Monthly Archives: May 2009

May in Review

The Site

Somewhere along the line WordPress.com lost 30K of page views from my statistics total.  Their raw statistics sum up to a number close enough to my own recording of daily totals, but they are missing something in their total pageviews count.  They have been enhancing the stats page over the last month which no doubt broke something.  I am sure they will correct this soon.

One of my goals last month was to link to more posts on other blogs in the spirit of community, which I did a bit of, but not so much as I would have liked.  I’ll see if I can do better next month.  One of the benefits to others of this is that my site seems to be one of the tracked sites on Massive Blips, a gaming news aggregator, so if I link to a post on a site that is not tracked, Massive Blips will see the story and add it to its daily news.  That won’t actually drive much traffic to any given site, but I think it may help with page ranking and such.

One Year Ago

My daughter and I were finishing up the final battles in the base game of Pokemon Diamond as well as staging our own gym battles.

In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game.   Meanwhile I was building battleships, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.

In World of Warcraft the instance group was doing some quests to level up a bit because the Mana Tombs were proving to be a challenge.

And, in the industry in general, Turbine got $40 million dollars to play with (do we know what they spent that on?) while Age of Conan launched amid immediate declarations of success and failure.

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 May

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Rotom Secret Key Event
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  5. Regigigas Event at Toys R Us
  6. EuroGamer: Darkfall Agent Provocateur?
  7. Solving the Three Cat Problem
  8. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  9. Free Realms Unleashed Today
  10. 2009 MMORPG Progdictionations
  11. The Secret of NYHM
  12. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want

Search Term of the Month

diablo last boss
[Wouldn’t that would be Diablo?  That is the name on the box.]

Spam Comment of the Month

great blog i gotta say. thanks for the information alot of stuff i didnt know i thought this was about something like mickey mouse toasters
[all the links to the site selling mickey mouse toasters removed]

EVE Online

We continue our slow ramp up to The Expedition, training skill, gathering parts, fitting ships, and the like.  I have jump clones available now for my main and my alt.  And I continue the training ramp for Reynaldo Fabulous to turn him into a support pilot for the operation.

Lord of the Rings Online

I had to admit this month that, as much as I want to see Moria, I really haven’t been playing LOTRO that much.  Part of it is that there is more than enough to keep me occupied in EVE and WoW and part of it is that when I am over in LOTRO I am almost always solo.  So, the game has officially been moved to “back burner” status.

World of Warcraft

The instance group has been on a side track for some of the month, going back to hunt achievements in the Outlands, but should be back in full swing in Northrend soon.  And on the family front, my daughter and I are up to level 35.  My daughter loves getting levels, but isn’t so keen on actually doing quests and killing stuff to get them.  She prefers to spend most of her time goofing around on in battlegrounds.  So to move her along I play Azerothian tour guide and setup leveling dates where we go out and knock off a full level worth of quests in a specific zone in under two hours.  My mom, on the other hand, is already in the 40s.  She is more like me and will sit down and knock out a few quests on a regular bases as relaxation after work.

Nintendo DS/Wii

Pokemon Platinum, while off to a strong start when we picked it up, has hit a big slump for us.  The game is still fun, and it is a bit different than Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, but not different enough.  While they have done a Blizzard and sanded down some of the grind, it has been hard to get excited about the game of late.

The Wii has also sat somewhat stagnate this month.  The power went out earlier in the month and it was a couple of weeks before the unit got powered up again.  Then my daughter had some friends over and there was a flurry of activity with the it.  The Wii is a good social gaming console I guess.

Coming Up

As always, the ongoing adventures of the instance group in Azeroth as well as our misadventures in EVE Online.

Also, with the whole Battle.net thing getting me to pull out Diablo II again as well as StarCraft, there has been the threat of more games coming off the shelf, so I would not bet against some additional retro gaming posts.

Cerberus Goes Home

In pursuit of some of my prerequisites for The Expedition I have been running some missions with my alt with the goal of getting a 8+ standing with Amarr Navy so I can get him a jump clone or two.

So there I was clearing out the second pocket of the first part of the three part mission called Recon. (The second and third parts are described here.)  I did not have to do that.  The mission was declared complete the moment I entered the pocket.  All I had to do was warp out and turn in the mission.

But I was clearing it because that pocket also has more veldspar asteroids than any mission I have ever seen.  Potshot and I mined and hauled more than 3 million units of veldspar out of that pocket and barely made a dent in it.  But that was later.  I still had to clear the pocket.

My alt was flying his Cerberus and tanking the pocket.  With the afterburner and shield booster on at all times, he was barely ever taking a hit, and when he did, his shields were quickly restored.  I dragged my main in with his Raven to sit and provide more firepower while the Cerb skated around holding everybody’s attention.

An equilibrium had been reached.  My attention waned as I was listening to Gaff describe the dynamics of setting up a player owned station, which he got to do with his 0.0 corp this week.  In addition on of our kittens, Trixie, was sitting in front of the monitor trying to swat missiles as they flew past on the screen.

All of this was why I failed to notice the four frigates spawn in the mission. (The mission report linked above says three, but there were four.)

I was sitting in the window trying to retarget my main around an active kitten when I noticed that my alt, on the watchlist, was suddenly showing more red than before.  A lot more red.

I switched windows to find that he was no longer scooting along at 520 meters a second and immune from all fire.  Three of the frigates had him webbed, so he was down around 20 meters a second and taking heavy damage.  His shields were only at 20%.

My first reaction was to get out.  Unfortunately, two of the frigates also had him warp scrambled. (One was doing double duty!)  As hits started digging into my armor, I targeted the scrambling frigates and opened fire.  They were, however, elite frigates, and I was only able to take one down before my alt was flying a pod.  Cerberus was back where he came from.

Ouch.  Well, I’ve lost ships to this mission before.

2009.05.28 03:26:00

Victim: Selirus Szin
Corp: Twilight Cadre
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Cerberus
System: Ebtesham
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 20996

Involved parties:

Name: Centus Overlord / Sansha’s Nation (laid the final blow)
Damage Done: 20996

Destroyed items:

Scourge Heavy Missile, Qty: 1901 (Cargo)
Capacitor Flux Coil II, Qty: 2
Widowmaker Heavy Missile, Qty: 2122 (Cargo)
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 20
Heat Dissipation Amplifier II
Magnetic Scattering Amplifier II, Qty: 2
Capacitor Control Circuit I, Qty: 2
Ballistic Control System II
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Qty: 2

Dropped items:

10MN Afterburner II
Widowmaker Fury Heavy Missile, Qty: 623 (Cargo)
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 30
Medium Shield Booster II
Salvager I
Ballistic Control System II
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Qty: 3
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 1390 (Cargo)

I warped the pod and my Raven out of the pocket to regroup.  Losing a 100 million ISK ship on a mission calls for a pause.  Plus I was being called upon to read a bed time story.  So a break was taken.

Once everybody was settled in bed (though it was not my best reading performace, there being a bit of edge in my voice as I read “The English Roses,” and not just because I dislike the book as a transparent “don’t hate me because I’m successful” plea from Madonna… yes, I have serious opinions about children’s books), I went back to finish things off in space.

Fortunately, the biggest pain of losing a ship, refitting a replacement, was already covered.  I still had the fearsome Drake on hand and equipped.  And, not only that, but my alt had built up even more shield compensation skills (now level V for all forms of damage) so the mighty Drake tank was even mightier.

Back my main and my alt went.  I popped the alt into the pocket first, got all aggro, and pretty much tanked it without much worry while the combined fire of the Raven and the Drake cleared the pocket.

Then it was just a matter of Potshot and I mining as late as we could manage on a school night and then turning in.

The next day I ran the second and third parts of the mission series, which are both fairly short and easy.  On turning in the third part, I got a storyline mission.  An easy delivery.  And once that was completed, I found that I had achieved my standing goal with Amarr Navy.

Standings

So my alt is now jump clone ready.  Or he will be once he trains one more skill.  This is EVE Online.   You always need at least one more skill.  In this case it is Infomorph Psychology.  So I just have to buy that and train for all of 8 minutes and I will be set.

Now, do I go buy another Cerberus or do I plug along with my old pal the Drake?

A Time for Heroes

We only had four of us online again on Saturday night, too few to attempt a Northrend instance.  So it was back to the Outlands for our little group.

75 Priest – Skronk
75 Warlock – Bungholio
75 Mage – Ula
75 Paladin – Vikund

We thought we might try out one of the heroic instances this time around, since we discovered that whole flamewrought key thing.  Vikund, the only holder of such a key, was made leader of the group (danger!) and we went off to the first Heroic instance on the list, Hellfire Ramparts.

We remembered we could fly there much sooner than last week and made our way to the entrance.  There I switched the intsance setting to “Heroic” and was rewarded with a visible change:  The normal instance swirl has a skull in the middle of it when set to heroic.  Cool.

Then people tried to enter the instance and failed.  It seems that everybody has to have a flamewrought key to get in.

Ula Jumps Through The Skull

Ula Jumps Through The Skull

So back to Honor Hold to buy more keys.

Once properly equipped we headed in.  The first fight went well, but after that we got into some trouble.  Being equipped with Northrend gear, our damage output seemed to be well suited to the instance, but the damage output of the NPCs was surprisingly high for creatures in the low 70s.  It took us a wipe and a few deaths before we got ourselves in a good pulling/healing/killing routine.  We took great care to avoid adds.

I would like to note, at this point, how grateful I am that the paladin spell exorcism works on all mobs and not just undead and demons (as of the 3.1 patch).  Being able to pull mobs without walking up to them for a proximity pull is life changing for a pally.  Shame about the PvP nerf.  Of course, I don’t PvP with my pally.

Anyway, we hit our stride about the time we were clearing the area for the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar.  The fight with him was not much worse than some of the groups we had faced previously and he went down without much drama.

Is that all you've got?

Is that all you've got?

Go us!

After Gargolmar there is the slog through to the other two bosses.  We managed that without too much drama.  One bad pull made for some excitement and a dead gnome, but we soon sat on the platform that leads to Omor the Unscarred and Vazruden and his dragon mount Nazan.

The last time we we through Hellfire Ramparts,  Omor we managed in one pass while Vazruden took four tries to slay, so we thought we would try Omor first.

In a parallel of our last dance with Omor, the tank went down late in the fight, but our DPS output was enough to power through and win the day on the first try.  Which left us with Vazruden.

Vazruden is an event that is kicked off by attacking his guards.  He is flying around on the back of Nazan when you start.  Once his guards are down, he comes down and attacks.  And, after you chop him down a bit, his dragon pal Nazan, who has been fire bombing you throughout the fight with Nazan, lands and joins in as well.

The guards were no problem.  Vazruden himself wasn’t that big of a deal.  Nazan and his fire bombs however caused some problems.  He drops them and you have to make sure you step out of where they land as they continue to burn there for a while.  We failed to step lively on our first run and put too much strain on the healer and down we went.  Only Ula was saved when she ran out the instance exit that is close by.

Fire, fire everywhere...

Nazan's flaming droppings

So we got ourselves back together and tried it again, this time avoiding the flaming blobs on the ground and we did much better.

The Moment of Victory

The Moment of Victory

With that came the all important achievement.

Heroic Hellfire Ramparts
And the traditional last boss victory shot.

Nazan Defeated

Nazan Defeated

After which Ula skinned him and we ran over to the chest that contains the loot from the encounter.

The loot is in the mail
All of the items in the chest were mail.  This is the grand tradition of our group, which consists of two plate wearers and three cloth wearers:  Leather and mail drops.

One of us needs to do enchanting so we can disenchant all these drops.

I bid “need” on the kilt, thinking that it might actually look like a kilt when worn.  I thought perhaps I might get a look like an EverQuest barbarian, but it turned out to be an ankle length skirt.  Bleh.

Still, as a diversion, something to do on a night when we were down a player, it was all pretty fun.  And even if the drops had been all plate and cloth I am not sure they would be worth wearing compared to our green Northrend gear.

Heroic Instance?  Done It!

Heroic Instance? Done It!

Earl should be back this weekend so it will probably be time for a shot at Ahn’kahet.

A Blogging Experiment

I am generally interested in how things work or why things happen the way they do.

On my list of things to mentally explore is how this blog got to where it is today.  Not that it is hugely popular, but I get my share of page views and unique visitors plus enough links to the site to get a Google page rank of 5.  A modest achievement on the web, but decent relative to the amount of effort involved.

And when I look back on how things evolved, there was a good deal of luck involved.  Things could have gone different.  How much different is tough question.  How do I measure it?

I could start writing another blog with a similar format under a different name.  That would require unique content, an order likely too big for me to fill.  Double my output?  Not going to happen.  I have enough alts to know how too many projects drag them all down together.

Or I supposed I could start over on a new site under a new name.  Killing off this site in the name of science isn’t exactly what I wanted though.

I considered just reposting everything I post here at another site, under another name, with no reciprocal linkage.  I still might do that.  It sounds interesting.  On the other hand other sites have done that to me already and I am not sure it was the path to success for them.

What I ended up doing was creating a different sort of blog.  While not a parallel experience, I thought another point of view might give me some insight into the fresh blog experience.

And thus EVE Online Pictures was born one year ago.  I figured the whole picture thing worked so well for Karen at Journeys with Jaye and her ventures in Vanguard, so why not give it a try?

So I pulled yet another old handle out of the bin and got to work.

I rolled up the new site on WordPress.com with a different template, put up a bunch of EVE Online related links in the side bar including RSS feeds from a few EVE focused news sources and  began posting pictures.

No was writing was involved.  Or not much.  Some times I cannot help myself.  But no walls of text in any case.  After a bit I settled down to posting two or three pictures a week.  Once in a while I did something a little different, like a Christmas Card post, or a meme response,  or a week-long tribute to EVE Online classic graphics, which went away with Apocrypha.

I did not push much for publicity.  I put the site on the blogroll here and linked to it three or four times over course of the year.  Mostly I just posted pictures and watched what happened.

And what did happen?

Well, I have some measurements and observations.

Comparing first years, the new site received about 15% as much traffic as this one.  That was not unexpected.  There was no early VirginWorlds recognition moment like there was here, nothing to give the site a substantial push in the right direction.  Luck wasn’t there for me.

Still, the site starting building traffic over time and has garnered a fair share of links and blogroll placings.  If I look at the traffic after a year, the site is about where this site was three months into its existence.  Daily traffic is about 5% of what it is at TAGN now.

Most traffic comes from sites that link to EVE Online Pictures.  Google, which has been exceedingly kind in directing traffic here has not been quite so generous with the new site.  Even my plan to corner the search engine usage of the phrase “click to enlarge” seems to have been thwarted by Viagra spammers.

Comments are pretty rare.  I picture the site being like a gallery where the visitors speak in hushed tones, if at all.

All of which is interesting, but I probably could have predicted it to a certain extent.

And now what?

I think I am going to leave things as they are.  Putting up two or three pictures a week from EVE Online isn’t a burden.  I take screenshots constantly in game.  I am a space tourist.  I end up spending about an hour going through recent shots to queue up 5-8 pictures for the blog.

I am not going to change my handle over there.  Anybody who missed this post (or saw it and said TL;dr) won’t know it is me posting to both blogs.  And I will see how things go.  Maybe I’ll get a few more comments!

And despite posting all those pictures from EVE Online, I have never managed to get around to sending one in for Zapatero’s EON EVE Postcard contests.  Silly me.

The Secret of NYHM

We have been pretty lucky so far.  Despite the fact that our daughter has had access to a computer (currently a 20″ Intel iMac) with a web browser and internet connectivity for most of her years, she has not really figured out that the Internet exists.  She has only really been aware of the few pages bookmarked, which include a couple of her games like WebKinz, some kids sites like Playhouse Disney, and a few reference sites like Wikipedia.

Once in a while I see her running between the TV and the computer typing in a long URL that has come up on Cartoon Network for some new browser game.  But the key there is that I see her doing that.  The computer she has access to is in the middle of the family room/living room area so there is no keeping secret what she is up to.  So things have gone pretty well in that regard.

A few weeks back my daughter and I had the LEGOs out on the table and were in the mood to build something new.  She suggested something from World of Warcraft.  I told her about somebody actually making Booty Bay out of LEGO bricks.

She was excited by that so we went over to her computer and I brought up the WoW Insider article on LEGO Booty Bay.  (Yes, they are WoW.com now, which I am sure gets them a lot more accidental visits, but I still think WoW Insider was a better name.)  We looked at the pictures and we speculated on how much of that we could make with our current LEGO selection (not much) and if there wasn’t something else WoW themed that we could construct.

Then the phone rang.

I left her at the computer and went to answer it.  After that I got distracted a bit and was out of the room for 10 minutes or so.

When I got back to her she was in front of the computer, the web browser was at YouTube, and she was watching this video:

I boggled.

How had she gotten there?  And so quickly?

I took over the browser and backed up to where I left her, at WoW Insider.  Sure enough, there on the side bar was a featured video which she had clicked on and watched.  And, as YouTube goes, once that video was over it gave her a selection of “like” videos to view, which brought her onto the YouTube site.

So in 10 short minutes she managed to find and gain a taste for YouTube and machinima, and specifically the work of Nyhm, whose YouTube page we had to bookmark.  The above video is one of her favorites, along with M.A.G.E. Of course I don’t think she is up on the songs on which they were based.  I don’t think she’s ever seen or heard “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” nor am I sure she would get it if she had.

But now the YouTube door has been opened.  I had to sit down with her and explain that not everything on the site is suitable for kids and that she should not go to the site without approval from me or her mother.  And she has been very good about asking, though like and youngster she does tend to bombard us at random awkward moments with the question, “Can I watch YouTube?”

Ah, the ever changing dynamics of parenthood.

And as for our LEGO building project, we did not get much further than putting together a Defias Brotherhood minifig.

The Brotherhood shall prevail!

The Brotherhood shall prevail!

We only have two of those masks, so the brotherhood is pretty small around our house.

Old School Gaming Weekend

After getting setup on Battle.net with my Blizzard accounts, I decided to get Diablo II setup so I did not have to have the CD in my computer to be able to play.  Fortunately Spinks provided a URL that described the steps to set Diablo II up to not require the CD.

There are, essentially, two steps.  The first is to patch the game up to version 1.12a, which I had already done.

The next step is to make sure that all of the .MPQ files that are on the play disk and the expansion disk are moved to the root directory of the game on your local drive.  That took a few minutes, but once it was done the game ran fine without the CD.

Of course, once I had it running, I had to play for a bit.  I rolled an assassin and played through the first act then went back to my paladin and moved him along through the second act.

Playing Diablo II always reminds me how much World of Warcraft owes the game.  People complain the Blizzard stole everything that makes WoW what it is (and what did Picasso supposedly say about great artists?), but if they did, they stole some of it long enough ago that the statute of limitations has to be getting close running out.  I mean, we’ve all seen this:

Oh look, a quest!

Oh look, a quest!

If you had asked me five years ago, I would have told you I had no interest at all in the Warcraft IP and that I would only be interested in a Diablo based MMO from Blizzard.  I only ended up playing WoW because so many of my friends from EverQuest and TorilMUD ended up playing the game. (All on different servers, but I’ve grumbled about shards before.)

Of course, once I started playing I could see that once you peeled back a bit of the Warcraft look and feel, there was a lot of Diablo in the game, enough that I am convinced that they can’t really make a Diablo MMO without it becoming mostly a giant version of Darkshire.  Maybe somebody could do a Diablo mod for WoW?

The next day I went back to Battle.net and decided to download StarCraft and see how that looked more than 10 years after release.  The bad news about installing from Battle.net is that it uses the same patcher that they use for WoW.  On the plus side, the game isn’t that big, about 1 GB, and isn’t a popular download, so it went pretty fast.  Also, you get the latest (or last) fully patched version with no CD dependency.

I was worried about how the game would look, but even on a 1600×1200 monitor, it looks pretty good.  It does get a bit blocky if you stare at the screen, but visual closure has you covered for the most part.  640×480 is pretty small though.  A full screenshot does not take up much space a all.

Build order?  What is build order?

Build order? What is build order?

I played a lot of StarCraft for the first couple of years after it launched.  In fact, to this day my wife occasionally asks me, “What ever happened to ‘Jacked up and good to go’?” referring to one of the stock phrases the marines say.  So I turned up the speakers on my computer (which got my wife to walk by and see if I was really playing such an old game) and started a simple Terran vs. Zerg skirmish, with me playing the Terran.

Even after a few years away from the game, I was able to remember just enough to defeat a single Zerg opponent.  It took me a while, almost an hour, and I ended up playing with almost every unit, but eventually I was able to stop turtling and go wipe out the enemy in detail.  Still, I used to play as Terran and take on three computer Zerg opponents, so not a stellar performance, but not so bad after all that time away.

So after all of that, I am pretty high on Diablo/StarCraft nostalgia and am really impatient for Diablo III and StarCraft II to come out.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I will like them when they come out.  Diablo III is especially in danger of retro-remorse, being done by a completely different team from the first two games.  And sequels have disappointed me before.  I went back to Age of Empires II: Age of Kings after playing Age of Empires III for a very short space of time, and I still think Civilization II is the best in the Civ series, so the future is fraught with potential disappointment.

Hrmm, where did I put my Age of Kings CD?

Buy Your EVE Fanfest 2009 Pass with ISK

In a very “EVE” move, CCP has announced that you may purchase your EVE Online Fanfest 2009 pass indirectly with ISK, EVE Online’s in-game currency..

From the Fanfest PLEX for Passes site:

In honor of our recent 6th anniversary, we decided to allow people to use PLEX to pay for their tickets to Fanfest, gathering as many players as possible. For the first time ever you can buy your Fanfest 2009 tickets with in-game Pilot License Extensions (PLEX).  Using PLEX, attendees can attend Fanfest simply by playing EVE!

What is PLEX? A Pilot License Extension (PLEX) is an item that adds 30 days of game time to your EVE Online account.  It can be converted from any game time code and, like any other item, it can be traded on the EVE market. Please keep in mind that PLEX cannot be moved between stations.

A Fanfest pass will run you 5 PLEX, or about 1.5 billion ISK.  But don’t worry, Fanfest isn’t until October, so you have some time.

A bit of a gimmick for sure, but pretty amusing all the same.  I swear one of the Cs in CCP must stand for “Caldari.”

Of course, that just gets you into EVE Fanfest.  You still have to get to Iceland and find a place to stay and none of the options they have listed take ISK, PLEX, or any other virtual currency.  You’ll have to get out the credit card for that.