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October in Review October 31, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment, EverQuest, Facebook, Month in Review, Need for Speed World, Rift, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
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4 comments

The Site

I think the biggest internal site news was when WordPress.com made some change and messed up my stats for a few days.

Well, I hear they messed up a lot of people’s stats.

For the last five years page views have been counted in pretty much the same way.  I’ve kept them all in a spread sheet, every single day, since I started the blog.  The consistency is verifiable via third party page view counters I have used off and on.

Then, on the 18th, something new crept into the mix.


Basically, page views have been counted and displayed on the stats panel in a way such that the total page views for a given day were displayed in two places.  One is the big chart at the top of the statistics page (a section of which is shown above) and the other is in a table that breaks out which posts were viewed how many times, including the main page.

These two charts always added up, until October 18, when suddenly people started asking why they were getting so many page referrals from WordPress.com and why those referrals seemed to be added into the total on the big chart, but were clearly absent from the Posts and Pages table. (The sum worked out to exactly WordPress.com referrals + Posts and Pages total = Big chart value.)

So the Posts and Pages table, for the three days indicated with arrows in the picture above, showed the same number of page views (well, not exactly, the tallest column is actually over 100 views less), while the main page views chart showed very different results.

This became a burning question on the help forums where the main volunteer who handles the forum, in a demonstration of getting exactly what you pay for, was less helpful and more clueless than usual.

Eventually one of the paid staff (Macmanx the Hapless Engineer) came along and said that they had started including pages viewed via email subscriptions RSS in the mix, and this was where the boost in page views came from.  Since RSS tops site visits by 4 or 5 to 1, that seemed possible.  He said that views not getting matched to actual posts would be fixed soon, and off he went.

Then, a couple of days later, the founder of WordPress.com showed up and said, no, this wasn’t just RSS views.

Hey guys — founder of WordPress.com here.

Good news: We’ve historically been vastly undercounting your stats, and we’re starting to fix this.

Bad news: There are some bugs with how things add up, meaning that they don’t. I apologize for undue excitement this may have caused.

More good news: Although support is closed, we’re working on this. We’ll fix it ASAP.

When asked why the sudden boost in views did not match what third party counters were reporting (like my flag viewer on the side bar, which lined up almost exactly with the Pages & Posts report of page views for the 21st), he blustered about such page view counters being inaccurate and eventually said that all page view counts were just approximations and no two would ever match.

Tell that to the people who get paid for page views and the like.  I am sure that would make them very happy to use WordPress.com stats.

And then the next day wordpress.com referrals in the stats started to fade away, so by the 26th things were pretty much back to normal and the great mid-October page view spike was over. (Other people posted pictures with similar spikes.)

In my WordPress.com stats, October 21, 2011 is now listed as my best day ever.  However, I am pretty sure that June 29, 2011 is still the actual champion, which happened at the peak of the great Incarna bitch-fest.

And life goes on.

One Year Ago

I had some hopes and expectations for BlizzCon.  There were pretty much unmet.  But Blizzard had already announced the Cataclysm ship date, so what else did I expect?

I asked if people ever look at the items in the blog side-bar.  People mostly do not.

I finished building my new computer.  It has been live a year and Windows 7 hasn’t completely degraded into a pile of blue-screening ooze the way XP used to when not constantly attended to.

The EVE Online screen shot contest wrapped up, winners were declared and prizes were sent out.

The instance group was playing in LOTRO, which had been live as a Free to Play game for one month. In-game, we were subjected to the disturbing habits of some of the residents of the Lone Lands, while I indulged in one of my own habits, the mid-game character swap.  And then I made one post completely unreadable by making anagrams out of all the proper nouns.  I had to repost a corrected version.

I bought Civilization V, which like every Civilization launch, had issues with my current computer.  The unwritten rule of Civilization is that you need to upgrade your machine in order to play.

And my daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago our Saturday night WoW group completed our first full instance run, The Deadmines, on our third try at it, and got in a whack at The Wailing Caverns.

I decided in EVE Online that covert ops would be a good career choice.  It certainly sounds cool.  However, the effort was cut short when I got to some of the pricier skills.

I felt that fall urge to run around in EverQuest, plus I wanted to take some pictures of Faydwer in order to compare them to the upcoming EverQuest II expansion, Echoes of Faydwer.

I also jumped into EverQuest II and got all confused (nothing new there) about the trade skill changes that occurred during the 10 months I was away.

I was defending instancing and game company forums as well as moaning about the fact that I couldn’t find a decent video card for my AGP motherboard.

There was some talk about which pen and paper RPGs would make good MMOs.

And I spent some time carping about MMO pricing plans.  I still feel about the same on the subject five years later.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. Beastlord to be the New Class in the Next EQ2 Expansion
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Blizzard Endorses the Transfer of Capital to the Proletariat
  4. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  5. Tobold Prediction – CCP Bankrupt in 2012
  6. Panda Reactions at Our House…
  7. And Then I Told My Daughter About Pet Battles…
  8. Post BlizzCon Thoughts on Pandaria
  9. Despite Rampant Hacking and GM Shennanigans, Fippy Darkpaw Server is Still Stuck on Velious
  10. Azeroth Travel Poster Contest – Win a Sparkle Pony!
  11. Civ II – Found the Disc, Can’t Use the Disc
  12. The Most Wiley WoW Phishing Attempt Yet…

Spam Comments of the Month

I’m just done looking at your posting and I fairly enjoyed it….
[A long comment from somebody linking back to "Write Comments, Get Paid." I wonder if he got paid.]

i cant believe you are coming to Burlington, VT !!! andddd Albany, NY. im totally going to see you twice!
[Not if I see you first.]

Search Terms of the Month

3d gay porn
[Sorry, I don't cover Second Life here.]

lou attack report
[Who did Lou attack?]

EverQuest

I have written enough about EverQuest this month that you might think I am actually playing it.  But I am not.  I am, however, keeping as close an eye on the Progression Servers as I can manage and reporting on forum fun.  I hope, in the end, to have a decent sketch of what happened on the Progression Servers based on that.  You can keep an eye on the Fippy Darkpaw tag for the story as it unfolds.

Need for Speed World

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am starting to play this less and less.  Not a bad game, and it really can be free to play, but there just isn’t much to do once you’ve sort of hit the walls that surround the world.

Rift

The instance group is slowly coming online with Rift.  The general reaction from the group has been positive.  Primarily that has been about the look and feel, which stands up to WoW level of polish, unlike EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online which, for all their merits, are still rough around the action bar.

TorilMUD

There was some excitement generated by big changes at TorilMUD.  A bunch of people surged back on, dug out old characters or rolled up new ones, and then said, “I seem to remember this being a lot more fun.”

Well, that is what I said in any case.  There is still a lot to love about MUDs, but it was a time of very raw fun and few online multiplayer fantasy roleplaying options.

As a sign of how things have changed, TorilMUD had a double experience event this past weekend.

World of Warcraft

All this talk of pandas, pets, and BlizzCon got my daughter and I to resubscribe.  She really wanted to play, and when she plays I play.  We ended up doing a bit of the Hallow’s End stuff because she wanted the creepy crate pet.

Other Games

Facebook games in general, and Zynga games in particular, are really fading with me.  I used to try every Zynga game, then every other, then every third or so.

I end up playing them all about the same amount of time, but they seem to be cranking them out faster and faster.  I think this might be hurting them.

Two years, Zynga meant FarmVille and Mafia Wars.  They had a strong identity.  Today Zynga is a new game a month and I couldn’t tell you what the stand-out game for them really is.

I am sure there is a lesson in that.

Anyway, my Empires & Allies neighbors will have to understand.  I left everything harvestable, so they can reap (literally) the benefits of visiting, but I am done.

I have been playing some Civilization II, now that I have it working on Windows 7 64-bit.  I miss some of the enhancements that came with the later games… and unit pathing just sucks… I have to find the patch that fixed some of that… but it is light and clean and still a damn good game.

And, finally, I have been meaning to write about Defense Grid: The Awakening, a $10 tower defense game on Steam.  But every time I go to write about it, I launch it and just end up playing.  I have thought about picking up Dungeon Defenders, because I like the tower defense genre, but I doubt I would play it any time soon because I am not done with Defense Grid yet.

Coming Up

Well, the instance group will actually have to do something together in Rift.

There is a screen shot contest to judged!  You still have until November 6th to get your Azeroth travel poster submitted!

I am sure there will be something to note on Fippy Darkpaw.  Right now the forums are just boiling about the whole rotation thing, but there might even be a vote on the next expansion, the Shadows of Luclin.  If waking the sleeper was the gating item to trigger the vote.  If it was “finish all tasks listed on the chart,” then… well… all those tasks are not done yet, and we’re still stuck on Velious.

And we’re getting to the end of the year wrap-up season.  All those predictions… erm demands… will be coming home to roost.  For some of them, the companies were listening, while on others I apparently did not make myself clear.

Have the Goons Wrecked the EVE Economy Yet? October 30, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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10 comments

Because they were threatening to do that like a month ago with their Goonswarm Shrugged operation, and I haven’t seen much in the news about it since.

Sure, The Mittani brings up ganking regularly on Twitter.

And over at EVE News 24 there are editorials about CCP vs. the Goons or making high sec PvP free, both of which reference the the Goonswarm Shrugged ops, but which do not really go into detail.

So what is going on?  Have oxytopes quadrupled in price as predicted?  Are the Goons having an impact?

Meanwhile, Quickster is Losing Its Mind October 29, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
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5 comments

Or Netflix.  Or whatever they call it these days.

Well, it might just be a database issue, but it is starting to tell me things about movies that do not line up with my memories… like The Wicker Man being about a basketball player’s herion addiction.


And, just in case you were wondering, the Basketball Diaries has the correct synopsis, so I could only go for one humorous screen shot.

Oh, and if looks like I edited that picture, I did.  I have to move the cover art close to the synopsis so it would fit the 450 pixel limitation of this blog theme… I just got a bit carried away and was too lazy to go back and do it right.  Trust me, if I wanted to fake something up, I’d pick something more amusing, like Dora the Explorer and Last Tango in Paris.  Swiper, no swiping the butter!

In case you were wondering, which you probably were not, but we’re on the subject anyway, we gave up on Netflix streaming and went back to their disc delivery service.

I think we, as a family, watched everything we were likely to, and new content shows up at a glacial pace.

Furthermore, upon reflection, we decided that one of the reason we had Netflix in the first place was to be able to watch new to video releases that we had no interest in buying while they were still reasonably new to video.  This is not at all possible with Netflix streaming.

Somebody, somewhere will say something like, “Oh, it isn’t Netflix’s fault that their video streaming content is so limited.  It is all the big nasty studios.”

And I can understand that.  But it doesn’t mean I have to give Netflix money while they make their streaming service worthwhile to me.

Finally, I did indeed find one and exactly one movie in my multi-hundred long Netflix queue that was available on streaming but not on disc.  Children of the Revolution.  And I’ve seen it already.

So we’re back to physical media, which, at this rate, has a very long life ahead of it.  I mean, I wanted to put Westworld and Futureworld in my queue, but Futureworld isn’t even available on disc.  Wait… it is available streaming.

Dammit Netflix!

The Instance Group Gathers in Telara October 28, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Rift.
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12 comments

Saturday night was finally the end of the hiatus of the instance group.  After a long summer absence, which extended into the fall, we were once again together in an online game.

Rift was the game chosen, and things got off to a slow but positive start.

Everybody, for example, had a copy of the game downloaded and patched along with an account.

With the promise of an early mount and an inexpensive price, everybody except Bung opted for the collector’s edition.  Bung only had the trial version of the game.  But for a first night’s getting acquainted round, that seemed to be more than enough.

We all eventually arrived and started working on characters.  That included picking a basic class and thinking up a name.  We ended up with the following spread of characters. (I have yet to decide the universal handle by which I should refer to everybody… well, except for Earl… so I will go with what might make the most sense to anybody who has been following along for a while.)

  • Earlthecat – Bahmi Warrior (Earl)
  • Aboulhoson – Eth Mage (Potshot)
  • Hillmar – Bahmi Cleric (Me)
  • Ephemara – Kelari Rogue (Ula)
  • Jollyreaper – Kelari Mage (Bung)

Happily, we are beyond the age where you need to type something like c ‘heal’ Aboulhoson in the middle of a heated battle.

I will have to get everybody’s soul choices next time around.  I cannot even recall my own at the moment, and I am too lazy to log in.

I had actually rolled up in advance, so spent some time wandering around the initial starter area helping to answer questions and form up a group.  I nearly asked Earl what his character name was.  Silly me.  The rest of us came up with new and different handles.

Jollyreaper actually came from Bung’s son, who thought that would be a good Halloween costume.  Rather than being the Grim Reaper, he wanted to have the cloak, cowl, and scythe, but have a happy, smiling mask on along with them.  The Grim Reaper back when he enjoyed his job, pre pale horse.

Earl actually rolled up first and got out ahead of the pack… and made some of the same mistakes we all seem to have made, like that quest where you talk to the quest giver and, if you read the quest text, you know to sit tight while he activates a construct to escort you to the final quest hub.

And if you just skip the text and try to run ahead… well… chances are you will end up dying a bunch.  I was only save from that fate the first time through by my obsessive desire to make sure I have completed all the quests.

Anyway, Earl got out there and died.

I hung around waiting for Jolly and Ephemara, who I ran into at one of the early quest hubs.

Hillmar and Ephemara

Hillmar’s mail shirt looks oddly like a Cosby sweater.  Or maybe that is just me.

Having some time to kill, I actually spent some of it filling in the details and reading all the quest and related text.

It wasn’t that I did not get the story up to that point.  We were brought back to life, we are being sent back in time to save the planet, blah blah blah.

Reading this was just confirmation

But it is very in my personality to want a quick look at what is going on and to then go back and fill in the details as I am ready for them.

So I am a bit more filled in on the story so far.  I also got to see that Trion holds the opinion that bare female mid-drifts and plate armor bikinis are useful in combat for their opponent distracting value.

Men cannot avert their eyes

I also got to see a few variations of events I had not run into previously, like a sudden mass of skeletons.

Really following the dead

I linked up with Jolly and we made it through to the final battle at the portal and did that fight.

The last starter area battle begins...

We got through and were greeted with a view of another rift.

Old Telara, same as new Telara, only greener

By that time, Earl and Aboulhoson had been into Freemarch for a bit, we just needed Ephemara to catch up.  Our rather unambitious goal for the evening was merely to get everybody rolled up, through the starter area, and into Freemarch so we could meet up, collect mail, and generally be ready to start trying to work as a group.

Only Ephemara got stuck on that last fight in the starter area, which was odd, since she had done it before with her other character.  We offered advice on Skype, mostly to the effect of letting the NPCs in the area do the heavy lifting for that last fight.  But the NPCs seemed to be taking the night off, so our rogue was getting pasted.

And due to the setup, there wasn’t much we could do.  You cannot go forward again in time to help somebody out if you have already gone through the portal.  So we were stuck for a bit, at least until Abo got up and walked into the next room to help with the problem.  He is co-located with Ephemara.

After a short interruption, Ephemara made it through the time portal and into Freemarch.

We were able to collect everybody together at last for a group picture.

The Instance Group in Freemarch

Pictured above, from left to right, not including the boar and cat butts visible at the bottom of the shot, are Ephemara, Earlthecat, Hillmar, Jollyreaper, and Aboulhoson.

Now we are together and poised to move into the game.

<cue stirring music>

Quote of the Day – Pet Battles October 28, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Quote of the Day, World of Warcraft.
Tags: ,
4 comments

Video Gamer: “Pokemon is so childish!”
Normal person: “Video games are childish!”

Rohan at Blessing of Kings, on Mists of Pandaria pet battles

It is all a matter of perspective.

There are people out there that think playing as a talking, martial arts panda is fine.

But Pokemon?  Well that is strictly for kids!

Quote of the Day – April Fools Foreshadowing October 27, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Humor, Quote of the Day, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

Talents are now automatically chosen for a player based on the main specialization chosen.

From the 2011 Blizzard “April Fools” WoW Patch Notes

Somewhere else I wrote that the difference between Blizzard on an average day and Blizzard on April Fools Day is like turning the silly knob from 10 to 11.

So I am not saying that the quote above is how talent points are going to work in Padaria, but the difference seems like a mere turning of that knob from 10 to 11.

Oh, and those patch notes also contain a paragraph about customizing companion pets.  Where have I seen something like that?

A mere coincidence?  I think not.

What else have they been hiding in their so-called “April Fools jokes?”

Need for Speed World – Likes and Dislikes October 27, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Need for Speed World.
8 comments

I think my affair with Need for Speed World is running out of steam.

I have been playing the game pretty regularly for a couple of month now, logging in for a bit almost every evening.  I have played enough to make it up to level 25, which is about 20 more levels than anybody else on my very short friends list in-game.

But lately I have started skipping a night or two or three.

That is generally the sure sign that interest is waning.  I can kid myself about whether I like a game or not, but I simply won’t go play games I do not like or feel I am done with.

But while the game is still somewhat fresh in my mind, I thought I would list out what I liked about the game and what… well… irked me.

What I Liked

1 – Free to Play

Honestly, if this game were not free, or if it required me to buy a box or otherwise lay down money up front, I would mostly likely not be playing.  But it is free and sans velvet ropes as far as I can tell.  You can drive around, race, get in police chases, and all that just like somebody who spend money on the game.

2 – Driving Fast

For the simple goal of driving fast around a city/country road network, this game is all I need.  I spend some of my time doing the daily gem hunt, enraging the local law enforcement, and racing.  But I spent a good chunk of my time just driving fast.

3 – Lack of Realism

As I drive around fast, I often hit things.  Some times on purpose… it is tough to race past a row of parking meters without mowing them down… and some times on accident.  Some times I find out that 150 MPH is too fast for the corner in question and I smash into the landscape.

But the smash up isn’t the end of my fun.  There is no need for a tow truck or a return to the garage.  You just point the front end of the car in the right direction and carry on.

You have the option to show some visual damage, but I turned that off.  My car is always as shiny and new as when I started.  Eventually damage takes its toll and performance begins to degrade, but that is nothing a quick return to your safe house and a bit of cash for repairs cannot cure.

The game seems intent on keeping you driving as much as possible.

4 – Destructible Terrain

As noted above, and mentioned before,  it is hard for me to really pass along the sheer joy of knocking over parking meters, stop signs, lamp posts, fire hydrants, garbage cans, and other bits of scenery.  And then there are the big items, the billboards, water towers, giant signs, and other things that will actually fall in the road and stop traffic and/or foil pursuers.

There is even a college campus you can race across smashing the trappings of the academic environment (somebody seems to have left a lot of rolling white boards out and about), a bus station with large plate glass windows to smash through, and the ever popular exploding gas stations.

It Goes BOOM!

5 – Retro Cars

I was a bit worried when the looking at the initial car list that all vehicles in the game would be “modern,” which to my mind is any vehicle made after I purchased my first new off the lot vehicle… which was in 1987.

But no, the game has thrown out a couple of very nice retro choices, enough for me to actually throw down some real money on them via their SpeedBoost micro-transaction currency.  So now I have a 73 Nissan Skyline GT-R, a 74 VW Golf GTI, a 70 Chevy Chevelle 454, and a 67 Corvette in my in-game garage.  Good stuff all around.

6 – Lots of Race Courses

That is the one thing the game seems to offer you as you level up, access to ever more race courses.

The race courses are actually sections of the world map that appear in an instance for races you can compete in either against computer opponents or live players.  Each new course has its own quirks and getting to know them is part of the competitive game.

7 – Customization

Probably the best aspect of the game is the amount to which you are allowed to customize your car.  Driving around, you will see an amazing array of paint and sticker designs on cars.  People spend a lot of time on this aspect of the game, and it is one of the things that is pretty open without paying money.

Pimpmobile!

There are aspects that are locked out, some special bits that you need SpeedBoost to obtain… like window tint for some odd reason… but the tools left to your disposal with in-game cash are still impressive.  And a lot of people take full advantage of it.

Some need a little more imagination

What Irks Me

1 – Pay to Win

I am throwing this in less as an issue I have with the game than an issue you have to hear people gripe about a lot. (Though it still slaps me in the face every so often.)

There is an element of pay to win in the game.  When you buy a car with the micro-transaction currency, SpeedBoost, it comes fully equipped with high end parts and from the moment you take possession of it you are equipped to win.

You can often (but not always) buy a comparable car with in-game cash and equip it with special drops and get close to store bought performance, but there is a layer of cars that you just cannot seem to touch with in-game items.

That said, there is an element of skill to the game, and having the best car does not mean victory.  I have beat out any number of cars that were statistically much better than my own.  I usually do that by following the #1 rule of racing: Don’t run into stuff.  A good chunk of my victories were less about what other people were doing and driving and more about my simply avoiding being slowed down by contact with other racers, track debris, obstacles, and the ever present NPC traffic on the roads where you race.

But sometimes you are equally skilled, or maybe a little more skilled, but he put down money for a Porsche 959 while you’re thrashing your little Golf GTI just to keep up and money carries the day.

2 – Lack of Realism

This is one of those things that is good in the right dose.  Sometimes when I am in a level 5 police pursuit and I’ve smashed through dozens of road blocks, put even more police cruisers out of action, and my vehicle is literally surfing on a sea of black and whites seeking to bring me to justice, I start to wonder if I might be a bit too invulnerable.

Surf the Fuzz!

Plus the fact that every car in the game is rear wheel drive pisses me off.  I did not notice this at first, since I tend towards the more retro aspect of the game, which tends towards rear wheel drive.  But then I got that ’74 VW Golf GTI and noticed it was burning rubber from the rear tires.  That just sucks.

Oh, and I want to be able to honk my horn.  Is that too much to ask?

3 – Picture Time

If you have read this blog for a while, you might have noticed I have a real attachment to screen shots.  Rare is the post about a game that does not include some sort of picture.  I mean, I put in pictures of maps of zones from text based MUDs.

This stems from being a visual person.  When I look back at old posts and read about an encounter, it is made much more alive in my mind with a picture of the event.

So the screen shot situation in NFSW pisses me off.

First, you cannot turn off the damn UI.  Not that I want it off in every picture… it is nice to be able to see I was breaking 100 MPH on the fairway of a golf course… but sometimes you want a glamor shot, something for, say, a travel poster!

But that isn’t the bad part.

The bad part is that the camera is fixed looking at the rear end of your car and you cannot change that without some serious street maneuvers.  I have a lot of screen shots of my cars mid-bootleg turn because the camera takes a second to catch up, so for a brief moment I can see the side of my car.

Chevelle Bootleg!

Not that I do not enjoy doing bootleg turns, but I really want to be able to turn off the UI and unlock the camera to take screen shots of my car.  That, however, is not allowed.

Now, some might point out that there are special locations within the game that allow you better camera control so you can take pictures of your car.  This is true.  And they all seem to be in sports arenas, because that is where people take pictures of cars I guess… on football fields and baseball diamonds.

Usually I am doing donuts here…

Anyway, I hate that I can customize my car’s look to down to such detail, and then can’t take a decent picture of it out on the road while I am driving.

4 – Small Map

The map seems pretty big when you finally unlock the last bits of it around level 10 or so.  (After that, the level unlocks seem to be limited to new race courses.)  But when you are zipping along at triple digit speeds, you start to find that you can move from one side of the map to the other in a pretty short time.

There are a couple of points where the road appears to be headed off the map, but you are blocked.  I kept hoping the areas beyond the blocks would open up, but they have not so far.  Perhaps those are place holders for an expansion?  I do not know.

But I do know I have driven every mile of the blacktop in game at this point (plus the golf course), and I would like some new spaces in which to play.

5 – Isolation

The loneliness of the long distance racer.

In a way, this is the game being too realistic.  Everybody in game is in their car, alone, and driving around.  It is like the commute.  Lots of people around you and nobody to talk to.

It is like EVE, everybody alone in their spaceship, only worse, since EVE has a better chat system.  No, really.

Oh, there is the common chat channel, which gets partitioned into dozens of channels to keep the spaminess down to a dull roar, which means if you roll by somebody and what to say something, you need to catch their name or right click on them so you can send them a whisper, because they are unlikely to be on the same channel as you.  Only you’re both likely in motion, so the moment of opportunity flashes by quickly.

So I have spent a lot of time in the game, yet I know absolutely nobody in-game.  And, as we well know, one of the key points to retaining players in MMOs is the social bond they have with their fellow players.  I have no such bond, so walking away is easy.

6 – Under-populated Races

You end up with lots of different race courses to try, but I have found that a lot of the courses do not get much use.

The early courses are heavily populated, and getting into a race with a full grid of 8 players is pretty easy.  But as you get into the higher level courses, opponents become more and more rare.  I have sat for 30 minutes waiting for somebody else to join me on a new course, though that is rare.  More common is to queue up for a course and end up in a two or three player race.

I do not mind the two or three player races too much.  They are not as exciting generally as a full eight, but they can be good, at least until you get matched up solo against the level 50 guy in the Porsche 959 and the 90% win rate and you wonder if you’ll even be able to keep his tail lights in view.

And don’t get me started on hackers.

30 Second laps? Hacker!

7 – Simply Not Enough to Do

This, for me, is the final item because it is the most important.  It is the reason I have been slowing down with the game, logging in less and less.

There just isn’t that much to do.

Fast driving is good.  I can do that for 15 minutes to unwind, tear down the freeways, carve through the side streets, and generally get my need for speed satisfied.

The daily gem hunt is fine, though having done it for 25 days in a row, I am pretty sure I have all the hiding places down now and I have managed to find all 15 gems in about 3 minutes. (The game keeps track of first gem to last gem time.)

Racing can be a blast, but it is hard to find a good race on higher level courses.

And you can only do so many police chases in a night.

Which leaves… what?  Not much.

I wish there was something else.  A pursuit game.  A game of fox hunt or U-boat.

Final Thoughts

There are other things less than wonderful about the game about which little can be done.  Cars driven by other players tend to be erratic and all over the road… and their front tires seem to be cranked over hard for a left hand turn while driving straight ahead… making racing against live players sometimes more annoying than exhilarating.

But that is more a sign of the reality of the internet than the game.  I end up in races with people spanning three continents on a regular basis, so I am pretty happy we can race together at all, even if it means that sometimes the guy three car lengths behind me in the final stretch sometimes jumps ahead of me and beats me without warning.

The game is very international, which is a good thing.  Everybody plays on one server, something managed by clever instancing and partitioning.  It isn’t uncommon for me to be able to identify four or five languages in the main chat channel on any given night.  Spanish, English, and Portuguese are very common, with French, German, and Russian showing up regularly.

All in all, it is a pretty good game.  There are trade offs where things had to be kept simple in order to satisfy a broad range of player machines and locations, but it can be a lot of fun.

I just wish there was more to do in the game.

SOE Confirms November 15 Veil of Alaris Launch Date October 26, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
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SOE may be proud to announce the launch date for the 18th EverQuest expansion, the Veil of Alaris, but it isn’t like we couldn’t have figured that date out ourselves.

After all, they told us over a week ago that pre-order prices were good through the 14th of November, so at least *I* was pretty sure that the launch date would be November 15th, it falling on a Tuesday and all.

SOE has also posted a series of zone preview videos for those who want to see what is coming to Norrath.

I am still impressed that EverQuest is getting regular expansions more than 12 years into the game’s life.

Azeroth Travel Poster Contest Update – More Entries October 26, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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A quick reminder and update on the Azeroth Travel Poster Contest.

First, there are now 14 entries in the contest from 12 different individuals.  Tesh was the only one to use up his full three entries.

And there have been some great interpretations of the travel poster idea, including pictures inset within pictures and an Azeroth travel poster displayed in a different game.

A sample poster with inset pictures

But if that sounds like a lot of competition, do not give up hope.  Some people entered just to enter.

Probably not a winner...

And some people who entered are not eligible win (like my mom), for one reason or another.

Still, there were good entries from that group.

Fly Ironforge Air to Sholozar Basin

This even borrows what actually used to be the Delta Airlines motto, “We get you there,” which one would assume was a given from a company selling transportation.   But if you’ve ever flown Delta through Atlanta, you probably wonder if they dropped that motto when the FTC demanded they add “eventually” or “some day” to the end of it to comply with truth in advertising regulations.

So there is still room for more entries if you want to win that sparkle pony, and plenty of time to enter!

You have until Noon Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, November 6, 2011 to submit your entry.

A Kinder and Gentler Fippy Darkpaw… for Raiding Guilds October 26, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
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The EverQuest GMs have apparently given up on gladiatorial combat and trivia challenges in order to determine who gets a crack at which raid boss and have resorted to just posting a schedule.

Greetings citizens of Fippy!

Below is the outline for the current Fippy raid rotation. To get your guild onto this rotation you just need to petition with a time/date for your guild to prove it’s meddle. Each tier (current and future) will have its own, no-loot, raid mob to kill. I would suggest petitioning well in advance to ensure that both parties have the time resources available at the specified time.

Current guilds keyed to top tier Velious spawns:

Twisted Legion
Citizen
Dark Blood
Rosen Guard

Pending guilds:

Ascendency

Top Tier Raid Rotation: (The mob to qualify for this rotation is Vyemm.)

Current week rotation:

Cazic Thule – Twisted Legion
Avatar of War – Rosenguard
North Temple of Vesheen  – Darkblood
Tunare – Citizen
Ring of Fear – Darkblood

Second Tier Raid Rotation: (The mob to qualify for this rotation is Sontikar or Vyemm.)

Yelinak
Sontalak
King Tormax
Ring of Slime

The Rules:

#1. Each rotation with the exception of NToV consists of a 12 hour window. NToV will be given an 18 hour window to cover the spawn windows of the number of raid targets. If a raid target is not killed within 12 hours of it spawning it is open to any other guild on the rotation to target and kill.

Killing a raid mob outside of another guilds kill window does not change the rotation. The guild who was incapable, unwilling, or uninterested in killing the raid target essentially forfeits their kill of the target.

#2. Killing a raid target during the kill window of another guild will result in the suspension of the raid leader. All loot that was dropped by the raid target will be removed and destroyed. The raid target will then be re-spawned and the 12 hour window will restart.

#3. Interference with another guilds kill target during their window of time will result in harsh punishments for the offending guild. (I.E. if your guild is training another guild, your guild may become locked out of zones when a raids target it up, and it is not your turn to kill it. Don’t do it, it will not be worth it to you or your guild in the long run.)

#4. When a new expansion launches all raid targets will be at free for all status for the first 4 weeks or once multiple guilds have shown the ability to kill said raid targets, whichever is longer.

We have invented virtual instancing… if you just imagine that the server has only enough processing power to run one copy of the instance at a time… and that there is some sort of strange form of guild lockouts that affects only qualified guilds.

With raid conflicts now settled and the war on hacking still going strong, the Progression Server forums can get back to the real business at hand…

Complaining about how people who multi-box have completely ruined EverQuest for everybody for all time!

Only done in a non-judgmental and non-flaming way.  It says so right in the title.