Elite Dangerous

What a Burro’s playing – January 2017 update

Hello dear reader, it’s been around 18 months since I last posted one of these and a lot has changed. I’ve moved away totally from PC gaming now (my beloved computer room has become the domain of my 10 year old son and his Roblox addiction). So, what am I playing these days?

Elite Dangerous: Nope. Still not been back other than to look at the occasional Beta release. There simply isn’t enough in here to grab me yet. I am beginning to doubt there ever will be.

Guild Wars 2: I’m now on one of my semi-regular long-term breaks. I still love the game but I just don’t want to play it right now. Sometime in the next 12 months this will have changed 🙂

MCPE: Oh boy, this has really taken over right now. This is what I think about throughout the day, it’s what I play when I get home, it’s what I dream about when I sleep and watch on YouTube when I get up. This level of obsession is normal for me and won’t last forever but when this type of mania grips me I have learnt to lay back and let it have its oh-so-sweet and wicked way with me… Follow my adventures with this tag: MCPE

Ingress: This one flared up in the summer of 2016 and is still bubbling away – hell, even my missus is playing it. We all tried Pokemon but that didn’t stick, even with the kids.


No Man’s Sky: Urgh… I had such high hopes. Still, maybe after a few updates this will be like a Minecraft in Space and I can finally have that space-based game I’m looking for. I won’t hold my breath though, eh?

That’s it for me right now. What about you? What are you playing, enjoying, not enjoying, waiting for? Leave a comment below.

Elite Dangerous Engineers. Urgh. So much grindy RNG.

OK, I wasn’t impressed with the sound of them in the beta stages as people were already complaining that they were grindy, always needing lots of hard to locate materials to activate, but given ObsidianAnt’s video from yesterday I’m damn sure I’m going to give them a total miss until they are improved (if they ever are). This is another released mechanic that highlights to me that FDev don’t seem to know what kind of game they are making – or they just aren’t explaining it well – or both.

Powerplay and now Engineers both implemented a system (or systems) that required a lot of playtime and dedication to a play style. With PP I can see how some players would love this and it bothers me less because I can just ignore it and leave those players to play the game they want to play. But with Engineers this isn’t so because NPCs can get the ship upgrades and therefore if I chose to ignore it I will be eclipsed by the game itself – the balance of my ship against an NPC ship will shift and the only way I can address that is by upgrading too. This is an arms race that will force me to grind for Engineer upgrades thereby forcing me to play the game in a way I don’t want to. This is the gear grind of older style MMOs that I hate and won’t do. In Elite this means you can trade/mine/combat/explore/mission your ship to a multi-million credit A-rated behemoth but at some point it will be obsolete unless you keep on grinding away at resource collecting.

When you add to that the arbitrary nature of the upgrades themselves then what you are saying is I should spend my limited play time hunting resources for an upgrade I don’t really want but now am forced to need and when I have collected those resources there will be a dice roll to determine whether or not I get the upgrade I have been working towards and if I don’t I have to start collecting again.

That sucks.

Look, I can stand the collection part as long as the items are easy enough to collect but as soon as they are made difficult due to things like secret locations, low yield, or pure RNG availability I’m not going to bother. Even if the collection part was fixed to be more accessible and less time-wastey, the fact that I have no say in what I will get from the resources just isn’t engaging and I’m just never going to do that and that will be a whole new area of the game I have to ignore. How much of the game do I ignore before there is no game to play?

The best way to fix Engineers for me (note that use of ‘for me’) would be for FDev to make the resources less grindy to find, implement a player-to-plyer trade system, and give us more than one character slot so I could have a farmer in the right area of the galaxy. They also need to remove the RNG upgrade system totally and implement a menu clearly showing resources to outcomes and then make that outcome customisable. By that I mean that I collect resources for a jump drive upgrade and those resources will be enough to get me that upgrade but in the final upgrade confirmation screen there are variables I can tinker with such as energy use and fuel efficiency and range. Sliders allowing me to increase the range but at cost of a increasing my fuel efficiency or increasing the fuel efficiency might then increase the energy use but reduce the heat build-up. These are just examples but at least with this system not only would everyone get the upgrade they want but they would also have the tools to mod it just enough that ships feel different or tailored to suit a role or individual.

Will FDev do anything like that? I very much doubt it. If Powerplay shows us anything, they are more willing to meet the needs of the serious gamers than the casual. /they seem to want players locked into a spiral of grind because that keeps them in the game and therefore ore likely to buy things from the shop to keep the servers going.

TL/DR: Making me grind just to keep me playing and then not giving me a guaranteed reward for my efforts is shit and I won’t do it.

Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [Dulos/Dulos 6/Wilson Ring] : [3302/05/19]

[Report Summary] Pre-flight checks complete. Awaiting launch window from Con.

[Manifest] None.

[Incidents] None.

[Signed] Cmdr William Gearwright of Antfarm Consolidated, Dulos.

[Private Entry/Decrypted/ddf87yO0j-brook] [embeds enabled]

I’ve got a funny feeling in my gut. This run is off and came together so quickly and I just don’t like it, but I have no choice really. The old man himself asked me and I said yes so here I am in the Pharos about to head out several hundred light years to the Pleiades and all because the he’s spooked about something.

He called just after I docked and whilst there is nothing unusual about him calling he normally just wants to talk about the flight, the job, the contact, that kind of stuff. This time he ignored all that and asked me up to his office.

The old man was there, staring at an ancient looking brown leather bag sitting on the desk as if it held the ashes of his favourite dog. “Sit down,” he said to me without looking up but tipping a glass towards a chair opposite him. I sat. Nothing happened for a very long time and eventually I moved to speak but he cut me off, “I need to you to fly to the ‘Sisters tomorrow.”

“The Pleiades? Why? That place is crawling with relic hunters and alien whack-jobs, not to mention the pirates hunting them. Any cargo I take there will be at high risk.”

“No cargo,” he said.

“Same issue,” I replied and tried to keep any hint of annoyance out of my voice, “whatever I pick up will be at an increased risk, which means so will my ship and so will I.”

The old man looked up from the battered leather bag and fixed me with his eyes. I could feel the sweat beading on my back. “This bag belonged to a friend of mine. He died a long time ago. A very long time ago and in all the time since he died I’ve stayed alive by knowing what was coming,” he let his words trail off.

“OK,” I said eventually, “Look, I’m…”

“Something is coming, Bill,” he cut me off again, “something that could change everything and I want you to go out to Maia and pick up some meta-alloys. Then I want you to get yourself out to an engineer called Farseer, Felicity Farseer, over in Deciat and have a chat with her and see if she knows where Professor Palin has gone. Get to Palin and find out what is it they are not telling us?”

“Us?” I asked.

“The Feds, the Imperials, the whole damn lot of them. Something is happening and they know more than we do. It’s time to start changing that before it’s too late.”

Dawn (a reblogged Elite Dangerous post)

A call reaches out. Cmdrs are contacted. What will they do? What will you do?

Dark Gathering

The time has come. The voices in the void that were once indistinct and meaningless are no longer so.

There is an undercurrent of darkness that has been slowly moving into place invisible to us.

We hail from all corners of human space. We are above the petty dice throws of those hungry for only power. We are people of conscience who will not sit and watch this blackness unfold.

There is a threat. One that does not respect border or flag. We set ourselves against that threat.

We shall make null the demons that reach out from the darkness and threaten us all.

We must face it.

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Elite Dangerous: A Burro drones on about drones (arf arf, see what I did there?)

Now bear with me as I take you on another wee flight of fancy to illustrate a point but imagine you walked into a computer game shop to buy a new game and the conversation went something like this…

You: Hello shopkeep, I would like to purchase a copy of GTA X, please!

SK: Of course, that’ll be £1,000, sir.

You: *splutter* What the chuff? A grand! A GRAND!

SK: Yup, £1,000 for the game computer. And another £40 for the game source data.

You: Oh! Ah, the computer… No, I just want the game.

SK: Yup, the game computer. You buy the game computer and the data.

You: What?

SK: It’s simple. All games now use the same resources and therefore come on a single data source but the computer is what decides exactly what game will be played.

You: But… that’s insane!

SK: You’ll need a new table too…

You: Fu…

Erm, I’ll leave it there but suffice to say if that happened you’d think the world has gone mad and yet that’s exactly how drones work in Elite Dangerous – you buy multi-use drones that each take up exactly 1 ton of relatively valuable cargo space and then use up a far more valuable module slot with a use-specific controller unit and that means if you want to use two types of drone (why have two? ohhh I don’t know, if say you’re prospecting and also want to collect maybe) you’re going to have to sacrifice two module slots. Why? Why does a drone need a new controller? It’s madness! The controller should be universal and it should be the drones that are specialised – not only does that make logical sense (why would a fuel drone be the same machine as a prospecting drone? And what if they ever introduce repair drones?) but it makes better play-sense too as it frees up module slots allowing greater flexibility of ship use.

If you ask me (let’s all pretend you did) I think the decision taken is possibly due to Frontier needing cash sinks in the game (due to a flawed economic model, but that’s got another post) and also to give players a path through the shipyard. The problem is I don’t want a path through the shipyard. I want to play in a sandbox and I want as much flexibility as possible which means I want to make better use of the (arbitrary) module slots on each ship I fly so I can play the way I want to.

So, in summary, the number of controllers is too damn high. Thank you.


Too many damn controllers!

Not just a Burro is musing on their future with Elite Dangerous…

In my post yesterday I explained how I had grown bored of Elite Dangerous and was taking a long break. It seems I’m not the only one as Kate Russell had blogged about similar feelings of needing a break until more (taste appropriate) content is added. Like me she also still loves the game as a whole and plans to go back.


What a Burro’s playing – June 2015 update

It’s been over a year since I last wrote one of these posts and in that year my gaming life has really shrunk, both in terms of time and scope. You see, my work has been horribly busy over the last twelve months (continuing the trend of the last four years, if I’m honest, and I can’t see it getting any better) and most of my free time is taken up with family time, very important when you have little kids. In that time I bought into the premium beta of Elite Dangerous and that became the all encompassing obsession I knew it would, although I did find time to play a few other games and a year after first piloting a Sidewinder my love of Elite is on the decline. So, what am I playing?

Elite Dangerous: After a year of playing and finding myself taking short breaks throughout I think I’m finally at a point where I’m not going to go back for quite some time. It was the recent Powerplay update that broke me because it showed me that the kind of gameplay I’d like to see isn’t likely to be implemented anytime soon. Of course I’ll probably go back but only once Frontier add multiple character slots (so I can experience different types of gameplay without locking myself into one form for extended periods), planetary landings (I want to explore alien worlds, not just take screen shots of them from orbit), and a more immersive mission structure (to give me a sense of purpose in the galaxy without drinking the Koolaid of Powerplay). It’s still a good game but just one still awaiting many key features that will raise it to a great one. Hopefully ED will flesh out enough in 2015 for me to go back, but for now… meh.

Guild Wars 2: I started Elite just as the Festival of The Winds came to an end and Living World season 2 started. I logged in enough to get each of the season 2 episodes but I have yet to play a single one of them. Now there is an expansion, Great of Thorns, and I’ve not read a thing that makes me want to play it, let alone play it.

MCPE: Update 0.11.0 came out at the start of June and it continued the run of strong, feature packed updates released in the last couple of years. Mojang have taken on three more devs devoted to the pocket edition and the pace of updates is likely to increase dramatically, especially if the additional features they added to 0.11.0 in just a few weeks of being hired is anything to go by! This continues to be the most fun when playing alongside my kids on tablets 🙂

Transmission and Hook: Both of these are mobile logic puzzle games (I use Android but it’s a fair assumption they will be available for iOS too) and both are totally recommended as they are both beautiful and fiendish in equal measure.

These are the games that are available now but there is at least one other upcoming game I’m now pinning my hopes on…

No Man’s Sky: If Elite Dangerous is all hard sci fi and stark, uncaring beauty, the upcoming No Man’s Sky is a throw back to the eye-popping wonder of the 1970s sci fi heyday. Both offer an immense procedurally generated universe. Both offer open gameplay and the freedom to explore and play in whatever way you choose. But NMS seems to offer a more complete offering of fun over ED’s patchwork of genius and boredom. NMS may also prove to be a big but dull game too, but until it does I’ll be keeping a hopeful eye on it…

Unfortunately that’s it for games and me. A combination of little time and even less interest means I’m facing a bleak few months on the gaming front. What about you? What are you playing, enjoying, not enjoying, waiting for? Leave a comment below.