Some things that have been annoying me

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about a few things just lately. I’ve been meaning to find the time to write up about each once, but frankly I couldn’t be bothered. I still mostly can’t so here they all are on one post instead.

Real people don’t need encryption

This statement was uttered by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, after it became apparent that the attackers who were responsible for the deaths at the concert in Manchester had communicated using encrypted messaging apps. This statement is frankly offensive and Amber Rudd is a rotten, sickening cunt who should just fuck right off. The idea that we should all be forced to conduct our private business in the open to make it easier for the state to monitor everything we do and say is Orwellian and disgusting and the fact that she would try and leverage the tragedy in Manchester to her own political advantage shows just what a horrible, soulless creature she really is.

The idea that she and her followers propagate, that if you’re somehow against the idea of the state knowing everything about you you’re in league with or supporting the terrorists is offensive, disgusting and totally wrong. I don’t support terrorism but I also don’t support exposing my private business to anyone with a radio receiver or a copy of WireShark. The reason we are given for the security services wanting this extra level of insight and power is so that they can monitor everything for terrorist activity. Here’s an idea Rudd and the leadership of MI5/MI6 might like to consider: focus your resources better. If you need more people, ask for them and get them hired. Prioritise your workloads, focus on those targets and areas of the community where there is a proven track record of people strapping bombs to themselves and blowing themselves up in shopping centres and concerts. Don’t make suspects of all of us just because you can’t be arsed to do your jobs properly.

For those that say you need to be able to react quickly and that you can’t always wait for the courts to issue warrants and follow the existing processes, this is bullshit of the highest order. Any Minister of Secretary of State rank can sign a warrant and it can be done in minutes. If there’s a reasonable belief that you need a warrant to raid a house or seize some communications equipment, follow the emergency processes (citing national security allows the circumvention of a lot of normal processes and safeguards) and get your warrant that way. Then you only have treat those people whom you have a reasonable belief to be up to something as suspects, not every fucker in the country.

Oh, and journalists: do your fucking jobs. Stop peddling the state line about the use of encryption. I know most of you are technologically illiterate and don’t understand how it works, but that’s no reason to be fearful and spout the propaganda instead of the facts. Do some fucking research: it’s what you’re ostensibly paid for, isn’t it?

Still, on the flip-side it is interesting to think that if we did all live our lives in plain-text and let the state machine hoover up all that data into a great big database, the entirety of all our secret services and most of the police could be replaced with a few scheduled tasks and some SQL queries…

Islamic Terrorism

This doesn’t exist. There is no “Islamic terrorism”, there is only terrorism. Those sick individuals claiming to represent Muslims as they detonate themselves in crowded public places are no more representative of Islam than my dog is a representative of cats. Stop using the term: it serves only to widen the fractures already present in society and create fear and distrust where we should be working hard to bring communities and people closer together.

Basically: if you peddle the idea of “Islamic terrorism”, you’re a cunt. Simple.

Racism

First, lets start off by saying that “black” is not a race. It’s a colour. People who are black are human, not some separate species. The idea that we have to sub-divide and categorise everything is shit and, as noted in my little rant above, serves only to reinforce divides and fears between people. Lets start treating people as human instead of black or white or whatever ethnic background they happen to come from. We’ll never make the step to the next level as a species until we can accept the truth that something like skin colour is a load of old pointless bollocks that just be ignored.

Those people who spout bile, vitriol and hatred against groups in our society based purely on ethnicity should shut the fuck up and fuck right off. They’re a cancer growing in our species and we don’t need them: you know what happens to cancers and necrotic tissue in an organ, people? It gets cut out so healthy tissue can grow and cover the wound.

Religion

I am not a follower of any religion. I have supreme distaste for the fact they are unscientific, have no basis in fact and yet purport to tell people how they should live their lives, despite being demonstrably built on lies by people who used (and indeed still use) them to control others. Great works of evil have been done in the name of various religions across the centuries and I really wish people would stop putting their faith in imaginary sky wizards and instead focus on something more real. After all, we teach children from an early age that imaginary friends are a bad thing, yet billions of people around the globe believe their sky wizard is better than another sky wizard, despite neither sky wizard having any demonstrable shred of proof of existence.

That said, with the exception of a lot of the Eastern mystic religions which seem largely to be concerned with self-discovery and the personal spirit than any kind of sky wizard, most religions have a central teaching which can effectively be boiled down to the phrase: don’t be a dick.

What a shame it is then that a large number of religions’ most fervent followers spend most of their time being giant bell-ends.

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Windows and long file names

Users can be a pain in the arse at times, especially when it comes to managing their file shares. We’ve had everything from users removing administrator groups and SYSTEM from the permissions list, stopping us from supporting them when they have issues and even backing up their files, to somehow creating file and folder structures with full paths longer than 260, which Windows (even in Windows 10 / Server 2016) doesn’t like.

So what do you do if you need to copy a set of folders and you know there are long file paths involved? Well, historically I used to adopt a hard line and tell users they should have created their data correctly, and that anything that couldn’t be read by the account doing the copy would be lost. More recently, however I’ve softened that line and to help with copying structures with long file paths, I’ve created this handy utility called LF Copy.

The ZIP contains a single executable and a supporting DLL. Simply extract and run. Choose source and destination folders and click “Go”:

LFCopy

Its then just a matter of sitting back and waiting. The “Status” tab will refresh with information about the current operation, while the “Errors” tab will provide details of any issues encountered.

I hope this will come in useful out there. Do let me know if you have any feedback, issues, bugs, suggestions etc…

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BizTalk 2016 Installer Crash

Had another weird one today while installing BizTalk Server 2016 on Server 2016 with SQL Server 2016. When applying the configuring to the server the installer crashed out while applying the BAM Portal settings. The event viewer had nothing useful to offer, only highlighting the particular DLL in question that had caused the error. The log file output to the AppData location had something useful though:

Cannot alter the role ‘NSSubscriberAdmin’, because it does not exist or you do not have permission.

Turns out that this issue was also present in BizTalk 2013… If you encounter this, you’ll need to log into SQL Server Management Studio, expand the BAMAlertsApplication database, expand Security to get the Roles node. Right-click this and choose “Add Role” and add the missing NSSubscriberAdmin role, owned by dbo. Once done, re-try applying the BizTalk server configuration and it should all go through fine.

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SQL Server SSPI Errors

Wow. Its been a while since an update has appeared here, huh? Well, I had an interesting problem at work the other day and I thought I’d share the solution.

A new application is being installed and tested which uses an MSSQL database for its internal information management. Integrated security is used based on a per-user session using Kerberos tokens. This is done automatically by the application connecting to the database using functionality in SSPI (Security Support Provider Interface).

Well, long story short, it wasn’t working. The application spat out the following error each time anyone tried to start it:

Cannot generate SSPI context.

Additionally, various application-specific messages appeared.

As per the link above, most of the troubleshooting tips were based around making sure that the Active Directory user account running the service firstly had rights to log on as a service on machines where it was used, and that it had NT AUTHORITY\SELF entries on the ACL in ADSIEdit allowing readServicePrincipalName and writeServicePrincipalName. This was all correct in our situation, but still the error appeared, even after changing the user account on the service to a new one.

Trawling through the information logs on the SQL server side of things led to the following message being discovered:

The SQL Server Network Interface library could not register the Service Principal Name (SPN) [ MSSQLSvc/databases.andinet.local:COMMUNICATOR ] for the SQL Server service. Windows return code: 0x21c7, state: 15.

Interestingly this was reported as information message, not an error message. If it had been logged as an error it would have been spotted earlier in the troubleshooting process.

The key thing in this message is the return code. This particular return code indicates an index violation, that is to say the server was attempting to create a duplicate of something that should be unique. Error codes can be checked with this handy utility from Microsoft.

Jumping on a domain controller and executing the command setspn -l <server name> showed that the SQL instance already had an SPN assigned to it. Running the command produces output like this:

setspn-l-example

To remove the offending SPN entries, a different setspn command is needed: setspn -D <spn> <server> for example: setspn -D MSSQLSvc/databases.andinet.local:COMMUNICATOR databases

This should be run while the SQL instance itself and other all other SQL services running under the user account are shut down. The entire server should then be rebooted. Once the computer account has re-authenticated with the domain and the SQL instance has started up, it will re-register the SPN and the following message will be posted to the information log:

The SQL Server Network Interface library successfully registered the Service Principal Name (SPN) [ MSSQLSvc/databases.andinet.local:COMMUNICATOR ] for the SQL Server service.

Additionally, you can check what transport your connection to the SQL instance is using by executing the following SQL command. Note that results of this might vary depending on how you connect (e.g. via your application, through SSMS or via SQLCMD).

SELECT net_transport, auth_scheme FROM sys.dm_exec_connections WHERE session_id = @@SPID;

Hope this helps. I’ve got a couple more tech-tips in the pipeline relating to Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager 2016 running on Server 2016, but we’ll save those for another day… Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to cover in the comments and I’ll see if I can help.

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The Ballad of Chaviano Gateway

The Ballad of Chaviano Gateway
(10th October 3401. Chaviano Gateway. A young trader asks an old man about the Battle of Mapor)

At Chaviano Gateway Hall
There is a plaque upon the wall.
What is it for, this marble mount?
Listen to me, and I’ll recount.

The stories that I heard that night
Here long ago, I cowered in fright
Whilst underneath the stars my fate
Was played out twixt the mad and great:

One dark night the Valiant Few,
The Hutton Truckers and their crew
Set off for Mapor, Mugs in store,
To cure the sick and heal the poor.

This tiny band from Eden’s sun
The pirates counted twenty one
But their translator’s out of tune
For that’s our leader’s nom de plume.

Vingtetun and Psykokow
No Scars yet? Assemble now!
At Ross One Fifty Four, Formate!
All ships report! We can’t be late!

The Wings were made, Les Jeux sont faits
At toll of eight, we sail away.
Firework of wakes across the sky.
Folk bow their heads and wave goodbye.

Alien, cloaked in shadow flew
With Mobius’ help, her way was true
Jump by jump, the fleet grew tense
Irrational Exuberance!

There we stopped for fuel and tea
We gave the waverers choice to flee
And though we felt the rising gloom
We all flew on to meet our doom

As we passed on through Forculus
We heard reports of battles fierce
Between our friends and their dark foe
A Shadow on our hearts did grow.

We passed into uncharted space,
A cold and lonely dangerous place.
Desperate radio calls from friends
As some of them met noble ends.

We passed on through like ships at night
But ‘lo we see Mapor in sight.
Turn our ships and race for shade
Run like the wind through their blockade.

We Hove in Sight, our ships appeared
The mothers waved, the children cheered
The mugs are safe, now journey ends
We drank a toast……to absent friends

But something’s coming, something new
A shadow passed across pad two.
A murderous warship of renown,
As Allerose came barrelling down

I wheeled around and dove away
While screaming, “Freheit save the day!”
My brothers chased him. Out of reach.
Alarm bells ring, “Canopy Breach”.

Dark echoes reverberate,
The heavens blink, Higg’s bosons shake,
A dying ship, a helping hand,
Is there a chance for one last stand?

Run for cover, Remlok on
Two minutes till my air is gone
But now vile treachery descends
Another lurks among my friends.

I might have made it, yes I might
But for Nonya’s Cobra Strike
A searing blast, our mugs were fried,
The mothers wept, the children cried.

Dust and ashes, tears and pain
So near and yet so far again.
When all hope’s lost, what can we do?
Our mission’s failed, can it be true?

Fire and debris marks this place,
Terrible beauty hangs in space,
But smoke rolls back like shimmering water
Through it swims our last pink Orca

Trumpets sound and church bells ring,
The mothers laugh, the children sing,
For this was the day the kids were freed
By Hutton Truckers’ daring deed.

Mission complete, they leave the station
Locked in missing man formation
We’re off for now, to our next meeting
Flossy’s lost and overheating.

So now you know, my stranger friend
How Truckers met their bitter end
And when you pass this way again,
Look at this plaque, and think of them.

The Truckers saved us from disease
When I was a child and on my knees,
But here am I, I still remain
Their sacrifice was not in vain.

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Thought for the week

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

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Elite Dangerous: I need a break

It is with a heavy heart I have to announce that CMDR Galen Shepard will be remaining in dock for the foreseeable future.

For some time now I have been feeling disengaged with the game as a whole. I have joined various community groups on Facebook and tried to participate in community activities, even going so far as to send some RP into Frontier to be included in their stories. The Facebook communities were, on the whole, nice places to be and I enjoyed interacting with some interesting and fun people. But I never felt as though I was part of them for some reason: the things I posted or did never seemed to garner much interest, despite similar things from others receiving a great deal of attention. The stories I sent to Zac at Frontier were never included in anything, despite him saying they could be. I’m not saying I’m entitled to have my stuff included in Frontier’s community stuff, but if they had no intention of using it, a simple email saying that it didn’t fit what they had planned was all that was required.

The game itself I am finding an endless grind. I own most of the ships in the game, I have a balance of several hundred million, and all my ranks are nearly at Elite level. I am not interested in PVP, trading is simple when you find a route that offers good mark-ups, and exploration is little more than firing your scanner, looking at the system map for anything interesting while your ship refuels from the star and then jumping away again.

Missions simply require you to move a bunch of stuff from one place to another, kill a certain number of things – or one big thing… The whole structure of missions simply isn’t very engaging at the moment. Engineers add an extra level of depth, but ultimately they boil down to little more than adding some RNG boosts to your ship modules.

I find it a tragedy and a shame that I am sat writing this. I backed the game on Kickstarter at a level that gave me Alpha access, and the excitement I had to see a game from my childhood (I played the original Elite on my BBC Model B, which I still have…) remade on a modern platform with modern graphics has not been fully matched by what has so far been delivered.

I hope this malaise wears off in time and that I will see you out among the stars again in the future.

Fly safe, Commanders.

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Gaming: Things I’d like to see

Greetings everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but with a lot new game content on titles I play extensively coming out now, I thought I’d take the opportunity to waffle on for several paragraphs about things I like, things I don’t like and things I’d like to see more or less of in the games that I play.

Firstly, Elite:Dangerous. I’ve covered this game a lot in previous posts to the extent that I may go back and give those posts their own category… But with the latest expansion (2.1 – Engineers) hitting a live roll-out, I thought I’d start here. There’s a lot of good stuff in Engineers. I like it a lot. But listening to the Lave Radio podcast has given me some thoughts on how extra depth could be added to the universe.

I like their suggestions of starports (the big ones, not the orbital platforms) having multiple docking ports. One dock facing the host planet for trade to the surface, the other facing space for interplanetary/interstellar traffic. While this might only be a consideration for starports orbiting inhabited planets, or planets that have multiple docks in orbit around them, it would introduce a new dynamic to the docking system. Clearance could be requested from either port, but getting clearance from one wouldn’t mean you could dock through the other. It would allow pilots to land quickly after dropping from supercruise near the station, would help to reduce queues around busy ports but would also allow pirates and ne’er-do-wells to target traffic in a more intelligent manner. Of course things like this could only be implemented on Coriolis starports: the other station types are designed around one entry port, and would have to remain as they were.

Of course, another possibility that presents itself to starports with two docks is a one-way system… One entry port, one exit port… That’s assuming you follow traffic rules…

Sticking with Elite, and another idea mooted by Lave Radio, is the idea that on frontier systems, news and GalNet traffic is a few days old… It takes a while to get out there, of course. I appreciate that in a real-world scenario, this is something that might happen, however in game its difficult to cater for, and pilots can simply read the real-world newsletters, forums and other web pages on the internet. That said, to make things a bit more believable, each system could have a time delay property assigned to it based on its distance from the core worlds. The greater this time delay is, the longer it takes in-game GalNet articles to appear when one is out on the frontier. This mechanic might even give rise to new mission types whereby pilots are entrusted to courier news to frontier worlds or stations, bypassing the time delay.

Exploration is something I would like to see more love given to. Or rather, the things that you can find if you travel a bit off the beaten track. I like the idea of finding dead ships just spinning through space. Are they actually dead, or just in silent running? Are they a decoy or a lure from pirates to draw in unwary travellers? Perhaps the ships themselves are old models that you can’t buy any more, and they’ve been spinning through space for centuries… A quick scan could lead to some interesting navigation findings or intelligence that must be reported to the authorities. Now I appreciate that space is massive, and that there will be things that we don’t see straight away, and that is how we might expect real-life space exploration to work, but we have to remember that this is a game, so some signposting of this content might be in order. Maybe a news report of strange sensor contacts, or an old-style radio transmission is detected, kind of like when the USS Copernicus drifted near Babylon 5… Some of these finds might just be junk or space decoration, but others could serve as signposts themselves, pointing to larger goings on within the background simulation and the plot that Frontier has for the game’s story.

On to more Warhammer related things now with Vermintide.

Again, this is a title that I love. A new expansion of three missions has just been released. Set within the foreboding ruin of Castle Drachenfels, these missions introduce some wonderful new dynamics. The actual levels themselves are very maze-like with several routes available to get you to your final destination, and with no map provided and enemies around every turn you really do feel as though you’re adventuring through an ancient, evil fortress. The darkness mechanic that has been introduced for some of these levels is also awesome. In the dungeons you can’t see where you’re going unless you’re carrying a torch or in an area with lit torches, which adds a huge amount of depth. As you wander around, you have to be careful for traps and pits, and of course the ever-present Skaven, spying on your with their beady-red eyes from deep in the blackness… While carrying a torch helps your squad see where they’re going, you can’t use your weapons when you’re providing light, meaning you have to be on your guard at all times. You may find yourself having to retreat to the safety of your companions, or having to drop your torch to ready your swords and then hoping for the best! Having no light is a simple thing, but it makes all the difference here.

The darkness is further enhanced by magic in some areas, making even torches useless. You can tell the difference between normal and magical darkness because magical darkness has a red-tinge to it. When you’re at the mercy of magical darkness, you have no choice but to proceed slowly and hope for the best.

Fat Shark have done a great job implementing these new levels. The castle is wonderfully atmospheric and features shout-outs to several key points of Warhammer lore, as discussed by your characters when they find them. The darkness is a wonderful thing to experience, and its not over-used which makes it a nice twist when it happens. It would have been easy for it to lose its touch through excessive use, but the developers have neatly avoided that trap and made a set of levels to be proud of.

I would like to see more levels set within and around the castle, as well as other areas of the Old World. Fat Shark have shown they have what it takes to care for the world they’re developing in as they go, and I can’t wait to see what they offer up next.

Moving on, but staying with the Warhammer theme, we have Total War: Warhammer. This game is great. The Total War mechanics really suit how Warhammer works, and although there are parts of the game I would change (army upkeep and auto-resolve to name a couple) I’ve been playing for ages now, and I’m still enjoying it, even though the forces of Chaos are rampaging through my armies with apparent ease… Maybe I’m just a crap leader?

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Elite Dangerous: Hyperspace Route Planning

The route planner in Elite Dangerous is one of the best features that has been added to the game. It allows you plot a route from your current location out to a range of 1000 Ly. It works well enough out in the galactic rim where stellar density is low, however in the core regions it can struggle. The distance your ship can travel in a single jump, coupled with the increased star density and the distance you’re plotting over all means that the number of possible routes your ship can take to get from start to finish can be orders of magnitude higher than when you’re in the rim. This means that plotting a long route can sometimes cause the route planner to freeze, and take 30 minutes or more to complete a calculation cycle. The way around this is to plot an optimum length jump: this is the range at which the number of routes is small enough that you will get a response from the planner within 30 seconds. This forum article describes it quite nicely.

To help with this, I’ve written this little C# application. It requires .NET 4.0 but otherwise runs as a stand-alone application. I hope its useful to any aspiring explorers out there!

ed-calculator

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Elite: Dangerous – Engineers Beta, First Impressions

Well, participating in beta testing can always be a bit of a rocky road, and so it started with the new beta of the next update to Elite: Dangerous. The update, called Engineers, had some issues being delivered to those members of the community that should have had access to it, myself included. People reported options missing from the game’s launcher, “Play” buttons that did nothing and options appearing, only to vanish again later. Thankfully Frontier support are an amazing bunch, and these issues were resolved quite quickly: I only really mention it, as usually the problems begin after you’ve installed the game, not before!

Engineers is the largest update to the game for some time and introduces a lot of small additions as well as whole new segments of gameplay. Small things include UI new weapon types and the ability to bookmark favourite or useful systems in the galaxy map, while larger things include a whole new outfitting UI and, of course, the Engineers themselves!

The Engineers you know of and have access to are visible from the right-hand panel in your ship, and messages offering introduction will be sent your inbox:

Screenshot_0081

Screenshot_0082

Each Engineer has a set of requirements that must be met before you can commission them to do work. These vary depending on the Engineer: some require donations of cash or trade goods, others that you deal extensively with the criminal underworld. Like their requirements, the modifications that Engineers can perform also vary: some can boost the capabilities of your weapons, shield or FSD while others have yet other specialised roles… Their locations are shown on the galaxy map with a new icon that highlights where their workshops are:

Screenshot_0084

After docking at an Engineer’s base, you’ll have an extra option on the station menu. Here you can commission the engineer to work for you, or complete work for them in order to get them to unlock their services.Screenshot_0081

Screenshot_0082

Screenshot_0083

Screenshot_0085

Once you have completed any pre-requisite tasks the Engineer demands of you, you will have access to the modifications they can make. You’ll need to bring your own materials, and sometimes the Engineer’s work will have unintended side-effects, for good and sometimes for ill… Tinker with your gear at your own risk, Commanders!

Also getting an overhaul is the mission system. Instead of a list of available missions, contacts are now listed on the left, and the missions they offer appear in the centre pane:

Screenshot_0013

The amount of missions available will change depending on your relationship with the faction offering them, along with that faction’s standing within the system. The contacts will also react differently to you depending on your Pilot’s Federation ranking and your standing with the faction as a whole. When you’re a newbie you’ll be dealing with lower level intermediaries; as your ranking increases, you’ll be dealing with higher level representatives of the faction.

Also, gone are the requirements to be a certain rank to take on a mission: all that matters now is your reputation. You can take on an Elite-rated mission if you like, but you might find yourself floating home. That said, if you manage to complete a mission higher than your rank, the rewards are much nicer! The UI for choosing your missions also helps show you the impact that completing it will have, both in terms of your reputation increase, and the influence of the sponsoring faction. There is also a handy link to any running community goals, making it easier than ever to get involved in the galaxy’s affairs.

The galaxy map now offers you the very nice functionality to bookmark useful stations and systems (third icon in on the screenshot below). You can then select these locations from a new Bookmarks option and select them as destinations or plot routes using the standard route planner:

Screenshot_0014

Getting a further overhaul is the Outfitting screen. The UI is now a lot more modular, and new options to sort available purchases are available, meaning that outfitting your ship is even easier:

Screenshot_0016

Screenshot_0076

Screenshot_0018

When selecting a purchase to install aboard your ship, a new summary screen will display the results of installing the module, giving you an instant appreciation of whether you’re making a good selection or not:

Screenshot_0083

To go with the new Outfitting screen, new weapons are also available, notably (and to much rejoicing!) huge beam lasers for ships with Class 4 weapon hard-points. Moar dakka is always a welcome thing, and those new beam lasers do look like they mean the most serious of business!

Before:

Screenshot_0020

After:

Screenshot_0087
Moar dakka!Screenshot_0057

Signal sources and contacts have also seen changes. Your information panel will tell you when you encounter a new signal source, as opposed to you having to keep an eye on the destination panel to see whether there’s anything to investigate. New signal sources are also making an appearance: travel near Lave and you’ll probably be subjected to some Lave Radio… When you’re contacted by an NPC about a mission you might be undertaking, instead of some text on your communication panel, you’ll get to see what the NPC looks like, in a manner similar to the new missions screen.

New crafting materials and loot sources have been introduced: you no longer have to trawl planet’s surfaces to find materials to use, they can now be obtained from resource extraction sites and mining locations, along with the more traditional metals and minerals. New trade goods have also been added to the commodity market, some may be purchasable in the right locations, others will have to be mined or crafted:

Screenshot_0022

To help manage all these new goods, the Inventory panel on the right-hand cockpit screen has also been updated to separate cargo, data, crafting and synthesis materials into their own sub-sections:

Screenshot_0078

The audio has been given a new dimension too. When you approach a star port you’ll now be contacted by the station’s orbital traffic control (OTC), given your own callsign and various instructions depending on how you’re flying. If your hardpoints are deployed, you’ll be warned about violating the no-fire zone; exceed the speed limits and you’ll be warned about dangerous flying. If there are a lot of ships in the vicinity of the station, you’ll be told about high volumes of traffic and that you should fly with care. When requesting docking clearance OTC will confirm with you whether your request is approved or not, and if so, what platform to alight on. If you have a docking computer, and use it, OTC will confirm that automatic docking is in progress… All these are nice little touches which help to add a whole new level of immersion to the game, and I love it.

So far, I’ve played Beta for a few hours. The only issue I can say I’ve experienced (other than the deployment issues I mentioned at the start of the article) is that when navigating starport menus I now have to use the mouse. I play using either an Xbox controller or an X52 Pro, depending on which of my computers I’m using. When in the main game, I navigate the menus using either one of those, and have no issues. On the beta, the game seems to track the mouse – which I don’t use – and I sometimes find that I get stuck in one area of the menu and have to use the mouse to select options or back out of screens. This is only a minor issue, but it does break my immersion in the game because I have to put one controller down and pick up another. Additionally, and I know there are ways around this, the beta install wiped my custom control settings. I’m sorry to sound like a whiney little bitch, but if other games can patch their content and preserve custom control mappings, I see no reason why Elite can’t do this either.

That said, these are my only gripes and issues so far, and they’re both minor and inconsequential: this is another fine addition to the game, and more sterling and wonderful work from Frontier.

You should be proud, Commanders: you have brought the galaxy into our homes and let us stride the stars as giants, and for this my thanks seems somehow insufficient. Awesome work.

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