Monthly Archives: January 2008

January in Review

The Site

I wrote a bunch of nonsense over the course of the month, nothing out of the ordinary in that, but this month a bit of it caught on elsewhere.

First, my “MMORPG Progdictionations” got quite a few page views, some from forum links where things I predicted were being discussed rather seriously. I guess they missed the Humor tag on that post.

Then I got back on the “Why So Much Fantasy” treadmill and tried to figure out in narrative form what factors lead to the success of fantasy MMORPGs and how strong those same factors are in the realm of science fiction. Optimistically titled, “Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?” it got the most reactions ever for something I have written.

Potshot wrote “No Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG

Tipa created the premise for a scifi MMORPG with, “MMO Sciene Fiction Outline #1 – “Book of Days”

Lemegeton responded to mine and other posts with “SciFi and Heroes

Troll on Fire enthusiastically misinterpreted my point with “Bring on the Andromeda Galaxy?”

Gooney gave me my first GAXonline link back with “The Western Sci-Fi Phenomena

And I was linked on Massively in “Sci-fi MMO, you’re my only hope… ” which lead to the post “Why Fantasy, and not Science Fiction, Part Eleventy-Billion

So if the measure of success if how many blog posts come up in reply to your own post, this was my best post ever!

One Year Ago

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my swashbuckler in EQ2 was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded, but when the game actually launched, I declined to buy the box.

And, finally, Blizzard launched the Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that usually accompany an expansion, though I couldn’t figure out why I was bothering to buy a copy.

New Linking Sites

A big thanks to these sites who link to TAGN. I encourage you to give them a visit in return.

Again, if your site does link here and I have not mentioned it in the past, feel free to drop me a note, as it is getting harder and harder each month to find sites! (And I’m still lazy.)

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  2. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  3. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  6. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  7. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  8. A Tech II Blueprint At Last!
  9. Saturday with Red 5
  10. Revelations Tutorial – Part III
  11. EVE, ISK, and RMT
  12. Pokemon – Battle Revolution

Best Search Terms

gnoll sex
[We’re still not that kind of site]

“you don’t say” “who was it?” “he didn’t
[Spike Jones references FTW!]

“Julie Whitefeather”
[Never even mentioned once on this site. She is on VirginWorlds.]

when is pokemon on?
[Please use TVGuide.com]

EVE Online

I have not been spending a lot of time in EVE lately. Now that I know the corp that preys on mission runners in the low sec systems near me, I have stopped running missions if they are on. And, since they seem to be on a lot, I might have run two level 3 missions in the last month. Losing a barely equipped battle cruiser was annoying. Losing my fully equipped and rigged (for missions) Drake would be a deal killer. Those with the most free time win again.

So I have been training, playing the market, and hauling trash. While I have a reasonable nest egg left over from mining, I have not found anything really lucrative on the market into which to invest, so I piddle along selling light and heavy missiles and hybrid charges.

EverQuest

EverQuest Nostalgia Tour 2007 Edition is now officially over. Results to follow.

EverQuest II

Since I secured the eleven snow globes of Frostfell, I have not been playing very often in Norrath, much to Gaff’s annoyance. He is back on a big EQ2 binge while I barely log on. Blintz, my main, is still sitting at level 62, waiting for me to return.

Lord of the Rings Online

I got my founder’s level 25 horse. Oh, and they fixed the crash problem I was having. I didn’t actually play more than an hour, but at least I have that option again, now with faster transport.

Pirates of the Burning Sea

I have been playing Pirates for four weeks nows and I have not written very much about it. That will be rectified with tomorrow’s post.

World of Warcraft

Azeroth has been my #1 location for the month of January. In addition to the instance group I have been running my hunter up levels in hopes of getting him to the Outlands. He is 56 now. I want to explore the new (year old) content, but Vikund has to stay close to the group in level, so I cannot go too nuts with him. Even so, Vik was close enough to level after the Scholomance run that I just ground him up to level 62 so he could get some new skills. He is now tied with Blintz in EQ2 as my highest level MMORPG charater ever.

Wii

A few new Wii games showed up at our house over the holidays. I have not had time to write about even one of them. I will try to change that soon, though with a sprained ankle, I have had to give Dance Dance Revolution a rest!

Upcoming

February will be a busy month. We have end of fiscal year at the office, with all of the associated planning and budgeting tasks, plus I will be on vacation for a week, so it will be a light month for posts. I won’t be able to keep up the current pace, but I won’t let myself disappear either.

One big thing coming up next month is GDC in San Francisco. I picked up an EXPO Pass again this year and will be up there Thursday and Friday, stalking Brent, Brenden, Darren, and whoever else I can find. If you are going to be up there, let me know.

Scholomance – Round 3 – Epic Win

It was Saturday night, we were ready for our last run into Scholomance, Blizzard wasn’t experiencing any problems, and we were all ready to go. Out goals for the night, slay Kirtonos the Herald and finish up the paladin epic mount quets. The line up:

60 Warrior – Earlthecat
61 Warlock – Bungholio
61 Mage – Ula
61 Paladin – Vikund
61 Priest – Skronk

Before we went in I had to abandon the quest “Judgement and Redemption,” the last stage of the paladin epic mount quest. It appears if you fail the last battle, as we did on our first try, you have to do this to reset yourself for the battle. Unfortunately, I flew out the the Western Plaguelands before we figured this out, so I had to recall Vikund back to Stormwind, abandon the quest, then accept it again from the quest giver, Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker.

That out of the way, we got ourselves out to Scholomance.

We got in and did not have to fight our way through too many rooms before we got to Kirtonos’ side chamber. We all had the “blood of innocents,” the item that let’s you summon Kirtonos, so Earl ran in and when everybody said they were ready, he used the blood to summon.

kirtonoscomes.png

That is when we found out about a twist to the whole encounter.

At the entrance to the chamber where you summon Kirtonos is a portcullis. When Kirtonos shows up, the portcullis comes down, cutting the room off from the rest of the instance. Anybody on the wrong side of it is out of the fight completely.

Most of us were in the room when the portcullis went down, but Skronk happened to be just outside, so he could not participate in the battle at all, not with damage nor with healing.

Paladin healing powers to the rescue.

It was a tough fight without Skronk in there healing, especially since Vikund is spec’d protection, so is more geared to being a backup or off tank than a healer. But we managed it, though I did have to use Vik’s lay hands to finish up the fight.

While Kirtonos only dropped the Clutch of Andros, which nobody wanted except as vendor trash, the quest to kill Kirtonos yielded the Spectral Essence, a very important item to Skronk. The Essence lets you see the ghosts in Caer Darrow, the town around Scholomance. Several of them are vendors, and one of them sells the recipe for the major mana potion recipe, something that otherwise only drops once in a while from Darkmaster Gandling in Scholomance itself.

Skronk, being our alchemist, wanted that recipe, naturally enough. And now he had they key.

That out of the way, and our mana potion needs secured for the near future, we worked our way on to the Great Ossuary and Rattlegore. We needed to clear him out of the way to start the final dance for the epic mount quest.

Here we fumbled again, but just a bit.

Earl, who did an awesome job with pulls the first two times we faced Rattlegore, mis-timed a pulling shot and we ended up getting the big guy and two minions when we were not expecting it. Even the finest artist errs once in a while.

That ended up as a wipe, but there was only a few minutes left on the soul stone, so once Skronk used it we were able to buff up again, get ourselves set, summon a new soul stone, and finish the clearing operation.

This time around we took care of everybody and had the Great Ossuary to ourselves.

Then it was time to figure out how in the heck we were going to handle the battle fiesta that you must go through to get the paladin epic mount.

Skronk and I each pulled up a couple of sites that described the fight. I seemed to get a pair of sites that recommended doing the fight with five paladins. Since we were four paladins short, the tactics were not completely helpful, but both sites described what we were to face.

And one site told us to stand in the northeast corner of the room.

So we gathered there, then I ran out, planted the Divination Scryer, which summons all the bad guys, then stood back and waited.

This time, coordinated and concentrated in one corner of the room, we were able to do a pretty decent job of handling the spawns. There were a couple of panics when things spawned right on top of the casters while the tanks were arrayed out in front, but otherwise things went pretty smoothly.

Off in the corner, we found we could rest, eat, and drink between battles as long as the spirits were on the other side of the room.

The only time we had to leave the corner was with the fourth wave, the shadow spirits, as they were casters and seemed to be able to target us in our corner while our casters could not get line of sight on them.

Once the main guy, the aspect of shadows was down, the Dark Knight Darkreaver, Lord of the Redundant, showed up and the last battle was on. to give a time check on how long this all took, about three quarters of the way into the battle, the soul stone expired again (30 minute timer on them) so it was not an epic effort, but it was a decent series of battles.

The Dark Knight’s main tactic is to mind control a party member and send him after the rest of the group. He chose me over and over, but it did not do him much good. Earl and I had advanced to the center of the room to engage him while the casters stayed in the corner. Every time I was charmed, he would run me at the casters, but by the time I would get to them, the charm would wear off and I would run back.

I got a lot of exercise, but did not do a lot of harm to my own side.

Finally, the Dark Knight went down and the spirit horse appeared.

I tried to talk to the horse.

I was missing something and could not complete the quest.

I looked around, looted the Dark Knight’s corpse, got the charger’s redeemed soul.

I tried to talk to the horse.

I was missing something and could not complete the quest. Plus it was starting to look like a routine from “Mr. Ed.”

I found that the charger’s redeemed soul was not, in fact, the charger’s redeemed soul, but rather a claim ticket for said soul, which I had to click on to use.

I tried to talk to the horse.

This time I was able to complete the quest. The epic mount was mine along with nearly 15K experience.

Meanwhile, Skronk discovered that the Divination Scryer was a key to maintaining his churlish figure.

skronkmuumuu.png

Is that dwarf wearing a robe or a muumuu?

At that point it was not too late, so we decided to head down and off the remaining faculty, ending with Darkmaster Gandling.

Once complete, we would be done with Scholomance, having slain most of the bosses as well as the end boss.

This involved the usual clearing and slaying, and finally we hit Gandling, a fight which was only notable because his in-fight trick is to teleport party members away during the fight. You end up in the rooms of the other faculty members, which can be awkward if you haven’t bothered to kill them first. We had and we prevailed in the end.

Here we are in victory. Vikund is still suffering from a shrinkage curse he got during the battle, so is a bit undersized:

gandlingvictory.png

Gandling did not drop the mana potion recipe, so it was a good thing we had other options, but he did drop the Dreadmist Mask, which went to Bung, being quite the warlock style item. Warlock chic:

bungdreadmistmask.png

We then prepared to head out. Unfortunately, the instance behind us had respawned. We did not want to stone or portal out, as we had a quest to turn in outside the instance.

So we tried to sprint out.

That worked out about as well as it usually does, and we all died before we got fifty feet.

Fortunately, the graveyard is close to Scholomance, so we ran back to the instance, revived the headed back out.

We turned in the quest. Skronk was able to buy the major mana potion recipe. Earl hit level 61. And we all lined up on our epic mounts for a group shot.

epicmounts.png

The magnificent seven, minus two.

Now we have to decide what to hit next.

The call of the Outlands is pretty strong, especially since we have already dipped our toes in for some of the gear updates.

On the other hand, there is a little bit left undone in the old world.

While we have done Dire Maul West, which is the end of that set of instances, there are two more wings we have not seen.

And then there is Blackrock Spire, which we have not touched yet, and for which we all have a load of quests. And those quests are bound to be good, at least in experience, since they boosted the yields for all the old zones.

You will have to tune in next time to see what we decide to do.

I Want to be a Fanboy!

I have the curse of the cynic.

In my life I have sat through pep rallies, sporting events, concerts, company team-building exercises, prayer meetings, and multi-level marketing seminars with groups of people who have been shouting, cheering, and immersed to the point of being practically overcome by what has been going on.

And there I am, somewhere in the middle, mildly detached from things, wondering in the back of my mind if whatever I am attending is going to end on time, what traffic is going to be like on the way home, and if I should finish off the rest of that pizza in the fridge before I go to bed or if I should save it for tomorrow.

That’s just me.

It isn’t that I despise this passion I see in others. I am quite envious of it.

And isn’t that I have not had passion for things in life myself. That passion just doesn’t come easily, it certainly does not come on command, and it definitely does not show up for anything that requires me to recruit friends and family into a sales network.

Still, I have hope.

I have something of a passion for online gaming, but no real passion right now for any particular game. I want to find a game that sparks my interest and imagination, one that will make me proudly wear the fanboy badge.

But where will I find this game?

I thought Star Trek Online might be it, but that seems to have fallen flat now. Plus I started off annoyed and opposed to some of the general directions the game was taking, and things just got worse from there.

Lord of the Rings Online had a chance. I love the books and two out of the three movies, but as much as I enjoyed the virtual tour of Middle-earth, I found the game itself tepid, something of interest but not passion.

So I found myself wondering last night about which future games might spark some passion in me?

Well, there are the usual suspects.

Age of ConanRobert E. Howard‘s works always left me a bit flat and the whole “M for Mature” thing is lost on me, seeming to be more of a bit of titillation intended to bring in younger gamers rather than keep them away. In the end, I could never really identify with Conan, and now the actor primarily associated with him is the governor of my state, further muddying the mental waters for me.

Warhammer Online – I didn’t like the table top game and, frankly, I dismissed World of Warcraft at first because it looked too much like Warhammer, so I start with a bias against on this game. Besides which, Warhammer seems to be camped by the PvP fanboys, all holding out hope for a mainstream PvP success. While I have wished for a true, immersive PvP experience, Warhammer does not look like it will break the PvP curse of “victory to those with the most free time.”

The Agency – Maybe… but maybe not. I am more of a John Le Carre or Len Deighton fan when it comes to the genre. I enjoyed “Sandbaggers” more than most Bond films. And couldn’t SOE have come up with a better name than “United Nations Intelligence and Tactical Experts?” While the game could be a lot of fun, the whole RMT thing might upset the tea cart.

Huxley – Somehow I do not see Webzen Games as a source of gaming passion.

Stargate Worlds – I do not really know the IP, but it is science fiction, and my moaning about the problems facing a science fiction MMO were drawn from my desire to play a good one. Maybe this one?

There are some possibilities, but no shoe-in candidates.

What else is out there? What else is coming? What might ignite some gaming passion?

X-Fire – Joining The Statistics

I like to look at the X-Fire statistics each month, as I have posted in the past, so I thought, as part of my 2008 gaming adventure, I would become part of those statistics.

In addition, I also thought it would be interesting to see my own statistics for the year, to see which game I end up playing the most in 2008.

So I downloaded X-Fire and ran the installer.

I did not even have to create an account once it was installed.

Back in the day I was in a gaming clan that required its members to run X-Fire when online. I even remembered my account name and password nearly four years after I last logged in.

Currently, my gaming stats still show Battlefield 1942 as my most played game. The Desert Combat mod for BF 1942 was the big game for our clan.

After nearly a month of having X-Fire installed, World of Warcraft is my most played game for 2008, followed by Pirates of the Burning Sea. For some reason, X-Fire does not seem to be picking up EVE Online, as I rather suspect that should be in the #2 spot. I will have to fix that.

None of the 35 people on my X-Fire friends list appear to still use X-Fire, or at least their old X-Fire account. I do not know anybody who currently uses X-Fire, so as a buddy list, it is not much use at the moment.

Not long after I had X-Fire installed, I found out the best feature it offers. Forget about statistics, the friends list, or the voice features.

The best thing is that X-Fire downloads the patches for World of Warcraft quickly, efficiently, and automatically.

No more Blizzard downloader for me!

I will see at the end of the year which game I played the most. But between now and then, I will spend less time waiting for WoW to patch.

Good afternoon, Doctor Jones

In another frivolous weekend post, I present Dr. Jones and Dr. Jones.

thejonesboys.png

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in LEGO form!

In a post-holiday splurge, I went and spent my Christmas money (yes, I am in my 40’s and I still get money from my parent’s generation for Christmas) and bought the whole Indiana Jones LEGO set.

And I must say I am impressed.

The two vehicle sets, “Indiana Jones Motorcycle Chase” (set 7620) and “Indiana Jones Race for the Stolen Treasure” (set 7622) are both really nice. The motorcycles and trucks are some of the best I have ever seen in LEGO form.

And even the other two sets, “Indiana Jones and the Lost Tomb” (set 7621) and “Indiana Jones Temple Escape” (set 7623) are very nice. I tend to not like the kits that provide “settings” versus things you can play with in many ways, but these two are pretty good. Plus the plane in the temple escape is very nice.

So that is what my daughter and I did over the last couple of weekends. We built and played with LEGO Indiana Jones.

Hauling Trash

Since my great experiment with production as a means of income in EVE Online, I have let those operations dwindle to almost nothing. Some things, like mining crystals for strip miner IIs, are still worth producing, at least in small numbers, because they do not seem to drop from NPCs.

The market, however, is flooded with ammunition from NPC drops, so if you want to make money in the low end arms market, you are better off buying from the general, mission running public than manufacturing it yourself.

Fortunately, in EVE, this is pretty easy, as long as you have some starter ISK. You open up the market, place a buy order for the item you want, set how far you want that order to extend, and you are set to go.

Of course, there is a downside to such an order, especially if you set the order to extend beyond more than a couple of jumps. Items you buy do not show up in the mail or appear magically in your inventory. No, you have to go pick up the stuff yourself.

You may be surprise at how many systems are within, say, five jumps of your location. Or how many stations there can be in a given system. For example, I had something waiting for me in every station in the Nonni system, which ended up being 22 stations in all. That is a lot of running around just in one system.

And you may also be surprised at how many low security systems end up being within, say, five jumps. I ended up with quite a bit of stuff waiting for me in low security systems. And that got my paranoia going.

Jumping through low security systems does not bother me much. But stopping at stations in low security is a different story, especially since EVE seems to “forget” to dock me about one time in eight. So I am not keen to take my fully fitted and rigged ore hauling Mammoth to low security stations just to pick up 100,000 ISK worth of antimatter charges.

Fortunately, Potshot left a Badger sitting around in the corp storage hanger, so that has become my new trash hauler.

badgertrashhauler.png

I put a pair of warp core stabilizers on it along with a pair of shield extenders, in the hope that those might give me a few extra seconds to get out of trouble, but otherwise I am banking on simply not being worth the effort.

So far it has been working.

It is not as lucrative as mining, where I could make 10 million ISK an hour, nor mission running, but it does have the advantage of being mostly hands off. The buy orders take care of themselves as do the the sell orders, if you have found the right system.

You just have to go move your inventory to that “right” system and you’re set.

Dire Maul West – Round 1

Saturday night found us ready to go finish up Bungholio’s quest for his epic mount in Dire Maul West.

I suppose, technically, we already had a round in Dire Maul West, but a ten minute peek hardly counts. So we got the line up for the night together:

60 Warrior – Earlthecat
61 Warlock – Bungholio
61 Mage – Ula
61 Paladin – Vikund
61 Priest – Skronk

And, then, Blizzard got in the way.

There seems to be something going on every few weeks at 9pm Pacific time (midnight Eastern) on Saturday night. We have had a number of instance nights start off with us unable to log into the game. This night, Earl got dropped and could not get back on for a good 45 minutes.

The rest of us thought we might as well make a start at clearing our way into the zone while Earl waited to get connected.

Unfortunately, I do not tank much as Vikund, and when I do, I am not very good at it. Without a warrior’s taunts, it takes me a while to build up enough aggro so that the casters can let loose.

So we died a lot. Actually, by “we” I mean “the casters” and by “the casters” I mean, primarily, “The mage.”

Poor Ula.

Not that anybody was spared. We managed a full wipe at Tendris Warpwood.

Shortly after that, when annoyance with the inept Paladin was starting to get real, Earl finally managed to get logged on. Then we killed another couple of mobs and hit some undead.

Of course, undead, along with demons, are the mobs I can actually hold aggro with. So Earl showed up just in time to keep me from displaying any competence.

Ah, well, we were glad to have him. There was work to be done. We had to get down into the depths and slay Immol’thar.

Which gave us another opportunity to wipe.

We cleared all the mobs roaming around Immol’thar’s chamber, turned off the last two pylons that hold up the force field surrounding him, and ran in to the attack. Behold Immol’thar!

dmwimmol.png

We even had help.

There are some NPCs in with Immol’thar that will assist you.

Unfortunately, Immol’thar spawns these green eyeballs (as if he does not have enough already) that are non-elite mobs, which fly off and attack the casters. We did not notice them until it was too late. Down we went. You can see the eyeballs, as well as the NPCs, here:

dmwimmeyes.png

With that knowledge and a soul stone, we were able to slay him on the second try. Skronk was in charge of catching eye spawns that got away while I laid down a consecrate every so often to keep them focused on me. We won.

dmwimmoltharvictory.png

At that point we had to do a special ritual in Immol’thar’s chamber to summon the horse that Bung would eventually be able to ride. The ritual seemed awfully… well… pink to me. The mysteries of Warlocks I guess.

dmwritual.png

We managed to wipe on this as well, as wave after wave of imps and death guards, who try to interrupt the whole thing, eventually wore us down and overwhelmed us.

With no soul stone, we had to run back from the entrance. There were a few respawns by that point, but we were able to get back pretty quickly so we could try again.

Only we did not have to try again. We apparently finished the ritual, as everything was ready to summon the horse and rider. We did that, defeated them, and completed that stage of the quest.

And while we were down there, we needed to knock off Prince Tortheldrin for another quest. That meant heading down to the library, killing him, then running around a bit more to finish off the quest. Once done, we took a portal back to Ironforge and got to admire Bung’s new mount.

bungshorse.png

Now Vikund is the only one left without an epic mount. Another Scholomance run is in our future.

Dwarf on a Pony

It is all about horses of late.

In EverQuest II, Blintz, my level 62 swashbuckler fae, has outgrown his Journeyman Boots, so needs a mount.

In World of Warcraft Vikund, my level 61 paladin, still needs to finish the quest to get his epic mount.

And in Lord of the Rings Online… well, there has been a horse waiting for Nomu, my level 28 guardian, since before Christmas, but a problem with the game has kept me from picking it up.

As I mentioned in my last post, since I wouldn’t be sailing any time soon, I thought I would go check to see if Turbine had resolved the video driver issue that was keeping me out of the game

When I brought the application up, there was a patch, a good sign, and I was able to log in and stay in without crashing.

Go Turbine!

So I ran up to the horse fields north of Bree and collected my new mount.

In the Lord of the Rings, dwarves are not much for riding, and Nomu has a suitably uncomfortable expression on his face, but otherwise he seems up to the task.

horseriding.png

He got quite a strong pony too. You can see him here jumping a fence. Not an easy task with a heavily armed and armored dwarf on your back.

horseleap.png

I also like the mounting up animation that happens when you summon your horse or pony. A nice touch.

On the other hand, I am less satisfied with the animals hindquarters. If you are going to design a mount for a MMORPG, you had best make its rear end look good, since that is the part of the mount most people will be staring at during travel.

While the back end on this guy isn’t bad, it is not up to the standard of World of Warcraft mounts or most of the mounts in EverQuest II.

In the end (heh) though, I can now travel through Middle-earth a little bit faster, which is a big deal.