Monthly Archives: April 2009

April in Review

The Site

Somewhere along the line I stopped linking directly to the posts of other bloggers on a regular basis.  I used to do it a lot, but I fell off the wagon at some point, so I am resolving to do it more often going forward.

However, I am not going nuts like Tipa who has taken something akin to the apparently late CrazyKinux’s EVE Speedlinking and applied it to a wider set of topics and on a daily basis.  She hasn’t mentioned me yet (*pout*), but I have been on about WoW and EVE a lot lately, neither of which are high on her list.

I also tinkered around with a tag cloud in the side bar, mostly because I saw Potshot and Heartless_ add them.  Generally I don’t like those cloud things, but they are interesting to look at once in a while.    So if you had hit the site in the right 10 minute window at one point two weeks back, you would have seen these in the side bar:

Category Cloud

Category Cloud

Tag Cloud

Tag Cloud

I am surprised at how big RMT, TorilMUD, and SUWT appear in the tag cloud.  Tabula Rasa is in there and that big?  And I obviously need an EVE Online character named Reynaldo Fabulous to boost that tag.

Why two clouds?

WordPress has two ways to flag posts.  Categories and tags.  Categories are higher level classifications, things about which you will write  about a lot.  Tags are for more focused classification.  So when I write about the instance group, it goes into the category for instance group and World of Warcraft, while the tag is related to whatever specific activity we have been up to, such as running The Nexus.

You can see that the most popular category is “entertainment.”  That is because I flag all my posts with that.  It is considered something like a “top level category” by WordPress.com and if your post has that category (and you have uploaded an avatar) you have some minuscule chance of appearing on the WordPress front page.  It has happened to me a couple of times.

One Year Ago

I made up something for April Fool’s Day.  I thought it was amusing.

Lord of the Rings Online celebrated a year of being live.  Book 13 introduced, among other things, fishing.  And my video problems with the game proved to be a bad video card, so I was actually able to get into the game.

Computer Gaming World/Games For Windows magazine ceased publishing as part of the ongoing demise of print media.

In EVE Online I made the big move from Caldari to Amarr space.  I also began producing Badger transports for fun and profit.

Meanwhile in WoW one million people in China logged into WoW at the same time.  There is still no report on what would happen if they all pressed the space bar at the same time.  While that was going on, the instance group finished up the Slave Pens and the Underbog and began the long struggle with the Mana Tombs.

And then it was Tipa’s turn to bang the EverQuest nostalgia drum, so I joined in yet again.

New Linking Sites

The following sites have linked TAGN on their blog roll.

I encourage you to return the favor and visit these site to see what they have to offer.

Most Viewed Posts in April

  1. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  2. Rotom Secret Key Event
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. Regigigas Event at Toys R Us
  6. WoW Dance Battle System!
  7. Noblegarden Egg Frenzy
  8. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  9. Free Realms Unleashed Today
  10. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?
  11. The Age of Cerberus?
  12. A Castle and a Dollhouse

Deleted Comments of the Month

stupid people that runs this website
[Sorry, you need to be insulting in complete sentences.  I have some standards.]

no agent will give me a mission
[Maybe it is your breath.]

EVE Online

We have been living a bit dangerously in our corp.  Potshot and I have been venturing into wormholes, testing out the water, not always without incident.  Two other members of the corp have been playing in carebear 0.0 space.  There is an alliance called CVA that runs a section of 0.0 space as though it were part of Amarr space.  Anybody can go there and rat or mine and they run patrols to hunt down pirates.  And best of all, you don’t even have to go through low sec space to get there.  And then there is Gaff who has left our little corp again to join a 0.0 corp that is part of the Sylph Alliance, and neighbor of CVA.  This time, however, he has made it in to 0.0 space, mined a mint in ore and lost his first raven in pvp combat.

Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO celebrated its second anniversary, and I really wanted to get on and do some of the special things they have had going on over the last month.  However, being busy with EVE, WoW, kittens, and work, I only managed about fifteen minutes in virtual Middle-earth in April.  I will have to continue to live LOTRO vicariously via the Van Hemlock podcast.

World of Warcraft

Lots of activity in Azeroth.  The usual instance group runs plus play time on the weekends with my daughter and mother.  And then there has been Noblegarden.  I’ll have some more on that.

Nintendo DS

Pokemon Platinum has gotten some play over the course of the month.  Not as much as I suspected it would, though my daughter already has five gym badges to my mere two.  We spent a lot of the month obsessing about kittens.

Coming Up

Certainly the ongoing exploits of the Permanent Floating Saturday Night Instance Group will continue.  Does anybody get that reference?  Should I just give it up?

Potshot is planning out something we’re calling “The Expedition” in EVE.  We’ll see how far that gets.  In regards to skills and ISK we are set.  Time though is ever our bugbear.

And I am pretty sure I am going to post something else about the kittens, if only to keep the friends and family members who read the blog appraised of their antics.  You’ve been warned.

The Nexus Reloaded

I was not even sure we were going to manage a run at the Nexus by the time Saturday night came around.  I was beat from a long day, we were getting started late, and Earl was having a problem with his talent points.  It looked like it might be another postponement.

But then we discovered that Earl’s talent point problem was caused by the fact that he had the new “preview talent changes” option selected, which meant he had to click a button to commit his talent point selections, something he failed to notice. (I expect a full post from Syncaine on how this feature was ripped off from WAR and the evil that is Blizzard by Friday.)

That issue out of the way, we formed up outside of the Nexus and got ready for the assault.  Out group was:

73 Priest – Skronk
73 Warlock – Bungholio
73 Warrior – Earlthecat
74 Mage – Ula
74 Paladin – Vikund

All lined up we got ourselves into the instance and gazed again upon the final boss, Keristrasza, locked in ice, waiting for us.  But you have to kill the other three bosses first before you can free her.

He is only decorative at this point

She is only decorative at this point

Last time we went counter-clockwise, so we decided to head clockwise this time.  This lead us towards Ormorok the Tree-Shaper, but not before having to battle through some very persistent foliage.

The elite mobs were not so bad, but the non elite flowers that wandered that wing of the instance have a bad habit of not staying dead.  You beat them down, they curl up, but they do not die.  Instead the sprout again and come after you.  They aren’t that dangerous, just annoying, as we would prep for a fight only to find ourselves knee deep (or armpit deep for the gnomes) in hostile flowers again.

Still, we persisted and cast a lot of area affect spells, and got through to Ormorok.  In one of the minor traditions of our group, we decided to go after him without any research.  We just dove in at him.

And we won.

He had some interesting area attacks that seemed to upset the casters, but overall we came through it without a lot of drama.

Ormorok Deceased

Ormorok Deceased

Fortunately, with Ormorok’s demise, all the vindictive herbage fell dead as well, so we went unmolested some ways back to the main path.

From there we wandered a bit trying to find our way to Anomalus, the next boss.  He is up on a platform and the ramp to him was hidden on the far side from the direction we approached.  It was a short delay though, and we were soon facing him.  As before, we went in without intel just to see how it went.

We wiped.

Anomauls summons all manner of rifts and we were not certain if we should ignore them, target some of them, or destroy them all.  After the wipe we looked it up and the message was destroy them all.  So Bung and Ula got rift duty and we swept on to victory.

Like most arcane elementals, Anomalus did not leave much of a corpse behind.

That's it?

That's it?

Then it was more platform walking and clearing until we got to the blood elf section, the Librarium.  Along the way to Grand Magus Telestra we managed to wipe again.  It was getting late, we were getting a little sloppy, and we started bypassing groups.  But then in a fight with one group of four we backed up into another such group that we had gone around and we were toast.

Once back in we decided to clear counter-clockwise as we had done last time.  We also started using paladin crowd control.  There in the retribution talent tree is a skill called Repentence that I had never used before.  It can put down humanoids, dragons, demons, giants, and the undead for up to a minute.  A nice little addition to our group.

We practiced dual crowd control pulls, Ula polymorphing and me… um… repenting? repentencing?  anyway, me taking a target out of play, more to get a feel for it than because we needed it.  It worked well.

And so we made our way back to the Grand Magus.  We had slain her previously, but I went to check if there was anything special we should know.  It suggested that at the point where she clones herself into arcane, frost, and fire versions of herself that we polymorph the frost version to keep damage down.  But the three clones pop up fairly close and both Earl and I depend to a certain extent on area attacks for damage, aggro management, and a bit of healing.  So we ended up breaking crowd control pretty quickly.  We won all the same.  Still a fun and chaotic fight though!

We've killed you before

We've killed you before lady

And so all that was left was to, you know, kill the dragon.

A dragon fight!

Dragon fights are special.  Dragons are special.  Simulated old maps rarely ever have things written in sparse areas that say, “Here be giant arcane marshmallow things,” or “Here be a blonde mage with pointy ears,” or even “Here be some giant ancestor of the Lorax.”

No, they always say, “Here be dragons.”

So we were a bit stoked to actually be fighting a dragon.  It had been a long time since we faced one of any flavor.  In fact, we may not have faced one of any sort since we did Blackrock Spire access.

Anyway, expecting the usual dragon tactics of breath weapons and tail swipes, we put Earl out front and everybody else on Keristrasza’s flanks and went after her.

And got eaten.

Keristrasza victorious

Keristrasza victorious

It was time for research while we recovered and rebuffed.

We ARE going back in there

We ARE going back in there

We looked up Keristrasza and all her attacks and were trying to decide how to deal with all of her frost damage when I remembered what Smackendehed said in a comment to last week’s instance group post, “When you turn blue, jump.”  With that, all the information we had made sense and we went back to face the dragon again.

So we did the the Pogo while Keristrasza did the Worm and we were victorious without much drama.

Dragons defeated in three tries or less or your money refunded in full!

Dragons defeated in three tries or less or your money refunded in full!

And we had finished the Nexus!

tnachievement

Next week we get to look into Azjol-Nerub, the name of which sounds mildly rude.

Free Realms Unleashed Today

Barring anything bad happening, Sony Online Entertainment‘s new entry into the casual online game market, Free Realms, should launch some time today.

It was said elsewhere that that Sony reboots today.

Obviously SOE rebooted a while back and Free Realms is just the latest, and perhaps the purest, result of this new axis of march in San Diego.

A real transition took place last year when SOE was moved out from under Sony Pictures, who seemed inclined to a position of ignorance and benign neglect when it came to their MMO making division, and became part of Sony Computer Entertainment.  Those are the PlayStation people.

Not that FreeRealms has sprung up in the last year.  Certainly SOE has talked about RMT, velvet ropes, and different revenue models for quite some time.  But working for the PlayStation people, the team that has to compete with things like XboxLive and Microsoft Points, has got to put a more urgent spin on things.

So we’ve seen Sation Cash introduced into EverQuest and EverQuest II.  We have seen Live Gamer’s player to player cash sales interface grafted onto Vanguard. (Which probably means Vanguard gets to live for a while longer, at least as a lab rat.)  And now we have a completely RMT funded, microtransaction driven game being released by SOE.  The first of many, no doubt.

And getting back to urgency, urgent seems to be right.  I am completely surprised that Free Realms is going to market without day one PlayStation 3 support.  In fact, I predicted that such support would delay the launch.  Color me at least partially wrong on that one I suppose.  I am going to claim some small victory in the fact that PS3 support will be a while in coming.

With the dropping of the NDA on the Free Realms beta, a few MMO players have put up their views and impressions of the game. (Edit: And Terra Nova now has a discussion post about it and Gigaom is in on it too.)

Of course, the crazy thing about that is, this game is not really focused at MMO players.  It shouldn’t be.  This is a low intensity game.   It does not compete against World of Warcraft.  It is there to bring in the crowd for whom WoW is too hard core.  People who may not want to invest a lot of time in a play session.  People who don’t have mad gamer skills or the latest video card.

As such, it has some pretty low system requirements.  From the Free Realms site:

Your computer will need to have the following hardware and software to play Free Realms:

Video Card with Vertex Shaders 1.1
Intel Pentium 4 or greater processor
Windows XP or Windows Vista operating system
Broadband internet connection
512 MB RAM

We recommend you have the following hardware and software to get the best experience playing Free Realms:

GeForce 6 or better video card
Intel Pentium 4 or greater processor
Windows XP or Windows Vista operating system
Broadband internet connection
1 Gig RAM

That is pretty mild when compared to almost any MMO.  That is down in the toaster / World of Warcraft end of the range.

In fact, those requirements look very low against almost everything.  Everything except the games against which Free Realms is set to compete, that is.

In the ranks of competitors, Toontown Online is at the high end is at the high end while many are in the Club Penguin range, where a 3D card is not even required.

So for its market, or what I presume to be its market, Free Realms is coming in at the high end.  Time will show whether you can move a game with WoW system requirements into a Club Penguin world.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I’ll be watching all of this from the sidelines though.  If I start playing a game like Free Realms, then my daughter will want to play.  But the computer she is allowed to use is an iMac, and Free Realms doesn’t go there.

So when I play online games with my daughter, I will have to limit myself to almost all of the games that compete with FreeRealms.  Or World of Warcraft.  They all play on the Mac.

Noblegarden Egg Frenzy

World of Warcraft has another in-game holiday going on this week.  It is called Noblegarden.  It is essentially Easter without Christ involved in any way, so only slightly different than Easter for a lot of people.  But resurrection isn’t such a big deal on Azeroth, where nothing really dies.

Blizzard thoughtfully put Noblegarden after Easter, so you should mark your calendar on consecutive weeks:

  1. Easter
  2. Orthodox Easter
  3. Blizzard Easter

And if you want to turn Noblegarden into your own secular Easter celebration, I can tell you that all the Easter items are 75% off at CVS.  Take that my Orthodox friends! (Actually Easter and Orthodox Easter fall on the same Sunday next year, so only the Noblegarden adherents will get a discount on candy.)

So Noblegarden is an in-game hunt for big colorful eggs.  Each egg has a piece of chocolate in it.  There is a quest where you turn in 10 pieces of chocolate and another quest for 20 broken egg shells, but the real event goes on after that.

After those quests you start collecting eggs for the chocolate, which it turns out is the currency that drives the Noblegarden economy.  The Noblegarden vendor has a list of items that you can purchase with your chocolate.

ngvendor

The big item on the list is the Spring Rabbit’s Foot which gets you a Noblegarden bunny as a pet.

And there are Noblegarden achievements of course.  And to get all of them done you need to purchase everything on the list, which leads to the annoying part of the event.

When it came to actually hiding eggs, Blizzard turns out to be even lazier than me.  There are actually a number of locations where the eggs are hidden; around the first inn in each of the new player starting areas is the default, with a couple of locations in the Outlands.  But the actual hiding area in each location seems to be pretty darn small.

In Goldshire the eggs are only immediately around two of the buildings.  So everybody who shows up looking for eggs, a couple hundred people at prime time on Sunday night, is focused in a pretty tight area.

So on Sunday night I did not see an actual brightly colored egg, so heavily hunted were they.  I began to suspect it was a myth, a late Blizzard April Fools joke.  But people assured me that eggs were spawning.

This morning, thinking the crowd would be somewhat thinned, I tried again.  I actually found 20 eggs and finished off the two quests in about 30 minutes, but it was brutal.  There are a limited number of eggs, they spawn about once a minute in a given area, and even at off-peak time, 7am on a Monday morning Pacific time, there were easily 100 people scrambling after eggs in Goldshire.

You see, you need at least 300 eggs to get all the items and accomplish all of the achievements.

If they had spread the egg spawn area out some, this might be viable.  But with the tight focus the hunt has become a maelstrom, at least on my servers.

Noblegarden is now a fierce battle, an epic struggle, a click race, as each known egg spawn point is covered by several people while others circle hoping to dart in and pick up targets of opportunity from the unwary.  It is nasty, brutish, and colorful.

Congratulations Blizzard, you have turned this event into the ultimate mocking symbol of rampant holiday consumerism!  You have shown us all what we are!

But I still want the pet Noblegarden bunny.

And I’ll have to get one for my daughter too.

And the rabbit ears.  I have to have those!

Well, I have through Saturday.

Kitten Invasion

While it has not been that long since our oldest cat Felix passed, it is spring time and thoughts have turned to kittens.

My daughter has been agitating for a kitten for a couple of years now, an idea which was vetoed in the past because we didn’t really want to become a three cat household.

But after Felix’s passing, after some time had passed, there was obviously room in our house for another cat.  Even Oscar has seemed quite lonely since then, as he and Felix were best buddies.

So my wife and daughter started looking for a kitten.  And despite reservations about becoming a three cat household, we ended up with a pair of litter mates, a brother and a sister who are now named Fred and Trixie.  They just came home yesterday.

Both cats were a little nervous when they showed up, but it did not take Fred long to come out of his shell.  He was knocking things over and finding toys not long after he arrived.

Fred and his new favorite toy

Fred and his new favorite toy

Trixie is not yet so comfortable in her new surroundings.  She stays under cover a lot of the time.

Trixie is a little more reserved

Trixie is a little more reserved

We set them aside in my wife’s office, which also serves as the guest bedroom, when we have visitors, and the kitty sun room during the day.

Play time in the guest room

Play time in the guest room

The room is somewhat sparse when it comes to cover, so my daughter and I took an empty copier paper box, cut a few holes in it, lined it with one of my sweatshirts, and presented them with the kitty hotel.

Can we stay here

Can we stay here?

I cut a flap in the top of the box which immediately became Fred’s favored door, though he also squeezed through one of the windows at one point.  Kittens can get through remarkably small holes.

No Vacancy

No Vacancy

The hotel was a success.  They now have their own cozy spot in which to escape.

So the kittens are settling in.  Now we have to see what Oscar will do.

Oscar perched on a the back of an office chair

Oscar perched on the back of an office chair

He knows we’re up to something.  His first response was to hide under the bed.  But when we failed to come get him, he started sniffing around.  Now he wants to know why his sun room is closed and what is making those noises on the other side of the door.

No hissing, growling, or fluffed tails yet.  When we brought Oscar home as a kitten almost nine years ago he bonded with Felix in about an hour.  We hope he will welcome the new kittens the way he was welcomed.

At least until the kittens get loose and begin to stalk him day and night looking for fun.

Datacores and Pre-positioned Minerals

I have had R&D agents working for my main character for quite a while now, churning out research points that I can exchange for datacores to further my own ventures into invention.  My many business lines include Tech II mining crystals, expanded cargoholds, and missiles.

I decided to get my alt into the R&D game.  He actually already had one R&D agent churning away for him and was pretty close skill-wise to being able to add three more with a new skill purchase.  Even if I was not doing invention, datacores sell for anywhere between 100K and 400K ISK.  That kind of ISK can add up if you collect datacores for a while.

With my main I chose R&D agents based on quality and research skill.  I wanted to get the most datacores I could of the types I could use.  That left me with R&D agents scattered all over Amarr space.  Because of that, I tend not to visit these agents until I need more datacores for my invention work.

With my alt I decided to choose based on the three rules of real estate; location, location, location.

My alt does not have the same standing with the Amarr Empire, so he could only work with level 2 R&D agents.  Using the EVE Online Agent Finder, I was able to locate four agents in two adjacent systems just 7 jumps from my normal base of operations.  I flew out to them in a Badger loaded with tritanium and started research going with each of the four agents.  I also left half of my load of tritanium in one station, which houses two agents, and a quarter of it each in the stations of the other two agents.

Why the tritanium?

After a couple of days I got an in-game message from each of the four R&D agents.  This was the standard “I’ve encountered a problem” message that asks you to come out for a visit.  It also heralds the availability of a mission from that R&D agent.  The mission is invariably one of two possible choices.  The first is to deliver a 0.1 m3 package, often to another station in the system.  The other is to acquire and deliver some tritanium to the agent, usually 900 units for a level 2 agent.

When you run the mission, your reward is a full days worth of research points.  This is in addition to the research points you are earning normally for that day with the agent.  So you get double the points.

Not only that, but in my experience these missions also count towards the 16 you need for a storyline mission, and we all love storyline missions.

So now every morning when I log on, then fly out to visit the agents in a shuttle.  I run their missions either by carrying their package in the shuttle or using some of the tritanium I dropped off on my first trip.  And then I fly home.

Not all of the agents are part of the same corporation, but I should be getting a storyline mission next week.  And the storyline mission will raise my standings which will, eventually, make higher level, or at least higher quality, agents available to my alt.

Or so my theory goes.  If nothing else, I should have plenty more datacores available to use or sell.