Screaming into the void

Screaming into the void

Do you ever have one of those days when you just want to go into a soundproof room and scream until your lungs give out? No? Just me then?

Yes, I know I didn’t post an update last week, but there’s actually a really good reason for that. Several good reasons. Or at least, I think they’re good reasons.

Reason number one, I honestly didn’t have time. It was a really busy week, and I just couldn’t find the time to sit and write for a blog that nobody reads. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. There are more important things.

Like work. This is my second reason. I put in a really solid week of work last week, and to be quite frank, if I’ve been writing as much as I have, the last thing I need to be doing is more writing.

No Man’s Sky. That’s my third reason. I go through phases of ‘go-to games’ when I’m not working. Or, at least, when I’m not actively writing. Any writer will tell you that they’re never actually not working. Even when it looks like I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, trying to work out plot threads in my head. It’s a whole thing.

Anyway, my current go-to game is No Man’s Sky. There’s this thing, and I’m assuming here that you’re not familiar with the game, called Quicksilver. It’s a sort of currency in-game, and you can buy things like custom armour for your space-suit, bobblehead figurines for your starship, a void egg that you can grow into a living ship. Anyway, you get a mission each day to earn a small amount of Quicksilver, so it makes sense to hop onto that game in the early afternoon just after the missions reset (it’s about midday UTC as far as I can tell).

I usually play a couple of hours a day, do the Quicksilver mission, and go exploring for a while. And then last Wednesday happened. And holy shit, what a happening it was. You have to bear in mind here that this game is now four years old, and is still being actively developed. There have never been any paid expansions, there are no micro-transactions, and it suffered massively from negative community feedback in the early days. Last week was a game-changer, literally.

Chilling with a friend on a nice, safe planet, pre-Origins
Chilling with a friend on a nice, safe planet, pre-Origins
A very dull dead planet, pre-Origins
A very dull dead planet, pre-Origins
Alien creatures on an ice planet, pre-Origins
Alien creatures on an ice planet, pre-Origins

I think most players will tell you that before last week, the game had got a bit samey. You could go around a few star systems, and you’d be seeing pretty much the same planets on repeat. But then the Origins update hit, and now it’s a whole new universe. Yes, you still get a lot of the same planets that were there before. Sometimes you’re unlucky and the ethical farm you built for harvesting animal resources is now a swamp. Sometimes the planet you build a base on no longer has the ‘Blob’ creatures you wanted to live there for.

But whether you’re on a planet that hasn’t changed, or on that has, everything has changed. There are new creatures, new plants, new life. Volcanoes, lightning storms, giant fricking sandworms. I was on top of a mountain on a toxic planet a couple of days ago digging up ancient bones, got caught in a storm and got hit by lightning. Yesterday, I was salvaging cargo from a crashed freighter, heard what sounded like an earthquake, turned around and there was an enormous sandworm jumping through the air above me.

Did I mention the pink volcanoes?!

It’s not only the new life and environmental stuff that’s changed either. I don’t know how many players have noticed it, but Hello Games seem to have revamped the way assets are loading, making the whole game run smoother. It’s lusher on inhabited planets, and more desolate on the dead ones. The whole thing seems curiously more realistic and more otherworldly in equal measure.

Flying over misty mountains in a binary star system
Flying over misty mountains in a binary star system
A planet seen in eclipse from its moon
A planet seen in eclipse from its moon
A bright, vibrant planet, full of life
A bright, vibrant planet, full of life

Oh, you want to know why I want to scream into the void? Ulysses. The handy software that takes everything you’ve written and makes it quick and easy to pick up where you left off on another device. Well, it decided last night that it was going to stop saving my work, then crash, then cannibalise a day’s worth of work. It could have been worse. I could have not been able to get back my entire month’s work on my novel. That’s only about 35K words. That’s not a freaking nightmare of epic proportions, right? 😖 But I persevere when it looks like my time’s been wasted, and I wasn’t going to let all that work go without a fight. Hacking backups has become something of a speciality of mine over the years. 😉

Also, Ulysses is insane and counts words I haven’t written in a document, or doesn’t count them for a specific day, or thinks I’ve written every word in a novel on one day, long after I’ve started writing. I love the software, I really do, but the crappy wordcount glitches is why I stopped using Shaxpir. And why I keep track of my progress in Excel or Numbers.

Anyway, it’s just past 1pm BST (midday UTC), which means the Quicksilver missions should have reset. You know what that means…

Ad Astra!

Beck xx

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