Today I Learned: Shotshell Reloading was a mistake

Just bought all the components for reloading, I think, for Federal Top Gun shells.  Went with a MEC 600 Mk. V, a universal charge bar, and some 25$ scale.  Bought 8lbs Alliant Red Dot powder, 3000 Federal 209A primers, 50lbs Federal lead shot (#7 1/2), and 1000 Federal 12S3 wads.

The load data I plan on using (from Federal Provided Reload Data):

Hull Shot Oz Dram Eq FPS PSI Primer Wad Powder Grains
Federal Top Gun 2 ¾ (Gold) 1 ⅛ (31.893214 grams) 2 ¾ 1145 8800 209A 12S3 Red Dot 18 (1.16638 grams)

Worked out the math, and I paid somewhat under full retail for these, at least when I go to Dick’s to pick up shells (box of Federal Top Gun #8 is normally 6.99$).  Here’s the table for buying a box of 25 at 5$, 6$, and 7$ a box-

Quantity (Shell) 5$ Per Box (25) 6$ Per Box (25) 7$ Per Box (25)
1 0.2$ 0.24$ 0.28$
25 5$ 6$ 7$
250 50$ 60$ 70$
1000 200$ 240$ 280$
2000 400$ 480$ 560$
3000 600$ 720$ 840$

Here it is for what I just spent in reloading supplies, hazmat, taxes, and shipping factored in-

Quantity Powder Primer Wad Shot Total
1 0.0473$ 0.0398$ 0.0365$ 0.1442$ 0.2678$
25 1.1825$ 0.995$ 0.9125$ 3.605$ 6.695$
250 11.825$ 9.95$ 9.125$ 36.05$ 66.95$
1000 47.3$ 39.8$ 36.5$ 144.2$ 267.8$
2000 94.6$ 79.6$ 73$ 288.4$ 535.6$
3000 141.9$ 119.4$ 109.5$ 432.6$ 803.4$

Is it worth it? Not really; I could have just waited for sales where they sell for 5.25.  It doesn’t take into account the amount of time taken to load the shells.  And it definitely doesn’t take into account the startup cost of buying a press.  This table assumes 18 grains of Alliant Red Dot, which is what I bought.

Could I beat sale prices if I bought higher quantities to even out the hazmat and shipping fees?  Nope.  Here are the values with the shipping and hazmat costs taken out of the picture.  They’re better, but still come short-

Quantity Powder Primer Wad Shot Total
1 0.0427$ 0.035$ 0.024$ 0.1266$ 0.2283$
25 1.0675$ 0.875$ 0.6$ 3.165$ 5.7075$
250 10.675$ 8.75$ 6$ 31.65$ 57.075$
1000 42.7$ 35$ 24$ 126.6$ 228.3$
2000 85.4$ 70$ 48$ 253.2$ 456.6$
3000 128.1$ 105$ 72$ 379.8$ 684.9$

It’s 5.7$ a box, shipping, taxes, and fees included.  When Dick’s has a sale on Federal shells I think it’s around 5.24$.  Looking at my last Dick’s receipt for 500 shells, I paid 112.01$.  That’s 5.6$ a box.  So, why am I reloading?  I don’t know, I’m not very clever I guess.  Another consideration is that the LGS I also tried buying shells at charged me something like 8$+ for Federal #8 lead shot shells.  So one way to look at it is… I get bad-sale prices all the time?  At least, relative to the places I’ve bought shells from before.  I know there are better deals out there.

To make a significant saving, I’d have to find a great deal on shot.  It’s the shot that really nails me here.  I’ll ask around the club this weekend about reclaimed shot sources.

External factors in this are:
-I have the option to load 7/8 and 1 oz loads, although I probably won’t
-I don’t have to drive to Dick’s
-My chance of seeing the crabby lady at Dick’s goes from 12.5% to 0%
-Someone has to be home to accept powder and primer deliveries
-I have to spend an hour or so reloading
-I feel slightly better about reusing hulls instead of trashing them after one use
-Being able to reload seems like a nice skill to have
-I can make all those joke loads (party streamers, confetti) I keep hearing about
-I have to clean up any powder or shot I spill (Possible dog hazard?)
-Making my entry into reloading is a step towards reloading 223 REM and 308 WIN, which I really don’t like buying at full price
-I can make buckshot rounds for cheap, maybe?  Don’t really have a use for that though.  (Home defense? This isn’t the Bronx.  Deer? I’m okay.)

Definitely looking forward to all this stuff coming in so I can finally
blow up my shotgun barrels
cause myself grievous injury

get lead poisoning
shoot 10s-15s on the field

load up some nice homemade shot shells.  It’s not nothing.


Background Drafts

The plan this time is to have them so dark you can’t make out the details.  Will bring more focus to the bullet patterns, and makes it less obvious how little effort I put in it, sorry not sorry

I’ll need to work out a title screen, and then maybe I guess I’ll.. actually open visual studio again

20170330_Backgrounds


Thoughts from Nier: Automata (2)

Spoilers

I realize I didn’t even finish the first post, and this one will probably be the same way.  I didn’t even manage to get the will to post the pictures.

I’m beginning to realize how interesting of a solution it was to present the option to delete your save at the very end.  At first I balked at the idea; why on earth would I undo the efforts I just put into the game?  I hardly gave cleaning out the save file a second thought.

When I tried to go back to the game to wrap up loose ends, though, it was harder than I expected.  The feelings evoked by the music of the city ruins went from mild sadness to depression (excuse the hyperbole).  Knowing how things devolve later in the game made it difficult to watch the characters back together, and I ended up not getting very far.  Not because I wasn’t capable, but because I didn’t want to watch them anymore.

I think the choice to let the save files go is just as much for the player’s sake as it is for whoever’s final stage it benefits.  The story is over; wouldn’t you rather let go than go through it again?

It’s nice that they put the chapter select function in the game.  But for the people doing it just to get achievements… they’ve also added a shop where you can simply buy the achievements.  Here, the game presents a similar option; you can go through this miserable game again, OR we can give you a way out, and you’re free.

It really resonates with the first words voiced in the game, and the recurring theme of things that begin all need to come to an end.

For me, it was a nice introduction to Yoko Taro’s work.


Thoughts from Nier: Automata

Possible Spoilers

Played Nier: Automata directly after two or three weeks of trying to playing through Nioh and struggling not to die from boredom, and I was hooked from Friday night to yesterday night, getting endings A, B, C, and D over the course of around 40 hours.  I watched ending E online, not sure at what point my saves would get cleared, but I guess I could add the E ending to my save quickly as well.

Overall

The game is structured in an interesting, but risky way, in my opinion.  From the beginning to the first ending and credit roll took me about 14 hours, and while it was certainly fun, I found it, to be honest, a little forgettable.  There were still plenty of questions left to be answered, and while there some moments of unease and drama, it didn’t feel completely satisfying.  It was a good idea to put the developer message at the end, recommending further play throughs.

Were I in the developer’s position, I would find it hard to resist making it more immediately obvious that there is much more to experience in the game, say, by putting ‘End CH 1’ or something directly after the ending A cutscene.  I find it rare that a game gets significantly more interesting in subsequent playthroughs.  Whereas other games I’ve played generally have the meat of the game in the first play through, with following runs mostly focused on fine tuning and min-maxing, playing Nier: Automata only once would be a real mistake.  The game leaves out the strongest moments until the third playthrough, and the atmosphere becomes significantly different.

I’m not sure, but I feel the musical tracks for familiar areas became more intense in the third playthrough.  It was a nice touch (if it’s not just me imagining things).  I’m unfortunately not educated enough to comment on the music more than ‘it was really good, I liked it a lot.  Fantastic.’  Almost every time music was playing, I enjoyed it, especially the contrast between machine voices and… non-machine voices.  I wouldn’t say Pascal’s town theme vocals aren’t fitting, but I’m not sure I’d say I love it.  Another nice point I noticed were the spooky tracks that played whenever reaching a dark point in quest dialog.  Going from pleasant hub music to a funeral chant when someone talks about killing their friends really hammered the point home.

The way you can modify your chips, I find EXCELLENT.  Being able to modify the HUD through the chip system made changes to the UI feel natural story-wise.  Changing your skill build on the fly with no penalty (like having to respec, or being locked into a build by a level up system that makes you choose stats) encouraged experimentation with skill style, and there was a good variety of skills available.  I had a defensive HP + regen set, a speed set for moving about, and an offensive set for blowing things up as fast as possible.  I only wish there was a dedicated button for switching chipsets, and I would even favor it over the dedicated weapon switch button.  I’ve never encountered an enemy and thought to myself, ‘I really prefer to handle the different enemies in this area with two different weapons’.

One example I can kind of think of as far as weapon switching is spears.  I found myself using 9S’s spear throw can fairly useful, yet the spear counter move sucks; it just pushes enemies across the map.  I forgot if I can instead launch the enemy upwards on counter with R2 as 9S or if that would just be hacking, so that might just be me being bad.

Gameplay

Bearing in mind I’ve not played Drakengard nor Nier Gestalt / Replicant, I found the way the game frequently switched the mode of play engaging.  Scrolling shooter, top down shooter, 3rd person action, platformer, could all be used to describe different sections of the game.

What it has in gameplay variety though, I felt slightly lacking in depth in some departments (Reminder I really liked this game).

It may be that the patterns improve on harder difficulties, but this comes from a Normal difficulty playthrough.  The bullet patterns were by and large uninspired save for some slightly brighter moments for me (the amusement park boss).  Traversing them perfectly in 3d felt either droll or impossible.  Droll, because adding a 3rd dimension to bullet hell patterns means there is way more empty space available between the bullets, and impossible because you can only see so much of the screen and I didn’t feel it was possible to anticipate some of the faster moving attacks.

I didn’t like the fact that the dodge button felt combined with sprinting, but I don’t have a good alternative for that.  Now that I try to find what’s wrong with it, it’s probably fine.

It didn’t affect me for all that much time, but I HATED that you can lock on to friendly units.  It’s very frustrating trying to protect a friendly only to have myself lock onto the friendly over and over rather than the enemies.  I suppose that’s shame on me for playing on Normal, but I don’t see why I would ever want to lock on to something I don’t want to hit.  At least, not in the scenarios presented to me in the game.

Combat mostly came down to dodging, pod program, and R1/R2 presses for combos, counter, and juggling.  That’s definitely not a problem, and I’m oversimplifying.  But I wish each pod program ran on a separate cool down so that I could use multiple programs.  I could be embarrassingly wrong here, and they do have different cool downs.  A lot of the time though, ranged combat for me boiled down to firing a Gatling gun waiting for laser to become available.  Melee combat is fine, but ranged combat was a little boring.

The fact that there is a chapter select that allows as much selection as the one in Nier: Automata is very much appreciated.  It must have taken time to arrange and design things so that something that convenient is possible, and I think they definitely deserve credit for that.

Something that just seems to be eternally persistent in video games, however, are boring side quests.  I don’t think collect ‘x’ fetch quests should ever be an option when deciding how to supply the player with more things to do.  Of course, not all of the side quests are like this, but the ones that are should really not exist, or be replaced with fewer, deeper side quests.

Difficulty

There are 4 difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard.  I spent the first 2 hours of my experience with this game going through the introductory section of the game on Hard, over and over, dying shameful deaths.  I was expecting a Dark Souls / Bloodborne type of experience, dying repeatedly while learning (which I now tend to do for any action game), but having to get through the cutscenes and shooting sections just to mess up and get 99% of my HP taken away by the wheel-claw’s side swiping attack ended up just being too much for me to bear.  I did get through the claw, hoping I would be able to save my progress.  I didn’t see a chance to save, got killed by a surprise crowd of mobs, and was sent back to the beginning.  “Everything that lives is designed to end…”.  It was just too much, and I turned down the difficulty to normal at that point.  Looking back, now that I’m 40 hours more familiar with the game, I could probably handle Hard at this point, but that’s for another time.  When I just started, it felt beyond me.

On the other hand, during my playthrough of Normal difficulty, I died maybe twice throughout the game.  The difference in damage taken between Normal and Hard was vast (at least from what I could tell by the introduction section); and I think it’s too vast.  Normal felt too easy, but what little I tried of Hard felt grueling.

Story

I really don’t like how they killed 2B off.  As players we were given a lot of time to become very invested in 9S and 2B.  The struggle to get the infected 2B to the mall was frustrating and stressful, but maintained a glimmer of hope.  Then, all concerns for 2B are blown away as she’s confirmed dead.  I didn’t feel attached to A2 anywhere near as much as 2B or 9S, and when the game started presenting me the option of picking 9S or A2 to support, I went for 9S to start, switched to A2 just because I felt I should at least try it, then resolved to only pick 9S afterwards (I only got to pick him one more time afterwards anyway, I think?).  9S’s sequences were far more dramatic, and to have them punctuated by A2’s relatively boring personality detracted from the C/D route experience.

The idea that weapons store an android’s body was somewhat of a surprise to me and came out of nowhere as far as I’m concerned.

I was also hoping for some kind of plot development where android command had a reason other than desertion to exterminate certain Yorha units, or a strong reason to desert Yorha.  I don’t think it was made concrete though.

Ideas

Two groups killing each other on behalf of something that doesn’t exist
Humans are gone, aliens are gone… Given that does it make sense to fight?  9S’s descent into madness was stirring.

Self-Preservation

What qualifies as human
This is a common theme when artificial intelligence gets involved, but I’m not yet tired of it.  Should rights and laws be extended to anything that can speak to our emotions?  What really makes a human is how they think, not what they’re made of.

9S constantly rejects the possibility that machines can truly have emotions throughout the game, denying Pascal has a ‘heart,’ reminding 2B to ignore any machines’ cries of anguish, and other similar moments.  The problem is,  how can you tell, from the outside, whether something has emotions on the inside?  How can you tell apart a digital simulation of emotion and the flesh equivalent?  If the emotions are basic… does that mean it should be denied humanity?

How important is it that humans look human?  Androids and machines were the same at the core.  9S has no more of a heart than Pascal does, and he’s aware he’s not human.  When he discovers Yorha aren’t based on human AI, it becomes even clearer they’re not all that different.

How emotions form
I guess this is a continuation of the previous topic, but I think the idea that emotions aren’t uniquely human was highlighted.  (Well, any pet owners knew that already too)  When Pod 42 and 153 (numbers are wrong? I don’t know) grew fond of 2B and 9S, it showed emotions can come from anywhere with enough ‘intelligence’ and shared experience.

Questions

There are still things I didn’t resolve for myself, either from lack of insight, not having information from other games, or just not paying attention.  I’ll have to go back and read through the logs I picked up, or maybe some threads online.  I have some ideas but nothing serious.
Why did Yorha have to be designed to end?
Why did machines try to be human?
Why does A2 bother hunting down the forest king?
What makes the rogue Yorha go rogue?
Why did the machines kill the aliens?


I never asked for this

JLPT results came in

They actually came in a good while before today, but I left the envelope sitting on the counter because I was certain I failed.  I don’t know if I wrote about taking the exam before (it was December) , but I kind of just decided, hey why not give it a shot.  Didn’t study at all, but I figured if I spent this long ‘learning’ something and I can’t even do this much, just give up.  I didn’t study for the exam either, I figured it shouldn’t be stuff I can’t handle.

Well, I took the test, felt sure I did awful, and stopped doing anything with Japanese (…haha)

I wanted to clear out the mail last night, so I came around to opening the result envelope and… I passed?

 

The raw scores are pretty terrible, but apparently that was all it took to pass. If my performance was 80th percentile I’d hate to know what the average was.

Some of the longer stories that the exam gave me to read, I was struggling to get through without using up all the time

I still don’t really want to continue

It’s just never helped me


[can’t wake up]

character drafts should be fine for now

I really don’t want to work on stages….

imperishablenight1

I experimented a little with trying to replace the game-object spam bullet management of the previous games with something that takes advantage of the particle system

But I’m concerned about lasers.  If I can’t find a way to make lasers it’s 100% pointless.  I’ll just have to go back to the old ways and hope I get it better this time

Can I have different models for each particle?

Then again, I can just have one particle system for quad bullets, and another for lasers.

I’ve never been proud of any of the laser implementations I’ve done, but last game’s version was kind of okay as far as collision goes.

I really want to be able to do 1000 bullets, even if it never gets to that point.

Odd to have such a low goal right?  But I doubt I’ll ever need more than 512.  Last game had trouble with just 200…  Definitely doing something wrong.

 

I’ll be very frank.  I feel worried admitting it, but I think I hadn’t written a single line of C# code, until yesterday, in the past 6 months.  REALLY odd opening up .cs files again.  Scary a little too, that I could have let that much time pass.  I think I’ll focus on getting a working danmaku system now, and take a break from art.  There is still a mountain of art to do, still, though

Please, artist, help me