Building a Pet Battle Army of Extraordinary Magnitude

When I first started on pet battles, I was way behind.  The whole thing came in as part of the Mists of Pandaria expansion and, having skipped out of the game when Cataclysm was still a thing and only returned when Mists of Pandaria was nearly a year old, it felt like there was a lot of catching up to do.

Not that “behind” really means much.  Pet Battles, like so much of WoW, can be viewed as a primarily solo activity.  That others have already “done all the things” doesn’t mean that you cannot go do them or that they are in some way diminished.  It just means that you still have to travel a road that others might have already gone down.  Sometimes that isn’t a bad thing, as they will leave notes behind to help you out.

It was more a matter of coming back to WoW and there being so much to do.  When the instance group finally all got back on the first thing on the agenda was to finish up Wrath of the Lich King.  After that there was Cataclysm and then, finally, we got into Mists of Pandaria.  During that time I did not do much about Pet Battles.  I caught a few pets now and again, but for the most part I was in zones with level 20-25 pets, while my own collection was mostly in the level 1-8 range.

Eventually I did get a pet to level 25.  And then three.  Grunty, the pet from BlizzCon 2009 was one of my first to level cap.

BlizzCon Exclusive Gift

BlizzCon Exclusive Gift

He remains one of my favorites, always in the rotation if I am facing beast type pets.  After him there were other, like the Terrible Turnip, until I had a few choices for a max level party.

Of course, having a few choices tends to highlight the holes in your lineup.  Such is the rock-paper-scissors of Pokemon Pet Battles, where having three level 25s can be a long way from having the RIGHT three for a given battle.  After unlocking the Menagerie in my first garrison, it was a struggle to defeat Gorefu, Gnawface, and Carrotus Maximus in order to unlock the next upgrade.

It was one of those things where I went to look up the fights, having failed badly, only to find that I did not have any of the suggested pets for these battles.  I found substitutes and managed to scrape by, defeating Gorefu mostly on luck rather than having the right counters.

I persisted, working on leveling up additional pets.  I picked up a couple of the addons suggested by people and had a plan to get the pets I wanted to level 25.

PetBattle Teams on the right side...

PetBattle Teams on the right side…

I still struggle a bit getting pets to level 6 or so.  No system in place for that yet.  But once they are 6 or so, there is the aquatic battles in Pandaria in order to get them to 15 and then they can be swapped into my daily pet master battles in Draenor. I even leveled up one of my characters in Draenor pretty much via Pet Battle experience.

As my collection has grown, so has my list of pre-set teams.  The first time I struggled with the Menagerie unlock battles.  Now I have a pre-set group for all three that will do them in no problem.  I am good against the Darkmoon Faire battles now, and have been creating groups to counter the daily battles that come up in the Menagerie.

Countering this all magic pet group

Countering this all magic pet group

And when I go look things up now, I sometimes even have the pets suggested for the given battle, or at least a close enough substitute.  (Though one of my minor gripes is how many pets share the same model and same attacks and simply have a different name.  While I like my three cockroach threat team, I am not sure the cockroach, the fire-proof roach, and the tainted cockroach are all that different.  Basically there are 10 sets of roaches that share everything except a name.)

Still, it came as a surprise to me the other night when yet another pet hit level 25 and I got an achievement.

ProPetMobAchiThat is the achievement you get for having 75 pets at level 25.  Of course, the reward is another pet to level up.  On getting that I checked my stats over at Warcraft Pets and found I was just a couple shy of 400 unique pets total.  I took my level 90 druid, who I still haven’t pushed into Draenor yet, and had him start hunting for new pets in Pandaria.  That is probably the one expansion I have the least pets from.  And soon, I had another achievement.

LotofPetFoodAchiThat is what you get when you collect 400 unique pets… well, that and another pet.

Suddenly I seem to have more options.

Pet stats as of May 4, 2015

Pet stats as of May 4, 2015

While I continue to build up my collection, I want to start looking into the Mists of Pandaria options when it comes to Pet Battles, which leads up to the Celestial Tournament.  And, of course, there is a collection to obsess about round out.  There are currently 724 pets, so I am just past half way towards catching them all… or whatever.  Still plenty of pet battling to be done.

The Next EverQuest Progression Server will be Named Ragefire

Daybreak has posted up in the forums that, while the poll is still open, the name “Ragefire” is currently so far ahead that no other name appears to have a chance.

The name celebrates Zordakalicus Ragefire, a dragon from the Skyfire Mountains of Kunark.

Ragefire hanging out..

Ragefire hanging out..

As was mentioned in the comments of my post about the current polls, among the things he drops is an item for the Water Sprinkler of Nem Ankh quest.  The name is also probably the easiest on the list to spell/remember, which was my reason for picking it. (Lockjaw, the other easy name is running a distant second.)

Name choices

Name choices

Meanwhile, the polls are still open in game for a couple more days and, since there was no mention of other options clearly winning, there is still time to influence how this server will be run.

Imperium vs Zombies

No, I am not talking about the animated corpse of N3.

Yes, whatever is left of the great N3 invasion of Fountain is still sort of spluttering along.  It is the first of May and the former owners of Delve hold only two of the 85 systems they once owned in the region.  Wait, no, the last two TCUs went down even as I wrote that.  So we’ll call that done.  Key systems in Querious and even Period Basis have been falling as well.  The invaders have now scattered, though null remains active in its own way.

Between now and the next expansion on June 9th, which will introduce changes to sovereignty warfare, The Imperium’s main plan is to pull back into its homeland in the north and prepare for the coming brave new world.

During this quiet time, the loyal troops of The Imperium have been given a new task, a new war to fight, a new territory to invade.  We will be headed into the dystopian age of H1Z1.

Operation Announced

Operation Announced

Like a million other suckers before us, we are going to put down $20 for Daybreak’s launched yet still not finished zombie not-an-MMO thing.

Part of this is finding something else to do as a group, while another part is the fact that The Imperium leadership is tight with Smed, who was a member of the CFC himself at one time.  He even sent The Mittani a “welcome to the neighborhood” message that was shared with us.

Please let your goonswarm know that my fellow H1Z1 team members and I have decided to make tmw afternoon all about hunting newbie goons for sport. Please apologize to your friends for their impending deaths and make sure they know of our warning.

We’ve prepared a video of what it’s going to look like. We do apologize ahead of time, but we wanted to welcome you to H1Z1 in a special way!

The video was of Smed’s dog humping a cushion.  He likes us, he really likes us.  So we have that going for us.  We’ll see if the servers are up to the challenge.  Right now it seems more like Smed’s team will be fixing login/disconnect problems.

And this was also a moment of opportunity.  A big patch dropped for H1Z1, the details of which can be found on Daybreak’s new official forums, the key item of which is a complete player wipe.  Welcome to launched but not released.

But trashing all those carefully built up bases means that The Imperium comes in on an equal footing.  Well, equal in that everything is up for grabs and we can find a decent place to call our own.  Perhaps not so equal in that the plan is pretty much the same as the 2006 Goonswarm plan, though replace noobs in badly fit frigates swarming the enemy with noobs wielding primitive weapons swarming the enemy.

We were actually promised machetes.  We’ll see how that turns out.

As a warm up some of us got on last night, and I have to admit that there may be something to the game.  I am pretty sure I would quickly tire of it as a solo effort, but being in a group on voice coms trying to find each other and figure out what was going on was pretty fun.

Likewise, PvE seems like it would be pretty tame.  Zombies are not much of a threat and are easily avoided.  My main environmental concern, besides food and water, seemed to be wolves.  I died to wolves more than anything else, though I punched a few to death in return.  But aside from wolves, and an unfortunate incident with a bear, other people are the main thrill of the game.

Oddly, the first thing I learned to do on coms was take off my clothes and shred them in order to make a bag to hold things.  So there was some running about in my underwear for a while.

The hunder and his prey

The hunter and his prey

There is a starting stretch where you are gathering stuff and trying to find your mates while wandering around the land trying to match up landmarks to the rough in-game map, something made even more difficult when darkness falls. Fortunately clothes and other items are not too scarce and I was able to get myself together and find the rest of the team after about an hour.

I found a hat, and a machete

I found a hat, and a machete

There was some chasing around as random people wandered into the area.  That, as I said, is the interesting bit.  You don’t see names until you are very close and when you are running after somebody all they have to do is break line of sight around an obstacle and suddenly reacquiring them can be a chore if there is any cover at all.

My third leading cause of death, after wolves and suicide respawns was gunshot wounds.  Stranger danger is a thing in H1Z1.  At one point as I was trying to find our group, I ran across a couple of guys who played friendly at first.  Then one shot me in the back of the head.  Later on, when I was with the group, I got up to the top of a rise and was gunned down again by an unseen assailant.  A lesson in that I am sure.

Anyway, it seems like it might make for an interesting diversion during the month of May.  We’ll see how it goes.

April in Review

The Site

I have nothing new to gripe about when it comes to WordPress.com, so I will just repeat that I really, really hate the new post editor and it is going to be very painful to transition once they drop support for the “classic” version.  I hope they at least fix the bit that crashes my browser when I try to use it.

So, with that out of the way, I want to ask a philosophical question about post categories.  As you can see on the side bar over on the right, there is a drop down that lists out the larger categories that I write about here.  Those are general areas, usual a game or a company or a specific group, while I use tags for specific items, like a dungeon or expansion associated with a specific game.

My question is, what should I do about SOE and Daybreak?

Daybreak... wait, no!

Daybreak… wait, no!

I have a category for Sony Online Entertainment, which I use for topics that involve the company itself rather than just a specific game.  When they were bought out by Columbus Nova Prospekt and changed their name to Daybreak Game Company, I made a new category for that.

It follows you as you move about the room!

Here’s the right one…

But now I wonder if that was the right move?  Should I have kept continuity, and the load of history with the SOE category, and just changed it to Daybreak?  Or should I have just kept on with SOE, because a Limburger cheese by any other name smells the same?  Or do I stick with two, and use them both when referring to something that applies to both or refers to the history that comes with SOE, eventually using only Daybreak as the company starts using its new logo and domain name to form its own identity?

I will cut you

Angry CONCORD guy comes to life!

When is it no longer relevant to refer to SOE and the history that brings?

Or am I, as usual, over thinking this?  (Hat tip to Feldon for spotting the logo thing.)

One Year Ago

Spacewar! for the PDP-1 was up via emulation on the internet archive.

The Elder Scrolls Online launched, hitting its planned April 4th date.  I did not play.

I was diving in to Pokemon X & Y, having returned to Pokemon at last.

The strategy group played a game of Civilization V that ended with a win via nuclear terror.

The Kickstarter campaign for the book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online kicked off.  But Pantheon: Rise of the Something was spluttering along after failing its Kickstarter campaign.

In EVE Online proper there was Burn Jita 3, which seemed like less of a thing the third time out.  There was a video.  Then there was the CSM9 vote.  At least there were only 36 candidates on the ballot.

In null sec we were shooting Black Legion things, because that is what we do in the CFC.  I was just happy to be using lasers.  those skills having been trained up amongst my 120 million skill points.  There were also some posts about being space famous and an attempt at in-game blackmail.

But on the broader CCP front, World of Darkness was officially cancelled.

On the iPad I was playing Hearthstone and QuizUp… for about a week.

Turbine announced that Beornings were coming to Lord of the Rings Online.

SOE gave me a key for seven days of Landmark, so I went and tried it out.  SOE also announced H1Z1 and began their current love affair with Reddit and got their new All Access plan running.  While on the old school front, Dave Georgeson said SOE never plans to shut down EverQuest.

Warlords of Draenor was still a long ways away.  But Blizzard was doing well on other fronts.  The instance group finished up Zul’gurub.  And there was the usual April Fools stuff.

Five Years Ago

Video games as art?  Did we flay Roger Ebert enough over that?

Turbine was purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.  No word on a Harry Potter MMO as yet, though we did get LEGO Harry Potter.

Crimson Leaf Games brought out their rework of Megawars III / Stellar Emperor.  1986 style online game play at a much cheaper price.

SOE announced a new subscription plan for EQII, the EQII Passport.  Framed by at least one person as “1/3 the price for 1/10 the access” it surely must have been the right plan for somebody.

And speaking of paying for games, I wondered where Facebook credits were headed.  They seemed like a bad deal for games relative to paying companies like Zynga directly.  Despite speculation that they would be the ONLY currency allowed on Facebook, that has still not to come to pass.

And while talking about Facebook games, I couldn’t bring myself to play Mafia Wars, so I secured a deposition about the game from a friend.

In EVE Online somebody was trying to blackmail Gaff’s corp.  This was an out of game threat though.

Blizzard introduced the Celestial Steed (aka the sparkle pony or the greed steed) to the Blizzard Store.  Blog reactions were mixed, but the queue to buy the mount on day one got 140,000 transactions deep.  That is a lot of horsies, which meant they were everywhere in the game pretty soon.  The Lil’ XT companion pet that was introduced at the same time also made its own mark on the world… until Blizzard toned it down.

The instance group was in WoW still, playing horde characters on the Lightninghoof RP-PvP server.  We we working on Dire Maul, attempting a successful tribute run after having run around Blackrock Depths.

Since the instance group was getting close to finishing up the classic WoW dungeon and wondering if we should press through the Burning Crusade content (as short as it passes), we started exploring other games as possible alternatives.  This lead us to try out Runes of Magic for a bit.

There was April Fool’s.  I had a contest while Blizzard went over the top, as usual.

And, finally, the cruelest 2010 April Fool’s tease, the iPad arcade stand.  On the bright side, while it started as a tease, it ended up becoming a real thing.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. April Fools at Blizzard – 2015
  2. Reavers Represent
  3. Progression Server Progress in EverQuest
  4. CCP Copies Blizzard’s WoW Token Idea
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  7. Complaining About Small Things in WoW… Yet Again
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Daybreak and Forums and Reddit
  10. LOTRO – The War of the Ring as an Eight Year Long Quagmire
  11. The Fall of ZXB-VC and the End of Dominion
  12. Hail The Imperium! Amarr Victor!

Search Terms of the Month

lotro all that is beoring
[Yeah, beoring… that was what you meant]

overpowered by my wife likelike
[I bet you likelike!]

best way to powerlevel in everquest
[Buy a level 85 character]

merry karanas png porn
[Things in the Karanas have never been that merry]

eve do cnr need tp
[I even keep an extra roll on hand]

soe taking over?
[SOE is dead, man]

EVE Online

The annual purging of Delve seems to be about complete, our foes have fled before us, and what remains of N3 is a wreck.  Even the Reavers have been taking sovereignty from them, while the local renters have started paying us tribute to leave them alone, that “shame renters into defending the space they pay for” plan having not worked out.  The CFC changed its name to The Imperium and has pretty much “won” the Dominion sovereignty version of the game.  Not bad for April.

World of Warcraft

Sometimes I think I play a different version of this game than some other bloggers.  Or maybe I just don’t play as much or I have too many alts or too many garrisons or whatever.  But I keep logging on and seeing how much I have left to do/see/explore and then I compare this to people who are “done” with the expansion and already complaining about needing new content.  Maybe I am slowing down in my old age.

Coming Up

It looks like we might be set for another round of the New Blogger Initiative.  It is set to start… soon.

In WoW the instance group is on the road to 100.  I’ve been letting down the team by not showing up lately, but at least we’re in the gap between new dungeon content.  Still, it would be nice to get there before the inevitable summer hiatus kicks in and the group is pretty much done until autumn.  So I expect May will focus on that.

There will be things to do in EVE Online… I have a lot of crap to move out of Fountain to start with… but otherwise my space tribe is sort of in a holding pattern until June and the Fozzie-Sov comedy/chaos event.  Also, if I am using the term “space tribe,” which comes straight from the mouth of The Mittani, I have clearly been assimilated.  All hail The Imperium!

I will play a new game in May… because I really only played WoW and EVE in April… and likely write about it as well.  If you’re friends with me on Steam, you might have seen it added to my list and have been asking yourself, “WTF?”  There is a comedic opportunity reason behind this.  We’ll see how this plays out.

And, finally, I am going to start working on getting official Daybreak endorsement for my FreeRealms emulation project, because they seem to be into that sort of thing at the moment.

Project 1999 – Now Totally Legit

Well, I didn’t see that coming.

p99-gold-flat

In what I can only describe as something that wouldn’t have happened while EverQuest was under the Sony banner, Daybreak has officially recognized and blessed the EverQuest Project 1999 servers.

As part of the deal Project 1999 has agreed to push out the release of the Velious expansion until early August so as not to conflict with the upcoming EverQuest Progression Server.  So I guess we get a little bit of data on that front as well.  Of course, if you’re a pessimist, you might wonder what this says about Daybreak’s commitment to old Norrath, what with Smed’s words still fresh in our ears.

Meanwhile, if you think this means that the same might happen for SWG: A New Hope or SWGEmu, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  Daybreak owns all the rights to EverQuest, but a little company named Disney becomes involved when we start talking about Star Wars Galaxies.

The text of the announcement from the EverQuest site:

If you’ve ever looked for people playing EverQuest on Twitch, you’ll often find fans playing on the Project 1999 servers (often referred to as just P99) and engaging with other members of the community via their Twitch chat. Project 1999 is a fan-based, not-for-profit, classic EverQuest emulation project.

The guys running Project 1999 are passionate fans of EverQuest and our work, and we’re fans of what they’ve been able to accomplish with support from the player community. So, we’d like to bring you the following announcement from the P99 crew:

“It’s been an exciting year for Project 1999 and we have some exciting news we’ve been really anxious to share with all of you. As some of you may be aware, in the past there has been both confusion and concern over the status of Project 1999.  We have recently entered into a written agreement with Daybreak Game Company LLC that formally recognizes Project 1999 as a fan based, not-for-profit, classic EverQuest emulation project. The agreement establishes the guidelines that we as a project must follow, but it will allow to us continue to update the game without risk of legal repercussions. As a show of good faith to support the efforts of Daybreak Games, we have decided to reschedule our expansion release as to not conflict with the upcoming new progression server being released in the coming weeks. We would like to personally thank all the folks at Daybreak and acknowledge how awesome it is for a company to work with and embrace the creations of their fans. This is really something that’s unique in the gaming industry.”

To read the rest of the post, please visit the P99 forums.

We’re proud that the EverQuest community is one of the most passionate and engaged groups of players in the gaming world. We’re glad we were able to reach an agreement with the team behind the fan-based, not-for-profit emulation project as they continue to share their love of EQ with many.

Avoiding Guild Wars for a Decade

Guild Wars occupies a strange spot in my gaming history.

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words...

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words…

It came along ten years ago this week… something I only noticed when another bloggers mentioned the anniversary… at a point in time when the future of MMOs seemed golden.

EverQuest had brought a lot of players into the genre in a way that no MMO or proto-MMO before it had.  It confirmed that there was a bigger audience out there than was suspected, and that audience would pay to play.  Other games came on the scene like Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars Galaxies that were clearly differentiated for EQ.  It seemed like we would have all sorts of unique choices when it came to MMOs going forward.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II and World of Warcraft had both launched the previous November (we hit my 10 year anniversary with WoW last month and I totally forgot) but, while WoW was clearly taking off, we were not yet at a point where “must make a WoW clone!!!” was the dominating developer thoughts.

The market was also small, at least when it came to the number of titles.  It felt like you could realistically know something about all the major titles on the market as well as those under development.  The whole VirginWorlds podcast era was predicated on the idea that you could talk about the MMO market segment in detail in a weekly one hour or less session and pretty much cover all they key players.

At the time I was just back into the MMO thing, having quit EQ and the genre back before Planes of Power launched.  As noted in the relevant anniversary post, Gaff got me to play EverQuest II at launch.

By the time Guild Wars launched in 2005 I had given WoW a try and wasn’t really thrilled, something I mentioned to a co-worker who had played EverQuest over lunch.  A surprising (to me) number of my co-workers ended up playing EverQuest.  This particular one had also burned out on EQ and was somewhat reluctant to get in on the subscription MMO level grind again.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t enjoyed some, or even most of his time in Norrath.  It was just that feeling you get when you’re too busy to use something you’re paying for.

He told me the game he had his eye on was Guild Wars.

He was keen on the MMO, or MMO-like, multi-player experience without the whole monthly fee.  Buy the box and you’re done, like a REAL video game.  That is what made it stand out among the so-called third generation MMOs. (And this ignores the whole Guild Wars isn’t an MMO thing, which I can’t even begin to address.  As with H1Z1, the company simply saying it isn’t an MMO doesn’t make it so.  The definition is both complex and situational in my mind, but there is also a certain amount of “quacks like a duck” in there as well.)

He was kind of our scout into this game.  He picked it up at launch and I would go by and ask him about it now and again.  He talked about the character models and the way cities were shared but that zones or content was all instanced and the skill system where you were limited to the number of active skills you had.

And the graphics.  He was effusive about the environment.  Most people with whom I have spoken to about the game over the years have praised that aspect.

At the time though I was fully committed to EQII, a game that had been changing and evolving… and breaking now and again… since launch.  Too much to keep up with there to start a new MMO-like game.

Then we all defected to WoW and the focus was on Azeroth.  Then I started EVE Online for a bit, then the blog started, then there was the instance group and so forth.  Somewhere in there I entered the VirginWorlds sphere of influence and would listen to Brent and sometimes co-host Brenden talk about other MMOs, which got me both more interested and more aware of the wider genre which, as noted above, seemed like a thing a single person could know about.

And Guild Wars was a common topic.  Brent and Brendan would talk about it, Van Hemlock was big on it, there were other former bloggers keen on the game, so it was always part of the mix.  Eventually I bought a copy.  I know this because the box is still sitting in my bookshelf.

MMO Boxes on my shelf

MMO Boxes on my shelf

At some point in the past I dumped a bunch of boxes but, for whatever reasons, I chose to keep these particular ones.  The EverQuest and the EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark CD jewel cases are on the far left, while the original EverQuest manual is next to A Theory of Fun on the right.

And you can see there isn’t just one, there are TWO Guild Wars boxes.

Yet I cannot recall ever really playing the game.

I remember taking a couple of runs at it.  I found exactly FOUR screen shots from Guild Wars after sifting though my hard drives that indicated that I made at least two characters, one male and one female, at some point.  I think that might have been after a podcast discussion where somebody was effusive about the female character models in the game.

Sexy or Sexualized?

Sexy or Sexualized?

I also recall at one point trying to get a group together in Guild Wars with Potshot and Ula during one of the hiatus periods of the WoW group.  I have a distinct memory of us in a small town with very pretty and detailed flowers… and being unable to jump over an ankle-high obstacle… but little else.  Something didn’t click because we clearly did not stick with it.  I did not even make a blog post about it.  I have literally written more about games I never played myself, like LEGO Universe, or games that never launched in the US, like KartRider, or games that never even existed, like Planet Michael, than about Guild Wars.  I have certainly written more about games the instance group has tried and dropped.  Runes of Magic has gotten many more words than Guild Wars, for example.

This might be my first Guild Wars post in more than eight and a half years.  And despite having been aware of the game since before launch, I have very little to say about it.

Meanwhile the landscape of the MMO market has changed.  The golden age ended, for me at least, with the crash of Warhammer Online, which killed the idea of being both popular and different from WoW. After that the tomb was sealed when the idea of another mass market subscription MMO, the now cringe-inducing idea of a WoW-beater, was laid to rest when Star Wars: The Old Republic went free to play.  Now we talk about niche games and funding and variations on business models and funding and fanciful ideas about developer independence and funding and cash shops and what went wrong back in the day and how it is all Blizzard’s fault.

And yet Guild Wars is still there, which is kind of amazing given the propensity NCsoft has for shutting down games that simply are not making enough money.  It has been overshadowed by Guild Wars 2 (which I can actually remember playing still!) and is never going to see any further expansions or content updates, yet it still abides.

Anyway, it has been ten years.  Happy anniversary!

Other places writing about Guild Wars at age ten: