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September in Review September 30, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, Neverwinter, World of Warcraft.
Tags:
3 comments

The Site

In an oft repeated story here, WordPress.com changed something, announced it in an irregular location (or not at all), broke stuff for users, and then acted surprised.

This time they retired a bunch of themes from WordPress.com.  80 themes, mostly from the early days of WordPress.com… from which I now count my origin I guess… were junked because they didn’t want to have to update them to support new (for sale) features.  This was a detail you would think would be important enough for the WordPress.com news feed, to which I subscribe.  But it was not.

And, since I came from what is now the early days of the site, both of my active blogs used themes from the retired list.  However, we were told the themes just wouldn’t be available for new users, that those of us still using them would be able to continue on as before.  Until, of course, they started breaking them.

EVE Online Pictures, which used Redoable Lite, basically stopped displaying posts on September 4th and I had to scramble to find a new theme for it that I felt fit the style I had set.

Now I am worried that Regulus, the theme for this blog, for which I have never been able to find an acceptable replacement, might have its days numbered as well.  I like the theme I grabbed for EVE Online Pictures, which is called Piano Black if you are interested.  If I could find a light version of that, I would use it here.

And, as if to prove my point, WordPress.com then changed how images were displayed in blog posts and every image on the site with a vertical orientation was suddenly outsized relative to its border/caption. They all looked like this.  Again, no warning, just a change that happens to break things only on some of the old themes, followed by some very general suggestions and a promise to look into things at some point after locking the thread and deleting all the complaints.   To be fair, it does appear that they fixed the problem since that point, though no mention was made when it happened.  Things just went back to normal.  Now I am just waiting for the next change to go in and break something on my out-dated theme.

In other news, I went into full “piss off the neighbors mode” here and took advantage of the new WordPress.com integration with Google+.  WordPress.com, in announcing this feature, implied that Google would like me better if I did this.  Now every post here and at my other site generates a Google+ entry.  Have you evicted me from your circles over this atrocity yet?

The traffic increase from this change has been exactly one page view per day.  On my other site.  Somebody clicks on each new EVE Online spaceship picture.  Meanwhile, Google search traffic has plummeted… right off a cliff, an 80% reduction… giving lie to the implied promise of Google liking me better.  Seriously, on my other blog, traffic is so low I am now getting alerts if somebody looks at too many pictures.

Up From 2!

Up From 2!

Of course, maybe I just misinterpreted that implied promise.   Maybe Google just likes me better on Google+.  Or as a person in general.

Google remains a mystery to me.

In any case, we may be getting down to traffic numbers that represent the actual number of people who read this blog, as opposed to people mistakenly sent here by bad search engine results.

The only bright news there is that I stopped my summer experiment of posting a new EVE Online picture daily, dropping to three pictures a week.  I worked through much of my picture backlog.  So less spam for everybody.

One Year Ago

Mists of Pandaria launched, adding a panda race to Azeroth, right on Ultima Online’s 15th anniversary.   I think the shark jumping trope jumped the shark that day.

I was falling out of WoW myself, though still not allowed to unsubscribe. Being locked out of the Theremore event due to item level helped kill any enthusiasm I had for staying with the game.

Torchlight II showed up.  Still waiting for the Mac OS version.

In the land of EverQuest, the Rain of Fear expansion was announced, while EverQuest II went straight to truth in advertising and revealed an expansion called Chains of Eternity.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, Omens of War went live and was finished.

SOE was talking about some form of Wizardry that was Online.   PlanetSide 2 was planned for the end of the year… sort of.  And then there was Player Studio and all that implied.

The next chapter in the Darkfall saga was announced.  And they had a new game/expansion or some such.

In EVE, the CSM was looking for a way to… well… screw most of the people who actually vote for the CSM.  I stranded my null sec Drake in Jita.  I compared Traffic Control to a hostile FC.

In a more serious vein, the real world reached into our game took a fellow player.  Even tragedy cannot displace idiocy though.

My goal to get my fourth class in Rift, a mage, to level cap before Storm Legion had me in Stonefield.

BioWare, not done with their trend of announcing public metrics they eventually failed to meet, committed themselves to a new content schedule for SWTOR.  Later we found out that “adding items to the cash shop” counts as new content.  Meanwhile, I pondered the SWTOR lore choice.

The Lord British saga continued as he opted to jump in bed with Zynga!  He, of course, expressed great fondness for Zynga, while I wondered what his sith name would be, since he was clearly going the Anakin Skywalker route.

I remembered Spaceship Warlock.

Free to play was still under discussion.  An article in Game Developer Magazine included the warning to not assume profitability just because people are going on about revenues.  And yet all I hear about are revenues when it comes to free to play.

The people at Stormpowered started in against marriage.

And the blog turned six and felt very clever about it.

Five Years Ago

Warhammer Online went live, first with the head start and then for everybody.

As we just saw with other MMOs, there were issues coordinating with friends about which server to choose, leading to yet another gripe post about the whole sharded existence we have to put up with in MMOS.  I did wonder if the EverQuest II mechanism of multiple versions of a given zone might be worth it to get everybody on a single server.

The instance group was game was into WAR (after escaping from Durnhold Keep), though as a group we have some parameters that we had to work within.

In Warhammer itself, war were declared on gold sellers and Mythic was being very demonstrative about it.  Of course, it did not appear to stem tells from gold seller bots that seemed to sit active for days.

I went on about those tips you see on the loading screen of many MMOs, spurred by a couple less than helpful tips in WAR.

In EVE Online I hit a major ISK milestone.  But I was building up ISK because I had my eye on a freighter.

The Empyrean Age 1.1 update was upon us, which included 2 changes designed to reduce the scourge of suicide ganking.

Meanwhile CCP was offering up battleships for sale… model battleship for real cash, not ISK.

But the most important EVE Online event was probably Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online.  Much shoe-on-head wearing and talk about tactical logistics reconfiguration ensued.

In EverQuest II, the Living Legacy promotion was ending.

LEGO Batman showed up.

And, finally, the site hit the two year mark.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Nostalgia Starts in Azeroth This Time
  4. In Space You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Well Tanked
  5. Sweet Home Azeroth – Summing Up a Bit
  6. LEGO Legend of Chima Online – A Second Try at a LEGO MMO
  7. The Dreadmines and the Scarlet Something or Other
  8. Small Features I Want MMOs to Copy
  9. Warhammer Online to Shut Down in December
  10. Neverwinter – The Foundry Comes Through
  11. Blizzard Killing The Diablo III Auction House
  12. Delve on a Saturday Night

Search Terms of the Month

raptr keeps emailing me stupid
[The internet is in the business of stupid most days, what did you expect?]

the french resistance online game
[Is that the one everybody claims to have played when they were playing a competitor most of the time?]

timelist island wow
[Is that the Dalaran train station?]

gank proof procurer
[You can get to “gank resistant,” but nothing is “gank proof.”]

running civ2 on windows 8
[Sorry, I go with the “skip a version” policy with Windows, and 8 is clearly the version to skip.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Club foot amateur money talk porno
[This came with a link, but I was afraid to click on it.]

EVE Online

As the conquest of Delve wound down, so did my time in New Eden.  I focused more on where I wanted my training plan to go than how I was going to get all those ships, now scattered about Fountain, Delve, Querious, and Cloud Ring, back to Deklein.  My time in-game did pick up some as we formed the new corp, Black Sheep Down, and went trying to build on that.

And my procrastination around getting ships home might pay off in any case.  The latest GSF CEO update asks that the alliance, and the coalition in general, be ready to fight from VFK-IV, 4-EP12, and F20Y-X with ships for the coalition doctrines in each.  If anything, I might not have enough ships strewn about the galaxy.  Then there is the call to also form up in G-0Q86 in Curse in order to crush the remnants of TEST.  The rumor is that TNT is going to give that a pass and go off on a camping holiday of its own.  We shall see.

On the bright side, I only lost a single ship in EVE this month, an Ibis that I was using to scout ahead while moving things back to Deklein.

Neverwinter

Not enthusiastic at first blush, this game continues to gain ground in my eyes.  It still sits too far down my list of things to play to get much attention, but explorations with the Saturday night group has shown it to have merit.  Of course, as a group, we are still in the shallow end of the pool, being all of level 14 in a game that goes to level 60.  So we have been more sightseers than dungeoneers I suppose.  We shall see how things play out as we progress.  And it looks like the game is moving to a single shard, so maybe you will see us… if you’re on at the right time on a Saturday night.

World of Warcraft

This is where I spent the majority of my gaming time over the course of the month.  As I noted in a post, it is fun, familiar, and comfortable.  But things haven’t quite worked out as well as I had hoped.  We ended up not making the guild due to having only four friends on the server.  Attempts to keep the four of us within a couple of levels of each other so we could do things together fell apart pretty quickly.  Various people, including myself, raced ahead at times.  I am actually on my third serious character now, having stopped the other two in hopes of playing with other people.  But Kihei has been off with her level 90s exploring the 5.4 patch while my daughter… who actually suggested this whole outing… has been more interested in Team Fortress 2 of late.

So things have not been bad.  WoW is what it is and tends to be very good at it.  But it has not quite been the revival I was hoping for, and it certainly isn’t inspiring much in the way of blog posts.

Coming Up

It will soon be October and the lead-in to the end of the year frenzy, with in-game events and expansion and BlizzCon and what-not coming at us from now through until January.  That will give us all something to chat about I suppose.  But will it mean playing anything new?  There seemed some hope of getting EverQuest Next Landmark by the end of the year, though SOE seems to be in full “bore the player base with tangential questions” mode still.  Seriously, every poll question they have had so far has either been a complete non-issue for me or makes me think that the vision of the game is incomplete.  Oh well.

It might be time to look at those goals I set myself back in January.  Or maybe not.  I don’t seem to be doing very well with them.

There will likely be some sort of deployment for us in EVE Online.  That should fuel a few posts.

EverQuest II has some changes coming up.  Should I buy a level 85 character with all that Station Cash I have rattling around, of should I sit on it just in case there is some movement on EverQuest Next?

There is also some sort of permanent floating New Blogger Initiative that is going on.  I will have something about that I am sure.

And… and… well… business as usual I suppose.

SOE Tentatively Returns to Selling Content for Station Cash and Removes Equipment Unlocks September 27, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II.
Tags: ,
7 comments

One of SOE’s big EverQuest II free to play fiascoes was, in my opinion, getting themselves in a position where they had to stop selling expansions and subscription time because they had devalued their RMT currency, Station Cash, so badly.  As the big chart over at EQ2 Wire showed, if you timed things right you could have ended up paying as little as $1.25 a month for a Gold level subscription back in the day.

Likewise, expansions could be had for a pittance compared to their list price in the face of sales at both the Station Cash and the Station Cash Store ends of the business.

So all of that clearly had to go, leaving me with the big question about what to spend all my Station Cash on.

Well, there was a change on the expansion front today as a new Producer’s Letter announced that SOE would begin selling the Age of Discovery expansion for Station Cash.  You can buy it as one big bundle for 4,000 SC, or as individual pieces totaling up to 7,000 SC.

  • Beastlord: 2500 SC
  • Mercenaries: 1500 SC
  • Tradeskill Apprentice: 1000 SC
  • Reforging: 1000 SC
  • Dungeon Maker: 1000 SC

According to the Producer’s Letter, the Age of Discovery expansion will cease to be sold for anything besides Station Cash as of October 1, 2013.  However, The Chains of Eternity expansion, and the upcoming Tears of Veeshan expansion, however, will require some real world money to purchase.

Still, this is actually something of a big step for their cash shop as it gives players something substantial to purchase.  I know some people love mounts and cosmetic gear, but it is nice to have something with some “heft” to it in the shop.

Who you calling, "fuzzy?"

My only cosmetic purchase, a bunny hat

In addition to that, and something that might actually get me back into the game to spend some of my Station Cash, it was announced that both Free and Silver level accounts would no longer face gear restrictions.  So when I go back to take a look at EverQuest II, my first in-game alert won’t be about how my character can’t wear his currently equipped gear.

This seems to be part of an ongoing loosening of the free to play restrictions on the game.  Previously SOE removed the restrictions on races and classes (except for the Freeblood vampire race and, of course, the Beastlord class) and has tinkered with things like bag slots before.

Free and Silver accounts still face restrictions on skills, character slots, and in-game mail access.

In turn, in order to set Gold level accounts… the classic $15 a month subscription option… apart from their lesser brethren, SOE will be boosting coin loot by 15% and mount speeds by 10%.  The former sounds okay, but mount speeds are already almost terrifyingly fast at this point, does anybody really need another 10%?

All this goes in place on October 1, 2013, along with a new Station Cash item that will boost your character 280 AA points.  Add in the whole Try and Buy a Heroic Character option and it seems like the EverQuest II team has been busy stirring the pot to get more people back in game.

If Your Friends Crossed the Rubicon, Would You Cross it Too? September 27, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags:
4 comments

-Why do certificates have what is essentially their own tool?
-Why do I have to open the tool in order to “claim” certificates?
-Why do I have to claim certificates at all?
-Why is the display of certificates chopped up into both type (defenses, gunnery, harvesting, etc.) AND rating (none, basic, standard, improved, and elite)?

Me, in a comment to a post about a silly certificate

My post a couple weeks back looking at the lack of expansion excitement appears to be getting a little more out of date.  Companies have been stirring.  Details have been leaking.  Announcements have been made.  Promises have been broken.

Yesterday’s big thing… for me and my fellow internet spaceship pilots at least… was the announcement of Rubicon, the next EVE Online expansion.

We all have that same splash screen image

We all have that same splash screen image

As is the case with EVE Online expansions, Rubicon doesn’t look like typical MMO expansion.  You can’t just add a new region of space, a new race or class or some such, thread it together with a story line and call it a day in EVE.

Sure, looking at the Rubicon site or watching the replay of the announcement (which is on that page), or looking at the summaries at The Mittani or EVE News 24 if you want more details and clarity (I think EN24 wins on the clarity front), it sounds like we are going to get some new stuff.

There are going to be some new ships and some new deployable structures and a new battleship missile module.

But a lot of what was announced sounds suspiciously like, “Yeah, we’re going to fix a bunch of stuff, some of which you have been complaining about for years.”  Welcome to New Eden.

This is why EVE Online “expansions” are free.

And while fixing stuff sounds like a “well duh!” level of effort, it can also a perilous journey.

EVE is, like no other MMO I have played, an ecosystem where unintended consequences can seem more the rule than the exception.  Who could foresee, for example, that the Orca would become the high sec suicide ganker supply ship?

And CCP has learned to tread carefully… for the most part… when making changes.  CCP can influence behavior.  They made tech moons valuable null sec property, which lead to a null sec cartel being set up, where enemies agreed to not fight over these moons.  Then CCP changed moons and redistributed them with Odyssey, and the war in Fountain was on, leading to the largest battle in the history of the game and the shattering of one of the biggest null sec alliances, which subsequently retreated to low sec.

So CCP has to show some care.

And some of the changes and updates for Rubicon seem pretty safe.  Revamping the current certificate system seems pretty non-controversial.  It fit a pattern I referred to as:

…a random, half-baked, over-complicated feature tossed into the game and left to stew for  a few years… that sounds like the standard CCP process.

The new Interbus Ship ID system, which will help players figure out where they are on the ship training tree and where they can go next, seems like a good idea as well.  EVE has a reputation with being miserly at doling out useful information to new players.  There is the steep learning curve, which maybe they can sort of explain away, but then there is the sheer bloody minded refusal to display simple data, like how many rounds of ammunition a given weapon can hold in its magazine and how fast it will shoot that ammo.  Moving away from that, even a little bit, is good in my mind.

And I suppose an integration with Twitch for streaming isn’t necessarily bad.  We’ll see how many more people end up disclosing vital intel by streaming their fleet ops I suppose.

But the rest of Rubicon… well, things will happen.

Ship rebalancing always changes up what ships people use and how they used them.  And throwing in a couple of new ships is always a crap shoot.  Will they be over-powered and suddenly dominate every gate camp operation?  Or will they fill no solid role and end up as something for ship collectors, role players, and the occasional eccentric?  And will it make that TIE fighter sound when you fly it?

Sisters of EVE Frigate

Sisters of EVE (SOE) Frigate

But it is some of the other items that I think will really spice things up, and not necessarily in the way CCP envisions.

Being able to control customs offices in high sec space… actually making them player owned customs offices… is clearly going to lead to conflicts over control of them.  But how far and wide will that go?  Will the struggle be limited to high sec entities looking for a bit of passive income?  Or will The Mittani be announcing “POCO-geddon” when things get quiet in null sec, leading to an all-out invasion for control of that aspect of the game?  You may say that the ISK wouldn’t be worth it, but that leaves out the value assigned to tears in some quarters.

And then there are the new personal deployable structures.  They sound interesting on paper.  I bet the siphon unit, which will steal resources from mining stations, will get deployed all over in hopes of picking up some resources from unwatched operations.

On the other hand, I suspect that we will see a such personal deployable structures become priority targets.  During the live presentation it was stated that for these structures, CONCORD won’t be getting involved.  You will be able to shoot them up in high sec without your ship being automatically destroyed by the NPC cops.

And, in EVE, when you say, “You may shoot another player’s things in high sec space,” you have to expect the response is going to be “SHOOT ALL THE THINGS!”

Rendered in internet standard language

Rendered in internet standard language

I expect scanning for these structures will become a new sport and hilarity to ensue.

So while I do not see anything in Rubicon that will mean much to me at this point, I do see lots of possibilities for changes to how people play the game.  That is excitement enough for me.

Unintended consequences; coming to you on November 19, 2013.

The Dreadmines and the Scarlet Something or Other September 26, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, Neverwinter.
Tags: , ,
5 comments

Not a World of Warcraft post.

Saturday night rolled around again, as is its habit, and it found three of us online and looking for adventure.  I think we might be ready for a game like Borderlands 2 or such at this point.  Needing to accommodate five people is slipping as a requirement.

So there we were.  I think we have actually settled on characters now, so I will start listing them out.  We had:

  • Fergorin Ironhelm – Level 12 Guardian Fighter
  • Regulos – Level 12 Devote Cleric
  • Sans Serif – Level 12 Trickster Rogue

I actually went and played some Neverwinter on a weeknight to catch up, which I suppose is a good sign for the game.  Though, in doing so, I ran a quest that gave me another bag, thus removing from immediate contention possibly the only item in their store I would consider buying.  Nice move Cryptic.  I was this close *holds up two fingers very close together* to pulling the trigger on a buying some Zen, and then you handed me an out.

I also gained my stealth skill, another attack, and some upgraded equipment.  I was ready… or more ready… to go.

After our previous venture into Neverwinter, where the Foundry came through for us, we chatted a bit afterwards about the Foundry tool set and what it was possible to build.  During that conversation I demonstrated what an unoriginal hack I was by declaring that if I was going to make dungeons in Neverwinter, I would just remake the good ones from WoW.

That got a chuckle and few comments before we logged off for the night.

This past weekend however Potshot, who is our Foundry expert and scout, said he had a special surprise for us.  He had been exploring the Foundry and had a couple of dungeons lined up for us.

More after the cut because of too many pictures which I probably think are more amusing than they really are.  My apologies in advance.

(more…)

An Alt Slips into Null September 25, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
Tags:
8 comments

In something of an impulse move, I put my main alt character into Black Sheep Down.

I had been thinking about bringing him out to null for quite some time, but never really got around to it.  Part of the block was that I needed to go make sure he was jump clone capable, having apparently forgotten that I took care of that something like four years ago.

Seriously, I logged him in the other night and checked his faction standings.  He was sitting at 8.4 with Amarr Navy, so could create a high sec jump clone with them.  I looked at his skills and realized that he already had Informorph Psychology trained up to level 4, so he was covered there.  Then I started looking for an Amarr Navy station that had medical facilities so I could create a jump clone.  That was the hardest part of the evening, as EVE Online is always reluctant to give up information to the player.  It was easier to just go out of game and Google the question.  I found a forum post with the answer, which I will share.  Amarr Navy stations at the following locations have medical facilities for clone management:

  • Bapraya XI – Moon 4
  • Beke VI – Moon 4
  • Bhizheba IX – Moon 1
  • Ghekon V – Moon 11
  • Kamih V
  • Nakri VI – Moon 1
  • Sahtogas IV – Moon 2
  • Youl VII – Moon 10

Bhizheba happened to be the closest system to Amarr, where I was hanging out to buy and fit a ship.  So I jumped over, docked in the station, and attempted to create a jump clone there.

More after the cut.  Too many words and one pretty neat screen shot.

(more…)

Sweet Home Azeroth – Summing Up a Bit September 24, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags:
15 comments

So I had the post about the great big return to Azeroth.  While it wasn’t really nostalgia, as the goal was actually to do something new, it still represented a return to an old friend.  I had a couple posts about the guild and things that remained the same, and then haven’t mentioned our adventures in World of Warcraft for… two weeks now.

Which, if you are a long time reader, might be taken as a sign that I stopped playing.  I tend to just go quiet on games I stop playing unless there was some big, breaking event.

However, such has not been the case with WoW.

In fact, if you look at my Raptr profile, you will see that WoW has been far and away my most played game for the last two weeks.  I log on every day and play a bit.

I just haven’t done anything really interesting.

We still haven’t formed a guild, remaining with Khaotica for all the level 25 boosts and bennies.

I ran my first character, Makawao through a number of zones, which has been fun enough.  The zones, while clearly still focused on being solo story events in the post-Cataclysm model, are fun.  I goggle a bit at how much effort must have gone into some of the locations or quests only to spend mere minutes in them at times.  The Stonetalon Mountains seems especially full of such locations.

But I am not sure I need to write a zone guide about that.  Maybe I could start tracking Blizzard’s seeming obsession with poop quests and balloons.  Balloons especially seem to be a post-Cataclysm motif.

I have been quite keen on pet battles.  I still have a full post in the works for that at some point.  I think I need to go further with it than I have currently before I come to any conclusions.  But I will say that the Pokemon-like “collect them all” is a big driver.  I speak as somebody who, at one point, had literally caught them all in Pokemon.

I ended up getting too far out in front of my daughter with Makawao.  It was fine for her to race ahead, but when I did it there are complaints.  So I stopped when he hit 40 and go the epic mount skill.

Which meant faster rides

Which meant faster rides

The whole account-wide mounts thing made that interesting.  And it will be more so when I get to flying mounts.  I have more choices than I remember.

With Makawao on hold, I started working on an alt.  I had rolled up a blood elf paladin, Banff, and decided to take him another path.  I picked the protection spec with the idea of running him through all of the instances as a tank.  I generally play the healer, falling back to DPS when somebody else in our regular group (usually Potshot) already has the role.  But I rarely play the tank.  Both Earl and Gaff insist on playing that role when they are around (which makes having them both around interesting at the rare times it happens), so I generally consider that somebody elses job.  (By my calculations, I have been healing Gaff the tank off and on for nearly 20 years.)

So going tank is another aspect of the “do something new in Azeroth” plan.

But doing instances via Dungeon Finder has been… a change.  More after the cut.

(more…)

Black Sheep in Low Sec September 23, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
Tags:
2 comments

The new corp, Black Sheep Down, went on its first big op yesterday.

It was planned as a corp op, to follow on to our first corp meeting, as something of a bonding exercise, with out fearless tyrant, Meclin, leading us.

But then word got around on the director’s channel and suddenly it became an alliance op.  TNT turned out for our little venture, which got us some more pilots as well as titan support for a bridge out.  More pilots was probably a good thing too, as we were off to blow up a mining tower in low sec and replace it with one of our own.  More is generally better for that sort of thing.  But Meclin sort of got muscled out of some of his leadership responsibilities with this as well, which seemed fine with him.

The call was for a Talos battlecruiser fleet, another fleet doctrine I hadn’t really run into up until that point.  As it turned out, a lot of people in the alliance had not either.  Some Taloses were trucked up and put on alliance contracts at which point they sold out almost immediately.

A Talos Battlecruiser

A Talos Battlecruiser

I was short a skill to fly the fleet Talos fit (Hybrid Weapon Rigging I), so I opted for logistics and piled into one of the Scimitars I have parked all over New Eden.  I made sure I had a Garde II shoved in the drone bay so I could get on any kill mails.  Sentry drones have the range to hit a tower through the POS shield, unlike a standard combat drone, which has to get in close.

We ended up with about 60 pilots headed out to our target in low sec, with a boost from a titan to get us on our way.  Once there it turned out that the tower had no fuel so was sitting there with no POS shield.  I could have stuck with my Warrior II drones.

The shoot went smoothly, with only the occasional factional warfare pilot landing in the vicinity.  We were in one of those systems.  The tower was blown along with two key modules.

Boom

Boom

Then a Rorqual dropped in to deliver the new tower.

New tower, new name

New tower, new name

While that was deploying and coming online, a chunk of the fleet set to check nearby systems to make sure that process remained undisturbed.

Intel sent us chasing after a couple of elusive targets.  Then a call came in that some neutrals had a Chimera tackled near a POS.  We rushed over there to find no Chimera (it was literally a Chimera I guess), so joined them in bashing the POS tower they were working on.  That put us all on another kill mail.

We moved on quickly from there figuring that, once the POS was down, the two fleets would likely start shooting each other and we were at a disadvantage.  This is EVE Online after all.  Sure enough, once we warped off, they sent us a note asking why we did not stay and fight them.

We had good reason to move on.  While we were off doing that, a couple of ships had shows up to harass the tower deployment operations.  So we moved back to where we started and knocked them off quickly enough.  We chased a few more phantoms after that before finally starting on our way home.

As it turned out, while we were away, some hostiles had been roaming around VFK looking for kills.  We attempted to cut them off as they were leaving the area.  However, in one of those moments of bad timing, we warped off a gate just as they landed on it, so we were not able to follow them through and bubble them on the other side as quickly as we needed to in order to catch the bulk of their fleet.  A couple of stragglers were nabbed, but that looked like all we were going to get.  So it was back to home from there.

Not a bad first outing for Black Sheep Down.  The op was a success, kills were had, the alliance joined in, and we added another moon mining tower to our operations.

As usual, I have some screen shots from the op after the cut.  I was able to get some good shots of drones for once.  I think the ambient light in low sec might be better suited to such screen shots.

(more…)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail – The Serious Trailer September 21, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, YouTube.
6 comments

Somebody took the classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail and used clips from it to create a “coming attractions” style preview in order to imagine it as a serious movie.  This was the result.

(link to original)

It is still hard not to laugh when you are familiar with the scenes they used.

Fippy Darkpaw – Pirates on the Horizon September 20, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

I gave up trying to track the status of the EverQuest time-locked progression server Fippy Darkpaw about a year back.  Basically, I had long stopped playing on the server and keeping track of how things were moving along became increasingly difficult.  The server timeline, still linked on the EverQuest web site, has been broken since the game went free to play on its 13th birthday.  And SOE has shown no interest in promoting the server since the run up to its launch, so they never mention any change on the server ever.  I speak as someone who has subscribed to every SOE new channel he can find.

I was depending mostly on the forums, since each unlock appeared to have problems and would, thus, generate forum posts.  But SOE eventually fixed that as well, reducing forum content to bug complaints, demands for new classic and/or progression servers, and requests to merge/not merge the Vulak server, which is dead/just fine, with Fippy Darkpaw.  The dearth of timely news made me give up my quest to actively cover all updates and expansion unlocks.

However, once in a while a nugget of information still shows up unbidden.  For example, the good people at FippyDarkpaw.com, an external site devoted to the server, recently posted this update.

[Tue Sep 17 22:56:41 2013] <SYSTEMWIDE_MESSAGE>:The barrier to The Buried Sea begins to shimmer. The Priests of Discord have news for you.

Expect the vote to open on Monday.

That means that The Serpent’s Spine is on its way out and the EverQuest pirate expansion, The Buried Sea, will likely be unlocked very soon, featuring a meaner, more scantily clad Firiona Vie.

Pirate Firiona

Pirate Firiona

The Fippy Darkpaw server is now returning to a time when I was actually playing EverQuest again, during what I guess I would call the age of Norrathian nostalgia.  I came back for The Serpent’s Spine, which was new so not really nostalgia I guess.  But it was a return to the old world.  And in the classic nostalgia pattern for me, I played for a bit and then went back to greener pastures.  So by the time The Buried Sea came out… which sounded suspiciously like Pirates of the Burning Sea… we were playing Lord of the Rings Online.  But we were talking about Pirates of the Burning Sea.  And The Buried Sea sounded nothing like that.

Not the EverQuest version

The Buried Sea came out during the end of the “twice a year” frantic EverQuest expansion cycle and was aimed primarily at those who were already high level and invested in the game.  It featured, if I recall right, a lot of faction work along with some new currencies and represented something of a “things to do” side path opposed to an evolution of the game.

With that, and a couple other updates I gleaned from the site, I was able to update my list of events for the Fippy Darkpaw server.

  • Fippy Darkpaw server goes live with classic EQ content, February 15, 2011
  • Classic EverQuest competed, February 24, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark unlocked, June 6, 2011
  • Ruins of Kunark completed, June 19, 2011
  • Scars of Velious unlocked, August 29, 2011
  • Scars of Velious completed, September 14, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin unlocked, November 21, 2011
  • Shadows of Luclin completed, December 4, 2011
  • Planes of Power unlocked, February 13, 2012
  • Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Legacy of Ykesah unlocked, March 12, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 7, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, May 21, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlock vote fails, June 4, 2012
  • Gates of Discord unlocked at last, June 18, 2012
  • Omens of War unlocked, September 10, 2012
  • Omens of War complete, September 12, 2012
  • Dragons of Norrath unlocked without a vote, November 13, 2012
  • Prophecy of Ro completed, April 26, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine unlocked, July 16, 2013
  • The Serpent’s Spine complete, July 19, 2013

After The Buried Sea, there are only four more expansions on the list, as the timeline graphic only showed things going out to the House of Thule expansion.

Expansion List

Expansion List

And what will happen after that?  Will the server be merged into one of the standard servers, which was what happened with the original progression servers?  Will we see another round of progression servers?  Will we get that “classic” server that so many people want, but which nobody can quite define?

We shall see.  Updates here when and if they become available.

Great Moments in Exploits – The Ressurection September 20, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, MMO Design, TorilMUD.
5 comments

There were corpses all around the great fountain in Waterdeep.

Not that there aren’t usually a corpse or three sitting around there, preserved and waiting for a resurrection.  There was one there even as I started to write this.

Another day in Waterdeep

Another day in Waterdeep

But this different.  This was a lot of corpses.  And they were all from the same player who, I recalled, was a high level barbarian warrior.

Even as I stood there pondering the corpses the warrior, whose name I cannot recall all these years later, entered the room and attacked the elite guard.  He was killed almost immediately and another corpse joined the pile.

This went on for a while, the corpse count growing, while several of us pondered what he was up to.  Was this an attempt at an epic rage quit?  Was he working on some sort of corpse based art project?  Was this some sort of science project?

After a while, with many corpses on the ground, he gave up and went away.  Somebody was casting preserve on the corpses so that they would not rot and disappear as quickly, but otherwise we had a bunch of empty player corpses and some speculation about what had just happened.

As it turned out, of our possible answer, the last one turned out to be correct.  It was MUD science in action.

The player in question had apparently discovered that, in the character database, the key unique value for any character was the character’s name, as opposed to some unique never-seen number.  And why not?  Names were supposed to be unique in the world.  So what linked anything in the world to your character… equipment, corpses, money… was your character’s name.

The player had also discovered that when you die, part of the information saved with the corpse was how much experience it should restore to you if you received a resurrection.  When you died, you lost 25% of the experience of your current level.  If you got a successful ress, about 80% of that lost experience was returned to you.

And, finally, the player had noticed that when you deleted a character, any corpses that character left behind remained in the game.  The corpses were not tied to the character but were just objects in the world related to the character only because they were flagged with the character name.

Do you see where I am going with this?

So the player had taken his level 50 barbarian warrior, a somewhat common sort of character in the game and one of the easier classes to get up to level 50, and turned it into a pile of experience laden corpses strewn about the streets of Waterdeep.

The player then deleted what remained of that character, leaving the corpses behind.

The player then rolled up a new character, an enchanter, one of the most in-demand and difficult to level classes in the game.  He gave this character the same name as the warrior he had just deleted.  This character and name was approved by the admins… the naming rules were rigorously enforced by the people who ran TorilMUD… sort of… and this fresh level 1 enchanter entered the world.

This newly minted magic user made his way to Waterdeep, where a friendly cleric began resurrecting the corpses left behind by the old character.  And it worked.  The enchanter leveled up rapidly with each resurrection.  The enchanter did not make it to level 50, or even level 40 if I recall right, but he got far enough into the level curve to get past the awkward “got no spells” and “got no useful spells” points in his career and straight into the “I have key spells that make me useful to a group” zone, wherein he could expect to find experience groups easily and be able to make his way to the level cap with some diligence.

Experiment success!

Except, of course, for the whole part where he got caught almost immediately by the game admins.

The admins get a little message every time somebody levels up if they have the right feed turned on.  So while I understand that the player in question waited until no admins were visible online, there were a couple on that were hidden.  And they swooped down on him right away.

Now, this did not happen in the bad old days, when he likely would have been banned for life from ever playing TorilMUD.  There was a time when the admins would ban whole blocks of IP addresses just to rid themselves of one person, occasionally screwing over somebody else in the process.  But he had still be caught red-handed using an exploit to his own advantage.  He lost his new enchanter, all his experience, and probably some equipment along the way.  He was no doubt put on probation and might have even been given a temporary ban.  But if I recall right, they did not actively seek to ban him for life or burn down his house or anything that might have happened if he had tried this in the early to mid 90s.

And, shortly thereafter, a fix went in that wiped out any corpses remaining in the world when you deleted a character.

Or so I recall.

That is the rub here.  This happened nearly a decade ago.  I was not directly involved.  Everything I heard at the time was second or third hand and might have included a fair amount of speculation being passed off as fact.  And, of course, my own memory might have enhanced the tale as well.  The details might be totally out of alignment with what actually happened, and if you know something, feel free to correct me in the comments.

The essence of the tale is true though.  Somebody got their character killed repeatedly, saved the corpses, deleted the character, created a new character with the same name, and received repeated resurrections that rapidly leveled up the new character.  And I was around for bits of the whole thing.  Well, at least the killing and corpses bit.

And the whole event certainly does say something about players.  I am sure that this is covered somewhere in Raph Koster’s list of Laws of Online World Design.

I had actually forgotten about this event in TorilMUD history.  I was only reminded of it when I read Psychodhild’s post about the reincarnation game mechanic in Dungeons & Dragons Online.  That trigger the memory of somebody really attempting to recycle a character in order to bring it back as something new.

Which brings up the question if players ought to be allowed to do something with level cap characters that they do not play any more.  Could you use that as a re-roll mechanism that bestowed some benefit or which acted as a gate to new content for another run to level cap?