Author Archives: HeadBurro Antfarm

About HeadBurro Antfarm

Explorer. Wit. Bon Vivant. Gazelle. Sun God. Some of these are true and one is only half true... Read my "About..." page here: http://headb

Exploring the Big Black: Mystery ship explodes, Cmdr Gearwright scratches head.

So there I was, flitting between stations on the usual low-profit, low-risk trade runs when I saw a hauler lift off from a landing pad away up the curve to my right. I watched as it rose above the pad control tower and into the middle of the station’s traffic lane before slowly moving towards the exit. As I had been musing about what other ships looked like close up as they flew about and entered supercruise and hyperspace I decided to follow & shadow him.

This may have been a mistake.

Now I’m not saying that what eventually happened to this poor sod was my fault because I got the distinct impression from the way he/she smashed into the lip of the docking port and cart-wheeled arse-over-tit out of the station, through the entry ‘toast rack’ and into the docking lanes that basic piloting skills were still being practised. Although quite how they came to afford a hauler if they were that green is beyond me. Maybe it was a trainee pilot at the helm, in which case the owner was about to realise they had chosen a very costly training method indeed…

Once out of the station and away from the docking lanes leading into its (now dented) maw the pilot regained control and shot off at top speed in what I have come to recognise as the typical dash away from the mass-locking effect of the station to get to a point where the hyper drive could be engaged. He was faster than my wee Sidewinder and seemed to be getting away from me until I caught him up a few clicks away after he suddenly came to a full stop. I had a suspicion he’d noticed me following him and was panicking slightly but I figured if I kept my moves non-aggressive and stuck to plain ‘odd & nosey’ then he’d get the message I wasn’t trouble and everything would be ok. After all, all I really wanted was a ring-side seat for the moment he hyper-jumped out to see what it looked like from the outside.

I manoeuvred my ship close to his and spun it around so the top of my cockpit canopy was facing him and I could look out of the bubble free of distracting metal struts and holo-displays and it was at this point his shields went suddenly offline, their protective energy rippling back over the ship like rapidly melting ice. I had a second or two to wonder what the meaning of such a strange command decision was before the ship exploded right in front of me. Just plain exploded. Went *poof* right there as I was watching, wreckage of the hull and cockpit whooshing past me and cargo canisters tumbling away into the big black.

What the bloody hell? I mean, really. What. The. Bloody. Hell.

Did smashing into the station damage some subsystem leading to a catastrophic drive failure? Did he try to enter supercruise but tarry too long and allow his ship to fatally overheat? What he smuggling something nasty that proved prone to going *poof* without warning? I have absolutely no idea but the shocking display helped remind me just how dangerous space travel can be and I can promise you I made damn sure I repaired my hull and systems the very next time I docked in a station!

I mean… bloody hell, he just exploded.

UPDATE: After posting this on the Elite Dangerous Google+ fan community, one of the members pointed me to this Reddit thread. It looks like by being nosey I mass-locked the hauler as it tried to spin up its hyperdrive and his ship overheated and exploded as a result. I honestly feel really bad about this :(

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Posted by on 21 July, 2014 in Elite Dangerous


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MMOs and the weirdness of raiding…

I’ve been chewing over this post for a couple of months now, ever since I undertook my first dungeons runs in Guild Wars 2 earlier this year but I’ve been meaning to write something about raiding since I began to tag along with raids in LOTRO back in 2011. Now there are huge differences between those two games but there is also a striking similarity, at least for me, and that is that I find raiding not only profoundly boring but also confusing in its stylistic switch from the rest of the gameplay.

GW2 is probably the best example of this. The game itself is anything but boring with the heart and soul of it engineered to allow you to play pretty much alone whilst giving you something to do all the time. Wherever you are you are never more than a few minutes from an event chain and you are encouraged to use the various weapon and profession skills to complete them. As an engineer I know I have certain rifle skills that work well with turret skills and I need to use both, as well as constant movement and healing, to win the fight and this feels right, it feels like the game Arenanet designed. But when it comes to raiding it all changes.

From a position of knowing your skills and understanding how to dance around an enemy in order to survive, you are thrust into a game mode where all you have to do is stack, i.e. all stand on exactly the same spot and mash attack, heal & rez skills, and that is mind-numbingly dull. Not only is the game play style dull, but what it does to your experience of the world is criminal! Do you know what I see of most fights in raids? A firework display of particle effects centered on a strange multi-limbed beast and nothing else – none of the amazing wotk the devs have put into the area because we are all stood in a crush hitting and healing and checking out emails on your phone instead of concentrating on the fight.

I would love to experience more of the dungeons and areas built by Arenanet but not stood in a clump. I want to use the skills I’ve learnt in the game, not be forced to play a whack-a-mole. I want to take the awesome moves I pull fighting a group of Tamini Centaurs and apply them to fighting a dungeon boss so that when I bring it down I look awesome, not like a strange mutant-blob-thing!

Sigh. Maybe I’m missing something obvious but for the life of me I can’t think what it is. Raiding is boring.


Posted by on 15 July, 2014 in Games, Guild Wars 2, LOTRO


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Exploring the Big Black: First Impressions to First Profits to First Death in Elite Dangerous.

I’m enjoying Elite Dangerous a lot but it’s both harder than I imagined/remembered and quite obviously a beta.

Anyone with half a desire to buy it right now should know that whilst the gameplay is fun and the delivery stable (not one crash, freeze or disconnect so far) it’s limited and far from fully implemented. Whilst it’s true that most of the core elements of the game are represented so that you can fight for or against the military, hunt traders or pirates, buy and sell between worlds or simply explore and map the universe, it’s also true that the area allowed for this is a tiny walled-off bubble and as such begins to feel like a fishbowl quite quickly. Still, the gameplay is solid and doesn’t feel like a rushed ‘work in progress’ affair which is what I think is the biggest criticism of Star Citizen’s dogfighting release, so if you are wavering on the edge of buying it I would certainly recommend you jump in. As long as you don’t expect to be playing the finished game you’ll enjoy it a lot. One last word of warning, please for the love of all that is holy don’t burn out playing a beta to death – that’s just not a smart thing to do.

With that mini (micro?) review and PSA out of the way what have I been doing in my time exploring the Big Black? Well, trading a fair bit, running away from players whenever I can and discovering the deep, deep joys of talking to my spaceship. Let me explain…

I’ve installed VoiceAttack and for the low, low price of $8 (sub £5 for me) and I can honestly say it’s the best fiver I’ve ever spent. I am now chatting away to my ship like it was an old friend! Well, not really but I am barking orders at it and it’s obeying like the good ship it is and I honestly can not imagine the game without it now – I mean if you’re not meant to talk to a spaceship in the year 3300 then when the hell are you? I hope Frontier Developments builds it into the game at some point, along with appropriate and maybe even editable replies. Ahhh, I can but dream.

Using VA and my Hotas X joystick I’ve been trying to beat the Solar Fluke in the training missions and having some success – it’s going to take a lot of practice but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. When I get tired of combat training I pop into the multiplayer where I’ve been finding out how trading works. At first I was losing money hand over fist but then a few days ago I had a break through and began to see my profits and savings creep up, nothing grand but I was making my way up the ladder without having to fight anyone.

And then it all went wrong. I was doing ok, I had traded up to 5,500 Credits and keeping my nose clean when I suddenly had a run of bad luck. It started with being shunted back into a station by a player docking in a hauler. By the time I managed to get myself free of his shields and facing back towards the exit my docking window had expired and I was suddenly a wanted criminal. I was fired on inside the station by the station authorities and then again outside (by the station *and* players I think). I escaped and managed to pay off the fine to clear my reputation at the next port but at a cost, wiping out all profit from my last two runs. I congratulated myself on clearing my name, mentally noted down a ‘lesson learnt’ and headed off with a hold full of expensive stock to sell. And that’s when I decided to get clever. Long story short I tried to do a loop the loop through some station super-structure and I hit it hard. Hard and fast. My shields couldn’t cope and my ship exploded. I lost it, the cargo and all my money in one fiery fireballs of fire. Boom. Start again time.

There is a time and a place for hotdogging and work is neither the time nor the place.

I’m in no hurry to get back in and do it all again as I don’t want to burn out in beta and then not want to play the full game in a few months time, but I will start again soon and see if I can get my sidewinder kitted out with some weapons and armour so I can have a go at fighting in the conflict zones that have flared up between the Federation and the Eranin Defence Force.


Posted by on 7 July, 2014 in Elite, Elite Dangerous


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Exploring the Big Black: First Flights to First Dockings in Elite Dangerous

So I bought Elite Dangerous.


I swore I wouldn’t. I promised myself I’d be strong, I’d hold out until after launch. But I couldn’t.


So what do you get in Elite Dangerous’ Beta? A small bubble of space to explore, trade, fight and die in and a whole heap of steep learning curves, that’s for sure!

Am I enjoying it? I’ll have to answer that with a thoughtful yes. I’m really enjoying Guild Wars 2 and ED is soooooo different that it felt like a total culture shock. That coupled with my failure to immediately be the amazing space ship pilot and intergalactic dogfighter I know I deserve to be disappointed me. But having dropped the Beta asking price no amount of initial friction is going to put me off and so, in between my GW2 dailies, I’ve been plugging away and I’m slowly gelling with it.

To be honest it’s really helped that my 8 year old son has taken to it so well. Hell, his first station entry was perfect whereas mine was a paintwork-stripping grind-fest. He’s taken to the complex and cumbersome controls like he was born to pilot a US drone and leaves me to do all the navigating and ‘boring selling stuff’. Basically, within 48 hours of buying it I’ve become his co-pilot! This makes me actually very, very proud of him :D

I’ll keep you posted but so far over managed to:

> Fly to 3 systems.
> Dock several times without crashing.
> Avoid being ganked by other players.
> Make 200 credits profit on my first trade.

Now I’m hoping that fuel isn’t a factor in the Beta as I haven’t bought any since I started. Gulp.

So strap in with me as we set off to explore the Big Black. But bring a towel. And tea. Lots of tea. It’s going to be a long flight.


Posted by on 29 June, 2014 in Elite Dangerous


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LOTRO: RP Sillyness! [GW2!!!]

HeadBurro Antfarm:

This is Tsuhelm’s brilliantly funny rift on my post about how difficult guilds can be – read this and tell me it’s not genius :-D Then follow his blog too :)

Originally posted on tsuhelm:

I have actually enjoyed casual RP in LOTRO a couple of times…my longest RP exchange was via letters to an Armourer on the Landy Captain Tsudryt would send an in character mail requesting armour and or equipment and the armourer would send an in character reply. Me myself and I have taken a pause from Landy, and I think Tsudryt’s Armourer as well…

Also have Opopa, a one legged hobbit burglar, hopping around Laurelin THE RP SERVER…avoiding all RP interaction so far…and see enough of other players that would indicate that most of the time other players do the same. Really…the end of ME is at hand…surely your adventurer should not return to Bree to pick flowers!

Head Burro has an issue with a RP guild in denial of the Living World stories in GW2…

Kind of reminded me of a certain famous comedy sketch from a certain group of…

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Posted by on 10 June, 2014 in Uncategorized


thoughts about age and quests

thoughts about age and quests

HeadBurro Antfarm:

This is a brilliant post from Eldaeriel who always has interesting things to say. Read this great post about age, experience, choice and consequence in Elder Scrolls Online and then make sure you follow her blog :)

Originally posted on StarShadow:

this is a bit of ramble I’m afraid ;)

I was questing away on my nord sorceror last night and I came across a quest that really made me think,  I was in kind of a reflective mood anyway. Anyway, I’ve been playing Eydis (my sorc) as Dimzad has been away and I don’t want my main (nightblade) to get out of sync with him.  While creating her, I decided to change it up and make her old.  I had a sudden realisation that on paper I am all for insisting upon options and fair representation, railing about the age disparities found in our media and the like, yet I continually create young female characters.  Fair enough, some games don’t give you that option but here I was faced with a character creator which gave me a multitude of options and what was I about to do?  create a young…

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Posted by on 10 June, 2014 in Uncategorized


Life in Tyria: The Tyranny of Gold…

I’m by no means rich in RL. I have a job but also a mortgage and kids so I have to make choices every days about what I spend my money on and, if I’m honest, that sucks, yet it’s also life and there is no point in worrying about it. But that’s not to say I want that experience in my games and if there’s one thing I’ve discovered I hate hate hate about MMOs such as LOTRO and GW2 it’s that I’m always poor in there too!

In LOTRO I spent ages trying to get enough gold to buy enough equipment to make me more or less effective and it got me nothing. In GW2 I’m always on the edge of poverty and having to sell everything I can just to fund the purchase of armour and weapons for one character. I’ve had 100 gold pieces recently but that didn’t last long and I’m usually hovering between 20 to 50 as I buy new exotic sets for my Engineer builds. I don’t craft and I’m not saving up for a legendary, I salvage and gather and therefore you think I’d be rolling in moolah but I’m not and that ticks me off. And there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to get gold in GW2 outside of mindlessly running dungeons.

Frankly I don’t want to be poor in two worlds. Sigh.


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Life in Tyria: Guilds and stuff

I’ve just been asked to leave a guild. Well, actually I was asked to represent 90% of the time or leave. I choose to leave because if I have to dedicate all of my precious time to one group of people in a game where the ability to join multiple groups of people is central then I don’t want to be with those people. Now of course the choice of 90% rep-time is up them but it’s a new rule that wasn’t there when I was invited to join so I feel cheated, as though we have both wasted our time and I have wasted all the influence points I ground out in events.


So now I’m back to being in just two guilds (well, three but one of those is mine and I only opened it for the 50 bank slot facility), one being the Celt group I joined way back in 2012 and the other is the Crimson Ashes group I joined recently for roleplaying. The Celt group is super casual friendly and full of really nice people who take me on guild runs, and the Ashes are a nice bunch too but both have a similar issue I’m increasingly having problems with – they don’t seem to like the Living World stories.

Why is this a problem for me? Because I like the Living World content and I want to share my time with people who do. With the Celts I can share guild events and dungeon runs so it doesn’t matter too much, but with the Ashes it’s all about roleplaying and storytelling and yet they dislike the main storytelling medium in the game. Now I know that LW season 1 had problems but for a RP guild to turn off from it means there is a whole world of content I can’t explore with them and therefore if I go off and take part then I’m not doing stuff with them. And I can’t find a way to square that circle.

Ye gods but being in guilds is harder then I thought.


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1000 and counting…

This is my 1,000th post on this blog and I’ve been putting off actually writing it as I’ve been really unsure what to write. Do I mention it in passing and move on, effectively taking up the 1,000th post slot with a filler? Do I engage with it totally and have a retrospective post about how awesome I am? Do I write about where I think the blog is heading? Do I just ignore the arbitrary nature of these milestones and move on as if nothing has happened?

The answer, of course, is a little of all these but in the briefest way I can think of because, as you may have guessed from the sporadic nature of my posts, I’m far more time challenged than I was 1,000 posts ago when I had a simple 9-5 job and no kids. In all that time this blog has been my gaming centre, sometimes more important to me than the games I was blogging about, helping me expand and increase my gaming pleasure in ways the games never could – this is why I generally end up writing stories about the games and characters I’m playing rather than reviews.

1,000 posts ago this blog was a place for stories but the sad fact is writing stories takes time and energy and gets in the way of playing. As with everything in life a balance has to be found, a compromise reached and it is not always possible to write compelling stories, play the game inspiring them and still hold down a job and not ignore the family.

A while back (200 posts or more ago) I found a balance I was, and still am, happy with. I don’t bulk write and schedule posts any more. I don’t worry about keeping content going. I don’t sweat about saying something just to be heard. Now I just write when I can do *and* want to and it works for me. Sometimes I have a splurge and will post a lot for a few weeks but that never lasts long these days and the blog goes quiet again. I still have posts running about in my head but either the opportunity or the desire & energy are missing and this, if I’m honest, is the only source of regret I ever feel about the blog. The sense of missed or lost posts bothers me but only slightly, after all I don’t write anything of any worth so the sum of human knowledge losses nothing if I never get around to sharing my thoughts on a game mechanic that will never come to be in a game that will more than likely be gone in the next ten years. I know it’s hard to accept, but the world will keep turning without my wisdom.

So I guess I’ll reach 2,000 posts because even though games will come and go, my desire to play them and then write about them will remain. I suspect this blog will be with me for a very long time indeed. In the coming posts I’m going to keep doing more of the same because, at the end of the day, I’m writing this for me. I’ll try to be less ranty and think before taking cheap shots for easy laughs, but I’m a fiery sort and can’t promise too much because, at the end of the day, saying “bollocks” is always to make me giggle :)

Happy 1,000th to me!


Posted by on 8 June, 2014 in Blog Stuff



Life in Tyria: All the fun of the Festival!

Some people are calling it filler and bemoaning both the reuse of “old” content and the lack of Living Story but I’m actually rather enjoying the Festival of the Four Winds in Guild Wars 2 and I don’t care who knows it.

Partly it’s because I missed the Bazaar of the Four Winds last year (along with all of Season 1 of the Living Story until the attack on Lion’s Arch this year) but largely it’s because it’s damn good fun! The Boss Blitz is a blast and the Labyrinthine Cliffs are seriously beautiful. The rewards are pretty nice, I’m enjoying the expanding stories of the main characters and there seems to be some rather nice teasers dotted around that I hope will lead to something down the line. All in all, apart from the grind of getting the reward tokens (and that wasn’t really all that bad, trust me), I’ve had a fun time. Let me break down my thoughts a little…

Boss Blitz: Wowsers this was fun! True it’s a circle-zerg but I quite like zerg content. And this was clever zerg-content in that that whilst a zerg could do it, it could be done faster (and for greater reward) by a small number of co-ordinated groups. To be honest, were I a more structured player I may have found this very aspect annoying as the public nature of the event meant that even with a coordinated group zergs could drop in and blow all the good work by scaling up the bosses, but I’m not so I liked it. I got bronze most times (i.e. zerging it) and a couple of silvers when I ran with people desperately trying to organise a coordinated effort (all of which were fekked up by zergs). The worst part was map chat which became a furious rant-fest so I turned it off.

Gauntlet Matches: I only had a brief goo at these and they were fun. In the end, duels are just not my bag so I had little interest in them. Still they looked and played beautifully (love the opening floor idea!)

Charged Crystals and Baby Doylak Racing: Both were great fun. I love the cliffs and the idea of the aspect crystals and I made as many tokens here as I did in the blitz, just with a lot less map-chat rage and carpal tunnel than with the blitz.

Crystal hunting and other cliff events: Jumping puzzles tend to annoy me and PvP stuff just isn’t for me so I never tried those. Sorry Anet, I’m sure they were great though :)

Divinity’s Reach and the Labyrinthine Cliffs: I really miss the Great Collapse in DR. Sure the Queen’s Pavillion is amazing (and it really is!) but I can’t help thinking that the Collapse was such a wonderful well of story ideas that was erased in favour of an arena, albeit a very beautiful one. The Zepherytes’ cliff-side home is just beautiful! What an amazing build! I would love Anet to make it even bigger so I can spend more time exploring – and using aspects to get around is a joy, what a shame I can’t smuggle those powers out into the rest of Tyria ;)

Living Story: I know there’s not much as it’s not a LS release, but the summary of Season 1 for the Chinese & returning players is really nice. I know there have been criticism of the charactisation and writing of the heroes known as “Edge of Destiny 2.0”, but I’m really enjoying their exchanges. Tiami is funny as hell, it’s nice to see a couple in love with Kasmeer & Majorie and I think the Braham & Rox team is a really interesting friendship to watch develop. Hopefully they’ll avoid making the Norn too dumb as I’d find it harder to identify with a dunce then I do with a simple man of action. Ultimately though this don’t give any more clues as to what will come in Season 2 and I don’t mind that. Time and place, I say, time and place..

Other story type stuff: Now, beyond the summary of LS season 1 I think Anet have been clever about sprinkling a few tidbits around that could (hopefully will) lead to more storylines that could be (hopefully will be) unrelated to LS Season 2. Taimi is talking about the Zephryites getting ready for a long journey – but where to, when & why? What about the Jade Fish Statue? Does that link to the Jade Sea and therefore Cantha? And then what about the paranoid guy Carden? He’s forever trying to desperately sell something shady but when the Zephyrites see whatever it is they won’t deal with him anymore because of what it is and who he got it from – what is it and who did Carden take it from? I’m sure there are more hooks I’ve missed but these stand out as potentially really interesting adventure leads that, were this an open world or paper-based RPG, I’d be following instead of the road leading to the jungle dragon.

So there you have it. I’m really enjoying the Festival of the Four Winds and I don’t care who knows it :)

p.s. Kookoochoo is amazing! See him now!


Posted by on 28 May, 2014 in Fun, Games, Guild Wars 2


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