Monthly Archives: September 2011

We’re going to wreck the entire EVE economy

Goonswarm Shrugged.

It’s time to inflict Goonswarm’s rage on Empire once again. Jihadswarm was a way for Goons to cause suffering and rage in unsuspecting pubbies, who (naturally) had no idea that they could be hurt in empire space. Unfortunately, Jihadswarm had few lasting effects on the EVE universe. By hitting everywhere, it failed to hit hard enough in any one spot. That all has changed now, as the finance team has come up with a way to hit a small slice of empire space, and yet have a much larger impact. The isolated pain of random pubbies is not enough. It is time for Goonswarm to hurt everyone in EVE, and so reap the misery of a wronged universe.

I knew it had been too quiet in EVE.

CCP hands out new captain’s quarters.

The Mittani throws the mob red meat.


September in Review

The Site

Welcome to my 61st month in review post.

Just to reiterate, the site made it to the five year mark and remains active.  Given the observed blog mortality rate, this seems like a reasonable achievement.  And it also means that now every month in review post will include not only a “One Year Ago” section, but now a “Five Years Ago” segment.  Suck it.

As often happens, spammers grab onto one of my older posts and that becomes the target of 90% of the spamming for a brief time.  I have yet to figure out a pattern.  This month, the year old post EverQuest Next and Lessons Learned seemed to be the target.  I actually kind of like that post, as I tried to put some thought into it… differentiating it from many of my other posts.   But in the last month, literally hundreds of obvious spam comments were caught in the spam filter trying to get to that post.  And since I see maybe 1 in 10 of what Akismet gets, that means a lot of spam pointed at one odd target.  I have no idea why.  Maybe it was the pretty pictures.

Home of future gold spammers?

And then, in watching traffic, I noticed I was getting a lot of referral traffic from the fine people over at Popehat.  And while that is partially explained by Patrick linking me in a post, the trend actually started more than a week before that post, and I have no idea why.

A Pope of a different hat…

They write snarky pieces about serious social issues  (go look through Ken’s Anatomy of a Scam posts, for example, a worthwhile read) and I write… well… this crap.  There must be some sort of Venn diagram overlap between “gamer” and “free speech issues” or something.

The internet remains a mystery.

(Pope-alope picture property of somebody, reprinted without permission, and stolen from here.)

One Year Ago

Well, there was that whole four year anniversary thing.

Planet Michael, the Michael Jackson virtual world, was announced.  How is that coming along?

The whole David Allen, Derek Smart, Quest Online public blame and shame fest ended when Quest Online gave David Allen some money and he went away.  Dr. Smart could not help but throw in a couple final comments.

CCP was talking about Public Fleets and such that were planned for their Incursions expansion.  That got delayed long enough for me to get tired of waiting.  Still, it was better than Incarna.

More interesting was a guide to suicide ganking in EVE Online put up by TooNuRacoon.

Meanwhile, I was kicking off my EVE Online screen shot contest.  All of the entries are now posted on my other site.

I tried turning an old joke into an MMO joke.  Some people got it.  Some did not.

I looked at cloaks in MMOs, and how little they resemble what we would call a cloak in the real world.

Lord of the Rings Online flipped the switch and went free to play.  We were truly among the free (to play) peoples Middle-earth then.  There were some issues with Turbine Points, though I did get my 5,000 point pay-off.

The instance group was still summering in Middle-earth.  The group was finally into the meat of the Lone Lands.  We also tried some skirmishes and talked about Anderson Cooper.

In LOTRO I also ran into somebody who was looking for a social environment similar to old EverQuest.  I wonder if he ended up on Fippy Darkpaw which, for a short time, had all the best aspects of early EQ.

And, after a year of waiting, I finally finished off that one last Brewfest achievement in World of Warcraft.  Go me.

Five Years Ago

The blog started.  As with all blogs, there was a first post.  I still haven’t covered all of the topics I laid out in that post.

Our WoW instance group started up, saving me from a solo life in Azeroth.

I made my first of many runs at EverQuest nostalgia.  It will never end, I assure you.

I  started up EVE Online for the first time, choked on the tutorial, and had some impressions to share.

I put up the first of my planned ancient gaming posts, with a look at Stellar Emperor circa 1986.

I was musing about games slated for the future, including Star Trek Online and Lord of the Rings Online.  I had reservations about both.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Special Site Mention

Cosmetic LOTRO

The place to go when you are looking for your “look” in Middle-earth.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. Zoroark Download Event Coming to Toys R Us!
  2. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  3. World of Warcraft Magazine – Dead After Five Issues
  4. In Which I Feel the Power of the Dark Side… of The Sims Social
  5. The Great Star Wars Saga Viewing Order Question
  6. Things I Hate About Twitter – The Babbling Company Feed
  7. The Sims Social Pegs My Dating Life…
  8. Vast Goon Conspiracy Ensnares Even Its Foes!
  9. SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page
  10. Star Wars Blu-Ray Viewing Order Poll Results and Impressions
  11. Heroic Results of the First Five Year Plan!
  12. Fippy Darkpaw GMs Starting Their Own Fight Club

Search Terms of the Month

fort necessity
[Wow, somebody’s George Washington paper is off to a rocky start!]

did he drop any good loot
[If you have to ask, I am going to say “no.”]

[Now there is an obscure reference to an old post.]

We hope you are enjoying participating in the Game Testing Program and want to thank you for helping shape the most anticipated MMO to date.
[A sudden spike of this in the last 24 hours.]

Spam Comments of the Month

I consume around 4 liters a day, I will begin my day with close to one and then go to on to many other types. I think the more the better though.
[The guy is either a diabetic or drives a vintage Jaguar.]

EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a mental mis-calculation, it appears that my SOE All Access pass is still good.  I think.  The fact that the SOE account page that should tell me this information is broken on my account (again) means that I am not sure.  But I think I forgot to add in the extra 45 days I received as part of the SOE post-hack make good program.  So I am probably still live until November.

That and getting the SOE authenticator got me to at least log into their games, if only to see if they missed anything with their implementation.  Plus there was Karen’s new series on EQIIx at Massively, which got me to poke around EQIIx a bit myself.  I’ve done a bit of crafting, gotten my templar another level, and opened up the guild hall to send out the resource bots to gather so I can sell their plunder on the broker for the guild escrow account.  Maybe my account will stay active long enough for me to make a Beastlord.

I also wandered around old Norrath a bit on Fippy Darkpaw, just to see how things are going with the Velious expansion.  They seem to be stuck due to technical issues.  Go SOE.  It is like they never did a progression server before.  So the timer until the next expansion has yet to start.

Lord of the Rings Online

The rump instance group continued making slow progress in Evendim.  Real life has keep us from pressing on as quickly as we might have.  Basically, our usual three hours on Saturday night has fallen to two hours, and only every other Saturday.  Still, we persist.  Soon though the cold will come and we’ll be looking for a game for the whole team.

Need for Speed World

As I said before, I am surprised at the longevity I have had with this game.  I have even dropped some cash on it to buy a couple of cars and have pressed passed level 20.  I think at this point I have unlocked the whole map and am now just adding new race courses with each level.  I will have to look around for a level guide to see if there is anything really worth unlocking at this point.


I will probably end up blocking The  Sims Social before the weekend is up.  It bores me, even when I am insulting people.  But I would have guess that I would find it a bore before I tried it, so that my not liking it isn’t exactly a startling revelation.

Zynga’s Empires & Allies has persisted for me for longer than I expected.  There is still too much “go beg your neighbors for these parts you need” to suit me and I am not enthralled enough to actually give them money. (Even more so now that they sell their premium currency via Facebook credits, which has made that currency even more outrageously expensive, in my opinion.  Furthermore, unlike previous games, you cannot earn the premium currency in game.)  But at least they have streamlined the begging a bit.

Other Games

I have been going through some of the games I purchased on Steam as part of their big summer sale, plus a game or two I have purchased since, including a couple of indie titles.  This should lead to a series of posts.  My general rule is to write only about games I generally like, even if I have specific issues with the game.  I try to avoid the “OMG this is Shite!” posts, although I have made exceptions in the past. (CivWorld)  With indie games I am a bit squeamish about coming out with any negatives.  I don’t mind kicking EA, Sid Meier, or Richard Garriott in the shins, but I feel guilty going after the lone developer or small team.  So I am on the fence about a couple of potential posts where I will likely be very critical of certain design elements or the value of the game versus the price being charged.

Coming Up

It is about time for a instance group summit.  I would be willing to go back to WoW, or maybe try Rift… something to fill the gap between now and whatever is next just to get back to playing together.   Oh, and there will be problems with some of the “whatever is next” items we are thinking about.  So we will have to hash that out.

My goal for next month is to go through my list of games I have purchased on Steam and assess their value to me based on how much time I have spent with them.  That should make for an amusing post.

And maybe BioWare will throw us something new about Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Something that isn’t, you know, a complete tease.

Maybe Mark Jacobs will give me something to write about… or Scott Jennings will trigger some new “I remember that” event.

And where is Torchlight II dammit?

All I know is that I will find something to complain about.

What are my cats up to?

How am I Enjoying Your Closed Beta? What Closed Beta?

Email fun for the night.

A message arrived asking me to take a survey.  It said:

We hope you are enjoying participating in the Game Testing Program and want to thank you for helping shape the most anticipated MMO to date.

We’ve posted a fun short survey for game testers, and the results have been really interesting so far. Answer a few questions and see what your fellow testers are thinking.

So this email came from a well known game company in regards to, as they said, “the most anticipated MMO to date.”  Said MMO is in closed beta and, I think, still under an NDA which forbids you from even telling people you are in said closed beta, so we’ll just omit names.  I don’t want to spoil anything.

Which might be a wasted effort, as there does not appear to be anything to spoil.

The thing is, a far as I know, I am NOT in the closed beta for this anticipated MMO, and believe me, I have been watching my inbox and spam folder just in case.  Nothing in my account indicates that I might be in said closed beta.  In fact, the information required to be in your profile to get into the beta was flagged as “incomplete” on my account.

On top of which, the link that is supposed to take you to the survey… totally doesn’t work.

Right now I think a certain company is just messing with me now.  Damn them.

Addendum: It seems I am not alone.  I guess I can say who it is, but I sort of liked my semi-subtle approach.

Addendum 2: EA/BioWare make a statement.

Earlier today, two e-mails were sent to members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic community. These e-mails were sent to a larger group than intended, and have caused some confusion in the community. We can confirm that these e-mails were from EA and BioWare and apologize for any confusion they have caused. Please note that receiving these e-mails does not affect your chances to be invited to test the game. Thank you all for your understanding!

Reminds me of the time we were working with an email classification vendor as part of a project for the Royal Automobile Club.  They did a test pass on some archived email, which the RAC had provided, using their company email server, which promptly sent replies to the actual customers who had already been replied to previously.  Not a confidence building event.

How is the Weather on Planet Michael?

This came up about a year ago.

He ain't smilin'

There was a big press release and a web siteThe Daily Telegraph was on board and asking question… there was even a parody video which BMG pulled from YouTube.

A bit later there was some sort of announcement about the developer, Special Entertainment Events, Inc. (SEE) buying some Entropia Universe content called Planet Calypso (Calyspo wasn’t one of Michael’s genres, was it?) from MindArk, the makers of Entropia Universe, for some 6 million dollars, a move which did not make a lick of sense to me, but made somebody rich… or at least got somebody out of hock.

And then there was a short blurb this past June on MindArk’s site that mentioned that they were were no longer in partnership with SEE.

MindArk wants to inform our users that the cooperation between SEE and MindArk has been terminated. From now on, MindArk will run the operation of Planet Calypso. Participants of the Entropia Universe will not in any way be affected.

And somewhere along the line there was the promise of a late 2011 release… according to the Wikipedia entry at least… an entry that seems to be more about the developer than Planet Michael. (Said developer seems to be primarily in the business of operating mobile theme parks.  Theme park operator to run an MMO! Somebody tell SynCaine.)  Oh and that date got mentioned in a few of the interviews, including the one with the Daily Telegraph.

And since then… there hasn’t been much.  There is a dead Twitter feed and an unattended Facebook page you can stare at.

I guess they still have a “gallery” of screen shots, both of which show you locations you will be able to visit in game… like that street… from that music video…

Imagine lots of people here... or nobody... take your pick...

And of course… that graveyard… from that other music video… from like almost 30 years ago…

Wait, wait... don't tell me... Beat It?

So you must admit, things do not look good for Planet Michael.  My prediction of a year ago that nothing would ever come of this seems to be looking pretty good right about now.

Meanwhile, in what will no doubt become a too often recurring joke of EuroGamer proportions around these parts, GameSpy’s Bennett Ring is reported to be working on another story, this one about what Planet Michael would be like if it were about Michael Nesmith.

No Chimp, just Monkees

Given how things appear now, this Planet Michael looks as likely to happen as any other… and it would have that whole Liquid Paper angle with which to work.

Oh Yeah… Isengard…

I got home last night and went to log into LOTRO and there was a big patch… which I suppose was only a surprise to me.

With all this talk of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s launch date and Diablo III being pushed out to 2012 it sort of slipped by me that the Rise of Isengard expansion was upon us already.

Now Available

Most of what the expansion means to me has already been available to me.  My highest level character is only in Moria and when I have been playing, I have been grouped up with a mid-30s characters going through Evendim.  I am still playing in pre-Moria content.  But we’re happy doing that for the moment.

So the expansion means mostly an experience boost item, a nifty mount, a nice cosmetic outfit.

Nomu dressed for the expansion

Sure, there are some changes that apply to me.  Some stat consolidation, which is probably a good thing, since I hadn’t bothered to figure out what some of the proliferation of stats meant in the first place. (And with devs making up new stats and then getting rid of them.  We had a bunch of that in WoW and EQ2 as I recall.)

Fortunately, Jaquoette at Kitty Kitty Boom Boom has nicely summarized the release notes so even I can figure out what is going on.  Thank you so much for that!

Anyway, I patched up and the game seems to be running fine for me.  But I am a bit behind the curve… which can be good.

We will see this coming weekend, if the group gets together, how any of the changes really impact us.  I thought there was something in one of the class updates about minstrels losing medium armor or some such.  Garfinkel might be a little more exposed.

But it will be a while before we see the Isengard or the pinnacle or Orthanc.

Items from the Mail Bag – Everybody Wants Some Edition

Another look into the TAGN in box to see what has come my way in the last month or so.  Nobody wants to write a post for my site or come write for their site this month.

  • Raptr wants me to tell me about all the statistics they have about ‘ville games in their Raptr Report on Zynga Games.  One of the things they note is the high conversion rate of players from one ‘ville game to another.  Is that a good thing?
  • Zynga wants me to please come back and play FarmVille.  They need to read the Raptr report above.  I have long since converted through other Zynga games.  I am currently at Empires & AlliesVille, and there is no going back.  Ever.  For me at least.  I am Tom Joad, traveling west to the promised land of California.
  • Zynga, taking the opposite tack, also wants me to come play their new-ish game, Adventure WorldVille.  At least somebody gets the whole conversion direction thing there at Zynga.
  • Outspark wants me to know that Luvinia Online is out of open beta, online, and the race to level 78 is on!  Just what I needed.  Has anybody been waiting for this?  It looks very Anime.  Somebody tell Darren.
  • wants me to know that as a registered user, I can also get on their listing.  While I tinkered with their site at one point, and even had their chicklet on my side bar for a while, I decided being listed against sites promising “Club Penguin Cheats!” and what we would have referred to back in the BBS days as “waerz sites” probably was not in my best interest.  So we’re done with that, but I am still on the mailing list.
  • Merle Klein, the SEO specialist at Bigpoint GmbH, wants to do a link exchange between this site and three of Bigpoint’s game sites, Drakensang, Farmerama (really?),  and Dark Orbit.  Which is kind of strange.  It is like Safeway coming over to my house to discuss a cross-promotion between their chain of grocery stores and the garage sale I am going to hold in two weeks.  While the deal seemed to be much in my favor, I don’t really play the SEO game here.  I’m not that interested in traffic and Google already sends enough people here based on weird search terms as it is.
  • Erika from somewhere around Dallas wants to put a banner ad on my site and wants me to send her a price list.  Since she did not mention what sort of ad, I am going to guess that this is either a scam or that the ad is clearly something I wouldn’t want to post in the first place.
  • Raptr also wanted me to know that they have surpassed 10 million registered users.  Good for them.  I still only have 17 connections on the service and it primarily serves as a warning that I am coming to pee in their bushes in The Sims Social.
  • And finally, Jason Scott, legendary collect of all computer related documentation, founder of The Archive Team,  free range archivist at the Internet Archive, and creator of BBS: The Documentary and text adventure documentary GET LAMP, both of which I totally want to see and actually tried to order but they never got delivered despite Jason insisting they had been shipped and eventually I got my money back but now I am afraid to simply try and order them again lest things go awry again… *breath*… he wants me (and you) to know that he has a Kickstarter pageto help fund three new documentaries he wants to do.The planned topics are the medium of tape (cool), the 6502 Processor (very cool), and video game arcades (cool cool cool).  You can read about his plans, hear about why he needs the money, see how much he has collected so far ($72K at this point), and donate if you would like to help out by going to his Kickstarter pager here.   There are 45 days left to go and the minimum pledge is $10.


And Now To Fret About a SWTOR Grace Period…

Yes, we have a release date for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  So now retailers handling pre-orders have to get themselves lined up for that date as well.

And so an email from about my order was not unexpected.


We have received new release date information related to the order you placed on July 21 2011. The item(s) listed below will actually ship sooner than we originally expected based on the new release date:

“Star Wars: The Old Republic”
Previous estimated arrival date: January 04 2012
New estimated arrival date: December 23 2011

If you want to check on the progress of your order, take a look at this page in Your Account:

So Amazon says I should have the box on December 23.  However, the game goes live on December 20.

Release date... in case you forgot already

And while I have my early access code, nothing on the SWTOR Pre-Order FAQ page says anything about that code being able to bridge the gap between launch date and when I actually get the box.

All I can find is this little mention on the FAQ, which may or may not cover my situation:

Please note: Your copy of the Game may not be reserved for collection after the launch date; check with your preferred retailer for details.

In the past some games, like Lord of the Rings Online, allowed a period of post launch access based on the pre-order code.  Other games have been… less accommodating.  That quote sounds like EA might be trending towards the latter, which doesn’t seem much like the Christmas spirit.  It will be nearly Christmas after all, one of the busier seasons for package shipments, so I would guess that there might be a few boxes showing up late.  It would be nice if nobody had to worry about that.

I suppose there is still well over two months to go before we are in any danger of being allowed into early access.  Plenty of time to work this out.

In Which I Feel the Power of the Dark Side… of The Sims Social

Facebook games and I have a cycle.

There is a short initial cycle of interest, usually accompanied by a burst of activity, followed by a period of peak interaction with friends/neighbors, followed by a quick decline in interest leading to me telling Facebook to not allow a given game access to post any more messages or notifications.

The whole cycle can last anywhere from minutes (CivWorld) to months (The Agency: Covert Ops), and the list of games I have played is almost embarrassingly long.  But they all end up the same.  Or at least the ones that don’t fold up shop while I am still playing do at least.  I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times.

But usually it is interest, a quick peak, and then wishing the whole thing would shut up and go away.

And so, it was just a question of time before The Sims Social peaked and became a chore.

Frankly, I have never been very interested in The Sims in any case.  I was a big Sim City fan, back in the day, but down at the individual Sim level, I get bored.  I am not much on decorating and such.  And so, while I cleared most of my yard, my home remains pretty close to the starting point.

Watching the neighbors…

And as amusing as it is to imagine relationships as selecting from a menu of options like “Gossip” or “Express Appreciation,” the whole thing wore off pretty quickly.

Talk about writing with Tobold

Even my sim wasn’t feeling it.

Tell us how it is

Soon I was getting notifications on my wall about friendships in danger because I had not bothered to visit.  Needy bitches!

I decided if I was going to wrap this game up and block it off, I might as well explore all routes.  So I figured it was time to hit the insult button.

Tobold, as it turns out, is pretty thick skinned.  I guess our relationship was pretty solid, as even implying his mother was a llama did not seem to phase him.

And your father smelt of elderberries…

Of course, I have to imagine if there has been something about his bathroom decor choices, it might have moved him more.


But no, I could sit there and insult him until I ran out of energy and there was no change.  There even appeared to be benefits from rudeness.

Clearly enjoying my work

I am not sure what a bad mood potion does… or why it requires, among other things, left overs… but now I have one.  And my guy is clearly enjoying himself as he checks off insults from his notepad.  Insults work for me.  It must be that Oscar the Grouch, happy when I’m angry, angry when I am happy thing.

How… uh… unlike me

I guess that it makes sense that apologize is on the list of options once you go the insult route, but flirt?  Is there some sort of “make up sex” dimension here?

Anyway, insulting Tobold was turning into work, so I went searching for other victims.  I quickly found a relationship that was almost on the rocks as it was.  One insult was all it took!

New Status! Ex-Friends!

As with everything else, there is an option to share the news of your new ex-friendship with the world!

Being an ex-friend doesn’t seem to change much.  Sure, there is that gray frowny face, and the insult options are up by default when you interact.

Revive Old Argument!

But the door is still open.  I can still walk around his house, use his shower, and so on.  I cannot sleep in his bed now, only take a nap.  Among the other options

  • Patronize
  • Cat fight
  • Remember the bad
  • Belittle
  • Mock
  • Sneer
  • Insult haircut
  • Mock their dancing

I am so going to scratch you!

You can also wander around their home and retune the TV channels, change the pre-sets on their stereo, re-arrange the keyboard on their computer (set to Dvorak I guess), steal their food, and place a fish in their bed.

I am not sure what this is all in furtherance of.  Is there some sort of negative relationship tree to climb here?  Can I become somebody’s arch enemy?  Will that unlock some evil decor options?

Anyway, that kept me playing The Sims Social for at least one more day.

Epilog: If you imply that Tobold’s mother is a llama, he will eventually unfriend you on Facebook.  He seemed thick skinned, but I guess that skin just holds in all his deep seated resentment.

Begun the Count Down to Christmas Has!

If it wasn’t enough that Star Wars: The Old Republic was practically slated for a Christmas release, the LEGO people have their own irresistible angle on the season.

A Star Wars LEGO Advent Calendar.

We already get the LEGO advent calendar every year as it is.  But when you throw Star Wars into the mix… well… there is already one sitting on our kitchen table even as I write this.  It isn’t even October yet.

But I am a little paranoid.  The LEGO City advent calendar sold out from the online LEGO store pretty quickly last year, though I was able to walk into our local LEGO store and grab one off the shelf no problem.  So I wasn’t going to tell you about it until I had mine home and secure.

Okay, so maybe Yoda in the Santa role is a bit odd.

He doesn’t seem like the candy cane and presents type to me, but I always picture the Degobah Yoda, when he was a senile cranky old coot.  And since the Star Wars Holiday Special is canon (at least C-canon), who am I to quibble about Yoda in a Santa suit?

Beside which, tiny little LEGO ships!

I couldn’t say no.

(Watch out though, Toys R Us is currently charging $10 more than LEGO is for the calendar.)