions that can be flown from going into orbit to landing on other planets and spacestations in the fictional solar system. The player determines the difficulty of the missions beforehand. You also choose the components, skill of the astronauts and the game mode. There are three game modes available. Sandbox mode, Science mode and Career mode. In the first players are free to play any mission without penalty for failure. In the second, the initial selection of parts is limited with more and advanced parts being unlocked via “science”. The third allows players to build upon the science mode by having funds, reputation and contracts. The contracts are completed to earn more funds in game.

As with Orbiter, real life spacecraft and their missions can be created in KSP. But unlike Orbiter, there are several inaccurate physics issues. This makes the game less accurate as a simulator, but it still allows a player to learn what it takes to run a successful space program. You can learn about the construction and the flight of a spacecraft from a “game”! This alone makes it worth the purchase. It is also fully modable. Meaning that you can download or add your own parts and craft. There’s even a mod that has full support from NASA. The Asteroid Mission Pack (update 23.5). So it’s acknowledged by a real world spaceflight entity! You can obtain it here: https://kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php

Try it. It may be frustrating and a bit tough at first, but if you stick with it, the results will be most rewarding. I mean really, who hasn’t dreamed of running their own space program? Until next time!

 

Space Simulator Games – Realistic Space Simulators – Part One

Hello everyone! I wanted to chat with you today about space simulators. I know that I’ve mentioned things like Star Citizen, Star Trek Online and No Man’s Sky. These are realistic in a sense that they use real world physics to models their movement and such. Star Citizen is the best at this so far. They are unreal in the sense that are set far in the future and have alien races and such (not that I don’t believe in the existence of such beings mind you). So most people would say that they’re examples of speculative fiction at best and just video gaming fun at worst.

I would like to introduce two space simulators for the PC that are realistic in scope and that actually teach you about aero/astronautics. These games are Orbiter and Kerbal Space Program. Each teaches you how to fly with real world physics (AKA Newtonian Physics) and the movement of the vehicles is absolutely real. It may be a tad disappointing for many fans of the Star Trek and Star Wars genres. Things won’t move as you would expect. This is a good thing, though. It’s good to see how real life works.

I’ll start with Orbiter. It’s a free to download simulator. It was created by Martin Schweiger. A senior researcher in the computer science department of University College London. He thought that existing simulators were bereft of a real world physics model. He decided to create one that not only had the proper physics engine, but was also a fun way to learn about physics as well. It’s such a good teacher of the aforementioned concepts, that it’s been used in classrooms to teach students. It also has a voracious community of modders who have added real life and fictional spacecraft and other vehicles, planets and even solar systems! It does include several real world and some fictional spacecraft. You’ll have to download the Orbiter sounds add-on for sound, though.

The amount of downloadable content is truly staggering. There are sounds, buildings, spaceports, vehicles, cities and towns, etc. You name it and it has probably available. There are even several models from famous sci-fi series! It’s a must have for any fan of space. Real or imagined.  You can download it here: http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/ A great place for the add-on content is here: http://www.orbithangar.com/ Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. You will even learn something, too!

Beta Testing Weekend Part Three – The Search For Me!

Konban wa minnasan! Ian desu.

Star Trek Online is a game that’s been out for nearly four years now. I’ve been playing it for about that long. There have been many improvements to it in that time. The first “big” update was last year with the “Legacy Of Romulus” expansion pack. It allows players to actually have Romulan characters (instead of just Klingon and Federation). It also introduced the Romulans as a playable faction. You could play a Klingon from Level 0 to 50 at long last (instead of having to play a Federation character to level 20 and then being able to unlock the Klingon faction).

It was the biggest addition to the game to date. Then came Season 9.0 and 9.5 which built on the previous seasons to enhance the game with new abilities. powers and ships. Each “season” is an enhancement that improves the game. They are like the seasons of a Star Trek series and meant to give the game that feel.

  • Star Trek Online – Game launch – Feb 02, 2010
  • Season 1: Common Ground – PvP (Player vs. Player), new fleet actions, more customization options – Mar24, 2010
  • Season 2: Ancient Enemies – Level cap increase (40- 50), Tier 5 ships, new content (Undine Advance, Klingon Sector, Diplomacy missions) – July 27, 2010
  • Season 3: Genesis – The Foundry ( Beta), Sector Space graphics revamp (The Foundry allows players to create their own stories and content using in game assets) – Dec 09, 2010
  • Season 4: Crossfire – Ground combat revamp,  UI (User Interface) update, revamp of First City (on the Klingon homeworld Qonos ( pronounced Chronos) Jul 07, 2011
  • Season 5: Call To Arms – Defera Adventure Zone, Duty Officer system, skill revamp and STF (Special Task Force) overhaul – Dec 01, 2011
  • Season 6: Under Siege – Fleet Advancement system (including fleet ships and missions), Nukara adventure zone – Jul 12, 2012
  • Season 7: New Romulus – New Romulus adventure zone, Reputation system and Tau Dewa sector block – Nov 13, 2012
  • Expansion: Legacy Of Romulus -Playable Romulan faction (with its own ships, missions and hubs), Klingon missions for Level 1 – 20, Nimbus adventure zone, UI revamp, New ship equipment slot: Warp Core/ Singularity Core – May 21, 2013
  • Season 8: The Sphere – Voth (enemy faction) and reputation faction, Dyson Sphere  space adventure zone and ground battlezone – Nov 12, 2013
  • Season 8.5: 4th anniversary with new Feature mission, Klingon War revamp, starship switching mechanics – Jan 30, 2014
  • Season 9: A New Accord – A new feature mission advancing the timeline from 2409 to 2410, space battlezone, Borg Advance revamp, revamp of reputation system, traits and kits – Apr 22, 2014
  • Season 9.5: Crafting revamp – Jul 21, 2014
  • Expansion: Delta Rising – Level cap increase (50 – 60), Tier 6 ships and Mk XIII-XIV gear, addition of Delta Quadrant – Oct 14, 2014

The new expansion will be the largest and most ambitious addition to date. It will feature lots of new content. It’s been really fun Beta testing it so far. I can’t reveal all of what I’ve experienced due to a contract that swears me to secrecy. But suffice it to say that I’ve been impressed. The game has had actors from many of the Star Trek series and films. Delta Rising is no different. Most of the cast of Star Trek: Voyager have signed on to do the voice over work.

The game is set 30 years after the last prime universe film Star Trek: Nemesis which premiered almost 12 years ago. It gives the devs a bit of wiggle room to make new stories and such. It does some things very well. The old exploration system (that has been removed for a future revamp) was very good at making you feel like you’re exploring the great unknown. Some of the combat, though, not so much. The game is heavily biased toward damage dealing. So ships and characters with that profession are in high demand with most players. It’s a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Most have the trinity of Damage dealer (DPS Damage Per Second), Tank (able to absorb tremendous amounts of damage and to survive), and the healer.

Star Trek is a hybrid of this as any profession can do most of the jobs of the other two. The professions are as follows: Tactical (DPS and damage dealing), Engineering (Tanking) and Science a weird hybrid of damage and healing. The ships also fit those career paths, but any captain can use any type of ship. Escorts are tailor made for damage. Cruisers are for tanking and Science vessels are in between. Each has strengths and weaknesses to exploit. It’s up to the captain (what all player characters are in the game) to learn how to best use and equip the ship.

I’m an engineer in a science ship for instance. Great fun! If you haven’t played STO, you should give it a try. I believe that you’ll have fun and it can be tailored to any sort of play style. Come see me online. My handle is Ian Barrett Carpenter@WraithFSC. Check out this link for more detailed information: http://sto.gamepedia.com/Main_Page  Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave any comments! See you out there!

 

Beta Testing Weekend Part Two – The testing strikes back!

Hello everyone!

As you you know, I have been vigorously testing Star Citizen and Star Trek Online for the past week or so, now. Both have been fun and rewarding. It’s really great to be a part of the development process for two fun games. I will begin with my Star Citizen experience.

Version 0.9 as it’s known, is a big enhancement to the game.  In particular, to Arena Commander AKA the “Dogfight Module”. It has new game modes and changes for better game balance and of course the requisite bug fixes. The first is GREAT fun! Racing!

New Game Modes

Racing

The new racing mode allows you to take part in the prestigious Murray Cup.  A famous and dangerous part of the Star Citizen lore. It has its own map called New Horizons. It’s an upper atmosphere map that allows you to compete against other players or AI (Artificial Intelligence) competitors.  Do you have what it takes to bring home the Murray Cup?

Vanduul Swarm Co-op mode

The Vanduul are an agressive alien race that is one of the denizens of the Star Citizen universe. Huge and aggressive aliens that threaten humanity’s survival. You can now team up with up to three of your friends to fight the in Arena Commander. Teamwork will be key for survival against the Vanduul Horde.

Friend Codes

This allows players to team up with their friends in Arena Commander in the game’s coop modes. Racing, Capture The Core and Vanduul Swarm are all included. A game is always much more fun with friends along for the journey. This allows the game to have a real sense of community.

Leaderboards

Players will now have a way to track and see who is truly the best. No more bragging without being able to “put up or shut up”! It also allows the game to introduce the web-game connection that’s key to many of Star Citizen’s features that are yet to arrive!

Module Improvements

Two New Flyable Ships Are Included!

The Origin M 50 Interceptor and the Origin 350R are now able to be flown in all of Arena Commander’s flight modes. Great news for all who’ve pledged for these two ships. You now actually get to FLY them!

New And Updated Hangars With Hangar Selection

The old hangars (Starting, Business and Deluxe) have been completely revamped. There are now actually four available hangars. The newest addition is the Asteroid or “Pirate” hangar. These are what will be in the persistent universe in Star Citizen. They look AMAZING! If you have the highest tier hangar which is the Asteroid, you can choose any of the lower level hangars. You now have a choice as how you want your hangar to look. The four are as follows: Self Land, Aeroview, Revel and York and the Asteroid.

Game Improvements

Six Degrees Of Freedom

This will allow players to actually move along every axis. It will make the flight simulation much more real and accurate to how flight in space would truly be.

New Control Schemes

Players now have the choice to choose from several preset control schemes instead of the default for all control interfaces (mouse and keyboard, gamepad and HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick). The latter also supports rudder pedals! This will allow CIG to introduce customization for all control interfaces. It’s planned to be released in a later patch.

HUD Improvements

The Head Up Display (or HUD for short) is being updated. The navigation in the window has become more usuer friendly and allows navigation with the mouse cursor. Hotkeys are also being added for the ship’s power and shield allocation so it can be done on the fly while in combat.

Lead Target Indicator

The HUD will now feature this. This is what real life fighters use to shoot their guns. The computer shows you where to aim in order to place your ordinance in front of the target so that it can be hit. You “lead” the bullets so that the target flies into them. You don’t shoot directly at a target (unless it’s flying directly towards or away from you) you always “lead” it. This change means that you will need  more skill to hit the targets now which is more realistic and more fun!

Fixed Weapons And Convergence

With the introduction of the LTI, Class one weapon mounts are fixed. They no longer gimbal (pivot). They do now properly converge based on the range to the LTI  to insure that if you aim properly, you won’t miss the target. Nice feature, indeed!

Improved Ship Performance

The top speed of every ship has been increased by a factor of two. Effectively doubling the speed. The afterburners have been changed to increase acceleration instead of top speed. You can now temporarily boost the maneuvering thrusters to quickly stop angular velocity. This means that you can have more control, in a tight turn for example, at the expense of fuel usage. It should lead to some interesting strategies on how to best use this new feature!

Improved Sound

New sound effects have been added to the game to improve the player’s experience in the ‘verse! The ships, weapons and the environments have all been completely updated with the new effects. Also the older effects have been revamped so that they are of the same quality as the new.

There have been two patch releases since this was introduced.  Arena Commander patch 13.01 and 13.02 have been released to fix bugs and control pad issues. The team has been hard at work to make this game a real success. A new lore building section has been released to make the game richer. It’s your chance to add to the ‘verse! If you haven’t pledged yet, now is a great time to do so. You can back a great game and enjoy all that I’ve blogged about. Stay tuned for Part San coming tomorrow! Of course feel free to ask any questions or to leave any comments. They’re always welcome! Until then everyone! Ja ne!

 

Beta testing weekend!

Hello everyone! I don’t have the usual blog this week. I spent the weekend alpha testing V 0.9 in Star Citizen and beta testing Star Trek Online’s new expansion module Delta Rising! I’ll have more news for you in the coming days so stay tuned and see you very soon with an update on both!

Cheers!

Ian

P.S. Happy birthday Mom! 🙂

No Man’s Sky – What space games should be about.

Hello everyone. This is to inform you about a new game that’s coming sometime next year. It promises to be an expansive (by expansive I mean practically limitless) game that allows the player to travel throughout the cosmos exploring all that is seen. That’s right. All that is seen. If you leave from a planet ( Earth for example) and look up to see the moon, you can head there and explore it fully. All with no cut scenes or loading screens. You will approach the planet in real time, enter the atmosphere and head towards the surface. If there’s an ocean, you can actually travel in and beneath it to the very bottom.

Think about this for a minute… You can go anywhere and explore everything that you encounter. This is Star Trek to a “T”. How many of us have dreamed of this possibility? No limits and a universe to explore? Sign me up immediately.It will feature a procedurally generated open universe. In video game mechanics this means that content is generated with algorithms  instead of artists creating and placing the content by hand. So all of the graphic content that a game may need is generated by the computer, instead of the content being prerendered by the artists before the game ships.

This is HUGE! Games will no longer have to worry about space constraints on the disc when the majority of the content is created by the computer. Certain objects will still be rendered by artist, and it frees up the ability to model more unique objects while allowing the computer to generate the more mundane things needed. It’s really a big step for gaming and for gamers alike.

It’s being created by Hello Games. It’s a British company that has its headquarters in Guildford, England. They’re known for the Joe Danger series of games. Checkout their website here: http://www.hellogames.org/. This game is being optimized for the PlayStation 4 console. It’s also scheduled to be released for Microsoft Windows at a later time. This looks to be something truly wonderful in the space sim genre. I’m looking forward to its release and will keep you informed. Any comments or questions are welcome! Until next time!