24.9.14

Returning to a last year's project

Continuation: Project III/13

It looks like I dropped the Turkina just like that barely before I was finished with it. After a very short pondering session I dug up the unfinished mispainted pieces and those three armless miniatures on my mobile workstation.



Turkina

What I had planned, I had mostly done, so I just applied a brown wash over the piece as planned. That's all that was missing and like in so many cases before, I just didn't complete it. The basic reason is and stays the same: something more interesting came ahead.


If there's something missing, I could touch up on the insignia and numbering. Otherwise my Turkina Prime is finished. Again.

Dire Wolf

As the Turkina's look got so well improved with the previously documented treatment, I set the next pieces on the line in those thirty minutes I could spend one afternoon after coming home from work. Most of the surfaces were repainted with Vallejo's Sick Green and I did my best to leave the jade and metal -coloured pieces and the cockpit in peace. If I remember correctly, the Clan Jade Falcon insignia on top of the unit was the first one I ever freehanded, but it got painted over as well, even though I was quite proud of it. Pity is a disease and whatnot.




Executioner

While I still had some time and paint available, I proceeded to the next Point in line. Sadly I couldn't do all of them in that timeframe, after all the time I had spent collecting and preparing everything. The next session will be much more efficient, for I already will have everything set up and ready.
There's nothing special to say about this piece. I repainted it green. Tada!

It is a hideous 'Mech

17.9.14

Returning to New Vegas

A new playthrough

DLC packs and mods

This spring I received a couple of DLC packets to F:NV and I then proceeded to invest into the rest of them, for the sake of completeness. As I was waiting for Steam to install the game, I went and took a look at the mods available. There were tons of things, but I decided to go with the following pile:

First and foremost MedX -> morphine (the australians can get anxious with real names, I am not going to end up being a morphinist because of Fallout (or a smoker because of F1 ads)), FOOK (a trillion fixes etc), Fellout (removes the yellowish filter), More Perks, Automated Perks (you get perks based on your skills and levels, to compensate the loss of some perks it comes with a pile of new ones), Classic Fallout Weapons Pack (because I had to get a Pancor Jackhammer) and a Mauser pistol to replace a boring vanilla gun.

Being faithful to my playstyle I picked up unarmed, melee and sneak as my tag skills. Playing a Ninja is always fun, until someone starts minigunning or bazookaing me over a plain, coverless field with a good distance between us... but that's a problem much later on. On the SPECIAL side of things I boosted Strenght and especially Luck while dumping all that useless Charisma away. As I was trying to get to a nice Fallout 2 mood, I picked up the Wild Wasteland perk now, as I hadn't bothered to "waste" a slot the first time I played NV.



Someone really doesn't know you should't give lip to everybody...


Grinder

To build up my character I played the vanilla content pretty much Legionally, until I had dragged my charismaless but lucky ugly sob to level 16 and I dared to proceed to the new content. But while I was working on that I did random tasks, mostly improving on things I did "wrong" before, like weaponizing the Helios station instead of the useless energy redistribution. That's something that the NCR clowns didn't really appreciate and when I killed them all (they attacked me, it was self defence!) my companion Boone started whining a lot. I really didn't like his attitude, so I decided that I'd sell him a slave to the Legion as soon as I could.



No, I didn't, because it was not doable! Heresy and iconoclasy, that's what this is. During my wanderings I found out, accidentally, that my cocannibal Mortimer from the White Glove Society would gladly take my whiny companion for a fancy meal and I was more than happy to oblige. Bwahahahahaha. Baldies don't get to tell me what to do or not to do.




Old World Blues

The first DLC I approached was the crater of the mad scientists and it was insane. Everything was done so over the top that I was very, very amused.



For the first few encounters I had heavy difficulties (especially with the lobotomites), for I couldn't really cripple them at all and they withstood my small arms fire insanely well. After I had beaten a good baker's dozen of them with my trusty Sledgehammer I had found a pile of Protonic Axes. They ended up being one decent one and when I tried it, out of curiosity, on my enemies, they just fell like grain in the autumn. My Melee and Unarmed skills were already almost gapped at this point, but the more peaceful skills like Speech were pretty much in the drain, as I hadn't (or even couldn't) have pumped them one bit.



So the vast majority of Speech-, Barter- or Science -based skillchecks failed miserably, no matter how many packets of Mentats I stuffed into my face (I still didn't get addicted, lucky me!). Nicely enough some of the key discussions were completeable by other skills, so I didn't have to slaughter every single named character in the Big Mt area.


Mmmmm... Mentats...

Dead Money


Next up in my adventures was teh abandoned BoS bunker and there I was rewarded by unconciousness. Whoever goes to search for the treasure of Sierra Madre will find out that all his/her things are robbed, which is something I've always loathed as a damn cheap trick. To compensate you've just been given a bomb collar that blows up if you get too close to a radio or if one of your team dies. Sigh.

To make things even more wonderful, the village was full of immortal Trappers. I was really confused by the advertised immortality, until after many a gaming session one was only knocked out for a short while and at around halfway down the story a computer revealed to me that "you have to cripple them to kill them". That explains a lot, as I had always punched them so hard that a limb or a head always fell off on the first strike. Those damn holograms were much more problematic...

In the Sierra Madre Casino I blew the bank in the Blackjack table (thanks, lucky numbers) and spent my credits in those vending machines to buy Stimpaks, Mentats and other necessities. Before I left to the main map, I wasted all the credits and then wondered why I had ~1400 Stimpaks and ~100 Weapon Repair Kits and couldn't really walk anymore. Whoops. At leat the bunker was a handy place to stash all the stuff I couldn't practically carry with me.

This story was pretty straightforward and nothing too awesome, but it was worth playing through anyway. Of all the junk I picked up on the way the absolute best was the insanely genial Bear Trap Fists, which are even more awesome than Power Fists. That's saying something, right?


Lonesome Road


For my third extra adventure I went to the Canyon Wrecakge, because it was nearby and I had already discovered the location. The nuclear silo -filled area was littered with radioactive warheads (twenty in total) and you had to go around blowing them up with a laser detonator. Funnily the fallout didn't bother for more than a few seconds and nothing else but random junk (and those few still living enemies) were affected by the nuclear blast.



At the mid-point of the map I apparently launched an ICBM to the next village and the game warned that "you can proceed to x, if you dare to enter a nuclear warhead ground zero" (or something), when I had blown up eight warheads in the last hour and pretty much danced around them meanwhile...

"Sincerely yours, Michael Bay"

Here I encountered my first Deathclaws and I was slightly concerned about them. Then I killed the first one with a single power hit in VATS with the Proton Inversal Axe. Let's see what happens on the main map when I go and bully the really big ones. I'm eager to find out!




Just before I went for the final fight I checked out the Courier's Mile and that was a place that consumed RadX and RadAway. A handful of the first type and a good hundred of the latter one. Luckily enough the powered fists of a melee master took care of all the Deathclaws and those Marked Men with ease. Why did I got there at this point? Just in case that after the end fight I either a) couldn't go anywhere or b) couldn't go to certain places.




Somehow I managed to talk Ulysses down instead of beathing him to pulp with my Power Fist. I guess I just tried, out of curiousity, if I could do that with my laughably low Speech skills - and succeeded accidentally, thanks to my "search every millimeter and read everything you see" approach. That and non-speech skill checks, of course. Rather unsurprisingly I then reaimed the missiles to strike NCR alone and as my reward I got to see a beautiful mushroom cloud in the horizon. I guess that the NCR folks can't really get angrier at me, as I was vilified before I started with the first DLC packet.





Honest Hearts

To finish up the new adventures I marched into the Happy Trails Expedition's cave and after listening to a bit of scary stories (you can't leave soon) I joined the caravan heading to Zion. The canyon was surprisingly void of life, after the mandatory initial ambush. After that I just went around the map in an orderly fashion to unlock all the locations. Every once in a while a small fight with a savage or two (sometimes they were fighting each other or some animals), random Yao Guais, dog things or Geckos. Still, most of the time I was all alone.




Pretty early on I found a cave where Joshua Graham was hiding. I left him in peace at this point (he was red in my HUD and I didn't want to kill him before a chat) and proceeded to other places. I also didn't want to start the adventure by potentially closing maybe even big options in the story, before I had completed a single quest in the area.

Halfway done with the map - I was zigzagging from Southeast to Northnorthwest, towards a northeast location as my first quest target. I was pretty much amazed when rain surprised my while I was crawling through a canyon. Rain. Amazing.



When I was done with the map I found a map of the region from a clay pot and my next quest was to get the hell out of Zion. Everyone I had met was mad at me and therefore dead pretty soon after that. I was really, really confused and checked the wiki for a clue of what goes on. The explanation was simple: I had killed very early on a named character and that led to "Chaos in Zion" quest. What could I do if the savage attacked me without provocation? I guess I have to try this packet again later on, as this left a pretty stupid taste in my mouth.

Gun Runner's Arsenal

Guns. Ammotypes. Weapon mods. Challenges. More of these.
Well, you find guns and ammo everywhere and complete the challenges while killing people with different weapons. I really can't say much about the guns in GRA as I had already added more guns with the mod pack. All I can say is that I didn't get bored with the encountered hardware unlike in vanilla F3/NV ("yay, my hundred and seventy sixth cowboy repater") and I guess that was one of the points for this set. For some reason the weapon mods were really under a rock, or they just aren't spawned randomly and you ought to buy them instead.

Back to the vanilla content

With all the extra stories completed more or less satisfactorily I kept on unlocking map locs with my level 44 ugly man. During my adventures I had even found a couple of Jackhammers and was a *happy camper*.




In general, I was just running counterclockwise though the map starting from the Happy Trails Caravan's cave and smashed everyone in my way to pieces. Few people liked me on the west side, so I was just defending myself... Just to prove naysayers wrong I was friendly and helpful in Jacobstown, as the Supermutants were friendly towards me. Pretty soon I found myself next to the Quarry Junction and its gigantic Deathclaws. There were many of those bastards. I guess it says something about the 100% Melee skill that I Rippered four adult Deathclaws to bits without losing even 50% of my health - with a light armor. The baby deathclaws fell quickly to my AP-loaded minigun. Just a few seconds later the scary crazied Deathclaw Mother was cut into pieces by a couple of short, controlled bursts.


Brass knuckles vs Blind Deathclaws

To keep things fresh I helped the guy occupying the Vault 19's Overseer's office and only blew up the sulphur caves. Then I suggested him to join the Great Khans. That I did mostly because they are the henchmen of the Legion.

Slowly, while opening map locations, I approached the NCR camp in the ruins next to Primm and the target of my nuclear strike next to the Mojave Outpost. I sneak-rippered a handful of the guards and continued towards the toll station. All the NCRians were mad at me, so I had to approach sneakily. After a few minutes of sneaking I just jumped up and rippered everyone I met into pieces., before hiding again. At this point, when I could attack ten armed soldiers with just brass knuckles or a chainsaw and end the fight with mere scratches, I thought that maybe my character's a bit too good. Even though there's no cheating, an old quote ("I just shoot down everyone and never die, trallalallalaaa") from an anti-cheating column by Nnirvi kept creeping to my mind.




Long 15 was pretty much boring. There were a few irradiated soldiers with and without Power Armor. Pocketfuls of ammo some armor and a few guns were what I left with. The experience was pretty much like Courier's Mile, meh.

In the name of Caesar

When I had opened just about all of the visitable locations on the map and completed a random amount of side quests, I found myself on level 50. Then I decided that I'm not going to go for a 100% available quest completion rate, especially as I wouldn't gain much anymore and I had seen most of them already in my earlier playthroughs. Therefore I put all my resources for Caesar's use.



Just for the fun of it I obeyed Caesar and blew up the bunker of my BoS brothers, I mean, they had already trained me to use Power Armor - and unknowingly some spare armor as well. After that I cured Caesar's brain cancer and was sent to assassinate the president of NCR. The latter I took care of pretty lazily: I sneaked next to the platform and as soon as he was a couple of meters away, I activated my last Stealth Boy, shot him in the forehead with my trusty Jackhammer and sneaked further away in the ensuing chaos. From a healthier distance I then wiped out everyone who happened to be hanging around anymore. Maybe that wasn't as elegant a solution as a bomb hidden inside a Vertibird, but with the chaos it was pretty amusing anyway.

Conquering the dam was effortless at this point. All the opposition turned into red goo after I showed my minigun with AP-round at them, as long as I had those rounds. Maybe I should've learned how to make them myself. I guess I was just too lazy to do that sort of tinkering anymore.

If there's something I have to complain about, is the insane limitation that sets in if you work with and for the Legion. Much more than half the map is hostile, you can't recruit companions (or those you have leave) and a very respectable pile of quests (XP and loot) is denied and not that much is available from the other point of view to compensate. If you march in the ranks of NCR, you get so much more to do without even all the civilians bitching at you (or shooting at you as soon as they see the whites of your eyes). Bleh.

Just when I had this post finished, I got a piece of exciting news. Wasteland 2 will be out on the 19th. Wupii!



10.9.14

Factorio

v. 0.9.8

Those tiny details

One of my late spring rss feeds provided me with a trailer for Factorio. My very first thought was "hey, it looks like the Bitmap Brothers games, neat!" and when a train smashed some spacecockroaches, I was sold. Just for the fun of it I decided to invest into this alpha stage product, just like I did with Minecraft, thinking "maybe I'll get some fun out of this".

Of course I didn't get to try this 10€ game in ages, as I had so much to do and so many other things unfinished. But then, one beautiful evening I made the mistake of installing version 0.9.8. I'm going to warn you at this point already: after a few silly hours this game could be labeled addictiveish. Just like aforementioned Minecraft, if you're into sandboxes.

Initial confusion

To begin with I was totally lost with everything, but I absolutely refused to ask google after the first few minutes. Following the traditional route of miserable trial and a ridiculous error I got something understandable done. Most of my questions were answered while checking the key mappings.


The earliest adventures consisted of running around the map, searching for a place to start building something and collecting a starter pack of wood and rocks. Quickly enough I had a few wood-fired drills digging coal, copper and iron for me, a bunch of meters of transporter belts and some wood-fired robot arms throwing stuff from the belt into boxes. Yes, all of these were wood-fired - later on I switched into using coal, whenever I could afford it.


Progress and insane production chains

I guess it's traditional: the first phase is slow and pretty much full of manual labour, as I only had few resources and I had to build everything myself. Just like I had few items I could build with my raw materials, I naturally needed to research a bit to get more toys available. Slowly I had progressed into the steampunk age and had a steam power plant with a couple of furnaces heating water for it and I could start using electric devices and worry a lot less about my drills running constantly out of fuel. Pretty quickly I got the idea of automating things a bit. Meaning: I built two rows of ovens along the ore transporting belt and set robotic arms to refill the furnaces and others to take the procuts on the outer ring of conveyor belts.

After my lab rats had been scratching their eggheads for a while I could build some assembly machines, that ate the raw materials and built some first-level intermediate products. And when I had a couple of those in a nice (very messy-looking) chain, my end product transporters had things as complicated as more conveyor belts, circuit boards and electric robot arms. My main point was that not all of the low-tier products were consumed, so that I'd have some gear wheels and such for other assembly plants. It was lots of fun and pondering on the best setup was intriguing and neverending.

Genially the game does build your end product automatically, even if you don't happen to have the intermediates in your pockets, such as a circuit board, as long as you have enough of the base materials for everything. It just takes ages and you can only build one item at a time, which is why automating everything is the thing. In other words, it's much quicker to pick up a couple of intermediate items from a box to build a solar panel than wait for all six preceding steps done first. The factories build your necessary items and you then build the rarer things yourself (or use an individual assembler for those tasks), whenever needed.



Developmental discussion centers


At this point of the tech-tree my lab only ate red and green bottles (Science Pack) - and copious amounts of time. Building those bottles all the time was damn annoying, because I had to be doing that literally all the time (and they required pocketfuls of intermediates), so I refactored my assembly line in such a way that two assembly machines built both types, dropped them on a new belt, from where they were picked into the lab itself. The overflow of bottles were then picked up into a box so that my bottle factories didn't need to stop. Not horribly surprisingly my production was boosted insanely, as the science progressed automatically and I didn't have to stop every two minutes to build bottles (often picking up intermediates on the way) and carry them to the lab. Of course I wanted to double my research efficiency, so I had to double my bottle production as well. And as I was on the path of improving productivity, I updated the simple level 1 assemblers to level 2 (building speed went from 0,5 to 0,75). This will never end!




The wonders of automation



Of course this was the whole idea, I was just so pleased that I had come up with it myself. While writing this I had barely upgraded my stone furnaces into steel furnaces, with the goal of switching to electric ones as soon as possible. Even now the power required by my mines, robots and tiny factories consumed everything produced by my three steam power plants and they made an amusing amount of smog already. I had researched the solar panels already, but as they weren't going to help much over the night, I would need something more awesome. Yes, I want to start splitting atoms.



For the weird pleasures of all the statisctics-o-philes and other geeks you can get some neat graphs drawn of your production and electricity stats. I found it very fascinating. Those can show you when the production of thing x has died/dropped because of an unpowered furnace or something, but it can take ages to notice something like that. I do recognize the need for optimization here (I only have three fuel-powered furnaces without automated refueling at the moment), it's just that my current configuration just doesn't allow me to set those ovens up automatically. Maybe after yet another round of refactoring...



Fossil fuels

I found the oil refining damn weird to begin with, until it dawned to me that as the refinery spits out all three types of products, you either had to consume or store everything to keep the refinery running. Just using the petroleum gas to get solid fuel wasn't working for more than about ten seconds at a time. So I had to set one refinery to process two oil wellfuls of raw oil and behind that I built three chemical factories to turn all the products (petroleum gas, light and heavy oil) into solid fuel for my hungry furnaces.

Of course after I had that setup built, my scientists had unlocked the secrets of plastics production, and I had to build a couple more pumps, refinery and lines for plastics production (input: petr.gas and oil, output: plastic). I guess I have to research and then produce things like sulphuric acid and explosives.

At some point I got the awesome idea to start one assembler to build me a bunch of oiljacks (I found a field of 15 oil wells). The original idea of one or two oil wells providing for a single refinery etc did't really work out. So I built a mighty oil field, intermediate storage tanks and a long transport pipe that was then connected to the new crude oil network providing for my duo of refineries. Result: about twenty oil wells, of which only about four were mostly depleted.




Thoughts

I guess it's pretty much clear as day: Factorio is a fascinating and interesting game. This first game / world was started safely in a peaceful mode so I haven't got any monsters attacking me and I've been able to build stuff in peace. The fact that tweaking the difficulty setting will bring more fun and extra panic, I don't doubt it for a second. There'll be more mumbling about this later. Or not.

7.9.14

Finished: project IV/14

Some last minute doings

I painted those extra track links with Vallejo Chocolate Brown that I had modified with some red and yellow. For that sort of stuff I think I really need some better colours, but that's a general improvement issue for a later time. Then I coiled up the thin copper wire around the cable holder, painted it with chocolate brown as well and later washed with some devlan mud. Some wearable parts of the tank I gently touched on with Vallejo's Oily Steel. Just a bit and lightly. As my final silly idea I decided to use that on the teeth of the drive sprockets: I wiped the excess paint off the brush, turned the motor on and let the motion do its magic. Automatically applying the worn out effect to proper places.

Perhaps there could've been some things I could've touched on a bit, some things to improve and so on, if I had felt like it and had something really popped out to bother me. For a change I did a mostly unruined model and a pretty much pristine paint job on a tank. I guess I have to change things every once in a while to keep things fresh, eh?

Photos

I tell you, I took the photos happily and quite eagerly. While doing that I drove the tank back and forth along the sofa, through the silly obstacle course (multiple implementations) I had set up. Somehow I managed to forget to shoot the video footage that was the whole point of driving around in the first place! *cough* *cough*














Some stills taken on the go





Thoughts

I believe I said earlier that this model kit really reminded me of the often heard "shake the box, done" description of Tamiya models. Building this was really quick and easy. The motor setup was a fun thing and made me seriously consider that maybe, perhaps, I could potentially consider a remote-controlled Tiger with sounds and whatnot.

The Zimmerit stickers were extremely good. I would really like to encounter those things in a box in future projects. Of course one can buy those in AM sets for other kits, but it's not OOB then. Not that I care much, though. Anyway, this made me think if I should dare to take another shot at Friul tracks and if so, what else would I get into and would this ever end?

The Panther with some other same-scale German units