Monthly Archives: January 2007

January in Review

The Site

I keep posting along.  With this post I will have put up something every day for the last three months.  I was determined to do this as a way to force myself to write more.  I will probably have to relax that for the next couple of months, but it did work to a certain extent.

My post “Vanguard’s Fatal Character Flaw” got picked up by bloggers on both WarCry and TenTonHammer.  That did not boost hits on the site as much as you might think.  The biggest sources of incoming traffic this month, as in the past, were EQ2-Daily.com and VirginWorlds.com.

WordPress.com gave all of the bloggers who use their site a few new features this month.  I turned off the “Snap” feature, the one that shows you a pop-up preview of any link, right away.  I found it almost immediately annoying.  While I did not use the new audio/video features they provided, they did add a new metric in the statistics page that shows me what outbound links people click on when they come here.  FiringSquad is by far the site most likely to be visited from here.

New Linking Sites

Most Viewed Posts In January

  • PowerColor Radeon x1950 AGP Review
  • Vanguard’s Fatal Character Flaw
  • WoW Expansion Disaster Fails To Material
  • Sapphire x1950 Pro AGP Review
  • Vanguard Beta Forums?
  • What Happened To 2006?
  • MMO Generational Divisions – Wikipedia Version
  • Sayonara Vanguard Beta
  • MMO Expansions – What Is Appropriate Timing?
  • Third Generation? Was There A Second?

Most Common Search Terms

ATi x1950 AGP related terms were the #1 search of the month that brought people to the site.  #2 was the term “vanguard beta forum,” a strong indicator that I was not alone in my inability to get access.

Best Search Term of the Month

“running multiple instances of vanguard”

(Wow, he must have a heck of a machine!  I can barely run one copy!)

EVE Online

My account was cancelled, and the timer is running down now, with only 5 days left.  I ran a couple of missions this month, but mostly I just kept my training going.  I am past 4 million skill points now.  I read somewhere that any training in progress keeps going to fruition when you account is closed.  I plan to start training Caldari Cruisers V at the last possible moment.  That is a 29 day training cycle, so would almost be like a free month of the game for me, given how much I actually play.

EverQuest II

I have not played as much EQ2 this month as I would have liked.  Still, I am surprised how far Blintz, my fae swashbuckler has progressed.  Thanks to running quests in the level parallel zones of Thundering Steppes, Nektulos Forest, and Butcher Block, he was well into his 30s before I bothered to bring him into the next tier of zones.  Now he is set to take on Steamfont, The Enchanted Lands, and Zek.

World of Warcraft

The Burning Crusade.  I have played almost zero content that is part of the expansion.  I did make a blood elf and a dranei, but did not bother playing them past level 5.  Instead I have just been pressing on with the weekly instance runs with the group.  The experience is good and the instances are fun.  Blintz (I tend to reuse names) my rogue is now into the 40s, making him my 5th character to pass that level.   With The Burning Crusade, it looks like we can keep the instances going through to level 70.

Vanguard

Saga of Heroes indeed.  The luminaries on this team are heroes of the MMO world.  Now we get to see their current saga play out before a live (and paying) studio audience.

I played quite a bit in Beta 5 and wrote a bit about some of the trivial (to many people) aspects of the game, like character creation.  I blame this on years of going over resumes and interviewing job candidates.  I am willing to grant somebody a pass on something not on their resume, but if somebody claims to be proficient in something, I consider it to be fair game for grilling.  Vanguard’s “resume” includes the character creation tool as a major item.

I have currently opted not to play Vanguard, but will keep an eye on it.  It shows a lot of promise, if you can get past the performance issues.

Coming Up

There will probably be less writing from me in the near future.  This is certainly not for lack of topics.  My little “things to write about” file keeps growing, and currently has over 30 items, 10 of which are in progress.  However, my family will be moving to a new house some time soon, which means a lot of work getting our current home packed, cleaned up, and ready to sell. (We are putting in our first offer on a new house today.  And when I say “new,” I mean “older than me, but in a better school district.”)  So my couple of free hours in the evening will likely be reduced, and I will have to decide whether I want to write or play!

Vista Launch – Vanguard Launch

I picked the paper up off the driveway to scan it for Vanguard in the ads.

Vanguard was nowhere to be seen in the paper today.  It seems that Microsoft Vista is launching today.

The Fry’s ad had Vista all over it.  Some other places, like Circuit City, had pull-outs in the paper featuring Vista heavily, obviously the product of generous Microsoft co-op ad dollars.

Despite the absence of Vanguard, it did get me thinking about how it might tie in with Vista.

Do you suppose that January 30th was the launch date for Vanguard because of some contractual obligation left over from the Microsoft involvement requiring Vanguard to be a Vista launch title?

I wish I knew the answer to that.  If it is true, I would certainly feel a little more forgiving of Sigil launching Vanguard in its current state.  “It’s Microsoft’s fault!” is a salve for all wounds and injustice.

Razorfen Downs – Round 2

Thursday night, our group’s off night. We try to get together, but it isn’t as firm a commitment as Saturday night, being a “school night” and all that. Still, we got the full team on last night.

Blintz was getting a little bit ahead in exp, so I decided to pull out one of my other level 40 range characters to play. Vikund is my paladin, and the oldest character in WoW that I still have. (I made a dwarf before Vikund, but deleted him and went the human route.) With this group we decided to go back and hit RFD again. This was our starting lineup for the night:

41 Mage – Ula
40 Warrior – Earlthecat
40 Priest – Skronk
40 Paladin – Vikund
39 Warlock – Bungholio

I wasn’t sure how much of the instance we would end up doing, but I grabbed the quest “Bring The Light” with Vik, just in case we got that far.

We did our usual assembly, ported in the people who were still remote, and fought our way into the instance.

Once in, we had the left/right choice of paths to follow. Since we had not finished the escort quest with Belnistrasz, we decided to go left and hit that.

We fought our way in. Having Vikund as an off-tank changed up the way we worked some, with Bung able to summon a damage pet rather than a tanking pet.

We stopped and did the spider fights at the gong, finishing off Tuten’kash relatively easily. He dropped the Silky Spider Cape that went to Bung on a roll.

Again we detoured before the pens to take our Mordresh Fire Eye and his skeleton mosh pit. This time I took a screen shot of the skeletons in full force.

Peeking in on the skeleton mosh pit

Peeking in on the skeleton mosh pit

As before, we managed to pull a couple off with our first try, but the second time around we got the whole skeleton mob. Earl and I ran out to face Mordresh on his bone pile while the casters mopped up the non-elite skellie followers.

Maneuvering on that bone pile, especially if Mordresh decides to try to back off a bit, can be a bit of a challenge. I got stuck on things several times durnig the battle. But, in the end, Mordresh was overcome by our might. This time around he dropped the Deathmage Sash, a nice caster item that Skronk took on a three way roll-off.

Then we headed to Belnistrasz. We had a hiccup here. Vik had not been part of the last effort in RFD. Belnistrasz gives you a mini quest first, before he gives you the escort quest. Everybody else in the group had done the mini quest already, so when the one of the group accepted the quest, off he went, before Vik did the lead-in. Ooops. No huge loss in the great scheme of things, but a word of warning for the next time you head that way: Make sure everybody has done the lead-in (Scourge of the Downs) before anybody accepts the main quest (Extinguishing the Idol).

This time at least the quest ended successfully. We were in less of a panic this time around. We kept calm, kept the aggro off of Belnistrasz, and got through his stage without much problem.

Once that is done, Plaguemaw the Rotting shows up. A short battle later and we looted the Swine Fists off of him. Nobody really needed those, so they were rolled on to sell to a vendor. Here we are over Plaguemaw’s corpse.

Plaguemaw defeated

Plaguemaw defeated

Now we were done with the left hand side. We got a slightly late start, but it was still only 10:45pm. So we decided to take the right path, if only to see if we got one of the rare spawns for once.

We had a problem with that first fight on the right, the one with the five elites. Skronk has a general policy of not putting up the skull raid icon, which denotes the main target, until we are ready to go. He slipped this time and put the skull up first while we were still sizing up the battle. Suddenly a frost bolt shot out from our team and struck the targeted mob. The fight was on!

It was actually a fun fight. There was a bit of panic as we tried to keep all five elites under control. I let the side down a bit initially. Having played a rogue in all of our instance play so far, I was used to being satisfied holding one mob, since more would usually do me in. A bit into the battle I realized that I ought to be holding some more aggro, so I went chasing the other mobs around. I was too late though. Ula went down and so did Bung. But after that we got things under control and dispatched the last of the bad guys.

Fortunately the penalty for death is so light in WoW. I’ve been in other games where such noobishness on my part would have gotten me screamed at. In our case though, everybody was revived, healed, and off we went.

We got to The Glutton, who again was wandering our way when we arrived in his area. He was a quick fight, but only gave up the Glutton’s Cleaver as a drop.

On we went.

We got to where Ragglesnout, the rare spawn should be. He wasn’t there.

Well, that did not leave us too far from the main boss. Just another 10 fights, give or take. So on we pressed. Up and around the spiral until we once again reached the top.

Amnennar the Coldbringer stood before us.

Another fight we were ready for. We knew about his spectral summoning now. We also knew that the specters would fade as soon as Amnennar was slain. In we rushed! All of us focused and unloaded on the Lich Amnennar. The fight, for a boss fight, was short and violent. He went down, his summoned help faded, and we stood again victorious at the pinnacle.

But Amnennar had a last laugh on us. His drop was the Coldrage Dagger. A perfect weapon for Blintz. But Blintz was not there. Nobody wanted the dagger, and we could not even disenchant it, since that is another of Blintz’s talents, so we rolled to see who got to sell it to the vendor. Ula won that.

And so we were done, all the Razorfen Downs quests seen to their end. Vikund did get to turn in “Bring the Light,” which netted him a nice sword upgrade, the Vanquisher’s Sword.

Having a paladin along changed the group dynamic a bit. While we lost a single damage dealer, we gained some healing, a back-up resser, and a nice damage shield aura that ended up being nearly 10% of Earl’s damage inflicted. Since there are plenty of undead in RFD, the paladin’s usual bane of “no ranged attack” was mitigated.

And so we look towards the Badlands and Uldaman for our next instance adventure.

Massive Magazine Issue #2

I received Issue #2 of Massive Magazine in the mail on Friday and had some time during the weekend to pour over it.

The lead-in column from Editor-in-chief Steve Bauman was interesting because it addressed at least one of my problems with issue #1; MMO News.  He said that with all the other, more immediate venues for MMO news, they want to concentrate on “other entertaining parts of gaming.”  So issue #2 moves in a somewhat different direction than #1.  For example, there is no up front news section.  Massive plunges straight into the features.

The features in issue #2 are:

  • Outland of Sight, Outland of Mind – A look at the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade expansion (during the beta)
  • Pay To Play No More – A wrap up of free-to-play MMOs
  • Big Five Then and Now – A look at what they call the big five initial MMOs, Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, Anarchy Online, and Dark Age of Camelot
  • Kill ‘Em All – A pass through PvP in MMOs
  • I Win EVE – A rehash of the EVE Investment Bank scandle, including an interview with the guy who ran the scam
  • DIY MMOs – A look at player generated MMO content
  • Negative Creeps – A look at the people who make MMO forums unbearable
  • World of What? – A noob experiment where a non-gamer gets sent to play World of Warcraft
  • The List – An huge listing of all of the current, in beta, and in development MMOs.

This issue makes for an interesting read.  If issue #1 was well suited for people who have never played an MMO, issue #2 is targeted at those of us who already play.

While generally a strong outing, some items did grate.  In the “Then and Now” feature, the “Now” part consisted of the diary of somebody loading up these games today and playing them.  They seem to have picked people with no real interest in the games in question, which I guess was a shot at objectivity, but it did not play out well.  The guy who looked at EverQuest for example, came off as openly hostile to the game before he installed it.  Despite being a “Now” perspective, he declined to grab The Serpent’s Spine, going with the old tutorial.  His finale, crowing about how happy he was to uninstall EverQuest in the end and reclaim his hard drive space, came as no surprise.  While worse than the others, it did not stray too far from the overall attitude.

The heavy weight opening issue contributors are all gone, so general industry opinion pieces are lacking this time around.  I wish they had kept some of the initial star-studded columnists from the first issue, if only to add some respected heft to the magazine.

The issue again closes with “The Same Five Questions We Always Ask,” which appears to include a couple of different questions this time around.  My pick for stinker question is gone, so I would have to support that.  Unfortunately, the person to whom they put the questions, Mark Jacobs, co-founder of Mythic and now general manager of EA Mythic, wasn’t nearly as interesting as Rob Pardo was last issue.  Questions do not make the interview I guess.

All in all, not bad, but no great achievement.  For me, the issue was worth it  just for “The List” at the end of the magazine.

Addendum:  I forgot to mention that issue #2 also came with an installation CD for EVE Online, complete with a 14-day free trial key.

Into The Orcish Wastes

Zek, The Orcish Wastes is one of my favorite zones.  It is a great looking zone, it is full of quests, and it has a simple theme: Fight the Orcs.

RAWR!

It is war with the orcs as you can tell from the outpost where you arrive in zone.  There is not a lot of other action aside from this central conflict.  There some small sanctuaries throughout the zone, but for the most part the orcs rule the land.

It is also a great place to play a fae, especially if you have chosen the racial ability “glide.”  (If I haven’t mentioned this already, glide is so much fun you have to choose it.)  There are lots of elevation changes, things to climb, things to drop into, all of which a fae with glide can use to his or her advantage.

So when Blintz got to Zek, I tore into the quests.

There was one strange thing though.  I don’t know if my memory is faulty, but I do not remember the orcs looking the way they look now.  For example, this Tallon Grunt seems rather pink skinned for an orc.  Plus he appears to have stolen the suede high tops and outfit of some rap backup dancer. 

Break it down!

Anyway, jumping into Zek was good experience as well as being fun.  I rolled up a level of experience in a couple of hours!

The Official SOE Podcast #11

Alan “Brenlo” Crosby, Aimee “Ashlanne” Rekoske, and Craig “Grimwell” Dalrymple host this show with Jason “Pex” Ryan reading the news.

Topics

  • News 
  • Back from the Holidays, we’ve missed you Podcast listeners
  • Find Brenlo’s Flickr
  • Yvittis and Mr. Bubble Holiday Podcast
  • VirginWorlds Podcast
  • Welcome to Craig “Grimwell” Dalrymple interview
  • Top 10 MMOs we wanted to see
  • Vanguard Saga of Heroes
  • Interview with Joel Sasaki from the Pirates Constructible Strategy game.
  • EQ Expansion – The Buried Sea
  • Burned Woods Post
  • An exciting in studio Interview with a server Hamster
  • EQII Newest Zone Unrest
  • TV and Movies
  • What are you playing?
  • Julie the Intern interview

The show is available on iTunes as well as from the official SOE podcast site.

The show was recorded on January 17th and runs in just under one hour and twelve minutes.

SOE Podcast Planning Board

On the Station.com site, Aimee “Ashlanne” Rekoske has been posting regular “Candid SOE Monday” pictures in the SOE Crossroads forum.

This week the shot featured the bulletin board on which they plot out the SOE podcast.  If you visit it here, you can see what they have lined up for show 11 (already recorded according to Ashlanne) and show 12.

You can tell that I have been poking around the Station.com forums.  I went in search of the next SOE podcast, which is how we got to the definition of Soon(tm).