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Lag, Losses, and Mods January 14, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
Tags: , , ,
14 comments

It has sort of becomes a regular item here, the post-weekend World of Tanks summery.  I am a creature of habit.

Of course, it helps if there is something new to write about.  And last week, that seemed to be in question.

I have played shooters in the past and have rarely been anything beyond mediocre on my best days, which means I depend on my team mates for wins.  I am best in support of somebody who knows what they are doing.  So I have had to get used to the random matches where the quality of your team mates can vary greatly.  Sometimes you get a good group and they come together, and sometimes you get… something else.

Last week I was doing poorly in that regard.  One evening I had a 19 loss run.  So went my semi-even win/loss record.  And while that was the low point, wins seemed to be pretty rare for me until the weekend, when I did make up some ground.

A loss streak like that does cast a light on some of the regular characters in the game.

There is the guy who needs to broadcast to all that his noob team sucked.  Just so we all know it wasn’t his fault, though he usually has time to broadcast because he’s already been knocked out.

There is the scout who rushes ahead, spots the whole enemy force just leaving their laager, dies, and then rages about how the arty, which wasn’t even in range, failed.  I think he is related to the guy who runs off on his own, dies, then rages that nobody supported him.

There is the “one true objective” guy with his mantra, “take the hill and win the match.”  I’ve been on teams that have taken the hill and still lost, especially during Himmelsdorf encounter battles.  This actually comes in two flavors, the guy who says it before the match, and the guy who says what we should have done after it is clear we’re losing.

And the one I always appreciate, the dead guy who is watching now you play and telling you that you suck.  This guy can pop up whether you are winning or losing.  I had a guy kibitzing like this the other night.  I was in a position where I was taking long range flanking shots at three of the other team that couldn’t move forward.  A guy starts telling me that I suck, Churchill III is in accurate, I need to push on, blah blah blah.  And, as he said this I made 20+ hits, killed two, and seriously damaged a third bad guy, none of whom could spot me.  To me, this seemed like the perfect use of my time.  Yeah, I didn’t hit with every shot, but the Churchill III’s 6 pounder can make that up with sheer volume of fire.   But this guy continued to rage at me as I did that, then pushed to the cap.  We won, by the way.

I still think the game is fun, and these sorts don’t pop up as often as they might I suppose.  Occasionally there is one very angry guy typing away furiously.  But mostly people play and win or lose without ire.

Still, I wouldn’t join a random team VoIP channel in public matches, if there was one.

And, despite my miserable mid-week record, I did managed to earn enough experience to get into the T-150.  Training from the KV-2, where it was 13K experience, also lit it up on the KV-1, which is now an elite tank for me.  So I got to start off with another new Soviet heavy.

A Fresh T-150

A Fresh T-150

I even had enough experience to get out of the initial gun, a miserable 76mm door knocker, and into the long barreled 85mm, which can do some damage against the opposition.  And I needed it.

Part of my loss streak… or at least my streak of destroyed tanks… was because the T-150 seems to get matched up with a lot of higher tier tanks.  I was frequently at the bottom of the list in a match with mostly tier VIII tanks.

I also seemed to draw assault maps a lot.  After I drew six in a row, always on the attacking side… which is generally the losing side… I turned off assault in the options.

I don’t mind assault really.  They can lead to some very fun matches.  But it is a type of battle that really takes a team, something you do not often get in random public games.  Given my choice, I would do encounter maps all night long.  I like how those maps force both teams into a fight over a single objective.  And, at least everybody knows where to go.

Still, persistence got me the track and turret upgrade so eventually I could mount the 107mm gun on the T-150.

107mm Armed T-150

107mm Armed T-150

The barrel is still long, but it doesn’t look quite as silly as it did on the KV-2.

I also camo’d it up, moved the equipment from the KV-2 over (camo net, binocular periscope) and even bought some consumables.  Somebody linked to the consumables page on the wiki with the terse message “speed governor” in a comment on a completely unrelated post, but I still got the message.

I was a little hesitant to try it, as it comes with a dire warning about engine damage.  But it was cheap, you don’t have to buy a new one every battle, and I was aching for some sort of speed boost.  So I went with it and Lend Lease oil.

T-150Consumables

And, as far as I can tell, it has never caused me harm.  I was afraid my engine would spontaneously combust and leave me a smoking wreck 10 yards from my start point.  But it seems more benign than that. I put one on the Churchill III as well, which lets it keep up with the other heavies.  Sort of.  I am still debating the Lend Lease oil.  That one is 5K credits ever match.  That isn’t enough to put me in the red even after a losing battle, but that does add up over time.

Now that the T-150 is up and going, my time with the KV-2 is diminishing.  But it did get a good send off.  The final battle with it was on everybody’s favorite map, Dragon Ridge, where we have chased a German heavy into a gully.  He was heavily damaged, but was too low to hit.  I pulled close and waited for him to fire.  He missed and I roared forward off the edge of the gully and onto him, crushing him for the kill.  I might have to go back and Fraps that with the battle replay.  I thought it was hilarious.

This weekend I also started tinkering with mods for the game.  Gaff had been talking about an artillery sighting mod that he had tried.  But it was a reticule he linked me that I ended up using.

Dream Target

Dream Target

It conveys all the data you need in a nice package.  I grabbed that one and another one that more accurately displays the direction from which you are being hit so you can match bearings and fire on a reciprocal heading.  That doesn’t work often, but I have managed to flush out a couple of hidden targets by just blazing away in the right direction… usually into the lone pile of cover.

This past weekend was also double crew experience, so I played a bit more than I might have otherwise, attempting to get one Soviet heavy crew to 100% on the first secondary skills.

That last few percent...

That last few percent…

Even at double crew experience, with accelerated crew experience selected, and playing the Churchill III with its experience bonus, that last 10% is quite a hill.  My commander hit 98% eventually.  But it will be a couple dozen more battles before he caps I bet.

I also found out that World of Tanks is an excellent way to tell if my daughter is using her Nook Color to surf the web rather than read as she promised she would.  For reasons I cannot explain, when ever she hits this Warrior Cats forum she frequents, the lag indicator in the game goes red and my ping spikes to 999ms.

Somebody is surfing...

Somebody is surfing…

I cannot prove that her Nook web surfing activity is causing the issue, but the correlation between that and my seeing this issue is extremely high.  So web surfing on the Nook is officially banned when it is time for me to battle.  She can still read on it… which is what she was generally supposed to be doing in the first place… but web is verboten while daddy tanks.

(Also, you can see in that screen shot that a mod I added… I do not remember which… puts the time up next to the Lag indicator, which is nice as the game rather aggressively takes over the LCD display on my Logitech G15 keyboard where I generally leave the time display up.)

And, finally, I did find this article on playing the Soviet T-28 tank pretty amusing in light of my own experiences with the beast.  The only thing worse than dying in a T-28 is dying to a T-28 I guess.

Anyway, the next goal after the T-150 is the KV-3, which will put me in tier VII, and which isn’t really that far away.  I could be there by next weekend, given some effort over the week… and a few less losses.

Joining the Tablet Generation January 17, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Hardware, iPad.
Tags: , ,
11 comments

In the end, it came down to my eyes no longer being able to focus on the type in your typical paper back book.

The array of ebook readers out there was not foreign to me.  Both of my parents have an Amazon Kindle.  My daughter has a Nook Color.  A friend of ours has a Kindle Fire.

But being something of a Luddite at times, I clung to books in their physical form.

Until this past summer when middle age struck again, and I ceased to be able to focus on anything within “book range” of my face without a pair of 1.25 diopter reading glasses.  Getting old sucks.

Oddly, I do not have problems with text on the computer screen and am able to read the default teeny-eyestrain-o-vision font used in EVE Online without having to blow it up into human proportions

Glasses are a pain.  I have not built up a lifetime of eyewear management like many of my family and friends.  I have to have multiple pairs of sunglasses just to ensure I can find one pair when I need them.  And even that isn’t always doable.

So an ebook reader, where one can increase the size of the type to read, seemed like an idea whose time had come for me.  But I wanted something backlit, light for reading being a rare commodity in our home, which left the standard Kindle devices off the list.  As for the Nook Color and Kindle Fire, those 7″ screens seemed a bit wee.  I like to get more than a short paragraph read per “page.”

Which left me with a muddle of Android based tablets and the iPad.

But with the holidays and money being tight, I didn’t want to face another $500 on the already potentially scary credit card bill.  So my wife managed to piece together an array of gift cards that were all redeemable at one local Target that also happened to be in a Westfield Shoppingtown mall.  I only had to pay the tax out of cash in my wallet.

So that was my post-Christmas present, a base model iPad 2.

I immediately downloaded the Amazon Kindle app for the iPad.  I have a nearly 15 year relationship with Amazon, so that seemed the best place to start.

A couple of books in, I have to say that the iPad works find as an ebook reader.

I also grabbed the Barnes & Noble app, which lets me download any books my daughter has on her Color Nook.  While all of those Warrior Cats books are not so interesting, I have been reading The Hunger Games trilogy with her.

I haven’t done anything with iBooks yet, though I see that a number of publishers have an option to buy ebooks directly that can be imported into iBooks.

Of course, with this brand new tablet, I could not just read books.  I had to get some apps.

And there are apps out there for everyone.

Everyone in the house has played with my iPad

There are lots of apps in the Apple store.  But as with iTunes… and frankly almost all online shopping… browsing is a pain.  If you know exactly what you want, you can get it, but just sifting through the lists of apps… not so much.

I refused to get Angry Birds, since I think we have that on enough devices already.  I did indulge my daughter and let her get Fruit Ninja, a game at which I am comically bad.

And there was, of course, the Games for Cats app pictured above.  A simulated laser pointed works as well as the real thing, though sometimes Trixie starts digging under the iPad when it goes off screen.

I also grabbed a few reference apps, such as the ones for NPR, BBC, PBS, WordPress, and the Internet Movie Database.  I am semi-disappointed in the lot of them, as none seem to improve much (or at all) on just using their web sites with a browser.

There was a nice EVE Online app, EVE Universe, which I grabbed.  It just shows information based on your API Key, but it looks good.

On the science front, among the many astronomy choices, I bought Celestron’s SkyQ app.  I can stand in the family room now, waving a 10″ diagonal window around, showing my daughter the sky we would be able to see if the city lights were not so bright that they blot out pretty much anything dimmer than the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Sirius, Polaris, and Orion’s Belt.

But so far the most entertaining app I have downloaded has been the iPad version of the board game Ticket to Ride.  I actually own the physical game, but the iPad version is so good that I may never use that again.  It translate the game to the tablet very well, picks up all the minor administrative tasks, and offers solo play against bots, local play via hot swap or wireless connection, and online play against strangers. (Though, par for the course, people still disconnect the moment they are going to lose. I hate that.)  More games like this please, as opposed to the EA games which, if I read the reviews correctly, you pay for and then they pop up ads during play that obscure the game.  Nice.

I also grabbed the Rift Mobile app, which is somewhat limited in functionality, but which does give me palanarite lotto scratcher every hour, up to a maximum of six queued up, that have been helping to feed my planarite needs in the game.

And, finally, I resubscribed to NetFlix stream and have streamed some movies and TV shows to the iPad with very good success.  I have used it ala the Syp method, allowing me to watch a show and play EVE Online.

All in all, I quite like the iPad.  I have to take it away from my daughter now and again, who will sit in her room and stream Futurama if I don’t keep an eye on her.  Mostly it gets used for reading and playing Ticket to Ride.  I have hit something of a wall when it comes to apps though.  Not that I need a lot more.  But every time I use the iTunes app store, I just feel in my bones that there has to be a better way to organize and display apps.