Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tribute to a speedster

R.I.P. Paul William Walker IV (September 12, 1973 - November 30, 2013)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Finding time to blog

One of the things keeping me out of EVE - my best creation to date :)

Hello! Yes I'm alive. I've just been so busy with all sorts of stuff and projects that I barely have time left to update my blog anymore, and when I do have time I just chill out and become a massive couch potato. Needless to say lots of things have happened since the last post so it'd be hard to tell everything in detail; hell sometimes I have trouble remembering what day we are! Let's do a paragraph-by-paragraph recap and let's see where it goes.

EVE Online

Though I am still in the same corp, there has been a change of alliance after some nifty drama. Thankfully our old alliance mates now make for some juicy targets. The downside of the alliance switch is that we have gone through a lot of moves in a very short time and with a few people (myself included) becoming very busy activity has dwindled. Hopefully the coming holidays and the new expansion will set this to rights and we shall gleefully blow shit up soon. The times where I do get to log on are usually fun though, and this corp is the best corp I've been a member of in my soon-to-be 6 year career. I don't see myself moving out of this corp unless we keep moving every other week, but we have been promised that our current HQ should remain the same for a bit as we are pretty close to a lot of fun places. I haven't experienced the new expansion a lot; the new SOE ships are still pretty exhorbitantly priced and my interceptors are out in Null-sec. I did get to fly a Wolf to a system next door this morning and I could see the warp speed difference. I like a lot!


Speaking of speed, I've been falling deeper and deeper into this community of high-speed eSports, not only as a driver but lately as a map maker, which is a total first for me. I'm aiming to build competition-style Tech tracks but I still have a lot to learn before I reach the level of the tracks seen in TmT, ESL and ESWC competitions. As a driver it's the style of map I prefer to drive; I don't find any fun in the super-fast Full Speed tracks where a very subtle slow-down in a particular part of a track can mean that some jumps or sections are impossible to pass. I've been idling in the Twitch channel of one Acer|Frostbeule, one of the best players in the game and I must admit, these are very laid-back guys. On a side note, the current and newly-crowned World Champion is a Quebecer; Dignitas|Carl Jr, je te salue!


I thought I'd be taking a break after the CFL season, but the drumline has my soul apparently! No seriously, when word came out that the Rockline would be participating in another fundraiser Metal Show of Pure Awesome after skipping this year's edition, I couldn't pass it up. So in mid-January we'll be starting the long process of rehearsing the 6 tunes from the 2012 show and learning 5 more. I should still be on the bass line but there's a chance I may move to the snare line if the line is not populated enough. Unlike this summer where there's wasn't a lot of time for actual teaching, this time there will be so come mid-October 2014 when the show arrives I would be more than capable of playing even the trickiest parts.

In another musical subject I am also starting a band with some old friends. I haven't played in a band setting in way too long and I just can't wait to see my drum kit set up again. But there will be an adaption period even here; to get our music machine going we chose a bunch of covers to practice and two of them require double bass drums, or at the very least a double bass pedal. So I went out and bought one! Coming from the John Bonham School of  Single Pedal Speed Freaks, I will have to relearn and start playing the bass drum as i would with my hands, doing rudiments and stuff. Things will get interesting!

Now, does anyone wonder why I sleep so well and why it takes me 4 coffees to wake up? :)

Fly busy... it's less boring that way!


My paintjob of choice for my Trackmania car
My next tool of the drumming trade :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WTB: extra hours in a day

The Cynabal is getting a lot of mileage these days

I'm pretty busy and a bit wrung out these days. This silly concept called time is playing games with me. I'll be posting a real blog update soon...ish. I hope.

In case you're wondering, yes I still play EVE, I'm having a blast, my sec status is going back up now that I'm in Null-sec, and [AIL] is a great corp :)

To be continued...


Monday, September 30, 2013

Wake up!

Three Camps, played by yours truly at Brutopia's Sunday Night Open Mic. This is an American Civil War era reveille, but somehow I don't think that 1800's military drummers had high-powered free-floating kevlar-headed marching snare drums in mind when they wrote it :)



Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Downward Spiral

You jumped through the wrong gate!

What do you do when you have limited play time and still want to kill stuff? Well, you camp a well-travelled gate of course! Having escaped or died from a ton of these in my time, I do enjoy turning the tables and preying on the hapless unscouted capsuleer once in a while, even though I much prefer fast roaming gangs and actual fleet engagements. While on one side gate camping maybe the crudest form of EVE PvP, it is also the least stressful and it's a good opportunity to get to know the new people you fly with and also have a good laugh, all the while staying on high alert with our ears constantly straining to hear news from the scout on the other side who could be calling in something juicy at any moment.

We also do keep our ears to the ground for anything that may appear in the neighboring systems, like a Bhaalgorn who looked like he wanted to play Station Games™ will an alliance mate; he would have died quite nicely too if only said alliance mate hadn't aggressed him first, allowing the Blood Raider boat to dock up after getting melted to half armor. Mate swore he was aggressed first and even took a screenshot of the combat logs, ready to petition. A quick look, a massive facepalm and a strong advice NOT to send this to CCP later, we did have a good laugh about it.

So as you notice my security status is plunging like a meteor. I did say I was resubbing for The PvP only and in this regard I do believe I am succeeding. And it's not one single gate camp that will change this. There is talk about a possible redeployment where I could possibly grind up a bit of favor with CONCORD, but I will not slow down my blood thirst. The PvP is too much fun!

Flying safe is out of the question!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Settling back in

Sorry about that tower, but it was in the way!

Well, It's been two weeks since I resubscribed my EVE account and I must say, not only did I miss the game more than I expected but I haven't had so much fun in EVE in a long long time, possibly since the early BOZO days! I knew coming in that if I was resubbing it would be for The PvP only and that my security status was probably going to take a crazy dive so I didn't waste time. One of the first things I did was to roam around the familiar Everyshore Low-sec areas within three jumps of my previous corp's HQ, and sure enough I found a 9-day old character ratting away in a Maller. I wished him a bombastic "Welcome to EVE" the only way I know of course, but also taking time to give him a bit of advice; I didn't have time to give him fitting advice though XD

I rejoined the EVE community shortly after my real-life buddy Cartboard Box started being more active and rejoined his old corporation from his Atlas Alliance days, and soon after CB sent me an enthusiastic message saying "DUDE! You gotta resub!". I wanted to wait until the football/drumline season was over but the coming changes in Odyssey 1.1, CB's enthusiasm and another Montreal EVE pilot giving me a PLEX caused me to reconsider and go right ahead with the resubbing.

As Cartboard promised, he opened me the door to Arcana Imperii Ltd with the promise of good times The PvP without pressure and where everyone knows what they're doing and what's expected of them. I then spent a couple days moving assets to the area of operation and my first op was a multiple but quick POS bash to solidify our alliance's foothold in our region. It was also a good opportunity for nice screenshots as you can see above :)

We also did some gang ops and roams resulting in a few good battles such as a Brave Newbies party crashing; I was the one to suggest using fast and cheap attack cruisers and with CB doing the scouting and target calling, the destroyer gang dropped down easily. I had my first ever use of jump bridges and covert jump bridges for some good ol' "Hot Drop O'Clock" action. It's always impressive to see a Titan filling your screen, and it's a much better feeling when said Titan is on your side!

Another good op was yesterday's roam towards Old Man Star, and we found a gang that was itching for a fight just before we got there. And it was a hotly disputed fight at that! Technically, the other side had the fire power advantage, while we had solid fits and logistics support. But better fleet discipline - after one crazy experience with a frigate gang that could have gone way wrong - and good target calling (part of it by yours truly when a lull happened on comms) prevailed and we can safely say we won the ISK battle.

As one can imagine, all this has given me back my enthusiam for EVE which I had lost about a year ago. I even went so far as to awaken my long dormant second account! I'm not sure exactly what direction my alt's training will take but she's already taken the first steps towards a good PvP role so she will not turn into an industrialist or anything! Meanwhile the low SP crew is also busy, with trade alts in Amarr and Dodixie, a cyno/hauler at Chez Stan HQ, and even my old trusty scout which for now is parked at the favorite home I've ever had in all of New Eden, 5E-VR8 in the Paradise constellation of Curse. This character's main purpose in life is to die repeatedly in the Doril pipe :)

Well there you go, I'm back and actually loving it! My next post will cover some more The PvP action, some of the ships I love to fly and my downward spiral towards the dreaded -10 security status. I give it about a week or two. Oh, and come see the EVE Gate in New Eden. It is truly beautiful ^_^

Fly dangerous because it is the only way to fly


Monday, September 9, 2013

Posting from inside!

Ma Vaga!
OK, I cheated a bit using Photobucket to upload the pic but yes, I am indeed updating my blog from inside EVE Online! The TRUE return will happen soon.... >:)

Fly dangerous!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hero worship

Today, one of my all-time heroes totally made my day. His main hobby is to push the outside of envelopes. He flies wonderful machines usually named after his glamorous wife Glennis. Yeah. THAT hero! The good general is not only very alive but pretty active on Facebook and when I noticed he was answering people's questions I had to throw him one. And the badassitude came straight out:

Q: General, what is the enemy plane you feared the most? A: None.

This is why I worship him. Thank you General Yeager for taking a few seconds of your time to answer a question from a nerdy guy out of Longueuil Quebec!

Fly like The General. That is all.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A new drug...

As I wait for the perfect opportunity to resub to EVE (yeah I could do so pretty much now and skill-flip but the temptation would be too great and I'd play too much for my own good), another new drug has started having its effects on me, waking up my competitive side as well as my ever present need for speed. In the very near future, expect my blog to have a lot of this:

Welcome to Trackmania Nations Forever!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's all a game to me!

No I'm not dead. Extremely fucking busy but alive and kicking :) I just wanted to announce that after the current CFL season (which also happens to be a complete bust for the Montreal Alouettes) I will be going on a much needed hiatus from the Rockline drumline so I'll be able to concentrate on that other passion of mine, gaming. Yes I will be returning to EVE Online after almost a full year off and I will have my hands full relearning the tools of the trade and getting used to A LOT of new stuff. I will also fly (read blow up) some rockets in Kerbal Space Program, shoot dumbass guards in the knee in the Elder Scrolls universe (either Skyrim or ESO... please Zenimax send me my key !!!), blow up some Inner Sphere surats in Mechwarrior Online (hey Piranha, you know it's 3050, right?) and obviously get reacquainted to the fine art of Rocket Jumping in Quake Live.

The whole drumline experience has been a lot of fun but after almost two years straight I think it's time to step back a little, and maybe play my own drumkit without having to follow 15 other drummers! So the Big Comeback isn't exactly tomorrow but it's there. The leaves have to change colors first!

Hope you enjoyed Compressorhead !!!

Fly loud


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rockline in your face

And we're not even the full complement here... >:)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now for another space game!

Hi there! Yes I live, but am busy with tons of stuff so not doing any blogging. But yes I do find a minute here and there to play games, and lately I've jumped into the Kerbal Space Program bandwagon. I think screenies will be better than a wall-O-text for now. Enjoy !!!

Jeb's first launch to orbit.

The mission controller was happy :)

Reentry effects (visual only for now).

One of the first attempts at aspargus staging, with boosters for good measure!

Booster using the Nova Punch mod.

Booster using the KW Rocketry Pack. It's my most powerful booster to date,  created for...

The Kerbol Galactic inter-planetary ship. Other mods seen here are Mechjeb 2.0.7, Chatterer and the Nucleonics engine pack. Not seen but present is Romfarer's Lazor Docking Cam.
And of course Jebediah Kerman happy as ever, flying the Nova Punch Gemini capsule.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Where The F*** Have I Been Edition

This is where I've been, among other places! So yeah, I still live. I still play games here and there. I still play drums with the funnest bunch of drummers. And I'm still patiently (OK, not so patiently) waiting for spring to hopefully maybe perhaps arrive to Montreal; at the time of this writing a mix of freezing rain, sleet and wet crud is falling. and it's beyond depressing out there. I have rarely seen so many Montrealers looking so grim. At least it's NOT because our hockey team sucks this time; on the contrary, the Habs are finally playing back up to their reputation.

Another game I've played a lot lately is TrackMania Nations Forever and the beta of its successor, TrackMania 2 Stadium. This extremely simple yet highly addictive and very popular racing game appeals to the Speed Freak in me. On the world ladder I'm currently #1323169 out of about 7-something million users on the planet, #11203 out of 100000+ in Canada, and #6177 out of 45ish thousand in Quebec. It's also a very exciting eSport to watch.

Last time I checked in I talked about a then-upcoming LAN party, and yes it was quite the success with 14 gamers crammed into Cartboard Box's apartment for the entire weekend, with a slew of epic and unhealthy meals. CB works at Ubisoft and also managed to have some give-away prizes for various mini-competitions thoughout the weekend. Great success all around!

To finish on an EVE note (this started as an EVE blog after all!), pilots Cartboard Box, Ilinane and Letrange will be attending FanFest 2013. Everybody is already preparing their livers for the alcohol assault that will surely happen. At least they don't have to drive anywhere XD

On that note, don't be too good and fly dangerous!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Morning's Electric Breakfast - Crowd-sourcing Edition

A while ago I posted this tune from Devin Townsend's Epicloud album, where he was inviting the YouTube community to make videoclips to "Lucky Animals" and that he would then make a collage of all the videos to make the official version. Well, here it is, and it is indeed epic. And loud!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life on the 31st Century battlefield

I see your Pew, and I raise you a PewPew

Well, at least one of my EVE buddies predicted it would happen a few years ago when the trailer came out, and later when the game actually turned out to be reality and not just vaporware. In the words of Letrange: "When Mechwarrior Online comes out we may very well lose Cozmik to it". It did not happen as soon as it came out because I knew my previous computer was sub-par and that I was going to need a major upgrade, but yes, my account had been created from Day One and I was waiting for just the right moment to jump in. Now equiped with my newer tech and a brand new video card the moment has finally arrived. Reactor online, sensors online, weapons online, all systems nominal!

I was happy to find out that pretty much all the mech controls are exactly the same as in the previous Mechwarrior titles so it didn't take me much time to find my way around them. Because I don't have a Founders account and have yet to buy some Mechwarrior Credits (MC for short) I had to start making C-bills with one of the trial mechs. At the time of my first log-in and of this writing the choices are the Jenner, the Cicada, the Catapult K2 and the Atlas. I've always leaned more towards heavy and assault mechs because of my reckless piloting (some things never change!) but this particular Atlas is clearly the worst of all the available variants. The Cat-K2 on the other hand is one of the mechs I fell in love with in the Mektek version of Mech4:Mercs. Where the standard Catapult is a well-known missile boat, the K2 version is a PPC equiped sniper/brawler. In other words, exactly my play style! The disadvantage is that it is prone to overheating, especially in hot environments like the Caustic Valley map. But looking at the mechs available for purchase it was still one of my favorites so I proceeded to start making C-bills to buy one. The trial mechs are great for money-making but you don't get experience from them. So when I finally reached 6 million C-bills I made my purchase and started looking at my upgrade options. But upgrading meant more C-bills so I kept the original loadout for a while.

Like any Mechwarrior title mech customization is not only a possibility, it is a must. Everybody has a different play style and need different qualities about their mechs. My play style is quite simple... a tad dangerous and sometimes almost suicidal but that's the way I like it. I like to go in fast, hit hard, be able to take a beating, and have the speed to GTFO if fecal matter hits the ventilator. In its standard loadout the Cat-K2 is a decent brawler but the dangerous heat levels mean you have to go easy on the trigger. Also, the regular PPCs work like they do in Classic Battletech: there is a 90 meter minimal range to get full damage. Point blank hits are negligible. So what I ended up doing was this:

The first step is to completely strip the mech, including the engine. I then upgraded the mech to use double heat sinks, and upgraded the internal structure to Endosteel; the weapons I wanted to use aren't that big or heavy but I still had plenty of space. It also allowed me to put in a bigger engine, making the mech faster. The medium lasers and machine guns got installed back in, but I replaced the PPCs with shorter-ranged but just as hard-hitting large pulse lasers, which happen to heat up a lot less. I was also able to add an anti-missile system... very handy that! One ton of AMS ammo and another ton feeding both machine guns was plenty enough; I have run out of AMS ammo only once so far, and never ran out of MG ammo. I then filled up all the available slots with double heat sinks and was still able to max out my armor. So all in all I have the same damage output, but because it runs cooler I can fire a lot more often. I'm not fast enough to catch the light mechs or the faster mediums, but I have no trouble getting behind most heavies and assaults to literally backstab them. And the maximum armor makes it tough; I have stood head-to-head with some assault mechs and they ended up on the short end of the stick. I have also been taken out by shots to the head but oh well, that's part of the game :)

Now is this The Perfect Mech for me? Of course not, there's always room for improvement. I have a twin AC10 and 4 medium laser loadout in the works but it requires an XL engine which is too costly for me right now, and also more dangerous because the loss of a side torso means you go boom. Not great for my style of play but the AC10s don't heat up and fire much faster. And then there's all the other mechs I'd love to buy and tweak, and there's new mechs surely on the way. And in-game the year is 3050... guess who should be coming to dinner soon™? One thing that will be pratical is that with today's patch a testing grounds system will be added so it will be possible to test loadouts before going into actual battle. Because finding out a loadout is full of fail in battle can be bad for the entire team. It should be a fun feature.

In an up-coming post I will talk about the maps we play on. Those I love, those I hate, those I'd love to see, etc. I will also talk about the game types, and also those I would like to see implemented. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to give Mechwarrior Online a try, if only because it's free!

Fight hard and check your six!


Monday, February 25, 2013

ZOMG the graphics !!!

Before (GeForce 8800GT 512mb)
After (GeForce GTX650ti 2gb)

And that's before I even installed the high resolution textures! Yes, fast travelling is pretty much a thing of the past now that the world is so beautiful. I've also installed a ton of free2play games for an upcoming LAN party so I'll be spending the next few weeks learning how they work, and in some cases utterly sucking at them! The games are Hawken, Planetside 2, Tribes Ascend, Ghost Recon Online and Trackmania Nations Online. Oh and one which was previously installed and where I should suck a lot less: Quake Live. I have also finally installed Mechwarrior Online and so far it's everything I love about a Mechwarrior game: get in a battlemech, blow shit up. Thinking is optional :)

I leave you with another Skyrim screenie, this time with the hi-rez textures over the town of Riften. Enjoy!

There are no thieves here... only a Guild Master :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday Night's Yes We're Drunk Video - Third Time's The Charm Edition

Yes, this it it. Taking the last non-imaginary break from EVE. If you ever see me back in there it's because someone will actually want me to be in there for whatever reason you may imagine valid.

Take it away Maestro Frank....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What to do, what to do… ?

The ever-present existential dilemma about spending time in New Eden is rearing its ugly head again. This time not from over-playing, being bored or even being angry at CCP for whatever reason that could make one angry. It seems that I’ve just lost interest. The last time I logged in my skill queue was a couple days overdue and I couldn’t care less. At the time of this writing the subscription is coming to an end and I’m not even sure if I should renew it. Apparently spending an entire summer playing tons of drums and riding hundreds of kilometers on my bike has done something irreversible to the gamer I used to be. Oh I still love gaming, only I want to play games that don’t feel like work. Hell even PvP feels like work sometimes. If you’ve done over 20 jumps without finding a target or spent over 30 minutes goading a target (or another fleet) into an actual fight where action might happen (no garantees), you know what I’m talking about. Yeah the cat and mouse game can be great fun – it is some of the best fun even – but when I already have a lot on my plate I simply don’t have time for it anymore.

I know what a lot of people will say because I’ve been at this for 5 years now. "Join a new corp!", "You fly in Empire space, no wonder!", "Join FW!", "Join RvB!"… and of course the obvious "Can I haz yer stuff?". Yes some of those might help. No, you’re not getting my stuff. But all these happen in a game that has the tendency to suck more time than a black hole sucks light. I know some people say they play EVE casually, or that their corp is casual. But in order to be active you have to log in a lot and for decently long periods of time. And I won’t even talk about big alliances with mandatory ops using hundreds of brainless grunts just for the sake of numbers. If being ordered around by some unknown guy makes you feel good cuz you feel like you’re part of something then good for you. It’s just not for me.

So while the subscription fizzles out I will take a quick breather, have a chat with my corpmates over a beer or three (this is priceless by the way) and decide where I’m going with this.

And the other stuff I’m interested in ? Mechwarrior Online for one ; I already have tons of IRL friends playing and I’ve always been a huge fan of all things Battletech. I’ve also been hearing the call for some eSport FPS stuff, mainly Quake Live with a dab of Warsow. And now Elder Scrolls Online is in the works and it looks like it will be everything I love about the Elder Scrolls universe. And these are all games where if I don’t play for 3-4 weeks no one will start wondering if I dropped off the face of the Earth or something. Cuz you know playing drums is lots of fun but chops need to be worked on. Riding a bike and disconnecting from this universal drug called The Internet is also great fun and oh so necessary. And maybe finding a girlfriend would be fun too you know ! Kinda hard to do that when you spend countless hours glued to a monitor.

It’s been a long and hard road since January 2008, but as I’ve told people around me I’m starting to think that "third time’s the charm" as the saying goes. The third hiatus could very be the one where I say "So long space crazies, have yourself a great immortality". My texts are more positive when I write about other subjects anyway !

Undock or Unsub ? That is the question…


Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Electric... Something Hour - Graceful Edition

Haven't posted a Devin Townsend tune in a while. Here's one off his latest album, Epicloud.

Crank that shit up !!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The mods I can't live without

Sunset in The Pale

I have no other way to describe it, I am completely and utterly addicted to Skyrim. I'm closing in on 500 hours of play time and I'm STILL discovering areas I've never seen before and completely new quests from the original unmodded vanilla game. There are a few mods I'm planning to install after I've beefed up my video card that will add some quests, and I haven't even installed the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLCs yet. All this will be fixed next week. But that said there is a good number of mods that I now simply can't imagine going without. I thought I'd give a list of them with a short description and links to the Skyrim Nexus; I do not use Steam Workshop.

The first series of mods are mainly for the UI and the nuts & bolts:

This is what it says it is. After updating Skyrim to its latest version, this patch fixes a lot of little things that Bethesda left untouched. There are versions for the original game only as well as for the DLC users. The patch also boosts performance quite a bit so it's a must for all players. 

This isn't really a mod but most of the bigger mods, the ones that affect gameplay and aren't purely cosmetic, require SKSE to be installed. If a player only intends to use cosmetic mods it can be skipped but for a heavy mod user like me, can't live without it.

It's no secret that the original Skyrim GUI is simple at best. It was designed more towards the console users and it's very gamepad friendly. When SkyUI came out it was a boon to all PC users because it made manageing the inventory, magic and powers, and also player bonuses and curses much more intuitive. Now in its third iteration, SkyUI is clearer than ever with its colored icons, sortable lists and even a search engine when one is looking for a particular item. Nowadays when I see a video of someone playing without it I simply can't imagine going back. With the third version there is now a mod configurator so mod makers can build little UIs to, well, let players configure their mods without console command hassles. But SkyUI also has a little brother...

Where the original Skyrim GUI was simple, the original favorites menu was downright stupid. A tiny display list showing 6 or 7 favorited items, spells or powers when one can easily have over 30 favorites... yeah, something had to be done. This mod replaces the tiny lower left-hand corner list with a full-screen window displaying all the favorites in well-defined lists like Weapons, Apparel, Potions, Powers, Magic, and also Other to include items or spells coming from mods. And each list is scrollable too.

Ever noticed how hazy and unclear the original map can be? With this mod the problem is fixed. Simple as that! You can also see the roads and paths a lot better for those players emphasizing on avoiding fast travel. I have another mod for those players further down.

Now that Skyrim is a lot more comfortable to play with, let's make it look better:

Adding a lot more detail to Skyrim's days and nights, Climates of Tamriel turns the game from "very beautiful" to "absolutely stunning!". Not only are the skies more beautiful, but the weather events like snow and rain are much less taxing on one's computer than in the unmodded game. The aurorae borealis also move! The mod also changes the way lighting works so building interiors appear much more natural and the dungeons darker, "a tad" to "a lot" depending on what module was installed. Nights are also darker and can lead to a few bad surprises; one must either carry a torch or use the Candlelight spell, or use another mod I'll describe further down this list.

The original Skyrim waterways, lakes, oceans and waterfalls look alright, but when one has the opportunity to make it better "alright" just doesn't cut it. Water in the original game looks more like molten metal than actual H2O. The Pure Water mods adds a lot of transparency to the water and the way it moves in waves and ripples looks a lot more natural. The best examples is when looking at the shallow streams or lake edges. The mountain streams and rapids are also affected and look much better as well.

Out of all the ETaC mods I use only the Villages because I find the ones affecting the major cities to add way too many trees. Some may like this but there should be a medium somewhere between "barren" and "overgrown mess". But that said, the Villages mod steered away from the greenery and concentrated on adding life to the smaller places in the game world like Rorikstead, Ivarstead, Dragon Bridge, Shor's Stone, etc. It also did quite a number on the city of Morthal, which for a hold capital looked too small and unimportant. There is also a module to make the city of Winterhold truly look like it's been hit with a magical nuke, with ghosts eerily walking around the ruined part of the city.

These two very small mods were some of the first to come out and make everybody look a lot better. There are plenty of other mods that affect the characters' looks (nude hot babes anyone?) but these two are very simple and do only what's necessary.

Now that the game plays better and the world looks better, here are more mods I use to increase the enjoyment I get out of the game:

By the time you reach level 30, the dragons in the original game are nothing short of pushovers. One can stand right in front of a dragon's snout, take the entire brunt of its breath and kill it with a few swings of *insert your favorite melee weapon here*. With Deadly Dragons set at its hardest setting you will start saying "oh shit!" repeatedly as soon as you hear wings flapping. I've tested the mod set at Hardcore on the Master game setting with a level 81 max-skilled with all perks character using max-crafted armor and weapons and this flying lizard called "Zealot of Akatosh", which normally appears only after reaching level 65, made mince-meat out of me. Yep, this setting requires multiple followers with long-range support. There are plenty of ways to play with the dragons' amount of armor and health, the frequency of spawns, etc. The mod can also affect the toughness of other NPC's and monsters. The mod also has Armory and Spells modules which add many crafting parts and craftables in the former, and new spells unlockable with dragon souls in the latter.

In reality these are two seperate mods. Both are compilations of many armor and weapon mods made since Skyrim came out, but they do more than simply adding them to the game for the player to craft and wear. You can find them randomly in the game world. You can find them in stores. You can even find them worn/wielded by random NPCs both friendly and hostile. All the armors and weapons are very tastefully made and none are overpowered. Definitely adds a little something to the game.

The original Dark Brotherhood armor looks OK. On Astrid. On a male character it looks much too weird for my tastes, and on the Khajiit and Argonian characters it looks ridiculous. The TS armor looks a lot better overall and it also modifies the Ancient Shrouded Armor which can be found during a quest or by stumbling upon it. The mod also changes the looks of vampire child Babette; she's more like a vampire teenager with this mod but she does look a lot better.

Are you one of those hardcore types that avoid using the fast travel to get from Point A to Point B, but don't mind spending a few Septims to use carriages? Then this mod is for you. The original game allowed for travel between the hold capitals, but Better Fast Travel adds all of the smaller settlements, and also shipping services between the port cities of Solitude, Dawnstar and Windhelm.

OK this is where one can easily cross the line into overpowered territory; I don't like using the word "cheat" in a single-player game because you have no one to cheat but yourself. And sometimes you can do some extremely fun experimentation using overpowered stuff. But I digress. As soon as a game of Skyrim is started, it's pretty clear that the character will pick up stuff. LOTS of stuff. And will use a bed to get a "well rested" bonus. While it's very easy to obtain the first house, some variety is always welcome, especially when replaying the game. Now the choice for dwelling mods is simply astonishing so go by taste and what you want for the type of character you play. I have a few house mods currently installed but the one I still use the most is the Dovahkiin Hideout, which links all in-game player houses plus the Ragged Flagon, the Archmage's Quarters and Jorrvaskr. I also use Reaper's Dark Tower and Bathing Beauties Luxury Suite. What can I say, I'm a guy that loves female eye candy :))

Speaking of replaying the game, this mod gives a lot of alternative ways to start the game with a new character, including the original "prisoner caught crossing the border heading to his execution" start. The options vary; I'll try to enumerate them but I may forget a few: a home owner in a hold capital (except Windhelm because of the quest), a farmer near Dragon Bridge, a new member of a guild (mage, thief, companion or assassin), guard for a merchant caravan (Khajiit only), member of an Orc tribe (Orc only), Morrowind refugee (Dunmer only), shipwrecked somewhere on the northern shore, member of a bandit gang, member of the Forsworn, a hunter in the woods, left for dead out in the middle of nowhere... easy to see that the choices baffle the mind! Some choice make the start easier than others though. Starting as the owner of Proudspire means you have tons of gold and access to all the stuff the huge house has to offer. In the Orc tribe the new character is penniless but has very good heavy armor and weapons. The Left for dead start can be quite grueling as you have nothing but some ragged clothes on your back. The character must get to civilization ASAP! All starts have one thing in common though. Upon starting you are given a quest to investigate Helgen. And for the sake of not spoiling the mod I will stop writing :)


There are other mods I play with and I admit some are a little on the overpowered/cheat side. For example I have the option to start the game with all crafting skills and perks maxed so the new character can work on only the skills he's interested in. But even then, the best armor does NOT make you invicible, not by a long shot. Another one I have is Lock Overhaul; I absolutely hate the lockpicking mini-game. This mod changes the mechanic quite a bit. Earlier I was talking about the dark nights of Climates of Tamriel, so I installed a mod called Predator Vision, made with the werewolves/vampires in mind. There is a night vision that makes everything brighter (the brightness is fully adjustable) and the predator vision makes heat sources glow, including humanoids, monsters and animals. The Undead are quite cold! And there you have it. I have more mods than this but to me the ones I listed are absolute must-haves and have kept me interested in Skyrim for over a year now. And I'm only getting the DLC's next week !!!

May your road lead you to warm sands!


My office in Reaper's Dark Tower

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Hiatus Edition

This is how to properly play a multi-necked guitar!

As you may have noticed I'm not posting much anymore. No I haven't quit EVE, drums, or any other thing. I just don't feel like writing these days. When I do log into EVE it's usually just for a a skill flip, a quick roam or an odd mission just to blow shit up. I've also been rather sick over the past couple weeks and I'm only now starting to recover. In any case I'm not closing down the blog or anything. When the writing bug bites again it'll be right here where I left it :)

Take care and fly the fuck out of whatever you're flying!


Monday, January 28, 2013


Well it was more than about time. Over the past weekend I have finally upgraded my aging computer with something much better; even if it's no power house the difference can already be felt. Double the number of cores (Intel i5 2.66ghz quad core), quadruple the amount of RAM (8gb) and finally a 64bit OS (Windows 7; Windows 8 is a bit too new to my liking). Yes there are faster machines out there but for me that's a big jump. I do have a pretty serious bottleneck at the moment: I have to wait a couple pay days to get a new video card worthy of the more modern tech so I'm currently using the trusty old GeForce 8800 GT. But even with this old card things are much better. For example, Skyrim. Where it used to take me a good 20-30 seconds to load the game now it's pretty much instantaneous. The aging card keeps me from bumping up the visual quality of the game but where I used to have a few snags and glitches now everything is fast and fluid. Same in EVE Online where I can bump up everything to high. My video card of choice will be a GF 660GTX with 2gb of GDDR5 RAM. Again not the top of the food chain but more than enough for me.

Of course with the new video card I'll also get a new power supply; not that my current one can't handle it but I also needed to use the one from my old box. So soon I will have TWO computers. My boys will be happy... of course the new problem will be to decide who gets to play on dad's machine. I also have to make room for a second computer and in my small appartment that is quite the challenge. But for the moment there's only one working machine so no rush.

But the wait for that magic pay day (February 21st to be exact) will be a long one. I cannot wait to see Skyrim in all its glory, play my Xmas present, F1 2012, and maybe pay a visit to a certain tropical island in the South Pacific; I hear some dip-shit pirate needs a lesson in insanity... I shall teach him all about it >:)

Fly crazy


Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Aight I'm Back Edition

Filmed last spring at the John Bonham Birthday Bash event. Yes, Bonzo heir Jason was in attendance :) In fact Mr Portnoy used the correct instruments, Jason's own kit which is basically the same Ludwig/Paiste 2002 setup as his dad's.

That shitty flu is now gone, and just in time because we got hit with a -40 freeze wave. As I'm writing this temps are getting better as it is now a balmy -16C (-25 windchill factor). But on Wednesday? Oh damn. Religious type people may fear a fiery Hell, but this silly place is known as a "vacation resort" up here. If you want to go out in this ridiculousness you have to dress for it because in a bad situation, this could actually kill you! But you know what? I'll take -40 over +40 temperatures anyday of the week; sorry desert area dwellers, my wasteland is better than yours! :))

Back from being sick means more activity so see ya soon!


Friday, January 18, 2013

F@$% this virus!

As you may have noticed I'm taking a bit of a blogging break. I've been sick pretty much all week and didn't play much of anything, including drums and EVE. I've done the Wednesday corp PvP op and put a big one in the skill queue. I've also played a bit of Skyrim, starting a new character that's basically my old Redguard dude but this time focusing a bit more on a Spellsword/Archer/Assassin evil personality. I've already taken some heat by telling off Vilkas after the first big Companion quest mission; being a werewolf with the 100% resist disease is just too much win. I'm using the Live Another Life mod among other things (I've got 30 or so various mods) so instead of the usual "cart ride to execution" start I began as a new Dark Brotherhood recruit (skipping the usual start as well), and as soon as you meet a town NPC you get a quest to investigate what's happening with Helgen and the Imperial/Stormcloak war. There are now many ways to start the game anew.

Apart from that this week I've mostly been vegetating on the couch watching some play-throughs and documentaries. My brain just can't do more at the moment. So the usual Friday music video will be skipped as I try to get rid of this stupid fucking virus.

Fly hard and may the road lead you to warm sands!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday's Electric Lunch Hour - Painful Edition

A while ago when I started posting music videos I posted this tune but the video got removed by the user for whatever reason. It wasn't YouTube for once. Well, here's a better version of this classic Quebecois tune by Offenbach. Enjoy!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

ZOMG EVE Montreal makes the EVE News !!!

Kapow !!!

That's right, our bi-monthly (read every fourteen days) EVE pilots meet just got a massive publicity boost thanks to CCP Falcon! All of a sudden Montreal pilots I didn't know about saw my forum thread and started posting in it, and the EVE MTL in-game channel saw an unprecedented 18 players in it yesterday night. I'll be going to Brutopia tonight to make the reservation but I'll be coming back home in a hurry to make my presence known in the channel. I am the one publicizing our meets after all :)

Aight sorry for the lack of postage lately. I've had a busier holiday time than expected, accompanied by a few more hangovers than expected. Example: when a barmaid from a micro-brewery invites you for said micro-brewery's New Year party you do not say no if you have no other plans! Plus I've had other interests pulling me left right and center. I'm still very much into the drumming thing (drumline gig in February, possible gig in late March, and possible reprise of the Wishmaster OES event!) so I gotta make sure I not only remember my parts, I also need to make sure I know the parts of basses 4 AND 5 because we may be playing some gigs with 4 bass players only, which means I gotta fill in the holes left by the missing bass.

I also still have a huge interest in some game that came out last year, a game about adventure and excitement; warriors shouldn't crave it :) But yeah, thanks to a ton of very interesting mods I'm still very much into Skyrim even though my current computer is starting to hate me for it. Yes this box is on its last legs for the latest games. It's fine for the older games my boys play on it but Skyrim and EVE Online hit the limit of what my current machine can do. I've received a Steam gift in the form of F1 2012 and that has to wait, and even though I'm really interested in it I can't even think of installing Farcry 3. But this will be fixed tomorrow as I start putting together a newer machine; OK it won't be a ridiculously overpowered bomb, but an Intel i5 with 8gb of RAM running Windows 7 will be a huge step forward for me. I have to keep my current graphics card for just a little while but even then, I have the feeling the machine will breathe a lot easier.

During the holidays Chez Stan held its first official PvP op, blooding one n00b to the joys of The PvP. Our little 5-man gang was successful in erasing a juicy obvious bait from existence, at the cost of one Caracal. We then roamed towards the Caldari-Gallente border but after many jumps of seeing nothing in space a big Faction Warfare gang got wind of us between Heydeiles and Old Man Star, but because of good scouting we lost only a Vexor and our n00b's Talwar. It was enough for us to call it a night because it was getting late, and because of our juicy kill we were still on top in the ISK battle. Plus it was great fun :)

So there's my short update. The next one will be made from the newer, much faster machine. I'm crossing my fingers so that the migration goes well!

Fly hard and see you at Brutopia !!!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

First Music Video of 2013 - No Fucking Around Edition

This should excuse my lateness :)

Happy New Year everyone !!!