Monthly Archives: November 2010

November in Review

The Site

I changed the theme of the site for only the second time since I started it.

And, as happened last time, I changed it back about 30 minutes later.

So, if you happened by the site at one point last week, or last night when I put the theme back up to take a screen shot, you might have seen this.

Pilcrow Theme… Whatever a Pilcrow is

I didn’t like the font.  And the way the side bar looked.  And a few other tiny details that began to gnaw at mean within minutes of changing to the theme.

I’m going to have to buy the CSS editing option from WordPress.com and just alter this theme to change the minor details I don’t like.  Yeah, that won’t be opening up a can of worms or anything.

One Year Ago

I was writing about how I had not changed the blog format since I started.  Sound familiar?

Last year our Thanksgiving entertainment was Rock Band 2.  While I was really bad at it, it was a lot of fun.  This year we played Super Mario Bros. Wii, which I am also really bad at, but which isn’t nearly as much fun.  However, the kids liked it.  I rode along in a bubble most of the time.

And while Tech Crunch was exposing the odious practices favored by Mark Pinkus to get FarmVille and Mafia Wars profitable, the New York Times was gushing over this wonderful new virtual goods market, which I summarized and provided links to here.

The first LEGO Harry Potter game was announced, which I had anticipated would come to pass almost two years before it was announced.

Warhammer Online announced that levels 1-10 were going to be free, making me wonder if they were just going to breed a mass of level 1 twinks.  I think that is what the end result was.

In EVE Online, PLEX was off to a booming start.  The price of a PLEX has settled down some since then.  Meanwhile, the first Hulkageddon was on and even I noticed something was amiss.  Eventually somebody pointed me in the right direction in the comments.

I wondered if fishing was really the secret ingredient for MMO success.

I got all nostalgic for Star Trek because of Star Trek Online’s impending release.

WoW and EQII both hit their five year anniversaries.  Then I had the temerity to say that there were things that EQII didn’t do very well in my opinion.

On the WoW end of things, somebody was suing because they felt the game wasn’t easy enough.

Then there were Mr. T Mohawk grenades and a 24 slot Portable Hole, outrages both.  And then there were $10 vanity pets.

I wrote a very short post about Pilgrim’s Bounty which went on to become the most viewed post on the site this November.

And the instance group started in with Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns and Deadmines on the RP-PVP server.  Actually PVP occurred since we had to walk to the Deadmines.  We get called griefers for daring to engage in PVP on a PVP server.

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 for November

None of which I posted in November of this year.

  1. Pilgrim’s Bounty – Cooking Catch Up
  2. Fighting Blood Elf Porn
  3. How I Got My 5,000 Turbine Points
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  5. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  6. LOTRO – Comparing VIP with Free
  7. A Quick Pass Through GDC 2010
  8. Saturday with Red 5
  9. World of Warcraft Magazine – Issue 2
  10. WoW Account Hacked – This Just Keeps Happening
  11. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  12. EVE Online Screen Shot Contest Winners

Most Common Search Terms in November

  1. pilgrim’s bounty cooking
  2. zombrex
  3. elf porn
  4. turbine points
  5. the ancient gaming noob
  6. guild names
  7. pilgrims bounty cooking
  8. lego x-wing
  9. wow account hacked
  10. thorin oakenshield
  11. lego x wing
  12. blood elf porn

People want their elf porn, their X-wings, and their Pilgrim’s Bounty cooking advice.

Search Terms of the Month

one does not simply tank cat into mordor
[Tank cat?]

boggle faerun
[The official Forgotten Realms word game]

hilarious turkey pictures
[Really? You got here with that?]

EVE Online

I was getting ready for Incursion this month, since it sounded like it had some interesting PvE stuff as part of the expansion.  And then it got delayed.  And while I understand why it got delayed, I was hanging around explicitly for that.  Now I’m PLEX’d out to the end of December and all I’ll likely do is train during that time.

Well, I can always figure out where I want to put those 4.8 million skill points I’ll be getting when learning skills go away.  That and look at the new salvage ship.  That part of Incursion we’ll get early.  I probably won’t buy one though, as new ships in EVE are always over priced.

EverQuest

Tourism.  A once a year thing.  Visited a few of my characters.  Looked at some old haunts.  Stuggled with the keyboard layout.

EverQuest II Extended

I have been impressed with EQII Extended.  It is nice to be on a server with large and active population that includes a large group of new players.  Of course, because I have Station Access, I am in there as a Gold member.  We’ll see if my enthusiasm remains when I drop down to Bronze. (Hey, SOE, why can’t I buy the Silver option when I am Gold but planning to let me Station Access expire?)

Lord of the Rings Online

The reduced instance group has had a great run in Middle-earth over the summer.  We rolled up a new group and followed the epic quest line to the very end of the Lone Lands and into level 30, avoiding the North Downs almost completely. (Aside from that journey to Trestlebridge quest that Frederic the Edler has that we all did on our own just to get rid of that nagging ring over his head.)  We did not make it to Moria, though we’re closer than we have been in the past.

I wouldn’t mind continuing in LOTRO, but the missing member of our group is back and since he would have to catch up to us at level 30, he was not very enthusiastic.  So it will be back to Azeroth instead.

I’ll still peek into Middle-earth though.  The joys of a lifetime subscription.

Pokemon SoulSilver

Did I mention that I completed the National Pokedex?  In your face Ash!

That finished up Pokemon SoulSilver for me.  Now we rest and wait for Pokemon Black and White this springs.

Total Annihilation

This game is 13 years old and is still fun to play.  Clearly one of my three favorite RTS games of all time.

World of Warcraft

Cataclysm in one week.  It is almost here.  The sundering patch has changed the game world, and the game, in many ways.  There will be much to explore and experience, both in the 1-60 levels as well as 80-85.

Not sure what we’ll do about 60-80 though.  Northrend is fun… and now remote, what with the portals all gone and having to actually travel… but the Burning Crusade?  How can I say this nicely?  It’s not you Kil’jaedan, it’s me.

Coming Up

Probably too much stuff about Cataclysm.  Really, I’m sorry in advance if you hate it, but that is where the instance group is headed.

With a week left before Cataclysm, there is still some time for EverQuest II Extended.  I have at least one more post left on the subject.

And the end of the year is nearly upon us.  I am going to have to go back and look at all that nonsense I predicted back on January 1st.  Did any of those people move to Canada?  My only hope is a last minute announcement of the cast of the Warcraft movie.

Meanwhile, in the In-Game LOTRO Store, Crafting Materials!

Lord of the Rings Online dropped a huge update yesterday that included new content, a vault update, a barter token wallet (at last!) and a lot more stuff available on which to spend your Turbine Points.  No, really, that is a really long list of new stuff to buy.

Among the more interesting items are crafting materials.

I got yer crafting materials right here

They include:

Scroll of Lesser Craft Acceleration

Provides a 25% bonus to experience earned from crafting. Lasts 10 minutes.

Apprentice Ingredient Pack

Apprentice Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Apprentice crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Journeyman Ingredient Pack

Journeyman Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Journeyman crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Expert Ingredient Pack

Expert Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Expert crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Artisan Ingredient Pack

Artisan Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Artisan crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Master Ingredient Pack

Master Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Master crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Supreme Ingredient Pack

Supreme Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Supreme crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Recipes

The LOTRO Store has had over 100 new recipes added to it for items both new and old!

Seems that LOTRO learned something from EverQuest II Extended.  EQIIX has been selling crafting materials for a while now.  And something to speed up crafting experience… EQII had those as veteran rewards ages ago.

Recipes though, EQIIX doesn’t sell recipes does it?  No advanced crafting books available for Station Cash?  I wonder why not?

Of course, EQIIX has a very active broker right now, something that LOTRO lacks.

Once it gets done patching, I’ll log in to see how this all works.

Now if they would just automate server transfers for characters and get those in the LOTRO store.

The Other LOTRO Store, A Symptom with No Cure

Poor Aragorn, son of Arathorn, King Elessar Telcontar, reduced to shilling for mouse pads and coffee mugs.

Don't Touch MY Coffee!

There, in the Warner Brother’s Online Store, tucked back in the corner behind all the Lord of the Rings Movie Official Merchandise, there are two coffee mug styles and three flavors of mouse mat.

Is that it?

I suppose, working in high tech, I might be totally the wrong person to judge the usefulness of either, having been given by various companies and at a myriad trade shows, enough mouse pads to cover the playground at my daughter’s school and enough coffee mugs to drain an Olympic-size swimming pool.  None of which is enhanced by the fact that I:

  1. do not drink coffee
  2. use a trackball, not a mouse

And while I might be the worst possible marketing scenario for these items, I have to think that some combination of Cafe Press and gifts from people who don’t really know what you like must have killed the market for coffee mugs and mouse pads to some major degree.

And it isn’t like I would be totally adverse to some merchandise that represents one of my favorite games.

At one time, before it faded from too many washings, I proudly wore my “I got the Babel Fish” T-Shirt.  Likewise, I had a very nice Net Hack T-shirt that from the Lore Sjöberg, back when he was making T-Shirts.  I even have a Meridian 59 T-Shirt around here somewhere, though I wore it one day when we were painting the house this summer so now it has a not insubstantial amount of Kelly-Moore “Lemon Grass” on it. (Sorry Brian.)

I would buy some stuff… if you offered decent stuff.

But no, we get coffee mugs and mouse pads… and the infamous EverQuest Zippo lighters.

It's like they never saw Beavis & Butt-head

They have actually, finally, sold out of 8 of the 16 different lighters offered at the SOE Station Store.  I think they’ve been in the SOE store since 2000.  A tough break if you were going to finally break down and buy that lighter with the Wizard logo on it.  They probably have plenty of Ranger logo lighters left though!

But then SOE marketing has never been long on taste… or sense.

This is what they think of people who play Free Realms

And don’t even get me started on Figure Prints.   That is all I need, a World of Warcraft dust catcher.

Though, to be fair, Blizzard has licensed out and you can get some decent WoW themed T-shirts or hoodies.  And the EVE Online store also has a few acceptable items, though I’m not buying a model battleship.

I just don’t wear T-shirts out and about that much any more… except when I am painting the house apparently.

What I want is a nice polo shirt, or better still, a good, solid, 100% cotton, crew-necked sweat shirt… not a hoodie, I hate hoodies… but a classic pull-over sweat shirt!  One of those with your game logo on it would do me nicely.

Is that too much to ask?

How about you.  What do you want?

The Hot New WoW Hunter Pet

My daughter, finally evicted from the Cataclysm beta last week, had to come back to live World of Warcraft.  But at least she came with some information she picked up during the beta.  One of the first things she did was run out and catch two of the new hunter pets that showed up with the shattering.

She now has a pair of foxes as pets.

With one of the new pets

They even have a playful option.

Dancing Fox

With the 4.0 patch, hunters can now collect a lot more pets as well as carry up to five along with them.  Having a hunter of my own… okay, a few hunters at various levels… I wanted to know where to get this new pet.

They live in the Redridge Mountains, the zone out past Elwynn Forest.  Redridge, like most other locations in old Azeroth, has changed some since the sundering.

The two different types of foxes live in different parts of the zone.

The black fox, called a Forest Stalker, lives over by Keeshan’s Post (Bob Keeshan?), one of the new outposts in the zone.

Forest Stalker

He can be a tough fellow to find.

The other, known as the Redridge Fox, lives along the Lakeridge Highway along the southern edge of the zone.

Redridge Fox Family

While the Redridge Foxes travel in family packs, a mother and pups, you can only catch the brown coated adult.  The red pelted pups cannot be tamed.

Now I need to get out one of my hunters and see how they perform as pets.

[Addendum: As somebody pointed out, Petopia does have the low down on all the new pets.]

The March to Pokemon Black and White Has Begun

Pokemon is coming.  Again.

The yearly cycle continues.

Pokemon Black & White were announced for the US/EU markets a while back.

If you are really into it, you’ve followed the news from Japan, where Black & White have been out since September, where it was the fastest selling Nintendo DS game ever.

But the marketing campaign for the US/EU market is just warming up.  The games are due out in Spring, but the drum beat of news updates and promotions has started.

Pokemon Black & White Coming This Spring

The official Pokemon Black & White web site is up and running.  The two legendary Pokemon from the games, Reshiram (white) and Zekrom (black) are featured heavily on the site, have starring roles in the latest (13th) Pokemon movie, and even made an appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this past Thursday, along with the giant, inflatable Pikachu.

Reshiram in New York City

(picture borrowed from the parade coverage post of the New York in 60 Seconds blog)

Nintendo has now released a key bit of information about the game, the names and pictures of the starter Pokemon to be featured in Black & White.

Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott

They naturally follow the set-in-stone pattern for Pokemon, with Snivy being a grass-type Pokemon, Tepig being fire-type, and Oshawott as a Tarutaru Safety Inspector water-type Pokemon.

In fact, at a high level, the game sounds very much like every other Pokemon game.  Pokemon game play is very tradition bound at this point, over 14 years since the first versions came out on the GameBoy.

But each game changes the series in some way.  New features, better graphics, and of course more Pokemon show up with each turn of the yearly cycle.  It is probably one of the most consistent, measurable evolutions of a game one could study, especially if you wanted to avoid sports games. (How many Madden’s?  I was in an EA focus group back in college for this new football game they were going to release.  That was a while ago.)

So, at least at our house, we will be getting Pokemon Black & White this spring.  My daughter has already “called” Black, so I guess I will be getting White.

My hope is that they will do more with the WiFi capabilities beyond battling.  Some sort of co-op play, like the underground in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl would be a nice addition.  We shall see.

Really Cheap World of Warcraft

Blizzard is making a big push to get everybody ready for the Cataclysm expansion.

We’ve gotten a revamp of classes.

New starter experiences are in for the current races.

The sundering has occurred and we have changes all over old Azeroth.

They have cut the experience needed to get from 71-80, so you can hurry up an get ready for the expansion.

We get to see the trailer for Cataclysm any time we want from the game logon screen.

But just in case you were feeling behind, just in case you didn’t have all the expansions, Blizzard has a deal for you it seems.

Discount WoW

For a limited time you can get all of WoW, the base game and both already released expansions for $20.

I guess Blizzard hasn’t released enough expansions yet to have to worry about consolidating them all in each running expansion there after.  They can stick with their Battle Chest combo offer for now and worry about the EQ/EQ2 method (both of which have way too many expansions to juggle individually at this point) at some later date.

How many expansions do you have to have before you just start rolling them up?

And as SynCaine would no doubt point out, you can get all of the current game for less than the price of a sparkle pony.

Fellowship in a Wine-Dark Land

We were back in the far end of the Lone Lands again on Saturday night and exploring an area still relatively fresh to the whole group.  None of us have gotten very deep into Agamaur in the past.

We were a bit late getting started.  Impatient, Earl and Sigwerd went scouting ahead a bit and ended up defeated after taking a wrong turn.  The corner of Agamaur we were headed to is fellowship quest territory, so there are many elite mobs with which to contend.

The post title is an apt description

Earl and I actually didn’t start off too bad, but then a wandering elite interrupted our party and we tasted defeat.

In about the time it took us to get that sorted out and ourselves to a safe point from which to launch the evenings adventure, Garfinkel and Enaldie showed up, so our group for the evening was:

  • Earlthecat – level 29 dwarf Guardian
  • Garfinkel – level 30 elf Minstrel
  • Sigwerd – level 31 human Champion
  • Enaldie – level 31 elf Rune Keeper

Our first task was to get ourselves into our target area.  Therein we found a little camp with a couple of additional quests, we picked up those quests and headed out.

Around the fire of the unlikely outpost

And promptly faced defeat.  Again.

There are three elite water elementals on the path to where we needed to head and, it seems, if you pull the front and center of the three, you get the whole bunch.

Pull this one, get all three

That proved to be about one elemental too many and we panicked, fell apart, and were defeated without managing to slay a single one of them.  Not an auspicious start to the evening.

Fortunately there people who could revive Earl and I, who had recently used up our free revive, still had theirs.

We did find that we could sneak around them.  The picture above is obviously taken from the bypass.

We also found that the back two can be pulled individually, at least from the steps behind them with an accidental proximity pull.  We were fighting on those steps.

Earl runs ahead to pull another bad guy

And mid-fight, Enaldie stepped a little too far back and we got an elemental add.  However, by that point we were starting to get back into the rhythm of battle and were able to take a single elite add in stride.

Things went along smoothly from that point.  Smoothly enough that I was able to turn off the UI at times when I should have been fighting to take some screen shots.

Stubborn elite...

...stomped by fellowship maneuver

You can see that a patrolling mob has walked up behind Garfinkel and clouted him a good one.  It did not do him much good however and he was quickly dispatched.

The area was hostile enough, with mobs powerful enough, that we had to use care threading our way through the ruins.  Along the way we picked up the items and drops we needed for several quests while tracking down the main guy we were after, Temair the Devoted.

The way was circuitous and we ended up having to back track at several points as we navigated our way through the ruins.  The in-game map and quest tracker give you a general idea where you need to go without providing too much detail, a mixture that balanced nicely in this set of circumstances.

Have we been down this way already?

We did eventually find our way to Temair, who turned out to be an elite master mob, which is sort of and open-world boss level of difficulty, if I remember correctly.

About to test Temair's devotion

The trick with Temair, it seemed, was that around his raised, circular dais roamed several elite patrollers who seemed to respawn with unnatural speed.  We killed them all twice over before we finally thought we had hit enough of a pause to go in after Temair.

The fight with Temair, while he was a handful, was never in doubt.

Battling Temair

We didn’t hold back and managed to get him down before the next respawn got to us.

Then it was time to work our way back out and to the camp where we started.  Along the way, Earl hit level 30.

Earl hits 30, spawns a tree

A long while back I complained that LOTRO was pretty subtle in its marking of levels.  You used to just get something in your chat window with the message “Your level has changed to 30.”  Now though, levels get a bit of pizazz, and round levels, like 30, get an extra special flare.

We threaded our way home, collecting the last few drops we needed along the way.

Then it was time to travel a bit, to close out a couple of quests.

First we headed to the opposite end of Agamaur to steal a vase from some undead.  What did they need with it anyway?

Vase in hand, surveying the route back

Then it was time for a trek south across the breadth of the Lone Lands into the camp at the south end of Harloeg.

Riding into Harloeg

There we turned in our final quest and called it a night.

And, in turn, we might be calling it a wrap in Middle-earth, at least for the time being.

The shattering has occurred in Azeroth.  The Cataclysm expansion is just days away.  The fifth member of the group, who was out all summer as the realities of both moving and having a new child in the house kept him busy, is ready and eager to return.

There could be one more Saturday in Middle-earth, but it seems more likely that we will be back in WoW figuring out the composition of the next version of the group and  sightseeing around the various zones to see what has changed.

But Moria will have to wait for another time.