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    Spacecraft Engineer

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  1. One slight inaccuracy I noticed: There's a Martian sunset shown and it's red, not blue as has been observed on Mars. But that's a nitpick.
  2. Games I played to death: Flight Simulator (all versions) 688 Attack Sub (PC and Genesis) Chuck Yeager's Air Combat (I kept that game on my hard drive for a decade) Elite 2: Frontier and Frontier: First Encounters Descent 1 and 2 Battlefield 1942 and its amazing Desert Combat mod (maybe the most fun I've ever had in multiplayer, ever) Star Control 1 and 2 Doom Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and all the subsequent games
  3. I forgot to mention another of my favorite fictional worlds -- The Verse, from Firefly/Serenity.
  4. My favorite fictional world (worlds, really) is the Intersolar Commonwealth, from the books Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton. In those books, and some other related works, humanity colonizes the stellar neighborhood not with starships, but wormholes linking them directly. Once connected, one travels between stars by train. How neat is that? Everyone is effectively immortal, too, and directly linked to the future internet, called the Unisphere. I'd love to live in that future. PS I'm also pretty fond of Tolkien's Middle Earth, and John Varley's Eight Worlds milieu, as found in his short fiction.
  5. The first online virtual reality I played was Active Worlds (well, a variant called Dreamland, I think) back in 1999, and I needed a name. I decided to make it as short as possible, something I'd never have to spell out, and which conveyed a sense of being approachable and modest. Eventually I settled on the name Leaf, and it reminded me of the kinds of names John Varley gives the characters in his science fiction stories (Fox and Halo, for example). But I lost that account eventually and had to pick a new name, so the next one that came to mind was Pebble. I liked so many of the notions bound up in that word: pebbles are the travelers of the Stone Family, riding the stream down from the mountaintop to the sea, and being rendered smooth by the random collisions along the way. They come to rest on the warm beach, soaking up sunshine, and wordlessly tempt you to pick them up and hurl them into the churning surf. Pebbles may look drab on the surface, but conceal brilliant colors within. In 2005 I joined Second Life, and at that time you had to pick a second name from a dropdown list (which changed every month or so). The only combination I liked was pebble garden, which added a hint of Zen tranquility to my original name. And I've stuck with that ever since.
  6. I got a Viper, and it made me an obnoxious driver. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x23vagd_bad-influence-an-elite-dangerous-video_videogames
  7. I loved Orbiter, but since it was my first serious collision with orbital mechanics, it took a couple of years to learn how to play it and do anything of note. Boy was that sim complicated. My proudest achievements in that game were 1) manually flying the Delta Glider from Cape Canaveral to a rendezvous/dock with the ISS in 3/4 of an orbit, and 2) flying the Space: 1999 Eagle transporter from Cape Canaveral to the ISS for refueling, then on to the Moon where I landed at Moonbase Alpha (they were mods). Again, all manually. That last one was the hardest thing I've ever done in a simulator, and it took many saves and restarts to get it right. What a sense of accomplishment! What KSP adds is a level of playfulness and accessibility, which were in very short supply in Orbiter! And that XR2 Ravenstar was super fun to fly:
  8. I've been playing the premium beta for a couple of weeks (got an unexpected royalty check from Amazon and splurged). Now I'm downloading the actual beta. Can't wait! Seriously this is the most fun I've had in a space game with combat since....hmm...probably TIE Fighter.
  9. I'm 52 years old. I surely do miss my 30s. Those were the best.
  10. Not in any order: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time / Majora's Mask / Wind Waker TIE Fighter Kerbal Space Program Flight Simulator X Desert Combat Mod for Battlefield: 1942
  11. Yeah, I agree with NovaSilisko. Identify what you're passionate about, design a game mechanic around it, and start small.
  12. Actually I just watched 2010 again last night and I have to say...I rather liked it. Granted, it's a completely different beast than its predecessor. The acting and dialog is actually really good, better than I remembered. The visual effects are just okay, but we have better tools for that today. The music, though, is dreadful. I found it funny that they didn't even try to fake weightlessness in Leonov's and Discovery's nonrotating parts, except for HAL's brain room where there's no floor to stand on. It's clear to me, on reflection, that 2001 and 2010 had to be written by a person born of a former global empire (Clarke, Britain). That whole "unassailable monolith" thing, acting as implacable parent and guardian, patiently bringing the Promethean flame of intelligence and civilization to savages (early hominids, life on Europa), is so very much the Victorian ideal.
  13. D. Mostly I play simulations like FSX, Assetto Corsa, and KSP, when I'm not goofing around in Second Life or IMVU. I'm buying Elite: Dangerous as soon as it comes out. I am so completely done with first person shooters, especially military-themed ones. But my favorite games of all time are the Zelda games from the Nintendo 64 onward (Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, etc.)
  14. And don't forget my absolute favorite Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut, which blew my mind. Your mileage may vary, however. A lot of people don't care for it. To properly appreciate 2001 you have to consider it in context. Before 2001, space movies had rarely attempted to be realistic, and lacked the budget and know-how to do so. What Kubrick strove to do was burst through that perceptual barrier, overwhelm the audience with visual spectacle, and maintain long effects shots that were far more photorealistic than had yet been accomplished. And while Kubrick is always slow-paced and methodical, he deliberately used such laboriousness here to make the audience believe in the otherworldly scenes (distant pre-human past, spacecraft in freefall or spinning for gravity, unknowable alien hyperspace stuff). The audience of the twenty first century is very different than that of 1968, when 2001 came out. We've become jaded by increasingly adrenalized, cg-powered effects showcases that must work harder to instill the same sense of awe. Because, after all, that's why people go to see movies: to take a thrilling ride, to lose themselves in novelty and wonder. By the way I loved 2001, but it seemed dull on my last few viewings. I also have become jaded, it seems. (sad smile) I'm 52, for the record. 2001 was a big part of my childhood. And I work in the field of cgi visual effects, by way of full disclosure.
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