Monthly Archives: January 2010

January in Review

The Site

January has proven to be the most active month ever here at TAGN, at least when counting page views.

As usual, that has little to do with me and a lot to do without factors outside of my control.  Heck, I was out of town for a full week in January.  What does that say?

January Page View Graph

First, I put up a couple of posts about Hulkageddon and for a while Google had me as the first result for that search term.  The mystery of Google’s love.

And then WoW.com linked to my overview of the World of Warcraft Magazine, which set an all time, single day page view record for the site.

In looking around, a lot of sites covered the announcement of the magazine back in August, but scant few noted the actual arrival of it in the mailboxes of the subscribers.  So far I’ve only seen it mentioned over at Ars Technica, and I am not sure you can say that their article is leaps and bounds better than my own.

The only other noticeable boost in page views came on the day I posted my best effort at a hot looking STO avatar.

One Year Ago

A year ago I was in a Middle-earth mood.  I had rolled up some new characters on the same server as a few notable podcasters and then started trying to catch up to them.  The small and friendly community in LOTRO helped out, so I was able to do the Great Barrow with a pickup group and not feel the need to drink heavily afterward.  Of course, I sometimes feel the need to stir the pot.

I also mentioned something that involved punching Amy Tan that seemed to go down well.  According to Google, this is the only site it tracks that has ever used the exact phrase “punch Amy Tan.”  Crap, I did it again.

In WoW the instance group was working its way up to Ingvar the Plunderer.  This was the height of our “we suck” phase.

While in EVE there was a bit of mission running plus I hit a monetary milestone and 30 million skill points.

I went looking for KartRider and found that after beta Nexon apparently folded up that tent and  called it a day, at least here in the US.

I noticed that the optical drive on our Wii started making a lot of noise.  It still makes noise a year later, but it also still works.

There was that whole controversy about Wikipedia deleting entries on MUDs and MUD history.  That lead to the creation of MUD History Wiki over on Wikia.  Many MUDs are still alive and well, and sites like the MUD Connector seem to still thrive.

I pointed to a post over at Massively that showed the top selling games for October of 2008 were almost all a couple years old or more.

I hit the 1,000 post mark, which was cause for yet another milestone post and some reflection. (I’m just past the 1,400 mark a year later and I’ll probably hold off on more reflection until the 2,500 mark, so you’re safe for a while.)

Oh, and I predicted a whole bunch of crap that mostly failed to materialize.  But that didn’t stop me from trying again this year.

New Linking Sites

The following sites have been kind enough to link this site in their blog rolls.  Please take a moment to visit them in return!

Most Viewed Posts in January

In a considerable change in ranking, the guild name generator post, which has lived at first or second place for more than two years, was pushed down to sixth place.

  1. The World of Warcraft Magazine
  2. Hulkageddon Returns!
  3. Star Trek Online Pre-Order Choices
  4. GameStop Pichu Event
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  7. Hulkageddon II Beings… Now!
  8. 2010 MMORPG Progdictionations
  9. Lessons from Hulkageddon II?
  10. STO Lifetime Sub – The Sucker Bet?
  11. STO Character Creator – Experimenting
  12. STO – Del Taco Cup Code Caption Contest

Search Term that Brought the Most People Here

hulkageddon
[despite complete non-participation in any way, I got a lot of traffic]

Best Search Terms of the Month

christine “kiara” renzetti email soe
[Christine, somebody is looking for you]

golem, lord of the rings
[I think it is “Gollum.”  A golem is something else.]

Deleted Spam Comment of the Month

Fix Your Credit!  I’ll be coming back soon!
[And what if I don’t?]

EVE Online

I have been in a bit of a wind-down with EVE Online.  My alts account lapses this week and I am going to let it.  I will keep my main up, training, playing the economic game, and running a mission now and again for screen shots if nothing else.  But I think I’ll be doing internet spaceships somewhere else for a while.  Maybe.

Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online, a dream from my childhood, is at hand.  I’ve watched all those episodes, seen all those movies, and read far too many of the novels than I will ever admit to.  I’ve played many a game that was a poor interpretation of the Star Trek universe, including a few Trek focused MUDs and MUSHs.

I need a light grip on the weapon.  I need to lower my heart rate and breath in a smooth regular pattern.  I know day one is going to be a disaster.  I know the first month is going to be a challenge to my patience.  I must relax and be at ease with reality, let it come to me.  Because I know if I get caught hurling bricks at Cryptic’s HQ, the Los Gatos police are not really friendly to those who live in their neighboring cities.

World of Warcraft

WoW remains persistently enjoyable.  For a game that gets put down as being the dumbed down “McDonalds” or “Wal-Mart” of MMOs, I certainly seem to keep having fun playing.  The instance group, play time with my daughter, and just goofing around with Wintergrasp and achievements keeps me busy.

Coming Up

Hrmm… Star Trek Online?  Ya think?

This month I am going to try to play more and post less I think.  But every time I say that, it never plays out that way.

STO – Into The Headstart

Last night and this morning I haven’t had much in the way of problems.  There is a graphics driver crash I seem to get once per session when I sit down to play.  The annoying part about the crash is that, afterwards the launcher has to verify all 98K files, which takes about 15 minutes.

I’ll have to check the forums to see if there is something I can do about the crash.  But I can officially move Star Trek Online into the “Games I Play” category on the side bar.

I made my first “live” character, Dwayne “Buck” Turgeson.  He goes by Buck.

Buck on Patrol

He is named after a football coach from my high school, though I decided not to go all the way and use his last name, so I pulled a last name from another “Buck.”

I noticed on making my character that I had access to the uniform style from The Next Generation movies.  I cannot recall, however, with all the myriad pre-order and special edition options, how I ended up with with access to this particular uniform option.  None of my retail order options should be available until I enter the key code from the package.

But I cannot complain.  It is a nice uniform set and you can play with the color options, so I swapped out color on the inner shirt for color on the jacket itself.  And then the shoes.  The shoes make the look.  Fun with color.  In fact, being able to play with the color options makes me wonder if I should have gone for the Digital Deluxe Edition which feature uniforms from the original series.

I was able to move through the tutorial pretty quickly, this being my third time through.  The points where you are in the same instance with other players were mildly crowded.  It was obvious that a lot of other people were starting off in the head start.

There was another patch update this morning, so Cryptic is obviously still in full make and mend mode.


And, as a quick aside for a friend who is stuck on the tutorial.

The Transporter is that way

And, on one more divergent topic, the Del Taco Cup Code Caption Contest is still WIDE OPEN as of this time.  Nobody has pulled out an obvious winner.  Somebody could come along with a Princess Bride quote and walk away with a code.

STO – Head Start Begins 10am PST

The head start for people who pre-ordered Star Trek Online begins at 10am Pacific time today, Friday January 29th, 2010.

That would be 1pm Eastern time and 8am Hawaiian time.


As the announcement says, it is not too late to pre-order.  Everybody else has to wait until Tuesday to start playing.

There was a ~60MB patch to download this morning.  We’ll see if that is all it takes to get the show on the road.

Meanwhile we’ll see if my cunning caption contest plan will keep the pre-order people busy leaving me to get a head start on them tonight.  Hopefully I’ll be able to log in.

STO – Del Taco Cup Code Caption Contest

Cup code caption contest.  How is that for alliteration?  But I digress.

Yea brethren! (And cistern!)

I have been to Del Taco and I have seen the promised cups!

And mighty were those cups in size, each holding a veritable bladder-stressing lake of the fountain drink of your choice!

Truly they were macho sized.

Affixed to the side of each, like a nicotine patch on a 2-pack a day smoker trying to kick his habit, there was a sticker.  And visible on each of those stickers, when peeled off these mammoth drinking vessels, was a code.

A code of mystery!

It is something of a mystery as to exactly what you get when you enter this code after logging into the Star Trek Online and then heading to the promotion redemption page.

You might get a Type-8 shuttle in game!

You might get 2 days of play time.

You might get nothing at all.

By Grabthar’s hammer, the promotion FAQ is open to considerable interpretation on the subject of who can get what and when!

Still, judging by the comments on the wall of Del Taco’s Facebook page, these codes are in demand.  On eBay you can find people offering up the codes for sale.

But here at TAGN, I am going to give away two codes!  All you have to do is emerge victorious from the trail by comedy!

Below you will see two pictures.  Unless, of course, you are reading this on your iPhone or other mobile device, in which case you may have to go to the bottom of the blog and turn off the mobile viewing mode.

But back to the pictures.  They are screen shots from the game Star Trek Online.

You will need to click on them to see the full size versions.

Picture One

Picture Two

They are not that funny in and of themselves.  But with the right caption, they could be hilarious.

To win one of those two codes, you must submit a caption for either or both of the pictures in the comments to this post

THE RULES – Read Them

  1. All entries must be submitted by 12:00 Noon 15:00/3pmPacific Standard Time on Sunday, January 31st, 2010 Monday, February 1st, 2010.  That is 18:00/6pm Eastern Standard Time or 23:00/11pm UTC.
  2. Codes will be sent to winning entries by 15:59/3:59pm Pacific Standard Time on Monday, February 1st Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010.  That is 18:59/6pm Eastern Standard Time or 23:59/11:59pm UTC.
  3. Winners will be announced in a blog post after the codes have been sent out.
  4. You may enter a single caption for both pictures.  If you enter multiple captions for a single picture, only the first caption for that picture in your comment will be considered, the rest will be deleted.  If you change your mind about your entry, you can enter again as long as you make it clear in your entry that you wish me to delete your initial entry.
  5. Only a single code will be awarded per person.  So if you enter two captions, and they are considered by the judging panel to be the two most hilarious entries over all, you will still only get a single code.  The remaining code will be awarded to the third most hilarious caption.
  6. All entries must be submitted as comments to this post.
  7. If you win, you will receive a single code via email.  That is the only prize.  You will not receive the actual code sticker nor the cup to which it was once attached.
  8. The email address to which the code will be sent is the email address you enter as part of the comment form.  The comment form has a field your email address, you do not need to put your email address in the body of the comment itself.  No email, no code.  If your email bounces back, the next person on the list will be awarded the code.  Make sure your email address is correct.
  9. You may still enter even if you do not want/need/plan to use a code.  Please state this in your entry.  Should you win, your entry will be acknowledged, but the next runner-up will receive the code in your place.
  10. You must clearly indicate for which screen shot your caption is meant.  The screen shots are clearly labeled Picture One and Picture Two.
  11. Any caption submitted in a language other than English (e.g. Spanish, German, Latin, Klingon, etc.) must be translated into English as part of the submission.  It is no fair letting Babel Fish create a hilarious caption for you via bad translation after the fact.  You may use Babel Fish to create captions as long as you only submit the final English version.
  12. While I will be the final authority in picking the winner, I may seek advice from my wife, my daughter, my mother, members of the permanent floating instance group, co-workers, the kids next door, the mailman, a Ouija board, readers of rec.arts.books.tolkien, the guy who runs that pawn shop in Los Altos, random people in Dalaran, the pizza delivery guy, or Kibo.
  13. Andy Ihnatko can enter, but he will not be allowed to win.  It wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us.
  14. The codes are assumed to only be good for people logging into the North American release of Star Trek Online and are not expected to be worth anything or be of any use in the EU.
  15. All codes are currently attached to the Klingon Defense Forces Bird of Prey cups.  If for some reason I lose those cups before the end of the contest, they will be replaced by which ever cup is currently available at my local Del Taco.
  16. Codes are not guaranteed to be valid or get you any prize or promotion whatsoever.  Codes will remain on their cups until it is time to email them to the winners.  However, I cannot validate them in any way.  If your code fails to work for whatever reason, I apologize, but I will not provide an additional code.
  17. In the unlikely event of an unbreakable tie, I will go buy another drink and award an additional code.  Anything that funny will be worth it.
  18. Any issues, ambiguity, errors, or questions will be resolved by me and all decisions are final.  There is no arbitration or appeals process and whining doesn’t work, ask my daughter.
  19. Void where prohibited, contest may be rescinded at any time for any (or no) reason, your mileage may vary, and if it all blows up in our faces remember I told you so.

TIPS

  • Don’t rush to enter
  • Brevity is the soul of wit
  • If you do a multi-part dialog, make sure it is clear who is saying what
  • Captions that seem derivative of previous entries are less likely to be judged well
  • With puns, the worse they are, the better they are
  • Outside of church and the maternity ward, obscenities rarely impress me
  • Movie and TV references are great, but tread lightly on the cliches
  • If your comment does not show up immediately, it is probably in the moderation or spam queue and I’ll fish it out and approve it soon enough

Barrens RFD

Another Saturday, another instance on our horde side tour of the classic Azeroth content.

Last week while I was away the group went and took a trial run at the courtyard in Scarlet Monastery Cathedral to keep their hand in, but found they were too low level to press much further.  It was not so much because any individual group of bad guys was too tough, but because at their level, the aggro radius of the group make things very unpredictable.

Inside the Cathedral, unpredictable is a bad thing.

So, with that in mind, we decided to head out to The Barrens and tackle Razorfen Downs.

Razorfen Downs, where bears rule!

I caught that picture by accident and thought it looked kind of neat, feral druids in bear form.

Level-wise, RFD is somewhere in the middle of the Scarlet Monastery experience and we needed a spot to pick up another level.  So our group for the evening headed out to the land of the best local chat ever.

35 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)
35 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
35 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)
36 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)
37 Orc Shaman – Earlthebat (Earlthecat)

We didn’t even use the dungeon finder to transport the group instamagically into RFD.  Azawak and Hurmoo went the traditional route and ran to the meeting stone and summoned the rest of the group in.  We did this because there was supposed to be a quest for the instance just outside.

Finding the instance was… not a challenge…no, that doesn’t cover it exactly.

It was like when somebody gives you directions but dramatically underestimates some aspect of the journey.  You know, if somebody tells you to go up a road until you hit a stop sign, but there you are, almost three miles up the road and you haven’t hit it yet.  You start to wonder if they took it out, or if you went the right way on the road, or if maybe it was covered up by a bush.

As we ran from the meeting stone, which is so close to the RFK meeting stone that one wonders why they bothered making two (I know the reason, but it no longer applies), we kept asking, “Are we going the right way?” “Did we pass it?” “Is it over there?”

It just turns out that the entrance, in the big stonework boar’s head, is just a good long hike from the road.  Which is probably part of the reason the meeting stone is out there, to let you know that, yes, there is an instance down this series of valleys somewhere.

And near there we found the quest, which did indeed show up in our logs as a quest for the instance.  In reality though, the quest was to kill non-elite mobs roaming around the outside of the instance.  We figured that out later.

Inside RFD At Last

Cutting to the chase, the challenge was pretty low.  This instance was scary and we had to be careful when we did it three years ago.

Now we burned our way through.  In fact, we ended up getting a little sloppy with the DPS unloading on things too early and making life tough for Azawak trying to tank and leading to one of the DPS getting killed during a boss fight.  But once the problem was noted, we got it under control pretty quickly.

We went through the early bosses pretty well.

We tore through to Mordresh Fire Eye‘s mosh pit with all the dancing skeletons.

Skeletons At Play

Then killed all the undead, including Mordresh.

Our Turn To Dance!

Then went back to bang Tuten’Kash‘s gong to do some arachnid stomping.

Tuten'squashed

Then, while we were there, we spoke to Belnistrasz for his quest.  This quest kicks off a little more readily than most escort quests and only two of us were ready when Bel went running off.  Seriously, he jets from the room like no other mob in the game.

This is my third run through RFD and I still have never managed to get that quest.

Well, he runs off because it really isn’t an escort quest, but a “defend the NPC” event.  I recall this being tricky before.  It almost was this time as well until we remembered what was going on and positioned ourselves accordingly.  That got us through it all including Plaguemaw and two of us reaped the reward.  Well, there is plenty of exp to go around, so no worry.

We then started up the main spiral of the instance, dispatching bad guys along the way, including the Glutton, who dropped some nice shoulders for Azawak.

At the top of the spiral, Amnennar the Coldbringer awaited.

Amnennar the Freshbringer

There he was, so we went and got him.  The fight went so quick that I think even his summoned minions were surprised.  And with his death, Hurmoo, who had just hit level 35 back during our Stranglethorn Vale night, hit level 36.

It is nice to get almost a full level of experience from an instance.  And Hurmoo was all blue bar after my week away.

Achievement and a Level

And that was that.

We talked about resetting the instance and going to back to redo Belnistrasz, but decided against it.  Instead we ran around and finished up the quest from just outside the instance, then went to turn it in only to find one person in the group hadn’t picked it up.  Well, they had gotten the Belnistrasz quest, so it evened out a bit I suppose.

I think next week we’re up for the cathedral in Scarlet Monastery.

STO – The Shuttle of Cups

Sorry, a tarot card reference was the best I could come up with for a title.

While I was away at work today, my wife went out for lunch.  After she was done, she sent me a picture from where she had been.

Quien Es Mas Macho?

Yes, she went over to Del Taco, which is surprisingly near our house.  In fact, I would wager that I have driven within easy sight of it over 100 times in the last year or so.  But I never once noticed it.

Their sign… does not attract the eye.  If it had been a McDonalds, A KFC, or even a Starbucks I probably would have been aware of it.  But Del Taco… doesn’t stand out, at least not at that location.

Anyway, I had a cup.  I peeled off the code and then headed over to the Star Trek Online site, logged in, then jumped to the STO Del Taco promotions page to enter the code.  I entered it and got this.

Um... you're welcome?

That wasn’t exactly informative.  And I declined to join the Del Taco Raving Fan Club.  Tacos aren’t really my thing, when it comes down to it.

Wanting to find out what I might have gained, I went to the page that shows my account settings.

Ah ha!

I am now confirmed for Del Taco Promotion A!  Which may or may not mean that I have a Type-8 Shuttle coming to me.  I might just have two additional days to pick up my pre-order from GameStop.  We shall see.

But a code is mine and it has been redeemed!

I did, however, skip part of the story.

Yes, my wife went out to lunch, deciphered the menu at Del Taco which follows the current disturbing fast food trend of assuming you already know what you want and just displaying a bunch of current specials, and ended up with a decent burrito.  She sent me the picture at the top of the story at work via her iPhone.

However, the reason I know about the menu at Del Taco is that I dropped by on my way to work to buy a Macho Size soda ($2.12 with tax).  I did not think my wife would read my post until later in the day or perhaps in the evening, long after lunch time.  I didn’t know she was such a fan.  (Having learned a bit after years of marriage, I did not burst her surprise balloon until I got home that evening.)

But my excess may be your gain!

I am going to dig through my Star Trek Online screen shots and see if I can find one suitable for a quick caption contest.  The winner (who will likely be chosen by the Saturday night instance group) will receive the code.

Look for that contest Friday morning.

Unless I cannot find a suitable picture.

In which case, my backup plan is to change over to contest to create a Star Trek shuttle based tarot card.

This is what I have so far as a sample.

In fact, if somebody sends me a really good shuttle tarot card, I might just go buy another soda to give out an extra code.

Which, as I said, may or may not get you a shuttle.

Check back on Friday!  You’ve been warned!

The Del Taco Shuttle

Open beta has passed.  Those with pre-orders are awaiting the head-start launch on Friday.  In the mean time, we can dwell on other topics.

A while back I was comparing what pre-order and collectors edition items were being offered in Europe versus the US.  The result was that the only imbalance was that Europeans could get a shuttle craft that was not available through any offer in the US at the time.

The Shuttle

While I was on vacation Cryptic and Atari saw fit to fix this discrepancy by coming up with a tie-in deal.  Here is the email I received about it on January 21st, which oddly refers to the game’s launch being in a “few more weeks” a mere 12 days before STO was set to go live.  Maybe I’m not on the high priority mailing list.

Just a few more weeks to boldly go into the much anticipated universe of Star Trek Online! As we gear up for launch, we wanted to tell you about an awesome limited time offer with Del Taco!  Customers who purchase a Macho-sized drink at Del Taco will receive a free limited edition Star Trek collector’s cup and a free trial of the Star Trek Online while supplies last. Each collector’s cup will have an individual peel code that can be redeemed for a 48-hour free trial of Star Trek Online at http://www.startrekonline.com/deltaco. Customers can redeem up to four codes and receive 48-hours of gameplay with each code. As an added bonus, customers that redeem the maximum four codes will receive an extra 48-hours of access to the game for a total of 10 full days.

Additionally, if consumers choose to purchase the game after their free trial, they will receive a free Type-8 Shuttle “pet” add-on for their Starship, available exclusively from Del Taco.

uh…

Del Taco?

Seriously?

Oh, and collectible cups... forgot to mention those!

I guess so.  Beam up to macho!

I actually live in California and I might not know about Del Taco except that I had a roommate from Long Beach who was extremely excited when a Del Taco opened up here in the Santa Clara Valley.

Long Beach, which is down in the Los Angeles area, is about as close to my home as Berlin is to Vienna, just to pull a random geographical distance out of the air. (Though I verified it on the web, 414 miles.)  So despite the fact that the national news reports anything from LA as though that was California, an LA chain of stores might be completely unknown up here.

I was actually a bit surprised I could place Del Taco in fact.  One of those strange aspects of memory, I can recall my roommate going on about Del Taco and wishing there was also a Naugles and an In-N-Out Burger up here to complete his fast food needs. (Since Naugles appears to have merged with Del Taco in 1988, you get a sense for how old this recollection is.  Meanwhile, we now have several In-N-Out Burgers in the area.)

So my first thought was, “How ridiculous is this?”  I wasn’t even sure that there was a Del Taco up here still, so it seemed like a pretty targeted promotion.  Like, if you live in LA or maybe the California Central valley, you might get the shuttle.

I decided to go to the Del Taco web site to see where they listed locations.

As it turns out, they list locations is 16 states, which was about 15 more than I expected.

Del Taco States

That is approximately a third of the states in the US.  Granted, they are biased towards the west end of the country, but Del Taco is still more wide spread than I would have guessed.

Then I started to click on the states.

  • Michigan – 5 locations
  • Missouri – 3 locations
  • Indiana – 1 location
  • Florida – 1 location
  • Ohio – 1 location
  • South Carolina – 1 location

In fact, outside of California… and the parts of California which I previously associated with the chain… outlets are somewhat thin on the ground.

Sure, there are 25 in Las Vegas, but if you added 4 more lanes to Interstate 15, Las Vegas would effectively be part of LA.  And while Colorado and Utah have about 20 each, that only sounds like a lot until you think about those 25 in Las Vegas alone.  And don’t even start in on how that compares to the number of McDonald’s there are in those two states.

Still, I cannot be too critical.  You get the deal you can get.  If it were Blizzard, it would be McDonald’s.  But Cryptic and Atari, well, perhaps that was the best choice they had.

Or maybe they just like Del Taco.  It turns out that there is still a Del Taco up here not too far from my home.  And my home is, in turn, not much of a trek from Cryptic Studios.  Maybe that is their thing.

Anyway, I’ll have to find some time to swing by the Del Taco on West Hamilton in Campbell for a large drink just to see if I can get a Type-8 shuttle even though I have already pre-ordered.  If you don’t live close to a Del Taco, I see there are people on eBay willing to sell you a code.

Del Taco.  You do have to admire a company with outlets in Anaheim and Azusa. (Old people, name the show being referenced and the city not mentioned, which also has a Del Taco location.  Young people, it is not The Simpsons, so be still.)

STO Lifetime Sub – The Sucker Bet?

I missed a good chunk of the Star Trek Online open beta.

Part of that was because we spent a week on Maui, which is a pretty fair trade in the middle of winter.  Even for a California winter.

But even when I have been around there have been problems getting into the game.  The server was essentially full for most of the time before I was on vacation.  That is when it wasn’t down.  And it has been down rather regularly since I have been back.

Not that Cryptic hasn’t been working on things.  I’ve downloaded about a gigabyte and a half of updates since I got back home.  But I get the feeling that the Star Trek IP is a bit more popular than they calculated.

Somehow, between the outages, I have managed to get in enough time to, you know, blow things up.

Cruiser Goes "Boom!"

And I like what I have seen.

I think.

I have to deal my internal love of Star Trek which makes it difficult at times to evaluate whether I like something that is Star Trek related, or whether I merely like that it is Star Trek related.  I’m a fan boy.  Not as much as some people, but I am to the degree that I can be and still be me.  And Star Trek fan boys can get uptight about some of the silliest of things.

These fish are totally non-canon I say!

So play I must.  And having played a little, here is what I think.

Ship combat looks good.  It is close enough to the Starfleet Command (my favorite series of Star Trek games ever, which culminated with Starfleet Command III) style of ship combat for my taste.  Things go a bit quicker and I miss the ability to transport over marines to capture ships when the shields are down, but otherwise it feels about right.

I am undecided on ground combat.  That isn’t what a Star Trek game is really about for me, but it seems better than, say, Pirates of the Burning Sea’s version of the same thing.  And planet side seems to offer places to relax.

And the game as a whole?  I am surprised by some of the complexities.  But it feels okay, and you can tweak enough things to make the future feel a bit less sterile and mass produced.

USS Wensleydale Customized

Like Darren, I agree that being on a mission and finding myself in an ad hoc fleet working towards the same objectives works.  Though it can stink when you draw a tougher mission and find yourself alone.  I had to call on Skronk to help me out on one.

So, if nothing else, I am not going to try and get out of my GameStop pre-order.  I will be playing this game.  And I will be playing it soon since, as Cryptic pointed out, the last open beta weekend was upon us.

Next Friday, January 29th, those with pre-orders can get into the game for real.  Things are live.

But there is a decision to be made between now and the official launch day of February 2nd.

Do I get the lifetime subscription?

It is available up until February 1st for $239.  After that it will still be available, but it will be priced at $299.

The Trek fan boy in me says, “Get it!”  In fact, the Trek fan boy in me wants to know why I am still typing this since the order page is up in another tab and I could be ordering it RIGHT THIS SECOND!

And then there is skeptical me. (Alternately known as thoughtful me, sarcastic me, or obstinate ass-hat me, depending on how far off I am from other people’s own opinions.)

Skeptical me still likes the idea of the lifetime subscription, since it takes the whole subscribe, unsubscribe, am I playing enough to justify a monthly subscription detail off the table.

But then skeptical me goes on and points out Lord of the Rings Online, which I don’t play all that much.

Sure, I patch and log in about once a month and play a little.  But I spend a lot more time in WoW and even in EVE Online.  And while that is partly because I have regular groups and friends in those games, it is also, to a certain extent, because I am paying a monthly fee for them, so I feel I had better be playing if I am paying.

And so LOTRO falls into third place because the pressure is off in that regard.  I can play whenever.

Then skeptical me brings up Pirates of the Burning Sea.  The parallels between that and Star Trek Online are clear, if not absolute.  In PotBS I loved the ship combat, but the rest of the game really did little for me.  Could STO be a repeat of that?

And while skeptical me has me on the ropes, he brings up Starfleet Command.  Sure, I love that game.  I bring it out every few months to play it.  But how much play time does it really get, skeptical me asks like a lawyer in a courtroom drama bringing up the critical point in his case, exactly how much time did you spend playing that game in 2009?

Maybe six hours.

“SIX HOURS?” shouts skeptical me, waking up the jury, “You spent 6 hours out of the year playing that game, and now you want to get a lifetime subscription to a game because it plays like SFC?  Is this what you’re suggesting?  Does this make sense?

Damn skeptical me, he has a point.

And then skeptical me starts to play good cop.  Look, he points out, they also have a discount year long subscription.  That is $119, which saves you $60 over the course of a year and you lock in that price ongoing.  So in two years you will have spent the same as the lifetime subscription, and you might be over the game by then.

Finally, skeptical me wraps up his case.  Look at Turbine, he says.  They offered a discounted lifetime subscription before launch, but they have brought back that discounted price a number of times.  If you truly get into the game, you might have the opportunity again later.

But then the fan boy retorts that not having to worry about a subscription is more likely to get me through the rough launch ahead.  And it is going to be a rough launch if my current experience, where I have spent more time trying to play than playing, what with patches, the server being full, or the server simply being down, over the open beta cycle.

But the year long subscription plan also works for that.

I still have a week to decide.  Lifetime or not?

What would you do?

And more importantly, what would Kirk do?

STO Character Creator – Experimenting

Playing with the character creator for a while this afternoon, I did discover that you can, in fact, create a female avatar with large breasts wearing a tight, leather-like uniform.

Created in the name of science...

You know… if you like that sort of thing.

That does not mean, however, that you have to shake it in front of the whole bridge crew and make them feel inadequate.

Cryptic Does Dance Moves

Dignity should be maintained.  Waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care should be avoided… at least in that outfit.

Still, Cryptic appears to have dodged that “no hot avatars” problem that Vanguard seemed to have so long ago.  (Even the Vanguard team seemed to admit that to that at a later date.)