A new record maybe

(Version 2 of this post)

It has been over five weeks since I had posted – possibly an inauspicious new record. I hadn’t noticed.

I’m still logging into EVE once a week or so but doing little other than playing the skin collecting game. I have on several occasions really wanted – needed – to be able to do some mindless mining. The reality is however you need to pay attention when mining now, and that defeats the purpose of using it to relax.

I noticed that someone has picked up the EVEMon project and moved it off the old API. I haven’t tried it – but it is available here if anyone wants to give it a go:

(Edit.. changed link from current version on GitHub to the EVE Forum post that gets updated to the latest version as it is released:)

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/evemon-4-0-7-beta-esi-edition/75953

I am sporadically playing World of Warships. I tend to play a ship until I win its first battle of the day – which gives an XP bonus, then move onto the next ship. A consequence of that is I tend to end up with a large collection of ship lines all at the same Tier. At the moment that tier is VIII. I have been stuck at this point for a very long time – generally only around half way to Tier IX. To make matters worse – I find myself in Tier X matches more often than not, and even when I play at my very best, I have very little impact on the finally result.

I am only getting to Dungeon and Dragon’s Online once a month or less. I am meant to have Wednesday Night off to play, but my wife scheduled an activity for my Daughter on that evening.

Most of my gaming now is a session or two a day of Hay Day and SimCity on the iPad.

The main reason for this lack of free time is that I spend the vast majority of my days and evenings as a taxi service for my two kids.

EVE – even if I could find something new and interesting to do – just can’t get a look in.

Hunting Partner

My father has given up on Duck Hunting and has not been out the last couple seasons. While his hunting retirement relates to health issues, it occurred without an announcement. I had to piece things together from his rude disinterest and disparaging comments when I discussed going hunting with him.

It has had an impact on our relationship. My father is a selfish cantankerous man with anxiety issues and a penchant for insular views that he rudely pushes. He has greatly influenced the person I am today – through a long list of actions and behaviours of his that I’ve sworn never to mimic. Hunting was the way we stayed connected. I put up with him more than I might naturally be inclined, and he wasn’t quite as abrasive around me. Without hunting I am sure I would have had an estranged relationship with him from my teenage years.

I have been hurt by the change in him – but as I think I might have already mentioned – someone did offer the explanation that he might be grieving over the loss of his hunting. Others suggest his increase hostility and more erratic behaviour might be the beginnings of dementia.

Now, after 35 odd years of almost always hunting with my father, I am having to hunt on my own.

Hunting on your own is a lot harder. Two people can scout more locations, keep each other motivated, keep each other alert on the long drives, share resources, work together in the field, discuss the decisions that must be made, and see the highs and lows and be part of each other’s stories. Two people is also a lot safer.

Hunting solo you need to be better prepared, more aware of your limitations, keep yourself motivated, and understand those special moments – a brilliant Sunrise, and beautiful double taken over decoys, won’t ever be truly shared.

Yes, there is an obvious EVE analogy in there. I’m clearing out some recent half-finished posts from my blog notes that I figure I won’t ever finish, but there seemed enough of this one to post anyway.

Turning ugly

This WordPress site was created back in January 2011. In August 2012 I spent $60 to remove ads and allow some custom changes to the theme for 12 months. I spent the same in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 the cost went up to $78 a year to achieve the same thing. I paid that, then again in 2016 and 2017. This year WordPress has moved to site plans. To remove ads and keep the same customisation choices will now cost $120.

I can’t justify spending that much for my own vanity – just to have things looking a little neater.

I’ll see what I can do – but if you are one of the few regular visitors here, I apologise that things are likely to shortly turn ugly.

My internet access woes continue. It has been two weeks today. I received a FTTC Network Connection Device for the house. It is meant to connect over my old Copper phone line to and power a FTTdp device in the phone pit down the street. The connection behind the FTTdp is Fibre. Unfortunately, the NCD hasn’t been able to establish an initial connection. Someone is scheduled to come and look at the issue today. Meanwhile we still have no phone, and unreliable and very slow Internet.

I did risk undocking the other day and managed to get to Jita. Hazard a guess as to what I was doing? Yes, that’s right – picking up a few ship skins.

Preparation

A few weeks ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I went mid-week – which is not ideal if you want other hunters to be around to push up a few birds. I went out at the wrong time of day – starting around lunch when birds are not likely to be moving and coming back in before sunset, where there is a window of opportunity of catching birds moving to roost. I went out in the wrong weather – a clear windless day, which reduces the chances of birds moving. Last of all I just walked the relatively open swamp I was hunting – out in the open with minimal chance of success. I had everything stacked against me – and was rewarded with an empty bag.

As I wearily got back to my car the Warden of the private hunting property I was on drove by and tactfully pointed out I was doing it all wrong. I agreed – but said I had a very small window of opportunity to get out of the city, and a bad hunt was better than no hunt at all. He remarked that I might have had more luck if I hadn’t come in so early. I agreed – but said I had to be home to take one of my children to an activity. I then said what I was really doing was scouting for a future hunt, watching the flight paths the birds took, working out where I would setup. I recounted what I had observed, and he was able to confirm what I had thought and gave additional information about where other hunters often went, adjacent wetlands that birds travelled between, and the different behaviour of some of the common species on the swamp.

A couple days ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I had planned to go earlier but the weather was too calm, so I delayed the trip. This delay also increased the chance other hunters would be about. I was on the road at 3:30am to ensure I arrived and was setup well before sunset. Instead of finding some random spot, I waded straight to the location I wanted to hunt in the dark, under the intersection of two flight paths I had earlier observed. I put out a small set of decoys. At this point in the season birds were weary of landing in anything but larger decoy spreads, so this small grouping was more about confidence and explaining my calls. As the sun rose the wind picked up noticeably and other hunters started to shoot. In very tricky conditions I had an enjoyable and successful hunt and came home with a good feed.

When you hunt solo like I have been the last couple of years you can sometimes stumble into a very successful hunt by chance, but mostly, it requires a lot of preparation and effort to have some semblance of success.

This playing EVE analogy was brought to you by the wild duck stew I will be eating tonight.

Your own way

“They found old 99 knocking on the front door, trying to get back into Atmore..”

Before the age of around 12, music did not really play much of a part in my upbringing. While my father had a strong preference for us kids to spend our days outside, I think the dearth of music related more to my parent’s lack of spare money. It wasn’t really until the first year of high school that popular music hit my radar. It was around the same time I became a lot more aware of the concept of conforming to the norm and trying to fit in.

My early exposure to music came from commercial radio, what other kids listened to during lunch at school, and of course the now iconic Australian music TV show, Rage. I was destined to have very mainstream tastes until my Mum pulled out a very old record player and let me listen to her collection of LPs. It turned out Music had been a big part of her life growing up, especially when she was working and single.

I listened to the likes of The Carpenters, John Denver, Kenny Rodgers, Dr Hook, Elvis, ABBA, The Beatles, Neil Diamond – music that at the time was very uncool. I consumed their full albums, and in amongst a lot of stuff I didn’t think much of, I got an appreciation of what a truly classic song can be, found B side gems, and realised I was going to miss out on a whole lot of good music if I just followed what everyone else listened to. It was my first – easily hid – move to being an individual.

I’m not talking about being an individual by rebelling against conformity. That just ends up being a sort of conformism in its self. I’m talking about making choices and decisions on what you like truly for yourself – even if that is what everyone else likes, or if it is as obscure as all hell.

I am proud of my digital music collection. It currently has a bit over 4,000 songs in it, carefully gathered over the last 20 odd years. It is made up of only songs I love and can listen to over and over again – usually just a couple from each album. It is a very eclectic mix divided across 13 genres, current to more than 90 years old, from very popular to completely uncool. It doesn’t matter what I click on – I know I will enjoy listening to it. It wouldn’t be there otherwise. It is more than just a source of entertainment, but a partial reflection of what makes me, me.

On the weekend, I spent half a day searching for music on YouTube. One of the Yachting videos I was watching used Christopher Cross’s award-winning song, Sailing, as part of its background music. I had forgotten just how brilliant that song was, so I went off to find the best version I could to add to my music library. YouTube suggestions lead me further down the path of classics from the 70 and 80, by artists including Lionel Richie, Billy Ocean, Roger Hodgson, David Gilmour, and in the end, Dr Hook.

One of the B sides I loved in my youth was by Dr Hook. It talked about the stories a boy and his brother heard from their prison guard grandfather. The final stanza or two was about one prisoner who was transferred to a different jail, broke out, and was found knocking on the door of their old Jail asking to be let back in. It had always struck a chord with me, and I had looked for the song a number of times over the years without luck. (I couldn’t remember enough details to identify it). It was also not on the various Best of Compilations I had purchased, hoping to find it that way.

At the end of my music hunting on the weekend I stumbled across it. It was called Atmore – but I think it is actually meant to be called 99 and me.

If you want to know why I play EVE the way I do – my own way – this song was one of the very first reasons.

This idle thought was brought to you by

The Nosy Gamer –

http://nosygamer.blogspot.com.au/2017/08/winter-is-coming.html
http://nosygamer.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/eve-online-lifeblood-surprise-expansion.html

And Wilhelm Arcturus

https://tagn.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/meaningful-progression-in-new-eden-pve/

Who got me thinking once again about how the game of EVE can be for the Solo Empire Player, and where it might be heading, if anywhere.

Opened Eyes

(One of the Non-EVE Posts I mentioned earlier.)

My son regularly tries to access Reddit. He is 12.

He has two iPads (one for school, one for home), an Xbox One S, and a Windows Gaming Desktop. On each I have set up restrictions around age, applications and store purchases, given him non-administration accounts, locked him into child friendly DNS, use Norton and Windows Family software and what not. I also keep a semi regular eye on what he is doing, reviewing his logs and history.

I must annoy him no end when I refuse to allow him to install lots of games his friends do – generally based on if they are too realistically gory or violent, or with concepts that are just too dark.

What I have done won’t protect him fully, but it helps, and it is why I’m aware of his interest in Reddit.

He loves gaming and wants to be a game developer after school. His wayward web searches have always been aboveboard, hunting down game and development tips and reviews and bug fixes. When blocked he knows just to move on and try the next link.

Some of my son’s peers have far more restricted access to the internet. One has an extremely technically minded father who has rewritten their modem’s firmware with all sorts of parental controls over access, times, length, sites visited and what not. A handful are simply not allowed to access the internet at all without their parent sitting with them.

The majority however – the vast, vast majority, have minimal or no restrictions or monitoring on their Internet use. In some cases, they have even circumvented the rudimentary controls that their non-technical parents had tried to implement, or have their older siblings do it for them.

I’m sure there are lots of healthy and useful areas in Reddit, but it really isn’t a platform I want my son to be familiar with at his age. The mind truly boggles at just what the majority of kids must be accessing on their devices, and from such a young age. My god that could mess up the minds of so many kids.

While I make an above average effort to protect my son, I don’t go to the extremes I am technically able to. I use it more as an opportunity to explain why some of the sites are blocked, and he uses it as a debating point on when or why he should have access. I hope the fact that it is something we openly communicate about helps him when he visits friends or sleeps over, and doesn’t have the same sorts of restrictions or protections in place.

Time Flies out the door

Aside a couple sessions working on T3 fittings, I’ve spent very little time playing EVE over the last few weeks. I have been reading about the current and approaching wars, but it all tends to come across as the same old story, just a different day. The style of propaganda probably doesn’t help much there. I think the August release is arriving today. I looked at the patch notes but not much stood out. There is a new event starting called Lucky Clash, a new Standings UI, and some updates to the map and scanning interfaces I’ll have to look at. One nice change is that scan results no longer clear on session changes.

I have been playing a bit of World of Warships, and try to fit in a couple battles each day. I actually feel like I am playing ok – not brilliantly, but regularly being in the top 3 or 4 experience earners in my team. This is not however reflected in my stats. My win rate for the last 3 months is sitting at around 40% from 215+ battles. I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does. It doesn’t make it a particularly satisfying game.

I am sailing a lot of Tier VII and VIII Cruisers at the moment, and often find myself bottom tier up against Tier IX and X ships. The Battleships just chew through you – the majority of your strikes just shatter, but every time one of their shells land, boom, 30 to 40% of your hits are gone. It only takes one or two salvos and you are out of the game. I say the same thing over and over – but it pretty much sums up my experience.

Recently I resorted to running a few Tier III/IV matches, up against a generally lower level of player. I am finding I am normally effective, sometimes enough to carry a match. It was a confidence boost I needed. The above battle was particularly memorable with the Murmansk captain well and truly outclassing everyone. I am pretty sure he came out with around half his hit points still. I did a lot of spotting and had many torpedo hits in that game – being untimely robbed of several kills. I cemented the win by soloing a Battleship parked in one of the Capture points, and then choosing not to engage the Murmansk and focus on ensuring a strategic point win. I have seen a lot of games lost by players focused just on drawing blood. It is an easily exploited tactic used in EVE.

I am still doing a DDO Session every week or so with friends. They use the one night I join them to do loot runs, primarily in EPIC level quests. They all have characters with many reincarnations and highly optimised set ups and equipment. They run these quests solo, and in groups they move mindlessly at breakneck speeds. There is no such thing as stopping to smell the roses. Often, I spend the entire session running to catch up, struggling to even just target opponents before they are swiftly killed by the others. It doesn’t tend to be fun. I had to put aside all but one of my highest-level characters as they just fell too far behind. I am down to just using my original Cleric now, and while I often pull my weight in the kill count, it is just a handful of crowd control tactics used over and over and over again. I just don’t have the time – or the inclination – to spend the months required to partially catch up. The reality is I should stop playing.

Speaking of stopping, I’ve pretty much stopped playing all my iPad games – with just the occasional glance at them with weeks or months between. Interesting how none of them have really been able to hold my interest like EVE had.

All told my gaming time has dropped by more than 50% over the last year. I should have a bit of spare time on my hands, maybe to tackle something new. Real life however energetically vacuums any of that time up. Mostly it sees me taxiing kids around to their silly number of activities and events. I am struggling a bit with the lack of escapist downtime.

I have written various more personal blog entries that I never posted. I might throw one or two of them up for the other middle-aged gamers with kids to nodded their heads at and mumble yep.