Monthly Archives: January 2008

SOE, A Grace Period Please?

I picked up the pre-order box for Pirates of the Burning Sea, downloaded the client, and have been playing the game since the “Pre-Boarding” party began.

That is pretty much the same story I told when Lord of the Rings Online came out. I bought the pre-order box, played through the pre-release, and then went straight into the game.

Pretty much the same, but not exactly the same.

With Lord of the Rings Online, after the pre-order period ended and the game went live, Turbine gave all players with pre-order keys a two week grace period in which to purchase the full box. We did not have to rush out on day one, a Tuesday (why is that the industry standard day for releases… and patches?), to get the box. We could at least wait for the weekend.

I wish SOE had picked up on that idea.

But no, when I tried to log on tonight, I got this:

soepirates.png

No code, no play.

Not unexpected, I suppose. This is the first time, that I know of, where SOE has done the pre-order play period thing. They might not have thought to look at how other companies have done it.

I have a pre-order box, but I am stuck at home with a sprained ankle (I get to learn how to use crutches again), so I cannot just run out to the store and pick up a copy. That will have to wait a week or so.

Since sailing is out of the question, maybe I’ll go see if Turbine fixed that video drive crash problem they have been having. I still haven’t picked up my horse.

Through The Portal Lightly

Last week, as part of the off-night activities, most of the instance group brought their characters through the dark portal and into the Outlands. I got to see that the portal looks just like it does in the splash screen:

tbcportal.png

The trip was something of a celebration of one year of The Burning Crusade, something of a celebration of one year of Potshot, something of a lack of real goals for the night, and something of a desire for new goodies!

Okay, it was mostly about new goodies.

We went in and did about six quests, each one of which handed out an item at the end that was so obviously superior to the equipment we had in the same slot that there were no questions asked in trading up.

Go us!

Not that the new shiny equipment made our Saturday instance crawl any easier (more on that later this week), but it was nice to have.

However, this was not my first trip into the Outlands. No, I ventured in about a week before. Not in search of shiny new gear, because at that point we had not, as a group, made the decision to do that, but for shiny new skills.

Vikund, my paladin, is a miner and an engineer and I had managed, at last, to get both of those skills to the pre-TBC cap of 300. That meant I needed a trip through the portal to train to the next level.

So I went exploring on my own.

I made it to Honor Hold and got my first glimpse of the strange Outlands sky.

vikinoutlands.png

That, and the stuff that comes flying out of the sky.

tbcincoming.png

As I stood there, about a dozen of these things hit the town. I did not see anybody actually get smacked full-on by one of them, but I staggered around stunned for a bit after a near miss.

Gaff showed up while I was out there and showed off his druid flight form, which he has had for almost a year now.

nerralflightform.png

I was really impressed. It looked like as much fun as he described back when he got it.

I was so impressed I got out my level 33 druid later that night. Then I saw nothing but Stranglethorn Vale quests in his log and put him away again. Maybe later.

After that, I ran around and found my trainers, mined a little bit of Fel iron, and then headed back to Stormwind with my new skill caps.

vikprofs2.png

Of course, I am getting close on fishing and cooking now as well. I will have to make a trip out for those skills as well.

Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want

I have written about LEGO Star Wars, both The Original Trilogy and The Compete Saga, before. They are both games I like a quite a bit.

I really have to commend Traveller’s Tales, the studio that actually made the games, for not only creating a good first game, LEGO Star Wars – The Video Game, but also for actually learning from that game and applying it to the the next two games.

The first thing they learned seemed, to me, to be that a LEGO game is really more of a mass appeal title than a hard core gaming title. As such, it does not need hellishly hard end levels that take forever to master and complete. And with the original release, there were a couple of levels like that. I know real console gamers who still curse some levels in that game.

The second thing that TT seems to have learned is that, for adding depth and repeatability in a console game, almost nothing beats what I call “the cult of the unlock.”

So when the second game came out, LEGO Star Wars – The Original Trilogy, the levels were designed, overall, to be much easier to get through. You could… heck, *I* could… blaze through all of the basic levels in story mode in a single sitting without being in any danger of setting a record (personal or otherwise) for continuous time in front of a video game.

But when you’ve done that, the big “Percentage Complete” display (awesome game element, btw) says you have only completed 25-30% of the game. Then you want to go back through the levels with the free play option with different characters to pick up the mini-kits you missed, see the side areas you bypassed, and pick up enough studs to unlock all of the characters.

The game became an even bigger success than its predecessor and ensured that there would be more LEGO games to come. They have already announced LEGO Indiana Jones – The Video Game and LEGO Batman – The Video Game. So I started considering what else I would like to see done as a LEGO video game.

The Wants – I think they have potential to be good

1) LEGO Die Hard – The Full Series

When I get done playing LEGO Star Wars and go off to a different game, it takes a while for me to not want to blow up the scenery and try to collect studs. You just shoot up everything in LEGO Star Wars. So when my wife and I were watching the latest “Die Hard” movie, “Live Free, Die Hard, and Leave a Trail of Corpses” or whatever, I immediately connected the John McClane character leaving a swathe of destruction behind him with my own behavior in LEGO Star Wars. It is an excellent fit! Yes, work would have to done on the unlocks, but Bruce Willis is just begging to be made into a LEGO minifig. He has the head for it, and that scowl/smirk would translate perfectly into LEGO form.

2) LEGO Star Trek – The Original Series

Okay, this one is on my list for a series of selfish reasons. I want there to be a GOOD Star Trek game that has popular appeal, that will break the curse, and that will revive what I can only think of these days as a dying IP. Plus I want to be able to own Star Trek characters in LEGO minifigure form. It has to be TOS because they blow things up, transport into hot LZs, and visit the most interesting planets. There are enough characters to play and unlock. Yes, TNG does have Picard, who, like Bruce Willis, is ready-made for LEGO minifig form, and you could charge a billion studs to unlock Q, but Shatner’s hair was made for LEGO form. Picard can wait for the sequel.

3) LEGO Harry Potter – The Video Game

This one is a gimme. I mean, LEGO already has the franchise and already makes Harry Potter based minifigures and kits. There are movies out to help drive the visual requirements. It is popular. It is compelling. It could be done. And it would make J.K. Rowling just that much more wealthy than the Queen. I am surprised it hasn’t been announced already.

4) LEGO Lord of the Rings – The Video Game

It is episodic, it is popular, it would be great. It is probably a very tough IP to license… I am sure the Tolkien heirs would be skeptical… but it is totally viable. You have a group of main characters to play, a host of minor characters to unlock, and more than enough bad guys to chop up to make it interesting. Plus, TT could legitimately stretch it out into three releases. And, on top of that, LEGO has a couple of decades of work in its Castle line of kits as a starting place for models. (Frankly, though, the Castle line could use the sort of creative infusion such a project would bring. It has been languishing some for the last few years.)

5) LEGO Norrath – The Video Game

Okay, I am still enchanted by Tipa’s idea of turning EverQuest into a single player game to preserve the lore and let people who played it “way back when…” explore their old haunts. So why not take it a step further and reduce it all to LEGO bricks? There would have to be an overlying story created to drive the game, and the character unlocks might be a bit obscure, but I bet people who played it would come out knowing the lore of Norrath, which might, in turn, make some of them interested in other games based in Norrath. Plus I have always suspected that those trees in the Commonlands would break into a bunch of little pieces if you hit them just right.

Honorable Mentions – Things that came to mind with potential, but probably not enough for a game.

LEGO Discworld – Part of me thinks that LEGO is a perfect medium for expressing the humor and irony of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. The big problem is that nobody speaks in the LEGO games and much of the Discworld humor is in dialog or exposition. So any LEGO game relies on imagery and gesture to convey much of a story, and there is not enough such imagery available that we all share to make the game viable. I know what Ahnk-Morpork looks like in my mind, but it probably doesn’t look like that in your mind.

LEGO World of Shannara – I was trying to come up with an alternate fantasy epic to Lord of the Rings, and Shannara has plenty to work with. It just suffers from the lack of agreed upon visuals the way Discworld does, along with not being as popular as LotR.

LEGO Dune – I think this could be done. You use the imagery from the David Lynch version of the movie and just run with it. But as much as I want a LEGO Sardaukar minifig, I don’t think this would be a winner in the end.

LEGO Battlestar Glactica – I was looking around for another science fiction title, and this one came to mind. I am not sure if I would want to model the original series or the new one. I think then main problem is that most of the conflict takes place in space, and I found the space segements of LEGO Star Wars to be the least fulfilling.

Probably Bad Ideas – Things I briefly considered

LEGO The Simpsons – Hey, they’re yellow already, right? They’re popular. They destroy stuff regularly. The problem is, they can never profit from their bad behavior in the end, so having them pick up studs for whacking Flanders probably won’t fly.

LEGO Known Space – I was more thinking of LEGO Ringworld and felt that LEGO Man-Kzin Wars might have some potential… and I really want a Kzinti minifig… but Larry Niven’s Known Space universe moves at a pretty slow pace, so it would be hard for it to sustain an action oriented game. Plus, as above, there is not a set of agreed upon imagery for Known Space.

LEGO Blade Runner – It has the imagery. It has the violence. It is just probably too dark for LEGO. Still, it is probably more viable than my first thought, LEGO – The Man in the High Castle.

LEGO Forgotten Realms – I can dream, can’t I?

LEGO Wizard of Oz – I guess you cannot have Dorothy leaving a path of destruction behind her.

What Else?

That is my list… or my lists.

What did I overlook? What IP is really prime for conversion into a LEGO video game?

The Official SOE Podcast #28

Alan “Brenlo” Crosby and Aimee “Ashlanne” Rekoske host this episode of the SOE Podcast, with Jason “Pex” Ryan reading the news.

Topics:

  • SOE Gaming News
  • Thanks to EQ2 Guides
  • Happy New Year
  • The Holiday Break
  • CES – The Agency & Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • Interview with the Pizza Delivery Dude
  • EverQuest II – New producer
  • Aimee’s 30th Birthday/Disneyland Trip
  • Listener Email: Dillard asks about the SOE Store
  • Interview #2 – Joy Parkes, SOE Voice-over Coordinator
  • Commercial Break
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • Star Wars Galaxies Chapter 8
  • Top Ten signs you play too much Vanguard
  • 2008 SOE Community Influencers Summit
  • TV and Movies
  • What are you playing?
  • Out takes

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

The show was recorded on January 14th and runs just over 52 minutes.

Standing Past 8.0, Now What?

I have managed, through diligent mission running and skill training, to elevate my main character, Wilhelm, to a standing of 8+ with the Caldari Navy.

Go me!

That means that, in addition to the Caldari Navy not taking a cut of my ore refining when I use their stations and having access to most of their agents, I can now make jump clones.

In fact, I made a jump clone… I think. It is hard to tell, as the interface for doing it did not provide much in the way feedback.

I did it mostly to try it. I haven’t done anything with the clone yet. I am not sure how to move it from the station in which it is located. Or is a matter of flying somewhere else then jumping back to that clone?

But that is beside the point.

Now that my standing is so high with the Caldari Navy, I wonder what I should do next.

Should I continue on running missions for the Caldari Navy?

Are there further benefits to be gained from getting my standing up to 9 or 10?

Or are there other Caldari State associated factions with whom I should improve my standing? Or even non-Caldari State factions?

I have done some missions for the Spacelane Patrol and I mistakenly did a whole series of missions for the Ishukone Watch corporation before I figured out that they aren’t the same faction as Ishukone corporation. I was trying to build faction for R&D. Silly me.

Once you have high standing with one corporation, do you need high standing with another?

Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?

This came to be in the car during my commute while I was pondering the future possibilities of Star Trek Online. I think I actually managed to capture most of it in notes, put great chunks of it down in writing, then edited out the irrelevancies.

This is an attempt to lay down the environment that brought about the seeming wealth of fantasy MMORPGs and compare that to analogous factors for the science fiction genre. I should be able to do this, with the right information, as this sort of systemic analysis was my minor way back when.

Note I am using the term MMORPG rather than my usual MMO. I want to emphasize the “role playing game” aspect of these games, as I think that is a key to their stickiness with players.

And, yes, this is sort of going back to the “Why So Much Fantasy” topic, so sue me.

Hypothesis

Fantasy MMORPGs came about because of a series of environmental factors made them possible and that those same factors do not exist, at least in the proper proportion, for Science Fiction MMORPGs to be created, much less be equally popular and prevalent.

Tag Line

You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.

The Factors – Fantasy

Literature: A lot of people point to “The Lord of the Rings” as the spark for the popularity of the fantasy genre. And you cannot deny that it has had influence, but so did Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” more than a century before. Works of fiction surrounding King Arthur, such as Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur,” a title that has seen a number of resurgences in popularity over the last 500 years, and general interest in things like myth and mythology all builds a strong foundation for a work like The Lord of the Rings to flower and in turn act as an inspiration for further works.

Table Top Role Playing Games: By this I mean, of course, Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, there are many variations on the fantasy table top role playing genre, but D&D is the big name, the World of Warcraft in the FRP market, and the first player. It is a rare thing indeed to find somebody who has played more than two role playing games that has not done something with D&D. D&D has been a success and has found its way into popular culture, driven by the base of literature, but also popularizing that literature as well. I played D&D before I read “The Lord of the Rings.”

Computer Role Playing Games: There has been a long line of very successful computer role playing games. From the early text games that lead to Zork to the current Neverwinter Nights 2, there has been a long list of popular and profitable games in the fantasy genre. These games created, or adopted from other genres, many of the interface conventions that ended up being part of the standard MMORPG interface.

MUDs: Single player games showed how things should progress graphically while MUDs showed how a multi-player environment and community might be developed. Again, high fantasy rules the road and there were dozens and dozens of successful, well populated, heavily played MUDs that worked out over time, if not the best way, at least a viable way to run a multiplayer fantasy environment. My own favorite, Toril MUD, itself the result of several generations of change and development, had a very obvious and direct influence on the development of EverQuest.

The Factors – Science Fiction

Literature: Science Fiction’s body of work is somewhat less substantial and also somewhat more scattered. I took a course at University on the history of science fiction, and the professor was quite adamant that the direct antecedent to science fiction was Mary Shelley’s gothic horror “Frankenstein,” and that the true heart of popular science fiction lay in the melding of technological speculation (star ships, ray guns, and the like) with coming of age stories (one of those Joseph Campbell staples) where a young male, often in his teens, faces adversity, defeats the bad guys, and prevails, often where his elders have failed. How many Heinlein stories follow that thread? “Ender’s Game” and Star Wars in a nutshell as well, I’d say.

Yes, that theme is also popular in fantasy as well. You can view “The Lord of the Rings” through that lens, putting hobbits in general and Frodo in particular, in the main role. But as a genre, science fiction is not that far from its roots, the pulp novels of the 40s and the domination by Heinlein in the 50s and 60s. There is not 500+ years of work behind the genre. There is no long history of popular revival of the genre.

And, perhaps more importantly, as has been suggested by others, real science has made a lot of science fiction look rather silly. It turns out not to age well. How much of Heinlein’s time line have we passed by without the technology showing up? No flying cars yet! If you go back and read, say, Asimov’s “I, Robot,” you get to a section where he writes about how hard it was to develop the technology to allow robots to speak, but that getting them to understand voice command was trivial. That, of course, is the opposite of reality today.

So while science fiction has a foundation, it is not nearly as big nor as solid as the high fantasy foundation.

And while Star Trek itself actually has a pretty large body of written work, it is pretty much a niche market. It does not extend into popular culture the way the television shows have. Nobody is planning to make a Captain Sulu movie that I know of.

Table Top Role Playing Games: There have been, of course, many science fiction based role playing games. There was even a very good Star Trek based role playing game from FASA. But as a percentage of the market, they were all eclipsed by D&D. And popular ones not based on a known IP were even less significant. The best known are probably Warhammer 40K, which has its roots deep in fantasy, and Traveler, which was wonderfully deep and complex, but not all that popular in the end.

Computer Role Playing Games: There have been a ton of science fiction themed games. The first computer game I ever played, on a main frame, was Star Trek. But good, science fiction themed, role playing games have, again, not been as prevalent as the high fantasy counterparts. There were some good ones out there, like Fallout. But most games in the science fiction theme have been shooters (Marathon), tactical simulations (Starfleet Command), or empire building (Masters of Orion). There are a few fleshed out role playing styles in the science fiction genre, probably best characterized by Wing Commander and Freelancer.

MUDs: My experience with science fiction MUDs is pretty small. This is mostly because the few I played were all either boring (and usually Trek based) or high fantasy with a science fiction veneer. Doing a global replace on longsword to make it light saber is not all you need to do to make a science fiction MUD. Since my knowledge in this area is weak, I will admit in advance that I could be wrong, but I do not think there was a popular, heavily played science fiction MUD that would act as a guide to making a science fiction MMORPG the way there was for fantasy.

Quick Summary:

Above I tried to lay out what I see are the antecedents required for creating a sustainable, popular, MMORPG environment for a given genre. Things that have both created the interest in MMORPGs in said genre as well as acting as a practical guide to creating the games. Those are, with my assessment:

               Fantasy  SciFi
 Literature    High     Medium
 Table Top     High     Low
 Comp RPGs     High     Medium
 MUDs          High     Low

The Result

Guess what? As a culture we have created an infrastructure that not only produced, but practically dictated the form of a bunch of fantasy based MMORPGs. Meridian 59, Ultima Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft are all logical conclusions when you look at what came before. Literature, Dungeons and Dragons, computer fantasy role playing games, and MUDs set the standards and expectations. That is probably why I felt such an affinity for EverQuest on day one. I, the people around me, and the people who created it, had all been groomed for that eventuality.

But you probably knew that already.

On the science fiction side of things though, the factors are not as strong.

The science fiction body of work is relatively young compared to fantasy and has the flaw facing anybody predicting the future, being wrong more often than right.

Single player computer role playing games have existed, but have tended to chew on just corners of the genre. Standards for space traders and ship combat have been well defined, but other roles for the genre have been left unexplored.

And there has not been the same small community building exercise that fantasy got with the MUDs of the 90s that taught a generation of players and developers about groups, raids, boss mobs, drops, the holy trinity, and the uselessness of rangers.

With that setup, you get a series of unsatisfactory games when you are looking for a science fiction MMORPG. You have EVE Online, which is more a mass space flight/space trader sim than a role playing game, Tabula Rasa, which is more of a shooter than a role playing game, and Star Wars Galaxies, which really seems to be a fantasy game in science fiction clothes.

Conclusion

Given this view, we’re utterly naive to hope for a good science fiction MMORPG to show up, and if it did show up, we might not even be equipped to recognize it. Brilliance and insight have been thwarted in the past by an uncomprehending public.

So back to Star Trek Online, it is not that the IP is impossible, any curse not withstanding, it is that science fiction as an MMORPG genre is not possible, or at least is not likely.

Comments

So this is something I put together pretty quickly, shored up a bit with details, but otherwise tried not to disturb too much, lest I talk myself out of it.

But does it make any sense? Did I miss something? If so, what?

If it does make sense, how do we get to the point where we have the conventions and understanding to make science fiction MMORPGs not just possible but likely?

And what does it say for other genres… like pirates, for example?

Or was this all an exercise in “Well, duh?”

Happy Frostfell! You Can Leave Now!

I did not do much in EverQuest II over the holidays.

With the instance group going, the EverQuest nostalgia in full swing, and my daughter calling to come watch a movie, play with LEGOs, or start up the Wii, there wasn’t much time for EQ2.

Still, I found just a bit of time to log in and collect my Frostfell presents.

In fact, thanks to one of my favorite UI extensions, Mahonri’s Quick Change Shutdown Window, which lets you change characters directly without having to linger on the select screen, I picked up presents with all six of my characters most days.

Since I have been back to work though, I haven’t stopped in to check. So last night I logged in to take a look, mostly to see where you got dumped if you were parked in Frostfell Wonderland Village when they took it away.

And I found it was still there.

It is a long Frostfell this year. In Azeroth the decorations have been down for a well over a week now, and most of my perishable holiday goodies have disappeared. (I still have that fruitcake in my inventory though.)

But in Norrath, somebody (probably those community relations people) seems to have wished for Frostfell all year around.

Well, maybe not all year, but long enough for the presents to run out.

ff07allgifts.png

Whee! I have all the presents!

Does that mean I win Frostfell?

Or is this just a polite way to tell me I have over stayed my welcome?

I am actually glad I got them all, as I am still jealous after last year when Stargrace got all nine of the snow globes, while I only got one. (I did not know there was more than one!)

This year, however, I am the snow globe king! Behold the eleven snow globes of Frostfell.

ff07elevenglobes.png

The snow globes are, in order from left to right:

  • Mystical
  • Gorowyn
  • Everling
  • Volcanic
  • Neriak
  • Frostfell
  • Dervish
  • Thulian
  • Fae
  • Antonican
  • Bixie

After setting them all out in my acorn, I thought that perhaps Frostfell might be closed after all. Maybe they shut the doors and only the die hards, camped in the zone, were still able to see Frostfell Wonderland Village.

But I ran and checked and, at least in Kelethin, you can still come out of the closet and into Wonderland.

ff07envoy.png

A fae is still waiting there to guide you.

Frostfell forever I guess.

Scholomance – Round 2 – Plus Dire Maul West

We got together on Saturday night and decided to do a short run into Dire Maul West in order to update Vikund’s Paladin mount quest, then head to Scholomance to finish that and update Bung’s Warlock mount quest. We headed out with the group all at level 60, just like last week. I think this might be the first time we have all gone a full week without any of us getting a level.

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

We all started heading generally in the direction of Feralas first. I was actually parked at Feathermoon Stonghold as I had been fishing, both trying to bring up my fishing skill and my cooking skill.

By the time we converged and found the summoning stone (off to the left of the path that leads in) four of us were already there, so there was only a single summon to do.

Our run into Dire Maul West was pretty quick. While we had no rogue and no Crescent key, we did have the “engineer’s lockpick,” (Vikund is an engineer) which is the powerful seaforium charge.

I had not used one before and was a bit disappointed. There was no loud bang or explosion effect. Instead, the door just opened. When I attach a powerful charge to a door, I like to see it at least come of the hinges!

Once in, we could see the area for the quest update. We had to clear out a series of single mob patrols that wander the courtyard, but once done with that, we managed to thread our was across the main courtyard to Tendris Warpwood.

tendris.png

We knocked him down pretty quick and were rewarded with a green “bind on pickup” staff worthy of any non-elite level 55 you care to mention. Bleh.

But we weren’t there for loot, but to feed the ancient equine spirit, Vikund’s once and future steed, if I read the quest correctly.

ancientequine.png

So we were in and out of Dire Maul in about 10 minutes. Not bad. We do have to go back to finish up Bung’s epic mount quest, which I understand is a bit more than a walk across the courtyard.

Following that, we headed back to Stormwind so I could update my quests and hand over some gems, then flew up to Scholomance.

We did better this time around, at least in the first big room. That was the scene of a couple wipes our first time around.

We managed very well indeed, only losing a mage now and again as we fought our way too then cleared our Rattlegore and his room.

Then came the time for the end of the paladin mount quest. While I skimmed a post about this segment of the quest and grasp the whole “use the right judgements” thing, I was not quite prepared for the battle that followed.

I was expecting a few small fights and then a big guy at the end. Instead we were in for wave after wave of elite mobs. We made it through the first two flavors and were on the second wave of the third when mana, health, potions, and what not began to give out. Skronk used the soul stone when he went down during the fight. Then things got really unstuck and we wiped.

And, it turns out, once you wipe on that battle, that area is no longer accessible unless you reset the instance. And since we were not up to the clearing job again, we decided to postpone that until another time while we went after the update for Bung’s quest.

We headed down to the Alchemy Lab, where Ras Frostwhisper resides, to get the update. We slew the patrols at the close end of the room, updated Bung’s quest, then killed Ras.

That cleaned up, we decided to wrap up one more quest, Krastinov’s Bag of Horrors, before we called it a night.

This meant finding our way to Jandice Barov, who hangs out downstairs. Getting to her was a bit of a challenge, at least until we figured out the way to handle it.

She is at one end of a room with lots of shelves forming corridors across your path. Mobs, some elite, some not, wander up and down these, so you have to clear them without getting too many on you.

It isn’t too tough, but we managed to bite off a few more undead than we should have, then one of us backed up too far and aggro’d another group, and soon we were all dead again.

A soul stone and some resses later, we refined our approach and cleared a path to Jandice rather easily.

The Jandice fight was a big of a surprise. She spawns a whole bunch of duplicates of herself throughout the fight. Finding the right one to target was a bit of a pain. However, the duplicates say they are minions of Jandice when selected, so simply hitting tab until you got the “live” one turned out to be the solution. (I will say here that I am glad that Blizzard adopted a standard UI practice and made shift-tab select mobs in reverse order, as I tabbed past Jandice twice. Instead of having to go “around the horn” to get back to her, I hit shift-tab and was set.)

Bringing her down, we took a victory shot in her little “Sting video” alcove, then headed out.

scolostingvideo.png

Since the quest turn-in is right outside the instance, we decided to try to blow past any respawns and run to the exit. And we nearly made it too. Another wipe.

So we ghosted to the instance, went in to revive, then zoned back out to turn in the quest.

The evenings work was enough to push Vikund to level 61. I did not try to get him ahead of the pack, but the run up work for the paladin mount quest actually put quite a bit of experience in his pocket.

So to finish up the mount quests for Bung and myself, we need another trip to Scholomance (which will also let us knock off the last major Scholo quest) and a full trip into Dire Maul west.

The Unbearable Lightness of UDP

I would never go out and buy hardware just to be able to play a game.

Ha ha ha ha!

Yes, I know, what a kidder I am. I have as much as admitted on these pages to upgrading video cards and replacing my whole home system pretty much in the name of gaming.

But this time I am covered.

In my post “Into The Burning Sea,” I complained about the problems I was having playing the “sea” portion of Pirates of the Burning Sea. I complained of lag as my ship seemed stuck in place while the NPC ships sailed gracefully about me.

Potshot and Lady Pao corrected me, pointing out that this was not lag, but another issue. I was even pointed to a Flying Labs support incident describing the problem and its possible solutions.

It seems that Linksys routers in particular are susceptible to this issue, and older ones more so. There are issues with correct routing of UDP packets and such.

Of course, I have a 4+ year old Linksys wireless router connecting our network to our DSL.

Fortunately, the router in question is 802.11b and I was already planning to replace it. Both my work laptop and our new iMac support the faster 802.11g standard.

With the router being my issue, I had another reason to upgrade.

I went to Consumer Reports to check what they recommended. Normally I only look to them for reviews on appliances and the like, but routers are getting to be mere appliances, so why not? They rated the Netgear Rangemax Wireless Router (WPN824) as their top choice.

I opened up the Fry’s ad. What should be on sale for $59? Why, the Netgear Rangemax Wireless Router (WPN24)!

I think the planets were aligned as well.

So I dropped by Fry’s one my way home and picked one up!

I installed it after dinner and did a quick run through the tutorial again.

All I can say is “smooth sailing,” both literally and figuratively. The only thing goofy about the router is that the power switch on the back is only for the swirly LED lights on top of the unit. Not that I need to turn the unit off, just that I find it odd that they provide a full size button for a silly feature. The lights do look cool in the dark though. A very “Star Trek TOS” sort of effect.

And speaking of sailing, doing so in PotBS seems to be pretty fun. Gaff is comparing it to Sid Meier’s Pirates (old and new versions), which I can only see as a good thing.

More as I figure it out.

But the router, that was a planned purchase, right? Nothing to do with gaming.

F13.net Top Ten MMO List Reminder

As I mentioned in a past post, over on the forums at F13.net they are having something of an MMO popularity contest where you vote for your top 5-10 MMO titles.

So if you are an ardent supported of a particular MMO title or set of titles, you have until January 21st to make your vote count in front of a group of fellow gamers.

You can find the forum post about voting here.

The top 20 scores, as of this afternoon:

  1. 1114 pts. – World of Warcraft
  2. 664 pts. – Dark Age of Camelot
  3. 662 pts. – City of Heroes/Villains
  4. 638 pts. – Ultima Online
  5. 550 pts. – EverQuest
  6. 523 pts. – Eve Online
  7. 467 pts. – EverQuest 2
  8. 447 pts. – Star Wars Galaxies
  9. 415 pts. – Lord of the Rings Online
  10. 287 Pts. – Asheron’s Call
  11. 253 pts. – Planetside
  12. 246 pts. – Shadowbane
  13. 236 pts. – Anarchy Online
  14. 205 pts. – Guild Wars
  15. 125 pts. – A Tale in the Desert
  16. 115 pts. – Final Fantasy XI
  17. 99 pts. – Puzzle Pirates
  18. 91 pts. – Dungeons & Dragons Online
  19. 89 pts. – Tabula Rasa
  20. 80 pts. – Lineage 2