Star Citizen is forever dead unless it fixes this

Star Citizen in alpha stage, is that massively multiplayer online space reality game known for it’s various bugs, seemingly never-ending development process and controversial pay model. And these are valid points to probably be concerned about from a player standpoint or would (and should) cause hesitation before embarking into this Star Citizen world. But there is one sure way to keep people away from Star Citizen for good and that is to keep players from playing the game entirely by booting them from the game world.

I speak of those beyond pesky server disconnections that cause players to randomly lose their progress or fail to complete a mission or get a chance at some extended exploration. Why try to do anything in a game if you are going to be disconnected every 20 minutes only to have to start all over again? And this brings to me a fundamental reason I generally am not a fan of online multiplayer games despite their benefits.

I miss the days where one could put a copy of their favorite game on DVD straight into the computer and play it knowing it was your game and no person or disconnection would interrupt the gameplay. Sure the games where smaller in size but all this online cloud stuff is actually not the best thing for us.

Now days, games are downloadable from cloud based servers such as Steam, Epic games and Origin etc. and many are single-player which is an okay way to play a game but you never really own it. If the game service ever decides it’s time to say “bye’bye” for whatever reason, so does your game. Similarly, dedicated servers that allow online multiplayer games and require a constant internet connection such as Star Citizen, Eve Online and Elite Dangerous are even more prone to interruption. Any hiccup in your connection and back to the main menu to go. If you were making some great in-game progress, it’s possible the game server saved some game data but oftentimes games requiring continual internet connection only save basic stats such as your current weapons, clothing and currency. As is in the case of Star Citizen any disconnection from their game server means you lose your location in the game too and any mission cargo you may have been carrying. Losing your location is big drag especially in a massive open world because your travel time to anywhere is wiped out. Getting ready to land on a new planet? Forget it, you get to start over from your starting location. The greater the distance the bigger nuisance any server disconnection becomes.

I haven’t listed why people enjoy online multiplayer games or even why despite what I don’t like about them, they are the future of gaming. There are two simple reasons multiplayer games are here to stay.

First, a non playable character within a game (NPC) will never be able to compete with a real player. Nothing can beat the experience of two human beings playing with or against each other within the same game world. Human players are more unpredictable than any AI NPC player could be programmed to be. Besides in multiplayer games, players have the ability to team up with friends and play together in their favorite games. Those are just a couple the biggest reasons why online connected multiplayer games are the future.

Now to be clear, I don’t discount the popularity or the very good reasons for multiplayer games. It is genuinely fun to shoot bandits with a friend or even doing missions together. However, when a disconnect occurs the game is essentially over for the player who gets booted from the game. And so to avoid that problem I think a game MUST include a singleplayer component to it and one that works the same or similar to its multiplayer counterpart. Perhaps the game can fall back to singleplayer mode should any internet disruption occur. The only thing that would be lost would be your friend and other human players from your game world but you won’t lose any game progress. The game world would stay intact and so would your location.

So Star Citizen game, if you are to ever succeed game-world speaking, those random in-game disconnections that players experience sometimes multiple times an hour, must be eliminated for good to keep me coming back.

Interested in getting into Star Citizen or maybe just curious to know what it’s about? Check out my other blog post here before you do.


Star Citizen

Star Citizen Tracker (tracking 9 years of game progress) shocking

Star Citizen: How to Play

Starter Game Packages

‘Star Citizen’: Still No Release Date in Sight, Work Environment is ‘Chaotic’ (Report)

Watch what Hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com

What Do Christians really think of gays? Watch this


Images are in-game screenshots

Is something wrong with Star Citizen?

Star Citizen is that online multiplayer living space game currently being developed by Cloud Imperium Games. More about the development here. As of this post, Star Citizen is in an alpha state of development which its been in since 2012. It has been operating on a pledge based system where a player must pledge or pay for a starter package to enter the world of Star Citizen and play the game. A starter game package consists of, at the very least, a basic spaceship, some in-game currency (currently aUEC) and the entire game to download and test. However, one glaring question many folks have been asking is, how long until the game is actually finished? And that remains to be seen. In fact, if time is any gauge for future events, a beta version of the game isn’t even on the horizon.

How many pledges make a game go?

Nevertheless, like many other players before me, we have been curious as to the degree of play-ability the current alpha version of Star Citizen is in. YouTube videos show great scenes from the game but how much editing, if any, went into removing game breaking bugs from those videos? And what about those reports that Star Citizen is some multi-million dollar scam. I decided to get some first hand facts based on personal experience of the game and research.

According to current pledge numbers, Star Citizen has raised over 280 million dollars. I won’t say this instantly makes Star Citizen a scam simply because of all the money it’s generated through millions of pledges. Businesses make money, that’s one purpose of having a business. And yet, it would also appear that the $280 million (which continues to grow) should be a good….no wait….. a great start for being able to pay developers and build a game and a very playable game at that.

Of course the developers do need to be paid so pledges are a great way to make that happen. One big concern I would have and is something that I have since learned more about from getting my hands on my own copy of the game itself, is a little something to do with priorities. More on that later.

So, just how playable is alpha Star Citizen?

You looking at me?

Not knowing a lot about how to play Star Citizen, I first purchased a starter package which included the Mustang Alpha ship and so my first few hours spent in Star Citizen have been doing basic spacey things and learning the controls. So far in the game I’ve managed to learn how to walk round, run, jump, fly, use the mobiglass, land better, refuel my ship and not crash, land on a platform without crashing (joystick makes this much easier by the way), quantum jump to planets, take off and not crash, attempt basic deliveries all the while exploring the only star system currently available in game called Stanton. Now, I knew going into this experience that SC was only in a feeble alpha state so I didn’t expect much but then again it’s been in development for many years. So naturally I anticipated game bugs and I most definitely expected the game to crash. I wasn’t disappointed. (Although the crashes of late have been network disconnects.)

Look, what bugs you?

The bugs I’ve experienced have mostly not been the type of bugs I had anticipated when I started. I expected a nearly complete and broken mess of a game in terms of graphical mishaps such as missing doors, broken floors, ceilings, all wrapped in some ugly looking environments due to missing textures. Instead I have been treated, for the most part, to a beautifully rendered, and sometimes jaw dropping game world graphically speaking that is. And while the game indeed looks fantastic, some of the gameplay features such as missions remain broken or seemingly not complete.

Of course you won’t know which part is broken or incomplete until you get into the mission and drop your box and the game won’t let you pick up the box anymore. Oh well it’s only 1000 UEC you didn’t get. Try that mission again. And again. And yet again. Go ahead maybe this time? And yet performance wise, the game in it’s current state runs well on my computer which apparently not everyone can report.

You’re kind’ve stuck, now what?

Now as magnificent as the game world looks, with it’s detailed and carefully rendered ships, planets and spaceports (which you can even land on and walk on) includes those broken game features that do ruin the gameplay. In fact, as of this writing, I am currently unable to play the game with my own ship because the two ships I have are not retrievable at the Port Olisar spaceport. (I’ve read of the some workarounds which includes resetting my character or spawning at a different location of which both options I haven’t figured out how to do yet nor think I should have to.) And this brings me to my biggest question for the success of this game (from a players’ standpoint). What are the priorities for the future development of this game? And do these priorities benefit the players or mostly benefit the developers and game creators)? Are they going to help new players enjoy the game or has Star Citizen lost it’s way somewhere in the verse? (The “verse” is the term used in the game for the universe for which players are able to explore).

I do wonder what the 280 plus million dollars is doing, if anything, to help make basic gameplay, such as being able to retrieve a ship or complete a basic delivery mission, become a finished polished part of the game. Especially since I don’t find the game any fun without a ship and I really don’t want to hitch a ride on someone elses ship when I paid for my own. So a game bug that can cause you to lose in game credits and/or a flyable ship seems to me to be something that should be a fundamental priority for developers to fix. First, before they create more ships. And it may be that the developers are hard at work fixing this basic problem as I speak. I do hope this is the case.

Pay 2 Win?

Another questionable situation I see in Star Citizen is something called pay 2 win. And I don’t mean the developers win and the players lose (although maybe that’s the case for some). I must first clarify that since Star Citizen is a living space style sandbox for which you the player get the freedom to explore however you choose there really isn’t any endgame or “winning” in Star Citizen. And winning I mean in terms in winning or losing a race and game over. Rather in Star Citizen, you the humble citizen player, are continually working/playing/grinding to gain in-game credits (aUEC) in the hope of someday being able to either purchase a better ship or you are free to simply have fun exploring in the ship you currently have.

However, a potential problem I see that could occur in Star Citizen is that a player may purchase with real money a powerful luxury ship complete with great combat abilities, or better storage capabilities. The starter package of $45 doesn’t do a lot for competing with a grand luxury spacecraft worth $1000 of real money. So if you are wealthy in real life you might have a better starting advantage in Star Citizen. Sure you can earn in game credits to buy that luxury starship or combat ship of your dreams but if you have a lot of real money that you think you should waste (I mean, spend), why wait? But should you be someone like me who doesn’t believe it’s wise to waste hundreds and thousands of dollars on a virtual spaceship than I guess you won’t have the better ships for a very long time. And yet if you think of it as a simply a pledge to help the game along (as I’m pretty sure the Star Citizen game studio hopes you do)……I still say those expensive ships are better than the starter ships.

Broken Ship in Basic Starter Package?

In my experience there is another not-so insignificant game bug that makes Star Citizen a game you might want to reconsider before getting your hands on it (at least with one of the two $45 starter packages). The starter package which includes the Mustang Alpha as of this post, is broken because the ship is unable to hold any cargo even though the game website shows the Mustang alpha is fully capable of hauling cargo and is game ready. Without cargo space however, personal delivery missions are impossible to do unless you rent a ship (but you need lots of aUEC to do that). So this brings me to my final question about Star Citizen. What are the priorities for this game? Clearly making money has become a priority if it wasn’t from the start back in 2012. But why isn’t the starter package on the website pledge store (which includes this particular broken cargo bay on the Mustang ship) either fixed, removed from the store or at the very least showing a note mentioning this problem? Apparently this particular bug report/complaint isn’t old but has been around for at least 3 years! And yet, there are numerous new and impressive looking ships continually being developed and added to the game every quarter. Some ships cost hundreds and even thousands of real dollars.

I would think that with a $250 million dollar plus income that a mandatory starter package (which costs real money) would include a fully functioning starter ship by now. It should be noted that so far in my experience, I have yet to see any problems with the other basic starter ship package which includes the Aurora MR aside from the game locking me out of using the ship! (Note of caution and warning: if you are still considering getting into the game with a basic starter package, I would as of now only recommend the Aurora MR because of the cargo problem on the Mustang. But a cargo bay failure might be the least of the problems you experience especially if it happens where you are unable to retrieve your ship at all and need to reset your character. )

Should you get Star Citizen?

So as I have mentioned already, a basic Star Citizen game package (pledge) costs $45 of real money. You need a starter package to play the game. Currently this $45 gets you a ship, some in-game insurance (not sure it’s implemented yet), in-game starting cash of 5000 UEC (also called aUEC alpha United Earth Currency while the game is in alpha state), a couple of hangers (to walk around your ship) and the entire 60gb game in it’s current state. And if you use my referral code STAR-BSRL-ZLK7 you will get an additional 5000 UEC to use in-game. See more details here.

A love hate relationship

So should you get into Star Citizen? The answer is entirely up to you because if you’ve read this far, you will know I think the game is fantastic, disappointing, better than expected, beautiful and includes game breaking and mission breaking situations, game server wipes (when an update is released) but then again sometimes missions work fine.


Star Citizen

Star Citizen Tracker (tracking 9 years of game progress) shocking

Star Citizen: How to Play

Starter Game Packages

‘Star Citizen’: Still No Release Date in Sight, Work Environment is ‘Chaotic’ (Report)

Watch what Hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com

What Do Christians really think of gays? Watch this


Disclaimer and general warning of the risk you take downloading and playing this game: Star Citizen is in alpha stage of game development which means it’s broken and many problems either exist, haven’t been fixed and/or may never be fixed. I will not be responsible for anything that might go wrong (and things do go wrong, as of this post) should you decide to purchase any starter game package for Star Citizen. Doing so is done completely at your own risk.

Images are in-game screenshots

Run 8 Train Simulator, is it for you?

What is Run 8

Run 8 is a realistic prototypical computer simulation of train operations found in the United States (featuring railroads primarily in the Southwest, Florida and the Northeast) The major railroads found in Run 8 are BNSF, UP, SP, NS and CSX. (For complete details of the routes and trainsets available see Run 8 studios)

What’s so great about Run 8

Firstly, this review will be from the standpoint of someone brand new to rail simulators including Run 8 but not necessarily new to computer gaming. As of this post, there is a major train simulator on the market that you may be familiar with called Train Sim World by Dovetail games. I have not played that game but have watched extensive videos and streams of it being played. Now it’s true that my experience within Run 8 has been for only a few hours but as far as I can tell, Run 8 is in a category all it’s own in terms of realistic railroad operations. While Train Sim World boasts pretty photorealistic graphics and controlled scenarios, Run 8 shines in a different yet entirely important way. With its true to life scale routes (hundreds of miles in the base version of the sim alone), magnificent sounds and horns and its giant sandbox, Run 8 train simulator has a unique way of giving the player the true feeling they are and could be a real train engineer or yard master. And if you ever wanted to simulate the air-brake operation of a 100 plus car consist, Run 8 lets you do it. The simulator won’t hold your hand in the process but isn’t learning how to do it all part of the fun?

Multiplayer and Single-player

Run 8, in addition to its realistic sounds, routes and signal operation also features the option to work in a multiplayer setting (on a server) and perform prototypical yard operations with other people who are also running a copy of the simulator. (Note: I would highly recommend learning the basics of the sim and train operations before venturing onto a server.) Of course, yard operations, AI train and player train movement can be performed in single-player mode.

AI trains part of the rail sandbox

Computer controlled trains better known as AI trains can also be enabled in Run 8. This gives the player(s) the option to have AI trains run along side (within the same game world) as you “play” in this grand rail sandbox. If you ever wanted a railroading sandbox than Run 8 is the simulation that gives you the player much freedom in how you run a railroad and a train in Run 8.

Run 8 also includes an in-game switchboard, complete with signals and switches giving you the player the opportunity to manage multiple trains or just one if you so choose. Of course whether you choose to run multiple AI trains, run alone or with others is entirely up to you!

partial screenshot of in-game switchboard

What I like least in Run 8

The overall graphical quality of the scenery found in the sim world look like something out of a game from the 90’s or early 2000’s. The anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) isn’t much better as a moving train can appear in certain light downright distracting with shimmering edges of the distance boxcars, especially in the noon day sun.

GRAPHICS: However, up close those BNSF engines (among the others included) and rail cars look pretty nice. While Run 8 comes with many options for running a train as prototypical as possible, within the constraints of a computer, some components of the simulator simply will not work with a mouse or simply do not function at all. The best example of this I found is within a locomotive’s cab. The horn, braking lever, throttle, reverser and independent brake levers are only controllable via a keyboard or RailDriver. It’s important to note however that not having this complete control with a mouse does not necessarily ruin the overall experience of running a train just something to be aware of. Likewise the sim comes of multiple menu options to either auto start (through a menu) or manually start the train engines.

Conclusion – Is Run 8 worth it?

Because Run 8 features many realistic aspects of real-life rail work, there is a learning curve. Aside from learning how to get a train or even simply an engine moving (if you’ve never done it in a simulator before), this simulator features many keyboard bindings to memorize and learn. Depending on your experience with games and simulators this will prove to be either a non issue or possibly a major challenge in and of itself. And let’s not forget about learning how the industries, tags and symbols work. Thankfully, the current version of Run 8 features some helpful PDF files for getting yourself acquainted with basic sim operations and a handy keybinding cheat sheet. And there are also YouTube videos available for additional help to getting started in Run 8. In addition, all of the sim’s keybindings can be found (and even changed) within the simulator itself for quick reference.

So is Run 8 worth $50? Well, the answer to that is of course a subjective one but to clarify, the $50 is for the base portion of the simulator as found on the Run 8 Studios website (as of this writing). For additional trainsets and routes the sim will cost you more (between $10-$40 for each one). However, if you find that you really enjoy trains (particularly from the U.S.) and are seeking a realistic operational open world train simulation and can overlook some not-so-good graphical renditions, than starting with the Run 8 base sim might just wet your whistle! Just be prepared to have loads of fun and want to buy those addons!


RUN 8 Studios

Train Sim World

Find out what hope looks like

DISCLAIMER: This review if from personal experience with the simulator and not affiliated with Run 8 Studios

image source: images are in-game screenshots

Quick Review: Run 8 Train Simulator

What is Run 8 and is it for you?

Run 8 is a realistic prototypical computer simulation of train operations found in the United States (featuring railroads primarily in the Southwest, Florida and the Northeast) The major railroads found in Run 8 are BNSF, UP, SP, NS and CSX. (For complete details of the routes and trainsets available see Run 8 studios)

What’s so great about Run 8

Firstly, this review will be from the standpoint of someone brand new to rail simulators including Run 8 but not necessarily new to computer gaming. As of this post, there is a major train simulator on the market that you may be familiar with called Train Sim World by Dovetail games. I have not played that game but have watched extensive videos and streams of it being played. Now it’s true that my experience within Run 8 has been for only a few hours but as far as I can tell, Run 8 is in a category all it’s own in terms of realistic railroad operations. While Train Sim World boasts pretty photorealistic graphics and controlled scenarios, Run 8 shines in a different yet entirely important way. With its true to life scale routes (hundreds of miles in the base version of the sim alone), magnificent sounds and horns and its giant sandbox, Run 8 train simulator has a unique way of giving the player the true feeling they are and could be a real train engineer or yard master. And if you ever wanted to simulate the air-brake operation of a 100 plus car consist, Run 8 lets you do it. The simulator won’t hold your hand in the process but isn’t learning how to do it all part of the fun?

Multiplayer and Single-player

Run 8, in addition to its realistic sounds, routes and signal operation also features the option to work in a multiplayer setting (on a server) and perform prototypical yard operations with other people who are also running a copy of the simulator. (Note: I would highly recommend learning the basics of the sim and train operations before venturing onto a server.) Of course, yard operations, AI train and player train movement can be performed in single-player mode.

AI trains part of the rail sandbox

Computer controlled trains better known as AI trains can also be enabled in Run 8. This gives the player(s) the option to have AI trains run along side (within the same game world) as you “play” in this grand rail sandbox. If you ever wanted a railroading sandbox than Run 8 is the simulation that gives you the player much freedom in how you run a railroad and a train in Run 8.

Run 8 also includes an in-game switchboard, complete with signals and switches giving you the player the opportunity to manage multiple trains or just one if you so choose. Of course whether you choose to run multiple AI trains, run alone or with others is entirely up to you!

partial screenshot of in-game switchboard

What I like least in Run 8

The overall graphical quality of the scenery found in the sim world look like something out of a game from the 90’s or early 2000’s. The anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) isn’t much better as a moving train can appear in certain light downright distracting with shimmering edges of the distance boxcars, especially in the noon day sun.

GRAPHICS: However, up close those BNSF engines (among the others included) and rail cars look pretty nice. While Run 8 comes with many options for running a train as prototypical as possible, within the constraints of a computer, some components of the simulator simply will not work with a mouse or simply do not function at all. The best example of this I found is within a locomotive’s cab. The horn, braking lever, throttle, reverser and independent brake levers are only controllable via a keyboard or RailDriver. It’s important to note however that not having this complete control with a mouse does not necessarily ruin the overall experience of running a train just something to be aware of. Likewise the sim comes of multiple menu options to either auto start (through a menu) or manually start the train engines.

Conclusion – Is Run 8 worth it?

Because Run 8 features many realistic aspects of real-life rail work, there is a learning curve. Aside from learning how to get a train or even simply an engine moving (if you’ve never done it in a simulator before), this simulator features many keyboard bindings to memorize and learn. Depending on your experience with games and simulators this will prove to be either a non issue or possibly a major challenge in and of itself. And let’s not forget about learning how the industries, tags and symbols work. Thankfully, the current version of Run 8 features some helpful PDF files for getting yourself acquainted with basic sim operations and a handy keybinding cheat sheet. And there are also YouTube videos available for additional help to getting started in Run 8. In addition, all of the sim’s keybindings can be found (and even changed) within the simulator itself for quick reference.

So is Run 8 worth $50? Well, the answer to that is of course a subjective one but to clarify, the $50 is for the base portion of the simulator as found on the Run 8 Studios website (as of this writing). For additional trainsets and routes the sim will cost you more (between $10-$40 for each one). However, if you find that you really enjoy trains (particularly from the U.S.) and are seeking a realistic operational open world train simulation and can overlook some not-so-good graphical renditions, than starting with the Run 8 base sim might just wet your whistle! Just be prepared to have loads of fun and want to buy those addons!


RUN 8 Studios

Train Sim World

Find out what hope looks like

DISCLAIMER: This review if from personal experience with the simulator and not affiliated with Run 8 Studios

image source: images are in-game screenshots

The Legend of the Lone Ranger board game needs a remake

LR_game

1. Remake – this game deserves to be brought back and remade for kids and adults to enjoy once again

2. Video game – this game would be fun as an action-packed video game

3. Nostalgia – this game brings back memories; it was a great piece of the past for many kids like me

4. Family Fun – pure and simple this game is fun

5.  You play as a Hero – Playing as the Lone Ranger and Tanto you are the Hero and this world needs more heroes

Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC Review Discrepancy and Crashes – Is Rockstar getting a pass?

Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC is the latest game released by Rockstar which apparently has some mixed ratings. Of course the game was released earlier on console and the game received mostly overwhelming positive feedback.

metacritic score 92 
User score 3.7 (out of 10)

Now in 2019, RDR 2 is ready for the computer but not without some apparent trouble. Metacritic reviews shows a general critic score of 92 (as of this post) but among users the game gets general unfavorable score—a 3.7 (out of 10). Players have apparently experienced launch crashes, freezing and generally overall poor optimization. And all this from a developer that isn’t new at making games.

Sure Rockstar will most likely sort out the problems with the game but I can’t help but wonder why the game wasn’t beta tested before official release on PC? It was first beta tested first, right? I don’t know officially for sure but I’m can’t imagine a big bad game developer like Rockstar or any for that matter not testing their game before final release. And yet I do find it odd that a startup crash would occur on so many high end gaming PC’s from the get-go without a mention of it from Rockstar. Frontier had a similar experience in September with Elite Dangerous and it went so poorly they decided to scrap their December update until later in 2020 and even revamp how they test the game.

Red Dead Redemption 2, according to the many critics who have played it (PC or Console), say the game is both beautiful and breathtaking and so it would appear they are willing to excuse Rockstar for fumbling out of the gate. For whatever reason, players weren’t as kind to Frontier for their fumble. Now players want change. Like Frontier, I doubt that if any indie developer had had the trouble RDR 2 has had on launch, the critics wouldn’t be so kind.

What do you think of the Red Dead Redemption 2 launch problems? Do you think Rockstar is getting a pass? Let me know in the comments.


Metacritic – Red Dead Redemption 2

Polygon article: My exhausting journey to play Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC

Players asking for beta testing of Elite Dangerous

Watch what hope looks like


silhouette image source

Getting Started in Painting with Bob Ross

If you enjoy Bob Ross like I do or are the least bit interested in getting started in painting using the wet on wet technique, check out this special 1 hour episode of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.  (And don’t forget to watch the Bob Ross Experience video here or at the bottom of this post.)

Below are links and recommendations to some of the painting products I use which can help you get started using the Wet-on-Wet oil painting technique that Bob Ross used on his show.

Bob Ross Master Kit –  I highly recommend beginning with this kit as it will really help you get your painting going and you will save some money on basic paints, palette knife and brushes.

Complete List of Bob Ross Brushes and Palette Knives

Complete list of Bob Ross oil paint

Complete list of liquid oil mediums for preparing the canvass.   While this is a complete list of Bob Ross available mediums, Bob mainly applied his signature Liquid White or Magic White to the canvas before painting his landscapes.

Bob Ross 2-in 1 Easel (as seen on the Joy of Painting after Season 27) – This easel is a good deal especially when it’s on sale.  (Note: any easel will probably work to get started but I have found not many easels allow edge to edge painting on the canvas as this one does well.  The Bob Ross 2-in-1 Easel also can be used as a table top easel if you want to paint while sitting at a table.)

Canvases 16″ x 20″ – also a good deal at Michaels when they are on sale or using a 50% off coupon  (Note: Bob used 18″ x 24″ canvases on the Joy of Painting but you can use any size you prefer just make sure they come at least double primed which most are.

Odorless paint thinner

Bob Ross beater rack and paint brush thinner screen

Small bucket with a lid (the size of the brush thinner screen)

Also highly recommended: 

Bob Ross large Clear Palette

Baby Wipes at Costco or Dollar tree

Roll of Paper Towels

Larger trash bucket for beater rack

Apron and old pair of clothes you don’t mind getting paint on

some old towels

a place to set your paints and brushes when not using them but within reach while painting

Palette paper or a super cheap palette unless you jump right in and purchase the Bob Ross Palette which I recommend if you want to get serious

Although I am still quite new at this painting thing, I would love your questions or comments so feel free to drop me a note.

(Note: I do not receive any compensation for sharing these links but they are favorite products of mine to aid in getting you started with painting like Bob Ross. )

The Bob Ross Experience.  Check out the campaign

Jerry’s Artarama

Official Bob Ross Supply Site

Watch Bob Ross on YouTube

TwoInchBrush

Watch what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms

A Mostly Jelly Belly “Tour” Flop

After years of hearing glowing stories from family and friends about the Jelly Belly jelly bean tour in Fairfield California, the time had finally come for my family and I to visit the factory. It was Sunday afternoon and with much anticipation for jelly bean madness and delight we might encounter, my family entered the factory visitor center. First, we were hungry so we grabbed a bite to eat in the Jelly Belly cafe for a bean shaped pizza which was kind’ve cool and mostly tasted dandy except for the slightly uncooked doughiness we encountered toward the center of the pie.

Next we headed on up the steps to begin the highly proclaimed self-guided factory tour. The long hall appeared dimly lit and TV monitors played various clips of the factory operations and history of the business. Windows lined the long corridor where we could see where bean greatness originates on a daily basis…almost. As far as I could tell, today there was no bean greatness happening. In fact, the rows of conveyor belts and automated machinery including the robotic arms for handling your favorite fruity beans and packaging, were at a standstill. Instead I had to imagine factory workers busily moving about the factory floor and machines humming because on this day, as far I could tell there were no factory operations operating at all. Apparently, the bean factory was closed on Sunday.

All that was left of what fast became a not-so-grand bean tour was to see the many mosaics, created entirely from Jelly Belly beans, hanging on the walls and ceiling or stand and watch a video or two or three. Fun. I suddenly felt like I was watching an episode of “How’d They Do That?” on the Discovery Channel which I could have done anytime from the comfort of my own home.

With disappointment still fresh, we exited the “tour” from where the tour had begun—at the retail store. Now it was true that the retail store was open for business, so at least the Jelly Belly company was still making a profit. To me, the store appeared to be brimming with overly priced branded bean products such as a jelly bean dispenser for $30 and not including the beans to fill it. Naturally I felt like the factory experience especially had been over-hyped by a majority of online reviews I had read prior to my visit and it also appeared there was a little misleading going on (either intentional or not) by the official Jelly Belly website for failing to note their non-operation of the factory on Sunday’s (and perhaps even Saturday).

So would I recommend the tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California? Not really, especially not on the weekend and only if you really love Jelly Belly beans. Oh well, at least the beans still tasted fruity and were mostly flavorful.


Jelly Belly official site

Watch what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com


image 1 source

other images are my own

Discovering Elite Dangerous in 2019

Are we there yet?

Elite Dangerous is a massively multiplayer online space game by Frontier Developments. Although the game requires a persistent internet connection it also features a solo or single-player mode. Elite Dangerous is the successor to Elite which was first released in 1984 and now 30 plus years later, the game has seen quite a change.

My history with Elite Dangerous is virtually non-existent aside from hearsay about a learning curve and how fantastic the game is to play in Virtual Reality. Now it’s true I have interest in open world simulation games such as X-plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator and both Euro and American Truck simulators but interest in a space game not so much. It seems most space games are about aliens, monsters and mostly shooting other spaceships in an arcadey fashion. Something about the wide open vast nothingness of space travel also hasn’t had much appeal….but then again I have never encountered game quite like Elite Dangerous.

Sidewinder training

What Learning Curve?

Something about Elite Dangerous seemed different. Oh and there’s that learning curve I kept hearing about. A learning curve to play a game? There is always some learning when you are starting a new game especially in flight simulators but this game simulation was suppose have a notable learning curve and was not meant to be taken lightly.

And so armed with a wee bit of knowledge of what I might be getting myself into only through those online game reviews and gameplay, I took the plunge into beginning my journey into the world of Elite Dangerous. And what a journey it has been.

A new ship, another Starport

Read the Manual and Make Friends with the Options Menu

Now I don’t consider myself a very fast learner and besides that I prefer to take my time to make sure I’m understanding what I learn. And so after 14 hours later, I was able to fly my first ship! Did I mention I like to take my time? You see, perhaps Elite Dangerous is a game at heart but it’s also a simulation that takes place in space. It must be experienced and that’s not even with VR! Now I generally do not enjoy multiplayer games and so my time in ED has been spent in singleplayer (Solo) mode, along with training tutorials and the options menu for keybindings and that is probably one of best places to start in Elite Dangerous.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, within the universe of Elite Dangerous there are 400 billion star systems as part of the in game reproduction of the Milkyway galaxy. All these systems can be seamlessly traveled to in a spaceship which you can upgrade as you gain credits. You begin the journey in a spaceship called the Sidewinder. If you die or crash in Elite Dangerous you will get your Sidewinder back but will have to start over. Later, when you buy a different ship, you will need to pay a rebuy amount (5%) of your total ship value should you die or crash it.

Find the dock

Flying and docking is an accomplishment in Elite Dangerous

For me the learning curve in Elite Dangerous has been first and foremost related to keybindings and understanding both the game, menus and ship systems terminology. At the start you will want to take a look or two or three at that Elite Dangerous manual which gives a nice overview of system terms. Of course you will need to learn how to operate your ship and it’s not a point and click operation (at first). Each ship features a six-way on-board thruster system (vertical(up and down), lateral(side-to-side), forward and backward and don’t forget about pitch, roll and yaw) somewhat like trying to fly a Harrier jet in space. But unless you would like to go spinning uncontrollable toward the side of the spaceport you might want to leave Flight Assist on.

If you have familiarity with flight/combat simulators then learning to fly in Elite Dangerous will a piece of cake, maybe. Your ship features thrusters are not unfamiliar but figuring out your keybindings just might be! I am using a Flight Stick with throttle control – Thrustmaster Hotas X (Hands On Throttle and Stick). Also a keyboard, a mouse and a Xbox controller. I have heard you can fly with a keyboard and mouse only but I haven’t tried it.

Hyperspace Jump

Moving your ship to another star system is another accomplishment

Moving from one star system to another within the galaxy is also a new experience which must be learned. We just don’t do that kind of thing on Earth!

Likewise docking (landing) in a spacestation-like port is also not like driving to grandmas around the block in your car unless you use AutoDock which is a newer feature of the game. (Note: All ships come equipped with AutoDock, Auto Launch and Auto Cruise. Auto Cruise can be useful when hyper-traveling around the galaxy.)

Focus on the task at hand

Doing most anything successfully in Elite Dangerous feels like an accomplishment

So you can move around in Elite Dangerous and you’re learning the keybindings and termology? Good. Now what? As a noob to ED at just over 80 hours (at the time of this post) I have learned about a few things you can do in this vast openworld galaxy. There is a war going on within the game but it appears to me, at least visually speaking, to be a nearly silent war (maybe it’s different in Open mode with human players?). But nevertheless, space is really big and so unless you go looking for a fight you might not find any. Each port features a news and mission board which displays information about the faction war and their particular allegiance (if any). You can choose to do missions for the leaders of the factions to earn credits (in game currency) or go exploring on your own.

I have found that doing Courier jobs at first helps as you are learning how to jump from star system to system and it doesn’t require any cargo space. The data is store on your internal computer and if you get scanned by another ship or pirate they will not try to steal your stuff. NPC’s or none playable characters are all that is found in the solo mode but in Open play mode you will encounter human players.

Should we land there?

Explore some Planets with Horizons

Recently I have begun to explore systems and map individual planets using the Detailed Surface Scanner (which must be bought at a Starport). The data you get after mapping a planet and from discovered systems can be sold 20ly (light years) away in a different star system for sometimes hundreds of thousands of credits!) If you prefer combat, you can learn how to shoot other ships down and gain credits for doing it. Besides doing missions, you might try mining an asteroid, landing on a planet and disabling turrets on the base for a particular faction leader. This is part of the war except you won’t encounter actual people or aliens walking around with guns. Maybe you like to free-roam and wish to visit a random planet (not for a mission). You can with the included SRV (Surface Recon Vehicle) that is part of the Horizons expansion pack in Elite Dangerous. Horizons is great especially if you want to be able to land on some of the planets and moons. (Note: As of this post there is no life on the planets and you cannot land on any Earth-like planets)

Request docking permission

The Universe in Elite Dangerous is really big

I haven’t really scratched the surface (aside from a few planets) of what this game probably has to offer since I am still quite new. However, I have been able to get a glimpse of what this game is and how vast it is. Elite Dangerous is masterpiece in it’s size and beauty but something more jaw dropping is what this game is based off of. When you go outside on a clear night, look up at the night sky and see hundreds of dots of light and realize those are suns similar to our own—one cannot but ask at least one big question. Who made all this?

I know the Maker of the Universe and perhaps you do as well. But if you do not know the Creator Almighty God, there is a reason why it matters more than anything else on this earth. Elite Dangerous was made by mere men but someday all men will face God. Some will meet God willingly in worship and some will be kicking and screaming but today you have an opportunity to find out who the true God really is and why it matters. Many people believe in Heaven but if hell is real place you need to find out what that means to you. I don’t want anyone to go there. If you haven’t already why not check out the good person test linked at my website or read my post called 5 things you should know before you die. And if you have a Bible start reading in John 1. The good person test and starting with John 1 from the Bible will give you a good start to understanding who God is and why it matters since none of us are promised tomorrow. And in case you wondered, this is a matter of life or death and not about joining a religion or church.

Outpost – Time to fuel up

But after all we’ve learned, is the game any good?

You learn quite a bit in Elite Dangerous, you need to even to survive but is it a game I would recommend? And how about that learning curve? I would enthusiastically recommend Elite Dangerous but especially to anyone with special interest in Flight/combat simulators and/or truck simulation games with a twist. If you don’t mind learning and setbacks and frustrations and grind to get a reward (menial at first) then you might like this game. Each person is different but do your research and then if you still like what you see, get it on sale with Horizons. Naturally, you will need to take your time to learn ED but I think it can be a rewarding experience when you learn something new. I know it has been for me (and that’s saying a lot).

My Rating (out of 10) 8.5 out of 10


AreYouGood.us

5 things you should know before you die

My early steam review

Elite Dangerous Deluxe Edition on Steam

Elite Dangerous Official Site

Elite Dangerous Manual

Watch what hope looks like -FullyFreeFilms.com


images are my own in-game screenshots

Discovering Planet Coaster in 2019

Planet Coaster, is it for you?

Planet Coaster or Planco for short, (not to be confused with Planet Fitness), it seems was released a long time ago (2016) but this year (2019) I have finally got my hands on it.

Will you like it?

Everyone’s tastes are different but if you enjoy city and/or transport building sims (City Skylines/Transport Fever) and management style games you will probably like/love Planet Coaster.  Note about Roller-Coaster Tycoon Series from the early 2000’s: I never got into the Roller-coaster tycoon games from the early 2000’s, but if you liked those games, I’ve heard this game improves upon them.

Game Summary

Build roller coasters and rides while you manage staff and the rides (yes, the rides do break down for which you will need a mechanic.) You can play various modes. Challenge, campaign or Sandbox/free play mode (unlimited money). I haven’t played the scenarios as all my time has been in sandbox mode (80+ hours and counting). 

Graphics

Good to excellent. 
Something to keep in mind though. Must have a high end computer to play this game otherwise you will probably become disappointed with the performance. (My computer has 16 gb ram, 8700k and gtx 1070ti 8 gb, and it still slightly lags, stutters when building a park to fill the default map size.) There are also some anti aliasing issues visible at certain angles which for me slightly mar the overall quality level of the graphics. 

Where’s the people? The park isn’t open yet

Tips for first-time players

Before you really get into building a good park, I recommend practicing getting use to using hot keys on a empty map (in sandbox mode). Here are a few of my favorite commands and settings. 
NO CLIP – In the menu camera settings, be sure the option NO Clip is selected. This allows movement through terrain ( otherwise building/moving/seeing underground will be impossible or difficult. ) 
Key Command T allows a first person camera view which is essential when building tunnels and general moving around the map. 
X allows the precise placement of objects and rides without the camera moving (especially when you zoom in). 

Two hands on the controls

Using your mouse in the right hand and W A S D keys with the left hand move the camera around the map. Hold SHIFT while pressing WASD keys to speed up the movement. When you have the T key toggled (don’t hold it down), raise and lower the camera with Q and E keys. Note: If those keys rotate, then press T to enable first person view (freelook).

Ctrl Z will undo your last action and Ctrl Y will redo it. 

The path and track laying system could be improved (Transport Fever gets it right) but in time you will understand how pathing works in Planet Coaster, so don’t give up.  Note: there are two ways to make a path. Either on a grid or freeform. (In my experience, both ways kind’ve stink and could have been implemented better. Just remember to practice to see which method works for you best)

When all fails, you might consult a YouTube tutorial or two or three.

Rating

My rating (out of 10): 7.5 

It’s on Steam

Get the game and dlc in a bundle on a steam sale and it’s a great deal. 

Comments

What do you like (or not) about Planet Coaster? Tips or tricks for me? I would love to hear them.


Planet Coaster Official Site

Planet Coaster on Steam

See what hope looks like – FullyFreeFilms.com


Images are my own