Meanwhile, in Tyria… I’m Exploring! With a capital E!

I’ve played GW2 since the beta weekends and even though I’ve had a couple of longish breaks I’ve never gained my world completion badge. Hell, until recently I had never been into the area where the Shatterer fight is staged and only had two way points in Tequatil’s stomping ground!

Well this is set to change.

I’ve wanted to explore more of the world but always had such a blast running with the Gs that it never quite seemed the thing to do – after all, why run about on your own when you can fight with your mates in a fractal or laugh together in a jumping puzzle? But now a few of the Gs are on a break in Tamriel (myself included to some extent) I’ve decided to pull my socks up and just bally get on with it.

Last night I finally completed Caledon Forest and Metrica Province and tonight I found my way into to some of the more obscure event chains and areas such as Oola’s Lab (although I missed Spekk’s lab so I’ll have to head back!) and tonight I started in Sparkfly Fen an immediately  found an amazing ruined castle haunted by pirate ghosts! God I love this game 😀

Gw2-64 2016-03-27 23-08-02-91

A dark and foreboding entrance… who could resist?!

Gw2-64 2016-03-27 23-06-56-86

Inside the ancient structure is rotting away…

Gw2-64 2016-03-27 23-06-35-40

The floors have given way into a deep, dark, and haunted hell hole…


Elite Dangerous: A Burro muses on the boredom of exploration in 1.0

For my next randomly* chosen concern over Elite Dangerous I thought I’d have a look at** exploring and scanning.

Let me share with you a wee secret about exploring in Elite Dangerous: it can be a little dull. Shh! don’t tell anyone I said that or I’ll be kicked out of the club, but it’s true. Flying about the galaxy looking at stuff can be a little repetitive and uninteresting because once you’ve seen one class M star and flown through its flare to scoop fuel, well it’s more or less the same the next fifty times you do it. Of course this isn’t the point as if looked at like that everything up to and including breathing could be seen as a dull waste of your time and of course exploring is not about just going out places and ticking them off a list, it’s about risking all to see things no one has seen before and gathering data that you can feed back to the rest of humankind so they can use it to expand and move outwards across the face of the Milky Way! Exploring is about feats of daring do and noble self-sacrifice, damn it! Exploring is for real men (and women!) and don’t let anyone tell you different!

Which is why it’s a shame that exploring in ED is a bit of a dull anti-climax. Given a couple of weeks, some measure of self-restraint and some luck anyone can get across the galactic disk and look back over the thousands of light years to where Earth would be and think “Oh. Well that was easy. Erm. Right then, best head back I suppose…” OK, I’m simplifying it a bit but back when ED was still waiting to launch its Alpha test upon a slathering fan base, some people decided they were going to set up a group of travellers and explorers called The First Great Expedition to plan, resource and execute the first cross galaxy expedition. When the game was launched some bloke got to galactic centre on day one on his own. That’s just not good.

Still, you might argue,there is planetary scanning and that should slow explorers down as they stop to gain detailed planetary scans of the system bodies. Indeed there is, I might counter, and do you know what that looks like in practice? Do you? Well let me tell you…

You jump into an unexplored system and apply the anchors so you are far enough way from the star to target it without cooking and you let the automatic scanner scan the big hot ball of plasma automatically. At the same time you fire up the top of the range scanner you have undoubtedly fitted and a few seconds later it lists every single body in the system. You can then choose the ones that you want to scan and set sail for them to complete a detailed scan of their surfaces. At this point you might think that to obtain a detailed surface scan of a planet you’d have to get pretty close and set up some form of orbit pattern to, oh I don’t know, scan the surface but you’d be wrong. In fact all you have to do is point your nose at it and the automatic scanner scans it automatically for you and from such a great range that many bodies are little more than dots surrounded by targeting circles on the HUD . That’s right folks, to scan the surface of Earth you can sit in your ship somewhere by Mars and wait for the dashboard countdown to finish and baddabing you have obtained a detailed surface scan of the planet.

Now you tell me, is that what you were expecting when you imagined the life of a journeying planetary surveyor, because it sure as hell wasn’t what I was imagining and every time I do it as I jump in between systems I feel like a fraud – a feeling not helped when finding a system marked as wholly unexplored and then discovering there are three stations orbiting bodies in it! Unexplored? Really Frontier? Really? So nobody scanned and recorded these systems before mankind built several stations here on the off chance there were planets to orbit and they weren’t about to explode or whiz off in an erratic orbit or spew forth a horde of flappy bastards with teeth, claws and a liking for human eyeballs and testicles?

Sigh, look, before I do end up ranting here’s what I think they should do to make exploring fun:

1) Make exploring hard – bloody hard! Make ships take lots of wear and tear damage meaning they have to have resources and tools for repairs. Force they to mine asteroids (and then land on planets to gather resources once we can land on planets) to get materials to feed the auto-repair devices. Trying to explore without these should – must – spell certain doom for those foolish enough to try. Exploring should be one of the hardest, harshest, toughest things in the whole bloody game because that’s exactly what exploring is!

2) Make system scanning take time and effort. No more total scans of whole systems – that’s bullshit. Give the scanners a 500ls, 1000ls and 2000ls range and make people travel out to see if they have found everything.

3) Make planetary scans require that the ship orbits the body whilst scanning and add a display in the same place as the cargo scoop display that shows the planet and the area covered by the scan as the ship passes over and only when the entire body has been scanned is the scan complete.

4) Make the data worth something! Complete scans should be worth a lot more than incomplete, first time scans should be worth a lot more than subsequent scans (although they should always be allowed so as to provide funds to future players). Factions and political powers should want this data and they should act on this data.

5) Make the reason for exploring and scanning more than just “because its there” for the simple fact that such a motivation only ever applies to a small number of people. The factions a powers and even the august Universal Cartographics should offer jobs to players to gather this data. Hell there should be a careers path as a planetary surveyor! I would want to be a UC surveyor!

6) And while we are at it – why does the system scanner and the planetary scanner occupy different slots? For the love of all that is holy make the planetary scanner part of the top of the ranger system scanner – it would free up a slot for one thing! Hell, you could combine both in each scanner type but make them both weaker in the lower end ones and better in the high end ones – the system scanner half of the combined unit should getter better in terms of range and smaller body sizes it can find, and the planetary half would offer basic body composition at the lower end up to life and the habitable data at the top end.

As always I should point out I’m really enjoying the game, these issues may well be on the development radar, and I could be wrong (although I don’t think I am, of course :-D) so what do you think?


This is exploring the exciting way…


…whilst this is not. Can you spot the 8 subtle differences?

* The first thing I could remember I wanted to post about – I really should start a list.

** Rant.

Commander’s Log [Cmdr William Gearwright] : [ISDV Vestigial Echo] : [Brunton Gateway/Dulos 6/Dulos : [29/01/3301]

[Report Summary] Prepping to leave Dulos on a ‘rare run’ for Antfarm Consolidated.

[Manifest] Leaving Dulos with 32t of animal meat, tea and coffee (mixed tonnage) on route for Phiagre to start a rare goods circuit.

[Incidents] n/a

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

[Private Entry/Decrypted/FdTd465-Terp576934] [embeds enabled] So Dulos has finally done it. It is splitting from the federation and becoming an independent system. Frak me, I never thought it would..

Look, I know I’ve been all gung-ho to keep us in with the Feds, but I’m on record as stating I’d rather Dulos be an Indie. The Federation bleeds us dry and we all know it; they tax high and give low, but at least they aren’t slavers and my worry has always been that if we leave the safety of the Federation we would become easy prey for the Empire given how we are inside the fringe borders of their volume.

Still, that wasn’t my greatest worry over the last few weeks. True, being owned by the Imps would have seen me leave, but my biggest fear was a loss of democratic rule and a bloody civil war.

This hasn’t happened.

This is huge. This is a major win for democratic rule. A referendum was held and the Green Party obeyed the wishes of the people and stood down. Dulos was allowed to choose and they have chosen the Defence Party who have declared us an Indie system.

And I’m OK with that. Really, I am. Sure I fought for the Greens but only because they stood for democracy. Now the Defence Party do and a democrat I will support them as out leaders.

Unless they sell out to the Empire, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. For now I’m going to head out of a long range rare run. Old Man Antfarm figures it’s wise for me to keep out of the way until the DP prove their claims of amnesty. If they do then I’ll arrange for my family to return to ‘6 and head back myself to help with the transition to independence.

[Upgrades] Given I’m going to be trading in rares for next few weeks, I’ve sold off my last 4t cargo module and fitted a planetary scanner in its place. On top of that I’ve removed the recently fitted shield cell and had one of the advanced system scanners bolted on instead. Why, you may ask, am I reducing my cargo capacity and removing my shield safety net when I’m about to venture into deep space and pass through a great many anarchy systems? Simple, I’ve got a gig with UC as a short-term contracted survey scout. the Old Man is fine with it as it won’t affect his bottom line and it’ll help me to boost my income whilst gaining some much needed training in stellar surveying & cartography. After all, you never know when the delivery work will dry up, do you?

Elite Dangerous: What a Burro wants from the next Elite game, part three…

At my gaming heart I’m an explorer, but a lazy explorer. If you say to me “Here’s the whole universe to explore!” I will think this is a good thing. If you then also add that to do this exploring I will have to spend a long time flying through boring black space and along the way there will only be a slim chance I will witness anything more exciting than a nice sunrise over a gas giant then I’m going to suddenly be much less inclined to explore. That kind of exploration has all the hallmarks of grinding and we all know by now how I feel about bloody grinding, don’t we.

Now in the many fan eulogies of Elite & Frontier I have heard how people would just set off to cross the galaxy or to find generation ships and asteroid hermits and whilst these have all sounded like great fun as a concept, the execution did not. Mostly they are tales of people wasting hours just going nowhere or, more accurately, finding nothing except more procedurally generated empty black space and that is, frankly, a dull waste of my time as I said here.

I don’t want Elite Dangerous (*name shudder*) to be like that. I want to explore it and I want it to want me to explore it. How can Frontier Developments do that? Well I think a little like this…

  1. Put lots of exciting things to find and see in there. Exploding stars, old space battle wrecks, glorious nebula, dou ble ice rings that we can fly through and any number of other marvels that can be generated on the fly. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I want ED to grant me the chance to see the sort of cosmic wonders & interstellar events that I will never, ever get to see for real.
  2. Put achievements in there. At one time I hated them but Guild Wars 2 showed me the light. They are fun and give just the right boost of energy to a flagging desire to explore. I want to collect all the super novas, lost ships and forgotten miners in the game so I can paint the achievement badge decal on my cockpit dash 🙂
  3. Another lesson to learnt from GW2 is that of Dynamic Events. In somewhere as big and empty as space there needs to be some stuff happening for me not to nod off at the joystick and I want to see a DE engine built in to keep even the deepest of deep space explorations interesting. Imagine an old hulk you find that explodes out with pirates or hidden military forces! What about the deep-black sci-ship that will be sucked into a black hole unless you refuel the engines? The possibilities are endless!
  4. A last lesson they could take from GW2 is that of jumping puzzles. In GW2 these have always been a real marmite issue but well handled by Arenanet so that the people who hate them don’t have to do them whilst those that love them have turned them into an almost e-sport within the game. I’d like to see this happen in ED but instead of jumping, I’d like to see flight skills such as slingshoting, aero-braking & maybe even warp-skipping employed to reach an otherwise unobtainable location.

This is only a flavour of what it will take to keep me exploring and I have no idea if the Devs are considering anything like it, but if they are not and they just expect people to fly off for three hours of pretty screensaver time then I know that I’ll be bitterly disappointed.

Meanwhile, in Survival Craft…


Cliiiimb every mouuuntaaaaain, fooord every streeeam!

A Nish in Luskwood!

Nish’s travels have reached Lusk – catch up with her latest adventures amongst the furries over on her great blog here 🙂

All at sea to see what I could see

Wow! The Hunting Magellan forums have lit up again with a new possible sighting of the ill-famed suff – this time a bottle has been found bobbing in the recently gridded waters of the ocean sims east of Nautilus that made up Blake Sea. Spotted in ‘Blake Sea – Indian‘. The bottle contained a garbled message seemingly from the pilot of a downed plane. Now whilst this carelessness with transportation did indeed sound like our man, the few words that could be made out in the message did not:

Please rescue ~~~ ~~ name ~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ and I’m a pilot for the Blake Sea ~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~ crashed, and I’m stuck on a tro~~~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ in ~~~ ~~~~~ part of the Blake Sea.
The plane went down near ~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~.  My EPIRB must be broken.  I’m tired of eating fish!

I went right out there as soon as I could (photo record here) but couldn’t decide if it was from Magellan or not – my gut says it isn’t… watch this space!

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Blake Sea

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Blake Sea Hunting for Magellan Linden in Blake Sea

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Blake Sea

P.S. For more about the hunt, check out my Magellan Linden page which has all the links you’ll need to join the hunt and help us find the drunken old misery.

The Hunt for Magellan: Exploring Nautilus

Yesterday three groups of brave souls gathered together at the Bodega Explorer’s Base all ready for a leap into the gaping maw of unknown danger that is the newly discovered Nautilus continent. I joined Salazar Jack, Osprey Therian, Enjah Mysterio, Ilianexsi Sojourner & Neal Lyle at the base and Sal handed out his custom made safety suits which we donned gratefully (1). We were on the trail of the ever-illusive Magellan and this time were hot on his trail.
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

The heat of the trail was largely due to his flipping monstrous nuclear-powered void-boring mole-tank which we found jutting out of the ground in the style of your everyday impressive phallic totem.
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

The insides of this tank were the expected booze-filled shambles we have come to expect from this 40% proof doer of daring dos.
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

But soon we had exhausted the crash… I mean landing site (sorry, force of habit when talking about Magellan) and moved east along the canal bank towards the temple mentioned in the Linden’s post. At some point first Enjah then Sal & Osprey fell or jumped into the water and after a mad dash to add buoyancy upgrades to our suits we all found ourselves swimming to the temple instead.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

Despite two of our party getting trapped in unstable areas of the canal wall and needing rescue and then Neal having to leave unexpectedly, we soldiered on until we found the sunken wreck of an old wooden ship. Sal theorised that it could be the ship of the famed seafaring Captain Elias Reedbuck which disappeared more than three hundred years ago.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

At this point Osprey began to feel unwell and we headed up and to land for some air. It was at this point, as we set foot on the land at the base of the temple, that we experienced our first time tremor! Sal had warned us this might happen and had asked us to take notes on the sim performance. As we walked up to dry land the Time Dilation readings dropped to sub-zero numbers and we all felt the horrible stretching feeling of trying to wade through air the density of warm blue-tack.

I was separated from the others and whilst they found their way inside the temple, I managed to get to the steps that led up to the top just as the time tremor stopped.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

I climbed the steps…

Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

…and found myself in a square chamber with an enormous crystal pumping energy particle upwards through a chimney arrangement to an even bigger crystal above.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

Here the energy seemed to radiate off to the four cardinal points a well as into the sky. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it was for or how it all worked (2) but by this time I had decided it was best to find the others and tell them about the crystals.

It turned out they had found several of their own inside – including a large group that seemed to be the source of the energy I had seen above and a strange pipe-organ like construction that I theorised might be some form of harmonic controller but which I simply could not make work.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

Over on the other side of the main power crystals, Osprey had found a beautiful dolphin shaped submarine (which whilst looking tiny, managed to accommodate my seven foot bulk).

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

As we were admiring the sub (and wondering about the books on world domination laying nearby) a strange half fish-half mole Mole popped up to say hello. Silent Mole (a perfect name for the wee fella) had come to see who was in the temple (3) and mentioned that there was another submarine out to sea before he swam away giggling to himself.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

Having explored the interior quite thoroughly, we moved off outside and Sal led us to a huge statue thrusting out to sea at the very front of the temple, a female Poseidon-style figure with a fish tail instead of legs and holing aloft a flaming torch and glowing orb. From the front of her plinth a crystal spike jutted out and emitted a stream of energy particles similar to those pouring from the roof high above us.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

Next to the statue was a ruined pharos and although we talked long and hard about why this was the only ruin to be found in this other wise perfectly preserved temple. There was a small collection of crystal in the wreckage leading us to wonder if the lighthouse had suffered some form of fatal power surge. I still find it strange that the only structure around that would have been used to aid nearby ships was ruined…

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

By now time was drawing on – we had suffered another time tremor and as the third hits us, at about 10 minute intervals our rough calculations suggested (4), we made our way up to the roof so I could show the others the crystals and chimney I had spotted earlier.

Hunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus
Hunting for Magellan Linden in NautilusHunting for Magellan Linden in Nautilus

And then it was time to go. Bed was calling back in RL and I had to wave goodbye. But I shall be back – there is more to discover at the temple and in this new land.

What are the crystals powering and how? Are they trying to draw ships in or repel them? Did they power the field that shielded the land from detection? What is the pharos ruined but nothing else? Who owns the dolphin craft and why are they reading books one world domination? What is the strange cyclical time dilation event that is felt in that area but does not show up on the sim stats? All these questions and more will keep me awake until I can return again and poke around for answers.

And while I’m on the subject of questions… where the bloody hell *is* Magellan? Jack Linden said at his recent office hour that the mole tank ol’ Mag arrived in is broken, so where is he now? Answers on a postcard (but to the forum please).

Yours in Nautilus,
HeadBurro Antafrm
P.S. pop over and read Osprey’s report here. And Enjah’s here.

(1) Horizontal stripes do not suit us gentlemen, I have to say. Also, due to my horns, I had to put my specially made spacesuit over the top as it contains a nano-particle sealing system that allows my horns to jut out through a helmet without my face being sucked off. Also, I think Sal should really install some cubicles at the base – I caught Osprey peeping over to watch us fellas change more than once. I know she did because I was watching Enjah at the time.

(2) Sal’s GINI device would give him no meaningful readings through the temple but his friend Champie is working on another version.

(3) That’s his story – he may well have been reporting us to Blue for all we know…

(4) Rough calculations = two of us looking at the system clock at the previous time tremor and then again at the following one and then struggling to remember what the first time was and then trying to do the mental arithmetic needed to work out what 2:26 to 2:35 was and then fudging the answers a little to compensate for several factors that included but were not limited to: doing several things at once, needing answers typed before people walked out of range, trying to work with odd numbers, filtering in and then out the various time differences, sunspots, a gimpy leg, fleas and the needed to wee but having no bag in the bloody suit.

SL Beauty: Rodeo Bay and Kahruvel Forest by Windlight

I was in Rodeo to re-taking a pic for the blog header so I could have it all in windlighty glory when two things happened. One I bumped into Doug who flew by in an amazing dive, loop and landing, and two I had the idea to replace the blog header more often with windlighty goodness 🙂

Here is Doug:
Postcard from Second Life.

Here is the full pic for the blog header:
Postcard from Second Life.

I’m on the look out for more so stay tuned 🙂

p.s. here was the old pic:
The old BB blog header

Uncharted lands… sort of :)

On a tip from Baker, I hopped over to the sort-of-not-really-uncharted lands of Ishel Down and environs. Baker took far better pics than me, but both his and mine give a glimpse of virgin Linden land that is rarely seen in the older mainland continents. A wonderful sense of desolation that feels like the foothills of the Rockies 🙂

Here is the lay of the land…
Ishel Down 1

Look! Natives!
Ishel Down 2

Who’s this handsome beast?
Ishel Down 3