RealTerm: Serial/TCP Terminal download SourceForge.net

What's new in macOS 11, Big Sur!

It's that time of year again, and we've got a new version of macOS on our hands! This year we've finally jumped off the 10.xx naming scheme and now going to 11! And with that, a lot has changed under the hood in macOS.
As with previous years, we'll be going over what's changed in macOS and what you should be aware of as a macOS and Hackintosh enthusiast.

Has Nvidia Support finally arrived?

Sadly every year I have to answer the obligatory question, no there is no new Nvidia support. Currently Nvidia's Kepler line is the only natively supported gen.
However macOS 11 makes some interesting changes to the boot process, specifically moving GPU drivers into stage 2 of booting. Why this is relevant is due to Apple's initial reason for killing off Web Drivers: Secure boot. What I mean is that secure boot cannot work with Nvidia's Web Drivers due to how early Nvidia's drivers have to initialize at, and thus Apple refused to sign the binaries. With Big Sur, there could be 3rd party GPUs however the chances are still super slim but slightly higher than with 10.14 and 10.15.

What has changed on the surface

A whole new iOS-like UI

Love it or hate it, we've got a new UI more reminiscent of iOS 14 with hints of skeuomorphism(A somewhat subtle call back to previous mac UIs which have neat details in the icons)
You can check out Apple's site to get a better idea:

macOS Snapshotting

A feature initially baked into APFS back in 2017 with the release of macOS 10.13, High Sierra, now macOS's main System volume has become both read-only and snapshotted. What this means is:
However there are a few things to note with this new enforcement of snapshotting:

What has changed under the hood

Quite a few things actually! Both in good and bad ways unfortunately.

New Kernel Cache system: KernelCollections!

So for the past 15 years, macOS has been using the Prelinked Kernel as a form of Kernel and Kext caching. And with macOS Big Sur's new Read-only, snapshot based system volume, a new version of caching has be developed: KernelCollections!
How this differs to previous OSes:

Secure Boot Changes

With regards to Secure Boot, now all officially supported Macs will also now support some form of Secure Boot even if there's no T2 present. This is now done in 2 stages:
While technically these security features are optional and can be disabled after installation, many features including OS updates will no longer work reliably once disabled. This is due to the heavy reliance of snapshots for OS updates, as mentioned above and so we highly encourage all users to ensure at minimum SecureBootModel is set to Default or higher.

No more symbols required

This point is the most important part, as this is what we use for kext injection in OpenCore. Currently Apple has left symbols in place seemingly for debugging purposes however this is a bit worrying as Apple could outright remove symbols in later versions of macOS. But for Big Sur's cycle, we'll be good on that end however we'll be keeping an eye on future releases of macOS.

New Kernel Requirements

With this update, the AvoidRuntimeDefrag Booter quirk in OpenCore broke. Because of this, the macOS kernel will fall flat when trying to boot. Reason for this is due to cpu_count_enabled_logical_processors requiring the MADT (APIC) table, and so OpenCore will now ensure this table is made accessible to the kernel. Users will however need a build of OpenCore 0.6.0 with commit bb12f5f or newer to resolve this issue.
Additionally, both Kernel Allocation requirements and Secure Boot have also broken with Big Sur due to the new caching system discussed above. Thankfully these have also been resolved in OpenCore 0.6.3.
To check your OpenCore version, run the following in terminal:
nvram 4D1FDA02-38C7-4A6A-9CC6-4BCCA8B30102:opencore-version
If you're not up-to-date and running OpenCore 0.6.3+, see here on how to upgrade OpenCore: Updating OpenCore, Kexts and macOS

Broken Kexts in Big Sur

Unfortunately with the aforementioned KernelCollections, some kexts have unfortunately broken or have been hindered in some way. The main kexts that currently have issues are anything relying on Lilu's userspace patching functionality:
Thankfully most important kexts rely on kernelspace patcher which is now in fact working again.

MSI Navi installer Bug Resolved

For those receiving boot failures in the installer due to having an MSI Navi GPU installed, macOS Big Sur has finally resolved this issue!

New AMD OS X Kernel Patches

For those running on AMD-Based CPUs, you'll want to also update your kernel patches as well since patches have been rewritten for macOS Big Sur support:

Other notable Hackintosh issues

Several SMBIOS have been dropped

Big Sur dropped a few Ivy Bridge and Haswell based SMBIOS from macOS, so see below that yours wasn't dropped:
If your SMBIOS was supported in Catalina and isn't included above, you're good to go! We also have a more in-depth page here: Choosing the right SMBIOS
For those wanting a simple translation for their Ivy and Haswell Machines:

Dropped hardware

Currently only certain hardware has been officially dropped:

Extra long install process

Due to the new snapshot-based OS, installation now takes some extra time with sealing. If you get stuck at Forcing CS_RUNTIME for entitlement, do not shutdown. This will corrupt your install and break the sealing process, so please be patient.

X79 and X99 Boot issues

With Big Sur, IOPCIFamily went through a decent rewriting causing many X79 and X99 boards to fail to boot as well as panic on IOPCIFamily. To resolve this issue, you'll need to disable the unused uncore bridge:
You can also find prebuilts here for those who do not wish to compile the file themselves:

New RTC requirements

With macOS Big Sur, AppleRTC has become much more picky on making sure your OEM correctly mapped the RTC regions in your ACPI tables. This is mainly relevant on Intel's HEDT series boards, I documented how to patch said RTC regions in OpenCorePkg:
For those having boot issues on X99 and X299, this section is super important; you'll likely get stuck at PCI Configuration Begin. You can also find prebuilts here for those who do not wish to compile the file themselves:

SATA Issues

For some reason, Apple removed the AppleIntelPchSeriesAHCI class from AppleAHCIPort.kext. Due to the outright removal of the class, trying to spoof to another ID (generally done by SATA-unsupported.kext) can fail for many and create instability for others. * A partial fix is to block Big Sur's AppleAHCIPort.kext and inject Catalina's version with any conflicting symbols being patched. You can find a sample kext here: Catalina's patched AppleAHCIPort.kext * This will work in both Catalina and Big Sur so you can remove SATA-unsupported if you want. However we recommend setting the MinKernel value to 20.0.0 to avoid any potential issues.

Legacy GPU Patches currently unavailable

Due to major changes in many frameworks around GPUs, those using ASentientBot's legacy GPU patches are currently out of luck. We either recommend users with these older GPUs stay on Catalina until further developments arise or buy an officially supported GPU

What’s new in the Hackintosh scene?

Dortania: a new organization has appeared

As many of you have probably noticed, a new organization focusing on documenting the hackintoshing process has appeared. Originally under my alias, Khronokernel, I started to transition my guides over to this new family as a way to concentrate the vast amount of information around Hackintoshes to both ease users and give a single trusted source for information.
We work quite closely with the community and developers to ensure information's correct, up-to-date and of the best standards. While not perfect in every way, we hope to be the go-to resource for reliable Hackintosh information.
And for the times our information is either outdated, missing context or generally needs improving, we have our bug tracker to allow the community to more easily bring attention to issues and speak directly with the authors:

Dortania's Build Repo

For those who either want to run the lastest builds of a kext or need an easy way to test old builds of something, Dortania's Build Repo is for you!
Kexts here are built right after commit, and currently supports most of Acidanthera's kexts and some 3rd party devs as well. If you'd like to add support for more kexts, feel free to PR: Build Repo source

True legacy macOS Support!

As of OpenCore's latest versioning, 0.6.2, you can now boot every version of x86-based builds of OS X/macOS! A huge achievement on @Goldfish64's part, we now support every major version of kernel cache both 32 and 64-bit wise. This means machines like Yonah and newer should work great with OpenCore and you can even relive the old days of OS X like OS X 10.4!
And Dortania guides have been updated accordingly to accommodate for builds of those eras, we hope you get as much enjoyment going back as we did working on this project!

Intel Wireless: More native than ever!

Another amazing step forward in the Hackintosh community, near-native Intel Wifi support! Thanks to the endless work on many contributors of the OpenIntelWireless project, we can now use Apple's built-in IO80211 framework to have near identical support to those of Broadcom wireless cards including features like network access in recovery and control center support.
For more info on the developments, please see the itlwm project on GitHub: itlwm

Clover's revival? A frankestien of a bootloader

As many in the community have seen, a new bootloader popped up back in April of 2019 called OpenCore. This bootloader was made by the same people behind projects such as Lilu, WhateverGreen, AppleALC and many other extremely important utilities for both the Mac and Hackintosh community. OpenCore's design had been properly thought out with security auditing and proper road mapping laid down, it was clear that this was to be the next stage of hackintoshing for the years we have left with x86.
And now lets bring this back to the old crowd favorite, Clover. Clover has been having a rough time of recent both with the community and stability wise, with many devs jumping ship to OpenCore and Clover's stability breaking more and more with C++ rewrites, it was clear Clover was on its last legs. Interestingly enough, the community didn't want Clover to die, similarly to how Chameleon lived on through Enoch. And thus, we now have the Clover OpenCore integration project(Now merged into Master with r5123+).
The goal is to combine OpenCore into Clover allowing the project to live a bit longer, as Clover's current state can no longer boot macOS Big Sur or older versions of OS X such as 10.6. As of writing, this project seems to be a bit confusing as there seems to be little reason to actually support Clover. Many of Clover's properties have feature-parity in OpenCore and trying to combine both C++ and C ruins many of the features and benefits either languages provide. The main feature OpenCore does not support is macOS-only ACPI injection, however the reasoning is covered here: Does OpenCore always inject SMBIOS and ACPI data into other OSes?

Death of x86 and the future of Hackintoshing

With macOS Big Sur, a big turning point is about to happen with Apple and their Macs. As we know it, Apple will be shifting to in-house designed Apple Silicon Macs(Really just ARM) and thus x86 machines will slowly be phased out of their lineup within 2 years.
What does this mean for both x86 based Macs and Hackintoshing in general? Well we can expect about 5 years of proper OS support for the iMac20,x series which released earlier this year with an extra 2 years of security updates. After this, Apple will most likely stop shipping x86 builds of macOS and hackintoshing as we know it will have passed away.
For those still in denial and hope something like ARM Hackintoshes will arrive, please consider the following:
So while we may be heart broken the journey is coming to a stop in the somewhat near future, hackintoshing will still be a time piece in Apple's history. So enjoy it now while we still can, and we here at Dortania will still continue supporting the community with our guides till the very end!

Getting ready for macOS 11, Big Sur

This will be your short run down if you skipped the above:
For the last 2, see here on how to update: Updating OpenCore, Kexts and macOS
In regards to downloading Big Sur, currently gibMacOS in macOS or Apple's own software updater are the most reliable methods for grabbing the installer. Windows and Linux support is still unknown so please stand by as we continue to look into this situation, macrecovery.py may be more reliable if you require the recovery package.
And as with every year, the first few weeks to months of a new OS release are painful in the community. We highly advise users to stay away from Big Sur for first time installers. The reason is that we cannot determine whether issues are Apple related or with your specific machine, so it's best to install and debug a machine on a known working OS before testing out the new and shiny.
For more in-depth troubleshooting with Big Sur, see here: OpenCore and macOS 11: Big Sur
submitted by dracoflar to hackintosh [link] [comments]

GameMaker Studio 2.3.1 will allow you to build games for Raspberry Pi - here's how to get it all working!

GameMaker: Studio 2.3.1 will be introducing a significant amount of support for platforms running on ARM. For the most part, exporting to these platforms is a subset of the target platforms (specifically Mac OS and Ubuntu/Linux) that already are supported by GMS2, but the magic happens in the export! If the platform you’re targeting is running on an ARM processor, the build process will handle the heavy lifting.
I’ve left a full guide below to getting your projects running on a Raspberry Pi - here are the important take-away’s if you’re familiar with the Ubuntu export process
Warning: Depending on your project, performance will vary significantly - you should expect to overclock your Raspberry Pi CPU and GPU clock speeds to achieve best performance in graphically intense games. Most folks have their Pi’s overclocked, and it’s a very straight forward process that you can learn about here. I suggest getting a case for your Pi with heatsinks and fan, regardless of your configuration.

Known Supported Linux Distributions for building GMS2 projects on RPi

It’s important to note, while I haven’t tried it, the binaries generated should work fine on most distros running on ARMv8.

How-to

What you’ll need:

Step 1: Setting up your Raspberry Pi

There are plenty of guides for how to do this online, so I’ll assume you can figure most of this out.Prepare your SD card with either Raspbian or Ubuntu MATE and boot into it on your Raspberry Pi. I suggest going with Raspbian, and most of my notes in here will be specific to it - it will be the most straight-forward option and likely the best performance on Pi.
Once Raspbian has booted, let it update using the built-in update manager (it might take a little while)
Find a way to entertain yourself... this might take a little bit.

Step 2: Install the dependencies

This is pretty much the same as it would be in any regular Linux setup to build your GMS2 projects, however, if you’re using Raspbian some of the regular dependencies will already be installed - so I’ve skipped the ones we won’t need right now in the list below. If you’re having an issue or using Ubuntu MATE, check out the full list here.
> Open "Terminal"
For each of these you’ll type “sudo apt install” followed by the listed name, so for the first one we’ll go:
sudo apt install clang 
And go through the whole list:
clang libssl-dev libxrandr-dev libxxf86vm-dev libopenal-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libglu1-mesa-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libxfont1 
Speed x3000... I didn't want to make you wait here.

Step 3: Enable SSH

Raspbian has the OpenSSH server dependency that GameMaker: Studio needs already installed, but it’s inactive by default. Browse to the Raspberry Pi Configuration window (located in the Raspberry Pi icon menu > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration and over to the tab “Interfaces”. Enable SSH and press OK.

Do not forget to enable SSH!

Step 4: Reboot

I can’t stress this enough - Reboot your Pi. Just do it, it may or may not do anything at this point, but it’s better than not doing it.

Step 5: Set up your connection in GameMaker

This is pretty straight-forward. In the upper right hand corner of your IDE window, change your target platform to Ubuntu.Add a Device for your Raspberry Pi.
You can set the Display Name to anything you’d like to,
Host Name should be the local ip address for the Raspberry Pi - an easy way to get this is by typing “hostname -I” into your terminal on the Raspberry Pi.
By default, if using Raspbian, your username is “pi” and your password is what you set during the Raspbian setup.

Here's what my device looks like - your hostname is most definitely different <3
Press “Test Connection” - you should see a message that the connection was successful! If not, double check that the IP address you dropped into Host Name is correct and that you followed step 3 to enable the SSH server.
Press “OK” once you’ve gotten a Connection Successful message, and you’re off to the races!

Step 6: Build your project on your Raspberry Pi

Once you’ve ensured that your target is available, all you have to do is press the “Run” button in GameMaker. You should shortly see your project open and start running on your Raspberry Pi!
Both the Runner (VM) and Compiler (YYC) work properly with Raspbian and Ubuntu MATE.
If you export your project, it will work the same way it does on other platforms - it will build on the Raspberry Pi and send back a .zip file containing the binaries needed to run it on most Raspberry Pi’s to the machine running your IDE.
I think this was pre-overclocking for me (and with some background processes running, like NoMachine). Without NoMachine this holds a steady ~60fps, which is where it should be.
submitted by anon1141514 to gamemaker [link] [comments]

How to build libaom-AV1 to be as fast as possible, compile it with new grain synthesis options, and making rav1e faster

Hello everybody. As you already know, even with tuned settings, encoding in AV1 can be quite slow, so optimizing the current AV1 encoders to be as fast as possible is very useful, as even a 5% speed increase is a very nice improvement over time.
In this post, I will be discussing about 3 things: how to build libaom-AV1 to be faster via compiler optimizations on Ubuntu 20.04+, compiling it with the new grain synthesis options, and making rav1e faster(along with some tricks to increase its efficiency nicely.
Let’s start with compiler optimizations. To compile aom on Ubuntu distros, you will need to install:
To install them all at once on Ubuntu 20.04+, you can just do this to install the dependencies:
sudo apt install cmake git perl yasm nasm python3
Compiling aom itself is quite easy once you know what to do, but since we’re doing compiler optimizations, it’s important to clarify some of the steps, since some of them require going outside of the terminal(or not).
Let’s explain what some of the more involved steps do: the part about git fetch is actually pulling in changes in regards to the new grain synthesis option, and to patch the current build of aom with it, as it has still not been merged with the master.
The CMake part is used to configure what options to pass at compile time. - D_BUILD_SHARED_LIBS=0 makes sure not to compile aom with shared libraries to make sure some of the later options work. The -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release makes it so that the -O3 compiler optimizations for C and C++ code are applied. Then, you have the more important compiler flags for CMAKE_C and CXX(C++) : -flto -O3 -march=znver2.
What these do is activate LTO(link time optimization) which links files together and remove some unneeded code because of this, which makes the final executable more efficient, the -O3 option is overkill and is used to make sure O3 optimizations are still applied, and -march optimizations are used to tune the compiler according to a certain CPU architecture, which is Zen 2 in this case(this can provide a 1-2% boost in performance overall, and is usually closer to 1% for video encoders due to have hand written assembly optimizations). You can also just use -march=native if you’re not sharing the binary.
The final C_FLAGS_INIT=”flto=8 -static” is used to specify LTO in the linker flags, and to make sure to build AOM statically.
However, to apply these optimizations correctly., you also need to export some values into LDFLAGS. On Ubuntu 20.04+(and probably older versions of Ubuntu), you need to activate “Viewing hidden files” in your favorite GUI file manager. You will then see a file called “.profile”, which is what you’ll need to copy this line to:
export CFLAGS="-flto -O3 -march=znver2" CXXFLAGS="-flto -O3 -march=znver2" LDFLAGS="-flto -O3 -march=znver2"
The -march flag can be changed to native if you only plan to use this on your machine, or znver2 for Zen 2, znver1 for Zen 1 and Zen+, and skylake for 6th to 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to LTO: compiling will take longer, and will take more RAM, but the benefits are there.
 
Overall, on a 3,8GHz locked Ryzen 7 3700X with 32GB of 3800MHz dual channel RAM on Kubuntu 20.10 on the 5.9 kernel, using the aom-2.0.0-954 build, I get these results for encoding a movie(The Lego Movie) with these settings
--threads=4 --tile-columns=1 --tile-rows=0 --cpu-used=6 --good --end-usage=q --cq-level=20 --arnr-strength=4 --arnr-maxframes=10 --enable-fwd-kf=1 --lag-in-frames=35 --bit-depth=10 --aq-mode=0 --enable-keyframe-filtering=2 --enable-qm=1 --enable-chroma-deltaq=1 --mv-cost-upd-freq=2 --enable-dnl-denoising=0 --denoise-noise-level=6 --disable-trellis-quant=3 
 
Encode with normal release optimizations: 366,3 minutes
Encode with normal release optimizations and -march optimizations: 361,7 minutes
Encode with -march, release optimizations(-O3) and LTO: 342,7 minutes
 
As you can see, all these improvements add up to a 7% speed increase, with most of the speedup being from the LTO optimizations(about 5%). There are other optimizations that could still be done to further increase the speed of AV1 encoders., like 2-pass compiling or PGO featured here: https://old.reddit.com/AV1/comments/i3okaw/how_to_increase_libaoms_speed_by_37/
Now, the main reason to use the new grain synthesis is that it uses a different way to apply the grain synthesis. The original way of doing grain synthesis is that it takes the original stream, denoises it, while analyzing the grain patterns to create a grain table to apply the grain synthesis during decoding, and then the encoder encodes the denoised frame.
This method has 2 disadvantages
  1. It makes the first-pass super slow.
  2. It denoises the image fed to the encoder, which means there can be some lost details.
The new method does mostly the same things, but actually deactivates the external denoiser entirely. This has 3 big advantages:
  1. It is an order of magnitude faster in the 1st pass. It’s actually the same speed as the default behaviour.
  2. Details loss is only present in the encoding process, which means at normal watching bitrates, this results in non-negligible increase in detail retention.
  3. Unlike the normal grain synthesis method, it does not mess much with the rate control, which means a CQ22 file with this method will have about the same file size as a normal CQ22 encode. It does have the side effect that at very high bitrates, this can result in added grain, but the CQ usually needs to be really low for this occur, even with native 10-bit content.
Comparison of all methods: https://slow.pics/c/pm3051Qc
It does have the disadvantage that at very low bitrates, it produces a slightly worse result, but this rarely occurs, so that’s not much of an issue.
To use the new feature in the aom build done above, use –enable-dnl-denoising=0 and the –denoise-noise-level=XX setting you want.
Let’s get onto compiling rav1e, and building it to be faster. This is where it gets a bit harder. You’ll need to install a recent version of Rustup, which will install all the necessary dependencies to compile Rust programs.
To download and install rustup along with the other dependencies, just follow this link: https://www.rust-lang.org/learn/get-started
Or use this command directly: - curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf https://sh.rustup.rs | sh
And follow what it tells you to do. After the installation is finished, logout and log in back, or restart, and type in “rustc –version”. If you have rustc 1.47.0, you’re golden.
Afterwards, download the rav1e git-master(git clone https://github.com/xiph/rav1e.git rav1e) Go into the folder and find a file called “Cargo.toml”. Look for a “profile.release” flag, and change the options to this:
 
[profile.release]
opt-level = 3 lto = true
Go back in the terminal, and you should be able to compile rav1e by following these commands:
This should build the rav1e executable, but not install to the uslocal/bin directory(in my experience) where most manually compiled programs are installed, which is why the last line is included. From all of this, you should have a decently faster rav1e just from doing this.
Bonus for those who want to cross-compile aomenc for Windows on Linux(Ubuntu 20.04+) https://pastebin.com/7P7qr76c
submitted by BlueSwordM to AV1 [link] [comments]

A thorough evaluation of the 9/18 PTS update and base changes, as well as almost everything else coming up.

Hello, here’s another round of Esamir Rework reviews. I’ll also cover the Indar base changes, the storm, vehicle balance changes and new infantry gear. I’m not going to touch on outfit resource changes here, since this post is long enough already. I’d like to give shoutouts to aln-isolator , [NWYT]Praefectus, the pilots of [SACA] and everyone else who helped give feedback.
Here’s the image gallery. This time around the bases listed in the document match the order in which they appear in the gallery. https://imgur.com/a/5pd5VFj
Esamir has a new skybox which is much less bright. I can now see vehicle weapon tracers when shooting. This is a long asked for change.
Andvari: 3 points now, 12 min cap with 2 points, 4 mins with 3 points. Consider adjusting the timers.
Ymir: No changes to terrain that I can see. It’s a 12 minute cap with two points owned, and 4 minutes with 3 points. Might consider reducing those slightly.
Apex Genetics has had its wall adjusted somewhat, as well as the rocks surrounding the triple stack. There are now more routes for infantry to enter the base.
Aurora Materials: Sunderer garage and surrounding terrain seem to have been lowered slightly. Also, there’s now a rock at the end of the garage, which reduces the possible angles the bus inside can be shelled from. The slope between the crescent building and the road has had some paths added for infantry. Overall, good changes. However, there’s still one issue here, and that’s the possibility of shelling the triple stack balcony from the ridge NW of the base. Additional purple spikes from the cluster behind the spawn room could be positioned to block this firing angle.
Eastwake Harborage: Point has received a new structure above it. It’s now on the bottom floor of a triple stack that has an expanded balcony around its second floor. This gives point holders a lot of additional cover, but the problems with this base still exist. There’s still a ridiculous distance between spawn room and the point with minimal cover from vehicles/bolters/LAs- a literal Death Valley. The area immediately around point is still extremely harasser friendly and could use some props to obstruct harasser movement. In its current position, the teleporter room is useless since infantry leaving it must still advance through Death Valley. Sundy positions are a bit sketchy, too. Fortunately, I’ve had a long discussion and now believe this base could be fixed with a couple tweaks. Consider replacing the AI turret outside the spawn room with an AV gun. This would discourage excessively aggressive vehicles from camping Death Valley. Likewise, replacing the light vehicle pull with an MBT pull gives defenders a bit more potential firepower, and increases the area attacking vehicles must cover to protect their own vulnerable spawns. This base would also benefit from the moving of primary teleporter room to a point higher up the hill and closer to the point, as shown by squad waypoint in this image: https://i.imgur.com/TuEee9F.png. A second teleporter here at hearts waypoint https://i.imgur.com/JUbXklc.png gives defenders another route into the point without going through Death Valley. At these two locations sunderer garages could be built to create safer spawn points for attackers.https://i.imgur.com/QWblfz4.png https://i.imgur.com/w4HR05n.png
Echo valley: Rocks have been added on the exterior side of the vehicle terminal to give it some cover. However, they aren’t close enough to each other to prevent me from driving through with a Kobalt bus, nor is there anything stopping me from hacking the terminal or using a GSD to get through the shield and then start driving around the base. Placement of a couple rocks in very specific spots would stop this. Secondly, a crate has been placed between bridges to give infantry another path into the point building. It’s a cool concept, but it needs some form of obstruction to prevent me from driving harassers or possibly larger vehicles onto the two bridges and blasting point directly. Thirdly, consider some form of sight blockers on the west wall to reduce the potential for LAs to spawn camp.
Excavion DS-01E: Cover has been placed over both tunnels, which is an excellent change. MBT pulls have been added to this base, though they could stand to be moved slightly closer to the spawn room to deter attackers from hacking them and flooding the base with AI vehicles. A point is located in a long narrow building near the eastern tunnel exit. B is in a triple stack on the south side. C is located immediately west of the drill site. Capture timer is 4 minutes with two points and 1 minute with all 3.
This base is mostly fine, but could do with some small tweaks for increased cover. At A point the point holders have few options for cover inside. There are two small smokestack structures (pictures in gallery) that could be replaced with actual buildings to provide more cover from aircraft for players moving around inside the base. Timers could probably be increased slightly. Overall though it’s in a decent state.
Genudine Gardens: Some props have been added throughout the base that’ll prevent harassers from turboing around like maniacs, but the gigantic hole in the wall in one corner needs to be closed off somewhat to prevent vehicle entry or at least make it more difficult. This base would be fine if that hole were sealed or obstructed better.
Grey Heron: Additional cover has been placed on the side of the staircase leading from spawn to B/C point. The secondary route for defenders has been fleshed out- the door now is high enough to get under, and there is a hole in the floor that allows defenders to drop down to the lower level. Cover has been added on the B side of this base.
For improvements, I still think a roof is needed over the stairs from defender spawn to the lower level. A wall alone won’t stop tanks from shelling it. C could use a bit of cover, but I’m concerned that adding too much will turn it into a fortress. You can enter this base with harassers, so some bollards should be added to each entrance to prevent that.
Jaegers’ fist: Sunderer garage has been added, and the trench has been improved. This base has some odd issues from an infantry perspective, namely that attackers and defenders have the exact same routes to the point, as shown in the gallery. I have no ideas for how this could be improved. I still believe the point needs some kind of roof to block HESH spam and A2G, preferably a solid one to deter LAs from doing C4 bombing.
BL-4 Recovery and Vidar Observation Post both have spawn rooms and light vehicle terminals. This is a pretty good change, allowing closer vehicle pulls and a shorter sundy reinforcement distance for attacks on the surrounding facilities.
Jord Amp Station: More cover has been added around C point. This is a good change, but doesn’t change the fact that A is still inside the station.
Mani Lake: This one has undergone the most terrain edits, and consequently has become a lot less vehicle friendly. The two trenches leading into the base have had barricades installed, allowing infantry to move through but not vehicles. The hills surrounding the base have had their exterior faces steepened significantly, preventing treaded vehicles from driving up them. This change is excellent, but needs a bit of tuning. The Western Ridge’s southern tip has a shallow enough slope that tanks can still drive up it. On the large mountain to the West on the far side of the road, there’s a small protrusion that should also be levelled. Once these two spots are taken care of, this base will be fine. Overall, the changes are very good here.
Mattherson’s Triumph: The Sunderer NDZ has been reduced in radius, which allows the defenders to deploy inside the south tower for a safer position. This is a good change. The ridgeline to the NE has had its northern face steepened significantly, preventing tanks from driving up that side. However, the SW face has become easier to traverse, so the ridge is still usable for bombardment of the catwalks and A point. If this goes live in this state, it’s not a total disaster since tanks driving up that will be very exposed to AV fire from the tower, but it still could stand to be addressed. Likewise, there’s still a nice spur sticking out of the north end from the NW ridge that allows tanks to easily shell defender spawn and A point. The fix here is simple- flatten the spur completely.
A point needs additional work. At minimum, the windows on each tower in the room where A point/SCU would normally go should be sealed off to reduce the angles point holders must watch. There’s very little cover on the ground, especially when you consider all the angles A can be shot at from. I believe the point could be enclosed in the same type of building used at Chimney Rock’s point on Amerish. The bridges are a mixed bag. They’re identical copies with one rotated 180 degrees, which means that crate placement favors the attackers on B side and the defenders on the C side. Picking one crate pattern for all 4 bridge ends is one possible fix. I’m still not sold on the idea of both points being on bridges. They’re very exposed to A2G spam and bolters. Overall, at the very least the terrain edits are a nice start, and the sunderer NDZ change is very welcome.
Nott Communications: This base is now entirely underground. Attackers enter by overloading a shielded gate, and then drop down into an amp station interior. These gravity lifts are one way, but please consider adding an up lift to replace one of the drop pads. A point is in the position where A points usually are in amp stations. B and C are in the room where SCU would be normally positioned. At the end of this room where the tunnels and back door would normally be is a one-way teleporter, which is the only way for anyone to get out of this base right now. Defenders spawn underground and there’s a one-way shield leading to where the vehicle bay normally is. To improve this base, I’d make the one-way shield a two way shield, and reverse one of the grav lifts. I could not test the cap timer since I did not feel like ghost capping half a continent.
Pale Canyon: Some cover has been adjusted by the big yellow tanks on the SE side. A new route has been placed through the rocks at the NW corner of the base. This is an interesting change, but I don’t know how that’ll play out on live since currently I can park a bus inside the base at the same location.
The Rink: The ground texture at A point is now ice, so it’s actually an ice rink. Too bad you don’t slide around here.
Saerro Listening Post: Trees added to A point to break LOS between attacking vehicles and the tower. The wall between A and B has had some new gaps placed in it to allow infantry to get in. Interesting changes for sure, but I don’t know how they’ll play out.
The Traverse: The bridge has been resurrected, although it’s in a heavily damaged state. It’s now an infantry only playground, unless you’re a bold harasser or magrider driver. Because the storm was here, I really couldn’t stick around and take a long look at this. Lastly, the bottom of the pit has been raised a bit and paths to the bottom have been defined more clearly.
There also have been some changes to roads around the continent, but nothing major.
Indar:
TI Alloys: The removal of the bridge is a failure to understand why TI Alloys is such a difficult base to attack. On live servers, TI currently suffers from horrific sunderer placement options which combine with its central location to create a base that’s easy to defend. From the North, attackers must park their bus and attack up a hill through narrow ravines into entrenched defenders backed up by AI harassers, sunderers, ANTs, lightnings and even occasional MBTs. From the South, attackers have two bus spots: One is placed to the south-east, below the point. The other is placed directly south of the spawn room on the far side of the road. Both of these options are suboptimal- on the south east spawn the bus can easily be sniped by vehicles shelling from the Crown, driving down from the Crown, or by vehicles streaming out of the vehicle pull. The south bus on the far side of the road is also not ideal, since infantry have to cross the road and deal with a flood of vehicles as well as an angry AI turret. The only decent spawn location is at the end of the rock bridge, since that one’s reasonably safe from enemy vehicles and doesn’t involve attacking from the low ground. However, this position’s impeded by the fact that attackers from the north inevitably gravitate to the eastern side of the base since that’s safer from the defenders, forcing a three way that never ends. The result is a base that can’t be broken except by routers.
The removal of the rock bridge changes none of this, but instead creates more problems. The safe sundy position on the bridge is gone entirely. Further, the bridge’s removal allows tanks to bombard Ti from the Crown once more, since it served as a line-of-sight blocker. The new attacker foot path to the north east is extremely vulnerable to bombardment from the Crown.
As far as the base interior goes, a new wall has been added to the interior of the point room structure. This might give attackers a better chance to get to the point, but at the same time it might make things easier for the defenders should they conduct an organized push since there are fewer angles to set up a crossfire from.
So how can Ti be improved? I’d start by bringing the bridge back, or at least a small section of it to allow for a safe sunderer position at the east side. For the south, consider a tunnel leading under the road. This allows infantry to get to the base safely. I’d also consider adding in more props to restrict the passage of vehicles through the spawn room area to the northern side of the base. Removing the Kobalt bus fiesta there will make it easier for attackers to push in from the north. Lastly, if the bridge is not restored, consider creating a rock wall at the north east section of crown to prevent tanks from raining hell on anyone fighting at Ti.
Crown: The removal of D point is honestly a good thing. It wasn’t fun for anyone to attack since it’s open ground and below a cliff which enables C4 spam against vehicles and requires attackers push against entrenched infantry. Since Crown becomes a three point again, now the base cannot be stuck in a perpetual stalemate. I’m not a fan of where A point was moved to, either. I think if the rock bridge were kept then Crown would be mostly fine. With the three non-vehicle points it has on live. The issue with A being on that southern bridge is that if the attackers set up sunderers to control B, then they get A almost for free and can contest C as well. B point has been moved farther towards the center of the mountain and the tunnel system lengthened a bit, and a lot of cover has been removed at the initial entrance room that exists on live.The extra tunnel into B is an interesting idea and gives a better chance of an attack from the North succeeding, but at the same time it’s just another tunnel choke point to for aoe spam to create nasty farms. C is also problematic if it’s supposed to be the easy point for defenders to contest. It’s a fair distance from the tower, and it’s also open ground which is prime for A2G farming. I’d suggest moving this one into one of the nearby buildings if A must stay in the position it’s at on PTS. I’m not convinced the base needed any point position changes apart from the removal of D point. The current point layout on PTS favors an attack from the SE very heavily, and attacks from the East or North are far more difficult. While old A was very close to the tower, at least it provided a convenient point for attacks from the East. None of the changes really address the problem of poor bus location options, and with the current terrain there really aren’t many good potential spawn options. At most some garages could be added.
Ceres Hydroponics: Defenders now have a slightly shorter path to the point when pushing from the NE side of the base. The point itself has much less cover. I’m not going to make judgements on this without seeing how it plays out.
The Esamir storm: I’m not sure what this thing is supposed to do. The entire point of the game is large scale battles, yet this thing rolls around the map destroying the biggest fights. There’s nowhere safe from it. Sunderers will get destroyed even if put in garages. When outdoors infantry can be instagibbed by lightning for staying outside too long, and even when indoors their shielding takes frequent chip damage from environmental effects. The shield damage consistently drops players down about 150 shield points that constantly recharge, but this is enough to start messing with TTKs. For example, a commissioner can consistently OHK players. Since the shield damage is not synchronized across all players, it’s possible to be forced into gunfights where you have no hope of winning not because you were in a bad spot or outplayed, but simply because the game decided it’s your time to die. This applies doubly for lightning bolts which will randomly strike you down. There’s a text warning, of course, but random OHK mechanics really shouldn’t be a thing. You cannot use steel rain in the storm.
For vehicles this is obnoxious too. Ground vehicles lose most of their mobility, which will punish new players with poorly certed vehicles even more. Aircraft are even worse off, losing most of their vertical thrust. At times I felt like even afterburning upward was barely enough to keep the aircraft airborne. Vehicles kept in the storm for too long will simply be instagibbed, which cripples sunderers as spawns. The storm also destroys base turrets and terminals.
There are counters to the storm, though. Infantry can deploy lightning rods bought with merit that allow them to fight outside, but it doesn’t stop shield chip damage, and can equip an insulated armor suit at the cost of flak armor, nanoweave, or shield capacitor. This suit slot appears to be bugged and doesn’t actually reduce the chip damage taken by your shields. Carapace seems to be immune to this chip damage. Vehicles can equip insulated armor in the defense slot. This mitigates the performance hit to vehicles, reduces the damage taken by lightning, and prevents the storm from instagibbing your vehicle. Now, this is less of a problem in the first place for aircraft and tanks, but it screws over sunderers. Sunderers are already fragile enough even with deployment shield equipped, but forcing spawn buses to use this module and rely on their low hull HP is a very bad idea when paired with random lightning strikes and the severe lack of garages Esamir has.
With all that out of the way, the question I have to ask is why is the storm designed like this? It seems like a band-aid fix for zerging and actively punishes trying to create large fights. It cripples the vehicle game, negatively affects the infantry game, creates inconsistent TTKs, and only adds frustrating game mechanics. If the center of the map ends up with stalemates, it’ll circle around there endlessly preventing any kind of progress through the pile of three point bases. Why this, when there’s a lot more interesting concepts that could be used? For example, maybe the storm could reduce the rate at which players can spawn at a base/sunderers/routers. Maybe it could jam radaprevent Q spotting. Consider reducing shield chip damage to 50 shields instead of 150 to reduce TTK variance. There’s a lot more interesting ways it could change the game without being the anti-fun mechanic that it’s currently set up as.
Infantry gear:
Lightning grenade: Cool, you can launch a targeted lightning strike when in the storm. More instagibs is what the game needed.
Lightning rod: This temporarily redirects lightning strikes near you. This is a solution to an obnoxious problem that doesn’t need to exist.
Condensate grenade: Reduces movement speed and ROF by 20% for six seconds. This is a terrible idea in an FPS game. This doesn’t create interesting gameplay situations. Instead of being outplayed, players hit by this just lose since the game’s punishing them for playing. Keep this in RPGs and RTS games. Now, we do have status grenades already, but do we need one that’s as powerful as this one is?
BEC grenade: Similar to Condensate Grenades, this is a horrible addition to the game. Anything that hurts player mobility/damage output is a bad idea.
Neutralizer Device: Campaign reward that allows players to acquire abandoned vehicles, and apparently strip ability energy from players too. I like the idea of vehicle acquisition, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see the second use of this tool.
Abandoned vehicles: Around the continent are the hulks of abandoned tanks, sunderers and aircraft. They come with a special ability that I haven’t really tested, HEAT cannons and the first generation ES top gun. For the sake of loadout parity for all 3 abandoned MBTs I’d like to suggest the Prowler get a Gatekeeper instead of the Vulcan.
Vehicle changes: Havoc missiles: Are these things still necessary, with the liberator nerfs? These things seem redundant now, and they’ll punish rep gal balls unnecessarily hard while valkyries with rep monkeys can probably still dodge these things easily.
Phalanx AA turret range increase: This doesn’t fix any of the problems with the current AA setup. Instead, it’s going to just annoy A2A players who are flying along at high altitude and getting plinked by base AA guns, which is the reason the things got their range capped to begin with! Honestly I think these things should be replaced by weapons like Bastion CIWS guns. Those things are nasty at close range but their damage output falls off heavily at range.
Liberator: -500 HP and ESF nosegun resist from 85 to 80. While the liberator needed some changes regarding its durability and repair tanking in particular, this change spectacularly misses the mark on many levels. This change skews ESF vs Liberator combat too far in favor of ESFs. When paired with air locks this brings down the TTK to incredibly fast levels (around 9 seconds, which isn’t even enough for three dalton shots) In this post, mystoganofedolas https://www.reddit.com/Planetside/comments/ivjg8t/rock_paper_scissor_balance/ explains in great detail the liberator issues- it’s a blatant hard counter to ground vehicles, and gets brutally hard countered by ESFs on PTS. Hard counter mechanics are terrible in an FPS game. In this sort of rock-paper-scissors gameplay, things boil down less to individual ability and more towards who has an exact counter to something, which is extremely boring. There’s no skill in using A2A missiles, just as there’s minimal skill in hovering over tanks and daltoning them. In this post here https://www.reddit.com/Planetside/comments/ivsssx/did_some_basic_math_regarding_the_upcoming/, taltharius demonstrates that -500 HP barely changes anything in the case of liberators eating multiple AP shells before hitting fire suppression and flying off. Skilled gunnery should be rewarded, and sloppy flying should be punished.
So how can this be improved? Consider reducing vulnerability to ESF noseguns slightly. Adjusting Liberator resistance against tank shells, light anti-vehicle, gatling guns, and infantry rockets will increase the damage libs take from ground fire and punish poor flying/reward skilled aim. Possibly consider increasing MBT main gun elevation angles slightly, to reduce the ability of liberators to hover over tanks with minimal counterplay.
Harasser: Nanite cost to 300. Oh boy this one misses the mark completely. The problem with harassers has never really been cost related, but rather one that got introduced with CAI. The harasser itself is not overpowered and its efficiency in combat drops off hard at higher levels of gameplay. Only when harasser numbers become overwhelming (3 or more harassers vs 1 MBT) do the harassers stand a chance of defeating the best tank crews, and even then the tank usually can take 2-3 harassers with it. Harasser vs tank gameplay is extremely boring and very binary. If the harasser has a CQ AV gun it’s forced to fight at point blank which means I delete it easily. If it uses halberd or ES long range AV we both enter a boring poke fight where neither one does significant damage to the other. Even if the harasser opens up with rear hits the MBT still has an overwhelming advantage in firepower and hit points. With tanks, the problem since CAI has been poor muzzle velocity of HEAT shells which makes hitting difficult and what most players will have equipped, pathetic Basilisk DPS against everything (Kobalt kills stock harassers 4 seconds faster), Skyguards being helpless against every ground vehicle, and the Viper not having the accuracy to deal with small moving fast targets. Small changes to these three weapons will reduce harasser vs tank complaints.
Harasser vs Harasser is broken, for a different reason. Harassers have a weakness to gatling guns, which means that the Vulcan and Aphelion rip through harassers while the Mjolnir specializes in fighting heavy vehicles. In practice, this means that for low/average skilled car crews, vulcans are disproportionately powerful since less skilled players won’t know to keep outside minimum damage range. At higher levels an Aphelion car is very hard to fight. Toning back harasser weaknesses to gatling guns might improve this situation, but at the same time it might nerf the Aphelion too much. At the very least this’d probably reduce vulcan whine somewhat.
Overall, I have mixed impressions. The base changes are mostly for the better, but the storm, infantry gear, and vehicle changes are mostly bad or miss the mark completely.
submitted by ItsJustDelta to Planetside [link] [comments]

Greed is Subtle

The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet.
Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured.
Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it.
During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper.
Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss.
"Hello?" Ghen answered.
"Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details."
"Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?"
"No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about."
Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?"
"Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up."
Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically.
As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?"
Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery."
Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans?
"Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time."
A week later.
At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting.
"Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?"
All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts.
"Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!"
Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing?
"Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded."
"Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost.
"Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount."
"So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked.
"If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder."
"And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists.
"Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options."
Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket.
"What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time.
Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately."
"And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone.
"Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!"
"And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money.
"Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?"
Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working?
As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase.
And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times.
Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way.
Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies.
And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits?
Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more.
...
There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept?
Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there.
"Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?"
"Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down.
"Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form.
"I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little."
"Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod.
"As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact.
"Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so."
Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually."
"Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?"
"Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest."
"Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?"
"If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated.
"So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?"
"Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case.
"Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted."
"Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise.
"What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious."
"I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?"
Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold."
"A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted.
Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares."
Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later.
After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always.
"I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?"
"I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?"
"I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch."
"You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor.
"I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle."
"I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk.
Several weeks later.
Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt.
While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route.
After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891.
And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it.
And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back?
His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful.
By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs.
What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real?
It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off.
As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen.
"What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments.
"D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car.
"You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!"
"How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh.
"Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!"
Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares."
Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?"
"Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?"
"Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin."
And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?"
Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?"
"Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!"
"Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it."
"Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited."
"By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them."
"Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go."
Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?"
Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it."
...
It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%.
Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way?
What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching?
He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late.
Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well.
"I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?"
Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say."
"Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?"
"Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them.
They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus.
"May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar."
Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please."
"Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean.
Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him.
Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high?
And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm.
And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money.
And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible.
The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it.
Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing.
Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal.
Three Years Later.
Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat.
It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply.
Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik.
Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes.
Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery.
"Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon."
"Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik.
"Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good."
"What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik."
Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month."
"I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk."
"You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently."
"Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know."
"Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?"
"I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement."
Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?"
AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
submitted by SynthoStellar to HFY [link] [comments]

2.9.3 Stable update!

2.9.3 Stable update!
What is up Depthians!
We are back with another monstrous update as this one incorporates five beta test builds, so we have a lot to cover.
If you want to dive straight into the massive changelog/dissertation Click
We should probably start with the biggest change to From The Depths in this update and that is the change of fuel and ammo storage.
Quoting Nick, our lead developer
The change is quite simple: "remove ammo and fuel as separate resources. Weapons will consume materials directly, fuel engines and CJEs will burn materials directly".
Before I dig into why I think this is the right thing for FtD, I'd like to explain a few details.
Energy, fuel and ammo are still needed for your constructs.
We have changed the "ammo barrels (etc)" and "fuel tanks" so they are just alternative material storage containers, but with the following properties:
--"ammo barrels" now increase the maximum possible rate of usage of materials as "ammo" for reloading guns. They still explode.
--"fuel tanks" increase the maximum possible rate of use of materials as "fuel" for fuel engines and CJEs, with the future stretch goal of fuel tanks being flammable.
--So ammo racking is going to remain a feature of the game- vehicles that need to reload a large amount of materials may need additional ammo barrels
Ammo and oil processors are replaced ship-wide with existing material storage containers of the same size. They'll be made decorative blocks so you can still use them decoratively in future if you want to.
The oil refinery will be repurposed (described later in the patch notes)
There are two main reasons why I think this is the right move. Why it's right for the business and why it's right for the player.
Let's start with why I think it's right for the player:
Ammo and fuel containers are currently purchasable as either "empty or full". This is confusing when considered in the context of the campaign, story missions, custom battles, multiplayer matches...how do empty and full tanks behave in these modes? I'd need an hour to study the code and a small essay to explain it. That's not good game design.
Localised resources, when considering just the moving of material (and energy, if you want), becomes infinitely more manageable. The supply group system and the transit fleet system are not intuitive and for a lot of situations, their usage becomes fiddly and too complicated. We've replaced these systems with a new supply system that is much more intuitive for moving materials and energy around.
The UI is less cluttered now that ammo and fuel bars are not shown. This is not a minor point...it'll reduce the amount of data on screen by about 40% in a lot of the different views. It'll be so much easier to know at a glance if a particular fleet is running low on "materials" or doing fine. Is a transport ready to leave, or does it need to pick up more materials? Will a set of vehicles have enough materials for the next fight...this is so much easier with just one main resource type per vehicle.
When you or an enemy run out of ammo or fuel in a battle it's just frustrating. By combining fuel, ammo and materials for repairing you can guarantee that if someone runs out, the fight is going to be over quickly.
I imagine that deep down the majority of players would rather not have to create, stock and resupply fuel and ammo. I know that personally, the requirement to do this puts me off playing the campaign. By using a single material it still focuses the game on making efficient war machines, maintaining supply lines and growing your economy, but without the extra confusion of mat->ammo and mat-> fuel conversion.
Being able to assess weapons, engines and vehicles in terms of material cost and running cost is elegant.
Most grand strategy games and RTS games don't have localised resources, and many don't have more than 2 resource types to handle. Very few combine localised materials with multiple types.
Why it's right for the business:
The ammo and oil processors were created about 8 years ago. Boring single blocks that don't add much to the game. It's been our intention to add something similar to the oil refinery but for ammo creation. That's a lot of work and adds to the complexity of the logistical part of the game, which we feel is already a burden.
Making the localised resource supply system more user friendly to make it easy/natural/pleasant to move ammo, fuel and material around the map would require a lot of effort and, quite frankly, I'm not sure we'd ever manage it.
The complexity of the UI scares off a lot of our customers. The barriers to getting a gun firing or a boat moving will be lowered if a single material container can theoretically get everything working.
Running out of ammo/fuel in combat is a problem for our players. We want to find a solution to that, but it would take a lot of effort to do so. We also want the strategic AI to always enter a battle with enough ammo and fuel for the fight- that's another massive bunch of work.
The campaign's strategic AI has to work hard to get materials where it wants them. It's a bundle of work and added complexity to get NPC fleets to restock ammo and fuel as well.
We had proposed work to make resource dumps (from dead ships) contain ammo and fuel...again, that's more work, more bugs, more testing.
Certain game modes such as story missions, tournament mode, and multiplayer maps should theoretically allow the player to choose the amount of ammo or fuel stocked into their vehicles before the match begins. That's another bundle of work and added complexity we'd like to avoid.
Currently out of play units on the map can run out of fuel and will still continue to move "for free". It's exploitable and we don't have a solution to that...but if all the different out of play movement calculations are burning material, there will be no avoiding the cost.
The development effort can be much better spent polishing up other features that I actually believe in, rather than flogging the dead horse of logistical complexity in an attempt to make it interesting, approachable and fun for everyone (which I fundamentally don't think it would ever be).
Fundamentally I think that by winding back this feature we tie up a large number of loose ends and it results in a far more finished and enjoyable product.
And what's-more everyone on the development team agrees that we enjoy the game for fighting, looting and creating...not staring blankly at dozens of resource bars trying to figure out who needs to head back for more fuel and how long we need to wait for ammunition to process.
We've also simplified the resource transfer system. "Supply groups" and "Transit Fleets" have been replaced with a simple but comprehensive three-tier system. You can mark a vehicle as a "Creator", a "Cargo" or a "User". Creators fill up Cargos (and Users), Cargos give to Users (up to procurement levels). Users equalise their material with their neighbours, so do Creators, and there are a few handy transfers from Users back to Cargo and Creator to make sure they maintain their procurement levels as well. This system covers 95% of the way people were using the resource system and does it all semi-automatically. This simplification is much more possible now that materials are the only resource, as they invariably just need to flow from the resource zones to the front line, with everyone (Creators and Cargo) keeping what they need and passing the rest on. This new resource system also facilitates the long-range transport of materials from refinery to refinery, which is neat. The system also has an option, for Creator and Cargo types, to set their "supply chain index", so if you want to relay materials from output to output in order to accumulate them at a central location you can set the supply chain index to determine which way along the chain the materials will flow. It's all explained in the game.
After spending a lot of time with this new system from adventure to campaign and designer mode, the gameplay feels a little faster to get going and a little simpler for fleet management. As if you didn’t already know, you can shift+right click (with your supply construct selected) on the target construct / flagship of a fleet to keep supplied, keep holding down shift and right-click where you want to pick the resources up from and once again while not letting go of shift, shift+right click on the target construct/flag ship to finish the loop.
This would be done of course after setting up the settings Creator, Cargo and User.
Creator as an example is the harvesting construct, Cargo which would be the supply ship, User which would be a single target construct that uses the mats.
This will keep the supply ship target waypoint updated and therefore your supply ship will always head to the target construct no matter where it has moved to after setting up the loop.
You still need ammo and fuel boxes on your constructs, as these are governing the transfer rate / the speed that stock your turrets and fuel engine with the materials needed for them to run. You can run a construct without fuel or ammo boxes, however, once your APS clips are empty you will see a drop in your rate of fire as the material is not being transferred fast enough, this is the same for fuel engines and CJE.
Another change that goes hand in hand with resource management is the changes to fuel refineries.
In short:
Refineries on a force with greater than 1 million materials on it will begin refining the material into 'commodities' that are stored centrally. Commodities (AKA centralised materials) can be added by the player to any vehicle in allied territory, at any time.
Resource zones have a new feature too, and that is the ability to deactivate a resource zone on your owned tiles and if you own enough territory as you can see from the UI when double-clicking on the resource zone “Zone Deactivation”.
https://preview.redd.it/284w9khtt9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=9dd61b06b2b6d0431bbb35c44a4d54563b81fbf0
Custom Jet Engines, have had some additional parts and new features.
We have the new ducted air intakes which as you can see have different attachment points
https://preview.redd.it/qaqeplmwt9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2ac2019d4b0c908019bf0ef0d53ad3a718fc4f4d
These ducted intakes allow you to have your CJE enclosed inside your construct enabling you to pass ducting through to access airflow outside.
https://preview.redd.it/pge1x43yt9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f2ee0cf35276f45feeb7320b29d844fa54776cdf
https://preview.redd.it/scych37zt9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1bf7559bc2379b692b7a318ba8f43708f5bba81e
And as you can see in the pic below they are enclosed and making use of the air duct intakes.
https://preview.redd.it/ucidv351u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7d93e0c08d381fcaea2bcfc315c7b676f4006b51
You can also funnel the exhaust of your CJE's that would be under the waterline by using the two new connector blocks, a 90-degree corner and an extension piece which allows them to work as long as you funnel the exhaust out above the waterline.
https://preview.redd.it/aiofdee2u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=72c1dd2023195ef2337704d0547904031ad97e6c
PACs have also had a rework and new additions.
We now have the long-range lens which has a circular 10° field of fire, the close-range lens which has a circular 35° field of fire, the scatter lens which has a circular 30° field of fire, and the vertical lens which has a 10° horizontal / 60° vertical field of fire (good for AA). The other differences between them is the percentage of damage drop off at certain ranges, which is marked in their UI.
https://preview.redd.it/zvg2u0c5u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=567a2c4e092ea5fef62e67b051a74151e48b58d4
https://preview.redd.it/mboi63c5u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=78690d46df1466844cc38ff6b6623a30d910b726
One other awesome change to the PAC system is that melee lenses do not need to be hooked up to the now called long-range lens. Simply setup your melee head and snakey noodle PAC tubes with a terminator on the end, then link up to your other melee lens via Q in the drop-down menu. The scatter lens also deserves some attention here, as it can double up the number of beams if we increase the charge time max x4 at 30 seconds. The PAC system has had many tweaks which you should check up on in the changelogs.
Shields have also had some love. Projector shields reflect and laser scatter modes are now merged and have also had a slight buff to ricochet chance. Ring shields armour bonus has also increased by 50%.
We also have some new additions to APS in terms of coolers.
From left to right we now have an L shape, 4 way and a 5 way cooler.
https://preview.redd.it/lfi937e7u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4ff99ceae914777137262754baa017300c2f4c1f
We now have some new wide wheel additions too for all you land vehicle lovers.
https://preview.redd.it/1ysi7u68u9t51.jpg?width=1920&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0760606aa3aebbde24a44fcb7319477453ee3b99
The next biggest change would be steam engines even though other changes will be implemented in this update. We are once again rehashing the whole system, which will be released in the following updates.
I had asked Weng a number of questions as to why the change was needed, why are the parts expensive, when and why would you use steam over fuel, and this is what he had to say:
Reason why steam changes are needed:
  • Steam was previously totally unbalanced and arbitrary. For example, 9 small boilers with 1 small piston was the optimal steam setup, which was more efficient and denser than almost all other engines; and turbine power generation only depended on its pressure, so compact turbines were always optimal.
  • It lacked many critical info in its UI.
  • It was hard to control the usage of steam

What's good with new steam:
  • A bit more of realism and complexity
  • Larger steam now generally have better efficiency and density than equivalent smaller steam
  • More useful info such as total power production, performance over time
  • Possibility to regulate steam usage with valves

Pros of steam compared to injector fuel:
  • Denser and more efficient
  • Even denser with turbines
  • Easier to fit into irregular space
  • Provides a buffer with flywheels or steam tanks
  • More efficient when used for propellers
  • Doesn't require fuel containers, uses material directly from any type of storage
  • Computationally less intensive
Cons of steam compared to fuel:

  • Still hard to regulate, so it's only useful when the power usage is constant or there's a buffer energy storage
  • Turbines waste energy when batteries are full
  • Crankshafts waste energy when reaching speed limit
  • More susceptible to damage (injector engines can often still run fine even when half of it is gone, steam can stop working when a single pipe is destroyed)
Why cost of parts is hilariously high: Steam engines have better efficiency and density (many players seem to forget that one) than injector engines. So a higher initial costs makes it less overpowered.
(In my opinion, the potential waste of energy is a major drawback of steam and justifies for its high potential power. But iirc Draba said that injector engines would be useless on designs that require a lot of power if steam doesn't have higher initial cost, which also makes sense.)
Problem with new steam that can't be fixed:
  • Many old designs are broken due to low power output
  • More complexity
Problems that can probably be fixed but I don't have a solution:
  • Inefficient steam engines are ridiculously bad (a bad steam engine is like 30 PPM and 50 PPV, while a good one is around 600 PPM and 110 PPV) (I tried to fix this and spent like 40 hours on that, but I only managed to make it easier to build a mediocre engine)
  • Cannot be simulated to calculate a stable power output, like fuel engines do (actually it's easy but would take a lot of time to do and I don't think it's necessary)

Another massive change is the detection rework which I also left a few questions for Ian AKA Blothorn to explain the system and how it works.
Why a change was warranted:
  • Different types of detection weren't well balanced--for instance, visual components had better accuracy than IR and vastly better range.
  • Detection autoadjust used an incorrect formula, so optimizing adjustment was both mechanical and tedious.
  • Trackers having much better detection ranges than search sensors meant that detection was very binary--if you could see something at all you could usually get a precise lock (barring ECM, which was only counterable by large numbers of components).
  • Needing both sensors and munitions warners made reactive missile defence difficult on small vehicles.
  • There were a number of other inconsistencies/imbalances, e.g. some visual/IR sensors working through water, steam engines producing no heat, etc.
Overview of the new system:
On the offensive side, each sensor type now has a role in which it is optimal, and large vehicles are best using a variety to cover their weaknesses. Visual probably remains the default for above-water detection--it remains impossible to reduce visual signature other than reducing size. IR is better against fast vehicles, as they have trouble avoiding high IR signatures from thrust and drag. Both visual and IR are weak in rangefinding (although coincidence rangefinders are adequate for most purposes); radar is correspondingly strong in range and weak in bearing, although it often offers better detection chances against vehicles that don't pay attention to radar stealth.
On the defensive side, there are two approaches. Most obvious is signature reduction--while it is deliberately difficult to avoid detection entirely, reducing signature reduces detection chances and thus degrades opposing accuracy. At short ranges, however, this doesn't work well--detection chances are likely high regardless, and low errors at short range mean even sparse detections can give a good fix. Smoke and chaff can be useful here: they increase detection chance while adding a distance-independent error to opponent's visual and radar sensors, respectively.
ECM, buoys, and radar guidance have also been reworked. Buoys are more powerful, becoming more accurate as they get closer to the target. While their base error is high, at long ranges a buoy at close range can beat the accuracy of any onboard sensor. If you worry about opponents’ buoys, ECM can now intermittently jam them--except if they are connected to their parent vehicle by a harpoon cable, in which case they don't need the vulnerable wireless connection.
Most blueprints should need no modifications under the new system, although a few may want a few more or less GPP cards. The one exception is water interactions--IR cameras, laser rangefinders, and retroreflection sensors can no longer work through water, so submarines that used them underwater or vehicles that used them to detect submarines will need to replace them (likely with buoys). Vehicles that predominantly used visual detection should also consider adding a greater variety of sensors--in particular, visual camera trackers tied to AA mainframes should likely be replaced with IR cameras. Also, radars and cameras can take over missile and projectile detection (radar is required for projectile detection), so munitions warners can be removed/replaced with additional sensors.
Last but not least a sweet little addition to our build menu prefabs.
https://preview.redd.it/iqw1ymabu9t51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=aa1e3cdba6e1d62e07aef83caf0acad2a39249ed
Please do make sure you go through the changelog as a hell of a lot has changed!
submitted by BaconsTV to FromTheDepths [link] [comments]

An introduction to Linux through Windows Subsystem for Linux

I'm working as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant and wrote this guide to help out students who were in the same boat I was in when I first took my university's intro to computer science course. It provides an overview of how to get started using Linux, guides you through setting up Windows Subsystem for Linux to run smoothly on Windows 10, and provides a very basic introduction to Linux. Students seemed to dig it, so I figured it'd help some people in here as well. I've never posted here before, so apologies if I'm unknowingly violating subreddit rules.

An introduction to Linux through Windows Subsystem for Linux

GitHub Pages link

Introduction and motivation

tl;dr skip to next section
So you're thinking of installing a Linux distribution, and are unsure where to start. Or you're an unfortunate soul using Windows 10 in CPSC 201. Either way, this guide is for you. In this section I'll give a very basic intro to some of options you've got at your disposal, and explain why I chose Windows Subsystem for Linux among them. All of these have plenty of documentation online so Google if in doubt.

Setting up WSL

So if you've read this far I've convinced you to use WSL. Let's get started with setting it up. The very basics are outlined in Microsoft's guide here, I'll be covering what they talk about and diving into some other stuff.

1. Installing WSL

Press the Windows key (henceforth Winkey) and type in PowerShell. Right-click the icon and select run as administrator. Next, paste in this command:
dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart 
Now you'll want to perform a hard shutdown on your computer. This can become unecessarily complicated because of Window's fast startup feature, but here we go. First try pressing the Winkey, clicking on the power icon, and selecting Shut Down while holding down the shift key. Let go of the shift key and the mouse, and let it shutdown. Great! Now open up Command Prompt and type in
wsl --help 
If you get a large text output, WSL has been successfully enabled on your machine. If nothing happens, your computer failed at performing a hard shutdown, in which case you can try the age-old technique of just holding down your computer's power button until the computer turns itself off. Make sure you don't have any unsaved documents open when you do this.

2. Installing Ubuntu

Great! Now that you've got WSL installed, let's download a Linux distro. Press the Winkey and type in Microsoft Store. Now use the store's search icon and type in Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution, and seems to have the best integration with WSL, so that's what we'll be going for. If you want to be quirky, here are some other options. Once you type in Ubuntu three options should pop up: Ubuntu, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.
![Windows Store](https://theshepord.github.io/intro-to-WSL/docs/images/winstore.png) Installing plain-old "Ubuntu" will mean the app updates whenever a new major Ubuntu distribution is released. The current version (as of 09/02/2020) is Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS. The other two are older distributions of Ubuntu. For most use-cases, i.e. unless you're running some software that will break when upgrading, you'll want to pick the regular Ubuntu option. That's what I did.
Once that's done installing, again hit Winkey and open up Ubuntu. A console window should open up, asking you to wait a minute or two for files to de-compress and be stored on your PC. All future launches should take less than a second. It'll then prompt you to create a username and password. I'd recommend sticking to whatever your Windows username and password is so that you don't have to juggle around two different usepassword combinations, but up to you.
Finally, to upgrade all your packages, type in
sudo apt-get update 
And then
sudo apt-get upgrade 
apt-get is the Ubuntu package manager, this is what you'll be using to install additional programs on WSL.

3. Making things nice and crispy: an introduction to UNIX-based filesystems

tl;dr skip to the next section
The two above steps are technically all you need for running WSL on your system. However, you may notice that whenever you open up the Ubuntu app your current folder seems to be completely random. If you type in pwd (for Print Working Directory, 'directory' is synonymous with 'folder') inside Ubuntu and hit enter, you'll likely get some output akin to /home/. Where is this folder? Is it my home folder? Type in ls (for LiSt) to see what files are in this folder. Probably you won't get any output, because surprise surprise this folder is not your Windows home folder and is in fact empty (okay it's actually not empty, which we'll see in a bit. If you type in ls -a, a for All, you'll see other files but notice they have a period in front of them. This is a convention for specifying files that should be hidden by default, and ls, as well as most other commands, will honor this convention. Anyways).
So where is my Windows home folder? Is WSL completely separate from Windows? Nope! This is Windows Subsystem for Linux after all. Notice how, when you typed pwd earlier, the address you got was /home/. Notice that forward-slash right before home. That forward-slash indicates the root directory (not to be confused with the /root directory), which is the directory at the top of the directory hierarchy and contains all other directories in your system. So if we type ls /, you'll see what are the top-most directories in your system. Okay, great. They have a bunch of seemingly random names. Except, shocker, they aren't random. I've provided a quick run-down in Appendix A.
For now, though, we'll focus on /mnt, which stands for mount. This is where your C drive, which contains all your Windows stuff, is mounted. So if you type ls /mnt/c, you'll begin to notice some familiar folders. Type in ls /mnt/c/Users, and voilà, there's your Windows home folder. Remember this filepath, /mnt/c/Users/. When we open up Ubuntu, we don't want it tossing us in this random /home/ directory, we want our Windows home folder. Let's change that!

4. Changing your default home folder

Type in sudo vim /etc/passwd. You'll likely be prompted for your Ubuntu's password. sudo is a command that gives you root privileges in bash (akin to Windows's right-click then selecting 'Run as administrator'). vim is a command-line text-editing tool, which out-of-the-box functions kind of like a crummy Notepad (you can customize it infinitely though, and some people have insane vim setups. Appendix B has more info). /etc/passwd is a plaintext file that historically was used to store passwords back when encryption wasn't a big deal, but now instead stores essential user info used every time you open up WSL.
Anyway, once you've typed that in, your shell should look something like this: ![vim /etc/passwd](https://theshepord.github.io/intro-to-WSL/docs/images/vim-etc-passwd.png)
Using arrow-keys, find the entry that begins with your Ubuntu username. It should be towards the bottom of the file. In my case, the line looks like
theshep:x:1000:1000:,,,:/home/pizzatron3000:/bin/bash 
See that cringy, crummy /home/pizzatron3000? Not only do I regret that username to this day, it's also not where we want our home directory. Let's change that! Press i to initiate vim's -- INSERT -- mode. Use arrow-keys to navigate to that section, and delete /home/ by holding down backspace. Remember that filepath I asked you to remember? /mnt/c/Users/. Type that in. For me, the line now looks like
theshep:x:1000:1000:,,,:/mnt/c/Users/lucas:/bin/bash 
Next, press esc to exit insert mode, then type in the following:
:wq 
The : tells vim you're inputting a command, w means write, and q means quit. If you've screwed up any of the above sections, you can also type in :q! to exit vim without saving the file. Just remember to exit insert mode by pressing esc before inputting commands, else you'll instead be writing to the file.
Great! If you now open up a new terminal and type in pwd, you should be in your Window's home folder! However, things seem to be lacking their usual color...

5. Importing your configuration files into the new home directory

Your home folder contains all your Ubuntu and bash configuration files. However, since we just changed the home folder to your Window's home folder, we've lost these configuration files. Let's bring them back! These configuration files are hidden inside /home/, and they all start with a . in front of the filename. So let's copy them over into your new home directory! Type in the following:
cp -r /home//. ~ 
cp stands for CoPy, -r stands for recursive (i.e. descend into directories), the . at the end is cp-specific syntax that lets it copy anything, including hidden files, and the ~ is a quick way of writing your home directory's filepath (which would be /mnt/c/Users/) without having to type all that in again. Once you've run this, all your configuration files should now be present in your new home directory. Configuration files like .bashrc, .profile, and .bash_profile essentially provide commands that are run whenever you open a new shell. So now, if you open a new shell, everything should be working normally. Amazing. We're done!

6. Tips & tricks

Here are two handy commands you can add to your .profile file. Run vim ~/.profile, then, type these in at the top of the .profile file, one per line, using the commands we discussed previously (i to enter insert mode, esc to exit insert mode, :wq to save and quit).
alias rm='rm -i' makes it so that the rm command will always ask for confirmation when you're deleting a file. rm, for ReMove, is like a Windows delete except literally permanent and you will lose that data for good, so it's nice to have this extra safeguard. You can type rm -f to bypass. Linux can be super powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility. NEVER NEVER NEVER type in rm -rf /, this is saying 'delete literally everything and don't ask for confirmation', your computer will die. Newer versions of rm fail when you type this in, but don't push your luck. You've been warned. Be careful.
export DISPLAY=:0 if you install XLaunch VcXsrv, this line allows you to open graphical interfaces through Ubuntu. The export sets the environment variable DISPLAY, and the :0 tells Ubuntu that it should use the localhost display.

Appendix A: brief intro to top-level UNIX directories

tl;dr only mess with /mnt, /home, and maybe maybe /usr. Don't touch anything else.
  • bin: binaries, contains Ubuntu binary (aka executable) files that are used in bash. Here you'll find the binaries that execute commands like ls and pwd. Similar to /usbin, but bin gets loaded earlier in the booting process so it contains the most important commands.
  • boot: contains information for operating system booting. Empty in WSL, because WSL isn't an operating system.
  • dev: devices, provides files that allow Ubuntu to communicate with I/O devices. One useful file here is /dev/null, which is basically an information black hole that automatically deletes any data you pass it.
  • etc: no idea why it's called etc, but it contains system-wide configuration files
  • home: equivalent to Window's C:/Users folder, contains home folders for the different users. In an Ubuntu system, under /home/ you'd find the Documents folder, Downloads folder, etc.
  • lib: libraries used by the system
  • lib64 64-bit libraries used by the system
  • mnt: mount, where your drives are located
  • opt: third-party applications that (usually) don't have any dependencies outside the scope of their own package
  • proc: process information, contains runtime information about your system (e.g. memory, mounted devices, hardware configurations, etc)
  • run: directory for programs to store runtime information.
  • srv: server folder, holds data to be served in protocols like ftp, www, cvs, and others
  • sys: system, provides information about different I/O devices to the Linux Kernel. If dev files allows you to access I/O devices, sys files tells you information about these devices.
  • tmp: temporary, these are system runtime files that are (in most Linux distros) cleared out after every reboot. It's also sort of deprecated for security reasons, and programs will generally prefer to use run.
  • usr: contains additional UNIX commands, header files for compiling C programs, among other things. Kind of like bin but for less important programs. Most of everything you install using apt-get ends up here.
  • var: variable, contains variable data such as logs, databases, e-mail etc, but that persist across different boots.
Also keep in mind that all of this is just convention. No Linux distribution needs to follow this file structure, and in fact almost all will deviate from what I just described. Hell, you could make your own Linux fork where /mnt/c information is stored in tmp.

Appendix B: random resources

EDIT: implemented various changes suggested in the comments. Thanks all!
submitted by HeavenBuilder to linux4noobs [link] [comments]

Hotfix modding tutorial! (Play Cartels today, or any event for that fact, or write your own buffs!)

OK, this is the definitive guide to pulling off a hotfix mod. It's not that hard, it just requires some basic knowledge of how to run a Linux program on Windows, and how to hex-patch an EXE.
First, some notes:
  1. Everything is going to be done from the Windows Subsystem for Linux. I recommend installing ArchWSL (not covered here) or some other up-to-date Linux miniroot and NOT using the Windows version of anything.
  2. This can be potentially dangerous, as you will be running a proxy. Make sure Windows Firewall is ON and blocking port 8080 inbound.
  3. I use 010 as my hex editor. Your mileage may vary. In theory you can write some regexes and use sed. I am working on a 5-line C program to patch the game for you.
Step 1 - installing mitmproxy.
After installing ArchWSL or the Linux distro of your choice on WSL, open up a Unix shell and install mitmproxy from the package repo. For Debian-based distros that's "apt install mitmproxy" and for Arch based distros that's "pacman -S mitmproxy". Once you've got it installed, execute the "mitmproxy" command. Doing so will generate the certificates. From there, open your Windows proxy settings and key in 127.0.0.1 port 8080 as the proxy. Then, open a browser like Edge and go to mitm.it. Download and install the .p12 certificate file. Click it, install on your local machine, and place it into Trusted Root Certification Authorities. Then, stop mitmproxy with a ^C (control-C) and a Y. Disable your proxy settings.
Step 2 - patching the game's EXE.
This is the somewhat tricky part. Make a backup of Borderlands3.exe before continuing. Seriously do it. After installing the trial version of 010 or buying it if you wish, you want to hit Control-F and select Options on the menu that comes up. Enable wildcard searches. Key in "41 39 28 ? ? ? 88 83 90 03" and make sure that it reports as such. Search for it. When you've found it, replace the contents at that address with "41 39 28 B0 00 90 88 83 90 03" and save. FYI the EXE is located at Borderlands 3\OakGame\Binaries\Win64\Borderlands3.exe. You can also use other hex editors, but they need to have a wildcard binary search feature. HxD doesn't have it, I'm afraid.
Step 3 - getting apocalyptech's GitHub repo.
Execute the following Unix command on your WSL: "git clone https://github.com/apocalyptech/bl3hotfixmodding.git". Change dir into that folder, and edit injectdata/modlist.txt. Comment out (put a # in front of every line that doesn't have one) the rest of the file. Then, search for the things you want to enable. Anything that you type into this file has to be the name of a .txt file in the injectdata dir, and will get sent to the game. Please read the readmes before trying to write your own hotfixes. Once you've selected the things you want to enable (one of interest might be cartels_enable).
Step 4 - start the proxy.
Run the following command: "mitmdump -s hfinject.py". Edit your proxy settings to re-enable the 127.0.0.1:8080 proxy, and make sure you can still browse the internet.
Step 5 - run the game.
Run the game however you launch it. If you have multiple monitors or a serial terminal on your desk, move the WSL console window/terminal session over to it. That way, you can make sure that you see a request to the GBX hotfix URL. Once the game starts, you should see the "hotfixes applied" sign and, if all is willing, your mods have should been activated. Now you can relive those April nights grinding Joey Ultraviolet for a Yellowcake and OPQ again! Have fun!
Notes:
Hotfixes aren't stored anywhere on disk. They are loaded in everytime the game starts. As such, it might be worth investing in a cheapo Unix machine (a RasPi will do just fine) to run mitmproxy 24/7 on. You have to hexedit the game's executable for one good reason: while the game respects the system proxy settings, it only half respects the system certificate settings. This edit removes the validity check from the game.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you screw up something. Do this at your own risk. Also, do not reverse engineer or mis-appropariate this game. Do not produce a "cracked" version of the game using a hex editor. In other words, "do the right thing" and you'll be fine. Do not sell modded items. Do not violate your EULA!
Edit: you can use HxD to patch your executable too. Just search for 88 83 90 03. When you find the occurrence, make sure the bytes around it are the right ones and make your edit manually. Thank you Lite_OnE for that input!
Credit:
I would like to thank apocalyptech, without their fine work we wouldn't have any of this! I would also like to thank lazyturtle, who showed me a wonderful one-line hex edit that completely removes the need for making certificates with a revocation chain built in to them. Huge timesaver. Thanks folks! Your work has really helped this community get the most out of this game!
submitted by hackersmacker to borderlands3 [link] [comments]

The Shoulders of Orion- Ch. 1: First Contact

Space-time rippled as the Horns of Glory snapped into real space. The normally smooth transition from FTL subspace travel back to the laws of relativity was instead dangerously jarring, as the inertial dampeners struggled to hold the innards of the massive warship in their proper places. After straining mightily for the briefest of moments, they failed, throwing Admiral Halon Va and the rest of his bridge crew violently into their restraining harnesses. The ship shuddered under the immense stress, then settled, drifting silently through space on minimal power.
“Tactical, get me a status report for the fleet on screen now. I want updates the instant ships jump in.” The Admiral’s voice was still firm and authoritative; it was taking every last shred of resolve he had to keep it that way. “Lieutenant Roshin, put a detail together and work with medical. I’m sure that re-entry caused more than a few extra injuries. Get as many of the crew patched up and ready for emergency action as fast as you can. I want a full casualty report as soon as possible. And if you find Science Officer Lentith and he’s still alive, send him to the bridge immediately.”
Admiral Va settled back into his command chair, drawing creaking sounds from the over-stressed frame as it absorbed the weight of his massive form. The bridge was completely silent now, the command crew entirely focused on the tasks at hand. Or they were too afraid to say anything; Va couldn’t be sure. He was thankful for their silence, though. He didn’t have any answers for them about his failure.
Keying in a few commands on the command panel at his station, the damage report for his ship popped up, the bridge lights flickering from the extra power draw. The Horns of Glory floated before him in hologram form. Long and slender, the ship was over two kilometers from bow to stern. At least, it had been a few hours ago. The forward 20 percent of the holographic ship was flashing red, indicating heavy damage. This was inaccurate, however, as the forward 20 percent of the ship simply wasn’t there anymore. The graceful lines and carefully crafted angles of the ship's armor were an unrecognizable slagged mess, and deep gouges had been cut into the inner decks all over the ship. Whole sections were missing amidships, two of the main reactors were offline, all the primary weapon batteries had been completely destroyed, and most of the critical systems were barely functioning. It was a miracle that she had survived the jump. That morning, Horns of Glory had been the greatest feat of Arien’Ra engineering, and it was now a barely functioning hulk.
And it had all happened under my command, thought Va.
He had no time to wallow in his failures, however, as at that moment tactical finally reconnected to the fleet command systems. The hologram of Horns of Glory quickly scaled down, appearing as a small, flashing, red point of light floating in loose formation with several other points of light. Most of them were flashing red as well. A constant stream of data and various reports scrolled down the right side of the hologram, listing in no uncertain terms the doom that Va had subjected his command to.
If Va had thought that the bridge was quiet before, it was nothing compared to the complete stillness that now settled over them. No one so much as moved a muscle, as they all sat in stunned silence, reading the reports. Occasionally, the hologram would flash, and a new point of light would join the formation, adding more data to the pile spelling out their damnation. After 30 ticks, new points of light had stopped appearing. Admiral Halon Va had lost over 60 percent of his fleet, and not a single other dreadnaught had survived the slaughter. His defeat was total, and the Federation navy was crippled.




Science Officer Beredarin Lentith had been the first member of his family not to enroll in command school in eight generations. They had been some of the finest members of the fleet the Vorqual race had ever contributed to the Federation. His brothers and sisters had all enrolled, which meant that as far as he was concerned, his family had more than fulfilled their duty to the Federation. Military life wasn’t for him, anyway; he wanted to explore. The Federation had been around for over 3000 years, and there were still vast swathes of the galaxy that they knew nothing about. They were still encountering new species every few hundred or so years, and there was nothing he wouldn’t give to find the next one. That had been the dream that directed him away from the military and into academia. The odds of actually finding a new race were so small, though. There were still at least 200,000,000 unexplored systems in the galaxy. There just wasn’t time to visit them all...
He snapped out of his reverie as he stepped over the body, or rather, what was left of the body, of a Zelnassi marine. Most of it was just a green stain on the corridor wall at this point, though there had been enough of the chitinous armored torso to partially obstruct his path. The young lieutenant quickly continued on towards the bridge.
If he was being honest with himself, becoming an expert on the area of unexplored space directly between the Federation and it’s largest military rival wasn’t the smartest of ideas. Between his family reputation and his unique knowledge base, he was just asking to get pressed into service.
Which was exactly what had happened immediately upon the recent outbreak of hostilities.
And now here he was stepping over corpses, marveling at the fact that he had somehow survived this long. He still couldn’t believe the insanity of the Dominion forces. Boarding an enemy ship MID-COMBAT. It was like something out of a youngling’s tale from before space travel. It was pure madness, but there were the bodies to prove that it had happened. He gingerly stepped around the remains of yet another Zelnassi.
The signs of battle continued all the way to the bridge, where he found security forces still holding quickly fortified positions around the bridge entrance. There were more Zelnassi bodies at their feet. Berendarin shuddered. He had been closer to death than he thought.
He quickly pushed those thoughts out of his mind. He could only imagine why he was needed on the bridge so urgently.
The door slid open, and Lentith walked into a completely silent room. Admiral Va was slouched at his command station, his enormous arm propped up on the chair arm and supporting his massive, horned head. Lentith didn’t even know that Arien’Ra COULD slouch. Nevermind that the fastidious Admiral could or would ever do such a thing. Maybe things were somehow worse than he thought. No one seemed to notice him enter, so he announced himself to the Admiral.
Though he didn’t shout, his voice echoed in the deathly silent room, startling most of the bridge command. Two of the other Vorqual officers swore, and the tiny Jezren manning the com station let out a high pitched sound somewhere between a squeak and chirp. Berendarin would have found it quite funny if the situation wasn’t so dire.
Admiral Va immediately snapped back to being the hulk of muscle and horn that imposed his will on a room just by being in it. His booming voice only added to his authority.
“Science Officer Lentith. I’m glad to see you’re still alive. Are you seriously injured?”
Berendarin had almost forgotten that he had walked the entire way to the bridge holding a bandage to his head just above his left eye. The drop out of subspace hadn’t been kind to him. He pulled the bandage away, revealing a dark orange stain on the bandage and a crack in the bone plate above his eye.
“I’m fine, sir, just one of the outer plates, and the bleeding has already stopped.”
“Good. Commander Vortith is currently overseeing the emergency repairs. Take his seat. You are going to help me find a way back home.”
“Sir? I’m sorry I don’t understand. Why don’t we just go back the way we came?”
“That’s not possible. Most of our supply ships and tenders were destroyed when that third wave of Dominion ships hit our flank. Almost all of our pre-prepared fuel reserves are gone. On top of that, some of our ships are so damaged that they don’t have another long jump in them. And if we run into any enemy ships, the whole rest of the fleet is done for. We barely qualify as a fighting force in the state we’re in.”
“Is it really that bad?”
“It’s worse, but we don’t have time to get into the details. You’re the expert on this section of the galaxy. I need you to find the fleet a hiding hole. Somewhere away from the known jump routes through the Spur. Any system where we can use the few miners we have left to scavenge up some fuel, and get some critical repairs done while we’re at it. And from there either wait for reinforcements or get ourselves patched up enough to limp home. Wherever it is, it needs to be close. I’m not leaving any ships behind because they can’t make the jump.”
“Oh. Just that?” The lieutenant knew that Arien’Ra were strict herbivores, but with the look that the Admiral shot him, he couldn’t help but think about the fact that his head would easily fit into that giant, molar filled mouth.
“And away from any known pirate hideaways. Like I said, our fleet can’t take any more fighting. And find it quickly. It won’t be long before the Dominion fleet locates us.”
“I. Uh. Sure. I’ll see what I can find.”
Berendarin shrank into the commander’s chair next to the enormous Arien’Ra, desperately wishing he had been more professional. If he had acted like a proper soldier, it might soften the blow of telling the Admiral that what he wanted was next to impossible. If he had a few weeks, he might be able to find something. So much of the Spur was still un-surveyed. The odds of there being anything useful to the Admiral in the databases was absurdly low, and there was even less of a chance he’d be able to find it in time for the information to matter. He began pouring through his notes anyway. It was better than waiting around to die, which, if the situation was as dire as the Admiral made it sound, was the only other option.
He spent the next hour lost in his notes, finding nothing, while the bridge crew went about piecing the ship and the fleet back together. The young scientist had all but given up on the Admiral’s impossible request when a raucous cheer went up from everyone on the command deck.
“Sir,” The coms officer called out, “The Consul’s Pride just dropped out of subspace and is hailing us, sir.
The main communication screen lit up, and Berendarin Lentith looked to see the face of his oldest sister on screen, strapped into the captain’s chair of her dreadnaught. He let out a sigh of relief; Baraquen was his favorite sibling. Her uniform was drenched in a deep orange blood stain at the shoulder, and she was covered in what looked like flecks of green gore from a Xelnassi. The artificial gravity was clearly malfunctioning, as the captain’s restraining harness was the only thing keeping her from floating around her bridge. But the bone plates of her jaw were turned as always into her calm, self assured smile
“My apologies for the delay in joining you, Admiral Va. We had some… guests shut down our drive mid jump. We had to deal with them before we rejoined the fleet. I assume there is a plan to get us back to federation space?”
“It’s good to see you in one piece, Captain Lentith,” the Admiral responded. He was barely able to keep the relief from his voice. “And there is indeed a plan.”
Berendarin returned to his research as the two ranking officers in the fleet went over the details of their current predicament. He was glad his sister had survived, and not just because they were close. It would have been a terrible blow to the whole family to have lost not only their future matriarch, but the ship she commanded as well. A member of his family had been commanding that dreadnaught uninterrupted for the last 5 generations. Military service had never appealed to Berendarin, but his family history was certainly still important.
And then the solution to the current problem hit him like a driver round. He let out a gasp and tore into his notes with a fervor. Both Admiral Va and his sister’s projection turned to look at him, but he didn’t notice. After a few seconds of curious silence from the rest of the onlookers, Berendarin practically jumped out of his seat.
“Admiral, I think I’ve got something that will work.” The young Lieutenant punched a few commands into his datapad, and a set of stellar coordinates popped up on the navigation terminal. “It’s a main sequence star, about 500 light years from us, fairly close to the edge of the Spur. It’s not anywhere near any established jump routes. The Consul’s Pride made me think of it.” He nodded towards his sister’s face on the ship's screen. “Our great, great grandsire took the Consul’s Pride through the system on her shakedown run a little over 300 cycles ago. Chased a band of Qorthi slavers out of the system. The outer four planets are all gas giants. If we can’t find Helium 3 there, I don’t know where else we should look.”
On screen, Captain Lentith looked impressed, but Admiral Va clearly didn’t seem too sure. “We’re supposed to be going away from Dominion forces, not into them. What were the Qorthi doing there?”
“There are also four rocky inner worlds in the system, Sir, according to reports from the encounter. Apparently, the third planet is a Class 7 Deathworld, and the Qorthi were running some experiments on the primitive lifeforms there. They were caught completely by surprise by the Consul’s Pride, and it was the first time that she fired her weapons in anger. I can’t find any reports of Dominion ships in that section of the Spur since.” There was a long pause before Va responded.
“Good work, Lieutenant. I knew my trust in you wasn’t misplaced.” Admiral Va replied, before turning to the rest of the bridge and booming “Coms! Tactical! Get those coordinates to every ship in the fleet. I want every ship we have left formed up and ready to jump as soon as possible. Any captain who feels that his drives can’t make the jump is to focus all repair efforts on getting their drives functioning immediately. I will transfer repair crews from less damaged ships to more damaged ships if that means we jump even a tick earlier. Get to it everyone. I’m not losing any more of my fleet today.”




The four revolution long jump to Science Officer Lentith’s newfound sanctuary had done wonders for Halon Va’s mental state. The initial shock of his fleet's terrible defeat had worn off, and he had been able to focus on what came next. Repair crews were able to stabilize most of his ship's core systems, and he was no longer worried about the life support systems cutting out and killing the rest of his crew. There had also been time for him to visit with the wounded. To thank them for their sacrifices. He had expected it to be an act of contrition, maybe even a chance to start begging for forgiveness. But there had been no anger in his crew, and no blame hung on his horns. Most had just been relieved that he had survived, and had expressed as much. He would be forever grateful to them for that.
Most importantly, the four revolutions in hyperspace had given the admiral time to really think about what had gone wrong in the nebula. He had barely rested in the preceding four revolutions, spending every scrap of spare time in his office, pouring over records from the battle. That’s where he found himself now, tucked behind his massive ceramic and titanium alloy desk of Tellarim design. It had been custom made for him upon his promotion to this command, a gift from the high admirals and the council. It was the only luxury that Va allowed in his office. The rest of Va’s space he kept strictly utilitarian. There were no trophies adorning his walls, as was customary for other members of his species. The plain bulkheads of his office were instead lined entirely with screens, and each of them were now filled with footage and reports from the battle, running on loop.
Va soaked it all in. The more he watched, the more a singular conclusion crystallized in his mind. He had done everything right; he was sure of that now. 1000 years of doctrine and theory for fighting the Dominion had gone into his preparation for that battle, and he had followed it to the letter. And he had been winning. Then that attack on his flank by the Zelnassi had blown all of that out of the airlock. Something significant had changed in the way the Dominion fought...
Commander Vortith’s voice rang out over the com system. ”Admiral Va, we’ll be transitioning back to real space in moments.”
“Thank you. I’ll be there shortly. And get Science Officer Lentith to the bridge. I want him nearby just in case. He’s the only one who has any idea of where we are.” The Admiral pulled himself from his desk. He would have to leave the rest of his analysis for later. There was just enough time for him to reach the bridge and settle into his command chair before the Horns of Glory snapped back to real space. This time, the inertial dampeners held.
“Tactical, status report.”
“All ships accounted for, Admiral. Though the Consul’s Pride, several cruisers, and three of our escorts are all reporting massive failures in their Drive Cores. They won’t be jumping anywhere anytime soon.”
“Wonderful.” Va wasn’t sure if he meant that sarcastically or not. “Get scans up and running and deploy the pickets that aren’t crippled in a standard scouting formation. How close are we to the nearest gas giant?”
“We’re approximately half a light tick from the system’s innermost gas giant, sir.”
“Excellent. Deploy the rest of the fleet. Put us in a high orbit around the planet in a defensive formation, and get our miners working immediately. Once our orbit is stable, I want every hand, paw and hoof in the fleet working on repairs.”
“Yes sir.”
Admiral Va settled into his command chair for a long shift.
It would be a drawn out, boring process to refuel the ships. With his fleet limping along, and only two functioning miners, it would take far longer than it should. After all the chaos of the last few revolutions, boring would be a welcome change of pace. Va started to relax, sinking into his chair’s acceleration padding. His fleet and his crews were finally safe. The first priority would be to get one of the subspace beacons repaired and to get word back to the Federation that the fleet still existed. And hopefully call for aid. He was sure to be stripped of his rank as soon as contact was made, but hopefully he would avoid a Tribunal. That was an unpleasant prospect…
“Sir, we have unidentified ship signatures appearing from around the planet we’re approaching.”
Va had never heard panic in the voice of his young sensors officer before, but it was certainly there now. Va understood the sentiment, though. He found it difficult to keep the panic from his own voice as he started issuing orders
“Bring the fleet up to combat status immediately. How many ships are there?”
“I’m showing 35 individual signatures. All approaching us at combat speed and still accelerating. At current speeds, they will intercept us in just over 30 ticks, sir.”
“I want details as soon as you have them, Lieutenant. Size, make, estimated firepower. Who they are. And keep scanning the system. Find out where they came from.” The panic had partially subsided for Va. 35 unknowns was not too terrible a threat. He still had almost 240 warships under his command. Still, if there was a way to avoid combat, he had to try. His fleet couldn’t suffer any more losses. “Coms, any attempt by these unknown ships to contact us?”
“I”m not sure, sir,” the diminutive Jezren at the coms replied. “There’s nothing on standard communications channels. The ships are transmitting something, but I can’t figure out what it is.”
“Admiral,” the Lieutenant at the sensors station called out. “I think I might have an idea of where these ships came from. Preliminary scans show there is extensive urbanization on the third and fourth planets, as well as what appear to be habitation sized artificial satellites around the second and sixth planets. One of the moons of the gas giant we’re approaching shows signs of habitation as well. All of them are emitting significant signal pollution. This system clearly already belongs to someone, and they’re broadcasting everywhere.”
Halon Va, High Admiral of the Combined Federation Fleets, turned, slowly and with as much composure as he could muster, to face the young science officer seated to his left. Berendarin sat, mouth agape, staring transfixed at the sensor readouts in front of him. Va had never seen a Vorqual more confused in his life. “I want answers, Officer Lentith.”
“I… I don’t.. This doesn’t make any sense,” the young science officer stammered. “There shouldn’t be anything here.”
“Admiral,” The comms officer cut in, “The signal that we’re picking up from the unknown ships is definitely some kind of communication. I managed to put together audio from it.”
“Play it,” commanded Va. A series of short, guttural, and completely unintelligible sounds came over the speakers in reply. There was a short pause before the sounds repeated themselves again. “Coms, what was that?”
“No idea, sir, but it’s being transmitted on loop. If it is intended as a communication, our translators have no idea what to do with it.”
“Admiral.” The voice came from Va’s left, and was barely audible. Va turned yet again to look at the young science officer. His gaze was locked on the tactical readout, and there something in his eyes that Va couldn’t recognize. A mixture of pure terror and something else. Was it wonder? The young Vorqual’s voice was still barely above a whisper when he continued to address the admiral: “I think we should run the transmission through First Contact Protocols.”




Captain Benjamin Alvarez-León slammed against his restraining harness as the USCS Aurora started it’s decel burn. He had pushed the engines on the outdated cruiser to their limits, and the ship groaned in protest as it started counteracting his rather zealous acceleration orders. He hoped that his mad scramble with his small squadron of outdated ships had been an overreaction. The alternative was something he’d rather not think about.
All Ben had was the reserves; the rest of the fleet was on maneuvers at Sirius. The Admiralty had wanted to test the new, fully modernized fleet’s maneuvering abilities in the gravwell of a binary system. And, in their infinite wisdom, they decided they needed ALL of the new fleet assets, leaving nothing in Sol except for the handful of cruisers and escorts that couldn’t match the capabilities of the modern ships.
A handful of cruisers and escorts that were now hurtling towards more than 200 unknown contacts.
It was the unknown part of all of this that was unnerving Ben. There were no familiar energy signatures. No familiar scan data. No IFF. No signals coming off the contacts of any kind for that matter. Two of the contacts were too big to even be ships. If it wasn’t for the fact that they were moving towards Jupiter in formation, Ben wouldn’t even think they WERE ships.
“So what do you think, Alexi?” Ben asked, turning towards his second in command. “You and the rest of the bridge crew are always making inane bets. Have you whipped up an over-under for what we’re throwing ourselves at yet?”
“Haven’t had time,” came the quick reply from Ben’s right. The short, stocky man from Vladivostok was missing his trademark joviality. “Though, my money is on them being Ithacan, sir.”
Ben bristled at Alexi calling him sir. They’d been friends for twenty years, damnit, and had been practically joined at the hip since going through the Academy together. Outranking him still felt a little off. Now was hardly the time to worry about formalities, though.
“What makes you think they're from Ithaca?”
“It’s the only thing that makes sense. The locals have been getting increasingly radical, and Ithaca is the only sector where reports of piracy have been increasing.”
“Yeah, I could see a rebellion coming from Ithaca,” Ben added slowly, turning over that scenario in his head. “But there’s no way they could swing something of this magnitude. There aren’t even any shipyards in the sector. And even if there were, there’s no way they could keep the construction of over two hundred ships a secret.”
Alexi could only offer him a shrug in response.
It was at that moment that the coms station informed him there was a transmission incoming from the unidentified ships. Ben instructed the ensign to play it, and the bridge was suddenly filled with a stream of grotesque bleating noises and strange grunts, with the occasional recognizable syllable interspersed throughout the transmission. Ben thought he picked out ‘dentify’ from the mess, but he wasn’t sure. There was a long moment of silence on the bridge.
“What the hell was that?”
When no one had any answers for him, Ben tapped his command console and recorded a new message to broadcast.
“This is Captain Alvarez of the USCS Aurora. Unidentified ships, please clarify. Your transmission is badly garbled. We did not receive your identification. You are still trespassing in Commonwealth space and are on an unauthorized course towards Jupiter. Begin decelerating immediately and re-identify yourselves.”
He wouldn’t admit it to the crew, but Ben was profoundly unsettled. Something was deeply, deeply wrong about this whole situation. Not only was he vastly outnumbered by these things, but they were unwilling to communicate properly. He was almost believing this whole thing was some kind of bizarre prank.
“How much longer before we can get a decent visual on these things?
“Any moment now, sir.”
A new transmission arrived just then, and Ben had it played back immediately. This time, instead of almost bovine bleats and grunts, the sounds coming over the speakers were mostly intelligible. Or, they would have been, if any of the syllables were in the right order. It was almost like a toddler was rattling off all of his new favorite sounds, spitting them out in a random order and not knowing how they went together. There were still a few heavy grunts sprinkled in, just for good measure.
Before Ben could process this new joke of a transmission, the contacts finally started slowing. In a matter of moments, the strange wall of contacts was hanging lazily in Jupiter’s orbit, barely moving fast enough to keep their orbit from decaying. They were still in perfect formation.
“Huh. Well, I guess that’s something.”
With nothing to do but sit back and wait as his ship closed the distance, Ben tried to relax and began running over all of the possibilities in his mind of what the new contacts could be. He came up with nothing. Well, nothing feasible, anyway. He took a series of long, calming breaths, trying to clear his mind and focus. This was no time for his imagination to be running wild. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that logic was failing him. Something was off. Something…
“Captain, bringing visual of the unknown contacts up on screen now.”
Ben actually felt his jaw drop. Every contact on his display was clearly a ship. Most were long and spindly, wrapped in layers of some kind of highly reflective armor; a fleet of crystalline arrows hanging in the darkness. The two largest contacts, which Ben had just moments ago thought were too big to be ships, were large enough on the screen for him to clearly see details. In addition to their immense size and strange armor, both ships were dotted with what were clearly weapons platforms, though what kind, Ben couldn’t tell.
Noticeably, almost all of the ships on his screen were heavily damaged. Chunks were missing from some ships, and most had deep lines gouged into their hulls. Any form of decorative paint or markings had been burned away. Something had put these ships through absolute hell. But still, the damage could not take away entirely from the elegance of the ship’s designs. They were graceful and sleek, completely different from anything Ben had ever seen before.
It was all so different. So strange. So very, very… Alien.
Despite every effort he had made to avoid the word, it finally forced itself to form inside Ben’s mind, and forced him to acknowledge the reality that legitimate, extra-Solar life was hanging in the darkness in front of him. It forced him to acknowledge the screams he had been suppressing in the back of his mind. The screams of his imagination crying out in glorious triumph over reality. And with those screams came a deluge of accompanying thoughts and emotions.
He was a child again, staring up at the stars above Armstrong and wondering what else, and who else, was out there. He was a teen again, signing his name to the Academy enrollment paperwork, determined to get out there between the stars and see the galaxy himself. He was a young officer again, screaming and pleading with the Admiralty to at least consider a modern First Contact scenario. He was sitting in his command chair now, hurtling towards honest-to-god aliens, all of his dreams made manifest in an instant. He was overwhelmed. He was terrified.
And he had never imagined that he could feel such elation.
It was the young warrant officer at the coms that snapped Ben out of his reverie. “Sir, the contacts are hailing us on all standard channels, requesting a video feed.” She sounded very, very nervous.
Ben immediately stood up, straightening his uniform as best he could. “If they’re anything less than genocidal monsters, I’m going to offer them aid and repairs. As long as they’re peaceful, there’s no reason not to extend them the full hospitality of humanity.”
“Ben,” Alexi asked, clearly choosing his words carefully, “Are you sure that’s the… Wisest course of action? How will the Admiralty respond to Goddamned alien ships docking at Hephaestus?”
“Alexi, in the 250 years the Commonwealth has existed, the First Contact protocols haven’t been updated since the charter was signed. No one has cared. This has been nothing but a fantasy for most people. I am NOT letting this opportunity get away. Every child that has ever looked up at the stars and wondered finally got an answer, and I will not waste this moment. We’re making friends, the Admiralty and the government be damned.”
“You do realize you’re potentially deciding the fate of our entire species on a whim, right?”
“Is there someone else you’d prefer to have making this call?”
Alexi, apparently deciding that there was not, stood up and straightened his uniform, standing next to his friend as he ordered the connection of the video feed. The channel connected, and the human bridge crew found themselves looking at the bridge of a ship crewed by not one, but three alien races.
The largest alien in the center of the screen opened its mouth to speak. This time, instead of bleats and grunts, a choppy, mechanical voice that didn’t sync up to the alien at all proclaimed from the bridge speakers in broken, stuttering English: “I. Am Admiral. Halon. Va. Of the Federation of. Sentient Races. Greetings and. Welcome. To the. Galaxy.”
Ben couldn’t suppress his smile.
“On behalf of the United Solar Commonwealth, and all of Humanity, greetings, and welcome to Sol. Your ships look like they’ve had a bad time on your way here. If there’s any way we could aid with your repairs, we’d be happy to help.”




Slave 782 slammed his right appendage onto the control console hard enough to rupture his outer membrane and smear ichor over the panel. It had been four days since the battle in the nebula, and with the latest round of reports, he finally had to admit that the rest of the Federation fleet had escaped him.
It was a minor frustration, all things considered, but the escape prevented this from being a total victory. Still, he had proven his worth to his owners in this battle, and his experiments with the Zelnassi had paid dividends beyond his wildest imagination. He had earned a command today, and with every success in that command, his ability to bargain for his people's freedom only increased. For what he would be asking, it might take the total defeat of the Federation to earn that kind of leverage. Also frustrating, but not a task that he couldn’t handle. It would be a long war, he was sure, but like his owners, he was patient.
He would earn his freedom, even if it meant reducing the entire Federation to glass.


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