Caster's Corner - Livestreaming on Twitch

Friday, December 14, 2018

Let's Play Wing Commander - McAuliffe System, Mission 1 - Don't Mine Me...

New system, new ship, new wingman. It was great to fly with Paladin on my wing, but to be honest, I could have done with the transfer into the Blue Devils. Nothing against the squadron itself, but like Iceman warned me, the Scimitar is a gun heavy slug. Oh well, the Colonel sets the squadrons, not me.

My first mission with Paladin was a simple four point patrol. We ran into some Dralthi at Nav 1 and made quick work of them. The Scim may not be artful, but against the flying bullseyes, burning in and dumping a full capacitator of mass driver shots is all the art you need.

The minefield at Nav 3 was another matter. I don't know Paladin managed to slice through that field the way he did, but I was dodging those damn magnetic mines the whole time, and praying my shields would hold up. At least I got to take my frustrations out on a wing of Salthi that were hanging around near Nav 4.

Paladin's a good wingman. You can always count on him to be right where he should be. He likes to let pilots learn by experience, and only intervene when he needs to. Part of me is surprised that he's not an academy IP, but having his experience embedded in the squadron is definitely a huge win for every one of us younger pilots who are willing to listen.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

He Can See Clearly Now..

It was bound to happen eventually. With five kids, the odds that at least one of them would inherit my wonky eye genetics were pretty close to 1-1. So when The Centurion (TC) noted that he couldn’t see the clock on the DVR from the couch, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on.

The face of a happy kid who can read a clock across a room again.
One visit to my eye-doc later, and we had a diagnosis: near-sighted, just like his Old Man. At least TC was happy about getting glasses. I got my first pair of external eyes around the same age, and don’t recall being nearly so sanguine, either at the time, or for a number of years after.

“But Aaron,” someone from the back asks, “what was your problem with corrective lenses? Didn’t you enjoy being able to see the details around you?”

X-15 Pilot photo via Wikipedia
 Well, yes, I did, and that part was very nice. However, let’s take a look at the picture above, shall we? Among the many things that these men have in common, note the distinct lack of any kind of corrective lenses on their faces. See, test pilots and fighter jocks didn’t wear glasses. And just like that, I passed through one of the first forks in a very long road that would put me where I am today.

I’d like to think that my general antipathy towards eyewear helped me deal with TC better. He doesn’t (as far as I know) harbor fighter pilot ambitions, not that it matters for recruitment standards these days anyway, but he does enjoy playing sports, and I had to assure him that he’ll still be able to do that. To my pleasant surprise, he’s also been called “Four-Eyes” a whole lot less than I did back in the ‘80s. Score one for the kids of today, I guess.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lets Play Valkyria Chronicles 4 - Interlude: Origin Story

This game gets surprisingly deep sometimes. Squad E's origin story goes to some interesting places, and Claude is shown taking a very mature approach (mostly) to learning how to lead his new team.

Obviously Squad E has had some discipline issues, but Raz is going to improve as the story goes on. What happened to Kai though?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Around the Web - A Fallout 76 Review

Over at Marooners' Rock, my collegue Alex took on the task of reviewing Fallout 76.

Image via Marooners' Rock and Bethesda.

Despite the multitude of arguably offensive flaws, I am having a really good time with Fallout 76. Although, I must admit that I am a member of the game’s super specific target audience. Built on the framework established by Fallout 4, which was built on surprisingly old Creation Engine, Fallout 76 feels more like an ambitious mod or expansion than a new game. That aside, the setting of West Virginia, being able to traverse the Wasteland with friends, an abundance of new creatures to fight, and lots of items to collect keeps me coming back for more.

 Fallout 76 is a multiplayer survival title that focuses on a much smaller pool of players on a server rather than the framerate crashing masses found in an MMO. Imagine Fallout 4 with the ability for others to run around as well. When it works (we’ll get to the downsides shortly) playing Fallout with a group is pretty awesome. Firefights are easier to manage with more people and exploring with others can be extremely engaging. West Virginia is captured fairly well, focusing on the general outline than actual realism. This means that certain areas of the map have been shifted a bit and for those familiar with the state it can get a bit confusing. Either way, it is incredible to come upon the capitol building in Charleston or walk the remnants of the Morgantown Airport.

I'm glad Alex is having fun. The thing is, I'm a huge Fallout series fan too, but his negatives for Fallout 76 pretty well cover why I haven't bought the game yet. Pure and simple, I don't want a multiplayer Fallout game. Or maybe I might (actually, I'd love a true Fallout MMORPG), but I just don't want this multiplayer game. Certainly not in the state it's currently in. Maybe sometime next year, once Bethesda has worked all the bugs out, released their DLC, and decided to do their inevitable Game of the Year version, I'll pick it up. Until then, this is the first, and hopefully only, Fallout game where I'm content to just watch from the sidelines.

Monday, December 10, 2018

What Went Right in 2018? Vlog 2018-49

The end of another year always puts me in a retrospective mood. This year, since my finances and schedule are already largely locked in for December, that mood started a little earlier. I'm going to take the next few Vlogs to do a bit of a retrospective on 2018, focusing on what went well, what went wrong, and what I need to improve for next year.

  1. Fitness: I ran my first half-marathon this year, and am definitely in the best shape that I've been in since my late teens.
  2. Productivity: The Bullet Journal method absolutely revolutionized my productivity this year. After a rocky January, things really started to come together where my content output was concerned.
  3. Streaming: I finally made Affiliate! Now to make my first dollar...
Of course, it wasn't all blinding success. Next week I'll take a look at what went wrong this year.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Let's Play Wing Commander 1 - Enyo Mission 2 - Babysitting Duty

(Note: since mission recaps are kind of boring, and I've had this head-canon for something like twenty-five years, I'm going to start writing these as fiction from the POV of Bill "Maverick" Loridan.)

The Drayman transport was just painfully slow. I wanted him to go faster, or at least give me a reason to do barrel rolls around the ship, but Spirit probably wouldn't have approved of that. Still, the little Hornet felt like she was practically begging to be wrung out proper-like. It was almost a relief when we finally ran into a pair of Salthi light fighters lurking near the first nav point.

"Spirit, fight's on. You take the trailer, I'll get the leader." A double-click on the comm was all I needed in return. Unlike some of the other folks on the Claw, Spirit wasn't especially talkative during missions. Still, she was a good pilot, and burned ahead, aiming at the trailing enemy fighter. I throttled up to engage the lead fighter, who made a serious mistake in turning to engage Spirit as she burned past him.

It was the last mistake that Kilrathi would ever make.  The moment he turned his back to me, my lasers cut through his shields and armor. I turned my attention to the second fighter just in time to see Spirit snap a perfect Dumbfire shot that caught the other Salthi amidship.

The second encounter was almost anti-climatic by comparison.  The pair of flying bullseyes waiting for us at the jump point never stood a chance. The Dralthi is a piece of junk that looks like it combines poor visibility, lousy armor, and light armament into a package fit only for target practice. I'm glad they're on the enemy's side, not ours.

 The post-mission debrief was pretty normal. Colonel Halcyon congratulated us on getting the transport safely away, and on getting ourselves back safely. Probably the biggest news was that I was being transferred out of the Killer Bees to go fly the Scimitar. Not sure how I feel about that just yet.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

2019 And Beyond - Plans for the Caster Clan

I briefly mentioned in Monday's Vlog that my Twitch Channel (see also, the thing at the top of the blog) crossed two exciting milestones recently. First, the channel finally met Twitch's qualifications for Affiliate, meaning that I can start making a little bit of money off the channel by accepting Bits and monthly subscriptions! Second, Mini-Me has decided to hold down a regular Sunday afternoon streaming slot with his own show!

The thing is, none of this was really my plan when I started streaming in early 2015. At the time, my goal was to create an additional where I could promote th things I was writing, and maybe generate a little side income.

What my vision for the channel has become is to make it a place where people can be encouraged to chase their dreams. Where I hope seeing an average guy do slightly crazy things like run marathons, lift weights, bake, and learn motorcycle restoration inspires people to get off their butts and try something new. Along the way it’s turning into a big family channel, because there’s no way I can exclude my kids from these endeavors.

Cruise at 175mph, 510lbs useful load with full fuel, 4+ hour endurance... That'd put a lot more places within reach
without having to deal with TSA! (official phot from Van's Aircraft)

Since Adventure Girl also wants her own show, it seems like a name change for the channel is in order. It's not the Shadowcaster show anymore, it's all about the Caster Clan, since this is turning into some sort of crazy family streaming team.

That's both exciting and terrifying for me. Truthfully, some days I think it would probably be best for the kids if we turned Amish, and raised them up without any TV or Internet at all. Unfortunately, that genie's pretty well out of the bottle, and not going back in. The next best thing seems to be if the kids want to create content, then let it happen in an arena that I can exercise at least some moderation and control over. My hope is that the kids will learn some valuable lessons about interacting with people, having a professional attitude, and time management. Maintaining a broadcast schedule is tough, and so is dealing with people, especially the occasional troll.

Who knows, maybe this will all take off, and in a couple of years, I'll be a partnered streamer broadcasting family adventures as we assemble an RV-14, Waiex-B, or Kitfox S7 Super Sport in our garage!

It's better than planning on winning a MegaMillions jackpot, at the very least.