Scanning Skills

With over 170 million skill points on my main character in EVE Online, I have mostly gotten used to be able to just do what I want to do without worrying about training something.

Not that there isn’t always something to train.  And my skills are sub-cap focused.  I still can’t run out and fly a super carrier or a titan.  But then I don’t have the ISK to play in that league anyway.  But these days when a new doctrine comes up or Asher has some new fit to try out on us, I am generally good to go.  The joy of having 185 skills at level V.

My alt, on the other hand, is about 50 million skill points behind and it feels like he needs to train something new every time a new doctrine comes up.  He is perennially a skill short… which is the way I felt with my main 50 million or so skill points back as well.

But my alt is ahead in a few categories, one being scanning.  At some point I put him on track to train up all the skills under scanning to V.

Going all the way to V isn’t always a good use of your time.  Sometimes you need it to unlock tech II modules or ships.  You have to have the racial frigate to V to fly the racial cov ops frigate and you need the racial battleship skill to V to fly the racial black ops variant.  But going to level V for the actual cov ops or black ops skill, maybe not so useful.

Anyway, since he was all the way to V I sent him out on the last deployment, the camping trip to Impass, in a Buzzard with a fit I borrowed and changed a bit.

[Buzzard, Combat Scanner w/ cov cyno]
Co-Processor II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Scan Acquisition Array II
Scan Pinpointing Array II
Scan Rangefinding Array II
Scan Rangefinding Array II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher
Covert Cynosural Field Generator I

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I

Liquid Ozone x400
Nanite Repair Paste x100
Sisters Combat Scanner Probe x16
Sisters Core Scanner Probe x8

Not brilliant, but it worked.  The idea was just to scan and be a warp-in or a cyno target.  I chose the Buzzard mostly because I had a couple of the hulls on hand (so of which I have had since probing looked like this), but the extra mid-slots didn’t hurt.

The Buzzard in space

I am a bit bummed he never got to light the covert cyno, but combat scanning turned out to be fun.  While the sight of combat probes on directional scan caused most solo ratters to warp for safety (mission accomplished), I was able to scan down mobile depots, mobile tractor units, and even abandoned drones to shoot.  I became the bane of MTUs in Impass, with my alt scanning them down quite easily and my main warping in for the kill.

MTU whore

I was pretty pleased with the whole combat scanning thing when we returned home from the deployment.

A few days later back in what I consider my home system we had a few trespassers.  I was on my main and had another Buzzard to hand.  It was a similar fit, but tech I, since Wilhelm isn’t all trained up on scanning.  So I undocked, launched combat probes, and set about to see if I could find the bad guys.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see them.  They were cloaked up somewhere.  But I wondered if I could find something they might gravitate to, so I fished about some more until I found a deployable.  As I tightened the scan in I saw it was a mobile depot.  So I honed in on that, getting the probes tighter and tighter around it, until they were on top of it in with the tightest setting possible… and I couldn’t get the result to 100%, so I couldn’t warp to it.

That was disappointing.

Later I flew my alt over just to give it a try in his Buzzard, fit as above, and he scanned it down without a problem.

See, it’s right there

All of which made me decide that I needed to get Wilhelm trained up in scanning, just in case, something that illustrates the ongoing problem with my alt plans.

Back in the day when I created my alt, it was to train up complementary skills.  At the time he was the hauler for my mining main.  As time has gone on however I have come to use him for parallel tasks, handing ships back and forth so if I cannot get my main to the right location for whatever reason my alt can take over.  My alt, for example, is now trained up to fly my Apostle for capital ops, should the need arise.

But with a 50 million skill point differential, there are still quite a few gaps.  And, as noted here, the gaps aren’t always in the direction one would expect.

Null Sec – We Rat and We Mine Things

Null bears are everywhere!

CCP released their monthly economic report for March 2017 on Friday with some new charts added and at least one old standard omitted.  There had been some discussion in the CSM as to what data might compromise op sec or otherwise signal other parties what was going on, which led to the mining output chart going missing.  But even with the last round of Rorqual nerfs, mining with them seems to still be running apace judging by the Rorqual kill mails alone.

But by far the most outrageous chart in the report has to be the one for bounty payments, the largest ISK faucet in New Eden.  Guess who rats a lot?

Bounty Payments – March 2017

Of the 66.65 trillion ISK in bounty payments paid out for killing hostile NPCs over the course of the month, the largest ISK input into the game representing nearly half of all of the total faucets, 92.2% of them were collected in null sec.

Looking back six months for a comparison (I was going to look back a year, but there was a war going on which was likely depressing bounty payments) that represents about a 50% boost in bounty payments.  (Though six months back bounty payments represented an even larger part of the ISK faucet pie.)

Looking at that chart, you are likely reacting in one of two ways:

  • That’s not fair!  Null sec shouldn’t get all the ISK.  CCP should make ISK available to me where I play!
  • If I want ISK I had better move to null sec!

Which one do you think is more likely to improve your bottom line?

This is all a result of how things have been evolving in null sec over time.  Five years ago, when I was finally settling into the null sec routine, ratting wasn’t what it is today.  Yes, it was still popular, but anomalies were sparse, a lot of null sec systems weren’t even worth ratting in, and shooting NPCs didn’t do much for your corp or alliance aside from provide a little tax income.  It was viewed as a bit selfish, an act of fattening your own wallet.  My old corp used to set the tax rate to 100% during operations or deployments to punish those who wanted to rat when they were needed elsewhere.

And then things changed.

There was Fozzie Sov, which introduce the activity defense multiplier.  That index was influenced, in part, by how many NPCs were destroyed in a given system.  Ratting suddenly became a patriotic way to support your corp/alliance/coalition.  This was accompanied by a boost in anomaly frequency to help make previously worthless systems worth ratting in.

Then there was the expansion of forces in null sec.  Brave Newbies started the trend, but now if you want to get into null sec there are multiple opportunities.  Once it was a wry comment that it was easier to get a home loan than to get into a null sec corporation.  Now just about anybody who wants to can find a slot in one of the newbie friendly corps in null sec.  The various coalitions need players both to form up to defend their space (or attack others) and to rat and mine and do the things that keeps the home front more defensible.  And so the doors opened.  If you’re not in null sec, it is because you do not wish to be, not because anybody is keeping you out.

However, given the trend in the top faucets/sinks chart, I wonder if CCP is going to let this continue on as is.

March 2017 – Top sinks and faucets over time

While most of those lines are fairly stable, the bounty payout line has been going up for a while.  If that trend continues unabated, they might have to change something.

Looking at the rest of the report though, it appears that while null sec is making the ISK, much of it ends up in high sec in general, and in Jita in particular.

A Decade on the Road to Mordor

Ten years ago today Lord of the Rings Online officially went live.

Happy Anniversary

LOTRO was one of the first MMORPGs to go through beta and launch while I was blogging, and certainly the first one I jumped into at launch during the reign of the blog. (I was watching Vanguard during beta as well, but was dissuaded by my experiences there.)  One of my earliest posts was a response to the idea of such a game trying to tell the story of the books.

Yahoo Headline 2007, before Yahoo became malware

The path for LOTRO from beta through launch and to today has been somewhat symbolic of the post-World of Warcraft era for MMORPGs.  It was driven along initially on the wave of WoW-subscription number induced euphoria, where the sky seemed to be the limit.

Then there was launch and the rush to play and the problem of the game simultaneously being too much and not enough like WoW.  There were some fun little quirky features, like titles you could earn for actions… though the fact that those were secret (or at least not documented or traceable anywhere in the UI) meant most players never knew about them.  It is hard to sell yourself as different when you hide things I suppose, and a decade later I don’t think I have a single one of those special titles yet.

Meanwhile, for those who rushed ahead, there was bemusement as content fell of a good ten levels before the cap.  Subscriptions fell off, complaints mounted, changes and updates went in, and Turbine went forward with plans for an expansion; The Mines of Moria.  That was an amazing and ambitious expansion.  I pre-ordered that as well back in 2008, though I did not actually get into the content for a few years and it was several years after that before I was out of the far side of those caverns.

LOTRO was also a leader in the conversion to a free to play model citing a huge boost in players and revenue to accompany the change.  They were also ahead of the curve when it came to the grim reality of such conversions.  Player expectations as to what “free” really means can be harsh, that initial surge of new players never lasts, and once you start down the cash shop path, forever will it dominate your destiny and development time.

More expansions came and again Turbine was in the lead with pre-orders and special editions with cosmetic fluff thrown in to entice more money out of players.  But eventually expansions stopped and all revenue focus went into the cash shop and new items and new currencies showed up.

Then they began to fall behind the curve of the industry.  They were not too late to the game with insta-level boosts, but they failed to grasp that people want such boost to get to the latest content, the NEW stuff.  Turbine thought boosting people to the first expansion and level 50 was enough.  That was a worst of all possibilities idea for me.  Moria was nowhere near the current content and the first 50 levels that get you there are some of the best, most charming, most memorable content in the game.  Skipping The Shire and Bree and the Forsaken Inn and Weathertop and Rivendell and the beautiful scenery of Middle-earth to head down into a cave for ten levels seems like insanity.

Eventually they figured that out and now you get jumped to Rohan with your insta-level boost, but I remain dubious about the idea as a general plan.  A seasoned player advancing an alt might take full advantage of the jump, but a new player is likely to be out of their depth.

And then there was the spin-off, where LOTRO and its sister, Dungeons & Dragons Online were folded into their own company by Warner.  Spinning of MMORPG divisions has been a thing, from Daybreak Games and its Norrathian legacy to Broadsword Games which keeps Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot going.

It has been a strange trip these last ten years.

But all of that was in the future back in April of 2007.  Ten years ago today I was in Middle-earth playing the game, having pre-ordered it.  That was back when pre-ordering could be done by buying a pre-order box off the shelf at Fry’s.  I still had to follow up and buy a retail box, but the pre-order box got me a head start and kept my account active for a while until I got the real game key.

And then, of course, there was the choice to be made as to which founder’s bonus to take.

Founders Choices

I went with the $199 lifetime subscription over the $9.99 reduced monthly subscription price which, looking back over a decade and more of MMORPG time, was probably the most sound investment I have ever made.  I have received more value for that money than I ever expected.

At the eight year anniversary I mocked the game a bit, pointing out that even by the longest measure… Frodo is warned by Gandalf to leave the Shire through to Bilbo and Frodo departing from the Grey Havens… the events of end of the Third Age in Middle-earth being reproduced in the game only took three and a half years.

At that point Minis Tirith was on the horizon still.  Two years later… again, more time than it took Frodo to get from the Shire to Mount Doom… and Mordor is in sight.  Update 20 brings players to the battle of the Black Gate.

Gandalf blazing in bleached white

I read about that and the tenth anniversary events and such and I feel like I should log in and take a look.  But then I read about the mix of joy and frustration with the anniversary events and remember that I am, as always, stuck behind several layers of content and I pass on to something else.

Look, could you just point me towards Mordor? I’m a bit behind.

This is ever the problem with MMORPGs that evolve through expansions and updates and levels and rigid layers of content.  I think I have patched up a few times since I opted for the Blessing of the Valar level boost, but every time I log in I look in my bags and cannot figure out what half the stuff in there is (the icons haven’t gotten any clearer in ten years while my eyesight has gotten worse) and the legendary weapon that the boost handed me… which isn’t ready to use, you have to find a vendor and go through some gyrations to make it work… and I wonder if I might just be better off rolling up yet another new character and playing through the first 30-40 levels yet again.  I think I must be close to 20 characters past level 30 at this point.

But Middle-earth yet abides, waiting for my return.  Some day that ring will be tossed into Mount Doom.  Of course, then we will have to get back to the Shire.  The tale isn’t done until the Shire has been scoured.

The EverQuest Agnarr Progression Server to Remain Locked in Time

Daybreak is no stranger to special servers.  On the EverQuest side of the house they have had quite a few over the years.  The nostalgia progression server idea itself is a decade old, having first come to pass with The Sleeper and The Combine way back when.

Those were followed by Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak about six years ago, then Ragefire and Lockjaw a couple of years back, and then Phinigel which went live about a year and a half back.

Each has been a refinement on the attempt to capture “the good old days” of early EverQuest, when graphics were raw, groups were required, and spawns were camped.

Back in March, the Producer’s Letter at the game’s 18th anniversary mentioned a new progression server would be on its way this year, and Daybreak has now announced the timing and some details.

The server name will be Angarr, as previously mentioned, named for Angarr the Stormlord, a raid boss from back in the day.

Agnarr the Stormlord approves… I think…

This fifth generation progression server will carry on with the improvements from the past, including being a “true box” server, which is Daybreak’s way of saying that the are going to try to keep you from multi-boxing your way through the game, an innovation brought in with the Phinigel server.

But the key new feature for Agnarr is how it will progress… or, rather, how it will NOT progress.

The Agnarr server will, as always, kick off in the original March 1999 EverQuest content, such that it is.  Then every 12 weeks Daybreak will unlock an expansion, following the usual path forward with Ruins of Kunark then Scars of Velious and so on.  However, the unlocks will stop with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion and no further expansions will come to the server, leaving the server to run on with content introduced in late 2003.

The Agnarr server is set to launch on May 24th, and given the “every 12 weeks” plan, the server cycle should look something like this.

  • May 24, 2017 – Agnarr server opens with original EverQuest content
  • August 16, 2017 – Ruins of Kunark expansion unlocked
  • November 8, 2017 – Scars of Velious expansion unlocked
  • January 31, 2018 – Shadows of Luclin expansion unlocked
  • April 25, 2018 – Planes of Power expansion unlocked
  • July 18, 2018 – Legacy of Ykesha expansion unlocked
  • October 10, 2018 – Lost Dungeons of Norrath unlocked

Unlike past progression servers the last two expansions, Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath, will not unlock semi-concurrently with the Planes of Power expansion.  There will be full 12 week gaps between each.

And then the server will stay like that, at least as long as there is sufficient population to warrant keeping it around.

This will/should/may satisfy the long standing calls that come with the launch of every progression server that Daybreak create a permanent “classic” server which sits still in time and never advances.  These calls have grown all the more common since the closure of EverQuest Macintosh Edition back in late 2013.

I am mildly skeptical about the prospects for the server.  EverQuest Mac was a magical place locked in time, but it was also made up of a community that evolved naturally over a decade, forged by a shared feeling of isolation and neglect, and started at a point when it was running current content.  Can Daybreak recreate that by just rolling a new server?  While they can restrain the march of expansions the servers will, by necessity, be tainted by changes made over the years like revamped zone graphics and updated user interface.

Meanwhile, progression servers themselves have been shown in the past to be very content unlock oriented, with populations rising with each new expansion and the dwindling off as time with that content ages.

And then there is the “what is classic EverQuest?” question.  The expansion after Lost Dungeons of Norrath, the aptly named Gates of Discord, is pretty much accepted as being “post-classic,” if you will.  So no point in going there.  But is Lost Dungeons of Norrath, where the game becomes focused on instanced content, really classic?

Of course, like anybody from the old school, I have my own view.  For me, everything after Ruins of Kunark is “that new shit,” but I might be more conservative than most and I have said in the past that I think Kunark is the only truly good expansion ever released for an MMORPG.

And where does Project 1999 stand in all of this?  It was blessed by Daybreak as a legitimate place to go explore your retro EverQuest nostalgia, and it is an attempt to create a real “classic” experience, untainted by many of the updates that have gone into the game over the years.  The problem is that Project 1999 requires you to have a specific, out-of-date, no longer available at retail version of EverQuest and can’t tell you how to find it otherwise.

Anyway, the launch is coming on May 24th.  As always, access to the Agnarr server will require a Daybreak All Access subscription.  We shall see how it progresses.

StarCraft Goes Free to Play

And, as usual, the term “free to play” has certain restrictions.

StaCraft II is not free and neither will the upcoming 4K remaster of StarCraft, which Blizzard confirmed a while back, be free.

Coming some time this summer we’re told

But the original StarCraft, along with the essential StarCraft: Brood War expansion, those are now available to play without giving Blizzard any money at all.  You too can play the 19 year old classic game that pretty much became the national sport of South Korea and which pretty much made esports a thing in all of its 1998 technical glory.

Build order? What is a build order?

That screen shot is a full size grab of the actual resolution supported by the game; 640×480. In 2017 the full StarCraft screen fits in a window within a window on your monitor.

Yes, the game will scale up to your monitor, but even back in 1998 I had a 19″ multi-sync CRT monitor that supported double that resolution and remained crisp and readable (at least to my 1998 eyes), so jumping to the smaller resolution made everything… big.  Likewise, playing it on my now twelve year old 20″ LCD monitor, which supports 1600×1200 as its native resolution, makes everything seem very big as the game scales up to 2.5x to fill the screen.

And I have an archaic old monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio.  I am not sure what happens if you try it at the now more common 16:9 ratio.

But at least it was fast.  It is all sprites, with no 3D rendering required, and doesn’t need to move that many pixels around, which is one of the reasons it became an after hours game of choice at the office back when most of us still had 200MHz Pentium Pro processor based machines with basic Matrox or S3 graphics cards.  The game ran like a champ with those specs, even with a mass of units on screen.

Blizzard even threw in a few fixes and updates according to the 1.1.8 patch notes.  Links to download the game are in the patch notes as well.

I don’t really need to download the game as I have the CDs sitting around somewhere… probably two sets… but it is likely easier.  The installer is tiny.

In the mean time, Blizzard has been showing off what the art for the upcoming 4K remastered version… which, again, you will have to buy separately… will look like.  It is sort of like everything is coming into focus.  I am still waiting to see what the price will be for the remastered version and whether or not it will be accepted by the still thriving StarCraft community and whether or not having the classic units and game play in high definition… along with LAN support… will scavenge players from StarCraft II.

Of course, some minor irony clings to this remaster effort.  While the World of Warcraft team says they can’t do a classic server and that it would be bad and that nobody would want one anyway, other parts of Blizzard are actively mining the power of nostalgia.

An Hour on the Road in Minecraft

Having finished the road, it was time to ride the road from end to end.

I had horse travel in mind when I was building the road, and it offers clearance at least 3 blocks high and 3 blocks wide its entire length.  While there is variability in the speed of horses in Minecraft, most are as fast or faster than a mine cart, with the fastest horses going almost 60% faster than the 8 blocks a second that a cart travels.

As I built the road I had with me a fairly fast horse, the one that kept trying to escape from me.  My plan, once the road was complete, was to ride him back north the whole length of the road.

Attempting to escape me by jumping down a well

Unfortunately he was the victim of one of those Minecraft accidents before I got around to the ride back north and all that was left was his saddle and diamond armor.  That left me sitting at the Ankh/Desert Temple station on the great rail loop, which also marks the southern end of the road, without a horse.

As it was, I knew I had horses at the other end of the road.  So I took the rail line to the next station, which was the Mesa Biome station, where there was a portal that linked up to the nether transit system.  From there I was able to take a ride through the nether to arrive at the portal I built at the mansion.

There I picked up one of the horses I had stabled in order to start my ride.

On my horse in front of the forest mansion

At that point I hit the ESC key and went to statistics to note the number for distance ridden on a horse.  I then returned to the game and started on down the road.  The time had just changed to 7:52pm local on the Windows task bar.

One of the purposes of the ride was to figure out just how long the road really was.  I already knew that it was at least 20km by just checking the coordinates at the start and finish points.

More than 20km between the two points

However, that was the direct route.  When building the road I often went around obstacles in the terrain or avoided building long bridges over water preferring, at least in the beginning, a more scenic land route.  At the end I was more inclined to bridge the last ocean gap, if only because the way around the ocean would have sent me a long ways off course.

Bridging the last gap

The horse seemed a bit slower than my old mount.  I will have to build one of those red stone devices to measure the speed of your horse at some point to quantify my mounts.  Maybe I can put it on the road as a speed trap.  Anyway, I kept on with the horse since even early into the ride I didn’t want to start over.

It was sunset when set out, which quickly turned to night as I road through the early portions of the road.  A lot of that went through forests and jungle biomes, areas that I often cleared by fire, an act that often leaves behind an eerie light.

The glow remaining from burned trees… also, spiders!

One of the things I noticed on the ride, which I have probably mentioned already, is the abundance of horses on the plains I passed through while making the road.  I believe they upped the spawn rate for horses, as I have never seen so many hanging about in the fields of our original core territory.

Wild horses along the way

I passed into daylight and through again into night as I rode on down the road, passing various camps and bases I made while building the road.  I tried not to spend a lot of time building structures as I worked on the road, and so there are a lot of simple doors stuck in the sides of hills or cliffs, each a simple rectangular room with a chest or two, a crafting table, and a bed.

In order to avoid spending time building, I attempted to use villages and other spawned structures along the route as bases.  Of course, that occasionally led me to route the road in specific directions to hit a village rather than taking the absolute shortest route forward.

And, of course, I couldn’t help but try to “fix” villages that were spawned awkwardly and often found myself spending quite a bit of time improving and building.

A fixed up village with a non-essential lava trimmed tower because I got carried away

Villages were far and away my favorite stopping points and I must have fixed up at least a dozen, including a couple that were not strictly on the path south.

As the road moved south, jungle and forest biomes gave way to savanna and desert variations, which let me use desert temples as way points and bases.  There were a few of those along the way.

A desert temple with corral, anvil, and jungle trees planted in the background

There was also a point along the way where I rather insisted on building wooden bridges across gaps of water rather than bland cobblestone causeways.  Of course, the proximity of a lot of wood helped out on that front.

Crossing a wooden causeway, village ahead on the right

Once the terrain was mostly desert water crossings went back to all cobblestone affairs.  I might go back and spruce some of them up later, but for now they are all simple 3 block wide paths with a 1 block lip on either side.

The day/night cycle is 20 minutes long in Minecraft, and I was passing through the third night as I started getting into some of my more recent locations.

The desert hill village at dawn

Then it was through the desert, across the last, long causeway (and the ocean monument that is currently being cleared) across a bit more desert, some savanna, and back into desert and the end of the road at the desert temple where the rail line passes.

The station at the end of the ride, horse in the corral

Upon reaching the end of the road I hit the ESC key again, went to statistics, and grabbed the current reading for distance ridden on a horse.  I subtracted the first number from the second and ended up with 25.82km.

That is almost 6km of zig-zagging as the road proceeded south.  The time was 8:50pm, so the trip took just shy of an hour.  That also makes the speed of my horse just about 26km per hour, a bit short of the 28.8km per hour that a mine cart travels when boosted to full speed.

Then again, riding is a bit of a manual process, steering isn’t perfect, and along the way I places nearly two stacks of torches to further light the road in spots where it was dark.  But I did try to stick diligently to the cobblestone path, which is unbroken the full length of the road save for a few points where I was putting sea lanterns into the center line in order to light the way.  (I ran out of sea lanterns long before I ran out of road, so it is mostly lit by torches.)  All of which may have added a bit of time to the journey.  Still, I want a faster horse.

Now that I have been down the road I built, the inevitable “what next?” question arises.  There are still some villages along the way that I could spruce up.  I might want to improve some of the bridges, or at least make them look like they obey physics in some way.  I have a few very long unsupported cobblestone causeways out there.  I also want to collect up some saddles, tame some horses, and stock some of the corrals along the way.  But maybe I will work on that horsey speed trap first.

Then again, I might eschew horse travel altogether and run rails down the whole thing.

While I consider that, here is the tale of the mansion and the road it spawned:

Refresher in the Hoenn Region

Pokemon Omega Ruby was pretty much the only video game I spent any real time playing this past weekend.  I did log into EVE Online to keep my planetary interaction operations going, and I updated and played a match in World of Tanks, but that was about it.

Of course, part of that was because my wife and I have been binge-watching Breaking Bad over the last week or so.  Binge watching TV means sitting on the couch, away from my computer.  But the 3DS handheld and Pokemon can sit with me on the couch.  I listen to the dialog from the TV as I play, putting the game down to watch the show when talking leads to action.

The combined activities meant I was able to get through the first six gyms in Pokemon Omega Ruby as well as resolving the main Team Magma/Team Aqua plot point.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

That is one of the differentiation between the two games.  In Omega Ruby you fight Team Magma and are somewhat assisted by Team Aqua, while in Alpha Sapphire the reverse is true.  Both teams have a Bond villain scale plan for exploiting the powers of a legendary Pokemon in order to change the world and both realize the folly of their ways and come to you, the young hero, to resolve the problems they have wrought, all before you’ve even finished the last two city gyms.

It does feel a bit odd… or maybe anti-climactic, though since you the Hoenn region was facing a cataclysm, that term might be a bit too on the nose… to resolve what is ostensibly the main story line so far ahead of facing the elite four and winning the Hoenn league championship.

Then again, the real story line is, as ever in Pokemon, your own.

The whole thing has been a good refresher for the pair of games.  When they came out back in late 2014 I was coming off of the binge cycle and only played part way through, so when Pokemon Sun & Moon were looming I quickly picked up my copy of Alpha Sapphire and finished off the last essential bits… story line, elite four, and championship… before putting the game down to pick up Pokemon Sun.

Having run through it again I now know where I stand in the context of both games and can probably go chase down the post-championship legendary Pokemon in the pair.

Of course, going back to Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire meant doing without some of the game improvements that came in with Sun & Moon.  I do miss the simplicity of storage box management in the new games and it is a pain to have to return to gimping your team by having to make them learn specific HM moves like Surf and Fly in order to be able to move around the world. (Teaching a Pokemon an HM also used to lock it into that game.)  I also keenly miss the ability to remove status conditions after battle via the refresh option (have to drop a potion instead) and being able to put eggs into the Poke Pelago to hatch them.

On the flip side, Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire have some nice features of their own.  The built in region map is good and the local map that tells you whether or not you have caught all the Pokemon types that spawn in the vicinity is very handy.  The ability to soar over the landscape on Latios/Latias is  pretty spiff, and the Pokemon stats training is nice, though not as convenient as the Poke Pelago.

The one thing Nintendo does do is kill most of the back end support for a Pokemon title once a successor has been shipped.  While download events still happen, all the title specific special items have been turned off as has the social connectivity and the Global Trade Station access.  So if I want to wheel and deal and trade Pokemon I get from the game I need to use Pokemon Bank to get them into Pokemon Sun, at which point I can use the GTS there.

Anyway, I am still plugging away at Pokemon for now.