Pre-flight Checklist – Stream Deck Plugin

What started as a checklist on paper morphed into a digital format.

After I saw the benefit in using the Stream Deck Mini that I won back in 2019,within a year I had decided to upgrade from that to the standard 16 key version. It was well worth it as having more actions per page is great for having more options readily available without having to go between page more often.

One of the things that I was rubbish at doing before stream was, well Everything, I would invariably forget to do something, either forgetting completely or remembering a few hours into stream, such as eating food, checking my peripherals or updating my title and game. I used to have a physical list of things to complete, but invariably I would lose it.

So I decided to build a plug-in for the Stream Deck to digitise this pre-stream checklist, aiming to achieve exactly the same thing, but less likely to misplace it between streams.
Once I had the working prototype working it dawned on me that I could theme it in the style of togglable switches like you might find in a cockpit.

It can however be used for anything that required a checkable list of tasks, so the name change to pre-flight rather than pre-stream allowed it to be no prescriptive but also a familiar enough concept for people to understand.

I haven’t really devoted too much time to getting the plugin into a releasable state but it’s something I’d like to do so other folks can set up their own lists and hopefully get the same benefit I get from it.

Peaking at D4

Interesting Reddit conversations around a Blizzard Survey that was sent out in German for Diablo 4, PCGamesN have a good post that summarizes the translated details from Reddit.

Given how I only just touched on Battle Passes in my The FOMO carrot post there is a clear steer in that direction for D4. Admittedly these surveys are sent to judge player opinion on pricing and bundled content in the case of different versions of the game they are proposing.

While I have no big problem with versions giving early access, I can imagine that if you are a player that seeks out Server Firsts or leader board  rankings, 7 days head start over the bulk of other players will be a must.

However when it comes to the other things on that list they are likely baked into the game model already so we can expect them in the final release.

Platinum

An in-game currency for cosmetics  I wonder if it will have a daily outfit rotation to truly mimic the Fortnite model or be more of a static shop?
Time limited store items may encourage folks to spend Platinum more freely, harness that FOMO power once again. Real world Seasonal event items also play into this with outfits, pets, mounts, transmogs and dyes.

Battle Pass

Battle pass being bound to seasons looks like it could be the model that D4 delivers if this survey text is to be believed. Originally seen in free to play titles , it has now crept into games that have an Upfront game cost too, this falls in line with their Call of Duty approach.

If there wasn’t already enough reasons to be disappointed with Activision Blizzard, not even mentioning Immortal. Unless something changes I may have to think long and hard if I want to even entertain playing the game.

Revised About Me

The theme for the second week of Blaugust is Introduce yourself, I’ve always tried to maintain an About Me page on more recent interactions of my blog, not much changes on there, I think the biggest change was when I updated it to say I wasn’t 30 something anymore 😛

Now looking at the page I see there is an least one glaring change needed, but I’ll take this time to expand and revise that content via a blog post.


I am Kris (yes named after that one, he was popular in the 70’s OK) and I have been going by the name Welshtroll since about 1998, which was when I permanently got access to the internet at home. Before then it was at other peoples houses and at college. As for the origin of the name it was likely sourced from a good foundation in mythical creatures and AD&D.

I am based in the UK, South Wales to be exact, where I live with my wife (FlyinPinkMunki) and our two sons, upgraded from one as part of the 2021 Surprise DLC Bundle.

I am a programmer by trade, my first job was as “new blood” brought into work on a aging CICS/COBOL financial mainframe system.
I was a lot of fun and working within the confines of an older system required you to be far more creative and cleaver with how you approached development. Once I moved onto working in C# the scope of my work was a lot broader and varied and soon widened to include Visual Basic to support on premises applications.

Now I still work in the financial sector and still technically focused, despite my title change, a lot what I do is still the same as when I started out in the industry, but then I’m much better at it.

When I’m not working, I can be found playing some form of game, whether it be a Video game, Table top or Role Playing.

 

The FOMO carrot

For many online games encouraging a continual influx of first time players is good, but retaining players is the most advantageous since those player are already invested.
Of course this isn’t anything new and many games now contain systems that encourage players to log in and stick around for daily activities, events or rewards.

If you have played these games you only just need look at your inbox during Christmas time, almost every title has some kind of event on, maybe some unique skins in the game store, a special unlock if you sign in each day.
It gets to the point that you have to prioritise your time and energy on those you actually want to participate in, which you need to reinstall.

Personally I used to get easily pulled into these traps, Daily login rewards are the most frequently implemented tactic to draw you back into a game, while time limited events keep you engaged for longer, spending more time inside game, and ultimately that is the real cost of these systems, your valuable time (and Hard Drive Space).

Some games of course do it better than others, some wrap the whole thing up in pomp and ceremony that obfuscate the fact from players.

The harnessing of player time

In games where players are your content (PVP), not only do you need to encourage that returning player mentality, there also has to be more impetus to play for longer periods. That where the motherload of all mechanics the “Battlepass” is the system of choice, often a dual tiered reward system, a free tier and a paid tier, where you can pay a cost for more possible rewards.

With the promise of better rewards or XP, unlocks/skins that you can only get via that system, the Fear Of Missing Out now weaponised against the players and comes with a price tag, but not only could you miss out by not purchasing the battle pass, but if you don’t put enough effort in then you also miss out. A 2 pronged attack.

To ensure early adoption of the paid Battlepass, there is normally a boost of some kind that means that players could reach the upper tiers easier and faster, plus those players that purchase don’t want to waste their money so will be sure to login to grind, secured content.
However If you don’t buy the paid version then no XP boost, means if you want to unlock free tier content you have to grind more, which ultimately means you are giving more content for free.

The event calendar

I have played World of Tanks on and off since beta, I occasionally dip a toe back into the Wargaming title once a year, but every year I return, the shine wears off faster and the business model shows a little clearer.

WOT - Event Calendar

The last time I was playing it was very apparent that there is a continual drive to ALWAYS have an event for players to participate in, often they have win conditions like “Rank in the top 3 for damage in 10 battles” or  “each tier of this event you complete reduces the cost of this Premium Tank by 10%”.

For a good player these are achievable without breaking a sweat, for more standard players it becomes much harder, everyone on the server is trying to achieve the same thing, players use tanks that are better at achieving their goal, better ammo & equipment.
Even player’s approaches to matches then alter, not going for a win but purely aiming for their daily goal, you find people throw matches to ensure they check that box for their reward.

This ultimately ruins the game for those trying to play the game normally and undermines the goal the company are trying to achieve, which is retaining players as it just pisses them all off.

Hardspace : Shipbreaker

Music to break ships to

There has been a rise of games that are focused around a career in doing virtual jobs and building up experience/knowledge as you go, I’m thinking of HouseFlipper, Powerwash Simulator, Cooking Simulator and Gas Station Simulator to name a few, I feel that Hardspace : Shipbreaker kicks the whole thing up a level, it released from early access in May this year.

You work as a Shipbreaker for LYNX Corporation working to pay them back for giving you this great opportunity, you spend your days slicing apart derelict spaceships in one of the most hostile environments imaginable.
The Zero-G life can take a bit of getting used to, but there is no time for that as each part of the ship has to be correctly salvaged and processed, otherwise it’s money lost for the company. Chop Chop!

Keeping one eye on your Oxygen reserves and the other on your fuel tanks, you learn very quickly that one wrong cut or unplanned depressurisation can be costly either to your health, bank balance or both.

What starts off as a relaxing reverse house flipper soon becomes the complete opposite, the game does a good job of introducing new mechanics but sometimes they aren’t covered in depth and you kind of have to figure out things yourself, or worse trial and error.

Hardspace : Shipbreaker not only tells a tale, it also gives glimpses at humanity’s steps into the wider solar system, you also learn more about your employer, co-workers and their lives, hopes and dreams and what the future may hold for you all.

Thoughts

After seeing one of my Charity team mates playing the game, I knew it was going to be the sort of game I’d love to get my teeth into and I wasn’t wrong. Plus it’s got a kick-ass soundtrack with strummed acoustic folk guitar that just somehow fits the space setting, most likely pulling on those Firefly strings.

However I can see how this game may not appeal to everyone, the Zero gravity can be very disorientating, things like oxygen depletion is a real threat as and the game often conveys a claustrophobic feeling through the use of visuals and audio cues.

There are 4 difficulty types in the game :

  • Open Shift – Removed shift timer and togglable oxygen drain
  • Standard – Unlimited lives, but you work on the clock
  • Limited – 30 Revives for the campaign
  • No Revival – One life only.

Each difficulty type requires a new character account and the progress is tracked separately mostly as you can do things at different speeds. No shift timer allows you to salvage a whole ship in one go, compared to the 2 maybe even 3 shifts for other game modes.

Each has a free play mode where you can just break apart ships without the story and if you play at difficultly Open Shift you have the ability to toggling off the oxygen depletion too.
This is great for learning the ships but also if you want a break from the restrictions/expectations of the story mode.

Naturally there is a inherent danger of death in the game however I feel it’s worth a content warning for an event near the beginning of the game, each time you start a new character, I have added detail on the click/tap of the warning if you want more information.

Content warning: Implied Surgery (click to expand)

When you see and click a button for genetic extraction the audio that follows implies surgery and could be upsetting to some people, it lasts until screen fades to black.
Whole section can be skipped using ESCAPE when you get the Welcome to Morrigan Station screen and LYNX welcome video.

 

Rating?

I used to rate games whenever I blogged about them, so think I shall revive that feature since I’m likely to be posting about games going forward.

Playability 3/5
Graphics 4/5
Audio 4/5
Longevity 4/5
Originality 5/5
Total 20 out of 25

Want more?

I found this great talk from the developers explaining how the game started life as a hack-day idea and evolved continually until it became what it is today.