Monthly Archives: May 2011

May in Review

The Site

A lot of focus this month on the big Sony down time, prompted by the fact that, with a new PlayStation 3 and interest in playing EverQuest and EveQuest II, Sony had pretty much yanked the carpet out from under me and my gaming plans.

The counters in the side bar server their purpose, so I’ll take them down, though here they are for posterity.

My count seems to be at variance with some other counts.  And I suppose I should have a counter for the PlayStation Store, which is still down, but which Sony hopes to have up by this coming weekend. (But they had the same hope for last weekend.)

One Year Ago

I was unemployed, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

New Linking Sites

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Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  2. Pokemon Secret Egg Event Coming to Toys R Us
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  5. SOE – Still Not Up, Mentions “Make Good Plan”
  6. Blizzard, Trion Worlds, and Obvious Juxtapositions
  7. WoW Subscriptions Drop! Who is benefiting?
  8. PSN Up By May31? We Didn’t Say That!
  9. SOE – Still Down, But “Make Good Plan” Details Released
  10. Roll a D6
  11. Sony – What Does Taking May Off Portend?
  12. No Rapture, Preacher “Flabbergasted”

Most Common Search Terms of the Month

  1. world of warcraft
  2. how to catch zorua
  3. how to catch zoroark
  4. tagn
  5. dire maul location
  6. pokemon secret egg
  7. ancient gaming noob
  8. blood elf porn
  9. guild names
  10. soe
  11. cremello steed
  12. soe still down

Given all of the other possible search results returned, I am not quite sure how people get here searching on “world of warcraft.”

Spam Comments of the Month

I have looked at many sites and have not come across one such as yours, which tells everyone everything they need to know. I have added you to my bookmarks. Can anyone suggest other related topics that I can search for to find out more information?
[If I am telling everyone everything they need to know, what other sites could you want?]

That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!
[I’m not sure if this was compliment or criticism.  But it had an ad link in it, so it was clearly spam.]

Beaches and mojitos are the excellent combination to have a relaxing travel experience
[I really don’t like mojitos, no matter what Chuck Finley says.]

Where I Spent My Gaming Time

From Raptr, which just did a revamp of their site so now I can only see the top 4 games I played over the last month.  I hate when “improvements” reduce functionality.  Anyway, the percentage breakdown of the top 4.

  1. EverQuest II Extended – 70%
  2. Lord of the Rings Online – 16%
  3. World of Tanks – 9%
  4. Mind Jolt Warzone Tower Defense (Facebook) – 5%

And, as always, Raptr does not capture data for about half the things I play.

EverQuest

The Sony down time and our launch into EQ2 Extended conspired to keep us out of EverQuest in May.  Most of my amusement from the game in May came from the forum dedicated to the progression servers, when the forums were up at all.  The forums are pretty lightly used and seem to attract those with an axe to grind.

EverQuest II Extended

Despite being down for almost two weeks, EQ2X stayed at the top of my game time chart, though I suspect the fact that EQ2 doesn’t log you out might be inflating those numbers.  If I go have dinner and do the dishes, WoW or LOTRO will flag me inactive and log me out.  But EQ2 will still be there waiting for me.

The group is… sort of getting into the game.  When we are enthusiastic about a new game, we tend to play it outside of the Saturday night group play time frame.  With EQ2X, some of us are, and some of us are not.  When one of the group still spends most of his game time in World of Warcraft, that probably isn’t a vote of confidence for EQ2.

Lord of the Rings Online

During the down time I managed to pick up some momentum in LOTRO, allowing my hunter to escape the Trollshaws at last and head into Forochel.  That also put him a couple of levels closer to Moria, which I vow to see… some day.

World of Tanks

This is still fun.  After some diversions, I ended up climbing the German tech tree.  I currently drive a fully upgraded Luchs, which is a nicely placed tank in the line up.  I tend to either be the biggest tank in a match, in which case I can hunt aggressively, or the smallest tank, which means running around scouting for our artillery, hunting for the enemy artillery, and generally getting killed with one shot.

Other PC Games

Combat Mission – Battle for Normandy showed up last week.  It looks very good.  It still takes me a bit to adjust to the controls every time I launch it, and I need to take more care with line of sight, but it is very impressive.  The Combat Mission engine has come a long way in a decade.

PlayStation 3

We got LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.  It looks very good at 1080p and fits right into TT’s LEGO game mold.  Keen has a look at the game here.

But my daughter has been more enamored with Little Big Planet.  While I have never been one for platform jumping games, I can see the why it attracts.  It looks very good, and is quite whimsical.  And the player generated levels, which we can see now that the PlayStation Network is back up, are of surprisingly good quality.  But when my daughter asks for help with a level, I have to shake my head.  She is better at “jump grab swing let go jump grab” than I have ever been.

And, eventually, the PlayStation Store will be back online and PS3 owners will be able to download 2 free games as part of the great Sony apology plan.   The list of choices is rather small though.

  • Dead Nation
  • inFAMOUS
  • LittleBigPlanet
  • Super Stardust HD
  • Wipeout HD + Fury

Since we already have Little Big Planet, I am leaning towards Wipeout HD and Super Stardust HD.

Coming Up

Mostly questions.  Will the instance group stick with EverQuest II Extended?  Will Potshot and I get back to the EverQuest progression server?  And, of course, when will the PlayStation Store come back online?

Picture of the Day – The Pit

As much as I think flying mounts in EverQuest II are a bad idea, I have to admit they do allow you to get screen shots from new perspectives.

The Pit - The Orc Mine in Zek

Click on the picture to see it in full size.

EQII is having another free flying mount teaser this weekend, so I was able to fly around and take some pictures.

EQ Progression Servers – To Kunark or Not To Kunark?

While the SOE downtime got in the way of the original plan for the vote, things have settled down and it is now time (I think) for players to decide whether to allow the Ruins of Kunark content to be added to the two EverQuest Progression Servers, Fippy Darkpaw and… uh… that other one… it begins with a “v” or something.

In my mind, there is no downside to adding this content to the game, an opinion I do not hold for some of the later expansions.  Once the Plane of Knowledge comes in the game is as good as done for me most likely, as it was the first time around.

But Kunark is good.  It is the one EverQuest expansion I approve of without reservations.  And it will bring good things to the Progression Servers.

For the people who are hard core, who have been sitting at level cap since early March, it will give them something new to do.  They do represent a significant portion of those paying for the privileged of playing in this retro vision of the game.

For those nearing level cap, it will thin out the population, which is quite heavy in the higher levels zones, and allow them to progress.

And even for the likes of Potshot and I, the dilettantes who are sitting at level 21 still, this will give us a few new places to explore in our casual tour of the realms.

So who could possibly be against adding Kunark?  Well, there is always somebody… and they usually post to the forums… like this person.

Please cast your vote as NO to Kunark on Fippy Darkpaw!

A large contigent of players have been adversely affecting the game because they are “bored” with the original content.  Rather than enbale these dubious and immature players, it would be in the best interest of the community to discourage and supress them with a NO vote on Kunark.  Game rule violations go unadressed and these minions of selfisness have been encouraged to flourish.

Many of us have been eager to open Kunark and proceed forward, but recent events have caused us to cast our votes to decline it.   Your NO vote on Kunark will hopefully supress these negative minded players for the betterment of Fippy Darkpaw for years to come.   Another vote will be opened before long, and we can proceed forward at that time, minus a portion of these goons.

Quite the classic bit of specious logic.  People who have waited a couple of months, and behaved badly in the process, are not likely to be deterred by having to wait another week or two, especially when SOE has given us all a free month for the downtime.

That people are behaving badly, that the issues with open dungeons are being fully exposed (GMs have to enforce queues for certain mobs), is probably quite true.  But as to how to treat the problem… I am pretty sure that this is not the way.

So the vote it up in the polls option in EverQuest now, and runs through June 6th.  Potshot and I cannot vote, however, as you need to be level 31 (it says “within 19 levels of the cap”) in order to participate.

But if I could vote, I would certainly vote yes on opening up Kunark.

How about you?

Kunark or no Kunark?

EVE Introduces a New Currency – Aurum

I wondered why the clothing selections seemed so sparse when I was creating my avatar with the new EVE Online character creator.

There will soon be a lot more clothing choices, and they will be for sale.

CCP will be introducing a new currency into the game, Aurum, which will be used to buy things from a new in-game store.

The current plan is for this store to sell vanity items only.  From the dev blog post:

There will be a store, and it will have all kinds of stuff for sale: clothes and accessories for your character, custom paint jobs or logo placement on your ships or a fishtank/stripper pole for your Captain’s Quarters. You’ll browse through the list of items available and, when you’re ready to make a purchase, you’ll use a new currency called Aurum (AUR).

You will use PLEX to buy this new currency.

But in the grand EVE tradition, anything purchased from the new store can be re-sold again on the open market for ISK, so you may be able to get your customizations that way, if you want them.  Or you can just buy PLEX on the market.  Either way, if you have the ISK, you won’t need to spend extra cash on this sort of thing.

But somebody will.  Somebody has to buy the PLEX first, though judging from the supply on the market last I checked, there seems to be ample volunteers.

The store will be showing up in a few months, and CCP promises to move slowly on adding items to judge what the impact on the economy will be.

What would you like to see in the EVE Online vanity store?

Scouting Antonica Dungeons

The plan for the night was to head to Antonica, a zone which is about as old school as one can get in EverQuest II, being part of the original Shattered Lands, as they are now called, back in 2004.

The group was supposed to be at or around level 20 by this point, and while that would put us at the upper limit of most of the overland content in the zone, there are a couple dungeons in the area that cater to higher levels and groups.  We went to look into Blackburrow and Stormhold.

Unfortunately, the regular group did not come together.  Earl had a house full of guests and thus social obligations to which to attend.  Trucknut was also absent.  And Cerredwyn still had to catch up in the Frostfang Sea and wanted to just take that at her own pace… and own time, as she called it a night not long after 9pm.

Even I showed up late, having gotten wrapped up watching Sherlock on Netflix streaming. (It is good, and streams in HD so looks spectacular on our new TV.  But damn, there are only three episodes.  We’ll have to wait until they finish filming more!)

That left myself, Potshot, and Gaff… Gaff of the many names.  Gaff of the many alts.  Gaff of the multi-box.  Gaff the status patron of the guild.

We decided to carry on with the Antonica plan and at least scout out a couple of locations.  I was already out there with Campell, my level 20 troubadour.

Flying Above Antonica

Potshot got out his alt, Deneldir, a level 24 warden.

And Gaff brought out Sixo and Chuggs, a level 81 berserker and mystic respectively, to round out the group.  We met up near Blackburrow.

2 Men, a Frog, and a Rat

We had initially considered the Qeynos armor quests as a possibility, and we actually all went and grabbed our respective versions, but decided once we were on the scene to just plunge into Blackburrow.

Thanks to the miracle of mentoring, we managed to get the group all to the same level.  Everybody mentored Campell so we had an all level 20 group.

Granted, mentoring is imperfect.  Sixo and Chuggs were more powerful and had skills (not to mention all the alternate advancement improvements) beyond that of any real level 20 character.  But for purposes of mob levels and such, they were scaled down to Antonica size.

We dropped into Blackburrow, but found that even at level 20 most of the surface level of the place was gray to us.

As we delved down a bit, eventually we ran into some green con mobs, and down at the bottom, the spider brood was blue to us.

Spiders Deep in Blackburrow

The named spider was up and we slew her, but there wasn’t really a lot for us to accomplish in Blackburrow.  We hadn’t picked up any quests to help guide our path, so once you kill the boss at the lowest level of a dungeon, everything else is anti-climactic.  We went out the back door of the dungeon and decided to try something else.

We headed over to Stormhold.

Here we had an advantage.  I had previously gone out with Campell to pick up as many Stormhold related quests as I could find.  I was able to share these with the group so that, along with the quests available at the start of the zone, we had a decent set of objectives on which to focus.

Then I had a thought.  If I ran out with Campell and knocked off these quests, I wouldn’t be able to share them with the group as a whole when we showed up at a later date.  At least I don’t think I could have.  In one of these games you can share not only quests you are working on currently but also pre-requisites and finished quests.  But I cannot remember which one and I didn’t want to take any chances, so I made the group wait while I logged out Campell and logged in my level 20 swashbuckler, Sedgewick.

They shared the quests Campell collected with him and we were ready to plunge into Stormhold.

Just inside Stormhold

Certainly things were not a huge challenge when we got into the place.  Almost everything was a few levels below us and our group of four chewed through any number of fights with multiple adds without issue.

Lower Level Mobs in Stormhold

Later we ran into some more challenging opponents.

The Scion of Pain is not a Toyota... maybe

But that came further down the line.

First we had to visit some of the early landmarks, like the chess board.

Chess is always BIG in Norrath

We swept around the first floor, visiting locations required by a couple of the quests and knocking off the requisite mobs.  Nothing too strenuous.

Down on the second floor, things got a little more challenging.  We made a point of seeking out named mobs, but some of them sought us out.

The four scions of Stormhold, which used to be pops that required a quest trigger to spawn back in the day, seemed to be out in force.  And they appear to have a pretty vast aggro radii, as all we had to do is get line of sight on one of these beasties and they would come get us.

They used to be quite challenging, epic, multi-group encounters.  Now they appear to be more analogous the automotive world Scions, nothing more that reskinned Toyotas… erm… normal named bosses.

So while the fights with them were always a surprise, we did not appear to be in much real danger when we got engaged.

We're looking pretty healthy

And a couple of the scions obligingly dropped master chests for us.

It's just a chest... just a chest... the chest you want

There were no master skills dropped for anybody in the current group, though there was one berserker master skill I set aside for Earl. (Have to check if he can use that if he upgrades to silver.)

Things were going smoothly, both because we seemed to be quite powerful for our levels (I mentioned the flaws of mentoring) but also because we took care to do things right when we could, avoiding adds and pulling carefully.

For one quest we had to head down into the Stormhold chapel, a pretty thickly populated area, and a place where most of the encounters (all heroic level, as they are everywhere in the zone) we a couple of levels above us. (Sedgewick leveled up pretty quickly, even with his slider set to maximize AA gains, and ended the night close to 24, but the average mob level in the zone has a pretty steep gradient as well, going from 16 to 27.)

While we were there, carefully pulling mobs, another group, a pair a level below us, showed up behind us.  They obviously wanted to get to the far end of the chapel for the quest update as well.

One of them, a templar if I recall right, seemed to be in a hurry.  As we surveyed the room, deciding which of the nearly dozen encounters between us and the altar we wanted to pull, he ran past us and straight for the altar.

Everything, naturally, jumped right on him and he died about half way to his objective.  I’m not sure what he had in mind, but even his partner declared his attempt as a fail.

We cleared the room in our own good time and ress’d the dead guy.

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get ress'd

He had also run past us earlier on in the dungeon in an attempt to get at a named mob we were clearing our ways towards.  He died there as well, though we declined to ress him that time around.

Proponents of open dungeons like this always mention the joy of chance encounters, but tend to overlook how much general stupidity goes on.  For every fateful meeting there are a few dozen cases of trains, people camping the mob you need, and general bad behavior.

Then again, the guy we ress’d will probably tell the tale about how he got in trouble and some strangers helped him.  Open dungeons worked!

I’d probably file that under “you’re doing it wrong.”

We also had to visit the library naturally, a source of both quests and quests updates… and brutal combat.

SHHHHHHH!!

My grandmother the librarian would have been appalled.

It was also a point of nostalgia as Gaff and I got to recall yet another “how things used to be” for Potshot on Skype, even though he was no doubt full to the brim with these anecdotes by this stage of the evening.

Ah yes, you used to have to come down here to get the book for the Lore and Legends quest for skeletons.  Oh, how crazy things were back in the day.

Our last quest goal for this round was down on the third level of Stormhold, in the armory.

Guardians on the stairs down

That was a quick jaunt, and we began our way back out again.  We stopped to knock off the final few scorched skeletons we needed for our final quest.  Not enough scorched skeletons spawn at any given time to finish that quest without waiting for a respawn.  Same as it ever was.

Then there were quest turn-ins all over and new quests to pick up, but by that point it was time to call it a night.

The scouting was a general success and we will likely hit Stormhold when we next get the full group together in EQ2.

Kids in the Guild Hall

There we stood out in front of the Halas guild hall door, money in hand, a buying decision to be made.

The Halas Guild Hall Door

I had insisted on the Halas guild hall.

First, Halas seems to be a lot more lively than Qeynos, chopped into so many little zones, and a lot less prone to falling deaths than Kelethin, up there in the trees.

Second, The guild hall in Halas is right next to the broker, the bank, other player housing, and other things that are nice to have close to hand.  Yes, we could but guild hall amenities to replace most of those things, but we are only allowed so many at level 30 and they can be pricey.

And finally, I just picked the rent free five room Halas house as my Legends of Norrath choose your loot reward. (I guess you had to be active in LoN before the outage to get that card, as nobody else I know got one, but none of them had opened up LoN before.)  So I was committed to the neighborhood.

Gaff, who had been sitting outside the Qeynos level 1 guild hall waiting for me to log in, consented to the choice of locations and showed up with the cash to get us in the door.

Just 50 Platinum

I clicked “buy” and in we went.

The Halas guild hall, unlike the player housing in the area, is exactly the same as the Qeynos guild hall, so far as I could recall.  That was mildly disappointing, since I like the Halas housing, but not all that big of a deal.

Gaff had enough on him for us to buy the gatherer hireling from the list of trade skill amenities.  That was another 20 plat plus 2 million status points.  It is a good thing that status copies over from EQ2 Live.

That added to our weekly rent, but I was hoping we could cover the cash part of hit by selling some of the harvesting take on the broker.  Then I figured we could reduce the status overhead with some house and guild items.

Gaff dropped off a couple of crafting stations he had then logged off.

I went looking for some good house items.

I laid out a few items that had big status reduction values, 500 to 1,000.  Then I looked at the access panel to see how much of a dent I had made.

The items made no dent at all.

6 items, no reduction

It appears, after some digging around, that status reducing house items only reduce the status upkeep costs on personal housing.

And you can accuse me of being optimistic, but when I read the description on these items, the idea that they work only on personal housing does not leap to mind.

Rent Status Reduction... except for guild halls

Live and learn I suppose.

Potshot showed up and began laying out a few items of his own with the very same idea, including the marble effigy of Al’Kabor, which I immediately christened “El Kabong!”

Inspecting El Kabong

He had the same “you’re kidding, right” reaction to the status reduction thing, so I feel a bit vindicated in my expectations.  I suppose we should have checked with Karen of the mighty guild Revelry and Honor on the Guk server (and also at Massively of late… and whom I have actually met in person), of which I think most of us are still members, if not members in good standing.  I think Reynaldo Fabulous isn’t the lowest possible rank in the RnH, but he is pretty close.

Anyway, she would know the answers to our guild questions.  RnH has quite a guild hall.

Potshot and I ran around putting up items here and there.  Since there was a lot of space, we went for the “big as possible” theme for items.  Hold down the shift key and you can use the scroll wheel to make your house items huge.

Then Mrs. Potshot showed up.  She is actually interested in decorating the guild hall and was, I suppose, keen to find out exactly what we were up to.

Some pictures

I was unable to convince her that these pictures were scenes from The Good Earth.

I am also pretty sure that the Firiona Vie picture was a bit too much.

Never too much Firiona!

Note the giant (ogre size, in Potshot’s terms) bonsai along the wall.  We were definitely on a “bigger is better” kick.

Still, aside from some of our more egregious decorating faux pas, she seemed to like the place.  I’m not sure she got all the details on the cost, but she was happy.

Our own loan crisis looms?

We will have to see if we can come up with the weekly toll for the place.

I think, if we stay committed to the game, it will not be a big issue.  The first few rounds of harvested roots covered the cash side of another weeks rent.  But we’ll probably have to look into doing some heritage quests along with the usual writs to build up some status points across the group.

SOE Screws Up Again – Bogus Race Pack Lock on Characters Copied to EQ2X

I got an instant message from Gaff earlier in the day.  He said that characters he had copied over to EverQuest II Extended, characters that contributed greatly to our dash to guild level 30, now appeared to be locked.

The message given, “You do not own the appropriate race pack for this character.”

So as soon as I got home, I checked my own account.

Sure enough, one of my characters has been locked as well.

Score another blow against SOE.  The EQ2X forums are… well, I won’t say lit up, as they tend to be pretty quiet and heavily moderated… but it is a key topic of discussion at the moment.

Even when you select the character in question, the play button is grayed out.

However, it seems that if you simply select the character in question and hit the enter key on your keyboard, you can still log the character into the game.

I petitioned the issue and got a very quick response.

This is GM Dratanico in response to your petition. There is currently an issue where some privileges are not working correctly on players accounts in regards to toons and their races. We are aware of this problem and are working to find out what the issue is. Please be patient while this issue is further investigated and please hang in there for us. Keep an eye on our patch notes for more information on when this will be fixed. Until then if you need any other assistance please feel free to let us know and we will do our best to help you out further.

A pity they didn’t mention the enter key solution.  Just the usual “we’re working on it, please be patient” boiler plate.  I fear we have had a lot of that over the last few weeks.

So the error seems to be primarily visual, but it will no doubt lead to a load of petitions and support calls… and more bad feelings about SOE.