Copper Ice

Blogger, Gamer, Nerd

Stellaris

Over the past few weeks I have been playing Stellaris, a game I have had my eye on for quite some time. The price tag was almost £60 from Steam which includes a number of expansions, quite a hit if you find yourself not liking the game.

Stellaris is a modern real time 4X grand strategy game. The 4X is an abbreviation for EXplore, EXpand, EXploit and EXterminate and as far as I know, Stellaris is the first game of this genre I have ever played. The basic idea of Stellaris to explore the galaxy with science ships, expand with construction ships, exploit resources from planets, asteroids, stars and more before conquering other space faring civilizations.

I am actually impressed with Stellaris, at the time of writing this I have clocked 86 hours game time and have played several campaigns. Short ones at first, learning the mechanics and what a 4X game is all about, then longer 13-20 hour games, adjusting the settings as I go to try out different things.

What I really enjoy about Stellaris is not so much the 4X aspect of it, but how delightfully nerdy it is to explore and expand into solar systems which sometimes tell you about ancient civilizations who thousands of years ago succumbed to some kind of virus or somehow destroyed themselves. It reminds me of Star Trek, specifically, but not exclusively, The Next Generation series. In numerous episodes the crew of the Enterprise would encounter ancient civilizations, some of which were at the time of their destruction technologically far superior to that of the Federation, yet, even with their superior technologies perished.

If you are lucky, in Stellaris you will find remnants of colossal super structures which are now dormant and in ruin. I believe this one is some kind of a habitat ring, built around a star.

In time, you are given the opportunity to repair and possibly colonize super structures like this, giving me nerd chills.

It stands to reason that if ever the human race, through scientific and engineering brilliance, were to invent some sort of FTL (faster than light) drive and started to explore the galaxy, it is at least possible that there may be remnants of ancient civilizations which existed perhaps before our planet Earth formed. Serving as a reminder that no matter what we accomplish, we will surely never be invulnerable.

Other than the nerd chills I have found it fun to assemble fleets of ships and go to war with civilizations who do not support your ethics. There are even dangerous space faring creatures, which again reminds me of Star Trek.

Stellaris is a game I feel I could quite easily come back to in months or years from now, before I stop playing however, I really want to play through a game where I repair one of these super structures and, better still, create a Dyson Sphere, a hypothetical structure which would encompass a star in order to harness the entire power output.

WoW: Character Creation

My World of Warcraft classic journey started a little earlier than expected. While the game is due to be re-released on the 27th August, players who have an active World of Warcraft subscription are able to reserve character names ahead of the release. Blizzard have said:

“As part of our launch preparations, characters can be created in advance. You will be able to create up to three characters from the 13th of August onwards. Please keep in mind that it will not be possible to customize your character or change faction later, so take your time during creation. On PvP realms, all your characters need to belong to the same faction. It is not possible to start playing before the launch on the 27th of August.”

This is a somewhat unique experience for me, I have never known there to be a ‘reserve your character name’ event weeks before the release of a game. Being an hour behind, I logged on 11pm and after a very short wait was able to create two characters, Copper and Mithril on the Mirage Raceway realm.

Since everyone is able to reserve up to three character names, I thought I would reserve Copper on the other ‘normal’ realm Pyrewood Village. Rather than switching realm however, I accidentally logged out. When logging back in at around 11:03 I found myself in a queue of over 10,000 which took some 10-15 minutes to clear. When I eventually logged back in and switched to Pyrewood Village, the names Copper and Mithril had already been taken. Part of me was annoyed that I had logged out rather than just switching realms, but another part of me was so happy that I bothered to stay up late to log in as soon as possible to reserve Copper and Mithril on Mirage Raceway.

To my surprise, when I logged back in this morning, I found that the normal, RP (Role-Playing) and RPPVP (Role-Playing Player vs Player) realms still have a low population. I imagine that will change when the game is launched later this month, but I somehow expected more.

After seeing the classic log-in screen and hearing the music, I am as excited as ever to re-live vanilla World of Warcraft. The log in screen and music alone has evoked so many memories, both good and bad.

Diablo III Season 17 End

Diablo III Season 17 End

While season 17 for Diablo III is still in full swing, my season has come to an end. Over the past few weeks I have been playing very little and have lost the drive to keep playing.

This has by far been my most successful Diablo III season to date and I did it all in hardcore mode. Hardcore is where if one of my characters were to get killed it would be permanent and I would need to start over, something I needed to do early on in the season.

As you can see from the screenshot below, I reached level 800 paragon and have 5 (still living) characters which total more than 105 hours play time, mostly on my wizard.

Diablo III Season 17 Summary

I am most proud of completing greater rift level 81 on my wizard. There are many players who would consider that quite low but I am still proud, especially considering I have been playing hardcore all season completely solo. You can see from the screenshot below that I also achieved level 51 with my demon hunter, 45 with my barbarian and a token level 22 with my crusader.

Diablo III Season 17 records

I recorded my level 81 greater rift attempt with my wizard and have uploaded it to YouTube. I think that I could probably beat my record but have decided not to risk it and finish season 17 on a high. If you are interested in learning how I play my wizard and what items I used to compliment my ‘build’, contact me and I will happily share with you.

In the early days of season 17 I had an enormous amount of fun, yet, I do not know if I will get around to playing season 18. If I do, I doubt that I will be able to beat my records this season unless there are some drastic changes which make the game seem like new again. Honestly though, I am hoping for the announcement of Diablo IV or at the very least another expansion for Diablo III later this year, something I half expected to be in the last set of Blizzcon announcements. But like many other fans, I was left disappointed by the announcement of the mobile only game, Diablo Immortal.

Year 1 Review

Year 1 Review

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my first blog post and as such I feel it is important to review my first year of blogging. As part of the review I will consider lessons learned and where I want to take my blog and general online presence going forward.

The first thing to mention is that I have very much enjoyed my blog so far. I have enjoyed posting my gaming activities and have found that it has enhanced my gaming experiences. I do not consider myself a content creator which is something I have frequently heard streamers and youtubers refer themselves as. Technically, yes, I do produce content, but the content I produce is for my benefit and enjoyment. I have made very little effort to produce content which I think other people will enjoy and have so far made very little effort in sharing my content.

Lessons learned

When I first created my blog I was heavily into the game EVE Online. At first the blog was going to heavily revolve around my activities within EVE with only the occasional post regarding different games. Within weeks I actually got quite bored of EVE, something I didn’t anticipate. As such I decided to evolve my blog to be about my gaming activities in general and not focus on one game. I needed to change my about page and even decided to delete some of the early posts which were written in such a way that I would post every other day about what I was doing in EVE.

Posting about the same game too frequently doesn’t look good. I am specifically referring to my Snooker Nation posts. Each week I would post about playing Snooker Nation with my good friend Jason. At first this seemed like a good idea to document the results of our games, including difficult century breaks, but posting about Snooker Nation so frequently was detrimental. Recently I wrote about how I would change the frequency of the Snooker Nation posts to be monthly as opposed to weekly.

I don’t play as many games as I used to. Almost without realising it I have become a gamer of habit, playing the same games for years. It never used to be this way, before the days of MMORPG’s (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) I used to play a lot of different, more varied games. This is not necessarily a bad way to play games, and I will more than likely continue to do so, but I believe I need to make more of an effort to stop playing the same games for a while, and take a look at other games out there.

Moving forward

I recently wrote about an investment in new computer hardware. This new computer is at least two times but in many areas 3 or even 4 times more powerful than the one I have used for the past 7 years. I hope this new computer will give me the tools I need to better share my gaming experiences on my blog and possibly elsewhere on the internet as well.

In addition to this new hardware I have recently increased the speed of my internet connection. Virgin Media, my ISP (Internet service provider), have provided me with cable internet for many years and have always been extremely reliable. Until now, I have always paid for the lowest speeds they offer which was around 50mbps (mega bits per second) download and 3mbps upload and have always been satisfied. Now, for just a few pounds more per month, I have around 100mbps download and 6mbps upload which I hope will help with uploading youtube videos to compliment my blog.

So far I have made 8 youtube videos without editing them. With new hardware and higher internet speeds, I hope to create more videos and may start to use video editing software to make them more appealing an interesting to watch.

When I started my blog I did not want to monetise anything I create and that is still the case. There are no plans to somehow try and monetise my blog or any future youtube videos I create. That’s not to say that couldn’t change, it’s possible that one day I will put in enough time and effort in creating something that I will start to consider myself a content creator and will attempt to seek financial reward, but for now and for the foreseeable future, it’s not a goal of mine.

Because I have no interest in monetising what I do, I have decided that Twitch streaming is probably not something I will be getting in to. I have watched some of my favourite streamers discuss the pros and cons of streaming game play on Twitch and I believe it will take far too much effort to get a following. I would also need to be thick skinned which in all honesty, I am not. I do have a Twitch channel, and I might even dabble with it from time to time, but to be successful on Twitch I will need to stream a lot, stick to a schedule and probably keep playing the same game to get any kind of following.

During the planning and development of my blog I was interested in creating guides/tutorials. I thought that I could create long and detailed guides to help players achieve certain goals in games which I play well. These guides would have supporting youtube videos, some of which I would make public to the youtube community. The guides would be different to the run of the mill blogging and would require a website evolution of some kind. I am still interested in doing this, especially as I now have the hardware to more easily create videos. Over the coming months I will be re-evaluating whether or not I will pursue this. If I don’t, I must remember that I will need to re-write part of the about page.

Games I will be playing

Final Fantasy VII Remake. I have said that the only reason I bought a Playstation 4 was because I want to play the remake of Final Fantasy VII. While I really like my Playstation and have had a lot of enjoyment from it, I still really want to play this game. After a very long wait, the current release date is 03/03/2020. The original Final Fantasy VII game quite frankly changed my life, over dramatic as that may sound, it has been perhaps the greatest game I have ever played to date and has been a source of influence and inspiration for me. I am really concerned however that the developers of the remake will butcher the game, especially where my favourite characters are concerned, Biggs, Wedge, Jessie and the Turks.

I wasn’t going to but I have decided that I will be playing classic World of Warcraft which is due to be released later this month. I played classic/vanilla World of Warcraft when it was first released many years ago and was not interested in playing it again until quite recently. A work colleague has said that he too will be playing and might invite me to join his guild, which could prove fun. Also, I have always been sad that my blog does not contain all of the gaming achievements of my gaming past. It would therefore be good to achieve things again in classic Warcraft and write about them here.

Warcraft III Reforged will be released before my blogs second birthday. This is something I have been looking forward to since watching the Blizzcon 2018 announcements. I have never played Warcraft III, at the time I was too busy playing either Starcraft: Brood War or Diablo II. I am therefore particularly looking forward to playing Warcraft III for the first time with the enhancements that Blizzard are making.

What do you think?

Because of an incredibly limited following, I have to date had very little feedback. If there are any regular readers out there who would like to provide some feedback, please free to do so. You can leave a comment or contact me.

Nova Co-op Commander

Nova

Over the past few weeks I have gradually leveled up the StarCraft 2 commander, Nova. I have always wanted to play StarCraft co-op but have never had a friend who was interested in playing which meant, uncharacteristically for me, I played with random people.

So far, I am happy to say, everyone I have played with has been fine. Most people don’t say anything at all which is almost like playing through a random dungeon with random players in World of Warcraft. Those who do say something, simply say hello at the start and GG (Good Game) at the end.

Having recently acquired new computer hardware, I have been able to recorded one of the games from start to finish without any difficulty.

StarCraft co-op is very different to the normal game of StarCraft. Instead of playing against each other, players must work together to complete objectives. Before the game, each player selects the commander they wish to control (in my case Nova) and use their unique abilities and armies to achieve victory. The better players will use their commanders in such a way that compliments their allies commander but there are settings to make it easy for new players. Playing games earn your chosen commander experience which will level them up to a maximum level of 15, unlocking abilities along the way. Once a commander is level 15 you will start to earn experience which will go towards mastery points, a similar system to that of paragon levels in Diablo III in that they don’t unlock new abilities, but make existing ones a little stronger.

Right now I have reached level 15 with Nova and have obtained 11 mastery levels. Considering how positive this experience has been for me, I may level one of the other commanders (there are 17 in total) or gain more mastery levels with Nova.

If anyone is interested in playing StarCraft co-op with me, feel free to get in touch. StarCraft is free to play and will include 3 commanders. The others are free to play up until level 5 and can be purchased individually if you’re having a good time.

Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson

Geoff "iNcontroL" Robinson

I have not been posting much recently and in truth, I have not been gaming very much either. There are many reasons for this but the main one is because of the loss of Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson, who died suddenly last weekend on the 20th July 2019 of some sort of pulmonary embolism / thrombosis / blood clot in one of his lungs.

Geoff and I never met, he did not know me and I did not know him. But in many ways over the years he has inspired me to be a better gamer and a better person through the beautiful game of StarCraft.

Anyone who knows me at all will know that I love StarCraft, a game I have played for the past 20 years as previously written here. Geoff was a professional player who started to get recognition after getting 1st place in WCG (World Cyber Games) USA back in 2007, securing himself a place in the finals. For the longest time WCG was the only tournament of note for StarCraft Brood War and I think Geoff was rightfully proud of this accomplishment before StarCraft II was released in 2010. From there Geoff played Starcraft II competitively and was team captain of Evil Geniuses. It was around this time I started to watch and support Geoff as more and more StarCraft tournaments were forming and players were able to live stream their practice sessions and interact with fans on a daily basis. A favourite piece of content was actually made by his wife, Anna.

Any readers may remember that not long ago I was inspired by iNcontroL to play and complete XCOM 2, if not, you can read about here and here. I will try to continue to use his legacy as a source of inspiration and will continue to try and be a better a gamer, a better son, a better friend, a better person.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about Geoff dying, aged just 33. I have tried to speak to a member of my family about how sad it makes me feel knowing that he is gone, that he is no longer going to produce content and make my life better, more bearable, during the dark times. But they just don’t understand this concept, they don’t understand that this guy who I never met actually means something to me. I have followed this guy for almost 10 years and shared this connection over StarCraft. He was best of friends with other StarCraft personalities who are utterly heartbroken over his death and in turn, I sort of feel their pain. StarCraft will never be the same without him, and that kind of scares me. I am not sure what I am writing makes sense, but I really don’t know how to express my feelings on the matter. I wanted to talk to my best friend about it, but I just don’t know how, I doubt he could possibly understand these things, I do not think anyone can. All I know is right now, I am hurting and I wish something would plug this empty void in my life.

I will miss you Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson, I don’t know what, if anything, there is after life, but, if there is something, GL and more importantly, HF.

Snooker Nation July 2019

This is month one of the first Snooker Nation season between my friend Jason and I. Until January, I will keeping statistical data on games played, won, frames won, number of centuries and highest break. I hope that this will make my Snooker Nation posts more interesting but more importantly, I hope this will help enhance our enjoyment of the game.

05/07/2019 – Match 39

It has been a good start for me this month, winning 4 frames to 2 in a best of 7. There were three century breaks this week, Jason got 100 in the 2nd frame and 105 in the 4th. I got 104 in the 5th frame which means Jason, for now, has the highest break.

12/07/2019 – Match 40

My good start continues by winning 4 frames to 2 in another best of 7. This week there was just the one century break of 112 in the second frame belonging to Jason. It is interesting to note that of the 4 frames Jason has won so far this season, 3 of those have ended in a century.

19/07/2019 – Match 41

Another best of 7 and another 4 frames to 2 victory for me. This time I scored the only century of 126 making it the new high score of the season.

26/07/2019 – Match 42

Unfortunately for Jason, July hasn’t been a good month of Snooker Nation. I have won, yet again, 4 frames to 2 in a best of 7. There were two century breaks, Jason scored 104 in the 4th frame while I got a whopping 139 in the 6th which is the new high break of the season and I believe might be my highest break of all time. We will most certainly be hard pushed to beat it in the months ahead.

Season 1 (July – December 2019) statistics

Played Won Frames Won Centuries Highest Break
Copper 4 4 16 3 139
Jason 4 0 8 4 112

 

WCS Summer 2019

WCS Summer 2019

It has been another weekend of excellent Starcraft. I have had WCS Summer 2019 on my TV all weekend and have enjoyed every moment. I have been looking forward to this tournament since WCS Spring 2019 and have not been disappointed. While playing Diablo III or otherwise chilling, I have been watching some of the best Starcraft II players go head to head for a share of the $100,000 USD  (United States Dollars) prize pool and 12,600 WCS points which are needed for the WCS finals at Blizzcon later in the year.

Spoiler Alert

Once again it was great to see Croatian Leon “goblin” Vrhovec and Frenchman Clément “Clem” Desplanches but also 17 year old Italian Riccardo “Reynor” Romiti who won WCS Winter 2019. Knowing that young talent is still interested in Starcraft II makes me feel good about the future of Starcraft. It was also good to see one of my favourite players, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn. Scarlett is one of the few professional female Starcraft players and currently competes in Korea and China which means I don’t often get to see her play because of time differences.

It was no surprise that the current world champion Joona “Serral” Sotala made it to the grand final but to see Reynor topple this consistent major tournament winner was something special to see. What this young man has achieved in just 1 year of Starcraft is phenomenal and I have a feeling I will be seeing a lot more of Reynor to come.

Once again the production team, hosts and commentators have outdone themselves in this tournament. The commentators included my favourites Kevin “RotterdaM” van der Kooi, Benjamin “DeMusliM” Baker and Leigh “Maynarde” Mandalov but the hosts James “Kaelaris” Carrol, Sue “Smix” Lee and other commentators Ravi “feardragon” Pareek and Yoan “ToD” Merlo were amazing as well.

New Computer Hardware

After more than 7 years, I have decided to invest some money in new computer hardware, costing me a total of £1538.33. The actual components for the machine cost £1,513.35 from UK Gaming Computers but I also bought a windows 10 pro licence from Software Geeks for £19.99. The other £4.99 was for a cheap flash drive I bought from Amazon in order to instal windows.

Here are the specifications for both machines. For both I have integrated sound and use ethernet networking.

Old Intel Machine

  • Case: Antec 902
  • Power Supply: Corsair 650W TX V2
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 2600K 3.4GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Stock Manufacturer Heatsink and fan
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600Mhz/PC12800 (4 x 4GB)
  • Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V LX
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 7850 2GB
  • Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 500GB Hard Drive 7200rpm 16MB Cache
  • Optical Drive: Sony 24x DVD/CD + Re-Writer (Integrated)

New AMD Machine

  • Case: Game Max Abyss RGB
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX650 650W
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7Ghz Turbo 4.35Ghz 8 Core 16 Thread
  • Processor Cooler: Stock Manufacturer Heatsink and fan
  • RAM: 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 3000Mhz (2 x 16GB)
  • Motherboard: Asus TUF B450-Plus
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
  • Hard Drive: 480GB Gigabyte SSD
  • 2nd Hard Drive: 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM
  • Optical Drive: Asus SDRW-08D2S-U LITE DVD/CD Re-Writer (External)
  • Additional Case Fans: 2 x Game Max Windforce RGB LED & Controller

While my old Intel machine does now have a 480GB SSD instead of the mechanical drive that came with it, there are still massive upgrades which I hope will not only allow me to play the latest games on the highest graphics settings but also allow me to more easily record game footage and possibly do some video editing for youtube and my blog.

I have replaced the old 2nd generation Intel i7 processor with the latest AMD Ryzen 8 core 16 thread processor. Doubled my RAM from 16GB to 32 which is also now DDR4 3000Mhz as opposed to DDR3 1600Mhz. My new graphics card isn’t exactly the best on the market right now but it’s certainly a beast compared to my ATI Radeon HD 7850 2GB, which, in all fairness, was pretty powerful 7 years ago. While I do have 3 times the storage capacity, this is something which could easily be upgraded in future, especially with the introduction of an internal PCIe SSD for my operating system and core programs.

There are however two potential regrets. One is that I saved some money by skimping on the motherboard. There are much better ones on the market but I have been reassured by a good friend of mine that it doesn’t really matter unless I wanted to overclock the processor, which I don’t. Another is the Game Max Abyss case with tempered glass. It looks really cool and I look forward to messing around the the RGB settings, but I am a little worried about the lack of airflow which is why I bought additional case fans. Again, I don’t want to overclock my processor so hopefully it will not get too hot in there!

StarCraft Remastered

Last weekend I treated myself and purchased StarCraft Remastered. StarCraft is actually free to play, but I wanted to benefit from the graphics and aspect ratio enhancements Blizzard made when they released the remastered edition back in 2017.

Playing the original StarCraft brings back a lot of memories, some of which I mentioned in my first StarCraft post. I played through the original Terran campaign, which was easy, followed by the Terran Brood War expansion campaign which was a little harder but not exactly difficult for a StarCraft veteran such as myself.

While playing, I am reminded just how good StarCraft is and especially was when first released. I can hardly believe that after all these years no one has, in my opinion, released an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game anywhere near as good. Blizzard intend to remaster (reforge) their other, somewhat less popular RTS game, Warcraft III. I never played Warcraft III as I was too busy enjoying StarCraft and Diablo II. Because of this, I am incredibly excited and can’t wait to experience Warcraft III for the first time.

I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys RTS games should try the original StarCraft, even if it’s just the original free to play version as opposed to the remastered edition. In my opinion, StarCraft multiplayer is the hardest game ever made, but if competitive play is not your thing, the campaign missions are great and offer new players a fun challenge.

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