Monthly Archives: March 2008

March in Review

The Site

I thought for a while about adding a “what I am reading” section along the sidebar, just to clash with all of the other junk I have over there.

But then I could not come up with a good definition of “reading.” It sounds simple, unless you are me.

For example, do I count, “Harry Potter and the X of Y,” which I am reading to my daughter?

How about the copy of “Blue Sky Dreams” that, like so many books crowding my nightstand, sits with a bookmark inserted, waiting to be picked up and finished. If I count it, then I have to count the others, and then the list gets pretty long.

Do audio books count? Or should that be “what I am hearing?”

And while I was pondering that, Tipa went and put up something like that on her site, which at least let me put the idea aside, since I didn’t want to look like I was following a trend or anything.

And when it comes down to it, what I am reading, however you define it, isn’t that interesting.

One Year Ago

In EverQuest II, my swashbuckler Blintz became my highest level MMO character at the time, hitting the level 50 mark.

Meanwhile, I was still griping about the rise in the cost of Station Access, but at least I got something of an answer as to how my Station Access dollars were allocated.

In World of Warcraft the instance group was coming to a temporary stopping point at Zul’Farrak. Work would keep Earl too busy to play with us for the next few months. Meanwhile, a load of my other friends in WoW disappeared due to server splits.

And, finally, I had a comically large arrow stuck in my head.

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! (I keep thinking that every month is the last month I am going to find somebody new linking in!)

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  4. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  5. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  6. Five New EVE Online Wishes
  7. TAGN Central
  8. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG
  9. Trinity 1.1 Patch: A New Button!
  10. Why Isn’t LOTRO More Fun?
  11. Saturday with Red 5
  12. My Pokemon is Fight!

Best Search Terms

world of warcraft human men
[The way they behave, it is best to be that specific.]

subspecies fanfic
[What is that? Poodle on dachshund action? Do I want to know?]

my new house pictures
[Your new house pictures are not here.]

french video game “we surrender”
[That hasn’t been a massive title since June, 1940.]

Best Spam Comment

The times of perpetually hunting for for real conceptions relating to this matter have ceased.
[So say we all!]

EVE Online

Back and armed with a new battlecruiser, I continue running some missions for the Caldari Navy while also trying to build my reputation with Ishukone Corporation.

Lord of the Rings Online

Still locks up my system when I get near a town. No love for nVidia 8800 GT cards I guess.

On the founder’s referral front, I have now sent out the nine referrals. If people actually go live with those accounts, I should have some 30-Day LOTRO keys to give away, which will mean coming up with a contest.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft was the big destination again this month as the instance group continues to move on through the 5-person instances of the Outlands. I am also running a parallel track with my hunter who is working his way through all of the single player quests. In the race to see which one hits the level cap first, it is currently a tie, with both Vikund and Tistann sitting at level 64.


The Wii has been gathering dust at our house since the invasion of the DS. The main reason is Pokemon. My daughter loves them, loves to collect them, and they aren’t readily available on the Wii. The Wii hasn’t gone completely unused though. A couple of play dates over at our house have ended up bringing out Wii Sports and Mario Kart Double Dash.


On the other hand, there has been quite a bit of Nintendo DS activity at our house with, of course, Pokemon in the lead. My daughter has 7 of the 8 gym badges and has caught a huge percentage of the pokemon in game. I read somewhere that if you plug in one of the GameBoy Advanced versions of Pokemon into the front slot of the DS, pokemon from that game will be available in Diamond/Pearl as well. At least I think I read that some where, I might have dreamed it. Anyway, I’ll have to see if I can pick up a used copy of one of the GBA versions of Pokemon.

In addition, I picked up Brain Age with a Barnes & Noble gift card my brother game me for Christmas. My first run through the test told me my “brain age” was 67, which was a bit discouraging. I managed to get that number down to my own real age the next day, but I am somewhat held back by the fact that the DS has trouble reading some of my letters and numbers. My wife will tell you that my ability to write legibly is an issue all the time.

And, finally, my daughter saw a commercial for Dolpinz and Tigerz games on the DS and immediately wanted to go spend her own money to buy one of them. In a surprising turn of events I was able to talk her out of that plan for the moment (as opposed to having to forbid it) by pointing at the low review scores the two games received and promising to put Dolphinz at the top of our GameFly queue so she could try it out before spending money on it. Then, of course, GameFly sent me Super Mario DS, so this may not play out as happily as I had hoped.


Next month will probably be a bit light as I will be traveling for work along with having a big project to ship. (Did I say “ship?” I meant “slip.” It isn’t just the game industry that misses dates.)

More EVE Online antics are just waiting for me to type them up.

The instance group presses on.

I hold out hope that some day Turbine or nVidia will address my video card issue with LOTRO.

And tomorrow is April 1st. I wonder what mischief the blogesphere will come up with?

Drie Wolf Motion Sickness

Once in a while I get out one of my horde characters to play. My primary horde character is an Orc hunter (surprise!) named Garnatz. I hit level 40 with him a while back and finally decided to get him a mount and try it out.

Orcs get wolf mounts, which seemed like a really neat change. So far I have dealt only with horse and goat mounts for my human and dwarf characters.

There are three flavors of wolf mounts to choose from, the dire wolf, which is grey, the timber wolf, which is black, and the brown wolf, which is, well, brown.

For Garnatz I went with the dire wolf. I think the grey is the better looking of the three colors.

I like the way the mount looks:


I even like the behavior of the mount when you hit the space bar. The wolf gives a ferocious display.


I am even okay with the scale. I was a bit worried, given the size of wolves, that Garnatz might end up looking like an adult riding a Shetland pony. But he looks okay. He doesn’t look like his feet might drag on the ground if he slips.

The only thing I do not like about the new mount is actually traveling with it.

The wolf, when it runs, bounces Garnatz up and down.

A lot.

Enough to make my stomach feel a little off.

And that is saying something.

I am not generally prone to the Gary Gannon FPS motion sickness effect, but this bouncing seems to hit me in just the right (or wrong) way.

So for now, when I get the urge to play horde, I’ll just run and put up aspect of the pack on Garnatz.

Maybe, by the time he gets to 60, I can get to exalted with one of the other horde races and try one of the other mounts.

How does a raptor drive?

The Blood Furnace

Saturday night came again. My daughter was in bed asleep. My wife and her friends were in the other room having a scrapbooking and appletini party. (And actual scrapbooking was done this time around I hear.) The cats were content to be some place other than my desk. It was time to get to Azeroth.

After a couple of weeks off just questing and farming we had beefed ourselves up a bit when it came to levels:

63 Warlock – Bungholio
63 Mage – Ula
63 Priest – Skronk
64 Paladin – Vikund
64 Warrior – Earlthecat

Once we all assembled in Hellfire Peninsula, the first order of business was to… well… find the instance.

Yes, we had that same problem with Hellfire Ramparts.

For the first time since we started the instance group, we are into instanced content that none of has even glimpsed yet. So even answer simple questions, such as, “Are we there yet?” can take on a new level of challenge.

Fortunately there were not a lot of places for us to look that answered the description. We ended up finding it at one of the locations we had previously visited in our search for the Ramparts entrance. And so we stepped in:


As usual, we began to work our way through the yard trash to get to the fun bits. But at least we had some new scenery, including a set of stairs that Busby Berkeley could work magic with.


I shouldn’t be too dismissive of the yard trash. Their quantity proved a challenge now and again, and bad pulls doubled up with the roving stealthed rogues that wander about were the reason for our two wipes during the run.

The first happened at the top of the stairs pictured above.

Still, with care, teamwork, and a soul stone, we moved on to the first boss: The Maker.

Once the local minions were taken care of, we took a look at him. He rather resembles an upright fiddler crab wearing a welder’s mask and holding a flame thrower. This is not a sight to inspire confidence, but we weren’t there to make friends.

We hesitated a bit before starting the fight. Around The Maker’s room there is a series of cells with several mobs in each. We were a bit worried that they might open up and unleash some nastiness on us mid fight. Still, we had to move along, so we started the fight.


It went well enough, The Maker went down, and no additional followers joined in. We figured that must be a feature for the heroic version of the instance.

On we moved, clearing groups until we caught a glimpse of the next boss in line, Broggok.


We then proceeded to get a bad pull with the patrols and wipe. Too many bomb throwing technicians and pet summoning warlocks chewed us up pretty quickly. And there was no soul stone handy this time.

Still, the whole place is very close to Honor Hold and the grave yard, so the run back was quick.

Speaking the “careful” mantra again, we successfully cleared the room.

This left us with a great big lever, a gate between us and Broggok, and, like The Maker’s room, a series of cells around the room we were in.

What can you do but pull the level at that point, so we did.

And thus began the event, the big fight of the night.

This time around, the cells did play into things. After you pull the lever, the doors you entered through close, then the first cell opens up, sending a small group of elite orcs after you. Once you defeat them, the next cell opens and another group comes, and then another, and then another. So you go through four progressively harder battles without rest, at the end of which, you get to fight the boss!

Once you’re to Broggok, you are in danger of having been worn down. Broggok himself isn’t too fearsome as long as you keep moving. As he floats over you, he rains down a green acid that has a pretty harsh DOT effect as long as you’re standing in it. It also lingers for a while, so you have to steer clear of his green snail trail during the fight. Bung strayed into the trail at the very end of the fight and died.

But we prevailed and took the victory picture. You can see some of the orc that came at us off to the right.


It was a long encounter over all, with Earl and I using potions twice during the fight and Skronk hitting the bottle three times.

Earl picked up the Legion Blunderbuss from the drop.

We then moved on to through to the next group, situated in a big circular room down a ramp, where there sat a set of five warlocks maintaining a pentagram of power, in the middle of which stood Keli’dan the Breaker.

Visible through the floor was a very big dragon-bodied demon which we assumed the pentagram of power was holding in place. We figured he must be Magtheridon, whom we could hear shouting every once in a while in the instance.

Well, the first order of business was, as always, kill the guys in front of us. So we ran in and chopped up the warlocks and Keli’dan without breaking a sweat. This opened up a door at the back of the chamber.

My own thought was, “Cool, now we get the big guy, he must be the final boss!” I did not even snap a screen shot of the warlocks, thinking that they were just trash.

So we ran through the door and found ourselves back at the base of the stairs.


Keli’dan was the last boss. Magtheridon’s Lair is a raid. We just got a glimpse of him as a teaser.

So we were done. Elapsed time was a little under two hours, even with two wipes.

We wrapped up the instance at about the same time the scrapbook party ended at my place, so my wife and I actually went to bed at the same time on a Saturday night.

Next time we move on to Zangarmarsh and the Slave Pens.

WoW Patch 2.4 Arrives

And, true to form, I only found this out by trying to log in on a Tuesday morning to check the auction house. Whoops, time to download a patch instead.

The usual AddOn holocaust ensued of course. I hope to have things stable again by Saturday night!

The patch notes themselves are quite extensive (find them here), but a few items jumped out at me.

Ironic Update Department

“Weapon Skill: Points will be gained faster in weapon skills for levels 1 through 59.”

This comes along a week after I spent time working up my 2 handed mace skill with the Heart Fire Warhammer, a massive flaming two handed mashie-niblick that dropped the last time we did Hellfire Ramparts.

Actually, it wasn’t all that bad as a paladin. I found a mob, started the fight, judged light, then walked away until Vikund got his skill level up high enough to kill it. The joys of being a protection spec’d paladin.

So now Vikund hides around corners waiting to bonk people as they pass by.


Available Bag Slots

There is now a new interface option that will show you how many empty slots you have in your bags, like so:


This replaces an addon that I was already using and actually improves upon it. This count of empty slots does not include the empty ones in your ammo pouch or quiver. If you play a hunter, you know where I am coming from on this.

Musical Reference of the Week

Blue Suede Shoes can now be disenchanted.”

That’ll keep people off of them!

I also find it interesting that blue suede shoes have shown up in one form or another in almost every MMO I have played, as well as most of the MUDs I recall.

Elvis is still The King I guess.

Can We Escape From Official Forums?

I spent my writing time last night trying to write something about official gaming forums.

That seems to be the swirling topic of the moment, what with Mark Jacobs saying that Warhammer Online won’t have them, the Stargate Worlds team asking for input on how people see official forums (asked on a forum, so what sort of answers do you think they will get?), and SOE’s drama with, which considered themselves more important than the official forums but have since turned into the official SOE hate/conspiracy theory forums.

After a number of false starts that meandered off in to tales of the early days of Usenet or how I once ran a BBS, I boiled my thoughts down to two statements:

  1. Any official company forum tends to become a cesspool of vitriol, sycophancy, and unrealistic entitlement.
  2. Once there is an official forum, a company tends to use it for almost all game related communication.

So, basically, companies create this horrible place and then make you go there if you want the latest, up to date, accurate information about their game.

That apparently set in stone, the discussion then moves to how to make forums less horrible.

Darren says ban with extreme prejudice, Michael says don’t ban me bro, and Sanya wants to make sure you’re qualified to be running a forum in the first place, all of which strikes me as the classic “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” scenario.

These ideas seem to be more of an adjustment of the ratio of sycophancy to vitriol than signal to noise.

Yes, the community team sees the forums as being about community, which is a messy, noisy concept in and of itself, but I am willing to bet cash money that most people who visit the forums do so in search of information about the game in question. The forum regulars, those who play the forum game, are a minority of the player base.

What needs to happen for those of us who do not live in the forums is some way of extracting the informational gems from the forums to make them more accessible.

Mark Jacobs says he can do this. He can get all of the important game information to the user base via a new and improved version of the Dark Age of Camelot system, the Camelot Herald.

I wish him the best of luck in this.

The Camelot Herald is nice, but it is not enough, so he had better have some big improvements up his sleeve.

Meanwhile, does any game company do a good job of pulling the useful bits out of the forums for those of us who don’t play the forum game? Is there an example that other companies should seek to emulate?

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

There is a research agent… her name is Versanen Osoni. She really meant a lot to me at one time.

She is an R&D agent with Ishukone Corporation.

She is only level II, but of the highest quality. She would talk to me when most of the other agents would not give me the time of day, and her greeting was always friendly.


Just look at the warmth in her expression.

We also had something in common: Nanite Engineering.

She could lead the research and I needed the datacores.

So we hooked up and began to churn out those research points.

And things went well.

Not that there weren’t issues.

She was a bit needy.

Every day I would get a transmission from her about some problem with the research and could I drop everything and run out to see her.

Not that it was a big deal. It is nice to feel needed.

But she had another issue.

She was geographically undesirable.

She was more than 30 jumps away from my own home base, so I kid you not when I tell you that to get to her place, you had to fly to Hek, then hang a left.

Plus she lived in a bad neighborhood. Low security for several jumps in every direction, while she her own system was 0.3 security.

Still, our research had just started and I was flush with enthusiasm for what we might accomplish together. So I made the trip over and over.

Then one day she asked me to do a combat mission for one of her friends. I had to fly out there in my battlecruiser, a trip that ended in disaster.

That put a bit of a chill on our relationship.

Soon I stopped running out to her every time she had a problem.

Then she stopped sending transmissions to me on a daily basis.

I would go out to visit her when I needed datacores, and things would look up. She would start sending me daily transmissions again and I would make an effort to go out and help her. But soon I would stop responding to her calls and then she would stop sending them.

Meanwhile, I was working with other agents at Ishukone Corporations. My standings with the corporation rose, opening doors to new research agents.

One day there was a new agent. A level 3 agent. An agent that promised more research points per day. And agent only 8 jumps from my main location. An agent in a high security system.

So it came time to tell Versanen that I had found somebody else.

But the standard for EVE is doing things the hard way. This includes breaking up it seems. You cannot just stop the research remotely, send a transmission and be on your way. You have to go to the agent in question.

So at least once more I must pass through Hek for Versanen Osoni.

Rendezvous with a Balloon

My daughter has informed me that we HAVE to play Pokemon today.

Not that we are in much danger of forgetting to play on any given day.

But today is FRIDAY!

And Friday is the only day of the week that you can catch Drifloon, a pokemon who pops up by the Valley Windworks just outside of Floarmoa Town.

Drifloon looks like a balloon.  I suppose we can only catch him once a week because he gets blown around so much, hanging out at the wind farm.

It seems that the only time we ever think about catching him is on Saturday. And then we have to count out the days of the week again, and seven days is a long time to somebody in kindergarten.

So today we are going to do it. Today we are going to get Drifloon.

Alting About The Outlands

Various real life events has kept the instance group out of instances for the past two Saturday nights. So our next instance target, The Blood Furnace, has remained free of our wrath for the time being.

We have managed to do a few things though.

We actually got together as a full group last Thursday and ran through Hellfire Ramparts for a second time with this group:

63 Warlock – Bungholio
63 Mage – Ula
63 Priest – Skronk
63 Paladin – Vikund
64 Warrior – Earlthecat

Thursday is our non-mandatory “off night” where we try to prep for upcoming instances and such, but since East Coast Earl was up for it, we did an instance farming run. We even managed to only wipe once at the big fight with Vazruden and Nazan, which happened primarily because Vikund switched from healing to melee too soon after Nazan joined the fray.

We won in the end though, and at a pretty fast clip. Earl got his second Mok’Nathal Clan Ring which, both taken together, add 28 to his resilience, something that, according to a comment thread over at Tobold’s Blog, reduced his chance to be crit’d by 7%. Not bad.

We also did some questing as a smaller group on Saturday night just to pick up some gear, experience, and standing, which I guess is why anybody does quests when it comes down to it.

But the primary focus for most of the instance group over the last week or so seems to have been alts.

Earl, in a marathon WoW Saturday, pushed his alt, also a warrior, over the top to level 70, making him the first of the five of us in the instance group to hit level 70.

Skronk (aka Potshot) pushed one of his alts to level 60.

Ula has an alt closing in on level 60 as well.

And I, after mucking about in Alterac Valley for a week, went back to the Outlands and pushed Tistann to level 62.

Add to that the fact that Gaff is back in WoW and has a couple of characters over level 60 on our server and, on the face of it, we might be able to run an instance with alts at some point.

Granted, it would not, perhaps, be the most well rounded group ever, as it would consist of two warriors, two hunter, and a druid. But since one the druid and one of the warriors is level 70, we might be able to get away with something. We will have to see what becomes of the idea.

So there the instance group stands, waiting for another Saturday night when we can all get together for another run.

A Pearl Shows Up

I have to watch what I write.

I have to remember that my wife reads this blog most days.

Last week I wrote about getting a Nintendo DS Lite and Pokemon Diamond for my birthday, a gift from my wife and daughter.

In the comments for that post, it was suggested that I should have asked for Pokemon Pearl rather than Diamond, as each has some pokemon that the other does not. You cannot catch them all if you do not have both versions.

A couple of days later I came home to find a late birthday present: Pokemon Pearl.


So now we have both, and potentially, access to all of the pokemon in this series.

I let my daughter take on the challenge of Pearl, as she was already way ahead of me in the game, having already defeated 7 of the 8 gym leaders.  (I have only defeated 2 so far.)

Of course, I have read that there are a pair of new pokemon games coming out in April, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness.

If we end up having to get these games (and no doubt we will), I will know to at least get one of each this time around.

And why, you may ask, do I feel I have to watch what I write? After all, I ended up with a new game from my wife.

Well, at the end of the month, I am the one who pays the bills, and it is tough to have to moral high ground about spending too much money when there are presents for me on the credit card bill!