Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - 2012/01/27

Been wanting to post this for a long time.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The first big bike tour


As we are approaching the end of January I'm already thinking about the mileage I want to do once the snow melts. The thing is that I'm preparing a special treat for my summer vacation which will be closer to a fall vacation actually. And a first big bike tour does not happen on a whim and now that the holidays are behind us it's time to get ready for what will be my first true bike adventure ride. I skipped a big one last year because of lack of funds but I admit I had zero preparations. But this one... oh man so many things to think about! The plan is to take four weeks of vacation starting at the end of August. The first week will be spent with my youngest son who will be starting school (finally, both guys in one location!) and I after this week is done I want to hit the road for about two weeks. The map says 555 km; I'd say tack on about a hundred because I do want to see stuff. Plus some days may be 100+km days, others 40-ish. At least the last leg of the tour is mostly downhill so it should work. So far I'm doing this solo but who knows, someone may be crazy enough to accompany me! One thing is sure, I don't want this tour to be a race so it shouldn't be too hard on the body. I'll make sure the body is ready beforehand though.

Stay tuned for more tour prep updates!


Edit: I've refined the path for a more pleasant ride visually as well as physically. The bit between Thurso and Tremblant will still be killer I bet! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

ZOMG I logged onto EVE!

Apparently I had to log in a bit tonight because in 12 hours Minmatar Battleship V will be done. This will be followed by Gallente Battleship IV, and then V for a pretty uber Machariel, which I will never own because 1- I don't have the patience to make the obscene amount of ISK required to get one, and 2- I'm not crazy enough to dump real-life money (and quite a bit of it) on a game I don't care much about anymore.

Because I do have to log back in in about 5 days I may scrape up the energy needed to fly out somewhere and lose a ship or five. The important word here is "may".

Aight... back to having fun !!! :))


Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - 2012/01/20

Late lunch hour that is :) I haven't posted some drum corps stuff in a bit so here's an earful. Good luck keeping up with the strokes :))


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pssst, U.S. government...

I hope you get the fucking message.

That is all.


Monday, January 16, 2012

How to stretch the endgame: Skyrim modding

As I was mentioning in my last post, despite still having a lot of side quests and miscelaneous quests to find and finish I am slowly getting closer to having seen and discovered everything there is to see and discover in Skyrim. I hit another benchmark yesterday when I finally pushed Enchanting to 100 and applied the perk that enables two enchanments on the same item. Yep, tonight I have to craft the last set of gear from the vanilla game and it will be devastating! But despite being so close to "the end" there is still a lot of fun to be had in Skyrim. After being done with the story of a game, I like to see what makes it tick, as well as finding little things that help my life without going into cheating territory. Let's enter the realm of Skyrim modding, especially the mods I use and plan to use; no, not the nude mods and that damn Macho Man dragon mod, useful stuff.

Quality 3D map with or without roads: Have you ever wished that the map had more flexibility? Or wanted to zoom in a lot closer to see if there is a way up that 80 degree rock face to reach that remote dragon lair? Or do you want the map to look like a proper medieval parchment map? Well look no further! This was the first mod I installed for Skyrim and every time I play the game I thank the guy who made it. It's that good. I strongly recommend you get it.

No More Blocky Faces: While the faces of the people of Tamriel look far better than they used to in Oblivion, they still aren't perfect, especially the humans. To put it simply it looks like they just came out of molds. This small one-file mod changes this easily and suddenly every human looks far better, especially your chosen wife/husband!

Weightless various items: OK, I admit that this is a borderline cheat mod, but one thing is easily noticeable from Day One of playing Skyrim: the ratio between "what you can loot" versus "what you can carry" is simply ridiculous, especially to a heavy armor character like mine. There are commands that put the weight of everything at zero, or that give the player millions of units of carrying space, but the mod I chose is more subtle than this. It does reduce the weight of some items to zero, but regular items in the world keep their weight. The modified items are all potions, books, crafting items (ore, ingots, alchemy ingredients, pelts, leather, Dwemer metal parts and dragon scales and bones) and quest items because sometimes either because of a glitch or because a quest hasn't been started the related item is stuck in the player's inventory. I will still be weighed down if I loot too much stuff, but if I happen to kill three dragons in a row (it does happen) I will NOT have to do a few trips to haul everything. And hauling in any game sucks donkey balls; I wonder what makes me say this...

Home Improvement mods: Move over Tim Taylor, some modders have talent! You wish your house had more storage and you also want to display the fruits of your adventuring, right? Or you want your own crafting corner so you don't have to go to the local blacksmith? We got you covered! My favorite ones come from a modder called Shawk and he's been busy lately. Before noticing his work I had installed a mod for my main house in Solitude (mentioned in my previous post) but his mod for the Riften house had something special: a quest to find it! Actually it's more like a treasure hunt because once the mod is installed you find notes from Shawk in your Whiterun house (you must have this one AND the Riften house with all furniture for the mod to work) pointing you to where your "new" house is located, somewhere West-South-West of the city right on a mountain side, with a quest-giving shack and a dragon lair as neighbors. Technically it's the Riften house but with a few modifications for crafting and display purposes. It's also possible to enter it from its original location in the city, but once you get outside, watch your step! But I may have to uninstall this mod and the one in Solitude because Shawk is working on something bigger (more in the "I plan to use" section). I also installed a completely new castle located on the mountain behind "Drelas' Cottage". After installation you have to travel to this cottage (and discover it if you haven't yet) and it will be right there dominating the view. You then have to climb the rock face which is tricky but doable and when you reach the door the castle is discovered and can now be fast-travelled to. And it's awesomely huge! It has everything you would ever need in one single location, including shrines to the Nine Divines and all the standing stones. It also has a large flat area on top and outdoors that would be the perfect helipad... I like where this is going :) The only downside is that so far you can't have your wife move in with you there. Maybe with the release of the Creation Kit...

Speaking of the Creation Kit (CK for short), it is supposed to come out this January and it will put a serious set of tools in the hands of the modders. This is when a lot of player-made quests and dungeons will start popping up, but there are three mods that I can't wait to see where they'll go once the CK comes out. Here they are:

SkyUI: It's no secret that the stock Skyrim UI can be a bit clunky and feels like it was made for consoles. What SkyUI does is give the power back to the PC gamer. As it is right now it has to be used in concert with a third-party application (found here) but it's getting nothing but rave reviews. I have yet to install the current version but I really like what I've seen.

Shawk's Dovahkiin Hide-out: This is the big project I was talking about earlier, and version 0.1 came out over the past weekend. Instead of modifying every house, the plan is to build one big underground area which is accessible from every player-owned house in Skyrim. It's not necessary to own every house to enter this new basement, but to return to a house, or enter another, one must own the desired house's key. The hide-out is pretty much the Bat Cave: it's kind of like the mountain castle only underground, but I'm not sure if it has the shrines and stones. But the amount of storage is simply insane and there are plans of many (like 20 or so, maybe more) mannequins, mounting plaques, weapon racks, and even mini-mannequins of which there are two in v0.1. All this is awesomely nice but I seriously hope this mod is compatible with the next one...

Tytanis Ultimate Mod: This is literally The Big One. New items, new spells, new shouts, new quests and dungeons, new crafting mechanics and recipes for smithing, alchemy and enchanting, new skills and perks, new and tougher opponents with new loot, the whole shebang! So far the version is 0.52 and the changes to the game are significant. Tired of riding a horse? How about a sabre cat, a cave bear, or even a mammoth! And yes, they do have plans for flyable dragons, and with this I can only imagine that there will be plans for new player-owned houses complete with parking/hangar. But that's not all. The Tytanis project is being worked on by three modding teams who got together with a common goal: Multiplayer Skyrim. No less. And looking at the work they've done so far without even access to Bethesda's tools I'd say the possibilities of one day seeing one form or another of Multiplayer Skyrim is fairly high. One thing is certain, this mod will be worth following at every step of its growth, and I sincerely wish the teams all the luck in the world!

And there you have it. A few ways to make an already awesome game even more awesome, and more reason to show that PC gaming is far greater than console gaming. If you don't believe so, well, too bad. I rest my case.


PS: If you search just a little bit, yes there are mods to shut the NPC's up if you're sick of hearing about every other guard's bum knee condition XD

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - 2012/01/13

I rarely post videos of cover bands and I usually try to get better quality audio. But in this case I'm making an exception, and hopefully at some point these girls will be recorded in glorious HD :))

Up the irons !!!

\m/ >_< \m/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Skyrim: four weeks and counting


If you haven't played Skyrim and plan to do so, you may want to skip this, but I assure you, mere text does not give justice to this awesome game!

Yes. Mess with me. Please.

This friday will mark four weeks since I've started my adventures in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and like pretty much everybody who plays video games, it blew my mind. Well, that was an easy one to see coming because as a gamer looking for a new drug, and without a fantasy RPG I found quite to my liking previously, I was a fan ripe for the plucking. I did play Dungeons & Dragons Online but I was always limited because I kept my account free-to-play, and compared to the amount of dungeons there is a serious lack of dragons. Skyrim, even though it's a single-player game (for now... more on this in an up-coming post on modding), fixed all those short-comings quite nicely. 

During the holidays I posted a pictorial that gave a good idea of where I was in the game. Having had a very quiet and relaxing holiday time I was able to put a lot of rewarding time and effort building my RPG Cozmik character. After almost 130 hours of game time, Cozmiken Arrfimm is now level 44 with 100's in one-handed weapons, heavy armor, smithing, and soon enchanting which is at 95, with perks distributed where they count the most. The only constellation which is completed is the smithing so I can now build and upgrade everything. Because my main weapons and armor cannot help me level up anymore I am now starting to raise some other less used skills like archery at 65, in which I do have a few perks, and sneaking, which I royally suck at even though it's over 50. The lack of perks shows. I've dabbled in magic and alchemy a bit, but now that my level is so high of lot of the enemies I encounter are very resistant; wild animals and regular baddies die easily, but for the tougher ones I have to pull out my twin Daedric swords. Because yeah, I'm in Daedric gear from head to toe :) 

So with the main quest and civil war behind me, do you really think I'm done with Skyrim? Oh hell no! You see, an Elder Scrolls game doesn't simply "end". The main game that came out on 11-11-11 may soon be over but I still have an innumerable amount of miscellaneous quests to do, and one of the biggest storyline is still left untouched because I showed a bunch of assassins that they had messed with the wrong guy. Because of this alone I have to do a replay! Here's a little run-down of my achievements so far: 

The Companions: This was a no-brainer. As I was reading in preparation to actually starting the game, I knew I was going for a Redguard character not only because he was kinda Minmatar but because he was going to fit my play-style to a Tee. So with the 50% resistance to poison I wanted the 100% resistance to diseases. To blazes with the sleeping bonus! But I never really used my werewolf form; the first time obviously, and once as I was exploring and wanted to check how it was like at level 40 compared to level 15. The higher stamina is cool, but not having access to potions and the inability to loot stuff makes it annoying in the end. But the entire quest line was very fun to play through and I can thank Farkas for the heavy armor training, Aela for archery (she was my companion around level 25, but not the one I married) and Eorlund for smithing. 

The Civil War: The first time I entered Windhelm and stayed for a while was basically what made my decision to go Imperial. After talking to many of the non-Nord locals, listening to Jarl Ulfric's spiel and even doing a few jobs for him, I felt more like quashing down the "separatist movement" than helping it. Having had some trouble with the later part of the Companions quest I did a lot of side quests and all my money making before I tackled the war and the main storyline, so I showed up at Imperial HQ around level 30. At first Aela was with me but as she was having a harder time tanking the higher level enemies I had to let her go back to Whiterun. But apart from that Ulfric got seriously plowed, and it was with a great sense of accomplishment that I FUS-RO-DAH'd the Jarl into the wall behind his throne. 

The Main Quest: Ulfric's body was still warm when I got back to the main quest, which I had done just enough of to get the famous 3-word shout. By the way, shouting someone or something off a cliff just never gets old :) In any case, by this time in the game I was already a dragon killing machine thanks to my buffed Daedric gear which I had gotten access to just before the end of the war. My first armor was actually given to me by General Tullius... Yay Empire !!! The timing couldn't have been better because I had received the Daedric smithing perk just before, and was already collecting daedra hearts and ebony ingots. Couple all this with some strong enchanting and yeah, I'm a death machine. So the end of the main storyline was pretty easy and Alduin wasn't even a challenge worthy of that name. It was kind of special to walk in Sovngarde and meet some Nords I had fragged including Ulfric Stormcloak, Kodlak of the Companions who had died just as the quest was reaching it's peak, and Ysgramor, hero of all Nords. But the death of Alduin wasn't the highest point of the main storyline... 

The Hardest Choice Ever: As I was progressing in the main storyline I was getting closer and closer to the faction called The Blades. To put it simply, Blades hate dragons. I mean REALLY hate them. One of your main helpers so far has been Paarthurnax, the dragon boss of the Greybeards. And when the Blades learn of this they literally pop a fuse and want the old lizard dead. So you can keep him alive and never deal with the Blades again, or kill him and never deal with the Greybeards again. Quite a heart-wrenching choice when you're this far into the story. I went with the Blades but next play-thru I'm keep the old guy alive. Still, I found that this was one of the saddest moments I had ever witnessed in a video game. At least Paarthurnax himself seemed to be cool with my choice because he himself doesn't trust other dragons! 

The Dark Brotherhood, aka How to Skip a Storyline: Not being one for sneaking and back-stabbing, and having been attacked by a few Dark Bro lackeys since the start of the game, I didn't feel ready to turn into an assassin. So when I found out I could wipe out the entire faction, I started my evil (well not really... THEY are evil!) plan. I had picked up the "Innocence Lost" quest during my time in Windhelm so it was great that the first Dark Brotherhood quest is actually a good deed. That old bag in Riften had it coming and I fragged her in plain sight, to the joy of everyone but her aide. But later the way the game wrenches you into the questline... quite sudden, enough for me to go "WTF is this shit?!" So this chick Astrid is all up in arms that I owe THEM a life they should've taken and tells me "someone is not getting out of here alive". Well, make that two someones. First I questioned the three tied-up persons, found the obvious criminal, fragged him, and then showed Astrid she chose the wrong Dovahkiin to mess with. Having received the "destroy the Brotherhood" quest, I did. These guys were no push-overs but remember... Daedric killing machine! And that's how you skip a huge chunk of Skyrim! 

The Thieves Guild: Having already scrapped a chunk of game-play, I didn't want to cut like half the game so at some point I had not much choice but to go rogue a bit. Well, stealing stuff, shaking a few people up and messing with people's businesses isn't as bad as cold-blooded murder right? Right. So I met up with Brynjolf in Riften and started what was a much more interesting than previously thought quest. I followed it to the letter and was rewarded with the way-cool Nightingale armor, bow and sword, and was named Guild leader. I haven't done much of the side-quests so I have plenty of stuff left to steal, people to rough up, etc. 

The College of Winterhold: In case you don't know, this is the mage school. kind of like with the Thieves Guild I simply followed the quest and skipped all the side stuff so I am now Arch-Mage (!) of the College, even though I used magic only in a few places where the quest requires it. The storyline was interesting, but not as much as the Thieves Guild was. At least you get to kill a Thalmor; these high-and-mighty snobbish elves need to be nuked whenever possible!

Houses, and Jarl of This and That: When I posted the pictorial I had just received access to my second house, but smithing wealth meant I wasn't going to stop there. I am now the proud owner of Breezehome in Whiterun, Vlindrel Hall in Markarth, Hjerim in Windhelm, Honeyside in Riften and Proudspire in Solitude. I'm Thane in all those places but Riften. The Solitude house cost a pretty penny, but I got so rich by smithing that it barely put a dent on my wallet. Also, because I got it on the late side means that Jordis the Shield-Maiden, my housecarl, is quite decently leveled up compared to companions you get when you start up. To find out how good she was I gave her my Daedric gear and made myself a new set with better enchanting skills, smithing gloves and smithing potions, and together we are quite the deadly couple. Because yeah, I married her :) I can also count the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary as a house because after destroying the faction I can make their hide-out mine. The wife can't move in like in the regular houses though. I do have another dwelling but that was an added mod so I'll detail it in my modding post. I did get a mod for Proudspire though; it now has plenty of bookshelves, a nicer weapons and armor display room with eight mannequins, and the old housecarl room is replaced with all the smithing tools. And that's cool because the housecarl now shares my bed :))

And that's where I'm at right now. I am trying to become Thane in all the holds, I still have two dragon priest masks to find and I have no clue where they are, and plenty of miscellaneous quests to finish so all those people I avoided talking to during my storyline play, I gotta talk to them all now. Yep, an Elder Scrolls game is quite an adventure!

Coming soon: Skyrim modding!


Just a regular day at the office... :)

PS: look me up on Steam: CozmikR5 (no space) :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

EVE Burn-out

There it is, written in glowing bold letters. Not quite a week has passed since my incendiary post on incursions and ISK making so I've had a bit of time to cool down and cogitate about my position in EVE Online. I've logged in to make sure the skill queue was filled for a while (large pulse and beam spec, followed by Minnie BS V) but not more than that. But the reality of it is still there: as far as EVE is concerned I've hit rock bottom for now. Yes, to the point of not even wanting to join a new group of pilots and kill stuff in space.

In retrospect, my situation was totally predictable. While I do not try to play every single video game I come across, I am very specific about those I do play and when one game sings a particularly tasteful song I dive into it heart and soul, get acquainted with the people who make it, play it and mod it. And this usually lasts three to four years. Around that time I will have poured so much of myself into the game that it becomes a routine akin to waking up in the morning and going to work. And finally interest fades. It happened in Quake. It happened in Diablo II. It happened in flight sims and race sims. And it's happening right now.

Actually it started happening at the end of last spring just before the Incarna debacle but that wasn't even the cause of it. I took the summer off and I admitted to missing some of the funnest parts of EVE but those fun parts were becoming fewer and farther between. I can't exactly put the finger on what caused the burn-out. Not flying with the right people? Being too hard- and hot-headed? Not being HTFU'd enough? Whatever it was the little [E] icon at the bottom of my screen became less and less tempting. And coming back three months after the Jita and Amarr monuments were figuratively reduced to rubble I logged back to what had become a US TZ wasteland. The numbers have been slightly better since Crucible came out but to me the damage was done, and I'll simply never see EVE the same again. The short break wasn't enough to make me see EVE under a new light, and since I came back in early September the old "blah" was still there. But unlike the games I mentioned before which can be installed and uninstalled at will, EVE requires a subscription, and as it stands right now I simply cannot afford to pay for a service I'm not interested in anymore.

In December I resubbed pretty much out of habit so the account still has until mid March before it runs out, so during this time Cozmik will still be training, and I do still have some friends in there both real-life and virtual; these will be properly thanked and saluted. And though my character doesn't have the wealth of many other 58 million skill point characters, I will most probably be handing out a Rifter here and a Thrasher there. Yes I will make myself a "Can I haz your stuff" list and some people will be very surprised to find themselves on it! But no I will not be throwing away everything because who knows, there may come a time when flying Internet Spaceships may appeal to me again. But this time I'm not holding my breath. As I've mentioned many times before I came to EVE to play a space sim, not a business sim, so now I'm out indifinitely. Naoru Kozan wished for me to find a new game to scratch my spaceship itch, but now I'm so far gone that I feel the need to get as far away from space games as possible.

So starting this week this blog will go back to the purpose I gave it last spring when I renamed it, which was to talk about life "beyond the confines of space". What started as my EVE blog will now return to being my blog about pretty much everything I care about. I never started this only for EVE or for e-Fame; some readers may hate the lack of EVE content or actually miss it (this would have me rupture my spleen in laughter!), but writing a blog is a very selfish affair. And in any case it's an awesome pressure valve! So while Cozmik R5 will not be plying the space lanes of New Eden anymore, I, Benoit Gauthier, will still be alive and playing games and music, travelling by mountain bike, and in general having the best time possible.

Thank you very much EVE Online for this sometimes awesome, sometimes dreadful ride. And I want to thank each and every one of you who in the four years of existence of this blog have taken even the smallest amount of time to read whatever I was writing about. Now if you'll excuse me, this dragon needs fragging... >:)


To Rixx Javix, holder of the mantle of BlogFather: I hereby leave into your hands the decision to remove this blog from the Blog Pack, as the EVE content will slowly dwindle down to near nothingness. It's just something I have to do.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Incursions, and stuff

Before I go ranting about EVE Online, I'd like to wish you all a happy 2012, and I hope it brings you happiness, love, sex, money, bacon, ganks, ISK, etc. I'm hoping the same things for myself :)

As you may have noticed, I'm starting to be less and less attracted to Internet Spaceships. My reasons are pretty much the same as they were last April, only since my return I never felt the urge to go back to full activity, and I still have trouble with time constraints so I basically refuse to play on anything but my own schedule. It's not that I hate EVE; it's just that I don't like enough of it. But oh well, enough about me for now. Scram Web's post about the relation between the falling (crashing?) prices of Faction ships and Incursions and my recent experience of showing up almost unannounced at Letrange's place as his fleet was killing True Power zombie after True Power zombie made me realize one thing that's been talked about a lot and I can now agree with: CCP needs to nerf the living daylights out of Sansha Kuvakei.

I've once heard CCP Dr EyjoG say that EVE has too many ISK faucets. Well, Incursions aren't a faucet... they are a blown water main. In the hour and a half I was at Let's place his 11-man gang consisting of 3 Scimitars and 8 WTF-bling battleships (mostly Machariels, with a Nightmare, Bhaalgorn, Vargur and Rokh thrown in for good measure) made about 1.5 billion ISK appear out of thin air. In an hour and a half. And they were at this all day. And do this almost every day. Letrange also showed me the obscene amount of CONCORD LP he had... borderline 7 digits?! And people wonder why the market is doing wonky things. Free money is good, but too much free money is not.

During all this I saw the poor saps who were also trying to run sites, but were getting the grass cut from under their feet from this 20-ish billion ISK rape train. So you know when they say that it takes money to make money? Incursions are proof of this. And frankly, the cut-throat ISK war that makes EVE what it is is getting to me, which is why I'm slowly on my way out. Yes at 57 million skill points I could easily fly in fleets like that but since I have nowhere near the ISK required to buy myself a Faction-fitted Machariel, I'd have to go Logistics, and this raises one of my personal problems: I really don't like having people rely on me for survival. As I told Let, if an FC relies on me to get a tackle and I fumble it, no biggie. But if I would fumble a rep and a multi-billion ISK ship dies because of it it would feel worse than losing such a ship on my own by my own fault.

All this talk of ISK is making me sick of EVE. I subscribed to fly and destroy spaceships, not to become a space businessman. But in EVE Online it is totally impossible to not be both. I have therefore come to the conclusion that despite the little bits that I absolutely love, and unless there are major changes to the game that would make it appeal more to an action player like me, EVE Online is not for me. And so it is that in the middle of March I will let my subscription run out and head for greener pastures. Maybe it was getting back to a game where I can hit "save" and come back to it either an hour or 2 days later. But a 4-month break was clearly not enough to make me see EVE in a new light. Will a year or 2 help? Only time, and CCP, can tell...


PS: some stuff will be given, and some stuff will be kept.