Remembering Brian Green

The cascade of events, the non-stop drum beat of bad news that this year has been has made me more than a bit numb.  A person can start to feel like they cannot care any more, that so many things are going on that are beyond their ability to control that they just start to let events pass by like visions in a dream.

And then something closer to home hits and wakes you up.

Last night I was shocked to read that Brian “Psychochild” Green had passed away.   A tweet showed up, echoing around the people I follow, that announced his death.

My reaction was perhaps a bit blunt, but like I said, I was shocked to hear the news.

He was probably best known for being on the team at 3DO that developed Meridian 59, an early entry in the MMORPG genre and later, after 3DO shut the game down, how he and a partner obtained the rights to the game and relaunched it.  Their company Near Death Studios, ran the game as a viable business from 2002 until 2010.

Brian was a big believer in community and was involved in many, including what I tend to think of as the neighborhood of blogs that seemed to gel around VirginWorld about 15 years back.

Zenke’s representation MMO Blog island back in the day

He was as involved in that community as anybody and often made time to read and comment on blogs large and small that were interested in the genre.  He left a lot of thoughtful comments here, though for some reason the spam filter had something against him and I had to fish many out of there over the years.

And, of course, his own blog was often quite active.

A blog header from another time

His last burst of posts happened a year ago, when he joined in with the community once more (he was a mentor in the group) for the Blaugust celebration of blogging, writing up a series on role playing.  But his posts go back to 2004 on his site. (All backed up at the Internet Archive.)

I actually got to meet Brian a couple of times up at GDC in San Francisco when the VirginWorlds collective would get together for dinner.  Here we are back in 2010.

Dinner at Le Colonial

In that picture is Darren (The Common Sense Gamer), myself, Brent (VirginWorlds), Neil Kirby (who was speaking about AI at the conf), Karen (Journeys with Jaye and Massively), Shawn (former Editor-in-Chief at Massively), Sinea (GuildCast, RingCast), and Brian.

The last time I saw him in person was at GDC in 2011 when Potshot (Skronk in the instance group) and I hung out with him for quite a while.  While Potshot could not hang around for dinner, I tagged along with Brian as he went to meet up with Damion Schubert and spent the evening listening to development stories from 3DO, Meridian 59, The Sims Online, and a few things I had to sit on about the then in development Star Wars: The Old Republic.

At that point he stopped running Meridian 59 and was working on a few indie projects.  He was also involved with Namaste, the Storybricks product, their Kickstarter, and their dalliance with the EverQuest Next vision. (He wrote a series of posts about the whole thing later on.)

Later he packed up and left Salinas (of John Steinbeck fame and about an hour from where I live) and moved to the east coast to join the team Mark Jacobs was putting together to build Camelot Unchained.  At some point that ended, which gave him more time for other projects, streaming, and joining in on the Blaugust celebration for a few years.  He did not join in for Blapril this year, though he was logged into Discord every day so his name was always on the mentor’s list.

The last I saw of him online was on Twitter where he would announce his appearance on a weekly Twitch stream with Maulgrim, which often involved playing Warframe and talking about indie dev topics, the last one being on August 4th.  He passed just two days later.

And now I feel guilty that I never quite found the time to watch that stream, though some of the episodes are archived so people can go back and watch/listen to them.

His passing thus appears to have been sudden given he was streaming just a week or so back.   But natural causes covers a lot of ground.

The responses to the post on Twitter shows both how many lives he touched and the shock and dismay of the communities of which he was a part.  He is missed already.

Brian “Psychochild” Green : Nov 1, 1973 – Aug 6, 2020

Other remembrances:

The Fall of the IGE-RI Keepstar

We had been up to IGE-RI late last week, when Asher led a Ferox fleet to try and defend the armor timer against PandaFam’s carriers and subcaps.  That went well.  Even though we lost the objective we managed to blow up fighters and subcaps by the score.

And we were told we would be doing something for the final timer, which was set to come due this past Sunday around 19:00 UTC.  So I made sure to be around and logged in as the time drew closer.

And then the time hit… and passed… and no fleet was called.

There was a ping for the INN stream on Twitch, where DBRB would be covering the destruction of the Keepstar.  Its destruction was never in doubt.  But it didn’t seem like we were going to do anything to drag out the event and make the enemy pay a bit for that kill mail.

Finally, about ten minutes after the hour, there was a ping.  A fleet was going up on Jay Amazingness with no details save to read the MOTD.  I had wandered away from my desk for a bit, but when I got back I joined the fleet.  The MOTD said we needed to be able to fly a tech II Cormorant and that we should take a travel interceptor to the IGE-RI Keepstar, where ships would be handed out.

That I could manage.  I had an Ares handy, so undocked with it and headed towards the Keepstar up in Fountain.  The way was clear… it generally is in an interceptor… and I arrived in the system.

At the Keepstar

It seemed that somebody used the fight notification tool this time around, as there was no tidi until I jumped into IGE-RI itself, a sign that it was on its own node.  And there was some tidi, though not much, as the event had already started.

Everybody docked up and Jay started trying to hand out ships to people which, under tidi, was apparently quite a painful process.  He eventually dispersed some of the Cormorants to other people to help him hand out.  I got mine and immediately put my loudest SKIN on it.

Fresh Corm in the hangar

We loaded up scripts and ammo and undocked to face the attack.  And it seemed like everybody was there to join in.

The NPCs even showed up

As with the Ferox fleet, we started by shooting some of the fighters that were on the Keepstar, though the tidi was making the game respond oddly.  Distances in my overview didn’t seem to bear much resemblance to where the game thought things were.  I was trying to target fighters that were alleged to be only 35km away, but was told they were beyond the 115km targeting range of my ship.  But they were clearly there on the Keepstar.

And the game itself went through points of pausing and then resuming, which I thought might be just me, as I had graphics turned up so the game client’s memory usage was… high.

Not possible without the 64-bit client

But other people were calling out that the game was stalling at the same time I was seeing it, so I suspect the server was having its own rough time.  And the fight carried on around the Keepstar.

Blue beams from fighters or drones

We fought for a bit, though not very effectively.  Corms are not Feroxes.  And we had to warp off every once in a while to get out of the way when they wanted to fire up the Point Defense System to kill any hostiles too close to the structure.  The PDS is indiscriminate, so you have to be away or tethered to avoid it.

We got to see the Arcing Votron Projector, the Keepstar doomsday, go off a couple of times.

The beam reaching up to some unseen hostiles

But we were not making much of a difference.  After one warp off grid, we were aligning back to return and it was decided that the end was close enough that we should all make sure to lock up and shoot the Keepstar at least once before it died so we could all be on the kill mail as well.  The fleet warp came and off we went.

And then we stopped about 300km off the Keepstar, looking like we were tethered… though at extreme range… somebody’s code though we were some place much closer I bet… and couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.

Way off the Keepstar, but looking like we’re tethered

Then somebody spotted the Sabre on the overview and the client caught up and drew the warp disruption bubble in which we had landed.

We had been caught and the trap sprung.  A set of Chemo doctrine ships… smart bombing Lokis… landed on us and lit us up.

The smart bombs going off around us

You can see we had enough time to turn around to try and get out of the bubble, but the Sabre was ahead of us and kept us from warping off.  And in the middle of the Lokis was Pittsburgh2989, one time Imperium FC who was kicked out and blacklisted from the coalition for reasons still argued about.

Pitts comes to kill us all

A few people got out.  My ship was very slow in blowing up.  It took the client view quite a while to catch up with the situation as it stood.  I tried to motor out in my pod.  If I could just get out of the bubbles and warp off, I might be able to grab my interceptor… which cost about 10x that of the Corm… and fly on home with it.

Pod with wrecks in the background

Alas, they picked off the pods as well.  I was soon back in 1DQ1-A, and shortly thereafter I got a notification that my stuff in the IGE-RI Keepstar was being moved to asset safety.  I guess I will be picking up that interceptor another day.  At least the Cormorant was free… and I insured it, so made a little bit of ISK on the side.

The Keepstar was destroyed.  My ship was blown up.  My pod was killed.  My interceptor was stranded. And the battle report showed that we didn’t even extract much of a price this time around.

Battle report header

All of that was very much predictable.  But what I really want to know is if anybody looted the PLEX out of my cargo hold.

For whatever reason my interceptor had 1 PLEX in the cargo, and before the fight I moved that over into the Corm’s cargo bay.  If you look at my kill mail, you will see that the loot fairy said “yes” and the PLEX survived and was in the wreck.  Maybe somebody got it.  Or maybe the smart bombs killed the wrecks.  I’ll likely never know.

The August Update Brings Armor Plating Energized Tiericide to EVE Online

The August update sees another round of module tiericide arriving in New Eden.  This time armor plating and membranes are getting a rework.

That translates to August 2020

For this update, the following naming schemes are being put in place.  For the overall group:

  • Armor Plating Energized is now Energized Armor Membrane

Layered Membranes Market Group name change:

  • Energized Armor Layering is now Layered Energized Membranes

Layered Membranes Module naming scheme:

  • Energized Armor Layering Membrane I is now Layered Energized Membrane I

Resistance Membranes Market Group name changes:

  • Energized Plating is now Energized Armor Resistance Membranes (parent Market Group)
  • Energized Adaptive Plating is now Multispectrum Energized Membranes
  • Energized EM Plating is now EM Energized Membranes
  • Energized Explosive Plating is now Explosive Energized Membranes
  • Energized Kinetic Plating is now Kinetic Energized Membranes
  • Energized Thermal Plating is nowThermal Energized Membranes

Resistance Membranes Module naming scheme:

  • Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane I is now Multispectrum Energized Membrane I
  • Energized EM Membrane I is now EM Energized Membrane I
  • Energized Explosive Membrane I is now Explosive Energized Membrane I
  • Energized Kinetic Membrane I is now Kinetic Energized Membrane I
  • Energized Thermal Membrane I is now Thermal Energized Membrane I

In addition, the following naming changes have been made:

  • Prototype modules have been renamed to Compact.
  • Basic modules are collectors items that do not appear in game for some time. All have been marked as special Storyline ‘Basic’ modules.

The Storyline meta group was missing EM and Explosive resistance modules. Two new modules were added to the game:

  • ‘Pickpocket’ EM Energized Membrane
  • ‘Bribe’ Explosive Energized Membrane

Two obsolete modules have been removed from the game:

  • Shaqil’s Modified Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane
  • Shaqil’s Modified Energized Thermal Membrane

And, as it goes with tiericide, all of the modules have been realigned so that their attributes conform to a standard pattern.  The list of changes is very long.

Aside from that, the patch notes have only a few minor fixes or updates.  One that stands out to me is:

  • Allow players to create multiple contracts for assembled ships at a time.

That will probably make life a bit easier for those supplying staging points in support of wars and such.  Anything that makes the supply line a bit easier to maintain is probably good.

Oh, and if you’re doing the invasion event and playing for the Triglavian team, you might want to be aware of this change:

  • EDENCOM NPCs will now be hostile to players which have any negative standing with them

EDENCOM is no longer looking the other way traitors!

Downtime appears to be over and the update deployed.  Now to get the Pyfa update and revise any armor tank fits you have in text, since tiericide and renaming almost always means you need to fix something.  The patch notes with all the gory details are available here.

Five Weeks of World War Bee

Five weeks of war have gone by and it has been a mixed bag of efforts, some successful, some considerably less so.

On the Imperium side of things, we were able to welcome French ConneXion (FXR) to the coalition.

French ConnecXion Alliance

They had been working with The Initiative up north before the war, so the invaders declared that they were part of the coalition and treated them as such.  Since they were already paying the price I gather they felt they might as well get the benefits of being part of the Imperium.

Meanwhile, Brisc Rubal seems to have become the meme of the week, having been named “Fountain Frank” in memory of Baghdad Bob from the Iraq War.

The latest update on 35m ISK Corms

Brisc was nice enough to post a no background image of himself if you care to make your own version.

The Northern Front

The Fountain Front is likely to become the Northern Delve front very soon.  Leaving aside some bypassed systems deeper in the region, the Imperium is down to the last six ihubs in the last constellation on the road to Delve.

The Basilisk constellation

The Ansiblex jump gate network is pretty much a fond memory at this point and even the key system of KVN-36 has been taken by PandaFam.

Left behind are the Upwell structures, including several Keepstars, which the enemy has started to attack.  The J5A-IX Keepstar, on the boarder of Cloud Ring was the first to go.  The Keepstar was gunned and the battle report shows that it knocked down a lot of ship.

Battle Report Header from J5A-IX Keepstar Kill

But with more than 3K players there to whore on the kill mail, there were no doubt lots of dumb targets willing to wander into the point defense system or sit still while the structure bombed them.  527 kills is a nice number, but the objective and the ISK war clearly goes to the attackers.

The Keepstar at IGE-RI saw us extract a price from the attackers during one of the timers, but the end was inevitable and it blew up yesterday.  I’ll have a bit more about that in another post.

The Southern Front

TEST and their Legacy Coalition allies continue to diffuse their efforts and make little progress.  Or negative progress really.  Since their big attack hitting systems in eastern Querious, which took 27 ihubs in the first week and 14 in the second, things have fallen off for them.  The number of ihubs they held in the region was down to 25 as I wrote this.

The Querious flood plain changing hands – Aug 9, 2020

A couple of groups planted new ihubs where we blew theirs up, but most of them were just left empty.  The invaders can drop a new ihub there… and then we can blow it up again.  (Update: It looks like TEST actually got involved and dropped few ihubs in empty systems.  I am sure those will get special attention.)

Legacy started off trying to defend the ihubs, but seemed to have realized the whole “only owner can defend” thing, which I mentioned with with United Earth Directorate systems, was a problem that cut both ways.  Evictus (IOU ticker on the map) seemed keen to grab a lot of those ihubs but not so enthusiastic about defending them.

Claude Ring finally reinforces and ihub

Meanwhile, they have failed to take any of the CONDI or INIT ihubs closer to Delve, leaving the Ansiblex jump gate connections intact for us.

Stalled in Querious, they continued to try and drop structures and POS towers around our space, most of which were blown up as they anchored.

They are also expending effort to shoot the Stain Russians because I guess Imperium Black Ops has been hiding in Stain and dropping on their stuff, including this juicy jump freighters.

Otherwise much of the week was spent with fleets sitting on either side of the 49-U6U-4-07MU or the TCAG-3-G-M4GK gate connections waiting for the other side to jump through.  This led to barbed exchanges over who ought to be jumping into whom, but in the stalemate scenario we win, which was summarized by FC John Hartley in this quote:

So it goes.

My Participation

It was a busy week at the office, so I wasn’t able to sneak away for ops over lunch, but I still managed to get out on at least a fleet a day, plus some stuff on my own time.

My current toll of dead ships went up again.

  • Ares interceptor – 8
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1

Overall

I thought Keepstar kills would bring out more people to get on those kill mails.  It certainly seemed to be trending that way with more than 3,000 capsuleers on the kill mail for the J5A-IX Keepstar.

But yesterday’s Keepstar fight in IGE-RI, which happened in the middle of what is traditionally the high watermark for players logging in every week, Sunday at 19:00, saw a drop of about 500 participants on the kill mail.  The PCU for Sunday was 34,855, down a bit from the 35,479 we saw the week before.

There are three more Keepstars in Fountain that I know of (C-N4OD, KVN-36, and Y-2ANO), so there will be at least three more big form-ups for kills.  However, those Keepstars are getting closer and closer to Delve.  We shall see what happens.

Addendum:

Blizzard Continues Its Pandemic Profit Roll in Q2

We got the 2020 Q2 financial results for Activision Blizzard earlier this week and it confirmed what many had probably already guessed; people staying home play (and pay for) more video games.

So, not really a surprise that they did well, though I am sure senior execs from Bobby Kotick on down will claim that their leadership was the magic ingredient.  It is always their work that causes anything good and unavoidable market conditions that cause anything bad.  So the execs get huge bonuses and the employees… well… and it isn’t just people on the Activision side of the house.

Anyway, as the presentation shows, revenue was up year over year.

Activision Blizzard Q2 2020 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 10

Of course, things were looking pretty meager a year ago, with the 2019 Q1 results showing people had fallen away from Battle for Azeroth with Q2 reviving slightly… margins up from 16% to 20%… on anticipation of WoW Classic and the Rise of Azshara update which unlocked flying in the expansion.

It wasn’t until the Q3 results that included the launch of WoW Classic that things began to look better.  And then, of course, the national disaster of the pandemic hit and kept everybody home.

So things are looking up for the company.  Surprising to me is the lack of depth in the portfolio at Blizzard and across the company.  The only thing new in Q2 was the Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale addon to the Call of Duty franchise and the promise of the Shadowlands expansion for WoW some time this year.

Activision Blizzard Q2 2020 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 7

Of course, maybe that shouldn’t surprise me.  Activision is mostly Call of Duty these days, and Blizzard has some other titles, but WoW is still the revenue juggernaut and when it sags there isn’t anything to take up the slack.  A new card pack for Hearthstone isn’t going to make a huge impact at this point and Diablo: Immortal still seems to be far from going live.

So I expect things will remain upbeat so long as we’re all encouraged to stay home as much as possible, and there no doubt be a spike when the Shadowlands expansion launches in Q4.  But the company remains the same.  It is WoW and everything else.

For those interested, the financial data, presentation, and audio of the conference call, can be found on the Activision Blizzard investor relations page.

Fighting on the Keepstars

PandaFam continues to sweep on in Fountain.  They have taken most of the ihubs in the region and, save for the few behind the KVN-36 line, the region is mostly theirs at this point.  However, a bunch of our structures remain behind in the captured space, including some Keepstars.

A Keepstar in Delve, still safe

Keepstars are the anchors of any defense, the strong points that an attacker must eventually assail if the don’t want the defenders to have a safe harbor behind their lines from which they can operate.  PandaFam cannot let them linger, so they have started setting up to kill them.

When our Keepstars in Fountain start to fall, it is going to be a big boost to the morale of the attackers.  If you look at zKillboard, dead Keepstars are relatively rare.  A few didn’t get recorded due to server issues, but there is only a page or so of kills to scroll down.  (There was a time when I was on the kill mail for almost all of the dead Keepstars, and I would wager that I am still on almost half of them.)  When one side starts losing Keepstars, it is generally a sign they are losing the war.  So the narrative that the Imperium is going to lose, is losing, should give up already is going to be strong.

We have a ridiculous number of Keepstars in Delve.  It is going to be a long, slow grind when the enemy attacks there in earnest.  But some of the Keepstars out in Fountain are guaranteed to be destroyed.  Getting all the way to the far end of the region to defend the one in J5A-IX doesn’t seem viable.  And PandaFam is setting up their own structures from which to attack the Keepstars.

Somebody is making plans for us

Still, the coalition has come up with a strategy to at least make taking these structures costly.

I went out with a Ferox fleet under Asher that was set to try out one of the Keepstar defense plans.  There is a Keepstar out in IGE-RI that PandaFam has started reinforcing.  We came out to try and defend the armor timer.

Getting there took gates and one titan bridge as the Ansiblex network in Fountain is no longer there.  Our ability to move around in the region is very much curtailed.

Landing on the Keepstar

The enemy showed up with carriers and battle cruisers.  Their super carriers, usually one of the main weapons when attacking a Keepstar, are down in FAT-6P in Catch with their main titan force, awaiting their time in the invasion.  So carriers need to pick up the slack.

The carriers stood off and sent their fighters in at us in a great wave.  We loaded up long range ammo and started shooting them as they fell within our guns.

Fighter inbound

We tore up a lot of their fighters.  Whole groups went down, while damaged sets were recalled.  That was when their Feroxes came in.

We swapped over to Spike, the longest range ammo, and Asher moved us so that they were within our fire envelope, at which point his back seat began calling targets and we commenced to blowing them up as fast as we could lock them.

The Keepstar in the battle

I went out on the fleet in an alt because he had a doctrine Ferox handy, but I kind of wish I had gone on my main, because there was some serious kill board padding to be had.  My alt ended up on 126 kill mails, including the final blow on two targets, which doesn’t happen very often on a fleet with more than 100 ships present.

Ferox alt goes wild

Two kill marks on my Ferox… and lots of wrecks up above the Keepstar where the hostiles had set up station.

Wrecks and corpses litter the area

The battle was a lot of lock and fire, with some of the hostiles reshipping and returning only to be called and blown up a second time.  The battle report showed that we blew up almost 500 ships and fighters.

Header from the Battle Report

Unfortunately, for all the carnage, we lost the objective.  PandaFam moved the Keepstar into its final timer.  A Sunday Keepstar fight will attract a lot of pilots.  People like to be on those kill mails.

The final fight coming this weekend

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that we will be as successful with Feroxes again as we were this time around.  The enemy isn’t likely to be so generous in feeding us kills.  Next time they will have some counter to our defense, which means we will have to come up with some new twist of our own.

But this time we did okay, even if we lost the objective.  We took out fleet back to Delve.

Back the way we came

We will have to see how next time plays out.

Addendum: Our Keepstar in J5A-IX went down just minutes after this post went live.

Class Quest Prep for Sunken Temple

We decided that we had had enough of Maraudon in our two runs and turned our gaze towards Sunken Temple, or The Temple of Atal’Hakkar, to give it its proper name.

The Temple of Atal’Hakkar out in the swamp

But there was some preliminary work to be done.  Some of it was the usual rounding up of quests for the instance.  Oddly, my usual starting point for that, Icy Veins, doesn’t seem to have the instance on their list.

Nothing between Maraudon and Dire Maul?

Still, there are other sources.  And some of those quests have lead-ins that we need to do, staring with one to just find the temple.

But there were also some special quests to pick up.  At level 50 all of us were offered a class quest, and while they all have different starting points, they all end up in the instance. (WoWhead has them all listed out.)  So we set out to get those ready.

Between the four of us we had to go to the Blasted Lands, Un’goro Crater, and Azshara.

The warrior quest was in the Blasted Lands and I had already been out there with Viniki to do the first part of it.  That, and the fact that it was somewhat on the way to any place else we were headed… not too far from the boat out of Booty Bay… made it the starting point for the day.  We got on the bird and headed to the Blasted Lands.

Making this even easier, I had already scouted the next step, which just involved killing a variety of mobs who were all located in and around a cave just south of Nethergarde Keep.

It all fits on one little map section

We landed there and Skronk got to use his newly acquired group fortitude spell to buff the group.

Everybody at once

It requires a reagent, which means something else to keep track of, but it gets everybody in one shot and takes less mana than hitting us one at a time, a process that was requiring a break for a drink in order to complete.

We rode out and were able to pick up the kills we were trying for fairly quickly.  The only problem we ran into was a Servant of Allistarj, a mob that just refused to die.  You would knock them down to one hit point, and then nothing would stick.

The Servant of Allistarj abides

We ended up having to just run away from them if we ended up aggrod.  That was a minor inconvenience, but it did slow us down a bit.  Later I looked up the mob and found that you needed to get them to one of the local pylons to finish them off.  That would have been handy to know at the time as one of those pylons is literally in the background of the above screen shot.

Still, we wrapped things up and I was able to update the quest chain with the Fallen Hero of the Horde just over the zone line in the Swamp of Sorrow.

Quest update please

From there we were off to Un’Goro crater and the druid quest for Moronae.  That meant a boat trip, some flying time, and a ride across Tanaris to the pathway down into the crater.

The path is at least well marked

There we needed stingers off of the Gorbashi mobs, which are in the south end of the zone.  The quest notes say they come off of the bugs in general, but we only ever got drops from the wasps.  Given the low drop rate, we were there hunting for quite a while.

A stand up fight or another bug hunt?

We persisted, killed a lot of bugs, then finally got the final drop.  Then there were some bloodcaps to be found, but those drop from the bloodpetal sprouts around the zone.  We found some of those fairly readily and were able to finish up and update the quest back at the path down to the zone.  From there we needed a devilsaur.

However, time ran out for Moronae.  He had announced a hard stop time, but misunderstood and discovered that time was when he actually had to be at his destination so the stop time was moved up considerably.  We had just enough time to run over to Marshal’s Refuge and the flight point, where he camped.

With Moronae out, the next stop was Azshara, where both Skronk and Ula would find their quests.

Azshara is a zone I mostly think about in its post-Cataclysm, crazy goblin rocket ramp state, a much different place than the WoW Classic version of the zone.

A Panda riding the rocketway during Mists of Pandaria

Even getting there was a bit of a chore.  We decided that the nearest flight point was in Ashenvale, but that required use to ride almost the full length of the zone before Azshara finally came into sight.

The bridge into Azshara

We remembered enough to go grab the flight point that, for the Alliance, is off to the right almost immediately after entering the zone.  Then we went in search of the quest giver Ula needed for the mage quest line.

This led to one of those quirks of the old days.  The NPC she needed to speak with is in a tower in the zone, but it is up on a ledge and you need to use what is essentially a teleporter in order to get up to it.  We found the area from which you teleport.

This will get you to the tower level

There is an NPC there you need to speak to in order to be teleported.  But you don’t just ask him to send you or click on a cog wheel item.  The NPC has a quest, and you take the quest, then complete the quest, after which you get teleported.

The quest isn’t part of the mage quest line.  Anybody can do it.  It is just one of those things that probably got setup before somebody decided on a standard way to teleport people.  Blizz wouldn’t do this as a quest today.  But back then, a lot of things seemed like they were figuring it out as they were doing it.

The quests themselves, it was a two-parter like mine and Moronae’s, were straightforward enough.  Go slay, get drops, return, go slay some more, get more drops, and you’re done.  We just had to go find the mobs.

Riding around in the high plains of Azshara

Skronk’s quest was even more simple.  We had to find a quest giver then run off to slay some non-aggro mobs for drops.  The drop rate was low, but we had the area to ourselves, so we were able to kill steadily until he had the final drop.  Both sets of quests took place in the same area of the zone.

Around here, which is the only part of the map I have filled in

Once everybody had their quests turned in, we were about set.

We still have to go back and finish off Moronae’s class quest preliminaries, as well as running down any lead-in quests, so there might be another week of ground work.  But we should be able to get into the instance soon.

 

Defending Odd Allies in Stain

There was a ping prompting people to be ready on Tuesday night as a battle seemed to be brewing.  For one… as much of the was seems to happen in EUTZ… the time set was in a sweet spot for me, early evening my time, so I was logged in and ready to go when the fleets began forming up.

There were two fleets available immediately, Munnins under Elo Knight and Sacrileges with Asher Elias as the FC.  I always roll with Asher when I can, so I got into my fast clone, into a Guardian, into the fleet, and into the logi channel.

From there we moved out and headed south, using the Ansiblex network.

Sacs at an Ansiblex

When we ended up in XZ-SKZ in Period Basis I thought perhaps Legacy was making another push for the system.  But we did not linger there, turning instead to the CJF-1P gate and the Stain region.

We burned through Stain for a while, reaching a Fortizar with a titan sitting on it.  We did not having docking rights and could not tether, but the Avatar hanging there on tether next to us did not seem to mind our presence.  We were told to get in range.  The logi channel was confused for a moment, because you don’t cap chain on a structure… unless you can’t tether.  So the cap chain went up slowly as people figured out the situation.

We were then asked to temp blue a few groups, who happened to represent some of the Stain locals, like Pen is Out, Good Sax, and Ferrata Victrix, the latter standing out as a name that isn’t trying to be a sexual reference.

I had heard that we had been working with the Stain locals.  They are not our friends, but they really don’t like TEST for whatever reason and TEST has been returning that as they pass through Stain to attack us.  So we have been cooperating with them at times, and tonight we were with them.

The titan joined our fleet and bridged us off to our destination.

I just like to watch fleets bridge

There we landed on another Fortizar, this time in 4GQ-XQ, which did allow us to dock and tether, though people in the logi channel chained up because it was assumed we would not have rights.

The Fort also had a timer counting down.  This was our objective, defending the timer.

Timer counting down

I was kind of amused to see the name Against ALL Authorities.  We were fighting them down in Delve back in 2012.  I wasn’t aware they were still around, though I guess organizations rarely die in New Eden.

We hung around on the Fort for a while as the hostiles started showing up.  Much to our surprise, an Erebus appeared on their structure in system.  There was speculation as to whether they meant to jump or jumped instead of bridging.  But Asher, seeing a possible opportunity, warped us straight to the cyno and bubbles went up to hold the titan in place.

It was not to be.  The hostiles got their act together and started bridging in as we formed up.

Erebus in the mix

That turned into a brawl on their structure and things were pretty busy for a bit for logi as the two side started trading blows.  Things were happening fast yet slow… tidi was in full effect… so I was both in a hurry to lock people up who were broadcasting, yet often had a lot of time to look around while that was happening.

A Sac in the pack starts to explode

I was able to rep a few people, with my big save being Kappa Hutt, one of our boosters, who I caught with reps when he was well into structure.

All reps on Kappa

Things were complicated when we were hit by a cap bomb that drained everybody’s power.  Logi in the cap chain were able to keep going, but we were slowed down in getting out of the bubbles as most of the Sacrileges had their MWDs shut down.

Getting out of the bubbles

That meant apply cap to the Sacs that were falling behind.  There is a plan for that, but it took a while to get cap to them and everybody out of the bubble, at which point we disengaged and warped back to the Fortizar.

Our losses were not all that much, considering how deep we got into things.  We were able to tether up and repair while the Fort itself repaired.

The objective, saving the Fortizar timer, was accomplished.  But there were still almost 1,500 people in the system, and when some capitals dropped on grid with us, we ran out to see if we could grab something.

Caps on grid with us

That did not go our way as reinforcements arrived to support the caps.  Asher had us align out and warped us off, but there were bubbles up and not everybody got out, including both of my cap chain buddies, who were soon in pods.  I did, however, get reps on Kappa Hutt, who continued to attract fire as a booster.

We’re in warp and there is still a beam on him

From there it was back to the Fort.  The hostiles did not seem content to call it a night, so nobody was going home yet.  Tidi was still running high whenever we clashed and, me being me, I was in full graphics mode and was very happy to be running the 64-bit client given my memory usage.

The graph from the control-alt-shift-M readout

A Thanatos carrier landed not too far off the Fortizar.   We moved to meet it and it was quickly tackled and killed.  But a new brawl opened up at that point.  We were anchored up, but things started to go badly in the logi channel as hostiles warped in and started targeting us.  We shed almost all of our logi in fairly short order.  I was left in a capsule, ship destroyed, as the fight carried on.

In a pod as the fleet moves on

I dropped out of the chain channel, announced my demise in the logi channel, and then dropped fleet to keep from holding down warps to capsule speed.

There has been something of a prohibition on killing capsules at times in order to keep people from re-shipping and returning to battle quickly, which is the only reason I can explain the fact that I was left alone.  (We were far enough away that there was no way I was going to re-ship and return.)

With nothing else to do besides watch, I docked up and grabbed an Ibis.  I then undocked and started going after a few of the hostile ships that were close by.

Ibis on a rampage!

I was able to get in a few hits before somebody noticed and blapped me.  However, they once again left my pod alone.  So I motored back towards the Fort while my aggression timer counted down.  I was going to dock back up and do it again.

And then the person gunning the Fortizar turned on the point defense system and nuked my pod.  I suppose I should have tried to get out with my implants, but I was so far from home that it seemed unlikely.  Oh well.

At that point I was back in 1DQ1-A and could only listen on voice comms to what was going on.

The battle report shows we paid a price for winning that timer. (Alternate report if you like that other style.)

Battle Report Header

It wasn’t a complete wipe for us, but we clearly came out on the short side on the ISK war.  But the war goes on.

Addendum:

Some additional pictures from Lazlow Jones.

Promptapalooza and a Quote of the Day

It is August, which means it should be Blaugust, but since we effectively did that in April (which was Blapril), Belghast decided, based on some feedback, that encouraging people to post every day for another month might be too taxing on some.  So, instead, we have Promptapalooza, where each of the participants gets a writing prompt to drive a post.

August means some sort of Blaugust

Yesterday was Everwake’s turn, which involved rituals.  You should go and take a look. Today it is my turn, and my prompt is:

  • What is a favorite Quote/s, and tell us why

This seems like a bespoke prompt for me as somebody who has a blog category devoted to quotes.  (Reminder: If you click on that link, you need to scroll down as this post will appear first, being the latest post about quotes.)

And I certainly have a lot of quotes to choose from, ranging from some Smed classics (there is a whole Smed tag to look at) to Chris Roberts and optimism of developers to Derek Smart and his own influence to some Gevlon staples to perennial developer complaints and F2P discussions and prescient quotes about the genre so on.  Lots of things to work with.

But I am going to go with a quote that I have used before but has never quite made it to the Quote of the Day status.

Being an elf doesn’t make you turn off the rational economic calculator part of your brain.

Edward Castronova

Dr. Castronova is known in our circles for his study of virtual worlds… though “synthetic worlds” seems to be the vogue term at the moment… and their economies, often covered by his posts at Terra Nova and on his own blog, both of which has been pretty quiet for some time now.  He has written a lot of interesting, thought provoking, and occasionally wildly optimistic things about video games over the years, but I like this one the best.

I like it best because it explains a lot of player behavior.

We will tend to do things in order to maximize our progress, however we choose to measure it. There are always exceptions, but that tends to be the way of things.  We will work towards the things we are focused on and do the things that reward us in the ways that we most desire.  Currency, kill board stats, battleground achievements, levels, whatever is our prime motivator, that is where we put our efforts, and we will focus on this things that most optimize the best results for us.

Why do the immortal god-like capsuleers of New Eden shoot NPCs in anomalies?  It is the easiest way to earn ISK, which is the foundation needed for other activities.  Why did we rush off to do battle grounds in Warhammer Online?  That was the fastest way to level up to get into the “good” content, the city raids and such.

The problem is that we live in this world and not the world of our games, and are driven by the desires and needs and goal we have here and not by what our character, elf, orc, capsuleer, or otherwise, might find as their own motivation if we were able to give them life and consciousness.

So it goes.

Next on the list for Promptapalooze is Stignite at The Friendly Necromancer.  Go visit their site tomorrow to see which prompt they got for the event.

Others taking a crack at this prompt:

The Coming Metaliminal Storms May Decloak You in Null Sec

CCP announced today that Metaliminal Storms will soon be coming to null sec, imparting “weather effects” where ever they go.

Metaliminal Storms

Per the announcement:

Chaotic storms of Abyssal energy – called Metaliminal Storms – will begin appearing randomly in nullsec space this August when the Metaliminal Storms update goes live, as an unexpected side effect of the Triglavian invasion! These roaming storms will move slowly between star systems via the gate network.

The forum thread with the current details indicates that these storms will move at a rate of one system every 24-48 hours, giving at least some level of warning if a storm is close by.

There are currently four different storm types planned, with two levels of intensity (strong and weak), each of which brings with them a variety of effects on space, some beneficial some detrimental.  The storms will be akin to hurricanes, with a central system as the “eye” of the storm with strong effects being felt there and adjacent systems, while weak effects will be felts in systems two or three jumps away.

The way the describe storm movement, they appear to be effectively taking gates, so they follow what I might call DOTLAN map logic, where the distance between systems connected by a jump gate is effectively a constant, and a very small one at that, as opposed to what the in-game map shows, where the distance between systems can vary greatly, especially when it comes to gates between regions.  This may lead to some odd situations.

For example, since I have been marking up maps of Fountain lately due to the war, if the “eye” of a storm is in KVN-36 or C-N4OD, the storm effects will ripple out to the northern and southern ends of the region without touching anything in the middle thanks to the long gate jump between the two systems.

And outdated map used to show the distance between some key gates

Likewise, if the “eye” is in D4KU-5 in Fountain, the effects will ripple into Aridia despite the two regions being too far apart for a capital to jump between them.

Storm magic I guess.

The plan right now is to have eight such storms, two of each type, wandering null sec.  The “eye” of the storm will always be in null sec, but the effects can reach into low and high sec systems if the storm travels in that direction.

Of particular note to almost everybody reading the effects is that electrical storms will disable the ability to use a cloak in systems affected.

Gamma

  • Weak Metaliminal Gamma Ray Storm
    • -10% Explosive Resists
    • +10% Shield HP
    • -50% Remote Shield/Armor Rep Amount
    • +40% Warp Disruption/Scrambler Range
    • -10% Signature Radius
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Gamma Ray Storm
    • -25% Explosive Resists
    • +25% Shield HP
    • -90% Remote Shield/Armor Rep Amount
    • +100% Warp Disruption/Scrambler Range
    • -25% Signature Radius
    • Spawning extra Rogue Drone combat sites

Plasma

  • Weak Metaliminal Plasma Firestorm
    • -10% Thermal Resists
    • +10% Armor HP
    • +20% Weapon Damage
    • -20% Turret/Drone Tracking Speed
    • +20% Missile/Fighter Explosion Radius
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Plasma Firestorm
    • -25% Thermal Resists
    • +25% Armor HP
    • +50% Weapon Damage
    • -50% Turret/Drone Tracking Speed
    • +50% Missile/Fighter Explosion Radius
    • Spawning Triglavian combat sites

Exotic

  • Weak Metaliminal Exotic Matter Storm
    • -10% Kinetic Resists
    • +20% Scan Resolution
    • -10% Mining Laser Cycle Time
    • +40% Warp Speed
    • -10% Local Armor/Shield repairer cycle time
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Exotic Matter Storm
    • -25% Kinetic Resists
    • +50% Scan Resolution
    • -25% Mining Laser Cycle Time
    • +100% Warp Speed
    • -25% Local Armor/Shield repairer cycle time
    • Spawning extra ore anomalies

Electrical

  • Weak Metaliminal Electrical Storm
    • -10% EM Resists
    • -10% Capacitor Recharge Time
    • +10 Virus Coherence
    • +20% Probe Strength
    • No Cloaking
    • No change to site spawning
  • Strong Metaliminal Electrical Storm
    • -25% EM Resists
    • -25% Capacitor Recharge Time
    • +25 Virus Coherence
    • +50% Probe Strength
    • No Cloaking
    • Spawning extra relic sites

As with all things from CCP, this is likely subject to change before it hits Tranquility.  It has not yet been put onto the test server, Singularity, but the company plans to test it out there before it goes live.

CCP is soliciting feedback in the forum thread linked.

Many people are wetting themselves at the idea of cloaking being disabled.  And the boost to probe strength will really make it tough to hide.  I always felt cloaky camping was one of the prices of playing in null sec, so expect this will end up being a mixed blessing.

Storms also hit remote reps, local reps, and various resistance types, no doubt giving some a secondary jolt of pleasure after the cloaking effect hit wears off.

I am only surprised that there isn’t a storm effect that removes interdiction nullification and puts logi on kill mails if CCP really wanted to play to capsuleer requests.  Maybe they are holding those for round two.