Monthly Archives: September 2008

September in Review

The Site

Having passed the two year mark, this is my third September in review.  I can now expand these to include a section called “two years ago!”  Or maybe I’ll wait a few years.  If I get past the five year mark I can just start recycling the “one year ago” entries under the banner of “five years ago.”  Old content only dies if you let it!

In addition to a second anniversary, the site also crossed the 400,000 page view mark.  If I had an ISK for every page view… I’d be pretty poor in EVE Online.

Finally, just because I like to compare statistics, I added Site Meter to the blog, so now I get three disparate readings when it comes to traffic on the site.  It is true, a man with one watch knows what time it is, a man with three watches is never sure.

But I do know now that up to 1% of my traffic came from Oman today.

One Year Ago

One year ago I was waxing nostalgic about the Thundering Steppes, complete with pictures.

Meanwhile, as Tabula Rasa prepared to show up, Auto Assault passed into the history of MMOs.  Unfair comparisons were made.

Our summer hiatus from WoW was over and the group was back together for more instance fun.

The return to WoW showed something of a contrast with the way LOTRO played.  I was asking why LOTRO was not as much fun as WoW while speculating on where LORTO might expand and making up silly sight-gag posts.

And I was responding to another blog meme, remembering Adventure, looking towards the future of PvP play, wondering if I was a member of the press, and talking about getting naked.

New Linking Sites

A very big thanks to these sites who link to TAGN! I hope you will visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Darkfall Cometh?
  3. $500 for a WotLK Beta Key?
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. One More Level
  6. WAR on Gold Sellers
  7. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  8. WAAAGH – The Warhammer Online Podcast #2
  9. Yahtzee vs. EVE Online
  10. WAR Preview – Quest Log Refute
  11. LEGO Batman Unleashed
  12. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations

Best Search Terms

wolf vs dog fights
[Um, no.]

witty eve ship names
[I actually have a post on that in progress.]

yahtzee “city of heroes”
[I don’t think we’ve gone there yet]

third generation mmo
[don’t even get me started]

EVE Online

I accomplished a goal in record time.  I set out to pass the one billion ISK mark in September, and was there by the 6th of the month.  Okay, I was well past the 900 million ISK mark when I made that declaration, but they say you should set achievable goals.  And even better,  I managed to not piss it all away on a solid gold shuttle or some such!.

Otherwise, I have just been slowly working on my standings with the Ministry of Internal Order.

I did send out my EVE Blog Pack profiles proposal to CrazyKinux finally.  Now the ball is in his court.

Warhammer Online

WAR launched smoothly enough, at least if you play on the side of Order, and the blush is not yet off the bloom.

I’ve been suffering from a serious bout of alt-itis, as I have been playing five characters, which are currently levels 12, 12, 11, 10, and 8.  Must focus!

The biggest disappointment is that the WAAAGH! Podcast seems to have pod faded after only two episodes.  Gary, Ryan, can you two get it together already?  Todd, can’t you do something about this?  I might have to transfer my loyalties to The Warpath.

World of Warcraft

Um… yes, the answer to the question of life after level 70 seems to be no, at least for most of our instance group.  As I said elsewhere, we shall see if WAR stays fresh or if the Lich King lures us back to Azeroth in November.

I still work on my hunter a little bit.  The hunter in WoW is one of the most fun classes to play, in my opinion.  He is closing in on level 68, so with a little work, I might have a pair of level 70 characters for Lich King.


My daughter and I have been playing a lot of LEGO games on the Wii.  Of course, LEGO Indiana Jones is still the freshest LEGO title in the house, but we have been going back to LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga some as well.  Still no Mario Kart Wii yet.

Coming Up

Tales of Warhammer no doubt, as the instance group delves into the game, plus the usual updates about EVE Online.

Plus, isn’t some other expansion coming out soon?  Something about mining or mines and a girl named Moira?

The Failure of the Surge?

Last week Mark Jacobs declared war on gold sellers on his own blog.  This was met by enthusiasm both in the blogesphere and in the comments following that post. (Though Mark’s “don’t pester me about game issues” comment policy means that almost any comment that is not kudos gets deleted.  The words of the master are to be cherished, not questioned!)

There was a bit of griping about the sever-wide pop-ups to announce gold spammers being banned, and some people were a bit skeptical about the sincerity of the war on gold sellers, which in turn led to a fruitful post, even if just measured by the number of comments and spin offs, about how to eliminate gold farming.

Heady times, last week!

I commented myself about how I was never hit by the same gold spammer twice, which was a damn good thing because the /ignore command does not work.  Oh, it puts people on your list, but they can still send you tells.  I’d like to see the test cases written for that feature, please.

And then came the weekend.

By Sunday night I was getting tells from the same three gold spammers over and over and over again.  Where were the strike teams?  Where were the pop-ups?  Where was the tip on what to do when faced by gold spammers?

I got tells from one of those three again last night.

And when I went to go check something for that last post this morning, I got tells from the same guy again!

Was this crusade against the gold spammers just a bit of show?  Is the problem too big for Mythic to handle?

Some Tips are Lies

Of course not all tips are helpful.

As far as I can tell, you can only join the scenario associated with the region you are currently in, and then only if you are in the appropriate level range.

So no level 12+ players in Nordland can join a scenario, because Nordenwatch does not allow it, and no level 11 or below players in Troll Country can join a scenario because Stonetroll Crossing does not allow it.  If you are the wrong level, you get a message about not being able to join the local scenario.

You also cannot join a scenario queue at all from Altdorf.

And just to top it off, you do not always end up back in the location from which you joined.  I’ve ended up back in the war camp half way across the zone from where I joined on several occasions.

Tips About Tips

I generally like the tips that you get coming into a game.  There are often things about a game that I learn from the tips.

For example, in World of Warcraft, I learned that I could eat and drink at the same time.

I assumed that you had to do one or the other, but you can do both.  Of course, the tool tip doesn’t warn you that the animation looks goofy,

Shotgun that loaf!

Shotgun that loaf!

but there is always a downside to everything.

Other games have picked up the tips thing.  EVE Online and EverQuest II have added tips to their loading screens over the last year.

The harsh realities of EVE

The harsh realities of EVE

Proof that Woodworkers are useful!

Proof that Woodworkers are useful!

Other games have had them all along, like Lord of the Rings Online and Toontown Online!

LOTRO tips don't wrap

LOTRO tips do not wrap

Toontown Economy... a stronger base than our own?

A jellybean economy... a stronger base than our own?

Warhammer Online came out with tips on loading screens on day one.  I assume they are going to expand them over time, as right now there seems to be about eight tips, most of which I would describe as more philosophical rather than helpful, like:

Being a practical person, I might consider a tip about how to open up your friends list (the “o” key), since it link to the UI above the chat window does not note the key, unlike other buttons.  Or maybe something about how to toggle off the UI for a screen shot (right-shift-z), or even something about the two different types of screen shots.  I would go there before I went philosophical.

Still, there are a couple of concrete ones like:

That is actual hard data.  Perhaps not as universally applicable as the eat/drink thing from WoW, but good for the explorer type.

However one of the current Warhammer Online tips represents my least favorite tip:  The tip extolling tips.  Every game seems to think they need a tip like this, and it is usually part of the first batch of tips in the game.

Why does every game feel they need this tip, or one very much like it?

What drives the strange belief that people who do not read the tips already will be move by, or even see, this sort of message?

The recursive tip asking you to read the tips seems to me to be an indicator they there are not enough tips in the system.  I imagine a conversation along the lines of:

content guy 1: Hey, we only have five tips.  We need to come up with more.
content guy 2: Hrmm… how about a tip about how useful the tips are.
content guy 1: Cool!  Now we have six tips….

The problem is that even after the list of tips gets fleshed out and represents a wealth of knowledge, that one tip remains.

Why does that tip remain?  Has anybody ever felt informed by a tip telling you that you should read the tips?

EQ2 Living Legacy – Last Day

According to the Station Launcher, I now have just one more day left of free play in EverQuest II.

Of course, you seem to have to add one to any number that Station Launcher presents you.  After all, I have 8 out of 8 add-ons for EverQuest II, not 7, and the one and only add-on for Vanguard.  So I might have two days left.

Still, the end is nigh.

Essentially, since the kick off of the Living Legacy program back in early June, I could have played EQ2 without paying a cent.  Originally set to terminate at the end of July, the free play was extended until the end of September.

Unfortunately for someone (me, SOE, Gaff?), post-cataclysm Norrath was not my fancy over the summer.

I did go in and play some EverQuest, picking up some treats there, and we did spend at least one evening in EverQuest II when the instance group came up short.  But all in all, Living Legacy was not much of an event for me.

Of course, fall is coming, and the rains always seem to bring along a bout of Norrath nostalgia.  I will probably be back.  But for now, Norrath is off my list of destinations.  Telon too, 20 days not withastanding.

EVE Online Simple Trainer Trojan Horse

If, like me, you recieved this email:

Hello EVE Online community,

Gold Harvest Macro Solutions is proud to announce the retail launch of the Simple Trainer automated skill training macro for use with EVE Online! Simple Trainer will take any length skill plan for an unlimited number of characters and train it automatically. It has an easy to use interface that allows any user to create or upload their personalized skill training plan and begin training in minutes. No extensive setup is required to use Simple Trainer and you do not need to monitor it either. Simple Trainer will read and react to the information presented on the screen in a manner that will not get you or your account in trouble, so it is completely safe to use. Your account information is not necessary, but if used it is only stored locally and we stand by our promise of safety.

Be warned that the software being offered contains a Trojan Horse that will probably swipe information from your computer and send it off to the authors of the program.

Massively reports that this has been verified by CCP and they have put out a warning about this program.

Of course, I know you would never be tempted to use such a program, but somebody out there might.

The author of this scam can apparently be reached at, just in case you were interested.

The Path to a Freighter

Crossing the one billion ISK mark in EVE Online, flying a freighter became one of my more immediate goals in the game.

Clearly, with my distributed network of buy and sell points, having 750,000 cubic meters of hauling would be an advantage over the 29,000 cubic meters of hauling I can currently muster.  I have a number of commodities that I could use to exploit regional differences with that much hauling space.  Heck, I wouldn’t even have to build Badgers exactly where I wanted to sell them.  I could deliver.

But to economically exploit that much hauling, I would need enough ISK left over to increase my buying and selling.

So how much is a freighter going to cost me?

The freighter itself will be around 850,000,000 ISK.

Of course, that is never the whole equation.

For example, if I am going to pour that much ISK into something, I had best insure it.  I don’t know how much the platinum insurance plan is on a freighter, but lets call it 100,000,000 ISK.  Somebody will correct me if I am wrong.

And, I will need to be able to fly the freighter, which means buying skills!  I will need Advanced Spaceship Command for 45,000,000 ISK and Caldari Freighter for 67,500,00 ISK.

All of which brings us to around 1,062,500,000 ISK.

And, truthfully, to support any expansion in my sales operations, I will need to increase the number of sales slots I have.  I currently have 129 and that will increase to 145 once the 20 day crawl to Wholesale V finishes, but that will not be enough.  I can fill up 145 slots with my current operations.

No, I will have to invest in one more skill, Tycoon, which sells for 90,000,000 ISK.

Which brings the total up to 1,152,500,000 ISK.

That number, give or take a couple million ISK, is about what I have in the bank right now.

So, really, I need to get out there and earn some more ISK if I want to buy a freighter and some skills so I can get out there and earn even more ISK!

And here I thought having a billion ISK made me rich!  To buy and exploit a freighter I need closer to two billion ISK.

Back to the Mammoth I guess.  Back to exploiting regional differences on a small scale and feeding that hunger for kernite.

Three Hours on a Saturday Night

That is the time budget our regular instance group generally has to work with.

Three hours.  9pm to midnight Pacific time.

For the last two years, World of Warcraft has had us pretty much covered.  There was a smooth progression and a series of instances to do, one by one, every Saturday night that we could all get together.

We diverted into Lord of the Rings Online a little while to see the splendor of Middle-earth.  And there has been rash talk of just breaking out Age of Kings and making that the weekly event for a while.

But for the most part, WoW has been it.  Together we have climbed the levels in WoW.  Together we have defeated 28 of the five-person instances in Azeroth, leaving us 9 short, by my count, of finishing all of the five person, non-heroic instances.

Only now we are all level 70, a fact that has yanked the wind out of some of our sails.

We have mastered the experience bar, only to find that the experience bar is our master.

End game is no game for some of us.  At least not for me.  As much as my daughter wants be to go grind to get a netherwing drake mount, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

But just as we were hitting the level cap in WoW, a new title came rolling along.

Warhammer Online.

Perhaps not the title to which one would expect our group to migrate.

There is certainly no promise of smooth PvE progression, no new dungeon to crawl every Saturday night, no guided tour of the lands.  This is no slick amusement park experience.  This is no Azeroth.

In fact, much of the PvE content is mind numbing in its “been there, done that” sameness, only a bit slower and a bit less rewarding on the whole.  I hit a “kill 25 wolves” quest the other night and nearly cried out, “How many wolves must die to my hand?”

And Public Quests?  Well, I’ve yet to find one that I would keep running once my influence bar for that chapter has capped out.  Of course, I’m a tourist in many ways.  Our instance group pictures usually have some version of the “Holstein’s Visit the Grand Canyon” shot.  So it should be a surprise that I don’t really want to keep running the same quest over and over.

But, as EVE Online is not about running missions and hauling trash, Warhammer is not about killing 25 wolves, my own career not withstanding.

Warhammer is about finding your fellow humans and slaying them without mercy.

So, this weekend, the full instance group will step into Warhammer Online.

We’ve all bought a copy.  We’ve all rolled some characters.  We’ve all made it to the same server.

And with the default group size being six, we will be able to have Gaff along as well.  You’ve seen his blog.  He’s no Mickey Spillane.  He’s a killer, not a writer.  Let me see your WAR face!

The six of us together will sail into harm’s way, counting not bosses defeated, but enemy slain, battles won, keeps conquered, titles gains, and renown earned.

None of us are new to PvP combat.  We’ve all done our time in first person shooters.  Blood and the unpredictability of a human opponant are not new.  My own lineage in that genre started with Marathon and I spent many hours playing Tribes, Delta Force and its follow ons, and the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942, along with some other titles to lesser degrees. (Lesser degree means not a couple hours a night, every night, for months at a stretch.)

So far, the preliminary trials into the PvP combat of WAR have gone well for the group.  We have been on together in twos, threes, and once in a while, a foursome.  We’ve been getting our bearings, finding the right classes, and enjoying some satisfying battles.

But this Saturday night will be the first real test.

Will Warhammer be a move towards the PvP world of which I wrote just over a year ago?

Will our group find Warhammer fulfilling not only initially, but over the longer term?

Will battles stay fresh?

Will the progression be worthwhile?

Will we stay enthusiastic?

Will the vagaries of PvP challenges fit within our time budget?

And will PvP make for good copy when it comes to the Thursday instance kill group summary post?

We shall see as the weeks progress.

And, if not… well, we will find something else to do with our time.

Lich King comes out in November.  We’ll get our experience bars back and will be able to carry on as before.

LEGO Batman Unleashed

Is the chicken soup fresh?


LEGO Batman: The Video Game was on the store shelves yesterday, available for a variety of game systems including the Wii.  Since we have a Wii, that is the version that interests me.

And, as with the past LEGO titles from Traveler’s Tales, I am considering buying it.

However, I am just not as enthusiastic about it in advance as I was for LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga or LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

As spot on as Batman is for the LEGO video game franchise, what with the utility belt and the absolute legitimacy of the character punching people in the face repeatedly (How many times did Luke Skywalker ever punch anybody in the movies?  I think Princess Leia hit more people.), I’m not quite there yet for this title.

Part of this is probably a bit of burn-out on Traveler’s Tales’ LEGO game franchise.  Their chicken soup is not so fresh any more.

While I am sure it will be fun, as with Warhammer Online for the MMO veterans, I am sure there will also be a lot of “sameness” about it.

I haven’t played LEGO Batman, nor have I read much about it, but I can bet that in any given level you will fight all sorts of bad guys, solve some puzzles, and collect a lot of LEGO studs to unlock characters and abilities that you will then be able to use in the “free play” version of the level.

To finish the game, to get that magic 100% display, you will have to go back through each of the levels in “free play” mode, as some of the special hidden items (canisters in LEGO Star Wars, treasure chests in LEGO Indiana Jones) will only be accessible with via abilities that you won’t have in the “story mode” version of the game.

Am I close?

I could be wrong, but my guess is that they have hit their stride and won’t deviate much from past success.  Again, not that it won’t be fun, but it is no longer a “rush out and get it today” level of fun.

Then there is the price.

$50 is something I have to think about.  I just wrote a check for a new roof on the house and it isn’t like the current headlines in the paper are all about prosperity and economic growth.

Well, that and, after playing LEGO Indiana Jones, I am skeptical about there being $50 of value in the game for me, when measured by my own dubious internal, unquantifiable metrics.  Those internal metrics were set, of course, by LEGO Start Wars: The Complete Saga (which may be a bit unfair since that was a re-release of two past titles) and LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (which I feel is a fair comparison).

My internal barometer of game value says that if LEGO Batman were $30, I would already own it.  At $40 I will buy it the minute we tire of our current Wii titles and want something new to play.  But at $50, it is a special item, something for Christmas, Birthday, or other such event.

Finally, after price, we have the story itself.

The LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles had huge, well known movies behind them.  Most people have seen them. (We made my mother watch Raiders of the Lost Ark when she was out to visit, so there is one more person on the list.)  Traveler’s Tales could get away with making fun of a lot in those movies because some many people have the context to get it.

Batman though… well… which Batman?  Is he the comic books from my youth, the TV show I grew up with (Julie Newmar is the only real Catwoman… well, she’s in the top 5 at least), the Tim Burton launched movies, one of the animated series, the new movies, or maybe the Frank Miller version?

Okay, it is probably not the Frank Miller version, cool though that would be.  I haven’t read much about the game, as I said above, but I can probably guess that much.

The problem is not that Batman isn’t as universal as Star Wars or Indiana Jones, the problem is that there are so many variations of him.  And no matter which version they picked, it will be the wrong version for somebody.  Somebody out there will be looking for the chicken soup scene in the Superfriend’s version of the Batman character.  It might be the wrong Batman for me.

So there I stand.

All that said, the vague LEGO ennui, the value proposition, and the “whose Batman is it anyway” angst, I am sure we will end up owning the game at some point and that my daughter and I will have a lot of fun playing it.

The chicken soup may not be fresh, but I bet it is still very good.

We just won’t be getting the game this week… or next week, most likely.

How about you? Did you get a copy?