Monthly Archives: January 2010

STO Screenshots Question

The screen shot potential for Star Trek Online is, of course, huge.  Space is pretty, space battles bright, colorful, and awe inspiring.

I am okay with the fact that I do not have to turn off the game’s UI to take full screen shots of battle, but I cannot figure out how to turn off the shield graphic around ones ship.

Green Explosion!

That picture would be much better if only I could turn off the shields.

Any clues out there?  Anybody?

Pokemon Pedometer

Ever since the Wii came out, Nintendo has been on something of a fitness kick.

Well, maybe not a fitness kick, but they have at least expressed the desire to get our butts off the couch.

And this trend continues on with Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

The two new games will come with a Pokewalker.

The Pokewalker appears to be a pedometer which connects to the upcoming Pokemon DS games via infrared that allows you to “take your pokemon out for a stroll.”

When you load up a Pokemon into the Pokewalker, it gains experience based on how far you walk.  You also earn points that can be used to buy things.  And there also appears to be Pokewalker mini-games that let you find items or rare Pokemon that can be used in the main game.

Finally, the Pokewalkers can communicate with each other, something else that will get you a gift.

I’m not sure how much this will do towards getting people up and walking… and there is going to be a problem with lost Pokewalkers I’m sure… but it is certainly something new for the Pokemon franchise.

If you see me walking around after March 14th, I might have a Pokewalker in my pocket.

Or I might just be happy to see you.

More information about the Pokewalker included with Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver is available at Pokemon.com, the official Pokemon web site.

Best Items from the Dominion 1.1 Patch Notes

Dominion patch 1.1 has been deployed in EVE Online and you can find the full release notes here.

But two things caught my eye in the notes.

EVE Voice, Mail & Chat

  • Voice fonts have now been added to EVE Voice. This new feature will allow you to alter your voice during chat to increase or lower pitch or to change from male to female voices. This is certainly not going to be abused in any way.

Too true indeed.

Drones

  • Drones can now be used to attack Zephyrs in wormhole space.

I would have loved to have heard a live feed from the first pilot unsuccessfully trying to get his drones to kill a Zephyr in wormhole space.

Now to wait for the EVEMon update so I can see how long it will take me to fly a super carrier and deploy fighter bombers. (New with Dominion 1.1, and things I am unlikely to ever even see, much less fly!)

And why does “fighter bomber” always bring up the image of a P-47 in my mind?

In Kaanapali, Nobody Can Hear You Kvetch

It’s rough being you, Wilhelm.

Xyd, in a comment this past week

I’ve known Xyd for something like 18 years now.  We used to work together here in Silicon Valley.  He is the one that got me playing Sojourn MUD ages ago.

He opted to return to the place of his birth, back in the mid-west, a number of years ago, muttering something about home prices.

He now has a much nicer house than I do, but I don’t worry about snow during the winter or humidity during the summer.

So his comment was mildly ironic in that not only is it warmer in Silicon Valley, but that I haven’t even been in Silicon Valley for the last week.

I’ve been in Hawaii.

Which is why posts here have been rather sporadic.  I wrapped up a few posts that I had in my queue, set them to automatically publish every day or so, and flew off to the tropics.

We went to visit my mom, who lives on Maui and to bask in the warm weather on the beach in Kaanapali.

On the beach in Kaanapali in January

We stayed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel.  While it is about the same age as me (and we’re both starting to show our age) it is still nice, reasonably priced (relative to other places in Kaanapali), and is walking distance from most everything we want to do.

We hung out at the beach, went whale watching (February is better for this, but it was still good), saw the magic show at the hotel, consumed many a tropical themed drink, and ate too much.

But all this laying about on the beach in the warm Hawaiian weather means that I did not spend much time with video games.  I did moderate comments on the blog via my wife’s iPhone, but otherwise was limited to playing DS games on the plane and in our hotel room.  We don’t bring laptops on vacation. (Though I wasn’t above bumming some time on my mom’s laptop.)

So I am completely behind on whatever has been going on in the world of MMOs.  I’m patching Star Trek Online even now.  I will have to see how much has changed there.  There isn’t much time between now and launch.

I will have to find some time to catch up this weekend.  As for the last week when I was in a tropical paradise, it is hard to beat that.

Trolling in Stranglethorn Vale

After getting Hurmoo up to level 34 via the dungeon finder, he was ready for Saturday night.

Unfortunately, there would be no instance run, as Earl had some RL obligations to attend to, leaving the four of us to work on some more levels in anticipation of the Scarlet Monastery cathedral.  We started off with:

32 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)
33 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)
34 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
34 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)

So we decided to head into Stranglethorn Vale.

I expected Stranglethorn Vale (STV) to be a bit of a challenge for us, especially on a Saturday night.

STV is a contested zone, which means that everybody there is flagged for PvP.  Well, we’ve been in contested zones before.

But STV is also one of the first zones where both factions start really rubbing elbows.  You end up running the same quests after the same targets for the same quest givers.  You get in the face of the other faction.

If the other faction is around.

We started off with the Nesingwary quests, as we were not all at the same step.  Kill 10 is the order of the day with the Nesingwary expidition, and so we did.

Raptor Massacre... er... Mastery

The raptors weren’t tough, by Nesingwary’s camp was a bit dicey.  We got rolled over by a trio of level 40s heading back there and then got worked by a lone hunter.  The hunter was our level, but knew what he was doing.  We were spread out so hit him one by one and he killed us one by one.

Fortunately we were just targets of opportunity for him and he moved on.  Well, fortunate all around I suppose, since we were going to go at him as a group if he was still hanging about.  Fool us once and all that.

After that, we had three quests that required drops from the trolls in STV.  And so began the main even where we killed many, many, many trolls.

Trolling... literally

One of the quests needed 25 drops, so we killed for quite a while.  As a group with a tank, a healer, and DPS though, we were able to slaughter the trolls in large numbers.

Slowly we accumulated those bloody bone necklaces until three of us had all 25.  And then the fourth person noticed that they did not have that quest.

So we shared the quest and went back to the troll slaughter.  It is a good thing that these quests are now smart enough to know who needs the drop and who does not, so getting that last 25 necklaces went very quickly.

As we headed back to turn in the quests, we knocked off a few more raptors while avoiding that group of alliance level 40s.  The defense channel indicated that they had moved from targets of opportunity to hunting down and camping horde players.

We stayed clear of them and turned in our quests.

Slaying all of those trolls left us with quite a pile of pages from The Green Hills of Stranglethorn, everybody’s favorite inventory management quest.  We piled our duplicates into the guild bank.  Hurmoo had enough pages that he went to the auction house, bought the few he did not have, and headed back out to STV.

And then realized that he forgot one page.  Azawak was nice enough to buy it and drop it in the guild bank so Hurmoo only had to get back to Booty Bay to pick it up.

Turning in the Green Hills was enough to get Hurmoo to level 35, so our time in STV was worth almost a complete level for him.  Everybody else was up a level as well, so a good night for the team.

And, while Hurmoo was doing that last quest turn-in, it became clear on the defense channel that a group of horde 80s had arrived to teach the alliance level 40s a lesson.  One of them was hiding in a tent at the Nesingwary camp.  I passed that tidbit of information along before recalling and logging off for the night.

EVEMon, BattleClinic, and Star Trek Online

EVEMon is, without a doubt, my favorite EVE Online utility.

If I had to choose just one utility for EVE Online, EVEMon would be it.

And it recently got even better.

The latest version of the utility now shows your training queue and can, if you trust it with the right API code, show you all of your current market orders.

So you can keep an eye on your financial empire as well as your skill training.

So the team at BattleClinic.com have my respect on that front.

But in more good news, they have also opened up a section of their site devoted to Star Trek Online, and they are talking about creating some tools for STO.

Of course, the STO connection makes sense not only because they support other space games like EVE Online, but because they have had a section devoted to Star Fleet Command, which might be the last Star Trek game I actually really liked.  And STO has the possibility of becoming the spiritual successor to that game.

So that is something else to keep an eye on.

Authenticator Annoyance

The Blizzard Authenticator.

Blizzard Authenticator

I have had one now for about six months now.  Works like a charm, I have managed not to lose it, and I got that core hound puppy pet just for having it.

But Blizzard does one things that bugs me, and it has little to do with the physical authenticator itself.

I tend to sit in front of my computer in a dark room.  I have a nice, lit keyboard in the for of a Logitech G15.  And for any other light, my 20″ LCD monitor casts enough of a glow most of the time.

Most of the time.

When I go to log on to World of Warcraft, the main screen has enough ice and snow that my monitor casts more than enough light to see the authenticator display.  However, once you go to connect, WoW puts up the window to enter your authenticator code and turns the whole screen dark.

So at the one moment I need some light to read the authenticator, which is not backlit, my computer screen goes too dark to read the damn thing.  Then I have to tab out to something like the main Google page so I can read the code.

Okay, yes, even on the scale of trivial complaints, this ranks pretty far down at the “extremely trivial” end of things.  But I just thought I’d mention it because I know somewhere, somebody is going to read that and put up a comment along the lines of, “Oh, I hate that too!”

And then we’ll both feel better having had our petty gripes acknowledged.

GameStop Pichu Event

As was hinted in the last announcement regarding Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the recently revamped Pokemon.com has announced that there will be a download event at GameStop where you can obtain a special shiny, Pikachu-yellow version of Pichu.


The download event will run at GameStop locations from January 30th through February 14th.

This special Pichu can be downloaded to Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.

The announcement at Pokemon.com of course refers to more to come from this Pichu once you transfer it to Pokemon HeartGold or SoulSilver.

Shiny Pichu holds even more secrets if you transfer the Pokémon to either Pokémon HeartGold or SoulSilver Version, coming March 14th. Once you’ve traded Shiny Pichu, take it to Ilex forest to meet Spiky-Eared Pichu, the one featured in the recent movie, Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life!

I might be able to grab Pichu at the same time I am at GameStop to pick up my Star Trek Online pre-order.  But I’ll certainly find some time to get it.

The Interchangablility of DPS

At the end of our Scarlet Monastery run Hurmoo was about 10% into level 33.  I decided that before we went into the next instance, I ought to get him caught up to the some of the team who were already 34.

So on Saturday I got him out and went looking for a level.

A Saturday afternoon in winter seemed like a bad time for uninterrupted solo questing on a PvP server.  At level 33, every place Hurmoo can go for quests is contested territory.

Battlegrounds now give experience, but at 33 your choices are Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, neither of which are on my favorites list.  And being at the lower end of the 30-39 bracket, you tend to spend a lot of time dead as people shoot for the easiest target to kill.

That left the dungeon finder.

Could I PUG for a level?

The answer turned out to be yes.

Three PUGs was all it took to get Hurmoo to 34.  And an illuminating 3 PUGs it was.

Being a healer, I did not expect to spend too much time in the queue, and I was right.  All three times I was picked up with in a minute or two of joining the queue.

All three times I ended up in the Library wing of Scarlet Monastery.

All three times I ended up with the same protection spec’d paladin as a tank.  He knew what he was doing which made things go smoothly.

All three times we blazed through almost without stop.  The practiced caution, target identification, and crowd control of the regular Saturday night group was nowhere at hand.  Pull, kill, pull, kill, pull, kill, eat or drink if required, repeat.  The main point of discipline was the tank insisting (quite rightly) that we stay back and he pull mobs to us, rather than rushing forward into a mix-up with possible adds.

Despite the haste, through all three runs nobody in the group died.  And only once was there a questionable need roll on an item, so nobody got kicked.

During all three runs, communication was at a minimum.  It was a greeting, a statement from the tank about how he’d hold aggro, an occasional “in” or “back” to bring the group forward or have them stay back while he pulled,  then a thanks for the group at the end.  I had configured and turned on voice chat in WoW just in case, but nobody mentioned it.

And all three times the DPS players were completely different.  We had hunter/shaman/rogue the first time, hunter/warrior/mage the second, and warlock/druid/paladin the third.  But the tank pulled, I healed, and the DPS damaged and it all went the same.  The only minor issue was that the warrior seemed to feel the need to pull aggro on himself every now and again, so I had to heal him once in a while.

The mix of DPS did not seem to matter.  As long as the tank held aggro and I kept the tank healed, the DPS could ply their trade however they liked.

The whole thing ran rather like Syncaine suggested in a recent post, and all in about the span of 90 minutes.

In the Library Again

And, this brings us to another proposition being discussed of late.  Should tanks and healers reap the greater reward due to their position in a group or not?

Hurmoo certainly did not reap much as part of these runs.  At least not in the instances.  But the nice little treat bag you get for doing a random dungeon provided him with some nice blue upgrades.

So Hurmoo got his level, got some goodies, and had some fun using the dungeon finder.  What’s not to love?