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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

At last! A (good/accurate) trailer for Elite: Dangerous

It’s taken a while but Frontier Developments have finally put out a trailer that is both exciting *and* true to actual gameplay. Well done FD :D

Elite: Dangerous Wings Trailer: https://youtu.be/23GEX4pYL9w

 
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Posted by on 14 March, 2015 in Elite Dangerous, YouTube

 

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Meanwhile, in Minecraft… Watch that last step…

So I fell off a cliff and plunged to my death and that was dumb. But to have this fella waiting at the bottom to dance on my blocky corpse was just mean!

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Posted by on 12 March, 2015 in MCPE, Minecraft

 

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Meanwhile, over in Minecraft… Antland is reborn!

Meanwhile, over in Minecraft… Antland is reborn!

Sigh. That’ll be me re-addicted to Minecraft again. I haven’t played for a little over a year as with the death of my lovely Nexus tablet and my main game time spent with Guild Wars 2 and Elite Dangerous I’ve not found the games, despite the huge updates it has undergone, has grabbed me. Until now.

Of course it started with The Boy, everything Minecraft does, but my current boredom in Elite Dangerous was also a factor. One moment I was looking for seeds to pass to The Boy and the next I was playing a game of survival on my phone. Antland 2 was born and in no time I was rushing to build a simple mud hut to cower the night away, safe from the ever present creepers…

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Posted by on 9 March, 2015 in MCPE

 

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Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [ISDV Vestigial Echo] : [Jameson Memorial/Founder’s World/Shinrarta Dezhra] : [01/02/3301]

[Report Summary] Contracted to Antfarm Consolidated to transport rare goods throughout a 500ly volume of Fed/Imp border space.

[Manifest] Various rare goods.

[Incidents] Extremely quiet run with no interdictions. I think the Tanmark conflict has drawn many hyena packs away.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of the ISDV Vestigial Echo (Cobra Mk3), Antfarm Consolidated of Dulos.


[Private Entry/Decrypted/G43Tym-Dawf485620] I’ve had enough of this bloody run. Weeks in Yembo, hundreds of light years to New Yembo and back for bugger all and now the biggest rare loop I’ve ever flown and I’m tired. I’m tired of the only gravity I feel being thrust or spin, the only light the Echo’s full-spec LEDs, the only water my own recyced piss. I miss Dulos. I miss Six. I miss my family. The old man says that the new government has settled in and the pogroms have stopped so it should be safe to go back. I’ll make two more runs and then I’m heading back to Brunton Gateway without stopping. I’ve asked the old man to fly my family back and more than the gravity, the sunlight and the clean water I’ve missed them most of all. It’s time to go home.

[Ship Report] The Echo is running like a dream. I had the techs at Jameson look her over and tweak the thruster output and fit a new LS. She purrs when I power her up and whispers when I hit the throttle…

 
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Posted by on 6 March, 2015 in Elite Dangerous, My Writing

 

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Elite Dangerous: A Burro muses on the signs of war in 1.0 (aka “It’s quiet… too quiet…”)

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Sure is quiet round here, pard…

Apparently I live in one of the most violent cities in the UK. I was a bit surprised by this news as where I live, three miles out in suburbia, is quiet and lovely but in the town centre it can be a bit of a war zone at times and this is evident by the sheer number of police vans and patrolling coppers you see over a weekend or when a football match is scheduled. As you drive into town you see the vans parked at key intersections, the bus and train stations have lots of burly looking uniformed coppers eye-balling everyone as they pass and every now and again there will be a burst of shouts, some police sirens and heap of fighting bodies being dragged off towards the open maw of a black mariah. As soon as you enter the ring of police influence at the strategic edge of the town you are left in no doubt that the normally quiet, sedate shopping centre has changed and is now a darker, more dangerous place to visit.

I mention this as recently I was flying into a war torn system in ED and docked at the station most contested by the feuding factions. Do you know what I saw to indicate I was currently at ground zero for all the bloodshed, brutality and horror a civil war inevitably brings to the population? Nothing. Nada. Not even tumble-weed. On my short journey betwixt star and station I was interdicted a grand total of no times by either side or by police or by vulture-like opportunistic pirates. Once at the station I was in no way inconvenienced by either checkpoint or blockade. Equally I was not contacted by the controlling (or contesting) faction of the station demanding I “behave or else!” and I found it ridiculously easy to get through the non-existent extra checks and entirely missing police ‘stop and search’ zones just outside the entrance. And then when docked absolutely no one tried to recruit me or pay me for any intel I might have gathered on my way in. Sure, the bulletin board did have a few rather familiar calls for arms to be brought in or food to be supplied, but other than those standard, run-of-the-mill jobs it is was pretty much business as usual in the station. In fact so normal were things in there that it was only when I accidentally tabbed to the ‘Factions’ part of the UI did I see the mention of Civil War! anywhere and lo and behold when I checked nearby contacts I could see there were conflict zones were nearby.

Now I don’t know about you but I have a sneaky feeling that if a Friday night of beery excess is enough to so noticeably change my home town from a shopper’s delight to a large scale cage fight, then if a frigging civil war broke out nearby I think I’d see some clues here and there, say the endless streams of army trucks going one way and the ambulances coming back the other, for example. Then there would be the police and army lock-downs and checkpoints, propaganda materials popping up all around the village, the frequent black-outs as power lines fail, the endless 24-hour news stream detailing the horrific excesses of one side or the other, and last but not least I’m, damn sure I’d hear my neighbours talking about the big bloody war taking place right on their bloody doorstep! One thing I doubt I’d see much of were Lancaster and Yorkshire to once more start lobbing more than insults at each other is a lot of traffic on the M62. I’m pretty sure Eddie Stobbart would tell its drivers to give whole area a very wide berth and in the end only the very brave/foolish/criminal would try to run supplies into the area and they would have to act far more like smugglers to avoid not only any criminal gangs that had sprung up but also one or both sides of the conflict – I rather doubt they would drive up to the Trafford Centre, unload and carry on as if nothing was happening.

My point (and I do have a point) is that in ED systems descend into war-like states quite a lot but unless you deliberately choose to drop out into conflict zone or checkpoint (who the frig voluntarily drops out into checkpoint?) you can get into the station and out again without ever realising the system is currently in a state of active war. It’s like some Monty Python sketch where everyone is simply refusing to notice the war because “it’s just Mr Show Off showing off and we ignore show offs here”.

No, what I want to see if the system in conflict, not just a few designated fighting areas dotted about I can avoid without a second thought. I want to see the stations change in mood, tone, look and feel. I want to hear NPC chatter about the conflict and I want to see the local versions of GalNet squawking about it. I want to feel like the universe is alive and not, as it does now, like a photograph of a game a Risk that’s been all set up but where the players are all off for lunch.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 19 February, 2015 in Elite Dangerous, Games

 

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Elite Dangerous: A Burro muses on Community Goals in 1.1: Motivation, narrative and reward (UPDATED)

Come hither, handsome Cmdr...

Come hither, handsome Cmdr…

Way back when I was a student with a car there was an older, confident, gorgeous female student who one day asked me to help her move her bed from her old house to her new flat. Being a 20 year old idiot I assumed this was some coded come on that equated to “come and set up my bed and we’ll have wild sex – let me show you the magical ways of an older woman”. I was, therefore, somewhat disappointed and confused when all she wanted me to do was move her bed from one place to another. She made me a cup of tea, we chatted and no nudity was observed or nookie engaged in. I went home befuddled, once again wondering why popular media would mislead me so cruelly about motivation and reward.

Which leads me nicely onto the new Community Goals addition to ED because just like the popular media whispering lies into the stupid brainpan of the 20 year old me, Frontier Developments had convinced me that their new 1.1 release feature would provide me with some great motivation and rewards for playing alongside other people, some of whom would happily blow up my ship and tea-bag my RemLokked face just for a chortle. The reality so far is I’ve travelled over 200ly to run 40t of metals and supplies back and forth over a 10ly route again and again and again and again and I have nothing to show for it at all except profit. At least when I was moving the bed and not getting and of the sex I had the sex to think about – with trading in ED I have none of the sex to think about and all of the bed moving to do. On my own. Again and again and again and again.

OK, you might say, please stop talking about the sex and the bed and stick to the game and the new mechanic – why, dear Burro, do you feel so aggrieved by this? What was promised and not delivered? Give us details and stop thinking about that older student – yes you are, I can see it in your eyes – stop it! Bad Burro, bad!

Huh? Sorry, what? Oh, Elite… right. Well when they* announced these Community Goals I was a little bit excited that we’d have something to do. Then it turned out that these things to do would be hauling stuff from point A to B again and again and again and again and I became less excited but I still held out for some form of narrative structure I could lose myself in and some cool rewards to play with afterwards. So when the patch launched I stopped the rare run I was on and jetted over to Yembo where the first of the new deep space Ocellus stations was being built because I was full of excitement at the prospect of seeing the station taking shape as promised in the trailer. Now to be fair to that trailer, it does indicate that you would only see the station taking shape after enough raw materials had been collected but I still find it odd (and disappointing and dull) that I’m taking ton after ton from one station to the next only for it to vanish into a black hole with nothing to see. GalNet talks of the Yembo shipyards and yet I can find no shipyards in Yembo, just another copy/paste system like the billions of others created by the StellarForge engine. Hell, for the first couple of runs I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right because there is no feedback beyond a number in ship’s transactions tab showing you have increased your contribution and therefore rising up the reward ladder. Not only that but there is nothing in the world to show that anything is happening because the NPCs never mention it; GalNet only reports ‘global’ news and so there is no local colour to the feed; there are no missions on the bulletin board that even mention the damn station or supply line; and there is nothing going on in or out of the station that lead you to feel like it’s actually happening. Hell! there is no need for me to be at Naddodur Terminal at all – I could do exactly the same and experience exactly the same at Brunton Gateway in Dulos or Lave Station in Lave or in any port or outputs in any system in the entire galaxy. There is nothing – NOTHING – in Yembo to show that this event is happening and is part of a wider universe. People mock Eve for being spreadsheet game but this kind of gameplay in ED is little better and just makes ED a button pressing game. Still, at least there are the rewards, right. Right?

Well let me ask you this; when moving a bed** for a beautiful lady*** would you prefer the reward to be a warm fuzzy feeling of a job well done or some hot, rampant sex****? If the answer is the warm feeling please congratulate yourself on being a better human being than me but also please check yourself into the nearest clinic for some form of sex drive malfunction. What does that to do with ED, Burro, you growl sternly? I’m glad you asked, I smile sweetly. Look, if I’m in a game doing a lot of boring tasks in a boring manner for a boring end and in a boring place I’m going to want a fooking good reward at the end, that’s just plain obvious. What constitutes a fooking good reward will, I suggest, depend on what type of player you are but what doesn’t is easier for a player base to agree on and the current rewards on offer are, frankly, pants. I’ve only managed to supply a few hundred tons but I’ve already made C1.5m from doing so (along with various non-associated supply missions and trade runs at the same time) and so I find that my reward pot of C3k to be firmly in the “Not Really Worth It” category. True I’ll also get a small discount on the goods and equipment at this station for a period after the event is completed but both the discount level (and few %) and the length of time (a few days) are too small to make any difference, especially as I’m not planning to stick around this dead-end part of the galaxy once the damn station buggers off to HIP 101110.

So to recap, I’m doing boring trade runs to supply the building of a station I can’t yet see for a set of rewards I don’t actually want or need. On top of that, when the station jumps out to HIP 101110 I don’t think I’ll follow as there is fek all out there (yet) so what would be the point? And on top of that the increase in player activity makes the docking experience in Yembo both scary and costly, not to mention the sodding piracy! When I put it like this even I wonder what is keeping me there and then I realise that in playing the Yembo station storyline my game time has dropped from a usual 2 hours a session to 1 or less and I’m logging out after a single round trip run and going off to watch TV or edit videos instead. The boredom of the Goal has actually reduced my in-game time by 50% or more over just a few days! This is because I don’t want to give up and miss something by leaving to do something more fun because I’ve invested too much time and effort to just walk away, but at the same time I just don’t want to do any more supply runs for the damn Goal so I have no choice but not to play and instead wait until the damn event is over. Now does this sound like engaging gameplay to you? If it does could you please check for signs of a recent head trauma?

Look, these community goals are better than nothing but they need to be better than better than nothing before I’ll bother getting involved again so please Frontier Devs give us some immediate rewards in terms of visual clue to what is happening – let us see what is going on, let the station and NPC chatter reflect what is going on.. Give us some extra depth in the missions we can take on so that we feel as if the Goal actually exists and we can affect it one way or another. And for love of all that is holy give us some great rewards we might actually want and use such as a lot of credits instead of a handful; access to a great or unique upgrade; a decal for our ship; and maybe and some kind of title we can display for all to scan and see. I know these community goals are still being testing so I’m not throwing up my arms and crying about the sky falling in, but I really, really, REALLY hope FD are planning a large scale re-vamp of how they run these bloody things because as they stand they are a boring waste of time. Apart from the docking which is anything other than boring o.0

UPDATE (18/02/15): So the event closed and my hopes that the station would then start a construction phase were dashed when I turned in the mission and was told the station had now flown off to HIP 101110. Still, I was rewarded with C7,500… less than 1% of the profits I’d earnt in the small bit of trading I had done for the community goal. FFS.

*Frontier Developments, who else?

**Sorry, back to the bed again. I’ll try not to mention the sex though.

***Or handsome man, you choose.

****Failed. Sorry.

 
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Posted by on 17 February, 2015 in Elite Dangerous, Games

 

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Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [ISDV Vestigial Echo] : [Naddoddur Terminal/Yembo 6/Yembo] : [16/01/3301]

[Report Summary] Currently sub-conned to the Explorers’ Assoc. for supplying various construction materials to the Yembo shipyards.

[Manifest] Metals into Naddoddur, Performance enhancers and Separators out to neighbouring systems. Rinse and repeat.

[Incidents] Several interdiction attempts registered by the Echo with a number of pirates driven off or destroyed.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of the ISDV Vestigial Echo (Cobra Mk3), Antfarm Consolidated of Dulos.


[Private Entry/Decrypted/F56YyY-Roma858690] [embeds enabled] I’d been away on the rare run for nearly two weeks when the message from the Old Man came in a few days ago – I was to turn tail and get the Echo over to the Yembo shipyards without stopping. Turns out UC and EA had finally gotten their act together and were building a new deep space Ocellus, the first in a fleet if the report can be believed. Damn good job I’d taken time to have the FSD upgraded but it was a still a long old slog out to the arse-end of nowhere, nothing but extraction and refinery systems all the way out to the edge of the federation volume. It seems the EA are going to start pushing that edge further out which means lot of money for the Old Man as he subs me to every supply run he can get a contract with. Maybe the Federation has had enough of ‘problem’ systems like Dulos and they are going to get their precious resources from newer, more easily controlled systems. I can’t see the Imps being happy but let’s face it, they are going to be tied up arguing over the throne for the next frak knows how long so what are they going to do? The Alliance are being the Alliance and just hoping they don’t get involved by accident and everyone forgets about them and so as far as anyone is concerned the Feds have a clear run at volume I can only assume has been surveyed as chock full enough wealth to keep all the CEOs and their lawyers bathing in solid gold credits for decades.. In fact the only ones who’ve shown any interest other than traders and frakking pirates are the ‘Firsters’ who think by pushing out we’ll piss off the make-believe Thargoids they keep droning on and on about, but who the hell even listens to those loons? Nope, it looks like this is the start of an extended break away from home for me and the most exciting thing I’m going to see is the arse-end of other haulers rather than the probe-end of any little green men…

[Upgrades] The rare run the Old Man had me on was hella profitable! I have managed to upgrade the Echo’s ageing thrusters to the top of the line versions released by De Lacy last year – the damn thing roars like an Altairian panther now! I’ve also upped the FSD to a re-conned A class model that’s now giving me just shy of 20ly with a full hold. To cope with the extra power demands, I’ve had to invest in a brand new plant too but I had to buy a knock off rather than the de Lacy I’d have liked and even that left me all but broke for a while. Still, the Echo is coming together nicely now and I think after the Yembo job I might look into either a new sensor array or meatier shields, I can’t decide which is more important right now. One thing I won’t be buying again in a hurry is the planetary scanner – the extra 4t of cargo space has netted me more credits in a few around Yembo than it did in the whole of my last rares run – never again!

p.s. I wonder how my family are doing? I’ll send a message tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on 17 February, 2015 in Elite Dangerous, My Writing

 

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