How Many Ages Should an Empire Have?

There was an announcement yesterday that we might see an Age of Empires IV some day, complete with a deliberately vague hype trailer.

Age of Something IV

Still, on a slow Monday in August just before Gamescom simply whispering “Age of Empires” under your breath will get somebody hyped up.

It is a series with some genre-defining entries.  The original Age of Empires felt fresh and new back when it launched while the follow on, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (which we tended to call AoK)took the formula and refined it to near perfection.  It is an 18 year old title I still get out and play now and again.  It is an amazing mix of civilizations, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that somehow ended up as balanced as one could hope for.

It was a title deserving of an HD remastering, which we got via Hidden Path Entertainment back in 2013.

I am even a bit jazzed about revisiting the original game via the Age of Empires Definitive Edition that was announced earlier this year at E3.  I was never as big of a fan of it as I was the sequel, but I would still go back to give it a try again, especially with the promise of “improved game play,” which hope means rolling back some of the features from AoK.

So I have some sincere fondness for the series… or at least parts of the series.  After AoK the games fell flat for me.

Age of Mythology never thrilled me while Age of Empires III just fell flat in my opinion.  These are not titles I would go back to play again.

But by then key members of Ensemble Studios responsible for the initial magic of the series had moved on and the studio itself was shut down by Microsoft in 2009.  And while Microsoft attempted to leverage the fame of the series with Age of Empires Online, which really did flop, heralding the end of things.

Except now Microsoft is back and banking on the fame of the series yet again, with the remaster of the original and a new title in the form of Age of Empires IV, and my response to the latter is fairly cool.

I am not completely dismissive of the idea.  The did get Relic Entertainment to take on the task of creating Age of Empires IV and, as a studio, they have some RTS chops.  The are responsible for Homeworld and Homeworld 2, the Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War series, and the Company of Heroes series, all of which are notable titles in the genre.  And being owned by Sega hasn’t completely killed them off.

But can they make an Age of Empires title that feels like an Age of Empires title?  Do they really need to ride on the back of the old series?  Will that fence them in or set them free?  And what age will this be set in?  The industrial age?  The modern age?  The space age?  And haven’t they already been to that last one with Homeworld and Warhammer 40k?

Anyway the complete absence of any details regarding the title means any conclusion you care to come to barely meets the minimum requirement for speculation.  So we will have to wait and see if this is really hype worthy or not.

Blogger Fantasy Movie League – Week Twelve

One of the problems, as the summer blockbuster season peters out and your into the dregs of the season, is that the movie press, ever keen to make predictions at the peak of the season, wanders off and stops giving you hints about what the given movies in a week might do.

Box Office Pro, one of the sites I watch, and the site that provides the official numbers for the weekly results, was providing two predictions posts a week, with updates in between, early in the season.  Late in the season… well, they might do one post… maybe.

Not that you don’t get some hints as to what should do well and what may not.  The weekly pricing scheme is essentially a set of predictions.  It is just a very early set, done before reviews or testing social media penetration or whatever other entrails the movie press examines in order to come up with numbers.

So for week twelve, the penultimate week of the season, we pretty much just had the pricing to guide us, which shook out as follows:

Hitman's Bodyguard  $254
Annabelle Creation  $216
Logan Lucky         $184
Dunkirk             $98
The Nut Job 2       $62
Spider-Man          $58
The Emoji Movie     $52
Girls Trip          $50
The Glass Castle    $48
The Dark Tower      $48
Wind River          $43
Kidnap              $38
Atomic Blonde       $34
Planet of the Apes  $29
Despicable Me 3     $28

Meanwhile, enthusiasm within our own ranks was dwindling as well.  Three members have effectively dropped out, Braxwolf went all-in on The Emoji Movie, and leader of the pack Liore forgot to make her picks, so had to roll with her selections from the previous week.

Of course, Lucky Liore’s past picks were all still valid, leaving her with no empty screens, making me wonder if there was a strategy there.  It wasn’t obvious to me that she hadn’t picked until the first numbers came in.  Then she was at the bottom of the list, a position she held right through until the official numbers were announced.

The top movie of the week was The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which was not unexpected, and I was in on that with three screens, rounding out the rest with five screens of Wind River.

My picks for Week 12

The Hitman’s Bodyguard actually did a bit better than expected, given its low score with the critics, and at one point looked to be the best price/performer of the week, which would have been a nice bonus for me.  However, with the final count, it turned out that The Emoji Movie took the price/performance prize.

And so, a special mention goes to Braxwolf for managing to pick eight screens of the best price/performing movie of the week and still managing to be last place among those who bothered to pick at all this week.

Brax all-in on The Emoji Movie

That left the weekly numbers looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $79,032,172
  2. Void’s Awesomeplex – $75,556,725
  3. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $75,178,012
  4. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $73,771,730
  5. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $65,247,704
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex – $58,620,296
  7. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $51,528,224
  8. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $44,312,427 (Forgot to pick)

I managed a first place finish, but the gap wasn’t that big, and was primarily because I was the only one to go with three screens of The Hitman’s Bodyguard.  That was the winning anchor move of the week.

If only Brax and I had combined our thoughts, me going with three screens of The Hitman’s Bodyguard and him heavy on The Emoji Movie, because those two, plus a screen of Despicable Me 3 were the perfect pick for week 12.

Week 12 – The Perfect Pick

However, as a sign of how chaotic and/or dissolute this week was, only 16 people managed the perfect pick.  I think that is a record low.

The overall scores after week 12 were:

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $1,224,086,213
  2. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $1,179,008,520
  3. Ocho’s Octoplex – $1,074,532,158
  4. Void’s Awesomeplex – $1,059,475,800
  5. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $1,033,195,465
  6. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $1,020,148,883
  7. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $977,956,202
  8. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $918,601,684

Nobody moved up or down in the rankings this week, the usual state of affairs.  I did managed to close the gap between myself and Liore by $35 million.  However, given that the gap was over $80 million last week, that still leaves a sizable distance between us.

I joked that my only hope was if Liore forgot to pick again, but then I looked at the lineup for the 13th and final week of the competition.

 Hitman's Bodyguard  $203
 Annabelle Creation  $143
 Birth of the Dragon $99
 Dunkirk             $74
 Logan Lucky         $73
 Leap!               $68
 All Saints          $67
 The Nut Job 2       $58
 Emoji Movie         $53
 Spider-Man          $52
 Wonder Woman        $50
 Girls Trip          $40
 The Dark Tower      $33
 Baby Driver         $32
 Kidnap              $30

That’s it.

You know a week is dead when the new movies on the list, in this case Leap! and All Saints, aren’t even in the top five when it comes to cost per screen.  So I am actually pretty sure if Liore forgot to pick again this week she would likely still take the season.  In a week where my only hope is a huge, huge win the total gross is likely to be barely enough to equal the gap between Liore and I.

Anyway, we shall see.  Tune in next week for the final score of the summer blogger fantasy movie league.

Foray into Nalvula

HICS JOIN THAT FLEET – HAVE TITANS TACKLED – WE ARE DREADBOMBING – GO GO GO

~~~ This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2017-08-20 22:45:34.680221 EVE ~~~

A flurry of pings showed up Sunday afternoon, of which the one quoted above is merely a representation of what I was seeing.  It looked like something interesting was going on and I happened to be sitting down at my computer at almost exactly the correct moment.

It isn’t as though there haven’t been any ops to go on.  There have been plenty, and I have been out on some of them.  But none of them seemed to pass the threshold of interesting, or at least interesting enough to write about.  Do I need to write a post about another run into Tribute to reinforce another tower?  We did dash across New Eden via a pair of Thera wormholes in order to catch some capital ships down in Wicked Creek, but the fact that we got there too late takes some of the edge/interest out of the tale.  Without a fight the story becomes more about travel, indecipherable Scots accents, and the occasional person being dumb on coms.

Anyway, I digress.  Coms were not an issue for this fleet op.  Getting in and getting to the destination was laid out pretty simply.  I was a couple of minutes behind the curve, so when I got online and in coms Asher was telling people to undock and warp to a titan to be bridged.  At the far end of the bridge, targets were already being called.  I just had to get there.

I was a bit worried about that.  I wasn’t in Hakonen, I was in Jita.  That put me a jump clone and a couple of session changes behind the fleet.  EVE Online protects itself, in its way, but not letting players do some things with a delay.  After jump cloning the session timer keeps you from doing a number of things, like swapping ships or joining a fleet for 10 seconds or so.  It feels like forever when you are in a hurry, but I bit my lower lip and hummed as I watched the tiny white timer circle in the upper left hand corner finish its revolution so I could get in fleet.  They I got into a Typhoon and undocked.  I considered joining up in a Guardian again, but I was late, Asher was saying that more DPS was better, and some days just shooting things is all you want to do anyway.

As I was entering warp to get to the titan, Asher said on coms that people who were not in GSF, and who thus could not just wander through the POS shields to get to the titan, should warp to a planet, then warp to the target to avoid getting stuck.  So I hit the POS shield and bounced off as I watched others stream past be, unobstructed by the defense barrier.  It is at times like this that I wonder why I just don’t join KarmaFleet and enjoy the benefits of not being that guy stuck outside the bubble.

I was able to warp off to the planet indicated, then warped back to the titan at 10km, so as not to bump it.  I landed and pulsed my propulsion module once to speed up the time it took to close the gap between me and the titan, whose bridge was already up and sending people on their way.  I was almost there.

Need to be within 2,500m

And then the moment I was within range the bridge expired and disappeared.

Fortunately the plan was to just keep bridging people as they showed up, so in a few seconds the titan, a Leviathan, was again aglow with bridging goodness.  I right clicked on it to select the destination to jump through to, and couldn’t find it for a second.  I am so used to null sec designations for systems, being in all caps and sporting a hyphen, that an actual name name just blends into the list.  I looked, didn’t see it, right clicked again, just in case I had done so too early for the name to draw, didn’t see it again, right clicked a third time and really looked, found it, and selected the destination.

As the titan bridged me through my next thought was, “Nalvula? Isn’t that literally next door to Hakonen?”

Yes, Nalvula is connected to Hakonen via a gate.  But sometimes it is better to bridge people in even that short of a distance.  Doing so landed us directly in the middle of the fight and avoided any sort of gate camp that might have been setup along the direct and obvious route.

Nalvula was a busy place when I landed.

A pile of titans and other capitals on grid

Hostile titans were on grid as advertised, though I am not sure I would go so far as to declare them “tackled.”  That word implies we hold some sort of advantage and that we need to rush in and start shooting quickly lest the tackled titans escape.  There were more than a few about as the system filled with people.

Local under 1,000 when I arrived

Furthermore, they seemed to be multiplying.  Being within easy jump range of their super capital staging, PL/NC’s response to a titan being tackled was to log on more titans and pile on so they could use their big shiny toys to shoot things.

The glare of more ships jumping in

When I got into the system and on grid with the fight, I locked up the first target.  We were going after hostile force auxiliaries.  The Typhoons were putting their missiles on the one broadcast, being instructed to find and put their energy neutralizer on another with a name that starts with the same letter as you own name (“W” for Wilhelm in my case), and launching drones to try and pick off hostile fighters that were roving the battlefield.

Time dilation was about in full effect, not at 10% most of the time, but in the low teens as the battle went on.  That is a fine distinction, 12% isn’t much faster than 10%, but when it hit 10%, the minimum speed, and the system is still stressed, odd things start to happen.  So 12% can be immeasurably better than 10%, since 10% can have added problems.

Slowly I got targets locked, starting sending missiles and drones down range, and found a hostile Apostle whose pilot’s name started with a “V,” the closest letter I saw, and started motoring into range so I could put the energy neutralizer on him to drain his capacitor.  Meanwhile, the ball of capital ships was lit by explosions and doomsday effects.

Explosions in the midst of the ball

The first Apostle we targeted went down, but a secondary target had already been broadcast, so we were on to that.  I had managed to get within range of my neutralizer target only to realize he wasn’t a hostile but one of our cooperating, but not blue, allies, so I started sorting the list by name again to see who else I could go after.

The second target went down and we locked up and started in on a third.  My drones were wiped out by somebody’s smart bombs, so I launched the remaining ones in my drone bay and sent them after some fighters further afield, away from the thick of the smart bombs.  Ships were exploding almost constantly on the field, with doomsdays lancing out to strike the dreadnoughts that had jumped in with us.  As somebody noted on coms, they aren’t called “suicide dreads” without reason.

At some point along the way a command destroyer activated its area effect microjump drive nearby, booshing some of us 100km away from the fight.  Given the range the Typhoon missiles have, this didn’t stop any of us from blazing away with them.  However, it put a damper on any thoughts of getting my energy neutralizer on a target.  It also likely ensured I survived the battle, as I was now annoyingly far off for fighters to bother with.

As the third target went down for us, we stared on a fourth.  But then the FC at the moment… Asher was not on grid with us… had us change to target Grath Telkin, the volitile CEO of Sniggardly, one of the main corporations in Pandemic Legion.  He would be what one might call a “prestige target.”  Everybody likes to shoot CEOs, FCs, and anybody mildly space famous.

And Grath seemed to be going down well enough when there was a hiccup and my client started behaving badly, then quit on me.

Client chooses this moment to die on me…

You can see that Grath was into deep structure by that point.  He was going down for sure, but if I wasn’t online there was a good chance I wouldn’t be on the kill mail.  What good is a prestige kill mail if you don’t get on it?

I shut the window and clicked the button on the launcher to get Wilhelm back online with one of those firm clicks you use to let the computer you mean business.  Surprisingly the computer seemed to take notice of my emphasis for once and I was back in the game quickly.  Meanwhile, tidi did me a favor.

In a normal, non-tidi battle, if you disconnect the game warps you off to a “safe” spot and leaves you there.  When you log back in it then warps you back to where you were previously, which can be awkward if your fleet has moved on, and slow if you’re in tidi.  But with tidi in full effect, the game never got around to warping me off, so I was back on and in my spot.  I got back into fleet, targeted Grath, and had missiles down range in time to hit him to ensure I was on the kill mail.

Later I noticed that not only was I counted on the kill mail, but that I got in the final blow, which made it my kill mail, such that that matters.

The luck of the final blow

If you’re going to be on a prestige kill mail, then getting the final blow in is about all you can ask for I suppose.  However, I did not notice that I had gotten that kill mail, or another one, for a while.

We were still shooting targets as they were broadcast and the hostiles were still jumping more and more capitals into the system as our dreadnoughts were scourged from the field.  Afterwards Asher noted that for a dread bomb to work, you need enough dreads to kill the target, plut 3-4 more for every force auxiliary the enemy fields, and the enemy was pouring Apostles onto the field.  That was why we were shooting and neuting them, but it wasn’t enough.

There was a titan far from the enemy pack at one point, and we turned out attentions towards it, hoping that it might get tackled since it was too far off for help from the Apostles.  However he dropped off of targeting as he entered warp, signalling and end to that effort.  And then the command to “take fleet warp” came over comes.  With the enemy still dumping capitals on us, our own dreadnought force almost spend, and our Typhoons being chewed up by fighters, it was time to extract.  We had done about as much damage as we were going to do.  I let my Typhoon align towards the Hakonen gate, tried unsuccessfully to recall my drones, and took a few last screen shots as I warped away from the fight.

Local closing in on 1,300 as I warped off

It was about then that I noticed that I had gotten the kill mails, so I had to zoom in on my ship to find the kill marks, the other benefit you for getting in the final blow.  When you’re in main fleet with a couple hundred people, getting the final blow is a rarity.  These were the first two marks I received on a Typhoon.

Two more orange dots on a hull with many orange dots

On the long warp to the gate I thought the battle went pretty well… for me.  Not a lot of dithering or travel before hand, just shooting stuff for a while when we got there, another vista of capitals and super capitals to survey, a short trip home, and a couple of kill mails.  What more could I ask from a fleet op?

For the coalition however, the battle report was pretty grim.

Battle Report Header

There wasn’t an objective to win, save for “blow up ships,” which leaves us with the ISK war.  That did not go our way at all.  Even removing our two temporary allies from our loss column only drops the total by 10%.  Still, a victory for Jita I suppose as both sides resupply from the nearby trade hub.

And a victory for those wanting some screen shots.

 

CCP Asks Vince Draken to Step Down from CSM12

CCP has asked CSM member Vince Draken to step down due to not being able to devote sufficient time to the council. Lack of activity can have valid reasons and we’re parting with Vince on good terms and with mutual understanding. CCP holds the obligation to ensure a fully engaged CSM at any given time which is why we are looking towards a substitute for the remainder of the term.

-CCP Guard, CSM Update

After the roller coaster rides of CSM9 and CSM10, with the leaks, the removals, and the recriminations, the two following councils have been quiet, almost dignified affairs.  CSM12 has been pretty quiet since its election earlier this year.

Round 12 in progress!

And even now, in the chill of the the last two councils, this barely qualifies as CSM drama.  The joke is that playing EVE Online seriously is like having a second job, and adding the CSM to your list gives you at least another part time job on top of the two you likely have.  So Vince Draken, already the leader of Northern Coalition, probably has enough on his plate already.  He’ll miss out on a week of sitting in a conference room in Iceland talking about various aspects of the game.

Meanwhile, there is a position to be filled.  CCP has said the following:

We will be calling in a substitute using the previously stated method of filling the spot with the last candidate eliminated in the election (the next in line without any recalculation of vote distribution). We’ll start there and go down the line if needed until someone accepts the spot and we will make another announcement once this is concluded.

Over at INN they quickly reported that the next in line for the seat is Sort Dragon, leader of the Darkness alliance.  Sort Dragon previously served on CSM10.

If Sort Dragon declines, next in line are Kalbuir Skirate of Pandemic Horde, followed by Killah Bee of Pandemic Legion, thus effectively keeping the seat both in the hands of a null sec representative and a member of the PanFam/NC/GotG coalition.  CCP will announce who will replace Vince Draken when they find somebody down the list who will take the job.

If none of those three take up the mantle, CCP will continue down the elimination trace.  The data they will use is available from the Dev Blog analyzing the CSM12 election results.

Empires of EVE in Audiobook Format

Empires of EVE started off back in 2014 as the Andrew Groen Kickstarter project to write a book about the null sec wars of EVE Online.

I was in as a backer, as were more than three thousand other people from the EVE Online community.

Two years later, the book was out and I had my nice hardback copy, which is currently sitting on the desk beside my keyboard.  The title, originally A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online, had been slimmed down to Empires of EVE, but the content was in no way trimmed.

How much more black could it be?

The book follows the formation of the first null sec corporations and alliances from the launch of the game in 2003 through what is called The Great War and the eventual downfall of the Band of Brothers alliance in 2009.

The book went out to the backers of the Kickstarter as well as going up for sale in both physical and ebook formats.  At last update, Andrew Groen has sold more than 12,000 copies of the book.  Not bad for a book about an obscure game with an odd name in a small segment of the video game market.

To promote the book Andrew Groen has given presentations at various gaming event, such as PAX.  If you get a chance to see one of his presentations, you should go.  He is an engaging speaking and remains enthusiastic on the topic.

So I was quite happy to hear that he had produced an audiobook version of the work and that he was the narrator.  It is available from Audible.com.

Audible.com is a subsidiary of Amazon

Having had an “any two titles” per month subscription with Audible.com since 2000, I put it in my queue and picked up a copy with my August titles and just finished listening to it.

It is not perfect.  Having seen Andrew Groen present about EVE Online and Empires of EVE, the book does not live up to that sort of experience.  This is not Andrew in front of an audience gushing about a topic in which he is invested, this is Andrew reading a book in a measured and even tone.  That was a minor disconnect for me, though I did get used to it quickly enough.  It just doesn’t seem like him.

Then there is pronunciation, something that plagues just about every audiobook.  How do you pronounce things in New Eden?  I remember during the Casino War being confused to find that CCP pronounces the region of Deklein as if it were the work “decline” and not “Deck-lynn” as I had always heard it pronounced.  In Andrew’s case, among other things, he pronounces the region Venal, which I always say as though it were the sin (which seems appropriate for null sec), as though it rhymes with the word “fennel.”

Also, hearing a written work read aloud tends to call attention to awkward phrasing and word repetition.  That is why it is an oft used self-editing technique.  At one point Andrew uses variations of the word “history” three times in a single sentence.  Reading that to yourself you might not notice it, but on hearing somebody say it aloud and it draws a cringe and an audible correction from me.  I talk back to my audiobooks in the car.

Then there is the recording itself, which is not optimal.  It was not recorded in a professional studio by my estimation, given the minor echo that runs throughout the book.

Finally, with the audiobook you do not get any of the maps of visuals included with the physical book.  The reason that my hardcover copy is next to me was that I pulled it out a couple of times to look at maps. (I also spent time at DOTLAN looking at regional maps.)

Still, these are not insurmountable issues.  And there is something very helpful or comforting about having somebody telling you about these events as opposed to reading the text off of a page.  The events wash over you and the threads and overall arc of the story become more important than whether or not a fight too place in the system C-J6MT.

I burned through the book in a few days, mostly while playing Minecraft or doing things in EVE Online like tend my PI farm, move ships, and rat.  The work is solid and enjoyable.

Furthermore, the work maybe be just the start.  Andrew Groen wrote in his update about the audiobook production of Empires of EVE that it was a learning process as much as anything with an eye towards being able to tell more such stories in the format.  So this may be the start of something.

Anyway, my gripes all summed up were minor while my enjoyment of the book in audio format was huge.  I recommend it, and I look forward to what might come next.

One Hundred and Eighty Million Skill Points

In which we explore the musical question, “Do I have enough skill points yet?”

The answer is clearly, “No!”  At least not yet, not in a world where there are more sub cap related skills to learn and where Asher comes up with new doctrines that are helped by having skills to level 5.

And so it goes.  I have two other characters on my main account who are starved for skill points… I threw a skill injector at one so he could at least run a cyno… while Wilhelm Arcturus, my main, continues to keep a training queue that is two years deep.

Anyway, the story of Wilhelm’s skill point progression so far.

And now he is at 180 million, seven months after the last post, right on schedule.

Actually, he hit 180 million about a week and a half ago.  But this is one of those posts that can sort of go as I have the time, so long as it still lands in the same month.  I had other things to write about over the last week or so, enough other things that I doubled up daily posts for a couple of days and I still have a few topics in the “catch up before it is too late” bin.

Anyway, this is my skill point distribution as of when I pulled the numbers for this post.  Categories that saw a change in skill points are marked with an asterisk.

 Spaceship Cmd 59,729,416 (59 of 75)*
 Gunnery 17,197,141 (36 of 46)
 Fleet Support 12,896,000 (14 of 15)
 Drones 11,704,870 (22 of 26)
 Missiles 11,059,167 (22 of 26)*
 Navigation 9,660,314 (13 of 13)
 Engineering 7,253,895 (15 of 15)
 Electronic Sys 7,189,415 (14 of 15)
 Armor 6,131,137 (13 of 13)
 Shields 5,994,039 (11 of 13)
 Science 5,462,151 (21 of 39)
 Resc Processing 4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Trade 3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Targeting 3,207,765 (8 of 8)
 Neural Enhance. 3,202,510 (7 of 8)
 Scanning 3,028,369 (7 of 7)*
 Subsystems 2,199,294 (16 of 16)*
 Planet Mgmt 1,612,315 (5 of 5)*
 Rigging 1,312,395 (10 of 10)
 Production 1,157,986 (5 of 12)
 Social 1,130,040 (5 of 9)
 Structure Mgmt 1,084,784 (2 of 6)
 Corp Mgmt 24,000 (2 of 5)

Total ~180,000,000 (338 of 428)

Of course, there is Spaceship Command up at the top still.  And, as usual, it saw the bulk of the new skill points show up, getting almost 8.5 million of the 10 million new skill points.

Probably the biggest addition there was training up to Command Ships V.  I can now fly a boosting ship like the Damnation and, with the right implant, provide the best possible fleet boosts.

A Dark Damnation

Of course, there is the question of how often I might do that.  I fit out a Damnation for the Reavers deployment to H-ADOC and flew it a few times there.  But then we got back home and the fit for main fleet is different and I had the Armor boosting implant and fleets seem to want the Information Warfare implant, so I either have to destroy an expensive implant to swap or manage clones carefully.

Clone management is easier with Citadels, if you have one handy that is set up for it, but I am also running out of extra clones to hold implant sets.  Asher has implants required for some doctrines, so I have a number of clones tied up with various implant sets already.  Life is complicated.  Poor me.

I also hit Interdictors V, just to have that handy, as well as Minmatar Strategic Cruiser V, because it sounded like the Loki might be the coming thing after the T3 revamp.  But I haven’t flown one yet.  I also tossed in Marauders due to a rumor that there might be such a doctrine, and Mining Frigate V, because it was a short train, picked up a couple of sub caps I couldn’t fly, and was at a time when I wasn’t burning to train something else.

After Spaceship Command I did invest a little time in Missiles.  With Defender Missiles becoming a thing after so many years, I trained those up a bit.  I also racked up a couple levels of specialization for missiles types, since we now fly a couple of missile doctrines.

Subsystems, the subsidiary skills for strategic cruisers, went up some despite the fact that CCP removed four of the skills, one from each empire, and refunded the skill points. (Which I put into Command Ships V, which took a few days off of that.)  However, with what seemed like enthusiasm for the Loki, I trained all the Minmatar subsystems to V and made sure I was at IV or V for all the skills for the Legion and the Proteus.   The net result was that the total skill points in subsystems went up.

I also trained up to Command Center Upgrades V under Planetary Management to give me enough power/CPU to run an extra extraction head on some of my planets, since there always seems to be an imbalance in the two resources I am harvesting.  Now the lower output resources gets an extra extractor.

And, finally, I started training up scanning.  My alt is all level V in scanning and I have gotten used to having that sort of ability handy, so now I want to duplicate it on my main.  This always happens, I get something on one and want it on the other.  I actually have a list of skills in my queue that I want to re-spec for, including scanning, once I am done with a couple more Spaceship Command skills.

Oddly, for the probably the first time in the history of these posts, I ended up with the same number of skills two posts in a row.  I had 338 skills last time and I have 338 skills this time.  Of course, that must mean that I trained four new skills as CCP took away four skills.

Anyway, this is how my skills shake out by level trained.

 Level 1 - 1
 Level 2 - 7
 Level 3 - 42
 Level 4 - 98
 Level 5 - 190

190 skills at level V puts me up 8, while 98 at level IV is an increase of 17 skills at that level.  I rounded up a few level II and III skills it seems since last time.

And speaking of last time, at the one hundred and seventy million mark I noted that I was in danger finishing up my benchmark metric of being able to fly all of the sub caps.  Last time I only had the Endurance and Prospect mining frigates, the Occator and Viator Amarr transport ships, the Loki strategic cruiser, and Marauders.  I can fly all of those now, which I think means I can fly all the sub caps.

Everything else on the Spaceship Command list is related to capital ships.  I suppose I could fantasize about flying all the capitals, but that seems a bit silly… and expensive.  Training up the Jump Freighter skill might be useful, since I have Caldari Freighter trained up already as well as the Navigation skills related to capitals.  That would give me the Rhea.

Maybe Spaceship Command will stop growing so much every time.  After I get the two remaining strategic cruisers to V, what else will I need.  Marauders IV maybe.  But after that, do I really need, for example, Black Ops V?

I suppose we’ll see when I hit 190 million skill points, which ought to come around some time in March of 2018.  And if you’re just dying to see what skills I have trained, you can see them all here.

Adding Up a Year of Pokemon Go

I was a bit late to the party.  While Pokemon Go kicked off in July of last year, I did not jump on the bandwagon until a month later.

It wasn’t so much a matter of not wanting to join the rush on day one… even if that meant experiencing all the day one issues… as it was the lack of a device.  I only joined the smart phone set in August of last year, having held onto my LG “it’s just a phone” for long past its expected life span.

But while I was late to join, I have hung in with the game longer than most, judging by the numbers.

My sticking with Pokemon Go has likely been for a few reasons.

First, I do love me some Pokemon, so I am definitely in the target audience.  Being able to go outside into the real world and catch Pokemon… or sit on the couch and do so, since they show up in our neighborhood… was an immediate draw.  It isn’t quite like the core RPG games, but it is close enough.

Second, like a lot of phone games, it is pretty low impact.  I do not spend hours a day playing.  If I have a free moment I might pull out my phone to see

Third, it probably helps that I live in a pretty target rich environment when it comes to Pokestops and gyms.  The campus I work on has five Pokestops and a gym along a half kilometer circuit that I walk during the day.  There are two parks near our house with Pokestops and gyms as well.

Fourth, the change that added the daily bonus for catching and getting a Pokestop sped up the leveling process just as I was hitting the steep slope in the game, taking the edge off of that.

Fifth, the change to gyms and how you earn coins has also boosted my activity.  I challenge a lot more gyms and earn a lot more coins these days.  In fact, I earn so many more in a week compared to the old gym style, that I wonder if Niantic has erred on the side of generosity.  I went from maybe 10 coins a week to 100-200 a week, even with the 50 coin daily cap.  Of course, having something of a captive gym at the office that I can hold for a day a couple times a week might make me something of an outlier.  Some times I want people to take it from me so I can collect the coins and start again.

Sixth, the game keeps all sorts of statistics, and I love me some useless stats!  I’ll get to those below.

And finally, my wife still plays as well, so it is something we talk about and do together, much to the annoyance of my daughter.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light in the land of Pokemon Go.  A year down the road I do have some gripes.

The game still sucks battery life like no other.  When out and active, it sucks down at least 2% of your battery every minute pretty reliably.

The game does not reliably count steps/distance walked unless it is up and active.  I can’t just walk, I have to have the game up and going and in my hand.  At least you can set it to black the screen out if you invert the phone, which reduces battery usage a little.

The variety of Pokemon in any given area is pretty limited.  I was all excited when we went to visit my aunt one day and discovered her location was a hotbed of Magikarp.  Unfortunately, we were visiting her to help her move, so I have no reason to visit there again, and it is an hour’s drive, so I am not wandering up there just for Pokemon.

Earning candies to evolve Pokemon that do not spawn in your area is a big pain.  I have only managed to evolve one of the three initial starter Pokemon to its final form.  And I am still 135 candies away from evolving a Magikarp into a Gyrados.

The candy mechanic in general doesn’t jibe with the core Pokemon RPG expectation that you just need to catch one rare and then you can train it up.  You need to catch many rares in order to evolve and train up your Pokemon.  But if they’re rare, you won’t be catching very many.

5km eggs are just shit.  Nothing new has ever hatched from one for me.  When I have a bag full of 5km eggs it is demotivating.  A 2km or a 10km egg will get me to walk extra laps at the office.

As much as I like the new gyms, and even the mechanics for catching the raid Pokemon, actually defeating and catching anything rare requires more people to show up than I have ever seen.  If my wife and I cannot take a gym raid down, it just isn’t going to happen.

No trading, no playing against friends (or spouses).

I still can’t reliably beat a CP 2800+ Blissey.  If I see one in a gym, I just keep walking.  And, of course, I am jealous that *I* don’t have one.

Anyway, a year has gone by, the game has mostly evolved for the better, and I still enjoy playing, so I will likely keep going for now.

Statistics

After a year of playing, this is where I stand.

  • Level – 29
  • Total XP – 1,791,678
  • XP to hit Level 30 – 208,322
  • Pokedex – 186 unique caught
  • Pokedex – 219 unique seen
  • Kanto Pokedex – 126 caught
  • Johto Pokedex – 60 caught
  • Total Pokemon caught – 3,389
  • Most often caught – Pidgey, 485 times
  • Highest CP Pokemon – Vaporeon, CP 2574
  • Total Pokemon evolved – 429
  • Pokestops visited – 3,053
  • Distance walked (with the app open) – 358.5km
  • Eggs hatched – 152
  • Gym Battles won – 237
  • Hours of Gym Defense – 352
  • Berries fed at Gyms – 74
  • Trained at Gym – 26
  • Gym Raids won – 3
  • Pikachu caught – 56

Types caught

These are the types of Pokemon I have caught, types being the key to the rock/paper/scissors aspect of Pokemon battles.

Pokemon can be of two mixed types, so if I catch a Hoothoot, I get credit for both a Normal and a Flying type.  As such, the numbers below add up to more than the total Pokemon caught/hatched listed above.

  • Normal Type caught – 1,740
  • Flying Type caught – 1,128
  • Poison Type caught – 699
  • Bug Type caught – 510
  • Water Type caught – 411
  • Grass Type caught – 292
  • Fire Type caught – 219
  • Ground Type caught – 196
  • Psychic Type caught – 172
  • Electric Type caught – 117
  • Fighting Type caught – 103
  • Fairy Type caught – 90
  • Dark Type caught – 71
  • Rock Type caught – 66
  • Steel Type caught – 26
  • Ghost Type caught – 20
  • Ice Type caught – 16
  • Dragon Type caught – 2

The two dragon type were a pair of Dratini I caught as a passenger driving through Oakland when we were stuck in traffic near the Bay Bridge.  As with the Magikarp, another situation I am unlikely to find myself in any time soon.

So that is the game a year in.