100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Five: The Pitstop

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 10
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 9

The trip in to Hilary Depot was close to 900 light-years. So of course I explored as I went. It’s a good thing, too. I camE across a system. Not a new system; someone had buzzed through and scanned the primary but ignored the orbiting bodies. Co-orbiting with a small gas giant I found an Earthlike with metal-rich rings. A literal jackpot, and quite a sight.

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Hilary Depot is named, of course, for a legendary explorer of old Earth, who climbed Mount Olympus with his faithful Grizzly Bear, Ben. I remember seeing a holofilm about him when I was a kid.

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Another fifty light-years or so later, I found another Earthlike. I am counting these towards my 100, of course. They are quite rare, though perhaps not so rare as Ammonia Worlds… of which I have found none so far on this expedition.

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And then the Pitstop at Hilary. Some clown tried to interdict me on the way in, but eluding him wasn’t much trouble. I increased by previous record of max distance from home, and my data was worth close to 6 million credits. Word is, by the way, that Lakon is making some upgrades to the Diamondback Explorer some time soon, shedding some weight but still putting in an extra internal slot. It’ll be nice to have.

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Tips for Recording Gameplay (re: Distant Worlds: Universe, w/Let’s Play)

In trying to record my Distant Worlds: Universe game, I hit a number of snags, so I figured I’d put my experience up here to help out anyone else who may have similar issues. For that matter, I may as well mention some other tips for folks wanting to record video for YouTube.

First and most important: get away from using Fraps. It’s not the only game in town anymore. In DW:U’s case it doesn’t work because the game natively renders multiple desktop windows; Fraps will only pick up the main one, so your video will be missing key panels, popups and so forth, and it won’t capture any of the game setup screens at all. I am now using Open Broadcaster, a free and open-source alternative that is also much more powerful and useful for reasons I’ll describe below.

Specifically for Distant Worlds: Universe, you’ll want to set Open Broadcaster to record your desktop, not the game window, for the reason described above. I also tested it with DOTA2, where recording the game windows works fine, but you have an option here that Fraps does not provide. Which you can also use to record non-game video, if you want to do something like programming tutorials or games that only run in a window, like Aurora. It will also capture output for streaming.

Other alternatives to Fraps also exist. Nvidia’s Shadowplay looks somewhat promising, if limited — I have friends who swear by it — but not every video card supports it. There are of course also paid alternatives; the one I looked at was XSplit, but that throws a watermark on your video, which I find unacceptable, and I think it has other limitations as well, only resolvable by paying a subscription fee. Which I think is preposterous; at least Fraps and Bandicam only have to be paid for once.

Open Broadcaster also has other advantages. It can save your video in a single, compact .flv file. Fraps saves in multiple files that then have to be stitched together using a video editor like Windows Movie Maker. For me, this is a huge timesink and adds a lot of overhead to the whole video-making process, even though I normally don’t do much if any actual editing to my video. An hour of recording could take 2-3 hours of editing and rendering even if WMM doesn’t choke on the source files — and for longer videos it often does.

My typical process under Fraps: Record the video. Fraps, to its credit, does make this very easy, and the onscreen FPS counter does show whether you are recording or not. Once finished, I have a pile of video files that are each roughly two minutes long, and add up to about 1GB per minute of video. This caps my ability to record, as I only have about 600GB free for storing raw video. I then stitch these files together using Windows Movie Maker. The resulting output is much more compact than what I put in, so I delete the source files.

On my system, rendering the finished video takes longer than the total runtime. So a half-hour video might take 45-60 minutes to render. This is time not spent playing or recording, and doing other things on the PC at the same time will slow it down — especially anything that’s also heavily using the video card. Uploading the video to YouTube takes potentially many hours; figure maybe 2 hours per 20 minutes of video at my upstream speeds.

The new process under Open Broadcaster: Record the video. You might have to fool with the video sources a little bit, and there’s no onscreen recording indicator. But at the end you have a single .flv file that can be directly uploaded to YouTube if you don’t want to edit it. Uploading is significantly faster because the compressed .flv file size is much smaller. The time savings is enormous, literally tripling the available time I have to actually play and record.

One final tip, again for Distant Worlds: Universe specifically: disable the music. First of all because it’s kind of terrible. And second because, if you’re going to upload your video to YouTube, YouTube will automatically scan it for recognizable copyrighted music, and get hits because DW:U’s music is cloned from a bunch of different stuff. While these are technically false positives, they are in my judgement not worth fighting over.

Now, one thing I have not done yet is to sit down and compare the video quality between Fraps and OBS… but at a glance I don’t see any notable issues with the latter, and YouTube degrades video quality anyway, so I’m not sure it would matter even if Open Broadcaster video was slightly lower quality.

Pillars of Eternity Continues

For those keeping up with the YouTube Channel, I continue to play Pillars of Eternity. Here’s three more gameplay videos for the time being. There’s more to come, plus a return to a couple of old favorites.

More Pillars of Eternity

I’m continuing to play end enjoy Pillars of Eternity — and of course there’s video, embedded below. As much as I love the Dragon Age games, this is a proper successor to the Baldur’s Gate lineage.

I did have a client crash, and lost some video in the process. But by keeping the videos short… well, shorter, I’m minimizing the risk of losing gameplay time. And it’s working out pretty well so far.

There are some guides available online, but I’m trying to steer clear of them. But I did look up the first few companions and where to find them, just so I could fill out the party before beginning to adventure in earnest. I hired a customizable adventurer to fill in the final slot.

I’m not yet in a position to offer up a formal review or anything, but I am enjoying Pillars of Eternity a great deal so far, and can see sinking as many hours into it as I did into Dragon Age: Origins. Which I still have not completely given up on, by the way.

Ardwulf Plays: Pillars of Eternity!

I have hopped on the Obsidian bandwgon and am playing Pillars of Eternity. Videos below. Like Dragon Age: Origins, it’s touted as a successor to the classic Baldur’s Gate series of D&D RPGs from back in the day. Unlike Dragon Age: Origins (which, you may recall, I’ve recently played rather a lot of) it kind of is.

I’m enjoying it very much so far. Plan on seing more videos and posts about it in the future.

Ardwulf Plays: The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43

I said I was going to bring board wargaming to this blog, and here I have finally done so!

Kommandant Otto Falkenhayn takes U-440 out for its maiden patrol on the high seas around the British Isles in September 1939, just after the war has begun. After completing its minelaying mission, U-440 encounters a British convoy. Surfacing at night in the very midst of the Allied ships, she launches a salvo of torpedoes and sinks one of the vessels. Diving to avoid the convoy’s escorts, Falkenhayn’s boat endures a barrage of depth charges, not without damage. But he slips away into the dark waters of the North Atlantic, only to follow the convoy and engage it again later.

3In the second engagement, U-440 sinks two more Allied ships, including the massive 42,300-ton <i>Empress of Britain</i>. Again, Falkenhayn eludes the convoy escorts without sustaining further damage to his boat. Back at port, there will be bier and schnitzel to celebrate while the boat is in refit!

Meanwhile, Ardwulf, in his first game of The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43 from Consim Press, messes up a bunch of rules, only some of which get removed in post.

The Week in Dragon Age: Origins

This week in my Dragon Age: Origins a great deal was accomplished. We finished the first part of the Soldier’s Peak DLC — far enough to get the party chest, although I think there is more there to do. We also started, and completed, the Nature of the Beast questline to gain the assistance of the Dalish Elves, and started the quest to retake Redcliffe and cure its Arl, whose help we also need. And we completed Morrigan’s personal quest along the way.

More videos are in the pipeline, of course. And you’ll be seeing the Let’s Play of The Wolf Among Us, starting tomorrow.