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!