September in Review

The Site

Welcome to my 61st month in review post.

Just to reiterate, the site made it to the five year mark and remains active.  Given the observed blog mortality rate, this seems like a reasonable achievement.  And it also means that now every month in review post will include not only a “One Year Ago” section, but now a “Five Years Ago” segment.  Suck it.

As often happens, spammers grab onto one of my older posts and that becomes the target of 90% of the spamming for a brief time.  I have yet to figure out a pattern.  This month, the year old post EverQuest Next and Lessons Learned seemed to be the target.  I actually kind of like that post, as I tried to put some thought into it… differentiating it from many of my other posts.   But in the last month, literally hundreds of obvious spam comments were caught in the spam filter trying to get to that post.  And since I see maybe 1 in 10 of what Akismet gets, that means a lot of spam pointed at one odd target.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was the pretty pictures.

Home of future gold spammers?

And then, in watching traffic, I noticed I was getting a lot of referral traffic from the fine people over at Popehat.  And while that is partially explained by Patrick linking me in a post, the trend actually started more than a week before that post, and I have no idea why.

A Pope of a different hat…

They write snarky pieces about serious social issues  (go look through Ken’s Anatomy of a Scam posts, for example, a worthwhile read) and I write… well… this crap.  There must be some sort of Venn diagram overlap between “gamer” and “free speech issues” or something.

The internet remains a mystery.

(Pope-alope picture property of somebody, reprinted without permission, and stolen from here.)

One Year Ago

Well, there was that whole four year anniversary thing.

Planet Michael, the Michael Jackson virtual world, was announced.  How is that coming along?

The whole David Allen, Derek Smart, Quest Online public blame and shame fest ended when Quest Online gave David Allen some money and he went away.  Dr. Smart could not help but throw in a couple final comments.

CCP was talking about Public Fleets and such that were planned for their Incursions expansion.  That got delayed long enough for me to get tired of waiting.  Still, it was better than Incarna.

More interesting was a guide to suicide ganking in EVE Online put up by TooNuRacoon.

Meanwhile, I was kicking off my EVE Online screen shot contest.  All of the entries are now posted on my other site.

I tried turning an old joke into an MMO joke.  Some people got it.  Some did not.

I looked at cloaks in MMOs, and how little they resemble what we would call a cloak in the real world.

Lord of the Rings Online flipped the switch and went free to play.  We were truly among the free (to play) peoples Middle-earth then.  There were some issues with Turbine Points, though I did get my 5,000 point pay-off.

The instance group was still summering in Middle-earth.  The group was finally into the meat of the Lone Lands.  We also tried some skirmishes and talked about Anderson Cooper.

In LOTRO I also ran into somebody who was looking for a social environment similar to old EverQuest.  I wonder if he ended up on Fippy Darkpaw which, for a short time, had all the best aspects of early EQ.

And, after a year of waiting, I finally finished off that one last Brewfest achievement in World of Warcraft.  Go me.

Five Years Ago

The blog started.  As with all blogs, there was a first post.  I still haven’t covered all of the topics I laid out in that post.

Our WoW instance group started up, saving me from a solo life in Azeroth.

I made my first of many runs at EverQuest nostalgia.  It will never end, I assure you.

I  started up EVE Online for the first time, choked on the tutorial, and had some impressions to share.

I put up the first of my planned ancient gaming posts, with a look at Stellar Emperor circa 1986.

I was musing about games slated for the future, including Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online.  I had reservations about both.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Special Site Mention

Cosmetic LOTRO

The place to go when you are looking for your “look” in Middle-earth.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Zoroark Download Event Coming to Toys R Us!
  2. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  3. World of Warcraft Magazine – Dead After Five Issues
  4. In Which I Feel the Power of the Dark Side… of The Sims Social
  5. The Great Star Wars Saga Viewing Order Question
  6. Things I Hate About Twitter – The Babbling Company Feed
  7. The Sims Social Pegs My Dating Life…
  8. Vast Goon Conspiracy Ensnares Even Its Foes!
  9. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  10. Star Wars Blu-Ray Viewing Order Poll Results and Impressions
  11. Heroic Results of the First Five Year Plan!
  12. Fippy Darkpaw GMs Starting Their Own Fight Club

Search Terms of the Month

fort necessity
[Wow, somebody's George Washington paper is off to a rocky start!]

did he drop any good loot
[If you have to ask, I am going to say "no."]

moparisthebest
[Now there is an obscure reference to an old post.]

We hope you are enjoying participating in the Game Testing Program and want to thank you for helping shape the most anticipated MMO to date.
[A sudden spike of this in the last 24 hours.]

Spam Comments of the Month

I consume around 4 liters a day, I will begin my day with close to one and then go to on to many other types. I think the more the better though.
[The guy is either a diabetic or drives a vintage Jaguar.]

EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a mental mis-calculation, it appears that my SOE All Access pass is still good.  I think.  The fact that the SOE account page that should tell me this information is broken on my account (again) means that I am not sure.  But I think I forgot to add in the extra 45 days I received as part of the SOE post-hack make good program.  So I am probably still live until November.

That and getting the SOE authenticator got me to at least log into their games, if only to see if they missed anything with their implementation.  Plus there was Karen’s new series on EQIIx at Massively, which got me to poke around EQIIx a bit myself.  I’ve done a bit of crafting, gotten my templar another level, and opened up the guild hall to send out the resource bots to gather so I can sell their plunder on the broker for the guild escrow account.  Maybe my account will stay active long enough for me to make a Beastlord.

I also wandered around old Norrath a bit on Fippy Darkpaw, just to see how things are going with the Velious expansion.  They seem to be stuck due to technical issues.  Go SOE.  It is like they never did a progression server before.  So the timer until the next expansion has yet to start.

Lord of the Rings Online

The rump instance group continued making slow progress in Evendim.  Real life has keep us from pressing on as quickly as we might have.  Basically, our usual three hours on Saturday night has fallen to two hours, and only every other Saturday.  Still, we persist.  Soon though the cold will come and we’ll be looking for a game for the whole team.

Need for Speed World

As I said before, I am surprised at the longevity I have had with this game.  I have even dropped some cash on it to buy a couple of cars and have pressed passed level 20.  I think at this point I have unlocked the whole map and am now just adding new race courses with each level.  I will have to look around for a level guide to see if there is anything really worth unlocking at this point.

Facebook

I will probably end up blocking The  Sims Social before the weekend is up.  It bores me, even when I am insulting people.  But I would have guess that I would find it a bore before I tried it, so that my not liking it isn’t exactly a startling revelation.

Zynga’s Empires & Allies has persisted for me for longer than I expected.  There is still too much “go beg your neighbors for these parts you need” to suit me and I am not enthralled enough to actually give them money. (Even more so now that they sell their premium currency via Facebook credits, which has made that currency even more outrageously expensive, in my opinion.  Furthermore, unlike previous games, you cannot earn the premium currency in game.)  But at least they have streamlined the begging a bit.

Other Games

I have been going through some of the games I purchased on Steam as part of their big summer sale, plus a game or two I have purchased since, including a couple of indie titles.  This should lead to a series of posts.  My general rule is to write only about games I generally like, even if I have specific issues with the game.  I try to avoid the “OMG this is Shite!” posts, although I have made exceptions in the past. (CivWorld)  With indie games I am a bit squeamish about coming out with any negatives.  I don’t mind kicking EA, Sid Meier, or Richard Garriott in the shins, but I feel guilty going after the lone developer or small team.  So I am on the fence about a couple of potential posts where I will likely be very critical of certain design elements or the value of the game versus the price being charged.

Coming Up

It is about time for a instance group summit.  I would be willing to go back to WoW, or maybe try Rift… something to fill the gap between now and whatever is next just to get back to playing together.   Oh, and there will be problems with some of the “whatever is next” items we are thinking about.  So we will have to hash that out.

My goal for next month is to go through my list of games I have purchased on Steam and assess their value to me based on how much time I have spent with them.  That should make for an amusing post.

And maybe BioWare will throw us something new about Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Something that isn’t, you know, a complete tease.

Maybe Mark Jacobs will give me something to write about… or Scott Jennings will trigger some new “I remember that” event.

And where is Torchlight II dammit?

All I know is that I will find something to complain about.

What are my cats up to?

August in Review

The Site

I knew this day would come.

I just did not think it would take so long to get here.

Back in February this site was declared influential and listed on the Say100 list. (Which now appears to be the Say110 list, but whatever.)

This month however, somebody finally figured out that I was probably not so influential… or knowledgeable… or interesting… and I was bumped off the list.

Surprisingly, since I appeared to be the obvious answer to the “one of these things doesn’t belong” question, I was not alone.

Keen & Graev, who actually kind of write about games and have opinions and stuff, as opposed to my own “here is what I did Saturday afternoon online” style, got the axe as well, along with a Veteran of Female Geekdom… whatever that means, the Say100 people made up those titles, not the bloggers… who also seems to at least be much more professional than I.

Those Delisted

At least we’re on something of an “emeritus picks” or “past mistakes” list.

Among those elevated to the official list were Heartless_, now dubbed a ‘Gaming Analyst.”

Shouldn’t that be “Heartless_” ?

Congratulations Heartless_ Gamer!

As for the influence the site had on me… well… in looking at the traffic to and from the Say100 site, I appear to have sent more people their way than they did mine.  But that was mostly because WordPress.com picked me as one of their Freshly Pressed sites of the day, so a lot of people came to visit and followed my links.

Frankly though, if they hadn’t sent me an email announcing the site, I probably would have never seen it.

Life on the internet.  It is a very big place.

One Year Ago

Let’s see… a year ago people were hating on GameStop for selling used games, which was equated with stealing.  That was before GameStop actually started officially stealing.

Massive Blips went away.  I miss it.

I made my position on raspberries perfectly clear.

Yahoo had a couple game related lists.  I love lists.

Cryptic and Atari announced they were doing the game Neverwinter.  How’s that working out for you?

And Runic started talking about Torchlight II.  They are still talking about it, but at least we know it will be $20 when it ships.

Stunt Rock.  I need say no more.

EverQuest Next was announced at Fan Faire, and I was wondering about the lessons SOE has learned after a few turns of the EverQuest wheel.

In the real world, boars were starting to become more like their MMO counterparts.

WoW account hacking was still a big deal, though getting to be common enough as to not be news on an individual level any more.  People have their views on whose fault it is.  But was any game facing as much account hacking as WoW?

My daughter got into the WoW Cataclysm beta.  She got me some screen shots of StormwindSouthshore and the Barrens.  This, by the way, probably killed her interest in Cata when it finally did ship.

Blizzard got a serious judgement against somebody running a for-profit WoW pirate server.

The instance group, done in WoW and on the now usual summer hiatus, was spending some time in Middle-earth, which required a bit of selling.  We made it through Othrongroth, and to the North Downs and the Lone Lands.  I finally found my way to Evendim, which I had never  managed to visit before.  It was in a state of change, pre-quest revamp but after they added in the boat routes.

And, finally, in EVE Online, there was the PLEX story we had all been waiting for.

New Linking Blogs

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts for August

  1. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  2. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  3. Beastlord to be the New Class in the Next EQ2 Expansion
  4. The Sims Social Pegs My Dating Life…
  5. Rift is Triple-A and Here to Stay!
  6. A Very Brief History of MMOs
  7. Who Needs APB When EVE Supplies Our Virtual Crime Needs?
  8. Blizzard Waits Until I am on Vacation to Stir Up Diablo III Controversy
  9. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  10. Seventy Million Skill Points and Out
  11. And Now I REALLY Want That SWTOR Authenticator
  12. Musing on Battleships

Search Terms of the Month

http://www.cringley.com

[Why would a URL search for that bring you here... unless you're Bob and checking on who is linking to you.  If so, Hi Bob! *takes a drink*]

what is a tanker

[This showed up about 48 times in the last week, yet somehow people skipped this and came to my site]

Spam Comments of the Month

Wow, {amazing|wonderful|awesome|incredible|marvelous|superb|fantastic} blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you {make|made} blogging look easy. The overall look of your {site|web site|website} is {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|ex…

[Nice when somebody gives you options]

This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace….

[A couple dozen Zune spams showed up... and here I thought the Zune was pretty much dead.]

Civilization V

Raptr says that I have spent more time playing Civilization V in the last week than any other game by a fair margin.  And Raptr fails to notice I am playing a good chunk of the time (but it never misses an opportunity to announce I am playing Sims Social!), with Steam reporting a total play time about 25% higher than Raptr.  And since Steam actually controls the game (which still makes me itch) I’m going to give them the nod.

Civ V is certainly growing on me of late… though the game has been out for almost a year and I bought it at launch.  Some of that is from the fact that enough bugs have been fixed that the game is actually playable, though some really obvious ones are still hanging around. (Like, don’t tell me to “Please Wait” when what you really mean is “You have a unit that has not used all of its moves yet and I am waiting for you to deal with that.”)  All of this means that somewhere there is a post coming about the game that will no doubt compare it to the previous games in the series.  You have been warned.

Lord of the Rings Online

The only long-haul MMO I am playing at the moment, if you will pardon that description.  You either get what I mean by that or you don’t, I suppose.  Moria was reached, a long held goal finally achieved.  Which meant it was time to go back and play some of my alts.  Revamped Evendim is my current fascination, and I am determined to see it all, though I couldn’t tell you why.  But I have three alts in the mid-30s now, all focused on that zone.

Three members of the instance group, which is still on Summer hiatus, have been grouping up to run through Middle-earth on Saturday nights.  We too are in Evendim.  That seems to have been the theme for August.

Need for Speed World

This has replaced World of Tanks as my “other” game of late.  I generally get on most nights to do the gem hunt.  I have a new car, the tier 2 Ford Escort RS Cosworth, which is fast and innocuous.  I painted it gray to blend in with the NPC hatchbacks that look the same at a distance.  It goes much faster than my 240SX.  I hit 177 MPH on the freeway (though somehow the police still manage to pass me in their Dodges).

On the other hand, when I do multiplayer races, I get stuck going up against people in Porches and Lamborghinis.  The Escort is good, but not that good, and I am nowhere good enough to make up the gap, so I end up losing badly a lot. That in turn has kind of killed the multiplayer aspect of the game for me.

So my main motivation for continuing to play is to gain levels to open up new areas in which to engage in police chases.

Facebook

On Facebook I have been playing Zynga’s Empires & Allies, which is interesting for a couple of reasons.  This game is clearly another evolution of the Zynga model that has moved forward from FarmVille and it actually has some mild, traditional game-like aspects to it with goals to accomplish.  There is still a huge amount of “bug your friends for stuff,” though you can avoid a lot of that.  Except for liberty bonds, which you need to expand your land.  I am always short of those, so friend me and send me some!  Screw the mystery gifts and the energy drinks, I need more space!

The other game I have been trying on Facebook is The Sims Social.  EA clearly has some work to do to keep up with Zynga, because there are annoying aspects to the game that the Zynga crew solved months ago for their own products.  (See Tolbold for some points on that.) And EA needs to, you know, make the game actually work reliably and consistently because they are taking money for it.

Oh, and then I need to figure out why anybody finds this game fun, because I find it quite tedious.  Sure, the first few minutes were fun, but then I had to go to the bathroom.  And shower.  And eat.  And sleep.  Even having fun seems to be work.  I suppose I should be happy I am not forced to make pizzas in a virtual sweatshop ala The Sims Online, but being glad things are not worse is not a big selling point.  Playing an obsessive hand washing simulator just isn’t as fun as it sounds.

I remember Gary Gannon talking on Massively Online Gamer (a long dead podcast) about a friend who used to lure other Sims to the house she built just to lock them in the basement and leave them to starve to death.  How do I do that in The Sims Social?  Or should I be looking for The Sims Sociopath?

Coming Up

The summer hiatus for the instance group should be coming to a close once the weather hits us with one last blast of heat and then starts to cool.  Then we will be back to trying to figure out what to play.  Is Star Wars: The Old Republic out yet?  Diablo III?  Torchlight 2?  Guild Wars 2?  TERA?  Anything?

I have been telling myself I am should be writing more about our current adventures in Middle-earth.  Maybe I will.  I should.  I might.  But motivation is low right now.

Civilization V.  Something about that coming up I am sure.  And one on how EA has taken all the joy out of its game Lord of Ultima.  Not that there was a ton of joy to start with, but it was a solid little game that they managed to royally screw up.

I am also building up to a weekend post about eReaders, along with one about what I am reading and why it annoys me.

And I have some sort of anniversary post to do next month.  I need a title with a pun or obscure media reference that uses the number five.

Frenemies Defined

PvP is limited to invading your friends and neighbors, leading to the weird situation that you’ll want to visit your friends’ islands to help them, only to invade that same island five minutes later.

Tobold on Empires & Allies

I had to laugh at that quote because I took this screen shot the night before, thinking it ought to be good for a post at some point.

Tobold and Tobold

Hey, Tobold is over to lend a hand!  Wait, Tobold is invading me!

Send me some more of those liberty bonds and we’ll forget the whole thing.