I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road south continues.  For those needing a reminder, this is the overland route I am building from the Forest Mansion I found back to the nearest connection to our main settlement.

This means clearing a road 3 blocks wide and at least 3 high in tunnels for about 20km.  I’ve been working on this for almost three months now, off and on.

And, just to be a stickler, I decided that the road would be marked by a strip of cobblestone running its whole length.  Since the blocks are 1m cubes, that means 20,000 cobblestone blocks… or more, really, since I haven’t been able to take a straight path and I do need to build bridges now and again.

Anyway, since the setbacks of last post, I have pushed ahead.

Progress so far

Progress so far

After improving my way point village… and then another village along the way, because I just can’t help myself… I had a good straight and mostly level into a mesa biome.  This was one of three mesa biomes I have discovered on the way to and from the mansion, and this one was generated since the 1.10 update, so is full of abandoned mining tunnels.  They are visible all over as you travel through the biome.

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

One interesting item is that in that bundle of webs there is a cave spider spawner.  I have not run into one in a place that gets direct sunlight before. (They don’t spawn when list and are usually in deep, dark places.)

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

There are some exploration opportunities here for anybody who wants to settle down in the area.

Mesa biomes themselves are a bit of a pain when it comes to building a road.  There is no straight path through unless you want to build up one side and down the other of every mesa in your way.  To keep the effort under control I had to zig-zag a bit and build some bridges between mesas.  But it wasn’t a huge biome, so I hit the other side eventually.

Scouting ahead I chose to exit into a swamp, which offered a decent stretch of flat going for road building.  There was also a pack of wolves near by, so I ran back to grab some bones I had stored away and managed to tame a pair of them.  They are good to have around as they will defend you from zombies and skeletons if you work past sundown.

Two new pals

Two new pals

Unfortunately, like the AI for most NPCs in the Minecraft, the tamed wolf AI isn’t very good at keeping itself safe.  I had the pair of them with me when I was out ahead and burning down a path through a canopy forest to clear the way, only to get the message that one of them had died.  I turned around to see the other one standing in a fire and die as well.

Dogs will be dogs I guess

Dogs will be dogs I guess

And it was night time and I had to fight my way back to my nearest camp.  I tamed a couple more, but left one at my camp and took the other one with me as I started building my road through the swamp only to get another death message.

Seriously?

Seriously?

I do not know what happened there.  One moment he was running around, the next moment he was dead.

Still, I have one more in reserve.

All happy back at the camp

All happy back at the camp

The road ran past a witches hut at the start of the swamp, so I converted it to camp, complete with a corral for the horse.  I haven’t lost the horse yet, despite his propensity to run off the moment I am looking the other way, and I aim to keep it that way.

And so the road south carries on.

And Sometimes You Sit on a Keepstar While Things Go Wrong

I managed to get into a fleet last night that went out into low sec where we blew up a tower belonging to Darwinism.

One of the modules exploding for effect

One of the modules exploding for effect

The tower had been reinforced previously, so it was a quick shoot.

We also went about reinforcing one of their Raitaru engineering complexes.

Fleet getting boosts near the complex

Fleet getting boosts near the complex

That one will have to wait as it has to go through the three stage process required to destroy an operational citadel or complex.

If I understand correctly this operation, and a number of other ones that went out yesterday to hit Darwinism structures, was in response to Darwinism hitting Merch Industrial structures.  Merch is a long time Goonswarm Federation corporation probably best know for being the home of DBRB.  It even got a MiniTru video.

Basically, the usual order of things in New Eden; somebody pokes us, we poke them back.  The highlight of the op were managing to kill a 2.6 billion ISK pod and my running an Oneiros with the Guardian’s Gala SKIN, which may be the first skin for the ship that is worth having.

Oneiros orbiting near the fleet

Oneiros orbiting near the fleet

A fine day’s work in New Eden, and I logged off after that and had dinner, watched a bit of television, and let the night roll on.  As it got later I went back to my computer to tinker with an alt I rolled for an upcoming event which I will write about later.  As I was running him through the new player experience, a ping came in.

This has meme potential

This aspect of the NPE has meme potential

It was one of those ping, sent to, and in, ALL CAPS, with an urgent call to get in fleet NOW!

This was followed by a similar ping for a subcap fleet, but I figured “what the hell!” and logged in, got in my Apostle, and joined the fleet.  Then it was pointed out to me that the ping only called for carriers and dreads, so I swapped to my Archon and undocked.  Then I saw that lots of people were bringing faxes, so I docked back up again swapped back to my Apostle, and undocked once more to sit tethered at the Keepstar.

Sitting on the Keepstar

Sitting on the Keepstar

As we sat there, the story unfolded… rather loudly at times… as to what was going on.

A group of Peoples Liberation Army corporation Rorquals had been dropped on by Pandemic Legion in NIDJ-K, which just happens to one of the TNT vanity sovereignty system, so we can say we do hold sov.

The PL fleet tackled them and then put up a cyno inhibitor.  We sat there listening as one of the PLA guys tried to light us a cyno so we could jump in and help.  He managed to get a cyno up, but in the wrong fleet before the inhibitor went up.  He also did not speak English very well… PLA is a Chinese corp… and was apparently playing inside of a wind tunnel judging from the background noise, which did not help the cross-lingual communications.

A titan bridged a few subcaps out with cynos to try and get somebody in close enough to be a jump target for us.  The subcap fleet itself took a jump bridge to the vicinity of the fight and set up to block egress.

An Avatar bridging out some scouts and interdictors

An Avatar bridging out some scouts and interdictors

In the end though, the PL fleet killed all seven Rorquals that PLA had in a mining anomaly along with a Hulk, some mobile depots, and several ships that warps in to assist.  We eventually killed the cyno inhibitor.  The battle report shows it to be a lopsided victory in favor of PL.

That Viziam guy was in a Revelation

That Viziam guy was in a Revelation

I got an alt out to help search and scan, but the PL fleet looked to have logged off to wait for another day.

As we sat there on the Keepstar, I came to an important decision.  I decided that, while the Purity white SKIN looks pretty good on the Apostle, the Cold Iron SKIN is the one to have.  So I bought one.

Cold Iron Apostle

Cold Iron Apostle

I still can’t remember which way the Apostle is facing, but at least it looks a bit more menacing with a dark SKIN.

So that was New Eden for me yesterday.

In summary:  Some things got blown up and I got new SKINs for two of my ships.

 

Some Days You Just Sit on the Titan

I haven’t written much about operations in EVE Online of late for a couple of reasons.

First has been because I have been busy with other things.  Life will get in the way.  And, second, there has also been a drawn down in the number of ops I am likely to join.

The so-called Winter War between Stainwagon and the refugees from the north ended up in a Stainwagon collapse, with the defenders now mostly pushed off the sovereignty map as TEST, Circle-of-Two, and the Drone Walkers… soon to be joined by Brave Newbies… moved in. (Images grabbed from the usual source.)

Just six weeks passed...

Just six weeks passed…

That has put and end to that for us.

Which isn’t to say there haven’t been ops running.  There is always some op forming up to go do something; roam, homeland defense, poke a bear, or some such.  But I have become a picky bitter vet of sorts.  I want strat ops and concrete objectives or, barring that, an FC I trust.

Last week it was Thomas Lear who took us out in Sleipnirs.  Earlier this week it was Asher, who called us out for one of his plans.  He had some bait planned and moved us out to sit on a titan and wait for the right moment to spring the trap.

We even brought the titan with us

We even brought the titan with us

Sometimes that sort of things pays off, sometimes it goes badly awry, and some nights nothing at all happens.  This time around it was the last item.  The bait was out but nobody seemed interested in taking it.  So we sat there at a POS… at least a change from sitting on a citadel, which is the new normal… staring at the titan and wondering if we would go or not.

My Guardian floating there behind the Ragnarok

My Guardian floating there behind the Ragnarok

This is the nature of sandbox PvP.  Sometimes nobody shows up at your party.  We sat there for a while before Asher eventually called it a night and bridges us back home.  At least we took one bridge.

It wasn’t all that bad.  Being on-call let me tab out and work on other things.  I have screen shots lined up for my other blog into next month now.  And with a wireless headset I was able to get up and do things around the house, like put something in the oven for dinner, get a package from UPS off the door step, and use the bathroom.  My thoughts about broadcasting the latter over coms were held back by the fact that my push to talk button is mapped to the keyboard, which was still sitting on my desk.  Probably better for all concerned.

But other than getting what might be my last peak at a moon mining operation before it is changed to drilling rigs in the fall, there wasn’t much going on.

Moon mining modules running

Moon mining modules running

At least it yielded as strategic participation link, a strat PAP, the collection of which is one of the few reasons I think my corp keeps me around.  It certainly isn’t for my deep involvement in alliance activities.

Later I ran a couple of anomalies and actually netted an escalation finally.  It has been months since I got the last one.

It was the Dark Blood Fleet Staging Point escalation, which is a three part project, only our local escalation running service will only do the third part.  That isn’t bad.  The first two parts are doable, it just means I have to pack up the Ishtar and take it on the road.

The first part was in a nice dead-end pocket and I was able to complete it and drop off the resulting loot in a citadel to pick up later.  We have citadels… usually multiple citadels… in every system in Delve at this point.

The second part however was in one of the heavily traveled pipe systems, which meant I spend about two hours running what is maybe a 20 minute encounter.  Every time I would get settled in intel would announce some roaming gang was in an adjacent system and I would get myself lined up.  Then they would jump in the system and I would pull drones and warp off to a citadel, only to have them just pass through.   Then it was back to the start point, motor to the acceleration gate, and back into the encounter only to have intel ringing the bell yet again.

Somebody finally put up a homeland defense fleet to chase off one gang that had been roaming the area for a while and I was able to wrap things up at last.

Then I got the third part alert, which was in a nice quiet system as well, so it looked like I was in luck to get it run for me.  The last two… the only two… escalations I have had in the region both ended up in NPC Delve, and Lucky Runners doesn’t go there.  Too many hostiles buzzing about.

I went to the escalation, bookmarked the beacon, names it correctly, contracted it, and waited for the ISK to show up.  And then, many hours later, I got a note saying the contract had been rejected due to a contract bug.  But there was still about six hours left on the third stage.  You only get 24 hours from when each part appears in which to run it.  So I contracted it again and actually got paid this time.

So that is life in Delve at the moment.  I’ve been able to build up my ISK reserves, but I haven’t gone on many fleets.

The YC119.2 Update Brings Insurance to Citadels

It is time for the monthly update patch for EVE Online, which this month falls on St. Valentine’s Day.  I wonder if I should read any meaning into that or not?

CCP continues making TAGN quality graphics for updates!

CCP continues making TAGN quality graphics for updates!

The update brings a number of things to the table.  It heralds the opening of the Guardian’s Gala event in New Eden, which runs from today through the end of the month and includes SKINs for Gallente hulls as drops. (A video from The Scope to bring up up to speed on the lore around the event.)

Running in a system near you this month

Running in a system near you this month

It also brings some fixes for recent performance issues that have been bothersome since the troubled YC119.1 patch went live last month, along with updates for the New Player Experience, new SKINs, UI fixes, and improvements to the much loved multi-buy window.

There are many additional small fixes in this month’s patch.  But the one item that will likely have the most impact on me… as noted in the headline… is the ability to insure your ships in a citadel.

Live from the Thetastar, insurance!

Live from the Thetastar, insurance!

Citadels are supposed to eventually replace the no-longer-deployable as of the December update null sec stations eventually, with the latter slated to go away completely at some future date. (EN24 had a good retrospective on stations.)  However, while we have had citadels around since last April and the Citadel expansion, getting them up to par with stations has taken some time.  This brings CCP one step closer to that goal… and I should no longer have to go find a station to insure my ship.

That aside, I do like this line item from the patch notes:

An underlying and far reaching EVE code issue has been identified and fixed. This should resolve various issues across New Eden, including the drone window becoming unresponsive, overview entries not updating/removing, ship HUD issues (including a ship’s speed not updating correctly) and more.

I have run into all of those situations over the years, to the point that they have become “oh yeah, that happens sometimes” sorts of events in fleets, especially when time dilation is in play.  If true, this fix might be the second best thing in the update. [Addendum: A Dev Blog about it here.]

So those are the items of note for me.  You can read the patch notes and the updates page to see if there is something else hidden in there for you.  There was also a development update video that went out yesterday, and Neville Smit returned to blogging with a summary of all sorts of things going on, but mostly the CSM and the video.

And, as with every update, there is some music attached.

Reflecting After Round One of Pokemon Sun

After ignoring the game for a stretch in January, I finally got back on the horse and finished up Pokemon Sun.

Coming in Q4 2016

Sun and Moon

Of course, by “finished” I merely mean that I wrapped up the main story line, thwarted the evil does, picked up the prescribed legendary Pokemon, defeated the newly constituted Alola Pokemon League final four, and then bested the champion to take the title for myself.

Professor Kukui says that it is so!

Professor Kukui says that it is so!

As I have noted before, that level of being finished is the same as saying you’re finished with the current WoW expansion because you wrapped up the main quest lines in all the zones and hit level cap.  As with WoW, there is always a lot of things to do once the primary story is complete.  A good Pokemon title comes with a lot of end game options.

I have enjoyed Pokemon Sun so far.  Something else I have said in the past is that every Pokemon game, if you pull back far enough, is essentially the same.  A kid with a neglectful parent is allowed to wander the countryside engaging in the local pet-based blood sport until they are crowned champion of the local area.

To a fan of the series though, despite the similarities between titles, each generation of the game is different in enough details to make them unique.  There are, of course, new locations and new bad guys to thwart, along with new Pokemon to catch.  But there is also an evolution of the game mechanics over time as well as gimmicks that often show up for a generation only to fade with the next.

Pokewalker on my Belt

Once they gave us a pedometer

The problem is discerning which are features that are likely to stick around and what is a gimmick that you’ll never see again.  Having experience share that covers your whole party or getting experience for catching Pokemon as well as for defeating them are things that came in with previous games, so those will remain go forward.

On the flip side, as an example, the quirks of the Alola region such as not having a Pokemon League initially are one-time events used to promote the story.  That won’t be a thing next time around… especially since, if we follow the usual pattern, next time around should be a remake of a previous Pokemon game/region.

Z-Crystals, the special items that boost a once-per-fight Pokemon attack, are likely out for the next title as well.  That has the hallmark of a one-time feature. (Though I thought the same thing about mega evolutions, and they are still a thing in the Pokemon Sun & Moon end game.)

In the middle though, there are some features I wonder about.

Pokemon refresh… a feature by which you feed, groom, and otherwise improve the spirits of your party… that I think is likely out next time around.  It was one of those features that seemed neat when I started out in Alola, but after a while it turns into another bit of overhead you have to attend to after battles.  If A Pokemon gets wet you have to blow dry it… seriously… or it won’t be as happy.  But you want them happy, because when they are all spiffed up they can dodge attacks or get extra crits when fighting… plus it can cure status conditions after a battle… so you dare not ignore it.

Removing a static charge from Eevee

Removing a static charge from Eevee

Pokemon calling for help in the wild… I think that is out for the next title as well… or maybe I just hope it is.  That got a bit annoying after the first few fights where call for help extended a battle through half a dozen Pokemon.

The Poke Pelago, the special island you can develop also feels like a one time feature.  I have mixed feelings about that.  On the one hand, having to show up and collect Poke beans daily starts to feel like a chore, and the interface for some operations is a bit clunky.

You must tap on every bean

You must tap on every bean

On the other hand, the fact that you can level up Pokemon (slowly) on the island or hatch eggs rather than hauling them around with your party for thousands of steps, was a big boon.  Eggs are still a bit or work, but we no longer have to pace back and forth over a set track to hatch them.  So I will miss that part.

Rotom as your Pokedex worked out well, especially for me since it keeps track of where you need to go next.  That kept me from totally losing my way when I took a break from the game.  But then again, Pokedex updates and changes are pretty standard between releases.  I expect some of the features might stick, but the Pokedex itself will be different next time.

And then there were the travel move changes.  Gone were the dreaded Hidden Machine moves that you had to hobble your group with and in were special mounts you could summon on demand… if the situation was right.

Summoned mount AND safety gear

Summoned mount AND safety gear

I’m all for not crudding up your Pokemon with sub-par moves, moves that keep them from being transferred to boot.  On the flip side, this change does make travel very convenient and removes the hard choice about which Pokemon you’re are going to inflict HMs upon.  I will be interested to see if this feature carries on to the next generation.

As for the game itself, I am chasing the Alola Pokedex currently.  I am 41% of the way in currently.  The Pokemon Sun & Moon Pokemon are a mix of old versions (some of which have acquired local color) and new ones fresh with this release.

With the Pokemon Bank update I could dump a bunch of the previous ones into the game, but that feels like a bit of a cheat.  I will save that for the National Pokedex task.  For the Alola Pokedex I want to go out and get what I can first and trade for what I have to before I resort to Pokemon Bank as a resource.  Of course, it would help if my daughter would link trade with me.  You need to do that to evolve some Pokemon.

Anyway, that is where I stand.  Still plugging away at Pokemon Sun.

Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number

CCP Quant put up the monthly economic report for January 2017 yesterday.  I always go peruse the numbers and to see what has changed.  Cobalt Edge, for example, passed Delve as the regional mining champion.  Who is mining away up there?  Anyway, it is a treasure and not the sort of thing other MMO devs put out there.  EVE is its own special thing.

At the end of the report there was a bonus graph tracking the growth and changes of the “top 25” corporations, so ranked due to their peak membership.  It is a nice chart to look at:

Development of the top 25 corporations in EVE Online since 2012

Development of the top 25 corporations in EVE Online since 2012

It shows the ebb and flow of some of the long standing corporations as well as the rise of the new player friendly corporations in Null sec, starting with Brave Newbies Inc. then followed by KarmaFleet and Pandemic Horde Inc.

However, the chart was missing one detail in my opinion.  The left edge of the chart indicates the starting scale indicating how wide the flow would be at 8,000 members.  However, there is no gradation and no further measure, so it is hard to tell how big the combined mass of capsuleers in these corps really is.  So I went to DOTLAN and searched up each of the corporations and added up their current membership to get a number.

The right side of the graph represents about 45,000 pilots spread across 21 corporations, with the individual counts as follows, listed out top to bottom as they appear on the graph:

  1. Pandemic Horde – 12,054
  2. KarmaFleet – 4,848
  3. Red Federation – 2,312
  4. Blue Republic – 3,580
  5. EVE University – 1,944
  6. Fusion Enterprises Ltd. – 488
  7. Ascendance – 1,130
  8. Imperial Guardians – 530
  9. Sniggerdly – 477
  10. health clinic – 523
  11. Wildly Inappropriate – 1,052
  12. The Graduates – 416
  13. Conoco. – 1,187
  14. Mission Ready Mining – 1,735
  15. Peoples Liberation Army – 894
  16. 30plus – 374
  17. Signal Cartel – 822
  18. BOVRIL bOREers Mining CO-OP – 221
  19. GoonWaffe – 3,349
  20. Dreddit – 4,026
  21. Brave Newbies Inc. – 3,123

That is a snapshot of course, the count for a brief  moment in time as the numbers are constantly changing.  But it helps set the scale of the change over the time frame of the graph.