Monthly Archives: November 2013

November in Review

The Site

What to say?  WordPress.com took it upon themselves to break a few things with unannounced updates.  You’ve heard this story before.  The biggest hit was when they made a change that made all my blogroll data disappear for a few hours.  As usual, no mention of a change was made until people started to scream and no mention of a fix was made either, things just went back to the way they used to be some hours later.  The only response was from one of the volunteers on their forums who couldn’t really tell us anything, though she took it upon herself to lecture people on how useless blogrolls are when it comes to traffic.  About par for the course.  Once again I think it primarily impacted those with older themes.  There is a joke about WordPress.com telling us “You can keep your old theme if you like it” in there somewhere, I am sure.

I had a hope that maybe WordPress.com would upgrade the blogroll widget so that it would give us something like the awesome blogroll features like Blogger has… but no.  They just broke it and put it back in place with no real change to the status quo that I could detect.

On the upside, WordPress.com did roll out a new feature.  Well, sort of a new feature.  At the bottom of posts, links now appear to related posts on the blog.  They had this feature before, then it went away, and now it has returned.  And it pretty much works.  Sometimes the algorithm they are using is spot on.  Sometimes, not so much.  And once in a while, it cannot find anything related.  But you will see that at the bottom of most posts here, including this one.  Now see if you can figure out why it chose the three posts it did.

One Year Ago

We said farewell to City of Heroes.

Pong turned 40.

Star Wars: The Old Republic made their free to play transition.  Hot bars for sale.

I dipped a toe into GuildWars 2.

I was feeling in the doldrums about computer hardware.

The Register was wondering if Second Life was a failure.

SOE was on their usual autumnal roll.  The introduced Krono, their PLEX-like currency.

PlanetSide 2 went live.  I even patched up and tried it.  Pity about it becoming aim hack central.

EverQuest II Chains of Eternity went live, leading to some EQII reflection on my part.

The EverQuest expansion Rain of Fear launched, leading to one of my occasional ponderings about how long the game will go on.  Meanwhile, on the Fippy Darkpaw server, the Dragons of Norrath expansion was unlocked.  That marked the potential end of my coverage of the server as SOE seemed uninterested in promoting it or anything about it.  I was only getting updates when they went wrong.

Over in Rift we were patching up as Storm Legion went live.

The British tank tree showed up for the first time in World of Tanks.

We were running movie ops in EVE Online. while I was wondering how the Retribution expansion might change events like Burn Jita.

Time Magazine wrote up their 100 Best Video Games of All Time while Complex Gaming gave us a list of 50 with EVE Online at the top.

And I was rambling on about motivation and what makes a good story in an MMO.

Five Years Ago

We were all excited about expansions.

For EverQuest II, there was The Shadow Odyssey that showed up around the four year anniversary and which gave us the bear mount.  If you bought retail you also got the pewter bear which went on to feature in so many Tipa cartoons and my own parody thereof.

In EVE Online, the Quantum Rise expansion was available, granting those of us in New Eden certificates, among other things.

While it wasn’t out yet, Turbine was warming people up for the Mines of Moria expansion for Lord of the Rings Online.  It sounded great.  I just haven’t been there yet to confirm it.  At least I got the T-shirt… erm… the cloak.

And then there was a little thing called Wrath of the Lich King.  Yeah, that.  Sort of a big deal for some, setting sales records and all that.

The instance group did its last Outland instance (well, the last one at level) and then began poking our noses into Northrend to start the grand tour of the new expansion.

On the flip side, Warhammer Online passed from regular play rotation.

Finally, I was keeping the nostalgia ball rolling with a look back at how information used to be regarded back in the days of MUDs, a notable MUD NPC, and a hazy recollection of a GEnie game called Stellar Warrior.

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 November

World of Warcraft dominates to page views this month.  Of course, most of my posts this month were related to WoW in one way or another, so no surprise there I guess.

  1. BlizzCon – Warlords of Draenor Features Announced!
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. On to BlizzCon 2013 and the Next WoW Expansion
  4. Warlords of Draenor – Post-BlizzCon Excitement
  5. The Lich King? We Could Have Taken Him
  6. Why Can’t I Just Turn Off Achievements?
  7. The Instance Group Returns to Northrend
  8. KW-I6T – The Long Guy Fawkes Day
  9. The Rush Back to Azeroth
  10. Warhammer Online – The Final WAAAGH is on Us!
  11. WoW 9th Anniversary Present
  12. Node Crash at E-YJ8G

Search Terms of the Month

what to do if your pokewalker ends up in the washer machine
[We have an answer for that! But really, you can just take it apart and let it dry out.]

need for speed world is currently experiencing a high volume of players in-game. only users who have priority access will be able to login. please note that purchasing speedboost will grant enduring priority access and immediate login credentials.
[Sounds like more issues at Need for Speed World]

it is…with me
[Good to know]

wast ndies lady fathair porn
[I’m sure there is a fetish in there somewhere]

Tweet of the Month

Too true.

EVE Online

Things have ebbed and flowed in New Eden.  We had a corp day and we deployed back down to Curse in order to get in the middle of the eastern powers… both current and former… having at each other.  I managed to get into two major battles, KW-I6T and E-YJ8G, both of which ended the same way.  But it has otherwise been quiet for me.  Fleets seem to go out in my time zone just after I have gotten home from work or in the middle of dinner.  So my time has been most about skill training.

War Thunder

The hot new flavor of the month last month pretty much fell by the wayside this month.  As did everything else frankly.  I am sure I will get back to it at some point.  But the draw of another game combined with the fact that I was pretty much playing it solo let it fade into the background.

World of Warcraft

If you look at my gaming hours on Raptr for the last month, it pretty much adds up to WoW and not much else.  Enthusiasm after BlizzCon and the return of the instance group to the game has pretty much pushed the game front and center.  There is so much to do, so much to see, so many alts still to make, and there is almost always somebody online with me.  I suppose time will tell if this rush of play time will lead to burn out or not, but for now Azeroth seems to be the place for me.

Coming Up

The end of the year is nearly here.  That will mean a year in review post… the “highs and lows” thing I have done for the last few years that attempts to sum up the year in MMOs from where I sit.  Then there is the review of my yearly looking forward post.  Back in January I set some goals for the year.  I’ll have to see how I did, though I can tell you right now I pretty much failed on all fronts.  Par for the course when it comes to that post.  I think I will go back to industry predictions for next year.

Other than that, you can expect more about World of Warcraft and EVE Online and whatever else catches my eye.  And I might even get back to the book related posts.  I said I was going to wrap one of my many drafts up every Sunday until I was done with them, and then fell off the wagon after one week.  I have another one almost ready for tomorrow.  But I am not sure I like it enough to post it.

And, other than that, the usual filler and random bits of nostalgia.

Nostaliga Moment of the Day – Lemonade

Back when I was first allowed to poke my grubby fingers at a shiny new Apple II, this was what magnetic media primarily consisted of.

Lemonade Stand, Just 16KB

Lemonade Stand, Just 16KB

I played Lemonade Stand and other cassette capable games way back in middle school, where all young boys are pretty much grubby by definition.

That seems like a long, long time ago.

(picture spotted here)

Quote of the Day – Or We Just Don’t Want to Do It

 As we discussed at BlizzCon, we’re accomplishing this by making it so primary stats for a given piece of gear will change based on your current spec, though it’s likely that only new gear added in Warlords will work like this, as it might be impossible to implement this for all existing gear.

From the forum update on the Warlords of Draenor itemization plan (emphasis mine)

I came out in favor of the itemization revamp plans announced at BlizzCon.  As somebody who hasn’t played for long enough… at least since I have come back… to be deeply invested in the current system of drops, enchants, reforging, stats, and whatever, I suppose that is easy for me to say.  Still, the primary stat changing to be based on your spec… so if you need INT plate, you have INT plate, if you don’t then you don’t worry about it… seemed like a good idea.

Armor stat change

Armor stat change

So I was a bit disappointed when, in that post linked above in the quote, they said it probably won’t be ported backward to all previous content.  But I get it.  I work in software.  Some things are just not worth the effort required, especially when you are moving everybody forward in any case.

Only they had to use the word “impossible” when there were so many other ways they could have put that.  They could have said might be:

  • too much work to accomplish before we want to ship
  • too broad in scope and touches too much code to be worth considering
  • so much work that it would pull people off of other things we think would be better for the game
  • too boring even to assign to the interns

Hell, they could have said it was impossible to do within certain time or cost parameters.  But no, they just said it might be impossible.

Which, of course, it is not.  At least not for any dictionary definition of the word I’ve seen.  Given enough time and effort, Blizzard could do this.  That they don’t want to is fine.  There are many good reasons not to.  But don’t try to cover that with the word “impossible.”  People aren’t going to buy it.  Absolutes like that just attract scrutiny.

Worst of all though, now SynCaine will be using “Blizzard says it is impossible to re-itemize all gear in a game” as a troll for the next decade or so, and it is all your fault Blizzard!

The Lich King? We Could Have Taken Him

I think it is a sign that the team is happy being back in Azeroth when we all show up for group night nearly an hour early.

Or maybe we all just felt we needed some additional warm up time.

Either way, our normal meetup time is 9pm and we were all in-game by 8:10pm.  All five of us and not just the three or four who could make it.  It was on like some sort of plumber vs. ape event.  Our official group lineup for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – Level 80 Human Warrior Tank
  • Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Bungholio – Level 80 Gnome Warlock DPS
  • Alioto – Level 80 Night Elf Druid DPS
  • Ula – Level 81 Gnome Mage DPS

And the first item on our agenda was to finish up the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  Last week four of us delved into the final chain of three instances that wraps up the five person content in Icecrown Citadel.  We managed two out of three, with the second one being a bit of a trial for us.  This time around we would go for all three.

Ula, Skronk, and I got out to Icecrown Citadel and used the summoning stone to bring Bung and Earl to us.  Somewhere along the line I guess the summoning stone requirements got reduced to just two people in your group being required to summon.  And so, for the first time in at least two years, we were all together in a group and ready to do an instance in Azeroth.

Hanging around in Icrcrown

Hanging around in Icecrown

(Humanoids in the picture above: Skronk, Alioto, Bung, Ula, Earl, Jaina Proudmoore)

We planned to run through all three.  We wanted Earl to get the whole show and we figured that since we only had trouble with the final bosses on the first two as a foursome, that being a full group would speed things along.  There was a thought given to trying it at the Heroic setting, but we opted for Nomal given that this was our return venture.

More after the cut due the usual verbosity and over use of screen shots in place of narrative.  Plus I totally spoil the ending if you haven’t done it yet.

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The Patcher of Sauron

Is there any in this rout with authority to patch with me? Or indeed with wit to understand me?

Surety you crave! Turbine gives none. If you sue for its updates, then you must do its bidding.

-LOTRO Patcher, Lieutenant of Turbad-dûr

I might be a little down on Turbine’s patcher this week, which no doubt colors the tone of this post.

I haven’t been doing much in Middle-earth since my summer vacation there saw me through to the far side of Moria at last.  I had finally made it through the first LOTRO expansion, which I purchased just five years previously.  But since I owned the next two expansions already, and a third lay out there waiting for me already, you might be able to forgive my lack of excitement surrounding yet another LOTRO expansion.  I am not at all likely to see any of the Helm’s Deep expansion in the foreseeable future.

LOTROHelmsDeep

However, with Helm’s Deep, Turbine was looking to revamp the classes in a way to… if I understand this correctly… make the various roles a given class can perform more distinct.  Previously Turbine just heaped a bunch of skills onto a class, some for one role, some for another, and let the player sort them out, along with the various traits, to do whatever they wanted.  For some classes… especially the Warden and Runekeeper…  the various skills seemed somewhat comprehensible.  For others, such as the Captain, skills were not always clearly role specific.

Still, with understanding and a correct application of buffs or stances or auras or whatever, the old system let you mold your character to fill a specific role.  I am not sure that the Guardian was ever going to be optimal for DPS or the Captain turned into the healer of choice, but your Champion could certainly play either tank or DPS.  Zubon’s recent post on Adaptation probably has some applicability here.

So while I might not see the siege of Helm’s Deep any time soon, there was clearly change afoot that would affect me.  This drove my desire to log into the game and see what was up.  Would this make things better or worse for me?  One of my problems with the game is that, upon returning after a long absence, I often find it difficult to pick up where I left off with a class.  Things often change.  The spread of skills are not always clear in their use.  And the skill icons, tiny and over-wrought, frequently bear only a passing resemblance to what  the skill actually does.  I did a post a couple years back about the icons of the Champion class, which I found more distracting than useful.

champicons
Yeah, tell me what those do based just upon the picture.  I have my own guesses.  So it is often easier to just start a new character and relearn the class than to pick up where I was.

I actually think that redoing the skill icons… making them larger, clearer, simpler… might have been a bigger win than revamping classes.  In fact, I had half a hope that icons might be part of the revamp, making me all the more keen to see what had changed.  But first I had to patch.

Oh, the LOTRO patcher.

We were going out for a bit on Thursday night and I figured I could let the patcher run while we were away.  The Helm’s Deep expansion had dropped earlier Thursday, after a 2-day day delay, and should have been ready to go.  I let it update the launcher itself, then started it off on its patching process before we left the house.

We got back a little over 90 minutes later and I found that the patcher wasn’t even half done yet.

Back before we upgraded to a 25Mbit connection, I expected such updates to run all night.  The old ADSL connection was good for about a gigabyte an hour if nobody else was doing anything online.  I used to start big patches before going to bed in hopes of finding them done in the morning.

Now, with the high speed connection, EVE Online did its 1.21 gigabyte Rubicon patch, along with the update, in about 8 minutes.  So either the Helm’s Deep patch was absolutely huge, or their patcher is crap.

I’m voting for crap.

First, it does things inefficiently.  It seems to go file by file, judging how many individual items it had to download.  And, LOTRO has historically been unhappy about older installs.  After it passes a certain threshold of updates, everything slows down, including game play.  Given that my install is now over three years old, I am probably due for a “delete and install fresh” the next time I want to play seriously.  Finally, sometimes the installer just gets stuck.

When the patching was done on Thursday, I went to bed.  When I tried to launch again on Friday, it appeared to need to repatch all over again.  And then it hung up and stopped.  I started it over again and it carried on, but got stuck again.  I went off and did something else.

Saturday morning I patched again and it got through this time, but then wouldn’t connect to the game.  I waited a bit and tried again, at which point the patcher got stuck yet again.  But at least it got stuck at something I have faced before.

The image gave me the post title

The image gave me the post title

I knew which files to delete and, after it downloaded them again, the patcher finally finished, the glaring eye of Sauron was finally dismissed, and I was able to get into the game.  There, as expected, I was warned that I needed to choose a class specialization for my captain.

Along with other notices

Along with other notices

On my way at last.  And I was glad to find that the specializations bordered on the obvious when it came to which role was which.  For my captain, there was healing, DPS, and tanking.  And it looked like I could pick two out of the three right away and have access to the third by spending some Mithril Coins.

The Captain's Specs

The Captain’s Specs

Unfortunately, tiny undecipherable icons appeared to remain in force, so that wish fell by the wayside.  And then there was the question as to what to pick.  Basically, I liked my captain he way he was pre-patch, so I had to decide which spec fit that.  For solo play, the red DPS spec was probably the right one, but the yellow tanking spec sounded more like what I was used to.  The captain is the guy with the halberd in my book, and I always equip my captain thus, so I went for that spec.

And then I was sent to the talent tree to spend my points in something that felt like it was right out of World of Warcraft in about 2006.  Here are some points to spend, here are some skills and such, good luck making an informed choice.

Spending Points

Spending Points

Now, I realize that some people love talent trees, and I am not necessarily dead set against them, but when you get options where you cannot really answer questions like, “Do I need this?” “Will that change how I play the class?” or “Does even a full 5% boost make any real difference?” then I start getting pissy.  Yes, theory crafters dig this.  I do not.  And, given the many random specs I have seen in days gone by, theory crafters are in the minority.  I want to play the game, not decipher whether or not a 1% change in something has any meaning, so the potential positives of going this route are a bit lost on me.

More % questions

More % questions

It doesn’t have to be this way.  And it does not have to go the route that World of Warcraft chose either, which is admittedly much simplified. (And where there is still an occasional “right/wrong” choice in some brackets according to theory crafters at places like Elitist Jerks.)  EverQuest II, which has a mind boggling array of options for Alternate Advancement points, has some of the best class specific choices that let you focus on what you want your character to be that can make a distinct difference in how you play your character and what skills and buff you get.  And, most of all, I feel like I am given enough information in a majority of situations to make an informed choices as opposed to having to us Google to find out what the trade-offs really are.

Anyway, I won’t be playing LOTRO much in the near future.  And by the time I get back to playing the game, somebody will have deciphered which choices actually impact your play and which are a waste of points.  Then I will be able to use Google to make an informed choice.

EVE Bloggers Has Another New Home

I pointed out a while back that after the tussle around who should take over the EVE Bloggers site, something that lead to there being two competing sites (and a discussion about blogging in general), both sites pretty much went kaput.  When I checked on both sites a couple of weeks back, one domain wasn’t responding while the other had been grabbed by a domain camper.  No winners in that race I guess.

And then, this morning, I logged in to look at my stats and I found I was getting traffic from the domain evebloggers.com.

I thought maybe Cyberin was back.

But when I went to the site, I found somebody new had taken over the domain.  Fuzzysteve has shouldered the burden of running the EVE Bloggers site and has what he calls a first draft version of the site up and running.

EVE Bloggers - Version 4?

EVE Bloggers – Version 4?

Fuzzysteve has a post up of his own describing the situation and giving some ideas where he plans to go with the site.

We will see how it goes, but I want to thank Fuzzysteve for bringing back another EVE Online community resource.

Node Crash at E-YJ8G

So, today was another 10% tidi slugfest involving a series of unfortunate escalations culminating in CCP proving once again they have almost no clue how to balance a game, let alone make it function. Over 100 hostile carriers and dozens of hostile supers escaped our thousand-strong subcap horde via a crashed node, which seems to be the only strategy the N3zis have that works consistently. As a consolation prize we got to execute about 50 or so tech 3 ships.

Original broadcast from Reagalan

Well, on the upside, I got into my first big fleet action of the Curse campaign.  A battle brewed up in E-YJ8G when hostile capital ships were tackled.  The wider story is available here.

On the downside, things followed the now predictable course of events.

We poured subcaps into the system to stomp the carriers.  N3 dumped reinforcements in to save carriers.  We dropped dreadnoughts in to push up the damage.  The dropped in super caps.  The numbers in local kept climbing, not helped by the fact that we’re still abusing the whole drone assist thing with our Dominix fleet doctrine.  Time dilation, which wasn’t so bad when there were only 600 people in the system dropped to the usual 10% when the number passed a thousand and our Dominix fleet got on grid and joined the fight.  Somewhere past 1200 people in local the system started behaving like it did at KW-I6T, with people doing things without actual result.  And, well, the whole thing went poof on us.

E-YBadMessage

Yeah, that is never a good sign.

Also on the downside list, just before the system went non-responsive my shiny new Dominix got called as primary by the hostile carrier FC and I started taking fire.

Taking fire

Taking Bouncer fire

I actually called for armor and the fleet logi team started to reinforce me.  But in the lag, it took the hostiles a while to all focus on me, so it looked like I had been saved for a bit and the logis moved on to the next call.  And then fire began to rain down on me and my ship wasn’t long for the battle.  Look at all those Bouncer drones hitting me.

If only they had waited another minute, because once they got my pod targeted, the system started misbehaving.  My pod took dozens of hits without registering any damage.

The invincible pod

The invincible pod

Semi-safe and the system clearly headed for a fall, I used my remaining time to move the camera around and take screen shots.  I am ever the tourist.  Then the error message above came up and most of us were thrown out of the game.  After that it was the wait, staring at my portrait on the new login screen, for the system to recover and let us back it.

Looks dramatic in Black & White

Looks dramatic in Black & White

Once in, some passer-by in an Ares popped my popped my pod, which at least saved me the trouble of flying home.  Then it was time for a break at my end.  Dinner was at hand and I was figuring out where to file for my reimbursement.  But the fight went one, at least on a smaller scale.  As noted in the initial quote, we got to pop some tech 3 ships.  Then it was working on the withdrawl from Catch back to our home base in Curse.

While the result of piling people into a system isn’t much of a shock at this point… Garth was mocking null sec about it recently… I am starting to wonder if it could start being an official “how to save your tackled capital ships” strategy.

Anyway, as noted, I had time to take some screen shots.  Lots of capital ships and our Dominix fleet, along with the new graphics for the various forms of warp bubbles.  All after the cut.

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