We Got Ourselves a Convoy, Ain’t It a Beautiful…BOOM!

Unless you’re old enough to remember the hilarity of Smokey and the Bandit, the idea of being an interstellar trucker doesn’t sound very interesting. Let’s face it: Snowman might’ve been a funny guy, but it was Bandit that got the chicks.

Think about it: all you’re doing, when it boils down to it, is moving a cargo bay full of materials from Point A to Point B. That’s it. Cut through everything, and that is basically what you’re doing. You’re a intergalactic conveyer belt.

Of course, if you look at it that way, you’re ignoring the biggest reason to be a trucker: MONEY. And we’re not just talking about a small profit here, either. My very first trip hauling – and only using a 48-slot fast transport ship – netted me about FIVE TIMES the amount of credits I would’ve made on a combat or scouting mission. I’ve often wondered what appeal trucking could have to Phil. Well, now I know. It should’ve been obvious, what with him being a Republican and all…;)

Trucking isn’t just a simple matter of picking materials, a destination and scooting off. You really have to give some thought to not only what you’re going to carry, but where you’re going to carry it through. For example, carrying 5 million Kg of cargo through flux-heavy space makes things REALLY interesting…for the five minutes before you’re shot out of the sky, that is.

Just like my mass makes my chair creak ominously, mass on your cargo hauler makes a HUGE difference in how it handles. Oh, sure that cargo tow might make for a great fighting vehicle when it’s empty and armed for bear – but throw a few hundred units of Palladium in that sucker and you’re flying a bathtub. A very big, very slow bathtub that maneuvers about as gracefully as me in roller skates. And of course the flux are all sneaky bastiches – they let you jump into a sector, sit for a second to plot your course to the next Jumpgate, begin accelerating veeeeeeerrrrrrrrryyyyyyy slowly… and THEN they show up, guns blazing.

Oh, sure, you’re accelerating slowly – but you’re already too far to turn around and head towards the safety of the gate you just left – by the time you’d decelerate, get turned around, and accelerate back the way you came, a flux would be coming through your wreckage for the crunchy bits.

And then there’s docking. Docking with a heavy load is like beating yourself in the face with a ball-peen hammer. And then stuffing a rabid badger down your pants. And THEN driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. Well, okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad. Obviously, there are a lot of pilots that have very little trouble with this. I have a special name for them: “Rat Bastiches!”

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Flashfires, the MODx that you use to provide you with a few seconds of super fuel-injection speed boost, were re-useable like they used to be. However, now they burn out with each use. That means if you’re stuck using them to get up to escape velocity from the flux, you’re going to have to be traveling between stations that are equipped with enough Flashfires in their markets to allow you to reload each time.

Soooo…this sounds like a lot of pain, doesn’t it? Why would anyone go through all that hassle? The MONEY, man! Didn’t I mention that? You can make an insane amount of cash on very simple runs. And what do you do with that money? You make more money, you fool! The better to buy a delicious space station with. I have my sights set on this lovely little gold number, with purple lining and a big docking bay…

Flying a cargo haul also has some great opportunities for getting to know people. If you’re flying through dangerous areas, you can hire a few wingmen to fly overwatch for you. Well, no, let me rephrase that: if you’re flying through dangerous areas, you better hire a few wingmen. I know it’s hard to believe, but let me just spell it out for you: if you can’t outrun flux, you’re probably not going to have much luck outrunning the pirate squad in their arti’d fighters, mmkay? Paying for an escort is a LOT cheaper than losing your haul. And yes, maybe you can carry a few missiles. But not enough to down them. And not only will they not down the pirates, the missiles won’t even have the decency to make them mad. A few missiles will just make the pirates drool a bit and gigle.

Now a wingman might not be able to save you from the pirates. But at least they can give the pirates someone else to shoot at while you burn for the gate. Plus, it’s nice to have someone in-sector with you when you crash to blame it on.

“You bumped me!”
“What? What are you talking about? I was on the other side of the sector from you when you crashed!”
“You THOUGHT about bumping me! I’m very sensitive, psychically…”
“You’re a loon…”

10 Sep 2003

Yoda, I Am Not…

We all know I love Jumpgate.

I could go on and on about the combat missions, the squad vs. squad interactions, the truckers wings that I think are insane for cruising through a sector full of flux in a tow with roughly the maneuverability of my ass in a lounge chair…

But we all know that, right? The true shocker here…and brace yourselves folks, this is a big one:

I’m not too bad at this game.

It’s true. I’m not the greatest or anything, and I won’t be rushing out to challenge Liet or G.Rasputin, or cruising to Conflux space to take on the uber flux, or anything that foolish. But on an average day, I can launch, kick the crap out of a lot of flux, and return to the station without crashing. Which is a lot more than most people would expect of me, let me tell you right now.

Of course, this simply means that I have now set myself up for complete and utter failure.

The problem is, in a normal MOG, I get into it, realize that I suck horribly, and play accordingly. However, here in Jumpgate, I feel a bit confident. So confident, in fact, that I’ve made the mistake of mentoring people who were, in turn, foolish enough to listen to me.

The result is there are now several people in the game that think I know what I’m doing. You might recognize them by their unfailing urge to open the throttle up whilst attempting to dock, attempting to battle mantas with 5% armor in their starter ship, trying to tell everyone where the pirate they just spotted is on open chat (the same open chat that pirate is listening to), or even attempting to ram flux in a suicidal charge.

Some of these, I have to admit, were things that I’ve done. However, let me just clarify for the sake of the pirates that keep showing up in my sector and blasting my shields away before flying off (for those of you that have never experienced this before, this is about as calming as a 300-pound linebacker coming up to you and chanting, “BLOOD…BLOOD…BLOOOOOOOD!” while stroking your face with their bloody palms): I do not advocate broadcasting the locations of pirates. I have never had a pirate down me, and I’m not really eager to give them a reason to start. Some day I would like to become a bounty hunter, but I will fly with full Honor Guard flags and try to make as good a sport of it as people that are trying to blow the hell out of each other possibly can make.

But for right now, I’m trying to get the almighty 26th level, at which point I can begin doing all sorts of crazy things – cargo runs, good mining, a real fighter – these are a few of my favorite things!

On the way, though, I’m trying to get new people involved in the game. I tell them how much fun I have, how exciting some of Mistake’s and mine fights with flux have been, what it’s like to down a BIG flux for the very first time…and then people sign on to the game and I teach them how to ram a station, over and over.

I would like to blame my poor judgment on the distortion of space. When you’re looking at a ship from the outside, it really does look like you’ve got TONS of room between it and the station. I can’t help it that NetDevil hasn’t put in a tow beam to let you drag people into the station docking ring. Obviously, this is a conspiracy against me. I tried to do my best – I thought she had PLENTY of room to slow down between her and the station. I calculated that she would have enough room to open her engines up and then coast down to proper docking speed in the distance she had left. Granted, I kind of forget about telling her to turn her engines off right away after hitting them, but I can’t really be blamed for that. It was an accident.

Just like the next time she flew with me and accidentally launched four purgatory missiles at me…

05 Sep 2003

I’m Like Long John Silver – Owning Seafood ALL DAY!

It started as an ordinary patrol.

Mistake was pretty new to the game, still learning his way around. I was all to glad to bankroll his starter ship – after all, I’m usually pretty broke, but even I could afford to outfit his starter ship with some decent gear. Which I did. I even went so far as to equip a repair beam that I’ve had forever (back when they were just introduced to the game, I got one for an RP event and somehow never had to give it back). So I throw my repair beam in one of my gun slots and launch with Mistake in tow. The plan is simple: he’ll sit there and duke it out with the enemy Flux whilst I repair his armor damage as needed.

Of course, the more observant of you might’ve noticed that I said I put the repair beam in one of my gun slots.

What was in the other slots? Why, massive guns, of course. After all, they are gun slots.

Now as you might expect, this caused Mistake a bit of alarm. Everything was going fine; he was sitting and picking off any Flux foolish enough to close with him, and I was waiting for him to take enough damage to wear down his shields and begin hitting his armor. Since we were getting used to working together, I had suggested we work right outside the station, so that we’d be near to a safe dock if the need arose. Error number 2, in case you’re counting.

Now, as to the alarm Mistake felt – well, it came about when he actually got damage. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Okay, you’re getting low on shields. Ooops! There they go. Armor’s getting hit – lemme kick in the repair beam now. Don’t worry about the noise – it’s loud.”
Mistake: “Heh, this is great! I can’t wait till SWEET MOTHER OF GORD, WHAT’S HITTING ME!”

Being the ever alert pilot I am, I of course instantly spun around, looking for the threat. Then I noticed the small crosshairs and sword on my display screen, indicating there was a bounty on my ample posterior.

For those of you not in the know, a bounty comes about when you attack a ship that is not flagged as Honor Guard. (Honor Guard is PK, fyi.) When you fly Honor Guard, you’re free to engage other Honor Guard-flagged ships. However, if you engage someone that is not so flagged, you gain a little bounty.

Which I had just done. Yes, in my rush to show off my repair skills to Mistake, I failed to notice the fact that I hadn’t turned off the other guns. So while the repair beam fired, so did my cannons… Whoopsie…

Now, normally this isn’t a major concern (provided the other pilot lives, of course). Merely hitting someone only gains you a temporary bounty. That is, a bounty that is cleared the next time you dock. Had I actually blasted Mistake into bits, I would’ve gained a permanent bounty, which wouldn’t be resolved until someone had collected on that bounty. And I don’t mean delivering me in a chunk of carbonite to a slug; I mean blowing-me-out-of-the-sky collected.

Now, being the ever-alert pilot, I decided that I wouldn’t really worry about this bounty. I didn’t see anyone else in the sector on my radar, and I figured I was close enough to the station that if I saw someone bearing down on me, I could scurry into the dock with my tail tucked between my legs in plenty of time.

What I didn’t figure on was the fact that stations tend to look down upon bountied pilots being near them, and will launch attack drones after such pilots.

So I’m sitting there watching Mistake slug it out with the little jellyfish, and I’ve got about five seconds of thinking, “Holy cow -some of those jellyfish are hitting me really hard!” before my ship promptly explodes in a nice flash of light and shrapnel. How about them drones?

Now I have to spend the next 30 minutes shuttling from station to station, attempting to locate equipment good enough to take into battle. I’ll tell you one thing that this game needs: more truckers! Yeah Phil, I’m talking to you! There’s never enough supplies anymore. Finding a decent power plant can take a REALLY long time. But I finally manage to scrape together a decent load-out for my fighter, and now Mistake and I decide we’ll try and complete his mission.

Missions in Jumpgate came in a variety of flavors: shipping goods, patrolling, combat, scouting – nothing real unusual there. What is unusual is the amount of hatred Octavians have for their new pilots. Why else would they give lowly Mistake a mission that would take him into heavily infested flux space?

I’m not bad at fluxing, but I was rather intimidated at the prospect of jumping into flux-heavy space. But Mistake had some good pilot ratings, and I’d hate to see them get loused up due to his unfortunate mentoring by a coward. So I sucked it up and drove on. All the way to flux country…

We worked pretty well together on the way out there. Mistake had a number of sectors to patrol, and the first two of these went off without a hitch. Some smaller flux showed up, but between the two of us we made short work of them. Then we sat facing the portal to Dark Crossroads, our last destination.

We said a few prayers and jumped in. Immediately my radar lit up with all sorts of horrible pink dots. I could practically hear the flux yelling “Kwip season!” and loading their guns as they came a-runnin’. I screamed a number of things – prayers, cries for my mother, and general purpose curses, but somewhere in that mix I must’ve gotten a warning out to Mistake, because he quickly jumped out with me hot on his tail. Of course immediately on the other side we were attacked by flux, but they were little ones, so we were able to handle them.

This scene would repeat pretty steadily for the next ten minutes. We’d jump into Dark Crossroads, spot a bunch of super bad-ass flux heading right for us, and immediately jump out, crying and shaking. Yes, I know, if the flux were smart they would’ve just sat and waited for us on the other side of the gate and blasted us as soon as we jumped. However, you’re talking about creatures that are bright pink in a sea of black space. If these guys were smart, they’d have painted themselves black a LONG time ago. And c’mon – when’s the last time you were outsmarted by calamari?

Finally, I jump in and spot our chance: a lone Manta Ray. I hate these guys because they move so friggin’ fast and turn on a dime – the whole while blasting you with nasty lasers. But I’m thinking that working with Mistake, the two of us can paste this guy. So I call Mistake in, fire off a couple of seeker missiles to buy me some maneuvering room, and launch myself at him.

After our first pass, I’ve definitely put some hurt on him, but he’s returned the favor. I was hoping to do much more damage to him, because your first pass is usually the best time to do the most damage. Mistake is still working up to cruising speed to close on us, and Mr. Manta and I begin circling each other. My job is to try and keep up with his turns and not let him get behind me. Allowing the Manta behind me is a death sentence – he’s much faster than I, and I’d have a lot of trouble shaking him once he gets there. So I keep my nose right in his face, firing away with everything I’ve got. The whole time I’m praying that all of this swooping and swerving won’t bring Mistake across my line of fire, because as hard as I’m slamming my trigger, I’d doubt I’d be able to pull short in time to keep from getting yet another bounty.

I’d like to think my missiles have a pretty good guidance system. I’d also like to think that writing for a website is someday going to make me very wealthy. And both of these thoughts hold equal amounts of validity, I’m afraid. My missiles don’t really serve any purpose other than to give me something else to crash into. Well, that and something else to accidentally shoot Mistake with. But Fate smiles upon idiots this day, as I manage to slip a missile past the Manta’s dodges and it does a decent job of kicking the crap out of his shields. At almost the same time, Mistake comes streaking in from above him – the absolute best line to nail Mantas due to their weird shape – and lands a vicious volley that destroys what’s left of his shields and taking his armor down enough that my lasers finish the job. The Manta explodes in a lovely crimson ball of flame, and as I’m bouncing up and down in my seat pumping my fist like an enthusiastic school child, Mistake is screaming bloody murder over the com.

Oh look, another one of the damnable things is closing on us. Fast. And me without a single missile to send it to slow it down.

Fortunately for me – my shields were practically gone at this point and would need some time to recharge – this guy seems much more interested in getting close and personal with Mistake. Neither one of our ships can outrun this bad boy, but with a head start Mistake can “tow” it behind him in a straight line long enough for me to line up a shot. We had no other choice – the dog-fighting had moved us far enough away from the Jumpgate that it would’ve been suicide to just make a break for it.

I scream “Line line line!” over the com and Mistake obliges, turning tail and punching his little shuttles’ engine up to the red, trying to pull ahead of the pink death screaming in on him. My ship’s slow to get started at the best of times, even with the afterburners punched, but I swing around and kick the hamster’s powering my engines for all they’re worth. I’m barely halfway to my max thrust when the Manta shrieks by beneath me, quickly pulling ahead. I can practically see the drool dripping from it’s mouth at the sight of the little Oct shuttle as it closes on Mistake. Without time for a prayer (and not knowing who the patron saint of killing seafood is anyway), I begin my dive at the Manta. 

At this point, Kwipette walks into the room and asks if I’m going to help pack.

I love my wife. I want you all to know that. This woman puts up with so much of my crap – even during my best moments – that would drive Mother Teresa into a homicidal rage. Also, she’s fully capable of kicking my ass, and has let me know on more than one occasion that the only thing preventing her from killing me in my sleep is the fact that I haven’t made out my will yet. And now she has spent the past two weeks completely packing our apartment in preparation for our upcoming move. Time that I’ve spent trying to level as rapidly as possible to better kill flux, of course. And now, she needs help. What could I do?

Pretend not to speak English, of course!

“Yo no hablo!”

She wasn’t amused. However, if there is one thing that sets Kwipette far and above every other woman that’s ever been a part of my life, it’s that she is also a gamer. Yes, it’s true. The other night, in fact, while reading my copy of Computer Gaming World, she saw an ad for a game she thought sounded cool, downloaded & installed the demo and was playing before I could say “FPS or RTS?” Yeah, she’s that cool. (Woah. I’m a little turned on now.)

Anyway, the point of that blathering segment was to demonstrate to you that she understands gaming. So after explaining that if I didn’t help her pack at some point I would find new and exciting objects being forced into my eye sockets as I slept, she then looked over my shoulder and said “What’s that big pink thing you’re about to crash into?” Which caused me to turn back to my screen with enough force to briefly shake the Earth out of orbit (yes, that’s really what brought us closer to Mars, in case you’re wondering).

I spun back in time to see that while my attention was diverted I had gotten as close as my dive was going to bring me to the manta before it began to pull away, even with my afterburners chugging. Yanking on the trigger for all I was worth, I tore a wonderful arc across the Manta’s back as my heavy lasers tore into it’s shields, almost dropping them completely in one pass. As he banked away from my fire, I burned on past him – I knew I couldn’t match him turning away. I hoped to get turned around and fire a few shots in his face to keep him from shooting at me right away.

Unfortunately, my luck was worn a bit too thin at this point. His return fire hammered my shields. I was hitting him too, but barely, and not steadily enough to keep him from pulverizing me in short order. At this time Mistake came screaming back into the fray, catching the Manta in a tight burst that weakened it enough for me to once again drive home the killing blow.

This victory came at a heavy cost. My shields were almost gone and Mistake’s armor was below 50%. And then the BIG flux showed up. Two of them, bearing down on us fast. Mistake was already pointed towards the gate and at full throttle. I saw the vapors from his damaged vessel trailing after him, leaving a line of dots in space that the nearest Eel was making like Pac-Man and gobbling up as it bore down on him. Neither of us would be able to handle just one of those things, not even together, and there was no way that Mistake could outrun it. Even as I kicked in my tired afterburners and began lining up my shot, I knew I was doomed. My only hope was to pull it off of Mistake long enough for him to make the gate.

Screaming my battle cry (“WHY IN THE HELL AM I DOING THIS!?!?!?!”), I dove after the Eel, lasers licking along it’s massive flank and barely tickling it’s shields. It was between me and the gate, and as it turned back to face me, I saw Mistake’s flash as he made the gate. Expecting to feel the bucking of my ejection pod any second, I braced and dove forward….

…only to pass completely over the Eel as it attempted to turn to track me! It spun around again to give chase, but it had badly mis-judged my (admittedly slow) velocity. It’s plasma bolts shook my battered fighter as they rocketed past and I slipped into the bright embrace of the Jumpgate. Jumpspace had never looked so beautiful.

I came through to Mistake screaming. Sure enough, a wonderful pink glow lit up my radar as soon as I returned to regular space. But these were little flux. After what we had been through, I was ready to eject and just kick these guys to death.

My bravado was fairly short-lived; I was low on fuel, Mistake was low on armor, and neither of us had any missiles left. Even low-level flux can be dangerous when there’s a lot of them. I knocked out several of them as we made our way to the gate, then Mistake towed the rest and I picked them off one at a time. Bigger flux might give us some trouble, but give me a flux I can catch up to that’s being towed by a good pilot, and I’ll climb up their tailpipe and detonate a hand grenade. We mopped up the leftovers. After the fight we had been through, we were terrified to risk going back to Dark Crossroads again. But after such a fight we also couldn’t just give up, either. We jumped in, hands poised over our jump buttons, ready to beat a hasty retreat.


Mistake decided not to wait around for any flux that might be lurking outside our scanning distance and streaked off to hit the beacon he needed for his patrol mission. A tricky maneuver even when you’re not nervous about getting blasted, Mistake nonetheless slipped through the beacon as pretty as you please and was streaking back towards me before I realized he had made it to the beacon.

We jumped back out to another Flux reception party, but it was obvious these guy’s hearts weren’t in it. Er…if they have hearts. Whatever they have, it wasn’t enough. We cleaned them up, plus a couple extra that had locked onto to a freighter passing through, and then limped our broken selves back to Octavius Core where Mistake relayed his patrol info to the mission computer and collected a fat TINY! little reward. I can’t believe we risked our butts for that little…ay yi yi…

Afterwards, flying out to Great Pillars station, we reflected upon this night. It was a night of heroes! A night of action! A night of derring-do! A night of unparalleled bravery! A night of…

“Kwip! Look out for that asteroid!”


29 Aug 2003

Go Flux Yerself

Jumpgate is trying very hard to dislodge AC from my “Mostest Favoritest MOG Evah” slot. As if PuzzlePirates wasn’t enough.

The thing that really has me loving Jumpgate so much more than other space MOGs is the fact that you really do fly the ship. It’s not EQ in space; when you go into combat, you’re not just clicking buttons and reading the action as it scrolls by on the screen. You’re really controlling the ship, aiming the guns yourself, launching your missiles, and crashing into asteroids.

Oh, wait, that last part only seems to happen to me.

In Jumpgate, the big bad enemy consists of bright neon pink space creatures called Conflux that look more at home in the bottom of the ocean. No kidding. Squids, snails, manta rays, krakens – I keep waiting for a neon mermaid to swim by my ship. Meow! These invaders from a neon dimension are sent here to… erm… well, nobody’s really sure what they’re doing here. Killing me certainly seems their main focus. And they’re pink, Kaigon – that should be reason enough for you to get in this game!

There’s all sorts of intrigue and espionage going on surrounding them, though. The lore of Jumpgate is perhaps more interesting than any other game I’ve played, only because so much of it is constantly being built by the players. The great thing about JG is that although there’s a smaller player base, that allows just about everybody to get involved (perhaps because it’s a smaller player base). And the quasi-real physics of flight make flying such a cool thing – actually, I could probably go on for quite some time about how many cool things are in this game, but I’m sure you’d rather hear about how often I crash.

I think I’ve pointed out before the fact that JG uses more realistic physics than other space sims. That means if you’re heading over that way at 400 meters per second (or whatever the measurement is, I have no idear), and suddenly flip around 90 degrees and start going this way, you’re still going to drift for a while until your momentum is counter-acted. Someone like Wi can explain all the technicalities of that stuff if you’re really interested, I’m sure. Basically, it just means that if I’m heading towards the docking ring and realize that I’m actually heading for the command section of the station – more importantly, their big window… Well, I’m about to make things very interesting for everyone inside the station. Decompression sickness, anyone?

Thankfully, stations are made of much sturdier stuff than my ship. Instead of doing any harm to the station, I merely splatter my ship over the window like some crazed juice-filled bug on your windshield. Nice analogy, huh? So I splatter, my ejection pod shoots off, and I’m back at the station, watching my insurance rating get worse and worse. I think I’ve clocked in more time flying my ejection pod than any other ship. I should just figure out how to put a gun on that thing and go for it. At least I haven’t crashed one of them yet. That could be because I’m so good at flying smaller ships…or it could just be you don’t actually pilot the escape pod. I tend to believe it’s my own skills, though. I feel better that way.

I think I’ve talked about the Conflux, or “Flux” as us cool kids call them. The Flux basically show up each time someone jumps into a sector and try very hard to blow that person up. If that person jumps out of the sector before the Flux get to them, the Flux will then attempt to go after another ship that’s in the sector. So you could be mining asteroids peacefully, and some doofus will jump in and out of your sector a few dozen times, ensuring there’s about a billion Flux in the area, and then leave completely. The Flux will then come play with you, and if you’re far away from the jumpgate with nothing but mining lasers to defend yourself…well, your life is about to get very interesting.

However, one of my most memorable nights I spent in that game was a time when Phil and I did nothing but keep Flux off of a miner’s back. He’d then reward us with a cut of the very pricey minerals he was mining – a win/win situation for everyone! Well, maybe not for the Flux, of course. Silly Seafood. That will teach them to taste so delicious with tarter sauce!

The new thing with the expansion is the whole pirate scheme. It used to be they were in abundance, but all they would do is PoD you  – that is, Pay or Die. Give them money, or they really pod you – as in, escape pod. Of course they’d know nothing of value was ever coming off of my sorry broke keister, so they’d usually just ignore me. But now there’s some new technology on the scene, and it’s making for mischievous pirates.

Now they can pull up behind you, take something from your inventory, and scoot on off into the sunset. Or, uh, something like that. They never get anything of value from me, really – I think they just do it to be funny. Or maybe it’s some sort of dare in the pirate gangs – like, see if they can get close enough for me to freak out and try and fly away from them – which could very possibly result in my crashing into them. After all, I certainly can’t predict which way my ships going to go when I start screaming and jerking on the joystick, why should anyone else?

I’ve also got some really cool missiles. You know the ones straight from Top Gun, that lock onto a target (say, Tom Hanks’ face) and head straight for it? Yeah, them. The problem is my targeting computer. Well, some people would say the problem is me, but they’re liars. Obviously it’s my targeting computer that hates everyone and wants us all dead.

You see when I’m flying, I routinely cycle through targets on my radar. When I’m out fluxing with a squadmate, I try and keep track of where they are. But when a couple of Flux pop up on my screen, I fire off a deadly Purgatory missile or three at one of them to keep them busy while I focus on shooting down their buddy.

Only…I forgot to switch targets, and now my wingman is zooming away in his escape pod wondering when the hell Fluxes got missiles that are so powerful they give someone else a bounty…

18 Aug 2003

JumpGate nothing, this is CRASHGate.

So. Some of you may or may not have heard about my latest obsession: JumpGate.

It’s basically this hyped-up version of Wing Commander : Privateer. In that you fly a ship, you can trade stuff, shoot stuff, mine stuff and crash into stuff.

Out of those four options, I’m getting REALLY good at crashing into things. Like, REALLY good at it. In fact, if they gave out experience points for that, I’d have maxed out my rank in my first day and they probably would’ve had to create a new level cap just for me.

Basically, you zip around from station to station, blowing up the evil aliens, mining from asteroids, fleeing from pirates and finding unique ways to die. Traveling from sector to sector is accomplished via JumpGates – wormholes in space that are kept stable via some fancy warp thingies. In game, people call these devices “Death Petals” or just “Petals,” because they look like flowers. Personally, I call them “Things You Will Crash Into At A Billion Miles An Hour And Splatter Like A Watermelon”.

The thing that’s tricky about these JumpGates is that you will come out the other side at whatever speed you’ve set your throttle to. So most people zero their throttle as they enter the gate. Not me though! Lawks, no! That’d be too easy! For whatever reason, I maintain a velocity of what has been proven to be physically impossible for my ship to achieve as I come out.

Right into the Petals.

So then I’m back at the station, and I have to re-equip my ship. That takes me about two years. See, there’s GOOD bits and BAD bits to put in your ship. I keep picking the bits that are so bad they make my ship explode as soon as they’re loaded.

But now I’ve given up on these silly transport missions. I’m going to mine some roids! Yaaaah, baby! I get set up with a couple of mining lasers and away I go.

Now there’s all sorts of ways to mine, and all sorts of roids to mine from. However, the really GOOD ones are in the more dangerous sections of space. So I charge out there, and only when I’ve got a billion alien monsters closing in on me do I realize that my mining lasers don’t do any damage to alien ships.

Oh yeah.

So now I’m back at the station. Two years, re-equipping. But this time, THIS time I’m not leaving this sector! Heck no! I’m gonna just mine some nearby roids, get some common ores, and sell them off. It’s an agonizingly slow process, but it’s a SAFE process.

Or so I think.

Until I realize that I’m no longer alone in the cockpit…

Death says, “Hi there! Can I fly?”
You say, “No! Get out of here!”
Death says, “Awww, come on! Hey! What’s this button do! Oooooooh, missle launches! That’s cool! Looks like it’s heading towards that guy over there…”
You say, “Ack! Attention all ships in sector! I’ve mistakenly launched a missile! I’m sorry!”
Death says, “Lying! He did that on purpose, guys! He’s a madman!”
You say, “Shutup! Go away! I’ve got mining to do!”
Death says, “No, I’m your co-pilot! Here, lemme help! The secret is finding a good spot to land on a roid!”
You say, “You can’t land on a roid!”
Death says, “Sure you can! Watch this!”
You say, “Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeee!”


Sigh. One thing that’s fun in the game, though, is that from time to time the aliens will ‘infest’ jumpgates. They grow some funky thing over the gates so you can’t use them. How do you get rid of them? Why, the same way you get rid of any annoyance: nuclear weapons!

It takes a LOT of missles to blow the hell out of those things. It’s a pain. But it’s a lot of fun…and pretty damn dangerous. At least, if I’m anywhere nearby…

I don’t really try to get people around me killed. Honest. But see, you can toggle through the different targets in the sector and see who’s all there helping you. And if you forget you moved your targeting from the infestation to one of your wingmen…

Well, it’s what we call “not good.”

But I’m working hard. I’m ALMOST able to take a flux. Provided it’s a little one. That’s been crippled.

And I’ve got a few nukes.

05 Sep 2002