Monthly Archives: September 2010

September in Review

The Site

Items of note for the month of September related to the site…

Not much I suppose.

I mean, there was the whole four year anniversary thing. But there was a post dedicated to that.

And the Top Video Game Blogs item… I’m still not sure what that list really means.  And I’m sure I won’t make the top 30 again this month.

Twitter followers increased 9x… I went from 2 to 18 followers.  At that rate of growth I will have the equivalent of the population of San Jose, California following me in just 6 months.  There is an optimistic outlook!

I did actually tweet a few things that were not posts on the blog, so there is some variety.  Plus the even posts from my other blog show up on the feed.  It has everything, even the TAGN logo.

Go me.

There were some changes in traffic patterns to the site, which are pretty obvious when you go down to the Most Viewed Posts section.

First, of course, lots of people came here in search of Lord of the Rings Online information.  That is certainly a sign that the switch to the free to play model has upped interest in the game… or maybe it just upped confusion about the game.

I also seem to be getting a chunk of Google traffic from people searching on “Zombrex.”  That brings them to the goodies I got at GDC earlier this year.

And then, finally, I was linked in the third comment of a post over at Boing Boing about the Etch-a-Sketch iPad case.  Thank you Wrybread.

But blood elf porn… that remained not only the most viewed post but the most common Google search.

One Year Ago

I described some really old-school gaming… pre-computer… which involved hunting each other in cars.

There was a brief moment of nostalgia for Infocom games… or at least for the ads.  Honestly, I think the ads were better than some of the games.

I was still talking about my days of playing MUDs, with a description of getting to Kobold Village and the great bronze armplate smuggling get rich quick scheme.

And Turbine announced the Siege of Mirkwood expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, which brought out a little guilt in me, since I hadn’t even gotten to Moria.  I still haven’t, for that matter.

Then there was WoW.  We were really on a WoW binge last September.  I put up a poll about what instance we didn’t want to see made into an heroic, and the results were… unsurprising.

There were pirates and Brewfest and I managed to get my chef’s hat and all the sundry cooking achievements.  And we ran through Ulduar and the Oculus.

And, finally, there was the three year anniversary of the blog, with the usual round of stats and trivia.

New Linking Sites

I would like to thank the following site for linking here.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Fighting Blood Elf Porn
  2. A Quick Pass Through GDC 2010
  3. How I Got My 5,000 Turbine Points
  4. LOTRO – Comparing VIP with Free
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  7. iPad Arcade Stand April Fools
  8. Why Isn’t LOTRO More Fun?
  9. My LOTRO Video Crash
  10. The Amazing Disappearing Turbine Points
  11. I Want My Fast Horse NOW!
  12. RMT and Microtransactions Rant

Search Terms of the Month

They just get more bizarre every month

  • i am infected with security of blizzard
  • fallen porn screen shots
  • words that have isk
  • noob instance with my fishing pole

Spam Comment of the Month

  • i am addicted to farmville

This one came up over and over again… somebody is more addicted to spam I think.

EVE Online

Another month in the station skilling up.  I did go out on a run in my Crane to collect data cores, while I sold to buy PLEX for the screen shot contest.  I didn’t have that many data cores, but they off-set the price a bit.

EverQuest II Extended

I grabbed the client finally.  They did an admirable job of making a quick download to get people into the game fast… only the server has been so over burdened at the times I have tried to play that I have been unable to get into the game at all.  Maybe next month.

Lord of the Rings Online

This has been my main game for the last couple of months.  The instance group has been in and trying out skirmishes and fishing and such.

The conversion to the free to play model has certainly increased the number of people we see in game.  Firefoot was a pretty quiet server and now it is popping on a Saturday night and Bree is lagging like it was back at launch.

World of Warcraft

I have been out of WoW for a stretch, until this past weekend fact.  And with school in full session, my daughter hasn’t been in Azeroth much either.  I still have a pile of Cataclysm screen shots to post.  And I should probably download the beta client on my computer, since I also now in the beta.

Coming Up

Oooh, more of the instance group, as always.

I will have to announce the winners of the EVE Online screen shot contest.  But first I will have to pick the winners, and that won’t be easy.  There is no obvious “that one” choice so far, the pictures are all good.

I have a couple of posts lined up about games that are not MMORPGs.

And, finally, it is time to start talking about hardware again.  More on that later.

Brew of the Year Achievement Done

Emboldened by the news that, if only I could rejoin the Brew of the Month club before the end of September, that I could complete that one last Brewfest achievement, the one I thought was going to elude me for another year, I started grubbing for Brewfest tokens as hard as I could.

Granted, there are only so many things you can do for Brewfest tokens.

I managed to get myself to 161 tokens when I realized that I had not killed Coren Direbrew yet this year.  He had to be worth some tokens.

Fortunately… from my perspective anyway… killing Coren is easier than ever.  Seasonal events like this are now included in the dungeon finder.

So in I went with four complete strangers, none of whom said a word.  The tank just charged in, we all followed, and soon Coren was dead.

This time around Coren is also dropping a goody bag… or barrel.  I received two emblems of frost in mine, which earned Vikund an unexpected achievement.

One more achievement checked off I guess.  One I was unlikely to get otherwise.

After that, it was back to Brewfest central where I found that there was indeed a reward for killing Coren Direbrew.

I needed 39 tokens and this got me 40.

So I ran to the token vendor, bought the Brew of the Month Club application for 200 tokens, ran up to Ironforge, turned in the application, and then, as a fully paid up member, I was able to purchase the Binary Brew, consume it, and finish off that last achievement.

Brewfest achievements complete!

When does Hallow’s End start?

We Gave Him Some Money and He Went Away

Really, after all that drama, this is the result?  No criminal prosecution?  Nobody dragged away in chains?  Just some money paid out… paid out to the purported criminal… and that is it?

Quest Online V David Allen Lawsuit Settled

Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) September 29, 2010

Quest Online, LLC, today announced that the lawsuit filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court (Case # CV2010-010391) in June 2010 against previous LLC Manager and Alganon creator, David Allen, has been settled with the purchase of Mr. Allen’s equity in the LLC; and that Mr. Allen is no longer associated with Quest Online, LLC.

Then again, the press release quoted above might be a sign that somebody at Quest Online has a lick of sense.

One wonders how much “help” Derek Smart’s public pronouncements were to the whole situation.

Of course, among the many things Derek Smart said was this tidbit:

David – once again – severely underestimates the investors. Because he pretty much spent four years feeding them bullshit and them giving him money, he thinks that they’re just going to cave and pay him to go away. When no less than ten people unanimously vote you OUT of a company – TWICE – it means only one thing: they want you GONE.

Irony, so juicy and delicious.

Meanwhile, the game itself still seems only apt for an unfortunate pun.

The Longest Achievement

Or the longest wait for an achievement.

My daughter announced that Brewfest had begun last weekend.

Now, last year the instance group pretty much beat Brewfest to death.  I got the Brewmaster title, we collected tokens, we killed Coren Direbrew nearly two dozen times, lederhosen was worn, and we danced in the streets of Dalaran.

How you doin'?

There was just one Brewfest achievement left, the Brew of the Month Club.

That Last Brewfest Achievement

It is an optional achievement.  You don’t need to do it to get the Brewmaster title.  But the completionist in me wanted to check off that last box.

To get there, one had to earn enough tokens to buy a membership… some 200 tokens for the privileged.  So I diligently did the Brewfest daily quests… well… daily until I had enough tokens to buy my outfit, my beer keg, my membership, and whatever else I needed.

And so, the year long brew of the month club membership began.

On the first of each month a new brew would appear in my in-game mailbox.  All I had to do was drink it, and I was another step closer to that last achievement.

Months went by and little checks went into the achievement tracker.

August 1st came, I drank the brew of the month.  I was, at that point, just one beer away from being done.

And then I let my World of Warcraft account lapse.  The instance group was playing Lord of the Rings Online this summer, I was out of work so I was even less keen than usual to pay for an account I was not using, and my latest 3-month subscription term was due at the end of the first week of the month.  I canceled my subscription.

So summer turned to autumn as we played in Middle-earth, leaving Azeroth for another time.

Then, as I said way up at the top, my daughter announced it was Brewfest.  I was employed again, she wanted to run around and do some of the activities, and I wanted that last achievement.  So I resubscribed after only a 6 week hiatus.  It can be hard to stay away.

And the first thing I did was log on with Vikund to check my main for that last, oh so satisfying beer.

Only my mail box was empty.  No beer for me.

I am going to guess that you have to be subscribed on the first of the month to get your monthly brew, and I was not.

Oh dear.

Still, I wanted to finish off that last Brewfest achievement.

So now I am back to doing daily quests to earn the 200 tokens.  that will take me less than an hour each over four evenings to do.

Then I have to buy the membership.

And then I have to wait 11 more months until we’re back to September first.  I have to remember to stay subscribed.  And I have to drink that last beer.

See what the achievement oriented player will do, just to check off one box.

Incursion and Public Fleets

Just as I was eying the exits in New Eden, CCP announced their latest expansion, Incursion, which is due out in November of this year, about the time when my last ISK purchased PLEX will expire.

Will there be something in this next expansion to tempt me?

There is the now usual round of technology upgrades promised with this expansion. Faster is always better, but in my little corner of space, performance generally isn’t much of an issue. I think the biggest fleet I’ve even been in had seven ships total.

There is a new Sansha Mothership in the works. I’ll be looking for screen shots of that. Sansha ship models are always interesting… and pointy.

And they will be giving us a dedicated salvaging vessel, the Noctis, which will use the same ship model as the Primae. I am far more likely to buy and fly the latter… once the price comes down… but that isn’t really a reason to stay in space… or in station, where I have been for most of the last few months.

There will apparently be an update to the character creator. I hope that will allow everybody to redo their pilot portrait for free. I rushed through the character creator in my desire to get into space and have been living with the same uninspired pilot picture since then.

No, the big deal for me is at the top of the press release, the new additions to PvE play.

Incursion will feature the escalating attacks of the deadly Sansha’s Nation which is bent on instituting its own utopia and exacting vengeance against the pilots who stand in its way. Pilots can join public fleets and co-operate to destroy the Sansha incursions and return the universe to normal, receiving wealthy bounties, earning loyalty rewards and high commendation.

Public fleets? That sounds vaguely familiar.

The public quest thing was an idea that worked pretty well in Warhammer Online, though the schizophrenic nature of the game (how many experience bars should a game be allowed?) diluted its impact.  And the huge drop off in subscribers after the first couple months did not help.

And a similar idea worked well enough in Star Trek Online. There was always the problem of “the fleet that refused to communicate” in those group quest instances though. I spent a good deal of time trying to guess where my temporary fleet mates were headed in STO.

But in STO the death penalty was pretty mild to say the least.  There is very little pain associated with getting yourself in trouble.

Of course, we know that the death penalty is a little bit different in EVE Online.  That is something that could drive cooperation.  A ship loss in EVE… if you’re insured it won’t cost you much in ISK, but the time it takes to get another ship assembled and ready to go… that is often the biggest loss.  Time has value.

It would be great if this turns out to be a good way to get players to group up and cooperate and maybe even teach people how to work together in a fleet.  Maybe people could even use some of those modules that generally only get equipped for PvP.  The current PvE missions do not train players for PvP at all.

Of course, CCP tried to get people to band together in ad hoc fleets for PvE-ish objectives when it introduced factional warfare back in the Empyrean Age expansion.  How did that turn out for you?  It was something of a non-starter for me.

Still, I look forward to more information on this new tack in EVE PvE play.  Maybe it will give me a reason to get back into space.

And at least I’ll get a new in-game portrait.

Is there anything in Incursion for you?

I Got My 95 Turbine Points Back

It took Turbine a while, but they finally got back to me.

Thanks for your inquiry. We have processed a refund for the 95 Turbine Points to your account for the vault slots you did not receive.

The upgrade displaying in the store for you was an error. The vault upgrade was meant to display for players that only had 30 slots.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please respond to this email, and we will be happy to assist you.

Thank you,
The Turbine Customer Service Team

I am sure that they were seriously backlogged with support cases with the launch of the LOTRO Store.  I lost the 95 points back at the head-start launch for LOTRO Free to Play.  They were not the only points I lost,  but they were the only ones I was going to hold a grudge about were they not returned.

And I can hold a grudge.

EVE Screen Shot Contest – First Week Update

One week has gone by since I announced the EVE Online Screen Shot contest.

So far eight people have responded and have entered a total of 33 screen shots.

Considering my modest goal was 10 people and 30 screen shots, I think things are going okay.

But there is still time to enter and help me double my goal.

You have until October 10th to submit your screen shots.  Go read the rules and stuff.  Prizes include two PLEX and a range of 10 million ISK prizes for various categories.

In the mean time, here is one of the possible contenders for, at a minimum, the ringed planet category.

mining barge in an asteroid field

Thanks to Cj Didge for that entry.

Less Music, More Skirmishes, and No Anderson Cooper

Well, first, that “no Anderson Cooper” is a lie. As I mentioned last week, his face is all over Middle-earth.  Being a Vanderbilt heir opens doors I tell you.

We did manage to reduce his presence in skirmishes, mostly, but we’ll get to that.

Saturday night and we had the four of us on Firefoot again.

  • Earlthecat – level 25 dwarf Guardian
  • Roderigo – level 25 human Burglar
  • Garfinkel – level 26 elf Minstrel
  • Enaldie – level 28 elf Rune Keeper

Enaldie is getting a bit ahead of us, mostly because she has no alts.  It is unnatural.

I thought we might see Gaff in game.  He has been back in Middle-earth a bit since it went F2P, but he wasn’t about on Saturday night.

The first thing we had to do was demonstrate to Earl what we had learned about the music system.

Another 3 Part Rihannon Rendition

After that, Earl had to run off and do the skirmish tutorial.  We offered tips and semi-helpful advice over Skype while he made the same comments about Second Watcher Heatherstraw and his “hurt” arm.

On our advice, Earl went with the herbalist role for his soldier.  After last week, we though that perhaps a bit of additional healing might help.

Our first full fellowship skirmish was Trouble in Tuckborough.  I had run through it solo previously in the week to check it out, and it seemed perhaps a bit less hectic than Amon Sul or Gondomon.  In Tuckborough your team is on the offensive to drive off Sharky’s men, so you have more control over the pace compared to the other two, where you face wave after wave of bad guys coming at you.

Given the diversity of levels in our group, that we had to go in under the banner of a full fellowship (6 players) with only four on the team, and that it was our first skirmish as a group, we set the level to 21 and kicked it off.

We all seemed to have the right soldiers this time, so rather than a mass of Anderson Coopers, we had two dwarven protectors, a female human herbalist, and… well… Anderson Cooper.  That was Enadlie’s choice, and I am not sure if she simply didn’t change her soldier traits, wanted the warrior for his skills, or just has a crush on Anderson Cooper.  I mean, he is rich, famous, and younger than either Potshot or myself.

Tuckborough is the skirmish most like the tutorial.  You start at one end of the map on which are several control points.  You clear away the bad guys from around a control point, activate the control point, and then fight off any counter attacks.

The counter attacks are a bit more difficult than the initial assault.  With care you can usually take on the bad guys patrolling a control point in smaller bites.  But on a counter attack, the who group is running straight at you.

And that group usually consists of tougher mobs.

But the game compensates for that.  With the clearing of each control point, you get a couple more NPC helpers when you activate.  In the case of Tuckborough, you get a couple of bounders who will assist you in repelling the counter attack.

If the attack gets close enough.

Here we were able to experience the pet peeve of almost every dungeon boss, the minion who stands there and watches his fellows get chopped into chutney.

The bounders would assist, but only if you let the counter attacking force come into the arrgo radius.  If you run out to meet the attacking force because you’re aggressive like that or they are hitting you with ranged attacks, the bounder will stand their posts like nothing is going on.  Pengail, our maniac escort quest friend, had a noticeably larger aggro radius than these Shire layabouts did.

Atop Tuckborough

We managed to clear one side of the hill without much drama, but on the other side a bit of trouble kicked in.  We had a couple of members of the team defeated.  But we also had the game lock up a couple of times.  My computer froze up in-game twice and Potshot had that happen once.

Loitering during a reboot

Each time meant a reboot for one of use and idle time for the rest, so we loitered about the last third of the skirmish for a while.  Fortunately, the bad guys are pretty oblivious/patient and did not execute a spoiling attack to push us back over the hill.

Eventually we were able to finish off the skirmish and collect our rewards.

The skirmish was marked as having a daily quest associated with it, but I am not sure if you get that automatically, or if you have to go pick that up somewhere.

That gave us enough skirmish marks to upgrade out soliders to our current levels and beyond.  We then began eyeing some of the equipment available and decided to do another skirmish.

We chose the Siege of Gondomon this time around.

I have run this skirmish solo a few times and we did it as a small fellowship succesfully the previous weekend.

However, this skirmish behaves a little differently when run as a full fellowship.

On previous runs, the skirmish was mostly a matter of running to the three openings in the defenses, north, south, and west, to defend them from attack.  After three rounds of multiple attacks, you fall back to defend Mathi from the final assault.  Mathi, the dwarf in charge of Gondomon must survive to finish the skirmish successfully.

Solo and with a small fellowship, all the action is at one designated point.  With the fellowship version of the skirmish, there are a couple of points in the event when you are called to fight at one of the openings while a named bad guy decides to wander in through one of the other points of entry.

Now, in scrolling back, this does get announced in great big aqua blue letters on the screen in a timing that I can only describe as both too slow and too fast.

It is too slow in that half a paragraph of aqua blue text blocks a good chunk of your screen while you are running off to defend one of the openings, and so it is immediately annoying and you want it to go away.  But it is too fast in that it isn’t up on your screen long enough for you to read and digest the half a paragraph of data.

It is one of those situations where, in real life, someody would just say “Hey, bad guy at the west gate” and you would respond appropriately.  If that person handed you a note that with the name of the guy, his relationship to the attack, his axe to grind, and finally, the direction of his approach, the communication would be… less effective.

And so we failed to defend Gondomon when a named guy wandered in and slaughtered Mathi while we were elsewhere.

Having scrolled back and figured that out, we decided to run the skirmish again.

This time, at about the same point in the attack, when the same text came up, Roderigo ran off to take care of that while everybody else kept on the main defense.

Roderigo intercepted and defeated the named guy then ran off to rejoin his companions, failing to notice the SECOND named guy who wandered in and slaughtered Mathi again.

Live and learn.

Still, aside from that, we seemed to be capable of taking on the bad guys when we managed to confront them in various skirmishes.

There was some talk about trying Gondomon again, but it was getting late and it was decided we should call it a night.

A couple of us hung around for a bit to explore the housing market in Middle-earth.  Our kinship is a few weeks away from being able to purchase kinship housing.  Not that we can afford it (this should be in the LOTRO shop!), but we though we should check it out just in case we have some sort of gold windfall.

They are Dragons… And They are Playing Pool!

I read somewhere that the coming collapse of Facebook games was going to be driven, in part, by Facebook now charging market rates for ads.

And then this ad popped up on my side bar in Facebook.

Either somebody is paying a lot to market… uh… items of limited appeal, or Facebook hasn’t quite hit the level of market rate.

Hand painted, pool playing dragons anyone?

Planet Michael – Will We Ever See It?

A Michael Jackson MMO? [long dead link removed]

No, really?

Planet Michael

Not Michael Jackson, but an Uncanny (Valley) Simulation!

I mean, I saw Lum do an excellent parody, but the reality is almost as funny.

Well, maybe not funny… perhaps mind boggling is the word.  The full press release is after the break below, preserved for posterity.

I was going to just let this pass.  After all, what can you add?  But I figured I had better mark the occasion.

And who will go to this world?  I mean, it is going to be like Graceland.  There will be no sense of humor allowed, so forget your ideas about a “Hall of Noses,” a court appearance simulator, or any mention of Lisa Marie Presley.

Still, one wonders… there are issues common across most MMOs.  How will they manifest themselves on Planet Michael?  And what, exactly, will the “game” aspect of this world be?

Continue reading