Monthly Archives: July 2011

July in Review

The Site

Again with the attempted theme change.  If you were on the site at the right time a couple of weeks back, you might have seen this.

TAGN In Dark Green

It looked pretty good in Firefox.  In IE it looked bad however, and the wife uses IE to read the blog, so we couldn’t have that.

Then I noticed another option I had not seen before that let me move the side bar.

TAGN as a lefty!

Looking at that just made my brain hurt.  After nearly 5 years, I seem to have settled on a theme from which I cannot break free.

In other site news, has added a new post-publication summary page, so when you put up a new item, it tells you it went out the tags and categories under which it was filed.  So for Thursday’s post I’ve Been to the Door, it gave the following summary and advice.

The key bit for me was the last part.  Yeah, I bet that is going to add a lot more sanity to tag and category usage.

And they even offer you ideas for starting your next post.

Do you really want to know how I feel about public speaking?

One Year Ago

The late Paul the octopus created the largest page view day ever in the history of the blog, later to be surpassed by Cats playing Patty Cake and Alamo.

I was told I write like Cory Doctorow… or maybe Ian Flemming.

My daughter was Banned from Club Penguin.  Tears were shed, lessons were learned.

EverQuest II Extended, the free to play EverQuest II, was announced.  I wondered whether trying to play it without paying at all would be a challenge in and of itself.  Meanwhile, there was some evidence that EQII accounts had value.  That stunning news no doubt got them going on the authenticator they announced at Fan Faire this year.

I completed 100 levels in The Agency: Covert Ops.  I was unemployed, what can I say?

StarCraft II launched.  I still haven’t bought a copy.  I’ll wait for the battle chest in a couple of years.  It isn’t like I am going to be very good at it this time around.  I was barely adequate at the original.

Hulkageddon III ended, and it even had a video wrap-up.  And then PLEX was made transportable in space.  I wonder if they waited for Hulkageddon to be over for that?

In another Summer hiatus season, the instance group started another run at LOTRO.  This time it was Bung who was out, having the dual issues of moving and having a new baby to care for.  Those of us in Middle-earth hung out with old friends.  That put off deciding who my main character was, by letting me roll another one!

Blizzard gave up on some of their RealID plans thanks to much public kvetching.  Shortly there after, the ESRB came out against Real ID as being bad for consumer security while proving they too were bad for consumer security.

Blizzard revamped Parental Controls again.  As much as I have griped about them, they are better than any comparable controls I have seen, even in games that offer that as a feature.

World of Warcraft Magazine Issue #2 showed up.  Issue #4 would arrive 9 months later.  No word on issue #5 as of now.

And, finally, somebody was trying to make yet another flying car that failed to live up to our expectations.  Have none of these scientists ever seen The Jetsons?

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 July

  1. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. Beastlord to be the New Class in the Next EQ2 Expansion
  5. And Now I REALLY Want That SWTOR Authenticator
  6. World of Warplanes… What Else Do I Need?
  7. The SWTOR Pre-Order, Authenticators, & Account Security
  8. Not Knowing When to Let Go… A Class Action Suit to Save SWG
  9. The PLEX Story We’ve All Been Waiting For…
  10. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  11. The Incarna Summit Results
  12. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!

Most Common Search Terms of the Month

  1. world of warcraft
  2. world of warplanes
  3. how to catch zorua
  4. thorin
  5. how to catch zoroark
  6. thorin oakenshield
  7. blood elf porn
  8. swtor authenticator
  9. eq2 beastlord
  10. wow account hacked
  11. soe authenticator
  12. eve aurum

Spam Comment of the Month

You are my aspiration , I possess few web logs and very sporadically run out from to post
[You are the blowing like breeze thing beneath my flight giving appendages]

Search Terms of the Month

fippy darkpaw money making
[Sure, if you are SOE]

turbine points code generator
[Wouldn’t that be nice]

st isk man game
[Who is the patron saint of ISK?]

EVE Online

My subscription is running down.  As I have stated before, Incarna had nothing much to offer me.  The race is on to see if I will hit 70 million skill points before my account lapses.


I have not been playing, though I have been following the progression server forum via the magic of RSS.  At some juncture I am going to summarize the three most common topics I have seen.  They prove a point of their own.

Meanwhile, Velious is nowhere in sight.  I thought I read that there would be a 30 day delay between expansions after Kunark, but now people are talking about a 60 day delay.  That would drag out the progression server time line quite a bit.

EverQuest II

We got the guild to 40, burnt out, walked away.  For a week I tried to build up some guild finances by using the harvesting minions to gather stuff which I then sold on the market, putting the proceeds into the guild escrow.  Cash wise that would keep the guild hall financed.  Then I stopped doing that.  I think we’re done.  Again.

Lord of the Rings Online

It is summer, the regular group is on hiatus, and so a few of us have gathered in Middle-earth again with the intent of seeing something new.  Moria bound we are.  Gaff has actually made it inside.  I am within striking distance.  Potshot is climbing the ladder steadily.

We all opted to pre-order Isengard, and that 25% experience boost pocket item makes a noticable difference.  My scholar, who is also a mid-20s rune-keeper, easily out ran the quest lines in the Lone Lands while searching for scholar materials.

Need for Speed: World

This replaced World of Tanks as my light, jump in and play for a little bit then move on game.  I have managed to get myself up to level 10 in these short play sessions.

I do not know what sort of staying power it will have with me.  I am still driving the same car, I still haven’t bought anything from the cash shop, and I still wonder if they couldn’t come up with something to do in the main world/giant lobby besides the nightly gem hunt.

I still think U-Boat in some form would be viable.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Pre-order pre-ordered.  Or something.  Anyway, now it is just a wait for the holiday 2011 release date.  Are we there yet?

Coming Up

I think Lord of the Rings Online will likely dominate the next month, with us finally getting to Moria.

I also bought several games as part of the Steam summer sale.  I still dislike Steam, but it is hard to resist some games when they get priced under $10.  I should probably actually PLAY some of them.  And then maybe write about playing them.

Level 50 in Eregion – 2,501,449 Experience Points Into the Game

My hunter hit level 50 at last in Lord of the Rings Online.

Finally, nearly four and a half years after the game launch, with 17 characters rolled up across 3 servers, finally one of them has not only hit the original level cap, but is actually fully cleared and ready to enter the mines of Moria.

The big moment came, of course, handing in a quest for slaying wolves.

Wolf problem? Who doesn’t have one?

One of the minor gripes I have about LOTRO is that it does insist on showing me raw numbers for things like my experience bar, a place where a simple percentage would do me just fine.

Still, at 50, I suppose it is nice to know your grand total so far.

Now, how much more to get to 65?

Nnitendo 3DS $170 – DS Lite $100

Well, Nintendo dumped the price of the 3Ds by $80 just four months after its release.

Apparently, sales were not meeting internal estimates according to Nintendo.  And then there is the whole Sony PlayStation Vita thing.  No doubt Nintendo wanted to win on price there early.  But slow sales are registering as the primary concern.

Certainly *I* didn’t run out and buy one.  But for me, the 3Ds has only one compelling feature so far, NetFlix streaming, which did not even go live until last week or so.

3DS and NetFlix

I am tempted by that option, though I am held back when I start thinking about when I would actually use it.  Am I really going to watch that much Star Trek: The Next Generation sitting in bed?

Otherwise, from what I have seen, in person and in the news, there is no killer app for the device quite yet.

Of course, if you own a 3DS already, you might be a little miffed at the drastic price drop.  But Nintendo plans to make it up to you.

Meanwhile, if I were in the market for a DS right now that was just right for what I play most on the handheld gaming device, I would be looking at the DS Lite, which Nintendo has aggressively priced.

DS Lites, While Supplies Last

Sure, the DSi has access to the online Nintendo store and the DSi XL has a larger screen (at the same pixel resolution), but the good old DS Lite has the best battery life of the product line and it is the last of the DS line to have the GameBoy Advance cartridge slot.  That last piece is key for the truly obsessive Pokemon fan, as it gives you access to several more generations of Pokemon games.

So I am not sure what Nintendo marketing thinks they are doing.

They dropped the 3Ds price right on top of the DSi XL price point.  The DSi is sitting not that far behind as well in price.  Meanwhile, they are sending out ads for the DS Lite at a price that pretty much pulls the rug out from underneath everybody.

That is some good work there Nintendo.

Rowling vs. Pratchett

As with the Stargate vs. The Hobbit post before, I realize that these little ads on Facebook are not supposed to be direct comparisons of popularity, but the way they are presented still comes across as quite funny to me.

I’m pretty sure that, in reality, J.K. Rowling is much more popular than Terry Pratchett, but the way Facebook chooses to present these things might make you think otherwise.

I think somebody at Facebook needs some lessons in effective data presentation.

On the other hand, they appear to have humorous juxtaposition well covered.

I’ve Been to the Door

I have been out to the walls of Moria.

It took me quite a while in book/movie calendar time, though only a few minutes in real time.

After getting to Eregion, getting stable master routes, and doing a few quests, I headed to the walls of Moria.  I was told I should get there as soon as possible to do that quest line, since it yields my first epic weapon.  Epic weapons level up, so the sooner you start using them, the sooner they get experience, the sooner they get better.

There at the walls of Moria I found that the fellowship had already been and the doors were blocked.

So while I rode pretty much straight from Rivendell to the Hollin Gate without any attempt at stealth, the fellowship quietly moved across Eregion, up to the Redhorn Gate, got stuck, thought about it a bit, came back, and went into Moria.

If this were L.A. Noire I’d be calling somebody a liar about now.

And, as something else to file under the heading of “stuff that went on while the fellowship was elsewhere,” I found an expedition of dwarves at the walls trying to get into Moria themselves.  This is, no doubt, the explanation of how my characters will eventually get into the mines.

After several quests and some work by the dwarves, the door was revealed.

The door revealed at last!

There were of course, complications.

For starters, the dwarves left a couple of piles of rubble in front of the door.  You’d think with all that effort they would have finished the job.

And then there were a few dwarves who seemed to have an OCD-like obsession for throwing rocks into the great pool before the door.  They were literally heaving them into the water non-stop at two second intervals.

When a dwarf gets a mind to do something, he just goes crazy doing it I guess… unless it involves clearing a doorway.

Looks quiet to me

But, you know, that lake has a huge algae bloom going on, which I am sure means everything is safe.  I probably shouldn’t have even bothered stopping those rock throwing dwarves.  Look at that moon.  Everything is so peaceful.

We’ll just go move that rubble and head on in.

Did you hear something?

Could World of Warplanes be the Second (or is it the third?) Coming of Air Warrior? has been talking a little bit about their next title, World of Warplanes, but the details are not yet out in the public domain.  They do not even have a site up for the game yet.  All we really have so far is this:

World of Warplanes is the flight combat MMO action game set in the Golden Age of military aviation. The game continues the armored warfare theme marked in the highly-acclaimed World of Tanks and will throw players into a never-ending tussle for air dominance.

Based purely on aircraft setting, World of Warplanes will allow players to build full-scale careers of virtual pilots offering machines of several key eras, staring from World War I period with “Biplanes” and up to jet fighter prototypes that led the way to modern air forces.

World of Warplanes will feature a wide range of warbirds, each of them unique in their effectiveness and behavior. Virtual pilots will choose from three main warplane classes – single-engine light fighters capable of engaging enemies in close dogfights, twin-engine fighters with their deadly straight attacks, and strafing aircraft, the fearsome threat for ground targets.

Which, frankly, isn’t much… but that never stopped me from speculating wildly.

While Darren was taking something of a pessimistic view of what may come of this game (airborne World of Tanks, to stuff his viewpoint into the tiniest possible box), I think it will have to be somewhat different to survive and make sense, and thus I speculate.

And the reason I feel I have license to speculate over the game that is making is that I think I have played it already.  And I was playing over 20 years ago to boot.

Back in 1988 the online gaming pioneers at Kesmai launched Air Warrior on GEnie.

I’ve written a little about Air Warrior before, but I will recap.

Air Warrior was an online, multiplayer (allowing something over 100 people on at once, if I recall right) air combat game that took place in something we would recognize as a persistent world.  The world was divided into three factions (creatively called A, B, and C… no wasted bytes there!) in what was initially an asymmetrical world layout with airfields for each faction and a few mountains thrown in to keep people on their toes.

While you could fly the planes of any nation in the game, you were required to commit to a specific faction for a minimum amount of time.  So you might fly for team B, but you could be flying a Spitfire, a Focke-Wulf 190, or a P-38 Lightning.

The world itself persisted while you were off-line.  You logged on, went to an airfield your team controlled, checked out an aircraft, and took to the sky.  Your airfield was protected by an anti-aircraft gun of annoying accuracy to keep your runway from being camped, but you were allowed to mount bombs which could temporarily disable that gun and even the airfield itself, at which point you would have to divert to one of your auxiliary fields.

And while primitive technologically compared to today’s games, Air Warrior worked… most nights.  Okay, the tech of the time was barely up to the challenge, but these were the days before 3D acceleration, when a 32-bit processor was a big deal, and most of the players were using 1.2-2.4 Kbps connections.

All of which is a nice little history lesson.  But why, you might ask, do I think should/could go this route?

Well, certain bits fit naturally, such as the ability to fly planes from different nations on a given side.

While other realities make a direct translation of the World of Tanks model to airplanes problematic.

20 minute long 15 vs. 15 battles seem unlikely to me to be a viable game model for a couple of reasons.

Reason 1 – The Sky is Big

It is easy to corral 30 tanks into a relatively small area.  Tanks move slowly on the ground and are often best deployed in stationary positions awaiting the enemy.  While the guns on bigger vehicles in the game can reach out a good percentage of the way across the battlefields, cover in its various forms help keep the game from turning into an immediate blood bath.

Airplanes live in a much bigger environment.  If we are talking about WWII aircraft, their environment extends easily to 20,000 feet upwards.  Even limiting the geographical area to the size of a WoT maps, there is a lot of volume in which to run around in a prism 20,000 feet tall.

Meanwhile planes, fighter planes at least, are small.  Yes, they seem big on the ground, but they get lost pretty easily in the sky and can become devilishly hard to see.  And when you see one and want to shoot at it, you have to get pretty close if you want a chance of bringing it down.  Call it 200 yards if you want any reasonable hope of a kill and under 100 yards if you want to stick the knife in good.

Reason 2 – Planes go Fast

Keeping it simple today, aren’t I?

Again, if we are talking WWII fighters, people will be zipping around at 300 mph easily, while achieving (and surviving) 500+ mph in a dive is possible for some fighters of the era.

So you cannot limit the size of the environment to something as small as a WoT battlefield.  The sky, big as it was already, has to get bigger lest we spend most of our time flying out of bounds.

Air Warrior Pacific Theater Map

So you have to make the sky even bigger, which in turn makes opposing planes harder to spot, close with, and kill.  You can see in the picture above one of the few art assets I still have sitting around from Air Warrior.  This was after the great map revision when the world was made bigger and divided into Pacific and European theaters.  Each faction had its own island, while the center could be captured.

And both you and your enemy are both going fast, which means that unless you have the opposition at a serious disadvantage, they can pull away and evade.  And to gain the advantage you want, you can spend quite a bit of time just climbing to altitude in order to be able to pounce on an enemy.

That sends the whole match concept from WoT out the window from my point of view.  In a sky big enough to reasonably hold 30 aircraft attempting to kill each other, 20 minutes won’t be anything like enough time to get a resolution like that in a WoT match.

So my hope is that they will end up with something more like the persistent world in Air Warrior.  Less lobby, more flight time.

But… will likely be hosting more than the 100 or so players that could fill up Air Warrior, so I am sure there will have to be some division of players.  Maybe different theaters of war?

Plus, if chooses to use the same equipment leveling system, where you graduate (or buy your way into) better airplanes, then they will likely have to segregate players by that as well.

Furthermore, I suppose they could force the issue of keeping players focused in a small area by making one side or both focus on defending a geographic area.  Their seeming attempt at a rock/paper/scissors with single engine, twin engine, and ground attack fighters (more like scissors/pinking shears/hedge trimmers) might mean a things won’t be wide open fights in the sky but geographically limited objectives, with people attacking/defending specific ground targets.

And, of course, there already is a game out there that is the spiritual successor to Air Warrior, Aces High, which has been around since 2000.  That is as close to a second coming of Air Warrior as I have seen.

So as much as I would like to see recreate Air Warrior for the second decade of the 21st century with three factions (if Warhammer Online taught us anything, it is that open PvP needs three factions) and wide open spaces to fly in a free to play game, that might not fit with their plans at all.

What do you think World or Warplanes will end up being?

We Must Hurry…

Another escort quest NPC makes promises he cannot keep.

Anurandir strolls onward...

Naturally, after that statement, he proceeded to walk at a leisurely pace.

I suppose I should have been thankful that he hadn’t lost his contact lenses or his three handled, moss covered, family credenza or some other item for which he would have felt compelled to search.

Of course, true to form, at the very end, he did hurry.  He rushed forward to engage a boar just as the last three mobs sent to stop him materialized in front of us, turning the 3 on 2 fight into a 4 on 2 fight.  At those odds, it was every man for himself… and the Halls of Mandos for Anurandir I’m afraid.

Well, at least it is consistent with the lore for him to be re-embodied and returned to Middle-earth.


Items from the Mail Bag – Monetary Impact Edition

It is time for the second edition of items from the mail bag, wherein I take items that were sent to the blog email address and let you figure out what I should do with them.

In reverse chronological order this month.

  • I have an email plea from Beau about MMO Voices.  Apparently the rent is due.  If you use the site and want to keep it ad free (or running at all, perhaps) you should go donate to the cause.
  • Chris at support wrote back to tell me that they are aware of the problem where the RSS feed for tags are running ~10 days behind and to thank me for my patience.  Given that the feeds lose a lot of their usefulness as a news source when they are so delayed, and that they have been broken for more than 6 months now, I might have expected a bit more than a two sentence blow-off.
  • Tracy from Virginia Web Media has an unnamed client that wants to advertise on my site.  The web site of said client has been mentioned  “…by the Wall Street Journal, UC. New & World Report, and The New York Times.”  So has the Unibomber.  And isn’t it US News & World Report?
  • Colleen at wants to give me a $50 credit for T-shirt printing so I can perhaps print up something to give away on the site.  And, if I’m happy, would I please mention their site.  Well, she got that for free, didn’t she?  But their place is in Berkeley, so they’re probably hopelessly idealistic, plus  I don’t really have a logo for the site, so I am not sure what I would have printed.  What would be a TAGN catch-phrase?  Probably an over-used conjunctive phrase.
  • Del-Taco wants me to know they now have funnel cake.  Really?  Funnel cake?  I won’t even eat that at the county fair, and this is your new big item?  Plus I bet you cook it in the same oil as the french fries.  Another part of my Star Trek Online hangover.
  • Diana of the Greater Los Angeles Area would like me to connect with her on Linked In. While Wilhelm Arcturus has email, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, and a G+ presence (well, had, kicked for being a pseudonym), I haven’t actually gone so far as to create a Linked In account.  Maybe I should.  Anyway, if Diana only knew, she is already connected to my real name Linked In account, through my step-sister-in-law.
  • Alisha wants to provide me a 400+ word unique article that is RELEVANT to what I usually write about and 100% unique.  This high quality, relevant and UNIQUE article will help boost the standards of my site, which sounds like she might have read some of my work if she thinks she can up the average in only 400 words.  All she wants is a discreet link in the article, which will be unique to my site, in return.  So, while her return address has something about XBox Repair (a non-existent field I would think, given that Microsoft has had to extend those warranties until the end of time), I figure the link will be to porn.
  • Grim at wants me to stop writing here and start writing on his service because… well… a whole bunch of reasons.  He doesn’t even appear to be looking for free content to line his own pockets with ad revenue, unlike most other such requests I get.  Unfortunately, for Grim and some of you, after nearly five years, I have Google and a couple dozen regulars trained to find me here.  If I go there, I pretty much start from scratch.
  • And, finally,  Mike at has a similar offer to Grim’s, only without as much cynicism in it, making it much less amusing, but still as unlikely to get me to switch blog hosting environments.

Deed Travesty in the Misty Mountains

Deeds are integral to Lord of the Rings Online.  They are all over.

Each zone, for example, has its own set of deeds.  Some of these involve visiting specific locations.  Others involve slaying a certain number of specific creatures in the zone.

The deeds though generally revolve around things that are important in the zone, be it lore or foes of particular note or wildlife especially out of control.

There is a pattern that evolves, so that you begin to anticipate deeds when you enter a new zone.  Such was the case when I wandered into the Misty Mountains.

There was the usual deed for ruins, and one for places where giants dwell, and still another for particular passes in the mountains.

As I began running quests and slaying the local inhabitants, further deeds began showing up.  There was one for snow-beasts.  I guess they are somewhat unique to the zone.

There was another for worms, the pony-sized lizards that infest parts of Middle-earth.  These guys must have been special since they represented a cold blooded creature surviving in an arctic environment.

A deed for bears popped up.  You practically have to have a bear/boar/bird/wolf deed in any given zone.

Then there was one for wargs.  That is always a favorite.  I cannot think of a zone that hosts a population of wargs that does not have such a deed. (Though no doubt somebody will offer up an example.)

And then I slew a goblin and… nothing.  No little pop up telling me that I was starting on a new deed.

This, I thought, must surely be a mistake.

Maybe I had just killed the wrong type of goblin.  Maybe it was a bug.

Because there must be a deed for goblins in the Misty Mountains, right?  In The Hobbit, when Thorin’s Company is crossing the mountains, we hear wolves howl in the storm.  There are references to giants, though I always thought those were more metaphor than actual beings.  And nary a snow-beast is ever mentioned, when you get right down to it.

No the key group in the Misty Mountains is the goblins.  They have a whole town there.  It is in the game.  I’ve been there.

Welcome to Westfield Goblin-Town!

And in it are some pretty bad-ass goblins, as far as goblins go.

The Goblin-town Foyer

The place is crawling with goblins and they are all signature level mobs and closely packed so that pulling individuals is not possible in most cases.

And this is in addition to the goblins crawling all over the zone and making camps and stirring up trouble outside of Goblin-town.

The goblins situation is such that Elrond’s staff in Rivendell is concerned.  You can gain faction with the elves of Rivendell with drops from Goblin-town.

But they aren’t important enough to get a deed.

Then again, by the time I arrived in the Misty Mountains I already had a few goblin related titles from past deeds.  Goblin Hewer, Goblin Bane, and Cleaver of Goblins were already on my list.  Maybe they ran out of likely goblin related titles?

First Steps into Eregion

With Gaff blazing the trail to Moria ahead of me, I was able to trade on some of his experience.

One of the things you get in the Moria expansion is an epic weapon that gains experience and grows in power over time.  That seemed like something to get started on sooner rather than later.

Which, in turn, meant getting started on Volume II of the epic quest line that follows the story of the books.

This meant running around and helping the fellowship get ready to go and then seeing them off.

The Fellowship Departs

The whole thing plays out just as in the books… or in the movie I suppose.  There are farewells.  Boromir sounds his horn.  Everybody heads off.

The usual Hobbit punchline

Then it was my own turn to depart.

At the border of Imladris

One of the things that the game does make you think about is everything else that was going on while the fellowship was making its way through Middle-earth.

That is, after all, your role in the game.

Sometimes you get to help the fellowship directly, and might rise to be renown as the “third elf on the left.”

But most of the time you are working behind the scenes, or just tending to the everyday business of the world.

But to get on with my own business, I had to find Eregion.

Fortunately, it was on the map, and the path seemed obvious.

Rivendell to Eregion

Of course, like a lot of maps of this scale, there is some missing detail.

I managed to get myself into a dead end loop just to the left of where I wanted to go and spent a good 10 minutes in constant flight from elite level giants and rock worms.  Eventually though, I found my way out of that pocket, still alive (barely), and hit the right path.

Eregion at last!

And, true to form, the game threw out its usual representative for the first mob I encountered: The boar.

Ah, my old nemesis!

I suppose by this point it would be just weird if I ran into anything besides a boar, a bear, or a wolf .

But at least I am now into the the Mines of Moria expansion.

The Mines of Moria

I can now wear my Moria Expeditionary title with pride.  I should dig out the cloak as well.  I’ve only had it sitting around for nearly 3 years now.