January in Review January 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, Need for Speed World, polls, Rift, World of Tanks.
1 comment so far
I’ve got nothing.
Really, the site hasn’t changed. WordPress.com hasn’t screwed things up in any new and unusual ways. I still haven’t changed the look of the site. No unusual honors or attentions have come this way.
I haven’t even got any new linking sites this month. This is only the second time in 77 month in review posts that has happened. Time to run with some “classic” Krusty… I mean links.
So I am going to go with my usual ruse and run a poll and pretend that it is content.
And so it goes, month in review #77. But those poll results will probably be in #78.
One Year Ago
I asked 12 questions for 2012.
I updated the About Page to its current format. I am not sure it is any more useful, but it certainly is… uh… longer!
There was that whole SOPA thing. Are we safe yet? Somehow I think not.
I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.
I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.
LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.
SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition. As part of that conversion, EQ Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived.) Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.
Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.
Turbine announced that their fall expansion would be Rider of Rohan.
There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.
I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion. This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings. Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.
In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north. But a conflict with Raiden was looming. during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*. Boring no more!
In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server. We regrouped on a new server. We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps. That last was a struggle.
The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.
And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.
Five Years Ago
January 2008 saw me writing all sorts of stuff that came back to haunt me.
I started off with a helping of silly predictions.
Then, with Tabula Rasa dead to me since open beta, I started wondering if there was any hope at all for a Science Fiction MMORPG. This ended up being one of my most responded to posts ever with, in addition to all the comments, Potshot, Tipa, Lemegeton, Gooney, and even Massively following up with response posts. This post still gets a lot of views every month. (And yes, I do think there is hope, I just don’t know when we’ll get what we’re looking for.)
And, along with that, I wrote about five LEGO Video Games I would like to see made, another post that made the monthly list of most viewed posts on a regular basis a year later. [And I got a couple of the games I asked for!]
In EVE Online, after spending millions of ISK, I managed my first Tech II Blueprint, then I couldn’t afford to build it. Ah, life in EVE. I also got my standing past 8.0 with the Caldari Navy and spent time hauling trash.
And, finally, in Lord of the Rings Online I was able to pick up my Bree Pony, the 2007 holiday gift to founders.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll since 2007 or so, for which they have my thanks, and are still up and running and being updated, which makes them pretty rare.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in January
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- More Than 2,500 Ships Clash in Asakai
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- A Journey of One Hundred Deaths
- What The Hell Do You Spend Your Station Cash On?
- Bosses and Gimmicks and Nostalgia
- Wielding The Dead Rat
- Surviving the French Connection
- The Fate of the Mighty Mackinaw
- What to do in EVE Online – A Summary
- Big Guns, Slow Tanks, and Crew Training
- 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
Spam Comments of the Month
Yes! Finally someone writes about adjustable coffee.
[Because screw that non-adjustable coffee!]
buy azithromycin for chlamydia
[Yeah, we'll talk about that later]
your words are like advice for me
[Your comment is like a simile to me!]
Search Term of the Month
[That is "Gabe Newell" in Belorussian, according to Google. How I got on the first page of results for "Gabe Newell" is another mystery.]
mafia wars myspace inventory
[Mafia Wars and MySpace? A match made... somewhere warm.]
why noone talks on nfs world?
[The same reason people don't talk on the freeway, you cannot speak directly and texting distracts you from driving.]
information about servel cycles and weather changes occurred during the year 2012 to 2013 at various places around the globe
[This term brings you to the graphic for my New Year's post. Google remains a mystery.]
It looked like war… and then it didn’t… and then a bunch of capital ships got blown up.
And I missed it all.
Okay, I did go on one fleet op this month and was on two kill mails. Plus I sealed my reputation with our new corp leadership by asking if there was a participation link after our rather over-long corp meeting this month. So I have that going for me.
And I now have enough skill points that I need a Tau grade clone, which runs 30 million ISK. That just reinforces my aversion to frigates and cruisers. They are cheap to lose, but when I get podded it puts 30 million ISK on top of the price. Won’t somebody save us from this regressive tax on the most successful (by at least one measurement) players in EVE?
Need for Speed World
I still play this a bit. Actually, for about 8 minutes every day. I do the gem hunt, which gives you a prize every day when you complete it. But it says right on the prize reward tab that the prizes get better every consecutive day you complete the gem hunt. I am testing this. I am currently past the 30 day mark. Expect a report on this some day when I am really bored.
Do I even play this game any more? Do I even play fantasy MMORPGs any more?
Evidence is starting to suggest I do not.
Expect a long and angst ridden post at some point laying the blame squarely on Blizzard and World of Warcraft for destroying the genre.
That’s what you’re supposed to do when you hit this point, right?
Or is SOE to blame for ruining EverQuest? Or for making EverQuest II? Or the NGE? I can never remember.
But expect something once I figure it out!
World of Tanks
The instance group, or most of it, has gravitated to WoT, which is something of an “old man’s shooter” to my mind. I like shooters, but when it comes down to it, I have never been very good at the run and gun and bunny hop routine, and my skills have not gotten better over the years. So a tank shooter, where you move slowly… unless you are in one of those damn T-50s… and things like cover, aim points, and line of site matter fares well with me.
It is also light, can be played in small doses, and is fun as a team… though we have to start working more like a team.
I have a post brewing about the iPad. I have had one for a year now, so it is probably time to explore how I thought I would use it with compared to what I actually ended doing with the thing. And I will probably insult people who make 99 cent apps again.
Something will likely happen in EVE. It always does. I’ll get some new tanks I bet. And some email to post about.
Meanwhile, the drought of posts about me actually playing a fantasy based MMORPG… there was exactly one this month… will probably continue.
SOE – The Movie? November 22, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, polls, Sony Online Entertainment.
A Potshot inspired poll, bringing a little bittersweet silliness to the day.
What movie best represents the story of Sony Online Entertainment, from the launch of EverQuest through to… when ever you like?
Feel free to suggest roles/casting in the comments if you really think you are on to something.
I will put in any “other” choices in the comments.
Today’s Conspiracy Theory – The WoW 5.0.4 Patch August 28, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Guild Wars 2, polls, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Conspiracy Theory, Patch 5.0.4
I love a good conspiracy theory. For me few things beats fanciful speculation based on cherry-picked facts and impossible to prove or disprove motivations. It makes for grand entertainment.
For example, it seems to be almost a given in certain quarters that Blizzard’s decision to drop the WoW 5.0.4 patch today is an attempt to distract attention away from the Guild Wars 2 launch.
If you ignore the fact that major patches and launches always happen on Tuesday in the US, that there are only so many Tuesdays between now and the Pandaria launch (which itself had to launch before the WoW year long subscription deal started to expire), that Blizzard always drops this sort of new content about a month before an expansion launch, and that it is a freaking patch that really only impacts people who are already playing WoW… with all of that irrelevance out of the way, you can clearly see the conspiracy unfolding.
So let us look at what the evil masterminds at Blizzard have deployed to spoil the Guild Wars 2 launch! What bits of candy and other tasty tidbits will become to WoW in this spoiler patch. The patch notes tell all!
Details after the cut to protect the young children from these stunning and graphic revelations!
Voice Software Poll – Five Years Later June 26, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, polls.
Tags: Voice Chat, Voice Software
About five years ago I put up what may have been my first poll related to gaming. It was my second poll, the first being a simple test of some odd, external polling plug-in I was trying out. This was before WordPress.com integrated with Poll Daddy for build-in polling.
The topic of this poll was voice software, and the poll was taken at a time of transition.
For me, the instance group was well and truly under way and we had settled on Skype for our group coms, which was a change for me. At the time I was much more used to having TeamSpeak or Ventrilo speech servers available for guilds and gaming clans to which I belonged. Just a few months before I had let our last guild voice server lapse.
But there was also change going on in the MMO space. Voice communication was starting to be integrated directly into our games. We were starting to hear about companies like Vivoxx. The separate server/client voice software seemed to be getting some competition.
And so I wanted to know, what were people using. I wanted to see if the integrated voice software was catching on. The results (not scientifically valid) seemed to indicate that integrated voice was not catching fire..
That is a small sample, but it was heavily weighted in favor of the two most common guild voice servers, TeamSpeak and Ventrilo. (Nice typo in the poll, me of five years ago! Some things never change!)
Skype and “never” were each more popular than game integrated, while nobody chose “other” or Roger Wilco. The latter I added for historical/sentimental reasons. That was the voice software we were using in 1998, back when we did a lot of gaming at the office in part because we could use the phone system for conference call coms.
So here we are, five years later. Voice software has moved ahead. There are new players in the voice server sphere, while the old standards are still around. Integrated voice coms in MMOs is now a standard and has had five years to work out glitches.
So I thought it might be time to ask the question again. This time though, I am going to ask the question twice. The first time will be the same question, what is your primary voice software, if any. Same question, different year, a couple of new options.
Now for the part two. The same list of options, but this time it is multiple choice. Check all of the boxes that apply.
Right now, for me, the answer for the first question is probably Skype still, five years later, though Mumble, which is the CFC coms standard, is pretty close.
But five years after integrated voice started showing up in MMOs, I still have never used it regularly in any game. I think the instance group experimented with it in LOTRO one night, but we went back to Skype pretty quickly.
On Talent Trees and Skill Points May 24, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo II, Diablo III, entertainment, MMO Design, polls, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Irrational Hate, talent points, Talent Trees
When I was writing yesterday’s post comparing aspects of Diablo III and Torchlight II, I was somewhat dreading the possible comments, and all the more so when Massively linked to the post. (Thanks, by the way.)
My fear was that there would be a parade of Hulk-like “Me smash always online DRM single player game!” comments. That seemed to be the primary focus of Diablo III hate at launch, at least when the servers were down.
But I actually did not get any of that. The joys of a small readership. Or maybe I successfully deflected them all to Straw Fellow. Evil plan achieved.
I was, however, a bit surprised to find, both here and over at Massively, that the presence of talent trees and skill points was being pushed as a big pro-Torchlight II differentiating factor. It was sometimes hidden under “character customization,” but it was there and oft mentioned.
And I found this a bit odd because I do not like talent trees. I see them as having proven their flawed nature over the last 15 years to such an extent that I wonder how anybody can promote them as a positive feature with a straight face.
We have talent trees, and we are sure we have succeeded where literally everybody else has failed in the past!
In theory, talent trees are great and represent a way to create a unique and special snowflake of a character. I get that. Lots of things seem great in theory.
In practice, there is usually one “right” build for whatever role you are seeking to fill and every other alternative is sub-optimal.
So talent trees become less about character customization and more about finding the “correct” answer. In the end, I think that most of want our characters to be good at their chosen roles, right? I know there will always be somebody who will view playing with a sub-optimal spec as a challenge, but I have to believe that is the exception and not the rule.
And because the talent tree allows us to make bad choices, the band-aid of the talent respec came into being. At first it was grudging… Diablo II got patched to give you ONE respec… or expensive… recall the mounting respec bills in WoW way back when. But eventually the devs threw their hands in the air in more recent games and gave us respecs that were cheap and plentiful while they went off to try and find that elusive “many good choices” talent tree formula.
Even EVE Online gives you a stat respec up front for free, and another one yearly. And that is for five stats that really only impact the rate at which your character can learn skills.
But respecs are, in my view, an admission of failure. They seem to be saying that the devs have copped to the fact that they cannot create a talent tree system with many good choices, so when you realize you have made a mistake, here is your out.
And even cheap and easy respecs were not enough in some cases. Rift, whose big feature was the soul system, which could be viewed either as the best character customization ever or the talent tree from hell depending on your point of view, caved in and as much as admitted that the whole thing was too vast for the average player and gave us some templates to help curb the rash of bad builds.
This is, of course, my view of the world. It is based on history, but also on the fact that I don’t really want to play the talent point game. And that is clearly an opinion. Even as I was preparing to publish this, I saw that Syp over a Bio Break has a post up asking why we don’t have MORE talents and stats and such to tinker with in games. To me it is like asking that we ignore the last 15 years or so of MMO development. But we all play these games for different reasons.
Anyway, from my point of view, the choice made by Blizzard in Diablo III seems like a clear win, and improvement over the past.
Instead of constraining character development by making me spent points in a tree system… and running to a vendor to get a respec when I make the inevitable errors… Diablo III just opens up new skills as you level up and constrains your character development by making you choose which of those skills you want to use. With elective mode [boobies] in the options, you can build up a set of six abilities from your choices as you see fit and never have to spend a talent point or get a respec.
Of course, the system is not perfect. As Keen points out, some of the Diablo III skills are sub-optimal. Hey, you can still make bad choices. But it still seems like a step forward to me.
As I said, the idea that this is a step forward is clearly not held by some. So today I will let you validate your opinion with a poll. Numbers always add value to opinions!
And, of course, you can post your anti/pro talent tree manifesto in the comments.
Opting Out of the Economy? Is PLEX Cheating? May 3, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, polls.
Tags: NBI, New Blogger Initiative, PLEX
I have written about PLEX before.
(And I have used that graphic before… look at the price of PLEX in the background!)
I have praised PLEX as a way to stem the illicit RMT market. I have wondered if a game like WoW could support something like PLEX. I have marveled at CCP allowing PLEX to be treated as an in-game object like any other, and how that lead to the inevitable giant loss event.
But I have never really bothered with the idea of it being cheating.
Primarily because, technically, PLEX is not and cannot be considered cheating because it is allowed, created, and administered by CCP. They say it is okay and they make the rules, so therefore it is not cheating, QED. And even before PLEX, CCP allowed the purchase of time codes with ISK, the in game currency. PLEX just removed some of the complexities. (You can still buy time codes and turn them into PLEX, which some web sites use as a way to get financial support.)
But that aside, there is the question of PLEX giving those with money an advantage over those without, and this is the aspect that Rohan appears to be wrestling with over at Blessing of Kings.
I have been reading Blessing of Kings for ages, it being a source for all things Paladin related in World of Warcraft.
But Rohan has recently ventured into New Eden, and I have been following his posts on the subject with interest. Jaded after more than five years of exposure to EVE, it is interesting to read about somebody entering the game afresh and discovering its myriad complexities, especially somebody with a critical eye like his.
He has recently hit upon PLEX as being something that allows a player to skip content, or to cheat. The focus seems, from my read, to be entirely on the economic aspect of the game.
He divides the economic sphere into “producers” and “consumers,” something I find to be a bit of a false dichotomy.
First, there is a lot of gray area in between the two from my point of view. There are lost of people who just like the industry side of the game. And there are, I am sure, people who just buy PLEX to turn pirate and hunt other players. But in between?
What of the mission runner who focuses only on the mission reward and thus optimizes his efforts to completing them as fast as possible? He never loots, he never salvages, and he certainly never stops to mine any tasty ore that might show up in a mission. He merely consumes the mission content, adding to the market place approximately the same as the person who buys PLEX.
And what about me? For the last four months I have been in null sec, I have ratted a little bit for bounties, but have pretty much steered clear of the economic sphere. I have been in coalition fleets for battles, and when I lose a ship my alliance reimburses me the cost of my ship and sells me a replacement at a very good price, thus subsidizing my play. How does that differ, in terms of economic impact, from the buyer of PLEX? My choice has essentially opted me out of the production aspect of the game as well.
Second, the consumption side of the does, in fact, add to the economic sphere of the game. Nothing keeps the production people going like some pirates out there blowing up ships. The so-called consumer is in fact a very important aspect of the producer’s life. Without him, the producer is done.
Third, there is the standard argument about how ISK does not translate into power in the game. You cannot jump ahead in skill points to allow you to fly a more powerful ship, you have to train them one point at a time like everybody else. Yes, you can buy implants, and those do help some, but the noob to titan training plan is still most of a year even with +5 modules.
More importantly, ISK does not impart skill. Ships in the game are all vulnerable. In WoW, a level 1 player in starter gear would be severely challenged to kill an AFK top tier raider in full gear. There is a vast discrepancy in power between the two, imparted by equipment and skills that come with levels. But in EVE, the wily frigate pilot can take down a strategic cruiser. (The first kill in that post, which made Dabigredboat quite smug.)
Finally, the consumer of content that uses PLEX does add something to the game. The person who buys PLEX for cash and sells it on the market for ISK gives the producer the option to pay for his game time via the fruit of his labors. CCP still gets paid, the guy selling the PLEX gets his ISK, and producer gets a real life reward for his work. For me, that is high on the list of “best features ever.”
Rohan then goes on to a horrible analogy, though in fairness, I should say that I think almost all analogies are horrible. People who agree with you already go, “Yeah!” while people who disagree pick apart the points where the analogy falls down (and the analogy ALWAYS falls down under close examination… if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be an analogy) and nobody’s opinion is altered one iota. (See Scott Adams.)
Anyway, this analogy involved a theoretical immortality pod that would let you opt out of PvP for 30 days as the opposing side of the PLEX issue. To my mind, this is absolutely not the case. Said pod would be game breaking… opting out of PvP in what is a PvP game… and would literally remove content, as opposed to PLEX, which merely changes one aspect of a players interaction with the game. Your PLEX buying gank pirate is still creating demand for production, still buying from the market, and giving the producer something special. The immortality pod is a literal opt-out of the nature of the game. It isn’t skipping the part of the game he doesn’t enjoy, it is skipping the game. Enough people do that and the end result is the death or production as an ongoing concern.
Anyway, this is all debating society level discussion. CCP is not going to take out PLEX and they certainly are not going to introduce an immortality pod. But it is always interesting to try and hash out what PLEX means to the game as a whole.
What do you think of PLEX?
[Addendum: If you are looking for other ways to make ISK, read this excellent article.]
New Blogger Initiative pointers of the day that can be gleaned from this post:
-Taking long comment responses to other people’s blog posts and turning them into posts on your own blog is an easy way to come up with a post idea, and fosters a sense of community between blogs by linking them together in some sort of web-like structure. (Link whoring)
-Link back to past posts you have made on the same subject. It keeps you from having to repeat yourself, it gets people to look something not on the front page of your blog, and when some site steals your content, at least you’ll get a bit of traffic back with those links. (Link whoring)
-Polls are an easy way to finish up a post when you aren’t clear where you are headed and you feel you need to distract your readers from the weakness in you argument. (Hiding your link whoring)
Three Generations of the Caldari Navy Issue Raven December 6, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, polls.
Tags: CNR, Crucible, Raven, Raven Navy Issue
EVE Online history goes back to 2003.
This will be the third “look” for the Raven since I started playing the game.
Way back before the Trinity expansion, when premium graphics were introduced, the Caldari Raven Navy Issue looked like this.
Then with the Trinity expansion Premium graphics became an option, with classic graphics going away completely with the Apocrypha expansion. At that point the Caldari Raven Navy Issue looked like this.
Now with the Crucible expansion, there is again a new look for the Caldari Raven Navy Issue.
I think all three of those pictures were taken in the same station, though probably on different computers with different graphic settings. But they are all the same ship, since I have had only one Raven Navy Issue.
Now the question is, which one looks best?
The original looks a bit awkward to me. But a lot of the classic graphics models… especially the early ones… have that awkward feel to them.
I like the middle version, though I am not sure how practical what looks to be a jungle camo pattern really is in space.
And then there is the new, Crucible version. The camo pattern is certainly more space themed, but it doesn’t seem to do the ship many favors when it comes to beauty.
Which do you like?
Will Crucible Remove That Incarna Stink from EVE Online? November 29, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, polls.
Tags: Crucible, Incarna
It was an ugly Summer for CCP after the Incarna expansion for EVE Online went live. There was a lot of anger, conspiracy theories, inaccurate shorthand phrases, “leaked” “secrets,” oblivious corporate responses, and just damned lies about sentry drones. I will certainly have fodder for my “one year ago” summaries next year!
The whole Incarna debacle is kind of summed up for me in this picture.
That is the hanger door view that you got when you turned off the useless, resource hogging captain’s quarters that was the crown jewel of Incarna.
Gone was the view of my currently equipped ship, a helpful visual indicator when you have more than a dozen different vessels that you use for various tasks regularly, along with all the functionality that went with it… like being able to right click and open the cargo or drone bays. Ship spinning, one of the shorthand phrases that people grabbed on to, never had anything to do with it. It was the loss of functionality that had been there for years that was the pisser.
Anyway, that hanger door never had a chance to hit me on the ass I was out of the game so fast.
And I was far from alone.
But months have now gone by. The tumult at CCP has subsided. They have paid a price in people and projects and have promised to get back to the core elements of the game that people have been paying to play for the last 8+ years; flying in space, fighting in space. That is what people DO in EVE Online, right Hilmar?
And the first big milestone is today’s expansion, the 15th formal expansion for EVE Online, Crucible.
It is intended to be EVE Reforged.
The patch notes for Crucible are long and filled to the brim with very tangible changes and updates to the core game. There seems to be something in there for just about everybody, from null sec warriors to empire care bears to those of us who just think space is pretty. Even trails are making a comeback along with a graphic update for my old warhorse, the Caldari Raven.
CCP seems to be focused again on what matters to the players.
But will all of that remove the stink of Incarna. Players have long memories and there were a lot of bitter words spoken.
What do you think?
And will CCP still be around next year even if they are back on track?
Civ II – Found the Disc, Can’t Use the Disc October 14, 2011Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games, polls.
Tags: Civilization II, Civilization Series
After some searching tonight I found at least one of my copies of Civilization II. It was hiding in a generic white disc sleeve on a shelf with some music CDs.
Unfortunately, this disk is from the stone age. Look at it. “IBM/Compatibles” is printed on it. How long has it been since it was IBM and Compatibles?
Sure, Windows 95 was out when this game launched… barely… so this disc had to install on Windows 3.1.
All of the executables on it are 16-bit.
And, as I found out after an hour or so of screwing around and trying to fool it into believing it was installed, the 64-bit version of Windows 7 is not at all down with 16-bit. I couldn’t find anything official on the Microsoft support site that definitively said, “No 16-bit,” but I found plenty of unofficial things that said it wasn’t going to happen.
Not that I am totally surprised. I was doing WinLogo certification for the company I was working for in 1997, and even then you had to get a special exemption to have 16-bit executables… including the installer… on your disc. That was a long time ago.
Anyway, no Civ II for me right now. I’ll have to go find a more recently rolled version of it.
In the mean time, since there was some discussion over the best version of Civilization, I will put up a poll.
Justify your pick in the comments, if you feel the need.