2018.06.25

World Superbike SBK Laguna Seca 2018 track

This past weekend Jes and I went up to Monterey to stay at the Old Monterey Inn. There happened to be a motorcycle race in town, so we went to it.

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 suite view panorama

We sat in the second box at turn 11. There were a few brave passes there and a little bit of carnage.
The track

Panning shots


I practiced my panned shots a little bit, shooting the 105mm at between 1/160 and 1/250.

Paddock and pit lane

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 pit lane walk

We poked our heads inside tents and garages.

The sideshow

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 podium

Interviews, trophies, champagne, parc ferme.

Vendors

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 vendor booths

Of course there were a ton of vendors, side attractions, and swag at Ducati Island.

Bike night

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 Cannery Row bikes

Cannery Row had a pretty good gathering Saturday night.

World Superbike Laguna Seca 2018 Cannery Row bikes
And some other stuff




2018.06.20

Beer exploration aqueduct stray weimaraner graffiti clouds

The Gentleman's Beer Exploration Society took a short hike to Bitter Brothers brewing. It wasn't exactly the backcountry, but it was a great day to be outdoors.



Stylization.

Neural style transfer DL4J graffiti exploration hiking
PadrA's

Petco Park Toyota Terrace view panorama Padres Athletics

Jes and I went to the A's-Padres game on the 19th. It was a pretty exciting one:
Petco Padres Athletics
Tacoma suspension

Toyota Tacoma strut replacement top bolts in order

The Tacoma needed new suspension. In keeping with my KYB ban, I ordered Bilsteins and some generic brand springs.

Shocks were insanely easy. You just remove two nuts attaching the shock to the bottom of the control arm, remove the nut from the top of the strut, and it drops away.

Bilstein struts Toyota Tacoma

Reassembly is that procedure in reverse. The only hiccup is that the fresh strut doesn't want to compress enough to attach the lower bolts. The solution was squeezing it upward with a piece of pvc pipe on the end of the floor jack.

Bilstein struts Toyota Tacoma installed

The major headache for struts is always torquing the top nut on. It needs to be torqued on, but turning the nut just rotates the strut rod. The old pieces had squared off top end, so you can hold it in place with a small wrench. The Bilsteins didn't have this. What's worse, there wasn't room in the wheel well to get the impact wrench in (which they advise against but, you know, works). Well those clever Germans seemed to have some mechanism that locked the strut rod in place when uncompressed - I was able to tighten the nut when the bottom bolts hadn't compressed the assembly.

Toyota Tacoma suspension spring

Springs are another story. The maintenance manual says you have to remove the lower control arm to install them. Maybe another day.
Brogue squadron

Neural style transfer DL4J x wing miniatures video game

The dudes and I have started the unofficial x-wing campaign Heroes of the Aturi Cluster It's a series of cooperative missions with clever new game mechanics and, of course, levels and upgrades.

Heroes of the Aturi Cluster rescue mission

For example, for the second mission we had to bounce around some ion storm tiles (low probability roll for damage) do scan actions for an escape pod. The pod had to be picked up by a YT freighter which we had to protect through the docking procedure. Very reminiscent of the old PC games. Anyway, above the freighter just barely escaped and we set about trying to avoid four very overpowered TIEs. Derrick and I escaped with a single hull point left.

Good fun.

X Wing miniatures Heroes of the Aturi Cluster Poe

The biggest challenge for the game designers had to be AI design. How do you choose what maneuvers/actions a baddie should take completely in the blind? It works out reasonably well, the only way to game the system is that the player tends to have a good idea who the enemy is targeting and generally where they will head. This is more than compensated for with rather powerful elite adversary units.

Heroes of the Aturi Cluster Jek Porkins

I was nominated to have the callsign (Jek) Porkins - not super encouraging. But due to some lucky shots on the early elite units, I jumped ahead of everyone in level and have moved on to an a-wing. Using the vague predictability of enemy movement I've focused on combat bonuses for attacking out of defenderss weapons arc. And since imperials tend to fly in formation, torpedoes that do splash damage (ion torpedoes, assault missiles) are definitely on the menu.


For the header image I threw the neural images processor at a photo of the miniatures with a pc game screenshot as the style. It's a little cubist, but looks not-too-disimilar from the game. Might benefit from a black tabletop.
The Division fin

The Division teamwork makes the dream work

J and me finished up our second run at The Division. We were pretty happy with the quantity of endgame content, even if it wasn't pulled off flawlessly.


The public event wasn't especially creative, but the element modifiers added to each mag made for some feast/famine damage-dealing.

The Division gym

We wandered the Dark Zone a bit.


The addition of unlockable areas that granted automatic rewards was a nice mitigation for the pvp griefing.

The Division flame turret

Matchmaking is done quite well and is particularly useful for the survival missions.


The matched armor sets (with bonus abilities) are a cool mechanic. The grind wasn't worth it for the top tier "classified" sets, but I had a lot of fun with the Lone Star build - weapon swapping would automatically reload my mag. So my build was two excellent light machine guns with magazine size modifiers.
Destiny 2

Destiny 2 screenshot invasion

On to Destiny 2 for J and me. We've only gotten one session in, so I don't have much of a read on the game.

Destiny 2 screenshot spider tank

But so far what you'd expect: lovely graphics, run and gun Bungie playstyle, depth in weapons and abilities, and a tropey plot. They even have an injured/limping mission very early on. Woo!
X-Com 2

X Com 2 alien

With some upcoming craziness, I decided to not start God of War 2 just yet for my solo gaming sessions. I thought I'd instead spend a few hours with this months PS+ game, X-Com 2. I remember watching Ted play the original way back in the day, but I really knew very little about it.

X com 2 shooting

First off, in spite of some misleading screencaps, it's the closest thing I've ever played to Fire Emblem. A squad-based, turn-based, tactics game played on a grid. Cool.

X Com 2 map China Russia

To add to it, there's a map with missions and a campaign. This part is a bit confusing at the moment, I'm not quite sure what to prioritize or what I'll sacrifice by taking a particular action. But comparing again to Fire Emblem whose campaign is on rails (but story-heavy), this is a nice variation.

X Com 2 airship

But, you know, you have a cool airship that you can customize for resource and equipment advantages.

X Com 2 rank up

Units have names and classes and abilities. Heck, they even have to recover from the inevitable pummeling they take on missions.

X com 2 mission report

Shut up Volkova, you're lucky you got out alive.


The propaganda segments are kind of fun for lovers of dystopia.
Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands vault

In a similar situation to the X-Com thing, a little while back I ran a chapter of Tales from the Borderlands. It's lighthearted, clever, and an easy playthrough, kind of like Firewatch.

PC gaming

Sea of Thieves sinking ship screenshot

And on the lolbaters gaming front, well, I finally replaced my (Jeff's) c. 2011 video card with a GeForce 1060.

Comparo:


The real impetus of the hardware upgrade was really poor frame rates at the other game we play, *groan* PUBG. It's fun, in a slightly masochistic way.

PUBG screenshot plane Miramar

First you get in a plane with a hundred other players that are fighting to the last man/team.

PUBG screenshot parachute Erangel

Then you skydive to some place on the map. You can go into a loot-heavy zone that'll be very hot, or someplace safe with crap equipment.

PUBG screenshot boat strat Erangel

Maybe you hop in a boat to get between lootable villages.

PUBG screenshot buggy Erangel

Maybe you go by car.

PUBG map bubble screenshot Erangel

But the game needs a winner, so it slowly closes you in with an electrified bubble.

PUBG screenshot red zone Erangel farm

All the while, there are occasional explodey portions of the map, marked in red.

PUBG screenshot Erangel view

As the bubble closes in, it's nice to stop and admire the view. And then get sniped.

PUBG snake strat spectating

But if you're on a team with a former semi-pro Counterstrike player, you can spectate his carrying of the torch.

PUBG chicken dinner

Everybody wins.
Meta

My recent site generator changes kinda broke the list of hot/top posts/images. I think it's fixed now. Still haven't taken a second run at the dialogue widget that takes up way too much real estate.



2018.06.12

Neural style transfoer DL4J Fallout Brotherhood of Steel helmet
Travel

Food Amtrak business class

The usual routine didn't work out so well. Between a broken down Metrolink on the way back and an unfortunate fatal incident on the tracks going north, I spent eight hours on the train to three hours at the expo.

E3 2018 lines

That said, the steady decline of interactivity of the conference has continued. Where there used to be playable demos as far as the eye could see, major titles are appointment-only screenings of canned videos. The industry seems to trade to the media exclusivity for assistance with the hype train.

E3 2018 Bethesda shop

Many other conference goers simply seem in it for the exclusive plastic dolls you get for waiting in a six hour line. Oh Comiccon. Of course the event is still worth the few hours it takes to roam the exhibition halls and maybe check out a demo or two.

E3 2018 lines security

Security has gotten tighter. No more backpacks.
Bethesda

E3 2018 Pip Boy statue

Miraculously, Bethesda was more than just a plywood wall with a small tv screen on the outside, they're taking this seriously. Among their playable demos:

E3 2018 Elder Scrolls Online Summerset

Elder Scrolls Online expansion or something.

E3 2018 Elder Scrolls Legends

Elder Scrolls: the card game.

Not playable: Fallout 76, Wolfenstein, Fallout the tabletop game, Doom.

Jurassic World


One of the bigger exhibits was for a Jurassic World game that had park management (build/repair stuff) and some third-person elements like tranqing dinos from a helicopter. It seems ambitious, at least.
The Division 2

E3 2018 Tom Clancy The Division 2 banner

Having just finished a second playthrough of The Division, I was happy to see the game was featured and playable.

Dying Light

E3 2018 Dying Light 2 banner

I got a heads-up from J that there would be a sequel to a game we very much enjoyed. But there weren't even any trailers.

E3 2018 Dying Light 2 zombie cosplay

Actually I discovered a great way to get free marketing. Make a zombie video game, show it at E3 (remember no playable demos), profit. There were zombies attached to exhibits but also wandering around and it was unclear if they came from Dying Light, Walking Dead, or... that LA tap water amirite???
Destiny

E3 2018 Destiny 2 Forsaken

There seems to be a Destiny 2 expansion coming soon. J and I are about to pick up the main game, so this could be welcome content.
Cyberpunk 2077

E3 2018 CD Projekt Red

CD Projekt Red had a meeting room upstairs (presumably because they aren't a very big fish). Through the open door I could see various demo setups. Access was by appointment but they were letting people line up for empty seats.
Skull and Bones

E3 2018 Skull and Bones banner

Something like Sea of Thieves and the piratey Assassin's Creed game?

E3 2018 Skull and Bones
Anthem

E3 2018 Anthem

Sort of looks like a Destiny/Titanfall crossover. Meh.
Super Smash Bros

E3 2018 Nintendo Super Smash Brothers

Looks like about what you'd expect.
Assassin's Creed

E3 2018 Anthem Assassins Creed Odyssey panel

This one is in like ancient Greece or something.
Persona 5 the music game, or whatever

E3 2018 Persona Royale

K.
PUBG mobile

E3 2018 PUBG mobile

Wanting a chicken dinner shirt, I thought I'd try my hand at PUBG mobile. Controls were... not easy. I did not win the shirt.
VR

E3 2018 VR gatling gun

VR was pushed off to the fringes of the exhibit halls. Facebook had a presence but wasn't even pushing Oculus too hard.
Microsoft

E3 2018 xbox

Microsoft moved its real estate out of the convention center proper and into some other part of LA Live. I didn't bother waiting in line to go in.
Missing in action

E3 2018 The Last of Us Pt 2 Ellie poster

The Last of Us 2

Beyond Good and Evil sequel teaser Peyj vaporware

Beyond Good and Evil 2

E3 2018 Gearbox

Borderlands anything. Image maybe unrelated since Take Two/2K would probably publish this.
Random shots

Fortnite, Monster Hunter Generations, Pokemon, QLED TVs

Of course

E3 2018 Anthem blockchain Enjin Coin

Of-f'n-course.
Video game artifacts

E3 2018 Brotherhood of Steel helmet

Maybe part of the merch push or maybe because they needed to displace playable demos, there were plenty of glass-encased video game items. They ranged from detailed (Bethesda) to really janky looking (Nintendo).

E3 2018 Starfox helmet pistol
Chairs!

E3 2018 gamer chairs

The hot new thing is chairs. Chair vendors were everywhere in the periphery of the exhibit halls. I don't know why!

E3 2018 peripheral driving seat