Monthly Archives: July 2007

Fizert.com is Ripping Off My Content

Somebody has set up an RSS feed and is taking all of the content from this site, https://tagn.wordpress.com, and is re-running it on their own site.

I assume this is some scam to drive traffic for ad revenue.

The site even has the nerve to declare the content “copyright 2007” as though it was theirs.

I’ve seen this happen to other sites.  Now how do I put a stop to it?

July in Review

The Site

Not an exciting month I suppose.  I did spend a week away on vacation and still managed to have a post for each of those days by writing up a series of small pieces in advance.

But is summer when even a dedicated gamer like myself begins to feel a little gaming malaise.  With rare exceptions, I do not do play games during beta (I have a whole post lurking around why, and I’ll finish it some day, I swear), so distractions have been scarce.  To escape from the summer heat of Norrath and Middle-earth, I have spent some time in the cold, hard vaccum of space.

New Linking Sites

Most Viewed Posts In July

  1. Rejected Arasai Character Model
  2. SOE & Star Trek Online
  3. Five Minor LOTRO Gripes
  4. No Enterprise for You!
  5. Game Update 37 and Scarcity
  6. Rise of Kunark Economic Outlook
  7. EQuinox and Rise of Kunark Beta
  8. Revelations Tutorial – Part II
  9. The Field of MMO Crafting Gripes
  10. EVE Online – The Tutorial

Best Search Terms of the Month

2ND HAND Vintage Gaming MARKET IS DEAD

[He seems rather certain in his search terms]

“text games” stalag

[I have no idea what this means.  A “Hogan’s Heroes” text adventure?]

Best Spam Comment Title

free homemade porn

[That just makes me go “eeeew!”]

EVE Online

In terms of play time, this is probably where I have been for most of the month of July.  I went back with CCP’s offer of five days for free, then re-upped for another month at $9.95.  And then, after I started that, I went off and created a new 14-Day trial account in order to go through the new Revelations tutorials.

As I play, I am building up a short wish list of things I would like to see in EVE, which will no doubt end up as a posting here at some future date.

EverQuest II

Blintz, my currently anointed “main” sat idle for most of the month.  He has hit a plateau where most of the quests in his book are either heroic or just a bit beyond his capabilities.  After all of the possible quests paths leading up to his level, the narrowing of zone focus means I cannot just run off and do something else for exp if I tire or a given area.  And Gaff isn’t around.  I cannot get him to come out and just grind a level of exp once in a while when the quests grow stale.

So I continue to play a bit with my wood elf ranger, Selirus, who is now up to level 39.

I have been doing some crafting.  I have gotten in the habit of making some T7 arrows and drink every night, a habit that is reinforced by the sound of jingling gold pieces as I sell out those very same crafted items nearly every week.  I am a dwarf at heart, lured by both the sound of battle and the sound of coins.

Speaking of coins, Game Update 37 downloaded to my machine this morning, so I will spend some time this weekend working out how to best use my expanded selling ability.

Fan Faire is this week.  There are supposed to be some announcements.  I hope the new Station Launcher is one of them.

And SOE still hasn’t gotten back on my support ticket regarding sales tax charged for my copy of EQuinox.  I am going to have to call ActionLine or something about my $1.07!

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising

Since I am not that interested in it at the moment, the lack of a “hook” like Station Access means that I am unlikely end up buying it unless some of my core group of gaming friends has to go play it.  I only mention this because I found the “no Station Access” information this month.

Lord of the Rings Online

Real life was in the way some for most of the Saturday Night Instance Society during July, so we really did not get out there and do much in Middle Earth.  We had our big Defeat at the Great Barrow, but other than that we have just been pottering along doing a few quests.

And rumor has it that one of the people I know has fled Middle-earth for Azeroth again.  I have removed the link to his blog from the blogroll in protest! (And because he hasn’t posted in ages.)  That will show him.

Wii

Played some, but GameFly has been thwarting my game play desires by shipping me stuff from way down at the bottom of my queue.  I still have a half a dozen topics started about the Wii.  I just have to buckle down and finish them.

Podcasts

Hey, I was on Shut Up We’re Talking #4. Actually, the 2.5 hours that Brent, Darren, and I spent talking on Skype to record the show was a lot of fun in and of itself.  That a podcast came out of it seems to me to be something of a bonus!

Upcoming

You can bet there will be more EVE Online coverage.  I have at least one more post on the Revelations tutorial, observations on being back in the game, and some hopes and dreams for the game.

Meme: Rejected

There is another meme running around, a “Blogging Tips” meme, and I have been tagged by MMOre Insight for this one. While I appreciate the thought (the only thing worse than being talked about and such), I am going to decline to participate.

Why?

Well, it is not because of any meme hate.  I generally participate when I get tagged and do my own tagging as well.  Memes can be fun and interesting, as you get to compare how different people respond to the same question. 

This meme, however, is not interesting to me at all.  It is a link Ponzi Scheme.  The “winners,” if there is such a thing as “winning” on the web, will be those at the top of the list, with the creator of this meme reaping the most links.

Then there is the creator.  Well, I won’t link the site, but I went to check on it before I rejected this meme.

While the site says it is about “helping bloggers,” it is riddled with ads, with the offer “Get Reviewed By This Blog For $60” at the top.  I am sure there would be no question of integrity with a “for pay” review.

While I have no problem with anybody’s attempt to make money with their own site, you can count me out when it comes to the crass usage of a meme to further your own revenue.  This is nothing more than meme spam created by somebody looking to make a buck off the work of other bloggers.

My blogging tip: Write the blog you want to read. 

The blog I want to read doesn’t indulge in links for links sake.

Revelations Tutorial – Part II

I thought I chose the right agent to continue the tutorial, but I am beginning to suspect I chose the wrong one, though a lucky wrong choice it was. Abishi Tian at the School of Applied Knowledge in Todaki VI gave me some decent missions that showed me a few things I had not yet done in EVE.  They were all part of a quest chain called “Mountains out of Molehills.”

Mission #1 had me mine ore and deliver it to Abishi.  The was a bit of a hook here as the mission requires more ore to be delivered that a wee Ibis can carry, so an alert comes up cautioning you against accepting the mission.  Of course, there is nothing in the mission briefing that says you cannot make multiple trips.  That is how I accomplished it.  But that might scare a new player away from the whole quest chain. The payout was a 75mm Gatling cannon, plus one load of ammo for timely delivery

Mission #2 had me mine more ore, process it this time, and deliver it, to the tune of seven thousand units of tritanium.  That was easy enough.  Again, multiple trips were required.  The reward was a 5 use blueprint for a civilian afterburner along with 67,000 ISK for finishing the mission within a given time frame.

In Mission #3 I was asked to make 2 civilian afterburners.  Actually using blueprints to create an item is something that I had never actually done in EVE.  It turned out to be relatively easy, as no doubt it should be for a civilian module.  I had excess tritanium from the previous mission, more than enough for the task, so it was a matter of doing two runs of the blueprints and checking in with Abishi. The reward was a civilian code breaker module and 27,000 ISK for speedy delivery.

Mission #4 followed the pattern of the previous one.  I now had to take the item I had just been given, the civilian code breaker in this case, and use it for the next mission.  This time I had to get a data chip out of some wreckage, which was easy enough.  Upon return I was given a single use perpetual motion blueprint and 20,000 ISK for my timely return.

Mission #5 sent bade me use the data modules obtain along with the blueprint and, via invention, make a level II blueprint.  Unfortunately, Todaki VI has no science and industry stations for invention.  I ended up going to Kakalea VI, Moon 5 and the Lai Dai corporation factory to do invention.  Perhaps being able to find a place to do invention was part of the lesson.  Once done, you then have to take the Perpetual motion II blueprint, make the item, and deliver it.  I would suggest heading back to Todaki VI to make the item, as it end up being 100 cubic meters, which means if you have much of anything else in your little frigate cargo bay, it won’t fit and you’ll have to leave something behind.  The reward for this was a Bantam frigate with two Miner I units for early finish! Score!  A new ship is pretty cool, although it means buying insurance and such.

Mission #6 sent me to kill pirates in Kakalea.  This was the sort of mission I was used to in the past.  The reward was the skill Cybernetics I, needed for implants, which you tend to get from your story line missions, and 50,000 ISK for prompt dispatch of the pirates.

Mission #7 was a package delivery, 15 units of miniature electronics, to the Jouvulen system, 5 jumps away.  A single run Caldari Shuttle blueprint was the reward, along with 18,000 ISK for finishing in the bonus time frame.

Mission #8, as you might guess, required me to make a Caldari Shuttle.  Easy enough again.  It only requires tritanium as a raw material, so I was all set.  The reward for this was a Limited Memory Augmentation, a +1 memory slot 2 implant, and 15,000 ISK as a bonus for quick turn around.

Mission #9 sent me out to pick up and return Abishi’s rogue production assistant, around whom much of the story of these sequence was based.  To do this I had to warp to a specific location and begin mining some special asteroids.  That drew the attention of the pirates, who then attacked and were defeated.  Among the debris was the production assistant.  Now this was an agonizing mission in one way.  The asteroids were all Kernite.  I do not know much about mining, but I seem to recall that the value of an asteroid is related to the position of the first letter of its name in the alphabet.  The closer to A, the more valuable the ore you get, or something like that.  Anyway, I had never seen something mid-alphabet before.  So I bookmarked the location, intending to head on back after the mission was over.  However, it appears that you can only get to these asteroids while on this mission, so I spent some fruitless time searching around for them again.  I did not even get enough Kernite to process it, so I do not know if it measures up the alphabet theory.  The mission reward was a five run copy of Bantam frigate blueprint along with 24,000 ISK.  I bet you can guess what mission #10 is going to have me make!

Mission #10, as expected, required me to make a Bantam frigate.  This actually required a bit of planning, as a Bantam requires more than just tritanium to put together.  You need a lot of a couple of things and a little bit of a few more ingredients.  I began thrashing around online looking for what I would have to mine in order to get my hands on all of the raw materials I would need.  That got me a little down.  Then I realize that, with small quantities, I could probably buy them cheaply enough.  And, sure enough, within a couple of jumps of Todaki, I was able to find all I needed and what appeared to be low prices for the region.  And so I built a Bantam and turned it in.  The rewards were a limited cybernetic subprocessor, a slot 4 +1 intelligence augmentation, plus 92,000 ISK for completion within the bonus timeframe, which was 2 months and 1 day.  I suppose I could have gone out and mined all the raws and made it in time for the bonus.  But now I was done.

Then I noticed the other agent available to me in the station, Vari Satilela, was also a training agent.  She gave me two missions, a pirate hunting task and a delivery, then pointed me to another agent at Jouvulen III, which houses the Science and Trade Institute School.  There an agent named Ochishi Veilai started me down the path of another 10 segment story line called “Balancing the Books.”  Appropriate for somebody in the trade end of things I suppose.  But those missions are for another post.

And, despite the title of this post, I have not actually gone back to Aura and the direct tutorials.  I have just been running the tutorial missions.

Saturday with Red 5

Despite having a new game to play, in addition to the old reliables, I spent very little of my free time on Saturday on the computer.

My wife was off at a trade show and my daughter and I were on our own.

The weather was nice and the Simpsons were in the theater, but my daughter has a summer cold, so we stayed home.  We couldn’t have any real friends over, so we found some plastic ones instead.

We played with LEGO most of Saturday.

We kicked off the day by opening up my new LEGO set, the X-Wing Fighter (kit 6212).

In fact, my daughter was so excited about this kit that I had to open it up and start assembly at the kitchen table while I was eating breakfast.

First things first of course.  We had to get out the mini figures so she could play with those while I worked on assembling the X-Wing.  This kit comes with Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Wedge Antilles, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca.

Here they are in and around the assembled X-Wing.

6212minifigs2.jpg

Assembling the X-Wing was not too difficult.  It did take a while, but the instructions were pretty well laid out, even for LEGO instructions.  Unlike the instructions in some of the other sets, the X-Wing instructions showed which pieces were used with each step and was pretty good at showing where they went.  Some other sets, like The Krusty Krab kit, make you play “guess what changed” on nearly every page.

This may have been the most intricate LEGO model I have ever assembled.  There is a worm-gear mechanism inside the hull of the ship that is driven by a knob on the back which moves the wings of the fighter so that you can have the wings in the “X” attack position, or in the cruise/landing position.  It reminds me very much of an F-14 Tomcat model I made when I was a kid.

Here is the fully assembled X-Wing.  Catwoman is lurking in the background, no doubt planning to steal this technological marvel.

LEGO X-Wing and Crew

LEGO X-Wing and Crew

Of course, getting the X-Wing assembled lead to a day of LEGO play and repair.  Unfortunately, the X-Wing is a bit fragile, like so many intricate LEGO models, so I spent some of the day re-attaching engines, landing gear, and cockpit accomidations.   Still, in the hands of a five year old, it held up pretty well.

Generation Gap Warning: My daughter kept referring to Princess Leia as Queen Amidala, Padme being more well known to her that Leia.

And this day of LEGO play culminated in my daughter and I watching “Star Wars: Episode IV,” during which we acted out as many of the scenes as we could with the mini figures and the X-Wing.

It was a fun day.

And at the end of the day, after the movie and when she was getting ready for bed, my daughter announced that we really had to get more Star Wars LEGO kits because we did not have enough characters or props to act out all of the scenes in the movie.

My wife groaned.

I grinned.

I will have to see what they have up on eBay.  I am not going to buy that LEGO Death Star or the new Millenium Falcon kit, but a couple of the smaller kits would be fine.

So the X-Wing has joined the rest of our LEGO kits, which includes three of the SpongeBob SquarePants kits and the one of the Avatar kits.  My daughter seems to be primed for LEGO Universe when it shows up.

Voice Software Poll Results

Why hold a poll unless you’re going to get a results post out of it?

At some point after I posted this poll I made the mental decision to let it run for a month, then go back and look at the results.  Then at the exact one month point I was away on vacation, so I let it slide a few extra days.

Anyway, the results to the question:

What is the PRIMARY voice application you use with gaming?

Total responses – 46

1. Vetrilo – 21

The number one response, and the one that actually generated a couple of comments, is the one on the list I have actually used the least.  My guilds, clans, and whatnot have always gone with TeamSpeak.  I have actually only used Ventrilo once for any length of time, during a six hour drag through Nektropos Castle back when I was in the guild “The Elite” for about a week. (Gaff’s fault, go ask him.)  Sound quality was fine, but I tend to associate it with that night, and that was a bad night.

2. TeamSpeak – 11

This is what I used to use all the time, and an old reliable package it is.  Comments about Ventrilo say that its sound quality exceeds TeamSpeak.  Having run a TeamSpeak server, I tend to believe any quality difference people my notice is due to configuration.  TeamSpeak defaults to some very low quality codecs, and unless you know to change them, your voice chats can sound pretty bad.  My major problem with TeamSpeak has been trying to get it to work with a USB headset. 

3. Skype – 6

This is what I tend to use these days.  Decent sound quality and the price is right.  I actually cancelled our second telephone line at home and use Skype for a lot of my work calls now.  It is not practical for larger groups, as the cap on the size of conferences is pretty low, but for the small group experience, it works great.  All of our World or Warcraft instance runs were done communicating over Skype.  The odd coincidence: WoW groups and Skype conferences are both limited to 5 people.

4. I never use voice – 6

No comments about why people do not use voice. 

5. Roger Wilco – 0

I am not surprised that this got no votes.  A group of us actually used this for a while back when the original Delta Force came out.  Ancient history in gaming terms.  It worked for the most part back then.  I was surprised to see that it is still around.

6. Other – 0

I am a bit surprised that I seem to have captured all possible alternatives, even for the very small, self-selecting sample that my readership represents.  I expected somebody to say, “EVE Voice all the way, baby!”

So there are the results.  Now that more and more games are adding in voice as part of their standard features, I wonder if the results would be different in a year.  I did not think voice in DDO or even LOTRO would tip the scale this time around, but having it available in WoW, EVE, and some of the upcoming titles may very well change what application people choose for voice chat in-game in the future.

Of course, I imagine there will always be a place for the likes of these external applications.  They usually stay up if the game you are playing crashes. I usually run Skype on my laptop while I play so if my machine goes down I still have communication.

These also allow you to have a general chat area, so your guild can keep in communication without having to all be grouped together. Of course, if you have ever had a senior guild/clan office kibitzing on your channel while you’re in a tight situation, you might welcome a lack of communication beyond your group!

Revelations Tutorial – Part I

As part of the Revelations expansion content, CCP has implemented a new in-game tutorial for EVE Online.

Since I wrote about my experiences in the previous EVE Online tutorial back in September 2006, I thought I would give the new version a try.

To do this I created a new, 14 Day trial account.  I did not want to do anything that might mess up the training plan for my main character… my only character, actually, the whole “only one character can be training at a time per account” thing putting the kibosh on my usual alt-itis.  And I was also reading something about effective 2-boxing in EVE Online and well… you know… if I get to that, I’ll let you know.

Anyway, I went Caldari again, choosing the Achura blood line this time with business as my career, Stargazers as my ancestry, and Entrepreneur as a specialization.  The effects of all of thse choices were explained during character creation.  Of course, I promptly forgot the details.  All I know is that if I end up playing this guy, he’ll be Mr. Trade and Industry.

Good News First

The tutorial is now much more straight forward initially.  You start in space, in your Ibis, and in a very short time you are blowing things up.  Aura, the tutorial guide, shows you some very basic ship controls, then tells you to lock onto a target and blow it up.  Booyah!

Gone is the warning that you should set aside three hours to go through the entire tutorial.  And a good thing too.  Instead, the tutorial is broken up into sections, and the initial segment with most of the very basic information can be run through comfortably in 30 minutes or less.

You are also alone in an instanced star system while doing the tutorial.  This solves the dreaded “missing pirates” problem that I experienced the first time around.  It also solves the problem of a couple dozen Ibis frigates flailing around together in Kisigo.  Space is all your own.  You can kill your targets, look through their wrecks, mine your ore, run your first missions, and generally figure out what is going on in peace.

Of course, I’ve played even to… well… at least the advanced noob level, so I wasn’t as likely to get caught up in real issues.  Still, I did learn a few things running through the tutorial, though it is hard to tell which of them were things I forgot over the last six months and which were part of the Revelations upgrade.

I finished up the basic tutorial with a knowledge of basic ship functions, basic navigation operations, and basic station activities.  There were advanced topics to cover in the tutorial, but it happened to be dinner time, so I left the tutorial at the end of the basic step.

All in all, a nice introduction to the game.  There were, however, some small issues.

Lock On!

One of the first things you get to do is shoot up a hostile ship.  And the first thing that Aura tells you to do is “lock on” to the target.

targetdistance.png

Unfortunately, unless you happened to wander pretty far from your starting point in the direction of your target, you will not be able to “lock on” as you will be well outside of the targeting range of your Ibis frigate.

Now, of course, I knew enough to approach the ship and wait until “lock on” was available, but somebody completely new to the game might not figure out why they do not see the command.

Warp Or Jump Nitpick

As you progress through the tutorial, you get to an agent who sends you to another star system to deliver a package. (Your first FedEx run!)

When you finish your jump to the destination system (Malkalen), you get the following message:

warpthenwarp.png

This confused me a little bit.  I thought warping, and the warp drive, was something you used inside a system and that jumping, via the jump gate, was the proper term for travel between systems.  Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but it would be nice to get terminology right for new players.

Echoes of Aura

This one is an annoyance more than anything, but it could lead to confusion if somebody isn’t paying attention.  Every time you make a transition in game that loads you into a new area, such as when you dock with a station, leave a station, or jump to a new star system, Aura repeats the last set of instructions.

Unfortunately, the last set of instructions are always to dock with a station, leave a station, or jump to a new star system, so Aura is always telling you to do what you have just done.  While somebody is unlikely to get confused about being told to dock again, when you have spent the time to warp, maneuver, then jump to a new star system, you might mistake the repeated instruction for a new one and try to jump again.

Next Agent Please

When I finished up the first stage of the tutorial, Aura told me that the current agent, Insen Bara at Amsen IV, Moon 1 – Science and Trade Institute School, would direct me to another agent.  However, when I came back to the game after dinner, Insen Bara told me that I had to finish the tutorial before he would send me to the next agent.

I tried doing the last steps of the basic tutorial, but Insen would not budge.  Then I ran through the rest of the tutorials, albeit at lightning speed, but this did not change Insen’s mind.

In the end, I got fed up.  I could not get Insen to direct me to the next agent.  So I flew off to my first destination in “real” space, the School of Applied Knowledge at Todaki VI, Moon 1.  I wanted to buy a couple of the learning skills.

When I got there, I found two agents available to me there, one of which was Abishi Tian who, it appears, is the agent to whom Insen Bara should have directed me.  Lucky me!

Abishi has a series of 10 introductory missions which I have not yet completed.  Going through those will be the Part II portion of this post.

Conclusion

The new tutorial is, in my opinion, certainly much improved over the previous one.  It managed to avoid the hiccups I encountered previously while only adding a couple of new ones.

I am concerned about the issue of being unable to get Insen Bara to direct me to the next agent.  It is quite likely that I messed up the tutorial somehow and caused the situation, but I do not know how I did it and I could not figure out how to get past it.  Only luck let me end up finding the right agent on my own.