Monthly Archives: July 2008

July in Review

The Site

A week away did not seem to hurt readership too much. Otherwise, the usual patterns continued. Things I post on Monday through Thursday get about 50% more page views than things I post on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Presumably this is because you all spend your work week reading blogs, then get to Friday and realize you have to scramble to get your stuff done so you can enjoy the weekend off.

Not an unusual pattern here in Silicon Valley. I used to work with a woman whose husband used to come home and write code into the wee hours of the morning because, as far as she was concerned, all he did at the office was play foosball and read UseNet. And that was before the advent of the world wide web.

This month also seemed to be the silly season for link and post requests. The silliest, yet most viable, was a Slim Jim promotion in the form of a site called Spicy Town.

Described, perhaps optimistically, as a mash up of “Machinima, World of Warcraft, and Slim Jims,” you are encouraged to paste a picture of your face on an avatar and then behave badly to earn points. While the FAQ is pretty up front when it comes to what the site is about (Slim Jims), they never actually use the phrase “mechanically separated meat.”

Finally, I want to shout out to Kirith Kodachi who, in EVE-Tribune #26, had some very nice things to say about the site in his article on “How to Write an EVE Blog.”  Thank you for your kind words and including this blog with the outstanding examples on your list!

One Year Ago

Hey, it was the Revelations expansion in EVE Online that was news a year back, and I was running through the updated new player tutorial. It was a huge improvement, though I ran into a glitch or two.

The instance group was still off in LOTRO for the Summer, though we were having issues at The Great Barrow when we weren’t playing Truth or Dare.

Vanguard was already planning server merges. 13 servers down to 4.

EverQuest II got its own magazine… again (okay, it was an SOE magazine for Station Access subscribers the first time around, but it had an EQ2 scantily clad dark elf on the cover!)… in the form of EQuinox. And they were offering Rise of Kunark beta access to subscribers!

Dr. Richard Bartle, keeping to his strict regime of “one controversial fanboi enraging quote every summer” said he would like to improve the MMORPG species by turning off World of Warcraft.  Seems kind of mild after this year’s entry and reaction!

Perpetual was making crazy-insane statements about Star Trek Online… like no Galaxy-class starships for you! Ships that size were planned to be “space cities” and quest hubs. Cryptic take note: If I cannot aspire to be Captain Kirk, I am not sure I want to play! Or just go read Tipa’s post on the subject.

The end of Auto Assault was announced by NC Soft and I took note and pondered a (silly) solution.

And I stopped in front of SOE headquarters for a picture. (Mirror universe Wilhelm, with goatee.) I was two weeks early for the SOE Block Party though. Oddly enough, I will likely be down in San Diego again this summer, and I will be two weeks late for the block party! Note to Brenlo: Please hold the block party either two weeks earlier or two weeks later than you plan to hold it next year.

New Linking Sites

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

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  4. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?
  5. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG
  6. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  7. My LOTRO Video Crash
  8. EVE Pricing Fun
  9. WAR Project Management
  10. Marauder Economics
  11. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Diablo III
  12. Lag city in Lonetrek

Best Search Terms

square dancing in pictures
[Hrmmm… is that what the internet has come to?]

“you don’t say” “he didn’t say” routine
[I knew that Spike Jones reference would pay dividends!]

Best Spam Comment

hey im an anonymous person asking if i can put other things on your blog?
[No doubt quality things that would enhance the user experience.]

Diablo II

I have continued playing through this old classic at a slow to moderate pace. Generally I find time once a week to sit down and get to the next waypoint in the game. Seeing the game rendered at 800×600 on my big monitor always feels awkward for the first couple of minutes, but then I am drawn into the game. Diablo II is also one of those games I have to play with the sound on. That is probably a “duh” to many, but I do tend to play a lot of games in silence mode. Often I am listening to something else, like a podcast. But in Diablo II the sound work is so good and so much a part of the game that it gets my full attention.

And even seven years after it was released, it is a fine game. It grabs me and holds me like none of the pretenders can. Titan Quest was “meh” to me, but this is great. Now if only Blizzard can capture the good parts of Diablo II for Diablo III.

EVE Online

Like nomads or snowbirds, our corp moves with the seasons. Now we are back in Amarr space where the kernite is plentiful, the missions are easy, and the living is good. We have actually had multiple people flying at once on a number of occasions.

Star Trek Online

Whee, the Star Trek Online is back in play.  I can add it back to the “games I watch” list on the side bar.  Of course, the power to disappoint is huge with this title, as I noted above.

Warhammer Online

I decided a while back that I was going to play Warhammer Online.  Even though I am much more in the 40K camp,  I know that WAR will be far too big to pass up.  As is my usual process, when I have made a decision like that, I tend to look away and try not to get to know too much about the game up front to keep it fresh on day one.

That has been difficult with all the press it has been getting, and I don’t know what I’ll do when the NDA on the beta drops.

Still, in anticipation I have created a Warhammer Online category for the site and have added WAR to the “games I watch” list, even if I am watching through the gaps between the fingers trying to shield my eyes.

World of Warcraft

Summer time plans have kept the instance group from doing much in the way of instances. We are all closing in on level 70 though, with Skronk already there. My pally, Vikund, is the furthest back at just shy of half way through level 68. We will be ready for Wrath of the Lich King, but what will we do with five Death Knights?


Pokemon is where it’s at.  Finishing the national pokedex in Diamond though… that’s going to take some time.


Pokemon Ranch is up on the TV daily, as the game brings in a new Pokemon every day. On occasion it brings in a rare Pokemon that it will trade with you. Nice!  We got a Phione that way.

The game also pesters you about finishing up the national pokedex, like I need that. It helpfully suggests what you should try to catch next. I might ignore that, except that those are also the Pokemon the game will trade for rares. Nintendo owns us.

In Pokemon Battle Revolution I started doing battles against people over WiFi. I have come up with a six Pokemon card that is, so far, undefeated. Okay, I have only been in about 10 fights with it, but I have taken down some people rolling out cards full of legendary Pokemon. Not bad, considering I lost every battle until I perfected this line up.

Coming Up

Umm… we’re going to LEGOLand, so I’ll be gone again… and will probably end up playing a lot more Pokemon on the road.

Also, I have an idea or two about the EVE Online Blog Pack.  One of my ideas will require some feedback from readers before it goes foreward, but I’ll get back to you on that.

$500 for a WotLK Beta Key?

My wife, walking by my office door, casually asked, “You’re not going to pay $500 to play this Lich King thing, are you?”

As I was expecting something more along the lines of “are you coming to bed?” “is the house locked up?” or “don’t forget to set the dishwasher,” I was a bit taken aback.

As usual, several separate thoughts rushed for my mouth and got jammed in together like the Three Stooges in a door way, leaving me muttering, “Who? What?” (Which sounds like “hooowhaa?” when I am in that state.)

She had already passed by and settled down in front of her computer. I walked over and she showed me an article on Yahoo! about Warcraft testers paying big bucks for access.

Yikes! People paying for beta access? Paying to test somebody else’s software?

Okay, it boggles my mind, but I get paid to test software, not the other way around.

But sure enough, we went to eBay and searched on “lich king beta” and found more than a few auctions up selling beta keys.

I have to wonder what the Blizzard stance is on that?

That and how many of those codes for sale are just scams? I mean, PayPal is good on giving you a refund if you do not get something tangible from an auction, like LEGO minifigures (don’t ask), but if all you are buying is an n-digit code number, how do you get your money back if it did not work? PayPal is NOT good at refunds when it comes to intangibles. They used to explicitly exclude such things from their refund policy, and may still, I’m just too lazy to check.

So, in answer to my wife, I said that if I had a beta key, I would happily sell it for $500 and just wait for the expansion to ship.

I went back to my office while she headed down the hallway. Arriving at our bedroom, she called out to me yet again.

The cat had just thrown up on the bed.

Reality was back to normal at our house.

The EVE Personality Test

No surprise on my results:

PvE Aficionado
PvE Aficionado
Take The EvE Personality Test today!
Created with Rum and Monkey‘s Personality Test Generator.

EvE, while not designed specifically as a PvE game, does a good job of it anyway. You enjoy being a space captain tasked with extracting ore from floating monstrous asteroids, or work for the local government, shooting pirates that have infested your home system (not players, of course). You don’t really like PvP, so you stay away from it if you are able, but you realise that kids will do what kids want, so as long as they stay in low- or nul-sec, you accept it.
I play the PvE game and I take the PvP game as part of the environment.

WAR – Guess The Recommended System Requirements

The Warhammer Online Herald posted the Minimum System Requirements for Warhammer Online today!  Another data point for the masses!  You can find them here, but in a nutshell they are:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium IV
  • CPU Speed: 2.5 GHz
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Video Card: 128 MB + Shader 2.0 support
  • HD Space: 15 GB

But what do those specs really mean?

For a lot of companies, the minimum system requirements they list are like a kiss from your sister; they don’t mean a whole lot and can even be embarrassing.

Some times the minimum system requirements seem like some sort of cruel hoax to spur more box sales to the unsuspecting.  Who else is thinking “Vanguard” right about now?  Go on, raise your hands.

With other games, the minimum system requirements are technically correct, you can play the game and even do well, but your enjoyment would be greatly enhanced (and your frustration would be greatly reduced) if you had treated the “recommended” system requirements as the minimum.  EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online come to mind for me here.  Even EVE Online, which has a pretty light client, is pushing credibility a bit with their minimum requirements, as I have noted, at least since the Trinity expansion came out.

A few companies seem to make sure that their minimum recommended specification actually delivers decent game play.  Yes, you knew I was going to write World of Warcraft at this point, but what can I do?  It runs better on my cheap company issued laptop than any other game I have mentioned and at least one I have not, which is EverQuest.  It doesn’t just run better, it is playable.  I could run our weekly instance group run on it, while I wouldn’t attempt running a level 3 EVE Online mission.

So that brings us to two questions.  First, what kind of company is Mythic when it comes to minimum requirements?

In digging through their DOAC site and remembering what friends have told me about playing other titles from Mythic, they seem to be more conservative and/or more realistic when it comes system specs, so I am going to predict that WAR will be pretty playable at the minimum spec.  Not that they have set the bar startlingly low, but that is at least a four year old game system they have listed there.

The second question is the recommended system requirements.  What will they be?

My guess, since they say they want WAR everywhere, is:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium Core 2 Duo
  • CPU Speed: 2.0 GHz
  • RAM: 1.5 GB
  • Video Card: 256 MB + Shader 3.0 support

What do you think?

The Slave Pens – Return Visit

Saturday night arrived again, as it always seems to about once a week, and it was about that time. My daughter was asleep and my wife was in bed after a long day at the gift show up in San Francisco, so it was time to head to Azeroth.

While he was logged on to Skype, Earl was flagged as away. We are beginning to suspect that having a real house in the suburbs rather 250 square feet in Hell’s Kitchen is starting to tell. Moving in and getting settled can take the wind out of your sails and you might not always be ready to start a couple hours of gaming at midnight local time.

So our party ended up as a foursome, a fine number for a round of golf, but an “at level” instance usually required a bit more… 25% more, actually. Our usual choice in such circumstances is to go out and do some quests. That works for group quests, but with the solo quests it is often more of a hindrance to have along more people. Such is the way of WoW.

We decided, as a change up, to go back and try a lower level instance to see how well we could do there. While there would be no quests to finish, the experience from killing mobs should be more substantial.

This would also be the first real test of the team since Skronk respec’d shadow and Vikund respec’d retribution.

Our party was:

68 Paladin – Vikund
68 Warlock – Bungholio
68 Mage – Ula
70 Priest – Skronk

Skronk also hit level 70 recently, the first member of the instance group to do so with their main character. Earl hit level 70 with an alt already and is probably pretty close with his main.

So it was that we headed back to the Slave Pens, and instance we have done not once, but twice already, and the only instance we have run with Gaff in as a substitute.

We flew on down to Zangarmarsh, swam through the Coilfang reservoir, collected everybody, and jumped into the instance.

And we ran back out pretty quickly.

The first fight with three elite mobs went sour pretty quickly. We were going to have to figure out how to work as a smaller and considerably different group.

Eventually we settled into a workable routine. Skronk had to stay out of shadow form and be somewhat biased towards healing. Vikund went with his new two-hander, The Oathkeeper, a rock crusher of comic proportions, to cause maximum damage so as to hold aggro. Bung kept his viodwalker active as off-tank and did the warlock death dance. And Ula… well, she stayed with her usual crowd control and damage.

That, plus some chemical enhancements in the form of some potions and a flask or two from Skronk (Alchemists Local 428), got us going.

Once we got our routine down we managed to get through any group of three elites without issue and even managed a good showing against groups of four most of the time. We did manage to wipe a couple of times on four. But to say we were in as much control as with five of us would be a gross over statement. Any deviation from the plan, any unforeseen add, or, when faced with four opponents, and slip up generally meant death all over.

We moved forward through the instance though, until we got to the first boss, Mennu the Betrayer. Ironically, we wiped to another group within sight of him, but then took him down without too much drama. It was remembered, not too far into the fight, that the key to Mennu is keeping his totems down. Once somebody went on totem patrol, it was only a matter of time before he went down.

Battling Mennu on the Ramp

Battling Mennu on the Ramp

He dropped the Princely Reign Leggings, which went to Bung.

On we went. There was a little trouble at one point when we were in a fight and a patrol we had not noticed, as the draw distance in some parts of the slave pens is remarkable close, which was a deviation from the script and thus lead to a wipe, though not before we took most of the bad guys down.

Working our way around we eventually arrived at Rokmar the Crackler. Here was the point when that big crab cracking hammer of mine was going to come in handy.

Time for Rokmar the Crackler

Time for Rokmar the Crackler

We checked our buffs, made a quick plan, and then went after him. Rokmar had a different plan however, and while we were close to bringing him down… he was at 11% or so… Vikund went down to Rokmar’s Grievous Wound attack that drains 900 health every two seconds.

Oh yeah, forgot about that one.

Still, we were close. A couple of better place heals and maybe the tank remembering he had a health stone handy would do it. On to round two.

Tank dies even sooner, everybody run!

The tank is down, time to panic!

The tank is down, time to panic!

For the third round we decided to change things up a bit. Vikund put down that big crab hammer, strapped on a shield and drew his one handed mace. That mace was, frankly, crap when it came to DPS, so Vikund couldn’t hold aggro well enough to keep the fight in one place. Casters died, the tank died, we all died.

Okay, that did not work. We were closest to slaying him with plan A. Time to go back to that with a focus on the healing required to deal with Grievous Wound. Once the somebody has it, they have to be healed up to 100% before it fades, which can be a steep slope when the tank is losing 900 hp every two seconds.

And we managed to do it this time.

Vikund remembered he was a paladin and had that “lay on hands” icon on his button bar and actually used the skill at a key moment to supplement Skronk’s otherwise excellent healing. Aggro was maintained by the tank while Ula and Bung burned Rokmar down.

Victory over Rokmar the Crackler

Victory over Rokmar the Crackler

And at that point we called it a night. People were tired and the final boss, Quag-Helen-Mirren is a step up from Rockmar and we weren’t quite up for that.

And so we will reassemble next Saturday for another night in Azeroth. I hope we’ll get the whole team on again soon, though it is summer and people have other plans. But we will get back and finish off Auchenai Crypts at some point before Wrath of the Lich King comes out.

Living Legacy Free Time Farewell

While the in-game events go on, the free play time is winding down for SOE’s Living Legacy promotion. The tap was turned off for EverQuest last Friday and EverQuest II will become the sole domain of paying subscribers by the end of this week.

Still, all former players of these games were given almost two months of free play in these games, along with other goodies.

And how did I use my Living Legacy time?

EverQuest II

I squandered my time.

I logged on maybe five times total during the whole Living Legacy promotion, and the only time I stayed on for more than a few minutes was the other night when the instance group was down to three and we ran off to Darklight Wood.

For the most part I was in the doldrums when it came to EQII though. None of my characters are currently compelling, I have no empty character slots left to roll a new one (my usual cure for the game blues), and my guild seems to be taking the summer off. Oh well.


I actually spent some time in EverQuest during the Living Legacy program. I actually leveled up my Drakkin shadow knight from 20 to 31, which meant getting him to the point of having a decent pet, a useful life tap, and some good damage over time spells, all of which made him just that much easier to solo as I went along.

Tistann, mounted and looking for trouble

Tistann, mounted and looking for trouble

I even joined Tipa’s Nostalgia guild, though since their grouping days were Tuesday and Friday, when I am usually spending some time with my wife, I never actually grouped up with anybody. But I did chat on the guild channel.  No, really, people acknowledged my presence.

Did I Resubscribe?

Urm, sorry, no.

The Living Legacy promotion offered quite a bit of cool stuff to returning players, but I already had a number of the key items. In both games I already own the current expansion and I will probably buy the next expansion for both, so inducements for either were lost on me.

I might have subscribed to EverQuest if they had kept the experience boost in hot zones. That was a heady experience, going through eleven levels in a couple of days of play, versus how long those levels too me back in the old days.

But even that is just an appeal to the tourist in me. Rediscovering classes, monsters, and zones was fun, but I was not very serious about the game while I was doing that.

So while I am sure I will subscribe to both games at some future date, right now I am laying down my burdens in Norrath and heading to other lands.

Upgrading: Golem or Raven Navy Issue?

Geared towards versatility and prolonged deployment in hostile environments, Marauders represent the cutting edge in today’s warship technology. While especially effective at support suppression and wreckage salvaging, they possess comparatively weak sensor strength and may find themselves at increased risk of sensor jamming. Nevertheless, these thick-skinned, hard-hitting monsters are the perfect ships to take on long trips behind enemy lines.

-Lai Dai Corp Sales Brochure

After figuring out what stood between me and flying the Caldari Marauder class ship, the Golem, in EVE Online, I thought I might look into whether it was worth the effort. If it had been just a matter of ISK, I might have just pressed forward.

But all that training and exotic materials… well, this thing had better slice, dice, and make julianne fries out of Gurista capital ships before I start stockpiling Graviton Reactor Units.

And before I get away from the components that you need to build a Golem, like Rieger suggested in a comment on my last post on Marauders, you can build those pieces yourself. But they require additional exotic components to create, which you either have to buy on the market or get into Moon mining to obtain. I am not sure I need another EVE money sink at this time!

So I went and grabbed the base stats for comparable ships build on the Raven platform. The information below is from EVE Mon and the EVE Fitting Tool. Both are excellent utilities. Don’t leave your hanger without them.


First, there is the lowly Raven. Heh, lowly, as in “the biggest, baddest ship I have ever managed to build and fly.” It serves as the baseline measurement for this comparison.

  • Unfitted Price: 80-90 million ISK, widely available
  • CPU 700 tf
  • Capacitor 5,312 / 1,154 sec recharge
  • Sensor Strength 22
  • High slots 8
  • Medium slots 6
  • Low slots 5
  • Rig slots 3
  • Launcher hardpoints 6
  • Turret hardpoints 4
  • Capacity 665 cu/m
  • Shields 7,500 / 2,500 sec recharge (0 EM 50 Exp 40 Kin 20 Thm)
  • Armor 6,641 (50 EM 10 Exp 25 Kin 45 Thm)
  • Hull 6,641
  • Effective HP 26,824
  • Special: +5% cruise and siege launcher rate of fire and +10% cruise and torpedo velocity per level of Caldari Battleship learned.

Raven Navy Issue (aka CNR)

The upgraded version of the standard Raven. A reasonably common sight in systems with level 4 agents.

  • Unfitted Price: 600,000 Caldari loyalty points plus a Raven and a Caldari AZ-1 Nexus chip, 500,000 loyalty points plus 200 million ISK for a single run blueprint, or 400-500 million ISK via contract. Widely available.
  • CPU 720 tf
  • Capacitor 5,312 / 1,154 sec recharge
  • Sensor Strength 22
  • High slots 8
  • Medium slots 6
  • Low slots 5
  • Rig slots 3
  • Launcher hardpoints 7
  • Turret hardpoints 4
  • Capacity 665 cu/m
  • Shields 11,250 / 2,500 sec recharge (0 EM 50 Exp 40 Kin 20 Thm)
  • Armor 9,961 (50 EM 10 Exp 25 Kin 45 Thm)
  • Hull 9,961
  • Effective HP 40,235
  • Special: +5% cruise and siege launcher rate of fire and +10% cruise and torpedo velocity per level of Caldari Battleship learned.

Raven State Issue

Previously called the Corvus, this is the ultimate extension of the Raven series. Too bad you can’t have one. Still, a pod pilot can dream, can’t he? Put on the list just as a yardstick of awesomeness.

  • Unfitted Price: Infinite. Availability is zero. They were prizes from the Third Alliance Tournament and only four exist.
  • CPU 770 tf
  • Capacitor 5,250 / 924 sec recharge
  • High slots 8
  • Medium slots 6
  • Low slots 6
  • Rig slots 3
  • Launcher hardpoints 8
  • Turret hardpoints 2
  • Capacity 665 cu/m
  • Shields 13,550 / 3,000 sec recharge (0 EM 50 Exp 40 Kin 20 Thm)
  • Armor 11,953 (50 EM 10 Exp 25 Kin 45 Thm)
  • Hull 11,953
  • Effective HP 48,282
  • Special: +5% cruise and siege launcher rate of fire and +10% cruise and torpedo velocity per level of Caldari Battleship learned.


The Raven derivative that represents the Marauder class entry for the Caldari faction. Touted as a mission runner deluxe, is it worth the price?

  • Unfitted Price: 650 million to build it and skill for it, 850+ million to buy one ready made along with the skills.
  • CPU 715 tf
  • Capacitor 5,625 / 924 sec recharge
  • Sensor Strength 14
  • High slots 7
  • Medium slots 7
  • Low slots 4
  • Rig slots 2
  • Launcher hardpoints 4
  • Turret hardpoints 0
  • Capacity 1,225 cu/m
  • Shields 8,200 / 2,272 sec recharge (0 EM 50 Exp 48 Kin 40 Thm)
  • Armor 11,953 (50 EM 10 Exp 34 Kin 59 Thm)
  • Hull 11,953
  • Effective HP 31,623
  • Special:Caldari Battleship Skill Bonus: 10% bonus to cruise missile and torpedo velocity and explosion velocity per level
  • Special: Marauders Skill Bonus: 7.5% bonus to shield boost amount and 7.5% bonus to effectiveness of target painters per level
  • Special: Badass Role Bonus: 100% bonus to cruise missile and torpedo damage, 100% bonus to range and velocity of tractor beams

What To Buy, What To Fly?

There is the data I have at hand. Now which way should I go?

The Marauder Path


  • Firepower, certainly. It has only 4 launcher hard points, but it doles out double damage for each missile, giving it the same shot potential as the Raven State Issue. You get that AND three remaining high slots for your nosferatu, energy neutralizer, and drone control module.
  • Tractor beam reach and speed! Again, it doubles your tractor beam range (40 km) and the speed that it pulls goodies back to you (1,000 m/s). If you have to loot and salvage every wreck like I do, that has got to look good.
  • Storage capacity is a win too, as you get nearly double the hold to store your loot.
  • Shields have better resistances, along with armor, and there is a boost to shield boosters, which is a good thing with a platform that is built with an active shield tank in mind


  • Price. Holy cow!
  • Skill. I am 90 days away from flying one.
  • While the shield tank is better in resistance, and there is the bonus to boosters, the effective hit points of the ship still don’t add up to a Raven Navy Issue.

The Navy Issue Route


  • Best shield tank of my options.
  • Less expensive and easier to obtain. Plus, if you buy a blueprint, it does not require any exotic tech II materials to build it.
  • Skills required to fly it are essentially the same as a stock Raven.


  • Still costs a lot. I could afford one, but I could not afford to lose it.
  • All my loyalty points are with the Amarr Navy, so I’m more likely to get an Apoc Navy Issue going that route.

My Good Old Raven


  • I already own it.
  • I haven’t failed a mission yet with it… at least not when there wasn’t a lot of system lag.
  • It is cheap relative to the other ships on the list. I can afford to buy 5 more like it at market price, and many more than that if I build.


  • Worst shield tank on the list.
  • No prestige. It is the Ford or Chevy of Caldari battleships.
  • If I stick with it, I have to find something new on which to spend my ISK.


As you might have guessed, I will be sticking with the standard Raven for right now.

This exercise started out when I was having trouble adapting from the passive shield tanking strategies of the Drake to the active shield tanking methods of the Raven, with all that capacitor management. I have since gotten something of a grip on flying missions with the Raven.

Still, were I to upgrade, I would probably go with the Raven Navy Issue. The tank-breaking offense of the Golem is tempting, especially when you only need four launchers to do it. But the price! They will probably get a bit more reasonable as time goes along, but right now they are too much for me.

If the EVE Factions Drove Cars From My Youth

What would they drive?

Something silly that came up in corp chat the other night.

My youth is defined for purposes of this post to be the 60s and 70s, when I was physically young. Mentally some might argue I have not yet left that period of my life.


A 73 Chevy Monte Carlo in beige with the 454 engine.

Open up the picture on Wikipedia and tell me that wasn’t designed by some Amarr ex-pat working in Detroit.


A Studebaker Avanti. Asymmetry FTW!

Only you would have to hang about half of the crap from the J.C. Whitney catalog off of it to get the true effect. CB Antennas with glowing tips FTW!


67 Camaro RS, all in grey primer, missing the front grill, with a coat hanger in place of the radio antenna and another holding up the muffler.

I know this car. I have seen it in 100 variations. The engine does not matter, as it would be heavily modified in any case.


A Citroën DS in green.

Tell me that isn’t a Thorax on wheels. There could be no other answer.

Other Choices?

What other possibilities could there be? And what about other factions? What would ORE drive? How about Sansha’s Nation?

EverQuest Platinum Ad Update

I wondered earlier in this month about how long EverQuest Platinum, the four year old, no longer available expansion roll-up would continue to be advertised on the EQ Players site.

I went by the site today and got the answer. Less than 22 days.

Yes, they have replaced it with Secrets of Faydwer at last!

We can all rest easy now.

I’m still trying to figure out what the deal is with all the EverQuest Zippo lighters in the Station Store though.

Maybe I’ll write to Brenlo. It could be a question for the SOE podcast.

GameFly and I Part Ways

I cancelled GameFly this week. I was doing the bills, and there it was on the credit card statement right next to NetFlix. All I could think was, “I know NetFlix, and you, GameFly, are no NetFlix.”

Sure, GameFly seems a lot like NetFlix, the same business model and such, games through the mail vs. movies through the mail. But having the two services running side by side, including price, where there is less than a dollar difference between the two on my monthly statement, NetFlix shines and GameFly is a bit tarnished.

That is, of course, completely unfair. NetFlix is at least an order of magnitude bigger than GameFly, DVD rentals and game rentals track differently, and I happen to live in an area well served by NetFlix (I could drop off my movies on the way to work if they would put a box outside their corporate HQ) while GameFly is considerably further away.

So GameFly wasn’t awful. If it was awful I would not have remained a subscriber for over a year. But there were the little things.

Delivery Times

As I said, I am completely spoiled by my proximity to NetFlix. I drop a movie in the mail on Monday and I have the next one in my queue at home and ready to watch Wednesday. They hit that 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time is mostly attributable to my either asking for odd-ball titles that have to be shipped from other NetFlix distribution centers or by my dropping the red NetFlix envelope in the mail box too late in the day.

GameFly has to live in that shadow. Their nearest distribution center is down in the Los Angeles area in the City of Industry (not to be confused with the movie of that title), which adds travel time back and forth.

Plus GameFly doesn’t seem to be big on the “next title shipped the same day” thing that NetFlix does. So if I drop a GameFly envelope in the mail on Monday morning, I might see the next game on Saturday, but a good portion of the time it was there on Monday, so a week went by without a game. This is an issue because…

One Game at a Time

At the level of service I have with GameFly, I only get one game at a time. So if I get one new game a month, which is about par for our house, we spend a week out of that month sans game. Yes, for another $8.00 a month I could have had two games, but then we are starting to get close to the price of a new game every month. And I would still be spending a week waiting for replacements. Plus, as I noted, the NetFlix and GameFly monthly fees are very close, so there is a big psychological barrier, for me at least, to give more money to GameFly. Unfair, but that is the environment GameFly has to compete in at my house.

Drawing from the Bottom of the Queue

The biggest divergence from NetFlix in terms of service is how likely you are to get things that are in your queue. I began to think that my queue was somehow inverted, as I would have 8-12 games on my list, but would only ever get things from the bottom third. I understand that a new game is unlikely to get to me, but I had some old titles at the top. GameCube, Nintendo DS and even Game Boy Advance titles that showed high availability, but which we never saw.

So I was never sure what we would get next from GameFly. Compare this with NetFlix. I cannot recall the last time I did not get the movie at the top of my queue at NetFlix, and we put new releases on our queue now and again.

Very Limited Buy Options

I have come to the conclusion that you can tell if a game sucks with only two data points. First, you have never heard of it. Second, GameFly is willing to sell it to you. That is enough for me to wave it off. The test case was Mario and Sonic Shill for the Chinese Dictatorship, a game I detest on a few levels, which is readily available for purchase on most platforms supported by GameFly.

Anyway, GameFly has very few titles available for purchase, and they are usually titles I wouldn’t purchase in any case. For the Wii, this was not such a big deal. We would rent a game, like it, go look if we could buy it, find ourselves thwarted there, and then go buy it at a local store instead. GameFly’s loss is Fry’s gain.

However, once my daughter got a Nintendo DS, things changed a bit. The Wii saves your game information on the console, so buying another disk does not change anything. In the DS world though, your game data is saved on the cartridge. So if you cannot buy the game you have in your possession, you have to throw away any game data you have saved.

This lead to the Pet Horsez 2 incident. My daughter had seen Wild Pet Tigerz and Wild Pet Dolphinz advertised on TV and wanted to try them out. I put them at the top of our queue which meant we did not get them. (Though when Tigerz ended up low in our queue, we got it, reaffirming my inverted queue theory!) As a back up I had put some similar games in the queue, and we ended up with Pet Horsez 2.

My daughter loves horses. She has asked us to buy a horse for her, offered to pay for it herself (if it costs $50 or less), and has suggested it could just live in the back yard and eat the grass. Of course, she became quite enamored with the game Pet Horsez 2. After a rough start, she actually got very good at the game, so much so that she wanted to keep it. She wanted to use her own, saved up money to buy it.

I went to GameFly to see if it was for sale. It was not. I said we could buy it at the store, but she would have to start from scratch again. This lead to a lot of tears, wrenching my own heart. Little girls become attached to even virtual horses it seems. Somebody suggested that I could just report the game lost and keep it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that or demonstrate to my daughter that such an action was the right behavior. So the it ended up going back to GameFly.

Since then we have approached DS rentals with a much lighter touch, trying to not get too attached, knowing that if we like a game, it will have to go back.

The End

And so, paying the bills and seeing GameFly again in comparison with NetFlix on my credit card statement, I decided to cancel.

The cancellation process is easy enough. They ask if you are sure. They offer you another month at a reduced rate. They warn you that all your coupons will go away, though since they are only useful for purchasing games, and since they don’t have much for sale (literally just nine DS titles when I looked that night), that particular step encouraged me to continue the cancellation process. They give you one last chance. And then you are done, with a note about how you can reactivate, should you wish to in the future.

So, as I said above, GameFly wasn’t awful. I am not going to go register or anything. (Somebody is already sitting on that domain… probably GameFly.) But the combination of small annoyances plus the obvious mental comparison with NetFlix every time I dealt with them just got me to the point where I could no longer justify paying for their services.