Last Flight of the Raven

We have a huge timer at 0230 tomorrow, so tonight we’re going to do a relaxing fun fleet.

FC: Asher Elias || Fleet name: Ferox Flun Feet || Op 8 || Peacetime
Ships: Feroxs + Ravens + support

FLeet departs in 20 minutes

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias

When this ping popped up I hadn’t undocked for a fleet op so far this month.  Granted, a week in Hawaii took me out of the running for most of that, so it wasn’t like I was missing it much.

Being away also meant that I missed the six hour Entosis tug-of-war op versus Northern Army, where two small fleets could basically make no headway against one another until one side just gave up in exhaustion.  Fozzie Sov fun FTW!  Asher goes over some of that in his podcast this week where he covers our deployment down south.

Anyway, a relaxing fun fleet seemed a fine way to get back into fleet ops after a break, and all the more so since I could bring my Raven.

The Raven was left over from a doctrine we tried out last summer in Querious.  My own Raven had been saved after the fall of ED-L9T and stowed away safely in Khanid to await another deployment.

So I logged right in… waited for the launcher to verify and update yet again… is this any better with the new launcher… cloned jumped down to our staging station, got in my Raven and joined the fleet.

I also insured the Raven, since “fun fleet” often means we’re going to die.  But what better ship to sacrifice than this one, which had been gathering dust in a hangar for the last six months.  Sure, it had some history.  It was my ratting Raven as far back as 2007 and had, among other things, made the run up to Deklein and back for the Revenant kill.  But a ship is a ship, and in the zen of EVE Online, you must be prepared to let go of any possession which you undock.  Plus, you know, fun.

There was a minor fitting change; I had to remove the MJD and fit a MWD, but otherwise when I undocked it was pretty much the same ship I left in the station last summer… the same to the point that I should have looked in the cargo hold as I had clearly used it to haul some extra modules and a spare mobile depot back down from Deklein.  I might have cleared some of that out had I noticed.  Ah well.  And so it was we did undock.

Undocking in Khanid

Undocking in Khanid

Asher steered us towards Querious.  We also had Lazarus Telraven along for the op and he was streaming the whole thing on his Twitch channel, including our voice coms, so any hostile in the area would have all the intel they could want with just a 15 second delay.

As it happened, we were headed towards Pandemic Horde’s home at A2-V27, where we warped to the station and hung around on their stoop hoping that they might come out and play.  Eventually they obliged, undocking a sizable fleet relative to our own, including a triage carrier in support.

After a some initial losses we began to chip away at them, warping off and back as Asher tried to position us to play to our strengths versus their numbers.  Then again, Asher also warped us into an asteroid belt at one point, something he specifically mentioned had been an issue in past fights as big ships got caught and bounced off rocks, delaying align times and warps.

Ravens aligning out of an asteroid belt

Ravens aligning out of an asteroid belt

We shook off drones by activating the smart bombs that most of us had fit, which had the side benefit of getting us on some blue kill mails for fun, but at the final point of the fight it was clear that we were rapidly losing our ability to put enough damage on our foes to get kills.

The last point of the fight

The last point of the fight

My own Raven went down on that last grid as our logi gamely tried to save me.

I'm sure that tracking disruptor was really hurting me...

I’m sure that tracking disruptor was really hurting me…

As my ship exploded I warped off grid and then back at 100km to watch the remains of the fight.  We lost a few more ships, including Xenuria (See, he undocks! Xenuria for CSM 11!), as Asher got the remainder of the fleet headed outbound.  My staying alive a bit longer meant that my pod got on six kill mails, five of which were fleet members, due to damage I did before my Raven went down.  My pod is currently listed as the fourth most deadly ship for our corp this month… mostly because we kind of suck at PvP.  If I am the top killer for the month (I’m on 19 kill mails, seven of them blue, six of them in a pod) something is hilariously wrong.

Then somebody spotted my pod and I got popped and sent back to our staging station the quick way.  I listened on coms as the remains of the fleet extracted.  Pandemic Horde used a jump bridge to cut off the fleet’s escape, so Asher just had everybody safe up and log off when they could.  Not sitting still and dying made a few of our foes angry, and they went to Reddit to complain in the usual way.  The battle report shows we lost the ISK war, yet somehow we appear to have won on the rage front.  You would think people would be happy about us delivering some easy content to their doorstep.  Did we forget to say “gf” in local?

After a short time Asher had everybody log back in and brought people home.  We shall see if I can get on for the fight tonight to defend our station in 60M-TG.  Another Entosis struggle looms.

Below are the screen shots I took along the way in gallery form.  I also left the new camera on for the duration of the op to try it out. (You can see the new controls in that HUD screen shot.)  Once I changed the movement slider all the way to the fastest motion, it seemed to be okay.  And then, during the fight, I had the camera on a hostile as we warped off and it pretty much went crazy and wouldn’t stay pointed at anything, so I had to go turn it off to be able to keep space from flicking around me so fast it threatened to induce motion sickness.  Not quite ready for prime time.

 

 

Our Automated Farms in Minecraft

This is one of those posts I have been meaning to get around to for a while now.  I have written about this sort of thing in our Minecraft world before.  In fact, I actually built one of the automated resource generating machines in our world, the sugar cane harvester I put together quite a while back.

Automated Sugar Cane farm

Automated Sugar Cane farm

However, automation and redstone devices haven’t really been my thing.  In our world I tend to be the civil engineer, a builder of roads and bridges and stables and sundry roadside attractions.

When Xyd joined us he brought with him his own expertise and built his castle with automated resource hauling and sorting.

But it wasn’t until Aaron came along that the automation of resource production really became a thing in our world.  He was especially busy over the holidays and I have kept saying, “Oh, I should do a post about that latest thing he built!” over and over until I was far enough behind that now I am going to just try to summarize them in a brief tour.  I think I remember them all.

In His Base

Aaron has a few resource farming devices around his home.  Next to his livestock and collection of flora, he has an iron golem farm and a charged creeper farm.

Iron golem and charged creeper farm

Iron golem and charged creeper farm

The iron golem farm is the smaller pool in the middle of what is essentially a village.  It is arranged such that golem spawns in the water and gets washed down to a place where you can harvest him for iron.  That has been around for a while.

A more recent addition was the charged creeper farm, which is the large cobblestone platform with the red squares.  The red squares are netherrack, and in the middle of each of those is an empty square which contains a glassed in chamber.  At night, when things are spawning on the platform, Aaron lured creepers down each of those holes, then put a name tag on them so they would not despawn when he left the area.

Then, once all the holes had a creeper, he hung around the area waiting for a lightning storm to pass by and strike some of the creepers.  The lightning would also light the netherrack, so it was easy to tell which creeper had been charged.

Of course, the question is, why would he want a charged creeper?

When a charged creeper blows up… with much greater force than a normal creeper… and kills another creature, that other creature leaves behind a head.  So down below that platform his an area where he brings mobs and charged creepers together to collect heads.

Also, down in his mine Aaron has built a zombie farm where, at the flick of a switch, you can stand in a single spot and have zombies delivered to you to slay if you need to level up or require some zombie flesh, though the latter now has a more efficient option.

Guardian Farm

I have already written about the Guardian Farm, but since I am making a list I thought I have better at least mention it.

Guardian farm complete

Guardian farm complete

The String Farm

As with the zombie farm in his own base, this was built around a monster spawner.  In this case, it was a spider spawner.  As with the zombie farm, a flick of a switch turns out the lights, starts up the flow of water, and washes spawned spiders towards you.  However, in this case some cactus does the killing and you simply collect the resulting string drops.

String farm

String farm

String has its uses, but four can be combined to create wool.  This was his method of automated wool creation.

Blaze Farm

This is another experience generator built around a Blaze spawner in one of the Nether Fortresses we have discovered.  This uses mine carts to shove Blazes down a passage where they can be collected and slain for experience and a bit of loot.

The top of the Blaze farm

The top of the Blaze farm

This is, however, more sophisticated than the zombie or string farm.  There is a dial to select how many Blazes you wish to collect up to slay.

Dial-a-Blaze

Dial-a-Blaze

You then idle while they are collected, being alerted to the requested number being reached by a light being lit.  You can then press a button to crush them, reducing their hit points, and which point you can wade in and finished them off, collecting the resulting experience.

Zombie Pigman Farm

This was the one that needed some help from me.  The ideal way… or perhaps the only way… to do this is to poke a hole through the bedrock in the roof of the nether and build up there.  Aaron tried a couple of the hacks to break through, then asked me to look into it.

I spent a couple weeks looking up ways to do this, many of which were convoluted and required changing server jars or using buggy world editors, all of which was generally impractical.  After quite a bit of time passed Aaron finally suggested that I might just turn on creative mode and punch through.  He just assumed I knew about that option but that it wouldn’t work for some reason, grossly overestimating my Minecraft knowledge.

So I logged in, switched myself to creative mode, poked a sizable hole in the roof of the nether above our nether roof transportation hub, and that was that.  It took all of 30 seconds.  Then he took over and built a giant tower farm.

Looking up from the nether roof

Looking up from the nether roof

Up at the top there is series of mine carts that pick up spawning zombie pigmen, dropping them to their death.  The resulting gold nuggets and zombie flesh are collected and sorted and deposited in a series of chests on the lowest platform.  All of this can be observed from the safety of an observation tower where the player may safely idle while it continues to rain pigmen.

looking down at the zombie pigman farm

looking down at the zombie pigman farm

This, along with the iron golem farm, unleashed our ability to build long distance rail projects.  Aaron used this to build rail lines throughout the nether transportation system while I have used it back in the world.

Witch Farm

If I recall right, this was one Aaron did just because he could.  I am not even sure exactly how it works, having only visited it once.

Witch farm on the map

Witch farm on the map

But we now have a way to farm redstone, sticks, and the other items that witches drop when they die.

Enderman Farm

After Aaron and I defeated the End Dragon, we had also opened up free access to The End, the main population of which is Endermen.  So it was time to build a farm for them as well.

It is dark in The End

It is dark in The End

Another “falling to a collection floor” sort of farm which yields enough ender pearls that Aaron now gets around by throwing them freely.

Endless Production?

I think that is all of them.

So, with all that we have no resource constraints, right?

Well, no.  The thing about Minecraft is that you have to be logged in and close enough to the automated system for the game to load it up.  Nothing happens when nobody is logged in and when you get too far away, the game unloads things in order to manage memory and processor resources.  So to get these to run, you have to stand by and let them do their thing, which is why each has a safe room for you to idle, often positioned in an optimum location to encourage spawns just where you want them… or so I am told.

So, as long as we’re willing to log in and idle, we can collects some resources.  Our world still retains the friction of hostile mobs, the day/night cycle, and the fact that there are still many resources we simply have to collect ourselves.

First Night of Skill Point Trading in Jita

It was fast times in Jita last night as a mass of traders, speculators, scammers, and other interested parties descended on what one might call the Commonland’s Tunnel of New Eden, the economic capital of the game.  A record number of players were in the system, thanks in large part to the fact that the Brain in a Box feature, which came in back with the Parallax update last November (which was also the last named update in Syndicate), let CCP increase the hard cap they  have on the system to 5,000 players.

So there was room for more.

Still, ~3,600 pilots in the system is a lot of people.  At 6VDT-H, still the biggest battle in EVE history, we topped 4,000, but that was a special occasion and the system was heavily reinforced by CCP and we still ended up with time dilation so bad that the UI simply wouldn’t respond for extended periods of time.  But then, we were also shooting at each other too.

Anyway, lots of people were in the system, and they were there for skill trading, which went live with yesterday’s update.

That is 30 billion skill points extracted by 21:00 EVE time yesterday.  That is a lot of extractors purchased and used, considering each one only grabs half a million skill points. 16 billion skill points were applied with a reported wastage of 5 billion skill points… 10,000 skill extractors worth of skill points gone missing.

Of course, that was 60,000 skill extractors obtained through various means yesterday as well.  Since you have to buy them via Aurum, which somebody has to purchase through a straight up cash transaction at some point, it looks like something of an immediate, if minor, economic victory for CCP.

I can remember it for you retail...

You can even buy they for cash directly…

Of course, I had to log in and take a peek.  I had my alt sitting in Jita and when I logged in CCP was night enough to let me know right away that skill point injectors were available and how many skill points I could add to my character with each one.  However, since he is past the 110 million SP mark, that wasn’t very much per injector.

350K SP go to waste for me...

350K SP go to waste for me…

I also saw the scam du jour in Jita local, which was to offer a contract allegedly for a skill injector at 50 million under the current market price when, in fact, the contract was for a a skill extractor, hoping some anxious buyer looking for a bargain wouldn’t notice the difference until it was too late.  One can learn many lessons about unscrupulous behavior in Jita local.

The market price for skill injectors in Jita last night was up above 650 million ISK per, with plenty listed on the market.

Injectors on Feb. 10 ~05:00 EVE time

Injectors on Feb. 10 ~05:00 EVE time

Skill extractors were running at about 300 million ISK per unit at the same time.

Extractors on Feb. 10 ~05:00 EVE time

Extractors on Feb. 10 ~05:00 EVE time

So, at that moment at least, 500,000 skill points looked to be worth about 350 million ISK after costs.

Of course, this was the first night and the market was flooded with excess inventory, fresh demand, and a full of people trying to figure out how to make some ISK out of the whole deal.  Gevlon reported making 350 billion ISK yesterday on skill sales and extractor arbitrage  How the market will look in a week, a month, or a year may change, but last night was the crazy time.

JonnyPew emptied out a 121 million SP character to boost his main from 7 million to 80 million SP, letting 41 million SP disappear forever.  Some people do things just to say they have done them.

Noizy reported that PLEX sales in the first six hours of the day were way up and suspects that yesterday might have been a record day for sales overall.  The price of PLEX itself was up to the 1.3 billion ISK mark, making my six year old stock screen shot of PLEX on the market even more comically out of date.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

If you had bought at this price in late 2009 you would have made a billion ISK

As for me, I neither extracted nor injected, I just watched the whole thing for a bit before going off to read a book.

Some day, if I need to boost up a cyno alt quickly or some such, I might buy an injector.  But for the moment I have no skill points I consider excess on either alt or main and both have so many skill points already that they are far end of the diminishing returns.  They can train an injector’s worth of skill points… 150K for either of them… in a little over three days, so I’ll just do it the old fashioned way.

EVE Online and the Madi Gras 2016 Release

CCP has given up on naming their seemingly now monthly releases (though I think YC 118.2 might be an option), but that doesn’t mean I can’t give them names myself.  Happy Madi Gras 2016 release!  Laissez les bon temps roulez, such that they are.

Anyway, the baby in CCP’s king cake today is likely a skill point extractor, as that is the big thing coming with today’s drop.  CCP riled up Noizy by doing their first reveal on Twitter, but they were also having some logon issues, so maybe that went out prematurely.  In any case, they followed up in the manner to which we have become accustomed and put out a Dev Blog-like post on the prices and the various methods by which you may obtain skill extractors.

Skill Extractors - Base Price

Skill Extractors – Base Price

If you want to skip the Aurum or ISK route and aren’t interested in the bonus extractors with subscriptions and what not, there is also a straight up cash price for them as well.

I can remember it for you retail...

I can remember it for you retail…

And, as is the way of things, all the essential information is spread out over three sources.  So in addition to the above post, you need to look at the Skill Trading Dev Blog and the Release Notes for today’s update.  The release notes give the most conscience round up as to how things work, including a short list of skills which may not be extracted.

While I am still not sure how I feel about the whole skill stripping thing, as with so much in the game these days it seems like a lot of complications for a limited amount of benefit, I am, as always, fascinated to see how this plays out.

The eventual pricing for skill injectors, once things settle down, seems to be contentious, with Noizy calling 300 million ISK a floor for the pricing (with a final price estimate of 720-750 million ISK per based on the injector pricing post) while Gevlon has declared that the ceiling price.

We shall see how that plays out.

Other than that, there are just small items in the release notes.

Wrecks, which uniformly had 500 hit points, will now have hit points based on the size of the ship which the wreck represents.  This is the new break down:

  • Frigate, Rookie Ship, Shuttle, Small NPC: 700 hp
  • Destroyer: 1000 hp
  • Cruiser, Mining Barge, Medium NPC, Generic NPC: 1500 hp
  • Battlecruiser, Industrial: 2500 hp
  • Battleship, Large NPC, Officer NPC: 3500 hp
  • Carrier, Dread, Rorqual, Orca, Freighter: 15000 hp
  • Supercarrier, NPC Supercarrier: 25000 hp
  • Titan: 30000 hp

If nothing else, nobody will be popping a titan wreck before it has been looted on accident.  I wonder how much extra ammo will be expended destroying wrecks now, something occasionally done to deny the enemy loot.  Somebody call CCP Quant.

Strategic Cruisers have been given the Pabst Blue Ribbon (Physical Based Rendering) treatment, so they will now look a little different… expect shiny gold trim on your pimp Legion now… display kill marks and may some day be eligible for SKINs.

T3s and cheap beer do mix...

T3s and cheap beer do mix…

Deep down in the list of user interface tweaks is a notice that the beta camera is now an opt-out option.  If you want to stick with the old, reliable, and slightly boring camera view we have grown used to over the years you will have to find that option in the setting.  Otherwise you will be using the new camera when you log in today.  If you want to use the new camera, there is a dev blog about that.

And there are some new skills on the market for the upcoming FAX machines (Force Auxiliary capital ships) and the fighters which carriers will use when the big capital ship change up comes in the spring.

There are a bunch of the usual tweaks and fixes in the Release Notes (and not much at all on the now somewhat neglected Updates page) but those are the things that mean something to me.  Well, all that and the usual musical number, the hallmark of every update.

 

H1Z2 or The Daybreak “Divide and Something” Plan

SOE, in cleaning up its act in order to get sold off and become Daybreak, cleared its decks of a number of titles.  The list of titles Daybreak has today is substantially shorter than what SOE had on offer just few years back.  Since 2012 it seems like they’ve shut down a lot more titles than they have launched.

It follows you as you move about the room!

The eye seems angry today…

I’m not sure how many people really miss Wizardry Online or Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures or a few of the other titles that have fallen by the wayside.  But Free Realms had a following and I have to think, with the current emphasis on nostalgia in Norrath, that closing down the EverQuest Macintosh Edition server rather than making that the basis of a classic server usable by a Windows client must be wistfully regretted in some corner of their office.

Anyway, once the company became Daybreak it had rid itself of a lot of baggage, but also had less to sell… and then proceeded to get rid of Dragon’s Prophet.

Meanwhile, new titles are few and far between.  EverQuest Next, more than five years since it was announced, seems no more likely to ship than it did two years back.  Landmark continues is desultory existence.  Planetside 2 remains dubious.  DC Universe Online, which just passed its fifth birthday, is getting ported to XBox One.  That was the big liberating factor in becoming Daybreak, that Smed would no longer be limited to the Playstation, but I am still dubious as to whether or not this will be a huge win.

The only bright points over the first year of Daybreak’s existence (we heard about the merger just about a year ago) have be the super awesome legacy Norrath team, which runs EverQuest and EverQuest II, and which has worked hard to give players some things they have been asking for, and H1Z1, which managed to sell a million units in early access.

So I guess the email note I received while in Hawaii shouldn’t have come as a great surprise.

CUSTOMER SERVICE NOTIFICATION
Notice Regarding Your H1Z1 Account!
Hi
On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, H1Z1 will be branching off into two separate games: H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill. Since you previously purchased an Early Access copy of H1Z1, your account will be upgraded to include both H1Z1: Just Survive and H1Z1: King of the Kill.
Your existing keys, crates, and items will be also duplicated and available in both games.

H1Z1 is splitting into two games, H1Z1: Just Survive, which is the zombie horror survival game, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, which is an arena cash cow that Daybreak has convinced itself is going to be some sort of esport.

On the bright side, at least you get a copy of each if you already purchased H1Z1 via early access.  Of course, there is one more unplayed game in my Steam library because, while the base H1Z1 had some comedic co-op survival charm to it, Daybreak’s whole “pay to compete” battle royale thing had no appeal to me whatsoever.

I think we can safely predict Daybreak will have to change the name of one of these games in a month or two once the whole brand confusion thing finally dawns on them.  My own pick would be H1Z1 and H1Z2, but even those two might be too close in name to avoid the inevitable confusion.

Was this split a surprise?  I suppose so.  It certainly wasn’t without a bit or irony, at least when compared to this motivational quote from the Daybreak web site.

Was this a left turn then?

Was this a left turn or a risk then?

But in hindsight, I guess trying to package the different needs of the two modes of play together might have become an obstacle to one branch of the game or the other.  I doubt, however, that this split means that there will be any more people working on the combined projects, despite the statement about two development teams, so one branch will likely languish as the other gets attention.  My bet is that Just Survive will see its advance towards release… whatever that means to Daybreak these days, since they put our a press release indicating that H1Z1 had already been launched a year back.

But the act of splitting titles in order to beef up their catalog isn’t exactly a new thing at Daybreak.  We of course had the EverQuest Next and Landmark split, where Landmark was just going to be a dev tool for people to use to make things for EverQuest Next, but which got turned into an early access project as well as all we’ve ever really seen of the EQN code.

And H1Z1 itself started life as a branch from the PlanetSide 2 code base, a way to use work already done to make a new game… though I am not sure if the time that has gone by says more about the state of H1Z1 or PlanetSide 2.

I might even argue that DC Universe Online being ported to XBox One at this late date is something of a split, since it will be its own code base by necessity, will draw of resources from the other branches, and won’t be able to play cross-platform.

Finally, we are seeing this sort of thing in what I would consider the core Daybreak, the legacy Norrath team, which has gone from something of a tepid relationship with special rules servers to embracing them fully.  There is now a pretty clear divide between the free to play servers and the subscribers only, special rules servers, splitting up the audiences for both EverQuest and EverQuest II.

That sort of split was something SOE decided was a bad thing back during the EverQuest II Extended experiment.  But there you had two different client applications and the fear that the old servers would wither and die because all new players would be steered towards the free version, from which they could not transfer.  Now the spin is different, with the free servers being the old news and the shiny new special rules servers drawing off a significant percentage of the long-term fans of the game.

Aside from a hunch about the two H1Z1s needing more distinct names, I am curious to see how this will play out.

Of course, the hidden bit of news in the FAQ is this little gem:

At this time, we do not have any plans to make either H1Z1: Just Survive or H1Z1: King of the Kill Free-to-Play titles.

I knew that early access was simply too lucrative for them to let go of to depend on free.  “Free to Play. Your Way” seems to be dead at Daybreak.  H1Z1 is not a free to play game.  It will be buy to play, with a subscription, and an overbearing cash shop, complete with lock boxes.  Expect no less from anything else coming out of Daybreak.

At least they will be dropping the early access moniker this summer, or so the FAQ alleges:

H1Z1: King of the Kill will be coming out of Early Access and will launch on PC, the PlayStation® 4, and Xbox One in summer 2016

We shall see.

Others on this topic:

Friday Bullet Points from Waikiki

  • Sunny and warm; February in Hawaii is about perfect summer weather
  • Umbrella drinks in plentiful supply
  • About as Vegas-like as Hawaii can get, in a good way
  • Lots of Japanese tourists wielding selfie sticks
  • Jellyfish warnings at the beach
  • Taxi fares all end up being about twice what people tell you they will be
  • Wife’s birthday planned for Farrell’s
  • No Super Bowl craziness to deal with
  • Headed to Pearl Harbor tomorrow
  • Will be arriving back home when everybody is finally leaving

Also, we can see Diamond Head from our hotel room.

Diamond Head in the evening light

And, having climed up to the peak of the crater rim, I can confirm that you can see our hotel room from the summit.

Addendum: Our rental car for a drive around the island, a mid-life crisis worthy bitchin’ yellow convertible Camaro.

My daughter asked me to "do donuts" in the car...

My daughter asked me to “do donuts” in the car…