Monthly Archives: April 2008

April in Review

The Site

My post, “SOE Announces Graphite Realms,” was popular enough to make April 1st, 2008 my highest traffic day ever. (Brenlo is never going to give me SOE office supplies again!)

It was, of course, me indulging in one of the two long held April Fool’s Day traditions. The first tradition is pranks and similar tomfoolery. The second tradition is complaining about all the pranks and tomfoolery. Together they have a perfect symbiotic relationship.

I supposed that I will never earn my curmudgeon certification until I leave the first tradition for the second. Maybe next year.

The worst thing about hitting a peak though, is the fact that there is always that slope down on the other side as traffic returns to normal.

Roller Coaster!

On another topic, has added a new feature that generates links to possibly related posts. If you opt in, some links, under the heading “Possibly related posts: (automatically generated),” may end up at the bottom of your posts. Your own site only gets linked if you opt in.

I opted in, just to see what came up. So far, most of my posts lack possibly related links, though “Angling in Angmar” has a few connections to fishing blogs. Imagine that!

And, finally, I have received a SINGLE entry in response to the LOTRO Banner Contest post. And that guy doesn’t even play LOTRO. So the next entry could be the winner! A 30-Day time code there for the taking!

If you are having problems with the 730 x 140 size, just get close (a little bigger is better than too small) and you won’t be disqualified. Having made a hundred or so banners, getting the sizing right is easy, but I understand that some people have problems in that regard.

Get your entry in by May 16th!

One Year Ago

Back in April 2007 we were wondering what was going to happen with Sigil Games Online after their less than stellar Vanguard launch. (*snort*) There was much speculation. Soon, however, we would be free from the rambling posts of Aradune.

In EverQuest II Gaff and I visited Emperor Fyst, I ran around in Nektropos Castle with the Everling clan, and complained about experience in Splitpaw.

While our WoW group was winding down for the summer, with Earl off to Broadway, the remaining four of us went off to Middle-earth with the launch of LOTRO. Titles were the new thing! A year later, I still have yet to get any of those emote titles.

I answered the musical meme question, “Five Reasons Why I Blog.”

Van Hemlock was leet.

Our Wii finally came out of the box.

And, finally, I had a problem with a video card that eventually had to be RMA’d, which sounds a lot like this April. I hope this won’t turn into a yearly thing.

New Linking Sites

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

So maybe it will be next month when I cannot find a new site linking to The Ancient Gaming Noob.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  4. SOE Announces Graphite Realms!
  5. My LOTRO Video Crash
  6. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  7. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  8. Mammoth Explosion
  9. Moving To Amarr Space
  10. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG
  11. TAGN Central
  12. LOTRO is Go!
  13. The Profusion of Interdiction
  14. Five New EVE Online Wishes
  15. One MILLION Chinese!

Best Search Terms

somebody thinking
[not here]

faux wood computer
[Like those station wagons from the 1970s?]

isk exchange rate wow
[I don’t think you can spend ISK in WoW… not yet, anyway.]

EVE Online

I had the big move to Amarr space which has started me on a big mission-running grind for standings. I have been running lots of missions. I have also been mining lots of kernite. And then there was my industrialist aspirations, producing Badgers for fun and profit. I still rarely see anybody I know in EVE, though Van Hemlock was nice enough to convo me to say “Hi!”


I embedded that Sayonara Norrath video in a post to help promote Tipa’s EverQuest Nostalgia Trip campaign, and it darn near snagged me as well.

However with LOTRO coming back into vogue, EVE still simmering, and the instance group still going, I knew the free time for another venture wasn’t going to be there.

It will probably be Fall again before I return to pre-cataclysm Norrath. Next time around I’ll get Gaff and Potshot signed up and we’ll see how far we get.

Lord of the Rings Online

A replacement 8800GT card fixed my video issues. I still use the nVidia control panel to turn up the fan on the card when I play LOTRO though. The “automatic control” seems to think turning the blades at 29% of max rpms is the solution for all heat issues. I crank it up to 60% when I venture into Middle-earth, which keeps the card in a reasonable temperature range, if you consider 60 C reasonable.

New criteria for the next video card: Better heat sink mechanism.

Once in LOTRO, fun is there to be had. Some of the instance group plus Gaff “three box” are back in Middle-earth as well. There is fishing, fighting, and crafting. And, in general, the game seems a bit smoother compare to our last venture into it. Combat has been tweaked so it feels a bit less awkward. It still isn’t at the WoW level of responsiveness, but it has been improved.

Random trivia: A dwarf guardian yells A LOT in combat!

World of Warcraft

The instance group has been moving forward, though with the failure at the Mana Tombs, it appears that the difficulty level is starting to ramp up. Aside from Earl though, we do not seem to be spending much of our non-instance group time in Azeroth. Middle-earth is stealing that time.


While the Wii has not been getting a ton of use, it still entertains guests. Lots of Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart Double-Dash, and LEGO Star Wars gets played with visitors, along with the usual Wii sports.

A friend of ours brought over Endless Ocean. Our friend is big into the scuba diving, so thought it was a great game. My daughter likes it quite a bit. For my part, “endless” seems to be an apt description, as the game seems to slowly plod along with no end in sight. More like Interminable Ocean to me.


My daughter has been distracted from Pokemon Diamond a bit over the last month. First it was Pokemon Pearl. She wanted to get going there to capture the Pokemon that aren’t in Diamond. Then there was a one week love affair with Horsez 2, which we got through GameFly. All this has allowed me to catch up, somewhat, with her in the game, and we both stand with 7 gym badges and are chasing around Team Galactic with a vengeance. She still has the advantage in that a couple of her Pokemon are in the low 60s, while my highest level Pokemon is only 42.

Coming Up

Instance group, adventures in Middle-earth, the ongoing struggle in EVE, and perhaps the defeat of Team Galactic?

It has been a while since I have written anything on the topic of ancient gaming. Perhaps I should dig through my notes and post on that topic. My Stellar Emperor/MegaWar III posts seem to be getting a lot of traction of late.


On Witty Ranter # 7 we spent some time thrashing about trying to get people with somewhat different viewpoints to get together and create a plan for an MMO given a hypothetical $50 million war chest.

My initial suggestion was to hire some Bulgarians to do some sort of multiplayer version of Bejewelled and then split the remaining $49.5 million between us.

That was against the spirit of the whole premise, plus it would have made for a very short show. Instead we came up with some sort of rated M for mature, free to play, micro transaction, space game with no swords allowed EVER! A proud moment for all of us, to be sure.

But I had another idea in mind. A way to take $50 million and turn it into a magical everlasting money machine.

I said the magic word, the word that drives this idea about 27 times during the show, so Adam couldn’t have edited them all out.

The magic word is Pokemon.

I have been aware of Pokemon for some time now, not just since a DS wandered into the house. Heck, I have some real Japanese Pokemon cards stashed away somewhere.

But only since my daughter started drinking the Pokemon Kool-aid have I really started to see how Pokemon is everywhere.

So suspend your disbelief for a few and tell me if this wouldn’t be a money maker.

First, it has to go on the PC. Yes, I know, Nintendo will never go there, but that is why I said to suspend your disbelief. Come on, suspend it! Now!

Grahpics won’t be 3D. Instead it will be a mild upgrade to the Diamond/Pearl level of graphics. This will let it run on every PC made since 2000. You’ll be able to run it at home, at the office, on the road.

Then there will be the world. It will be done GuildWars style. Towns, contest areas, arenas, and the like, those will be shared areas. But when you and your friends go off into zones, it will be instanced. This will keep overhead down as every bit of action won’t be sucking up server resources.

Finally, it will be inexpensive. You’ll have to buy a box or a download copy, but $14.99 a month? forget about it!

The base game will be free to play. You will be able to buy expanded content as it comes out or subscribe to plan on the order of $20 a year to get access to all the content.

Of course, there will be micro transactions via the standard “spend cash to buy in-game points, use those points to buy cool stuff” model.

And, to tie it in with Nintendo’s standard game plan, while there will be some items and some Pokemon that will only be available on the DS Pokemon games, but that can be brought over to the PC version via Nintendo WFC.

So what does the PC player get?

Aside from slightly better graphics and a bigger, zoomable window on the world, the PC will have the option to go through the game with friends. I envision being able to form a group of two to four players to explore with a scaling encounter system that will adjust the number of opponents relative to your own group. There could be areas with epic Pokemon encounters, where you would need not just four people, but four people with the right Pokemon with the right skills to take down the bad guy.

Plus you can add on all of the tricks of the trade from MMOs past and present. Things like player housing, gym factions, live events, seasonal items, storage and travel options, all infused with micro transaction upgradability goodness.

In the end, Nintendo would never go for it. But I think it would have the potential to be a serious money maker.

And it must be a good idea. I got up this morning to post this article and found that Massively had a post on the same topic. Go go Pokemon MMO!

Angling in Angmar

As promised, Lord of the Rings Online’s Book 13 update included fishing!

Woot, fishing!

For no good reason, I have done fishing in every MMO I have played that made some sort of angling mechanic available. I have had characters with fishing skills at the cap in EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and World of Warcraft.

Therefore I knew when Turbine announced fishing for LOTRO, I would be there.

Friday night I found the NPC that grants the fishing skill in Bree. He sends you off to another NPC in Staddle, by the pond of course, who finishes up the “how to” and will sell you some bait.

LOTRO follows the WoW model, where bait enhances your ability to catch fish, but is not required. This is compared to EQ where, at least back in the day, you needed bait for every cast and EQII where not only don’t you need bait, but you don’t even need a fishing pole. One just appears miraculously when you need it.

Equipping my new pole (and hat), I was soon fishing.

In my usual haste to get to the good part, I skipped through all the… well… words… and just started casting. So it took me a minute or two to figure out that you have to hit the fishing action button both to cast your line AND to reel in a fish when you get a strike.

I noticed other people making the same mistake, so I passed along that tidbit wherever it seemed appropriate.

And speaking of getting a strike, LOTRO’s fishing, like so much in the game, is a quality experience. You actually see a fish in the water approach your bobber and take the bait. Granted, it seems to always been the SAME fish, one that bears almost no relation to what you actually end up catching, but it is a damn good looking fish, there in the water, and it makes the experience that much richer. See, look:

So far I have caught weeds, goldfish, minnows, and, no doubt in homage to EQ fishing, rusty daggers! (Too bad my weaponsmith cannot sharpen them for skill improves.) All of them are vendor trash as far as I can tell.

Of course, also like real fishing, once you find a decent spot where the fish are biting, everybody else in the world seems to show up.

The final LOTRO touch, as you might expect, is titles. I fished until my skill hit 10 (out of 200) at which point I got the first fishing title, Apprentice Angler.

Now I just have to make my way to Nen Harn for some fishing.

The Official SOE Podcast #34

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

  • SOE Game News
  • Listener Emails: Joseph
  • Podcast 32 Follow Ups
  • Fan Faire count down
  • Top 10 reasons you know Alan is cranky and Top 10 pathetic excuses for having to miss a Raid
  • Interview with Robyn Vallee, the Community Manager for the Volunteer Guide Program
  • Vanguard Update 5
  • Interview with Vanessa “Eovania” Barrera (German) and Midori “Momochi” McDaniel (Japanese) from the international community team
  • The Love Doctor
  • EQ2 House of Commons Chat
  • The 3rd annual SOE Block Party – July 26th
  • 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 April 21st and runs just under one hour and twelve minutes.

The SOE Community team is also asking that if you enjoy the show, if you could take a minute and go Digg It on

Witty Ranter #7

Last week Adam, the host of the Witty Ranter podcast, invited myself, Darren from The Common Sense Gamer and Shut Up We’re Talking, Brenden from Another Here, Peter from The Addicted Gamer, and Crovan from The Bitter Old Noob and The Drone Bay podcast to get together with him on Skype and do one of his famous discussion shows.

The show topic was presented as:

We’re the game design team, we’re given 50 million to make our own MMO. Flesh out the MMO as a show topic.

And so off we went, limiting ourselves to some specific areas of MMO design, including genre and business model.

What we ended up with… well… stronger voices prevailed and some old farts and polite Canadians might not have ended up agreeing with certain aspects of the result. Still, we all had fun.

So if you want to hear six blind men arguing over the design of an elephant, now is your chance.

Witty Ranter is part of the prestigious VirginWorlds Podcast Collective.

You can find episode #7 here or on iTunes.

Death in the Mana Tombs

I joked as we were looking for the instance that the name of the instance meant it was a tomb for mana users who entered it.

Little did I know how spot on that observation would be.

Looking for the instance. Yes.

What with time spent by some of us in LOTRO of late and my efforts in EVE Online, we did not do a whole lot of groundwork in advance of this run. I cannot speak for the others, but Vikund was still parked where I left him the previous Saturday night.

So when the time rolled around, we were a little vague on the whole location of the instance. Somewhere in the Terokkar Forest, right?

A couple of us got in the general vicinity of the Mana Tombs but then had to run around for a while, first to find the meeting stone to summon the other party member, and then to find the actual entrance to the instance.

After a Three Stooges level of effort, we finally got everybody together, picked up the two quests outside the instance, then went in. The group was:

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

We started off lost, then stepped into the instance, only to end up dead.

The first pull in the instance was nearly a wipe. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact that we were all of three steps from the entrance, it would have been a wipe. Skronk and Bung went down quickly, then we decided to get out. However, Earl and Vikund were both hit with DOTs and managed to die outside of the instance. Ula was the only survivor.

We\'re just good friends

That set the tone for the night.

We nearly wiped again a few yards further into the instance, Ula being the sole survivor again.

After that, we really buckled down and took care. We even managed to make it to the first boss, Pandemonious, the biggest voidwalker we ever did see.

We even defeated him on the first go! We seemed to be getting back in the groove.

Of course, he dropped a mail item, the Boots of the Outlander. Our luck in that department holds.

Then we moved onward, and managed to wipe on trash mobs again. There is Vikund, dead again.

He looks so peaceful, he could be sleeping.

More care went into getting to the next boss, Tavarok.

Oh, the pain. Here is a shot of us, all dead, with Tavarok in the background.

We were eager to go again though. (You can see the bones left from the last effort.)

And we wiped again.

It was declared “time for research” and WoWWiki came out.

It turns out that Tavarok has a 30 yard AOE attack that stuns and does quite a bit of damage to casters.

So we positioned the casters outside of a 30 yard radius of Tavarok and had at him again.

This time we won. It wasn’t easy. Tavarok’s crystal prison attack has a much greater range and knocks off half of your hitpoints as well as stunning you. This is why we lost Skronk and Ula in the fight.

And, as our streak dictates, Tavarok dropped a leather item, the Nethershade Boots. Bleh.

Still, onward we went, dying again on the way to the next event, which got some of the team, who were already showing paper doll to the red, durability to zero stage where equipment is simply no longer usable.

For the first time in a long time, we had to send somebody out for repairs. Ula put up a portal for Skronk, who went off and found a repairbot at the auction house and brought it back. Earl has his engineer skills high enough to deploy the bot, so we all stopped for a repair break.

Repaired and rested, we moved on. We managed to clear all the way to the last boss, Nexus-Prince Shaffar.

He actually has some witty dialog.

He also creamed us three times running. He didn’t just beat us, he beat us into the ground. We were not even close to winning.

He beat us so rapidly I did not even get a screen shot of it.

And after the first defeat, even advice from WoWWiki wasn’t any help to us. We were fighting way out of our weight.

Having run back to the instance after the third route, we decided to give up on Shaffar and just do the escort quest we passed up before calling it a night. The NPC made it sound easy!

All we had to do is follow him around while he emptied out his Ionic Breezes nether collectors.

And, in the first fight, we wiped.

That was it for the night. More than three hours in and many deaths later, we called it.

Two bosses down.

Two quests left hanging.

Too many deaths.

Now we have to regroup and figure out what went wrong.

While we were at the lower end of the level range (64-66) for the instance, we were not totally off base attempting it.

And while we were not, perhaps, in our finest form that night, we were still working together pretty well.

I am starting to wonder if the curse of the boss drops, the fact that we seem to get mostly leather and mail items that none of us can use, is beginning to work against us. Maybe our equipment just isn’t up to par. After all, we have been doing mostly instances and very few quests. We might be behind in the department.

So next time around, we will have to decide what to do. Should we go back and farm an instance for blues, or go run some quests for levels and green upgrades?

365 Day LOTRO Anniversary Contest

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar launched last year on April 24th.

While those of us who pre-ordered were in the open beta that allowed you to carry over your characters into the live game, April 24th was the big day. It was the day the game box went on the shelf, the day I ran out and bought the collectors edition.

But because 2008 is a leap year Turbine has to wait one extra day to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Lord of the Rings Online launch.

To make up for that extra day of waiting, I thought I would kick off the first TAGN LOTRO contest.

About a month and a half back I offered up my nine remaining Founder’s referrals to readers of this blog.

Nine people took up the offer, and this week Turbine notified me that I now have one 30 Day time key for LOTRO.

So it is time for a contest to give away that key!

The Contest

The first contest is simple. Just make me a Lord of the Rings Online themed banner for the blog. The best one gets a 30 day time code for LOTRO.

The Rules

Banners must be 730 pixels wide and 140 pixels tall.

Banners must be in .jpg or .png format.

Banners can be original artwork or taken from screen shots.

Banners may NOT use material from the Turbine or the Lord of the Rings Online web sites or any press or promotional collateral provided by Turbine. (Which covers most of the screen shots you see on gaming news sites.)

Banners must master their fear, or fear will be their master.

There is a limit of three entries per person.

All entries must be sent via email attachment to wilhelm2451 at rightbox dot com.

Please put “LOTRO Contest” in the subject line of your email. [new]

All entries must be received by 2:01 am UTC on May 16th, 2008.

The winner will be announced in a post on Monday, May 19th, 2008.

The time code will be sent to the email address that the winner used to submit their entry.

In the event of some sort of “tie,” all winners will receive a 30 day time code.

Employees of Turbine, their immediate family, and their pets are not eligible to enter. Neither are the owners of the Mongolian BBQ place around the corner from my office. (Worst gastric distress ever!)


The judging will be based on banner aesthetics and layout, the use of space within the restrictions which the banner position on the site imposes (see “artistic considerations” below), and how frickin’ cool it is.

While I will be the final authority in picking the winner, I may seek advice from my wife, my daughter, my mother, members of the permanent floating instance group, co-workers, the kid next door, the mailman, readers of rec.arts.books.tolkien, the pizza delivery guy, or Kibo.


Give your entry a unique title and put that title in the body of the email. There will be thousands hundreds maybe a dozen at least your entry, and I don’t want to lose track of it.

Indicate how I should refer to you (name, handle, whatever) should you be the big winner. Include the URL for your website or blog if you want that included as part of your identity.

If you have no use for the 30 day time code, but want to enter anyway in the hope of just seeing your name/handle on the site, feel free, but let me know that is your intention. It guarantees you won’t win the time code, but I will no doubt call out exceptional entries.

Artistic Considerations

Take into account the “Home” and “About” tabs that stick up into the banner area. I can’t make them go away, so make sure they don’t spoil your entry.

The title and tag line in the banner currently are placed there as part of the WordPress theme. I can turn them off if your entry includes the name of the site. But remember, the site name is “The Ancient Gaming Noob.” Any variation or misspelling may count against you, unless you are an ogre. The tag line is purely optional. You can leave it off or make up your own, though tread carefully there, even if you are an ogre.

If you omit the blog title, make sure that the title currently in the banner does not spoil your picture. And while I can remove the title, I cannot change its color, so avoid a large white patch in that area that will wash out the title. (See, these banners don’t just make themselves, do they?)

If you feel you have to sign your work, go ahead, but large signatures, guild logos, email addresses, URLs, or imbedded “work from home” offers may count against you.

MS Paint is the work of the devil. Use it for your entry only if all else fails.

The Economics of Badgers

Some weeks back I put up a post about how long material efficiency was going to take for my new venture into ship building.

Eventually the 49 days elapsed.

My blueprint was in hand.

I had materials stored away for production

I was ready to commence production.

I was going into the business of Badgers.

I chose that lowly Caldari industrial ship, the first hauler for so many people, because:

  • The blueprint original (BPO) was cheap for a ship
  • They seemed to sell well
  • The price seemed to be stable and at a level where I could make a profit

The last bit was, of course, the most important. If I was going to invest in a BPO, I wanted to be able to make my money back.

The BPO itself was 3,138,750 ISK.

Researching to Material Efficiency level 12 on the BPO added 2,278,836 ISK to the investment.

So my initial investment was 5,417,586 ISK, plus 49 days of waiting.

Fortunately, the market stayed stable while the research went on.

Materials and manufacturing cost per Badger, based on current mineral prices:

ME 0 – 348,720 ISK
ME 12 – 306,196 ISK

So the 49 day wait was worth over 40K ISK per Badger produced, which ends up being a pile of tritanium on a production run of 15 ships.

My selling price for Badgers is 540,000 ISK, which turns a tidy 231,104 ISK per ship sold.

Which meant that I had to sell 24 Badgers to get back my initial investment.

I have already sold 40.

So, if nothing else, Badgers have made me some money.

Of course, there have been some challenges.

I only noticed after my first production run that a packaged Badger is 20K cubic meters in size. That is more space than any of my haulers can handle.

The next size up in hauling from an industrial is a freighter. While I am a mere two hours training time from flying a freighter, the cost to buy both the ship and the skills runs to the 1 billion ISK mark. I just have to sell about 4,400 more Badgers to get there.

With a freighter not an option for now, I have had to improvise and build where I plan to sell.

I load up the BPO and all the materials for a 15 ship production run, fly off to the neighborhood in which I want to sell, and start producing on location.

I have thus, established myself in the ship building business. Plus I am sure I could sell the BPO for quite a mark up if I tire of production. There seems to be a pretty steady market for BPOs with some material efficiency research on them.

I wonder though, with the removal of NPC sold shuttles, if I should go into the shuttle business as well?

Return to Middle-earth

Friday night marked the return of at least some of the WoW instance group to Lord of the Rings Online.

It was unplanned, but after my wife went to bed early (she stretched out on the bed for a minute and then the sandman crept up and mugged her… it was a long week for her) I decided to just log into LOTRO for a few minutes, just to look around.

But once in I was hailed by Skronk and Ula who were also getting reacquainted with the game. They were in the North Downs around Nan Amlug. Since I was near Trestlebridge, I hopped on my new mount and headed out to play with them. Our group consisted of Skronk’s captain, Ula’s minstrel, and my guardian, Nomu.

We picked up some quests from the area and went out hunting.

High points of being in LOTRO again.

Graphics – Wow, I had forgotten how beautiful Middle-earth can be in LOTRO

Appearance Tab – There is not one, but two appearance tabs in LOTRO, so you can have two outfits on hand. You can see in the picture above Nomu is wearing a bucket hat in his appearance tab in anticipation of the upcoming fishing hobby.

Ambient Sound – Out in the fields the ambient sounds were quite amazing, some of the best I recall hearing in an MMO.

The Founder’s Horse – While not as swift as the mounts that can be purchase at level 35, they are both free and faster than walking, which makes travel in the game much easier. All three of us are founders, so we were all able to ride.

General – Skills seem to have been tweaked since we last played together. While still very rusty, we were able to work as a team fairly effectively.

All in all we had a good time. I think we all need some warming up in the game, both to get used to some of its quirks (the UI just is not as responsive as WoW’s) and to come up to speed with all the changes that have come into the game since we last played in the fall of 2007.

I will have to keep an eye on a couple things though.

The first is money. Theoretically Nomu should be able to buy a better horse at level 35. However the price, 4 gold and a couple hundred silver, seems way beyond what he will have been able to save by that point. Quest rewards and vendor items off of mobs seem to be barely keeping ahead of the repair bill after an evening in the field. I hope I don’t have to start working the auction house just to start making money.

And the other is my video card. I would like to avoid any further video card issues, so I have been turning the fans up and watching the temperature on the 8800GT.

Still, the green fields of Middle-earth seemed very welcoming.