Monthly Archives: July 2012

July in Review

The Site

It has been the month of Brazilian spam here at TAGN.  That wouldn’t be so bad, except that Akismet, the spam filter, seems unsure about my interest in comments that link back to sites with names like “Mala Direta Segmentada, Listas de emails, Mala Direta e Lista de email,” and so has dumped them en masse into the moderation directory.

Success Kit! Who doesn’t want that?

So I have had to go look at a few dozen messages in the spam directory every day.  And I have been nearly tricked a couple of times.  While 99% of the messages are of the standard generic blog praise variety, occasionally there have been snippets of text stolen from elsewhere that seem almost real, and which are almost always related to the post in question.  Two I almost approved at first glance:

Runic’s affable nature – something that’s evident in the snug cuddle of its games – means that rather than wringing their hands over the negativity that’s swarmed around Diablo 3 recently, they’re sympathetic. Schaefer sees features such as the real-money auction house as a necessity for certain productions.

And then on an EVE post:

The F1-spammer is another way of Gevlon to impolitely dismiss anything else that is not a succseful trader.Do you have 1 bil ISK after 5 years of EvE? You are a loser.Do you kill roids all day long for a measly 50 mil ? You are a loser ? Do you live in low-sec and destroy a T1 Badger on a gate ? You are a loser.Do you live in null sec and spam F1 2-3 times a week ? You are a loser.

That last one I am sure is somebody’s comment or post from elsewhere.  It does sound like a standard critique of Gevlon.

Anyway, I hope that Akismet will get on the ball here and start blocking the boys from Brazil.  For a month it is amusing.  After that though….

One Year Ago

Google+ was already starting to become annoying.

I tried Civ World.  I didn’t like it.

In EVE Online, the results of the emergency CSM Incarna summit were released with CCP basically saying, “Ooops.”

I hit level 50 in LOTRO, got into Eregion, and actually saw the door into Moria.   Only a couple of years had passed since I bought the expansion. Gaff was ahead of me, as usual.   Meanwhile, Isengard was in beta, but nobody was supposed to talk about it.

Getting lost… rules.

EA, BioWare, and their new Origin service got together and combined my accounts without bothering to mention they were doing it in advance.  Just another day at EA as I understand it.  Customers come behind their own convenience.  Still, I was interested in their authenticator and how it stacked up against others.  Can you actually buy those yet without getting the CE?

Speaking of authenticators, SOE made one available as well that looked just like the Blizzard model.  But they cannot be swapped, one for the other.  I got the official line from VASCO on that.

And on the SOE front, they announced that they were going to revamp Freeport, which I took as a waste of time.  (Plus, of course, Qeynos got shoved off until later.)  I am still not convinced that either revamp was worth the effort of the time spent downloading the assets.  But I am not sure Beastlords were either.  They seemed pretty broken when they launched.

The instance group wrapped up our last adventure in EverQuest II Extended.  There were a number of way the game wasn’t right for us.  It wasn’t just the ugly mounts.

The pending closure of Star Wars Galaxies lead to interest (and concerns) about SWG emulation.

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.  I think they are in closed technical alpha at this point.

I started playing Need for Speed: World, a driving MMO.  It wasn’t a bad game with the right music playing.

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

And World of Warplanes was announced, which got me wondering if this might not be a spiritual successor to Air Warrior of old.

Five Years Ago

Hey, it was the Revelations expansion in EVE Online that was news a year back, and I was running through the updated new player tutorial. It was a huge improvement, though I ran into a glitch or two.

The instance group was still off in LOTRO for the Summer, though we were having issues at The Great Barrow when we weren’t playing Truth or Dare.

Vanguard was already planning server merges. 13 servers down to 4.

EverQuest II got its own magazine… again (okay, it was an SOE magazine for Station Access subscribers the first time around, but it had an EQ2 scantily clad dark elf on the cover!)… in the form of EQuinox. And they were offering Rise of Kunark beta access to subscribers!

Dr. Richard Bartle, keeping to his strict regime of “one controversial fanboi enraging quote every summer” said he would like to improve the MMORPG species by turning off World of Warcraft.  Seems kind of mild after this year’s entry and reaction!

Perpetual was making crazy-insane statements about Star Trek Online… like no Galaxy-class starships for you! Ships that size were planned to be “space cities” and quest hubs. Cryptic take note: If I cannot aspire to be Captain Kirk, I am not sure I want to play! Or just go read Tipa’s post on the subject.

The end of Auto Assault was announced by NC Soft and I took note and pondered a (silly) solution.

And I stopped in front of SOE headquarters for a picture. (Mirror universe Wilhelm, with goatee.)

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Steam Summer Sale – Time For Damage Control
  4. Warned by CCP for Attempting to Cause Lag
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. Panda-monium Breaks Loose September 25th
  7. Armored White War Tiger – Rift Steals Another Page from the Blizzard Playbook
  8. What to do in EVE Online – A Summary
  9. The War in Delve Ends… For Some of Us
  10. Notes from the War in Delve
  11. Why I Didn’t Buy Your 99 Cent App
  12. SOE Crosses the Streams, Mixes Vanguard, F2P, and Brad McQuaid

Search Terms of the Month

im human and i don’t know the path to the scarlet monastery dungeon
[See, not everybody uses Dungeon Finder!]

what is the reaction occuring in a rootberr float
[The reaction is me becoming much happier as I consume it.]

ubicación de los nazgul en flyff
[Nazgul in Flyff? I don’t want to know.]

one does not simply troll jita
[Actually, that is exactly what one does. Go look at local.]

Spam Comment of the Month

Packet-forging exploits have been used for some time to alter the damage players deal to monsters or receive from them. Combined with Meso Guard, hackers were able to fool the game into hitting them for -2,147,483,648 damage (the largest negative value a signed 32-bit integer can hold). Since the damage was a negative value, the Meso Guard skill then granted the player over two billion mesos. Hacking players used their ill-gotten gains to buy up practically everything in players’ market stalls, massively inflating the game’s economy by pouring untold billions into the hands of random players.

This from a comment which linked back to a Maple Story Meso (Gold) selling site.  Was this describing how they got they Meso?  At least it wasn’t more freakin’ Brazilian spam.

EVE Online

Things started off with a bang in New Eden.  I got back from a trip to find war were declared. (That last sentence was formed to make it a Futurama reference.)  I got down to Delve.. eventually… got into one giant battle, and then it was chase the bad guys or camp their station.  The leaders of SoCo, Against All Authorities, clearly had an agenda that did not include defending sovereignty.  You can define victory however you want, and they define it by “winning” the kill board totals every month.  Of course, they like to smart bomb their own fleet to get on blue kills, a fact supported by every kill mail I’ve seen.  You have to wonder how they would rank without that.  The Mittani has his own dismissive view of the SoCo effort posted.

Anyway, the war ended with three regions conquered (and -A- declaring victory because we didn’t take more), so we all headed back home.  Now we can rat, roam, and worry about how CCP is going to screw things up (from a null sec point of view) with alchemy and mining barge changes.  Of course, when there is not a war and an abundance of fleet ops, my status as a crap member of our corp becomes more obvious and the likelihood of my getting kicked for any number of infractions like not being on voice coms at all times, hanging out in high sec, or not logging onto our broken forums goes up dramatically.  So I am clearly hoping for another war.


The instance group remains on hiatus.  Our general target of “hit level 38” has yet to be achieved across the group.  So we still have that to take care of.

On the bright side, the new “all levels” version of instant adventure seems to be just the ticket.  I blew through two levels with that in very little time.  It seems to be the “help me skip this zone” answer to those leveling up an alt.

Despite the hiatus, I did spend some time in Telara.  It passed EverQuest II Extended as my most played game this month, according to Raptr.  But I have been using Raptr for less than two years, so you have to take that with a grain of salt.

And there was a Rift summer event, though it didn’t seem to stick around very long.  It is still Summer and all.  But it did involve fishing, so I participated in that aspect.  And I learned my Rift event lesson; pick up all the event related quests that you can, because when the event ends it basically finishes those quest for you.  You get credit, exp, and whatever reward.

Steam Summer Sale

I managed to get through the sale on less than $10.  Portal 2 was the winning purchase.  I have enjoyed that very much.  Railworks Train Simulator 2012 was one of the others.  I actually sat down one Sunday afternoon and attempted to play it seriously.  There will be a post coming up on that I am sure.

World of Warcraft

Darkmoon Faire.  That is what I have been doing in WoW every month.  There is a set of quests each time around that boosts your trade skills by 5 points.


What is on the horizon for August?

Well, the start of the launch frenzy begins with Guild Wars 2 going live at the end of the month.  I have no personal investment in Guild Wars, so I will probably just let that settle down and cure the major forms of cancer before I get involved.

But that is still practically a month away, leaving most of August for other things, even if I wanted to get involved.

I am tempted to give DUST 514 a try.  The major drawback is that the PlayStation 3 is hooked up to our one TV, and that is currently playing Olympics coverage every hour of the day that NBC deigns to allow.  Which, admittedly isn’t that many hours in the day.  NBC has to put Bob Costas in his cryogenic rejuvenation chamber for 18 hours a day I guess.  But it does soak up all of prime time.

There is a rumor that we are going to go attack somebody else in EVE.  We seem to be primed for it.  There was a pair of towers to defend the other day and the fleet call up yielded two full Drake fleets with people left over complaining they couldn’t get in.  Otherwise it is training up skills so I can fly in more fleet types.

Then there is Darkmoon Faire this weekend.  I will be doing that.  There are only two more before it is panda time.  Despite my lack of excitement, I have gotten a couple of messages from friends who seem quite thrilled at the prospect of a new WoW expansion.

And, finally, I am trying to get my daughter to write a guest post about Minecraft.  She plays on a PvP server.  She needs to explain how that even works.  But unlike her father, she seems like she wants to play more than she wants to write.  We shall see.

Defense Grid: The Kickstarting

While I do not think Kickstarter is necessarily stealing money from 99 cent app developers, I do remain skeptical of a some of the stuff being offered up for financing.

Sure, some of the stuff is great.  It was all I could do to keep myself from throwing money at the Steve Jackson Games Ogre Designers Edition kickstarter.  I played Ogre and G.E.V. back when they were in zip-lock baggies at the hobby shop on the peg next to Snit’s Revenge.

Only the realization that I did not need another huge board game I would never play overcame nostalgia and stayed my hand.

But Steven Jackson Games is a known quantity to me.  I trust them to do what they say.  Likewise, I trust that Jason Scott will produce the three documentaries that I helped fun.  It would be way, way outside his behavior norms to not do so.

Other teams I remain less sure of.  Despite being a fan of the original Wasteland, I could not bring myself to toss money in for Wasteland 2.  I’ll be happy if it comes out.  I just don’t have any sort of way to evaluate the chances that team can pull it off or whether the game can make the transition directly from 1988 to 2014 and retain the same spirit.  Some games are only great within the constraints of their time frame and technology.

And I am waiting for the big crash, some big seven figure funding effort that fails to deliver.  It will happen.  You know it.

So my donations via Kickstarter are few and far between.  But today, thanks to Zubon, I have one I cannot resist.

Defense Grid: The Awakening is one of my all time favorite tower defense games.  It is simple, clever in a Valve sort of way, looks good, plays well, and has all manner of different modes to play and defeat once you make it through the main storyline.  My hours played for the game, as measured by Raptr, are at the MMO end of the spectrum.

Well, Hidden Path Entertainment, the makes of the game, want to make Defense Grid 2.  However, according to their tale of events, normal funding paths just are not panning out for the indie level profit margins.

So they have gone to Kickstarter.

They have thought this out.  They have four levels of goals ($250K, $500K, $750K, and 1 million dollars), each of which will yield up a different result.  They have the many levels of support, each with various and sundry cool things.

The myriad rewards

And they have a video with endorsement from other game developers.

But here is the key.  For the minimum pledge of $15 you get a key to unlock the original game on Steam.  It is a $20 game, and you get that.  And you get it the moment you pledge.  And you get to keep it even if they don’t fund.

So even if this turns out to be vaproware, you are ahead at the base pledge.

Plus, you get a copy of whatever software they end up being able to fund.  So if it succeeds, you get the new stuff too.

Of course, I would prefer that you go pledge more money.  I would really like to see this run off the end and fully fun.

Still, if you were thinking about getting the original game, go support it on Kickstarter.  You can have it now.

I have already pledged and have a code for the game.  Of course, I already own the game.  I will have to have a contest or something at some point to dispose of the code.  But after the Kickstarter funding closes.  That runs until August 14th.

Go check it out.

TL;DR – Go here, give money.

Will Nostalgia Be Solely the Domain of EverQuest?

The discussion of problems in the Progression server area of the EverQuest forums generally falls into two categories; specific issues and general issues.

Specific issues are things you probably expect.  A given NPC isn’t spawning or doesn’t drop the right item.  A specific quest is broken.  (Or in the case of the newbie armor quests, a whole bunch were broken.)  The Station Cash store is selling things that shouldn’t really be available.

These threads are generally not that interesting, unless the issue in question affects your play.

And then there are the general issues, which often boil down to “people are jerks.” (Which, I think is necessary for the authentic EverQuest experience.)  I find these much more interesting.  The topics can range from hacking to player behavior to the rate at which the various expansions are unlocked.  There was a good one started recently.

These threads bring out the various faction, which include those who want a server locked in time at some past expansion (though which expansion is always up for debate), those who see the whole thing as a race to be first to slay the key bosses and get geared up, and those who just want a taste of the “good old days,” along with various views in between.

And in those discussions, one of the points often brought up is what people think SOE should do for the NEXT round of progression servers.  People seem quite confident that there will be a next round.

This is because SOE seems to be quite happy playing the nostalgia card when it comes to EverQuest.

The path to nostalgia is paved with old textures

SOE plays up every anniversary.  They used the “hardcore heritage” as part of their marketing in the Living Legacy campaign.  And they have seen fit to roll up special servers in the past.  Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak are the second round of progression servers, the first being The Combine and The Sleeper, which showed up back in 2006.  And then there was that 51/50 server back in 2009.

Does any other company play the nostalgia card as vigorously as SOE does with EverQuest?

Yes, some games note the passing of anniversaries.  And there is a always a “come back and play” promotion going on for one MMO or another at any given moment of time.  But that seems to pale in comparison to the lengths to which the EverQuest Live team goes.

Then again, I think EverQuest might be in a unique spot when it comes to playing that card, and not just because it is old.  WoW is as old now as when EQ was when the first progression servers were kicked off.

EverQuest has all of those expansions, with 18 to date in its 13 year life.  While the expansion train started off slowly, it took a year to get to Kunark, after that SOE was dropping two expansions a year for quite a stretch, each with its own additions to the world of Norrath.  Every single one of those added zones to the game, and quite a few added levels or classes or races new game mechanics or some other change to the game.

At the time SOE seemed obsessed with getting out two expansions a year whether they worked or not.  Broken content certainly plagued them and caused problems in the community.  It wasn’t until WoW came along with its more stately expansion pace that SOE seemed to get the idea that less quantity and more quality might be a better plan.  And even then the pace was still one expansion a year.

In hindsight though, this crazy pace of expansions set EverQuest up nicely for the whole nostalgia/progression server role.  Each expansion was sold separately and required purchase to access the content.  So the game has 19 built-in layers of content, including classic, that can be opened up, each of which expands the world.

Which makes me wonder if anybody else could even pull off this sort of progression style server.

Is there an MMO out there that should be playing the nostalgia card?

Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot both seem ripe for the nostalgia treatment, if only EA were willing.  Have they done anything along that line?

EVE Online, with its single server and ongoing quality of life improvements, seems to have excluded itself from nostalgia.  Or does somebody really want to go back to the days before “warp to 0?” (I know somebody does.)

Blizzard seems to see World of Warcraft only as a going and growing concern, despite some subscription setbacks, and has no plans for nostalgia.  Plus they went and killed all the original content with Cataclysm, so setting up something like a classic server would take a lot more than just turning off the expansions.

EverQuest II is also getting old enough for nostalgia, but I think SOE will leave that card for its older brother.  EverQuest II’s role in the world seems to be to push the player tolerance envelope for ugly mounts.

Lord of the Rings Online… might be too young yet.  And how different would a server feel with Moria and beyond turned off?  Maybe if I had gotten further in the game I could answer that.

And even if these games rolled a server based on original content, it would likely have to follow constraints similar to those that SOE faced with EverQuest.  You might be able to play in the old world, but you would likely have to do so with class abilities from the current version of the game.

So what do you think about nostalgia focused MMO servers?

Who else should be playing the nostalgia card?

And is anybody in as good a position to do so as SOE is with EverQuest?

In New Eden My Heart Goes “Boum!”

Another video experiment.

Direct link here.  Probably best viewed on the YouTube site in a larger format.

When I found the song, “Boum!” by Charles Trenet on on iTunes, I knew I had to try to recreate the scene from the “France Falls” episode of World at War which features the song. (On come now, somebody must know what I am talking about.)

I actually bought the whole World at War 30th Anniversary sound track.  I wonder if there is something else I can make out of it.

This little project was helped along immensely by the fact that I have been trying to grind some rep with an alt recently.  But more on that later.

EverQuest Fippy Darkpaw Video Log #15

One of the players on Fippy Darkpaw who goes by the handle RekMMO had been doing video logs about his time on the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  After some time away, he is back and catching up with what has been going on.

Direct link here.

His series of videos is interesting to watch just to see the places he has been.  There are plenty of familiar sites.

He had been posting these video logs regularly until he took a break before Planes of Power.

He also posted an unofficial trailer for the Fippy Darkpaw server before it launched.

Qeynos Reskinned – And The Beat Goes On

In which I complain about slights both real and imaginary.

Qeynos? There is no “there” there!  Let’s talk about me.

Firiona Vie, EverQuest Spokesmodel

Long have the residents of Qeynos suffered neglect as the second city of Norrath.  Ever have we been in the shadow of our rival city, Freeport, and have been discriminated against because of our unjustly diminished stature.

In old Norrath, in the original EverQuest, a vast right coast conspiracy placed Freeport at the center of the world’s activity, with many smaller racial home towns feeding naturally into it via the Commonlands or the Ocean of Tears.  It acted as a crossroads and became the destination for those looking to trade, and it flourished.

Classic Norrath

And even as the bounds of Norrath grew, even as the bazaar took over from the Commonlands tunnel, Freeport remained an important destination.  Ever is there activity in Freeport.  It was important enough to get a complete revamp a couple of years back, along with the Commonlands.

The updated Freeport docks

None of the original cities of Norrath have had such attention lavished upon it.

Certainly not Qeynos.

(Conspiracy theories and a few pictures of the new Qeynos after the cut.)

Continue reading

Retaking the Tech Moon at 42XJ-N

In which pretty much nothing happens, so you might as well just look at the pictures and move on.

I was not sure I was going to get to go on this op.

There was an update to fleet doctrine recently, during the war in Delve, with new fits, new ships, and even new fleets becoming part of official policy.

I can still fly Drake fleet of course, since my skills in missiles and shields are just about all max’d out.  And I am still good with Alpha fleet, even if I have to fly the Maelstrom with training wheels because of my low gunnery skills. (Both on my character and in person.  I never seem to have the right ammo for starters.)

But Welp fleet changed fits to something I am going to need to train for, while the Bomber fleet just scares me because, while I have all the skills, I have no clue on how to actually fly the ship and really don’t want to figure it out in my usual manner, which generally involves screwing up badly.

And then there is the Tengu fleet.

Tengu fleet is the new darling of fleet ops, as unlike Drake fleet, it doesn’t need a nearly full fleet to be effective.  So it has become the go-to fleet for odd hour weekday operations.  It is odd, fleet ops in Delve at late hours were filled to overflowing but back in Deklein we seem to be scraping by with much smaller turn outs.  No war fever I guess.

Of course, the promise of a fight related to defending or attacking a tower might have worn thin over the many tellings.

So it was last night when the alert came up promising a fight over the control of a tech moon in Venal.  This is where Black Legion and our erstwhile foes in Delve, Nulli Secunda, have been hitting OTEC installations in the wilds of Venal in hopes of provoking a serious fight now and again.  Bless them for giving us something to do.

The call was for a Tengu fleet, which got a very low interest reaction from me.  I can fly the official reimbursement Tengu fit.  However, our alliance policy also requires some minimum subsystem skills in order to qualify for reimbursement.  This is something my pal Gaff found out the hard way.  I am level 4 across the board, but some level 5 skills are required if you want to get paid for the loss of your 600+ million ISK ship.  So no Tengu ops for me until I spend a couple weeks training.

An update came along a bit later asking for more people to get in the fleet, even if it was only in a Drake.

There was the magic word.  I can afford to lose a Drake even if I don’t get reimbursed because I brought it to a Tengu fleet.  And strong still is the call to “go shoot stuff” for me.

I got into the game, clone jumped to VFK, saddled up a Drake a warped out to the rally point.  And there we sat as DBRB called for more Scimitars to support the fleet.  Logistics, space priests, ever the linchpin of our fleet operations.

So I volunteered to reship to a Scimitar, as I happened to have one parked in VFK in the right configuration.  Apparently one more logi was all he wanted, because the fleet started off before I was able to undock.

You may be tempted to mention at this point that, in flying a Scimitar, I can join any of the standard fleets (aside from bombers) that the CFC puts up because we never have too many logistics ships.  And you would be correct.  My reluctance stems from two things.

First, I am pretty sure I am bad at logistics at this point.  I do not have a lot of direct evidence from the four times I have flown them on fleet ops, once I was blown up very early in the fight and the other three times (which includes this very op) things ended up going so well for us that I suspect everybody else was simply able to carry my dead weight without notice.  But the fact that I ran off without nanite paste or performance enhancing drugs again (I actually have some nanite paste, but never remember to buy the drugs) seems to argue in favor of my failings as a logi pilot.

Second, I like to shoot stuff.  Getting kills still thrills, even if I am just one ship in the Drake blob.  And, frankly, the only way my corp or alliance seems to know I am doing anything at all is when I get on the kill boards or when I submit reimbursement forms.

But, in the name of getting a fleet op going, I will bite the bullet and fly a Scimitar.  I suppose there is no other way to learn.

Of course, as I mentioned, the fleet took off so I was rushed, which is part of the reason for no paste/no drugs.  The fleet had used a jump bridge and was a couple of gates into Venal when I finally caught up.  Getting to the target system was a good dozen jumps from the jump bridge, but soon we were sitting on the gate to 42XJ-N, at which point the logi leader told us to take our drugs.  Yeah, oops.

Then it was through the gate and into the waiting arms of a Black Legion Abaddon fleet, which started off the battle on a bad note for us, when one of our Tengus got popped before everybody was together and focused.  I was still locking up key individuals when the “need shields” call came, and by the time he was locked there was only a pod to rep.

My first though was the hope that we were not sailing into a fiasco.  But the kill turned out to be a quirk of fate.  Black Legion was able to primary him before we were together.  We did better after that.  Even drug free me got reps off on ships taking damage, including our heavy interdictor who was something of a key to the operation.

It was he who was to put up the bubble to trap the enemy and to light the cyno to bring in the dreadnoughts.

Bubble AND Dreadnoughts present

DBRB said later on coms that Black Legion had asked Nulli Secunda to not form up, except as a bomber fleet, as the expectation was that we wouldn’t be able to field enough ships to want to fight if they both showed up in force.  Then we dropped capitals on them.  And once that happened, things pretty much went our way, with 13 battleships and 2 carriers getting popped as they pulled up stakes and headed for the exit.

At one point I deployed a combat drone and assigned it to one of the Tengus in hopes of whoring myself onto at least one killmail, but the drone sat idle the whole time, then got left behind as we hopped around a bit to try and chase down the opposing fleet.

That done, we jumped to the tower we were there to destroy.  Here I managed to fly too close to the tower defense, which locked me up and started shooting at me.  However, between my speed, size, and reps from fellow logis, I barely sustained any damage to my shields at all beyond the tiniest sliver of red showing.  But it looked exciting.

OMG the tower defenses are shooting me!

And then it was everybody’s favorite activity, a POS shoot.  Fortunately, the dreads stuck around and helped make it a short shoot.

Big guns make for short work

Once the tower was down, it was time to put up one of our own in its place.  The dreads trundled off and we got to sit around guarding the tower during its vulnerable deployment and onlining stages.  Each of those takes 30 minutes.  So there was an hour of flying in circles.

The boredom of the wait was mercifully broken by Nulli Secunda, which had some stealth bombers in system.  They took runs at us now and again, the most comic of which took place just as DBRB went AFK for a bathroom break.  The bombers swooped in, launched their bombs, took a loss, but got a Tengu kill.

When DBRB got back he was incredulous.  How could a Tengu die to such a weak attack?

It turned out that the victim brought his ratting Tengu to the fleet op.  A look at the kill mail shows it fit for active tank Guristas operations, with a low (25K) effective hit points.  Compare that to one that is fit for Tengu fleet operations, with an EHP of 125K.  Ratting ships do not do well in PvP, as I could tell you.

A later bomb attack hit the logistics ships dead on, which knocked shields down about 25%.  Not a big threat to the right fit.

As the timer counted down, people started to get really bored, or cranky, or both, which DBRB tried to solve with a combination of trolling and talking about Kristen Stewart getting caught cheating on Robert Pattinson with her recent director Rupert Sanders, who also happens to be married.  It was like TMZ in space.

Then DBRB said how old he was on coms, and the age difference between him and I happened to be exactly the same as the age difference between me and my father, which was mildly disturbing.

And then, at last, as the timer for the tower going online dropped below the five minute mark, the word was given to head for home, all gates green.  Back to VFK I went, calling it a night when I hit the station.  But it was not the end of things for DBRB.  He had an op planned for two hours later, in which he planned to hunt the great truffle whale or some such.  I will have to go read the forums to see how that turned out.

Meanwhile, I still do not know how badly I suck at the logi thing.  But I am going to remember to buy some drugs.  I swear I’ll have them next time.

Panda-monium Breaks Loose September 25th

The date has been set.  Blizzard has announced that the Mists of Panderia expansion for World of Warcraft will launch on September 25, 2012.

Digital pre-orders are available now in both standard and deluxe versions.

Choose your panda poison

I am sure there will also be a physical collector’s edition with the usual making of art book, music tracks CD, and other extras.

One of the biggest reactions I have seen to the digital deluxe edition is because it does not include a pet.  A special pet… or three special pets… has been one of the traditional bonuses for collector’s editions.

It does however include a special mount.  Mounts go for $25 at the Blizzard store, and the deluxe edition is only $20 more than the standard edition, so you could view it as a discounted mount purchase I suppose.  The other items, more sigil fluff in Diablo III and some StarCraft II portraits seem, well… pretty meaningless to me.

But that kind of sums up my feelings about Mists of Panderia at the moment.  The expansion is adding a new race, a new class, five more levels, pet battles, and some new lands to explore.

Welcome to Panda Island!

But nothing about it has me very excited.  For starters, creating a panda character means 10 new levels of content, then 50 level of solo focused Cataclysm, 10 levels of Burning Crusade, 10 levels of Lich King, and 5 levels of Cataclysm until you get back to the new content.

Or you could just take one of your probably already at level cap characters and try out the new high level content.

Pet battles interests me mildly.  Not enough to actually download the beta now that they are finally in, but enough that I will certainly poke my nose in to see what it is about at launch.  I will still be in the last 30 days of my 1 year subscription commitment when this goes live.

But otherwise I am just not feeling it.

Of course, that might be a good thing.

If you are a long time reader you might have noticed a correlation between games about which I have been excited… Warhammer Online, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Replublic (now officially Tortanic), and the Cataclysm expansion… and games which have disappointed me.  The higher my spirits, the further they fall.

A sad commentary on life I suppose.

Meanwhile, I have often ended up enjoying things that I was initially unexcited about.  Rift, Wrath of the Lich King, EverQuest II Extended… I was skeptical of these, yet ended up enjoying them quite a bit.

It is sort of a variation on the Oscar the Grouch “happy when I am angry, angry when I am happy” thing.  Sort of.

Anyway, it is going to be an interesting third quarter this year.  Guild Wars 2 goes live on August 28, the LOTRO Expansion Riders of Rohan shows up on September 5 last I checked, and Torchlight II is threatening to ship in September as well, though nothing is official there so it might change.

Meanwhile, I am still playing Rift and EVE Online.  The instance group, once the summer hiatus comes to an end, still have a few dungeons to do before hitting level cap in Rift, at which point there might be an official date for the Storm Legion expansion.  It was previously slated for “Fall 2012.”

And EVE Online… well, they release all sorts of stuff all the time there.

So there will be pandemonium in just the number of like games launching or launching new content.

What else is going to launch between now and Christmas?

Why I Didn’t Buy Your 99 Cent App

Every once in a while I run across anger or angst from developers of iOS apps about how people aren’t buying their app.  It is, after all, only 99 cents!

This is my all time champion complaint:

People are spending money at Kickstarter when they could be buying his app.  And he worked HARD on it.

The perception seems to be that people are complete cheapskates when it comes to apps for their iOS device.

There is a comic up over at The Oatmeal that illustrates this perception.

(Click on that link, or the image, to see the whole comic.)

Yes, that is exaggerating for comic effect, but it still implies that 99 cents is a barrier for people who think nothing of plonking down five bucks a day for coffee.

Oh, and expectations are too high.

Not sure what that was in reference to, but I though I would just throw that in there.  Hi Andrew!

Yet none of this rings true for me.

Price has never stood in the way of me buying an app that I really wanted.  I have some $9.99 apps on my iPad.

I don’t think I expect a lot from a 99 cent app, though clearly there is a lot of variation in how much apps at that price deliver.

Finally, I have hurled very little money at Kickstarter projects, and none of that actually has gone to video game projects.  But had I, that money hurled would not in anyway impact my iOS app buying decisions.  Attempting to make that connection seems laughable at best.

So I sat down and made a list of reasons why I might not have purchased any given app, which gave me eight bullet points, which I was able to combine down to five.

These are my reasons, and might as a whole apply just to me.  But I am going to guess that some of this list will apply to other people as well.

1 – I have never heard of it

Developers, the App Store is your biggest enemy.

This is, far and away, the most likely reason I have not bought your app.

I would like to rant about how annoying it is to browse the App Store, except that I find it annoying to browse things on the internet in general.  Amazon,, Steam, iTunes, NetFlix and a host of other sites all seem to fail to get right the one thing a physical store can, which is to let the customer easily browse through the merchandise.

Part of it is selection; there is too much.   At a site like Amazon, which has listings for every book published in the last forty years and more, try browsing science fiction titles.  There are something like 90,000 choices at the top level.  In reality the list is smaller, because they list every edition (paperback, hardcover, audio, Kindle) separately.  But lets say I just want Kindle versions, that still leave more than 26,000 options.

I estimated once that my favorite local used book store had about 14,000 science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, which is a lot.  Yet in a physical space where I can scan whole shelves, that does not seem unmanageable.  But online, viewing in batches of 8-20 titles at a time, it is an unwieldy mess on which I quickly give up.

So for me to buy an app or a book or rent a movie, it pretty either has to show up on the front page of a search or somebody I respect has to recommend it.

The secret to success: Get Jeff Green to tweet that he likes you iOS app.  I went with him on Kingdom Rush HD and everything he has mentioned since.

2 – The price point is a red flag

Assuming I found your app on the App Store, I have to admit a bias against apps that cost only 99 cents.  My actual expectation is that your app will suck.

There appears to be so much crap at that price that my base assumption is that anything that is 99 cents is not worth my time.  This is based on my experience with apps at that price point.  If there are two similar apps that I am interested in, I will usually go with the more expensive of the two.

Looking at what is on my iPad right now, I have a bunch of apps that were $2.99-$9.99, a bunch that were free, and exactly one 99 cent app, Fancy Pants Adventures.  And for a 99 cent app, that is an awesome game.  If you think people have high expectations, maybe those expectations are being set by your competitors.

But the only reason I bought that app was because I had already played a version on the PlayStation 3.  So, again, get Jeff Green or somebody on the case to recommend your app.  Or charge more for a quality app.  I will pay more for one.

3 – The store page drove me off

Bad reviews and a low overall rating screams “pass” in my ear.  We are talking about something akin to an impulse buy, and nothing shuts down that impulse quicker that two stars and the last couple of reviews that say, “This version is totally broken!”

For a purchasing decision where reviews are mixed, I will usually go read the two and three star reviews, since those people seem most interested in communicating.  However, the App Store makes this annoying, so I just go with the overall review most times.  The App Store is your enemy.

4 – Your app appears to be an uninspired rip-off

Yes, there really is nothing new under the sun.  Everything has been done.  But if you are going to remake the same game, at least do so with some passion.  You have have to give me a hook, a reason why I should choose your app to guide a penguin/car/elf through ice floes/Manhattan/forest to help find fish/a gas station/the peace of eternal sleep.

Of course, sometimes it probably isn’t a total rip-off.  Sometimes there is a new twist.  Occasionally something new is brought to the table.  But your coding skills do not always translate well into communication skills, leaving me reading a few bland sentences that send me off to the next app.

5 – I am just picky

I do not like to have a ton of apps cluttering up my iPad.  This is often the primary reason I do not buy an app.  Once I get beyond four pages of apps on my iPad, it becomes clear that I have too many and it is time to pare down the list.

To this end, I also try to avoid cluttering up my iPad with crap in the first place.  For example, I have an app called Apps Gone Free that puts up a list daily of apps that are temporarily available for no charge.  It is a rare week if I download more than one app from the five to fifteen they list every day.  But then, a lot of the apps that show up for free are of the “99 cents and rightfully so variety” that I am already biased against.

And, finally, any app that requires me to tilt the iPad to steer a vehicle is right out.  Screw you Sonic & SEGA All Star Racing. (Also because you are really an uninspired Mario Kart ripoff.)

So What?

I realize that I may not be the ideal target market for developers making 99 cent apps.

I am old and cranky and use an iPad, which means I want full screen versions of apps, which usually costs more.  For example, Kingdom Rush is only 99 cents on the iPhone, but the HD version for the iPad is $2.99.  The same goes for what is probably my most played iPad game, Ticket to Ride, which runs $4.99 on the iPad. (And I have purchased all the DLC as well.)

On the flip side, I will gladly pay more than 99 cents for quality.  At least if I find out about it.  The App Store still sucks at just about any price point.

So how about you?  Do you buy lots of 99 cent games?

Do any of my reasons ring true for you?

Convoy Ops – Home From Delve

One of the mysteries of EVE:  How can a fleet op that takes us on a grand tour of high, low, and null sec, which included six supercarrier kills, take less time than a convoy op from Delve to Deklein, which is essentially 15 gates and five jump bridges?

I have to guess that it is just a matter of motivation.  If our FC, Sour Blossom, had told us that there was a potential capital ship kill waiting for us in VFK, we would have been on the ball.  As it was though, she had to lead and keep together the fleet of epic bad connections and little lost sheep.

Arriving at another gate

To her everlasting credit we did not lose or leave behind everybody.  If it had been me, an hour into the op and something like 8 gates in, I would have been screaming.  I am pretty sure DBRB would have been leaving people behind.   So I admire her fortitude in the face of such things as finding out that one of the people dropping was running six simultaneous EVE clients, streaming the Alliance Tournament, talking on Mumble, and probably clicking on all the porn links in chat.  Or something like that.  I might be exaggerating a little… but only a little.

I put the game in window mode, put Mumble on the speakers, and played Peggle Nights while waiting for the jump command at each gate.

It wasn’t that bad, really.  Nothing like the multi-hour scale of the supercap convoy to Delve, of which Endie wrote (Edit: Alas, the Kugu forums are no more, the link once there is now dead), which appeared at first glance to be a plot to punish Pandemic Legion, who were guiding the whole op, for some past sins.

The Trail of Tears

Originally I said I was going to leave some equipment and a jump clone in Delve, just in case.  But on Saturday there were lots of convoy ops heading back home and I decided to clean up some of the junk I left down in Delve and bring back at least one fleet fit ship, a Drake, and whatever I could fit in the cargo hold.  I ended up with a ton of crap primarily because, unable to find contracts for correct, doctrine fit ships, I had to buy non-standard fits and then refit them with the correct modules, which lead to some excess.

Plus, in some quiet moments while waiting for fleets, I killed a few rats and, in my usual manner, looted and stashed away every single drop.

Add in the piles of ammo I bought in anticipation of a long war and I had stuff to sell.

Of course, my selling this sounds more pre-meditated than it actually was.  I saw the announcement for the convoy fleet op go up and had to scramble to get myself in position in my Drake just as it was leaving.  I only realized when already outside of the station and warping to the fleet that I should probably sell some of that crap.  This is the point where many minutes between gates came to my help, as I was able to remotely list almost everything I had in 1Dh-SX on the market.  Training up all those trade related skills paid off, as I can list items from anywhere in the same region.

And while the prices I set were somewhat at the bargain basement end of the spectrum, at least I was able to get some ISK out the stuff, which is preferable to having crap sitting around forever in a station you may never visit again.  I have a lot of stuff in that situation in New Eden.  The case against region-wide buy orders.

While our convoy arrived unmolested in VFK, SoCo was organizing some going-away surprises.  They whelped a Rokh fleet in order to kill two dreadnoughts that were part of a capital ship convoy, along with a few Drakes that came out to support them.  I guess that SoCo will spin that as a moral victory of some sort, as they seemed to lose on both the total kills and ISK front by a wide margin.

Meanwhile, it looks like all will not be boredom and ratting back in Deklein.  Nulli Secunda is not just still alive, but has joined up with Black Legion in Venal.

Gentlegoons, we may have announced that we’re done with the war in the South, but the war is not done with us. Nulli has moved north and is actively working with Black Legion to siege our techs; last night we, soft after weeks of smacking around incompetent -A- fleets, welped a drake fleet and lost a Convicted tech in late US tz. The South and their laughingstock fleets has made us weak, fat and soft – which is unacceptable.

You need to be out of F20Y and back to VFK ASAP. Cap Convoys are going out regularly, as are subcaps; pay attention to broadcasts and get out of the shantytown, it’s time to fight some real opponents.

The original goon broadcast was by the_mittani to all-all

There is a post up on EVE News 24 about the battle and the Nulli/Black Legion alliance.  I was actually planning to be in that fleet, though it came up at midnight local time for me and I ended up falling asleep before it happened.  Probably a good thing too, as the results of the actions at 42XJ-N could not be spun as a victory for the CFC in any way.