Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Visit to Cloud Imperium Games

Another visit to the Santa Monica office and another lost chance to get video content.  It is funny how the expectations change the minute you walk into their office.  First off, the average visit will last about 30 minutes.  You'll be whisked from dev to dev, meet the community team and if Chris is there, if Chris is not busy, you'll get to meet CR himself.

The reason for my visit will remain private, however, this is a summation of what I saw hi,e I visited.

I've interviewed many of the people in the office, met some in person and made friends with Ben, James, Will and of course Sandi.  My visit this time can be summed up as becoming the fly on the wall.

When everything comes together and all the "I"s are dotted and the "T"s are crossed we the backers get a design document, a ship sale, a monthly report, a 10 for the Chairman or any other great content Cloud Imperium Games releases us.  What we don't see is how hard they work and how much effort goes into the information they give us in their mission to keep the design process as transparent and possible.

While I was there many irons were in the fire.  Chris was on a flight back from the DICE conference, Sandi was having merchandising meetings, Ben, James, Will and David Haddock and just about everyone else were working on about thirty things all at once.   With everything going on you'd think there would be stress, these exceptional people kept juggling priorities until by end of day they had our Voyager Direct Sale, Monthly Report and Shield Design Document posted and a 10 for the Producers video filmed.

But that wasn't all and I wish I was at liberty to tell you more.  Last year when I visited there were less than half as many people on staff, this time there were developers working as close together as they could squeeze their monitors.  Everyone was doing something and you could feel the excitement and passion as you passed by each one of them.  One pridefully showed me some new concept art, another his work on the P52 Merlin.  I was most delighted when I met Lance and he answered my question of what do you do here with "I don't do anything, I just sit here."  Lance is an art directors, it was obvious from his determined look and strokes of his stylus on his drawing tablet that he was hard at work.  I smiled and moved on.

As I stated , my  reason for being there I'm not at liberty to say, however, what I left with was respect for everyone at CIG that is working hard to bring us our Best Damn Space Simulator ever.  I sat for hours observing the community team.  The interaction, determination and wonderful attitudes they exhibited were amazing to see.  No matter how much work and stress was thrown their way they found ways to make it fun.  That seemed to be the one thing that impressed me the most.  Quite a few Nerf Dart Gun battles broke out throughout the day.  I guess it is a way to harmlessly relieve the stress of the hard  work they all do.  For a second I sat there wondering how much trouble I'd be in if I relieved stress this was at my job.  I looked around for a some kind of a Nerf gun to pick up and par take in the fun but didn't find one. I will surely return on my next visit well equipped for battle. One thing I can say, if you're looking for gifts to send the team.. NERF GUNS. They seem to love them.

Chelsea and Alexis make up the Santa Monica support desk team.  Most of my seven hours I was there I was observing them as well as Will and James, but Chelsea and Alexis have one of the hardest jobs.  They're the ones that deal with our cries for help, threats of abandoning the game because something went wrong, and outright anger of some oversight on someone's part.  Each time, however, they find a way to make it better, solve our problems, and save our day.  It was amazing to see how many thought their days were ruined only to find it turned right by the Support Desk team. Chelsea and Alexis are unsung heroes. If you don't think so maybe you can ask to spend a day like I did and just sit and watch them work.

James and Will also have that get it done and do it right attitude.  Their duties are a bit harder to explain, James is the Community Manager and Will the Assistant Community Manager, however, they each wear quite a few more hats.  While I was there they were managing the forums, writing or editing copy, getting teams together, running up and down the stairs to gather information for Ben and even editing video.  These two young men amazed me with how they juggled all the irons in their fire I was allowed to see.  They amazed me and each one needs a receive a giant Thank You for all they do for Star Citizen.

Ben, who is now a friend, was at his desk working hard for most of my visit.  He truly is One of the hardest working people I know. When I left at 7:30, he was still working to get out the Design Document and Monthly Report. Never once did I see stress emanate from him nor did I hear it in his voice.  He just plugged away and worked through it.  While driving on the 405 an hour later, I saw the email banner message come in at the top of my iPhone as it led me back to hotel that the reports were up.  I though to myself at that point, I wonder if that means Ben could leave now.

I guess the most fulfilling times spent was an hour long one on one conversation with Sandi.  I've spoken to her in the past but this was the first time it was candid and not an interview for the show.  I've always admired her and am very impressed with her orchestration of the crowd funding campaign.  It can be said that without Sandi the game may not have been.  Her use of new methods of marketing and her incredible organization skills have kept that ball rolling.  When you think of the person at CIG that wears the most hats and come up with a name other than Sandi you should rethink it.  She handles all marketing, merchandising, events, the different video productions, finds facilities and still more.  For most of her time at CIG she was a one woman team, it has only been recently that she has begun to expand her team.  She walks a fine line between finding ways to make ore capital for the game while spending it wisely making sure not to waste the funds raised but the 700k plus backers to date.

I also had some time with Darian Vorlick who came to CIG from Blizzard. The funny part of our conversation was he was the second person to tell me he did nothing. Darian is a producer, as such he organizes and helps others in their tasks. He said Alex frequently says "If you had a room full of producers, nothing would get done."  What a producer is is a catalyst to help other achieve their goals. My main conversation with Darian focused on the risk he took leaving Blizzard. I'll leave his answer till later. I intend on having him on SCAA. Talking with him was a pleasure and his conversation helped me answer some of my own concerns. 

Except for a brief conversation with Chris , that was about it.  My second visit was not as much a wow about what they showed me about the game but a huge wow about what they showed me about Cloud Imperium Games and all the people that work there.    Now flying home I am envisioning what it would be like if I worked with all of the wonderful people at CIG. Now that's a good vision.  If only...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Around the World with batgirl

Around the World with batgirl



The two screen shots above are from the latest of my legs in my round the world flight to help usher in support for our troops stationed around the world during this holiday season.  The idea came to me as I was looking through the what to watch section of my youtube account.  For some reason there was a video from Frooglepete in my list.  I watched it and suddenly had the bug to start flying Flight Sims again.

Star Citizen has been my main focus since getting back into gaming.  It offered so much and still is my passion, however, with the game so far away, I needed to find something to pass the time.  I searched my house up and down.  Tore open boxes, riffled through drawers and to no avail, just could not find Flight Simulator X.  Then after reading about the performance of FSX I decided to do something different and I purchased X-Plane 10.3 from Steam.

In the days before Star Citizen, the days before WoW, the days before Everquest, I was a Military Flight Sim, GA FlightSim, Space Sim addict.  The first game purchased of my Amiga 500 was Flight Simulator by Bruce Artwork and Associates.  I remember the feeling of loading that game up on its one double density floppy drive and playing it for hours.

From flight simulator I began to play games like Falcon, Birds of Prey, Sub Logics ATP and then all of the titles from Microsoft.  Then one day I read on line, yes there was internet back then, about someone that was flying around the world in Flight Simulator 2002.  I downloaded the same aircraft he did and started along the way.  It was a Cessna 182 and I was taking it on the longest virtual journey of my then Flight Sim career.

I made that rip around the world in 11 different aircraft, each time mixing up the airports I would fly into.  But then, someone enticed me and guided me away into the MMO world.  I was led a stray and my flight sim career seemed to disappear as did my real life flying.

I played WoW for years, raiding and leveling in a never ending addicted can't stop playing haze, but then, it all ended.  It ended with one game being announced, Star Citizen.  StarCitizen put me back on the right track.  My love for all things Sim was returning.

So on to this flight.  I couldn't find FSX, purchased X-Plane and Prepar3D and began flying in sims again.  So what made me think of this whole flight around the world thing.  It went something like this... Wow, wouldn't it be cool to do that again?  Yes I will, and i'll document it on youtube and try to bring attention to our nations men and women serving in the military around the world.

I kind of jumped the gun as soon as I thought that up.  I purchased a new aircraft from http://X-plane.org, the one pictured above.  It is the Diamond DA-42 and it is a beauty.  The next thing I did was so bad.  I was so committed to starting on Veterans Day that I started without understanding the new aircraft, the ATC operation in game and the avionics in general in X-Plane.  now that I have 4 legs down I think I am ready to be serious about this trip.

I aks youth viewers of this series to help me find charities to bring attention to that help the men and women that serve our nations military or the survivors of those that gave their lives serving in our military,  I am also looking to bring attention to all service men and women around the world.  So please help me do this right.

So I begin this blog with 3 legs down.  Leg one KRYY to KFFA, Kennesaw, GA to Kitty Hawk, NC.  Leg two KFFA to KNYG, Kitty Hawk, NC to Quantico, VA.  Leg three KNYG to W05, Quantico, VA to Gettysburg, PA.  I expect to have about 50 to 60 legs on this trip.  The DA42 is amazing but the  150 kts cruise speed will make some leg really long so I am trying to shorten my legs and just add more of them.  If there is anywhere any of you want me to fly to just comment here.

That is it for this prologue of my already started journey.  I hope to report as much as I can here.  Next leg up is W05 to KPNE, Gettysburg. PA to North East Philadelphia.  I'll bring you more then.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

StarCitizen DFM Reveal Impressions

Did it surprise me that there were so many issues with the DFM Reveal?  Absolutely not. You see I am a realist and I understand how large the task of building the Star Citizen PU is. With feature after feature announced over the last ten months I just knew that this game would be in development for quite a while. CIG have themselves in a place uncharted. They are being transparent and need to show off their work.  The big issue is, Ot's not ready yet... Or is it?  I think the reveal was a success amd here is why.

Elite Dangerous is set to release this year.  It also has been crowd funded, however, with far fewer supporters. That is mostly due to the large investment needed to get Into the alpha, 200.00 UK pounds. Still the game has been able to meet deadlines and put out a working game to test with few problems. Elite, however, is not being built to push the limit of PC Gaming.  It is being built to be fun.  So as the beta of Elite is set to begin how I see the Star Citizen DFM reveal as being a success, it is simple.  It worked.  While bugs plagued the presentation the game worked and is one of the most beautiful games I have seen even with the graphics optimizations not in place.

Star Citizens DFM had a much higher bar set,  CryEngine, FPS, kick butt graphics and the ability to put in multi player ships at some point all needed to be in the code even though not all things are implemented now. They proved it could be done. What was displayed was something akin to a blind man hitting a barn from a mile with a BB gun, now is the time for CIG and team to step up and squash the bugs and deliver a workable game the Alpha Testers can begin testing. I have faith in them. After visiting the Santa Monica office in early March I realized the passion Chris has for delivering the Best Damn Space Simulator Ever resonates within every employee at CIG. Failure is not an option for them. 

While watching the reveal and seeing the DFM in action I made some notes. The HUD needs to be configurable so when in combat some of the information disappears. It would be perfect if it happened automatically but here is what I thing. Three configurations, Navigation, Communication and Combat. Each with there own set of information displayed. That would be amazing. 

Targetin... What was with that flying in from off screen into the reticle?  It was cool to watch but that has to throw off situational awareness during combat.  I think that the reticle should have the marker inside it the whole time. 

The flight model looked amazing. Watching them fly around started to quell some fears that every battle would just be a turning nightmare.  I've been playing flight simulators and space simulators since my very first computer. The first game I purchased for my Amiga 500 was Flight Simulator. So flight models are important. One of my favorite online games now is War Thunder. Dogfighting in Realistic Battles is a real test of knowing your planes strengths and using them against your opponents weaknesses. Also, in AIR combat altitude is key. Altitude means energy which means you can keep turning on your opponent by diving and zoom climbing. There is also the ground. The Ground is credited with more aircraft kills than any pilot. So many mistakes end with pilots meeting there death in a smoking hole without ever being hit by an enemy. 

In space combat there is no air and thus no energy concerns. Newtonian physics make it more a game of who is better at pirouetting and turning and turning and turning. As boring as this sounds it actually looked fun. I think the reveal changed my mind about how space combat will be in Star Citizen.  That is my big success. They changed my opinion. 

With the issues seen in the reveal it is unlikely we will be seeing the DFM, Arena Commander, for 30 to 45 days. The bugs seemed to be more server related and on Chris' end, running the Presentation and DFM on the same computer.  This means network tweaking and code adjustments need to be made.

There was also some bugs where the ships were not able to be controlled. Those I feel will be squashed sooner that the server issues. I am not worried. I know they will be releasing us the BDSSE. It is time that we will all need to get used to passing as this is not ready for us now. 

So... What now?  It is time to build that PC and start picking a HOTAS. That will take the better part of my next month as I try my best to figure out which,what and how of this process. 

Gaming?.  What games will I be spending my time in?   That is easy and this will be listed in order of game play. 

War Thunder. I love flying

World of Tanks. I hated this game and got sucked in

Elite Dangerous... Um.... I played Elite for 28 hours once before my mom took away my computer for a week. I loved that game. 

Civ v.  Great to pass my time. 

So that is all I have. Be safe out there, you never know what's going to creep up on your six!  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's my Brand?

The story goes like this.  A while back I had a podcast called The Addicted Gamer that was pert of http://virginworlds.com.  It ran for 20 episodes and then all hell broke loose not only with me, but the team of podcasters there.  It all ended with Brent, Jonathan and myself disappearing from regular podcasts.

Over the last few years just making enough money to pay for an apartment and a car was hard and my game play and my enthusiasm for generating content just did not exist.

Over the last two years as life started to settle down and I started to find time I started to game again. Gaming eventually led me back to creating content and thus my YouTub channel was born.  At first it was just a video about Kerbal Space Program.  I picked that game up in the Summer Steam Sale in 2013.  KSP led me to Star Citizen and the recreation of The Addicted Gamer.

Somewhere along the way I lost focus on the fact that I like many games and renamed the channel Star Citizen AA.  It worked, SCAA is my most successful playlist, however, it leaves me with a small problem.  When I am creating content for other games, they just don't fit on the StarCitizenAA channel.  What am I to do?

I've owned http://theaddictedgamer.com for some time now.  All of my videos right now are in some way associated with that by having the AA in their name.  Kerbal Space Program AA, War Thunder AA, Star Citizen AA and what will be Elite Dangerous AA when I get the money to purchase that Alpha.  So I propose a change in my channel to The Addicted Gamer or something like that.  It has no effect on my Star Citizen playlist, it just helps me to build a brand for myself that is not a brand owned by another entity.  Absurd as it sounds, if Star Citizen were to fail (not likely at all) where would I be then,

So if you read this blog, let me know your thoughts.  Send an email to theaddictedgamer@gmail.com with suggestions, thoughts, support or objections.  I'll see where this leads me.

Saying all of that, I just want to thank the 620 people that have subscribed.  You have all humbled me and caused me to dig deep and learn all of this, be better, and produce a much better show than the first few episodes.  It only gets better from here.  Thank you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A New Home for the Show

Thanks to a few members of the SCAA community we have a new home.  Our website is about to open at http://starcitizenaa.com. On the new site you'll not only have links to the show, our organization, The Enablers and to our new forums.



The Enablers will be launched along side the imminent release of the Organization System.  The Enabler's site will feature our as yet unfinished Organization Charter and announcements of Events and Organization member of the Week!

With that said, please stop by the new website and sign up and get talking in the forums.  Oh!  And please help get the word out?

-Nikki

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What Now?

The show has been steadily moving forward as has the progress on putting the organization together.  It is, however, a lot of work to get it all together.  That is why I am writing today.  I am amazed with the fans of the show and the members of the show and how quickly they band together.  They all deserve a very big thank you!

with the interview of Sandi now behind me I look forward to who's next.  David Haddock is on my calendar for next week with a first week of February scheduled release.  We do know, however, that the releases will sometimes fall behind due to scheduling.  David is the lead writer for the Star Citizen universe.  He is the grand master creator of all the history and past events in the Star Citizen universe.  While the ideas flow from the Mouth of Chris Roberts, it is David that puts them into engaging stories, com-link articles and Jump Point submissions.  I look forward to meeting the man behind the pen.

I have a vague acceptance from Wingman, he is very busy right now, and sights on Rob Irving.  I'm trying to get in these three interviews before I travel on business to LA. While there I will have one day free where I can visit the Cloud Imperium Games HQ in Santa Monica.  I am psyched.  I am not sure of interview opportunities, so I'll have my camera just in case I am given the time.

The next few weeks are scary for me.  I was able to interview Sandi and Chris and now it is all on me to provide rich engaging content.  I know that as long as CIG keeps putting out the info I will be delivering the content, what happens when it slows down.  For this I am continuing to expand the Chris Roberts Games AA and Kerbal Space Program AA series with a fourth called Steam Games AA coming in the next month.  I think I'll be able to bring content and with the interviews I've done already, draw in other developers from other games as well.

That is all I have for now.  Thank you all for continuing to watch the show, read my blog and follow my tweets.  And now... a FB Page.  Here is the link.  https://www.facebook.com/StarCitizenAA?ref=hl

I am leaving the donations button live as I now have a purpose for it.  The funds will be used for three things, Continuing the cast and procuring needed equipment, obtaining give aways for the show, and helping to provide transportation and expenses for shows like PAX East and West and the cons like Dragon Con.  I am very grateful to this that have already provided generous donations to the show.  So far I have upgraded my Camera, Mic, Mic Stand and have obtained 2 Hard Drives 1 2 TB and 1 3 TB and have filled the 2 TB with videos for the first 13 shows.  Next purchase is $299 and is a Wireless Lapel mic system.  After that expenses for the first conference.

Here are the links to the places to find me on the web

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StarCitizenAA?ref=hl
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/StarCitizenAA
Twitter: @StarCitizenAA


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Epic Show An Epic Edit Session

I was fortunate enough to have Sandi Gardiner join me Friday night for a 30 minute interview.  She was wonderful and fed all of us fans shovels full of info we crave so much.  I initially wanted only 15 minutes of time, however, she was so eloquent and accommodating that we ran over.  I am grateful and want everyone in the SCAA community to make sure Sandi gets a very big thank you for appearing on SCAA.



Sandi Gartiner on on Star Citizen AA Episode 3


Chris Roberts on Star Citizen AA Episode 3

As the interview was ending Sandi calls out, "Chris! Can you come her for a second."  I was floored.  Stammering and trying to keep my nerves I tried to think quick.  The first question came out of my mouth, "What to think is the most exciting thing coming out over the next three months, besides the Dogfighting module?"  Ugh!  Did I just say that?  Really?  Well, Chris just rolled along, laughed with me and answered the question.  Before we were done 8 minutes had passed and what I expected was just a hello.  I have to thank Chris and everyone at CIG.  They surely understand how important we the backers, future player, fans and passionate supporters are.  Thank you CIG for everything you do for all of us that share the dream that Chris envisioned as a boy.

After the interviews I was ready to hit the pledge store and throw what little money I have left at the screen of my computer, but suddenly I remembered that in order to play this game I will need to purchase a new computer.  So maybe the Queen needs a fundraiser or even better, a Substantial increase in subscribers.  So, if you watch the YouTube Channel help me in getting me to 5,000 Subscriptions.  I'm at 420 now, 4,580 to go.  Tweet, FB, Tmblr, Share, Like and use word of mouth.  Help the queen get to 5k Subscribers so the Queen can build a killer rig.