Monthly Archives: July 2014

July in Review

The Site

No major upsets on the site this month, just the usual measure of gripes about little things.

In a behind-the-scenes change, WordPress.com updated the editor so that it is no longer a window the a scroll bar within a page with a scroll bar.  I can appreciate trying to get away from the embedded scroll bars thing.  I think the SAP time reporting module at my last job could get five deep in nested scroll bars if you were not careful.

Unfortunately, while the tool bar stays nicely at the top of the infinitely long edit window, the “save” button on the sidebar scrolls off into the distance as your post gets longer… 500 words isn’t a big issue, but when I get 2,000 words into something, it is a long trip back up to the top to save, and a long life using computers has made “save early and often” a mantra.  So I now spend a lot more time scrolling with the new layout than I did with the old.

Then there is the MMO Bloggers RSS feed on the side bar.  It seems to be a bit more reliable of late, being up often enough for me to notice that some blogs it claims should be in the feed don’t show up.  Sugar Kyle, who posts daily at her Low Sec Lifestyle blog, never appears on the list.  Others show up every time.  And it does not appear to be order related.  Bio Break is at the end of the feed list, but every post from there appears.  And it doesn’t seem to follow any particular blogging platform, while the feed itself appears to have all the data.  So WordPress.com is not handling something correctly in its RSS feed widget.

I found that annoying enough that I seriously contemplated moving the whole thing over to Blogger, just so I could have the wonderful blogroll sidebar available to blogs there. (Which, on a side topic, seems to hate my blog currently, links to my feed seem to sit for days without updates in sidebars of late, even when I have new posts.)  There are some tools to modify the XML you can export from WordPress.com so you can import it into Blogger.  However, my site has grown large enough that I am no longer able to export it.  WordPress.com just times out and throws an error.  So I am stuck here, which is probably okay.  I didn’t really want to move.

Meanwhile, I have been messing around with blog themes again.  Go take the poll if the site is still some color other than white.

One Year Ago

I was looking for gold in the MMO blogging community, which became the topic of the moment.

It was summer, so there was a Steam Summer Sale.

Activision-Blizzard was moving away from Vivendi… and WoW dropped 600K subscribers.

There was a promise of some news about EverQuest Next, so I started speculating about what we might hear.  Sandbox gets mentioned a lot.

The battle at 6VDT-H ended any hope left for TEST and heralded the end of the war in Fountain.  I have since complied a full list of posts about the war in Fountain.  The war made up most of my posts for the month.

On the iPad, DragonVale and Candy Crush Saga were my current games of choice.

My summer vacation in Middle-earth got me to Moria.

The instance group got together just long enough to defeat the Storm Queen… and that was about it for us and Rift.

The Civilization V expansion Brave New World changed up the game again.

I starting musing about the inventory management aspect of games.

And we said goodbye to Google Reader.

Five Years Ago

I won a contest.  Granted, all I got was a T-shirt.  But that was probably more than you got.

Mythic announced a version of Warhammer Online for the Mac.  Not sure that helped anything at all.

I was, as usual, asking silly questions like why does Tetris gets faster.  Okay, it was an analogy, but it was still silly.

Oh, and then there was the horse.  Remember the $10 horse?  I did a poll about it and everything.  Boy, that seems like small potatoes these days.  I mean, that was a cash shop game selling a horse for $10.  Now WoW and EQ2 will sell you mounts that run much more.

Gary Gannon announced that GAX Online was going to close in August, bringing to an end that experiment in gamer community building.

I asked what people considered cheating in an MMO.  It included another poll.  I was doing polls that July.

I did a parody of Tipa’s Daily Blog Roll feature.  That is some pretty rich stuff in hindsight.

In EVE Online I got another step closer to mining perfection.  I was also fiddling around with a fit for a Dominix.

The instance group hit Violet Hold and Gundrak, but couldn’t get the team together for Halls of Stone, so went back and did some Burning Crusade heroics just for kicks.

Then the instance group took a run at Onyxia.  The old school Onyxia.  She’s since been remade into a level 80 raid.

And even as we were doing all that, we were starting to mull over what we should do once we were level 80 with no new expansion in sight.  It only took us a year to try another game.  At about that time, my hunter alt hit level 80.

I also dredged up the old Alamo Teechs U 2 Play Druid post from the WoW forums.  Philisophical question:  Would Alamo have posted that if RealID had forced him to use his real name?

And, finally, my daughter was trying to get me to help her make WoW videos to post on YouTube.

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. In Which We Feel Smug Relative to Raiders for Just a Moment…
  2. You Get to Decorate the House You Have, Not the House You Might Want
  3. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  6. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  7. Brave Newbies Leave the Key to the Station Under the Mat
  8. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  9. If It Can Go Wrong, It Will Go Wrong… At SOE
  10. Civilization – Obama, Autocracy, and Expansion
  11. What Does It Mean to be a “Subscription MMO?”
  12. A New Player in Azeroth!

Search Terms of the Month

wow why i cant chosse monk class
[Because you haven’t bought Mists of Pandaria]

ned for saped gem fare donlowd
[Alrighty then…]

are the galaxies emulators alive?
[Let’s not get all SkyNet here…]

star wars player housing source code
[Making a trailer park simulator?]

eve online awful
[How am I on the first page for that, but the Massively comment section isn’t?]

Civilization V

After a month’s hiatus, we finally returned to Civ V and our grudge match game that we started back in May.  Not quite the forever war, but we are still stringing this out for a stretch.  We have reached the 21st century, but nobody really has a definitive upper hand as yet.  And remember what happened last time when the nukes came out.

EVE Online

The war in Delve… which isn’t so much a war as a mass “looking for fights” venture… continues.  And fights have happened.  I have been able to get into fleets and, now and again, they actually undock, fly off, and shoot people.  We said hello and good-bye to the Gamma Fleet doctrine, which served mostly to drive up the price of Rupture cruiser hulls.  Meanwhile, the quest to “fix” null sec continues, with just about everybody sounding off except CCP.

World of Warcraft

Summer in Azeroth is still humming along.  The instance group has been on the expected hiatus, but I have been pursuing my Loremaster achievement goal.  My daughter set her own goal of getting a new character up to level 90 before school starts again.  However, she also spends a bunch of time with a role play group in-game, which hasn’t exactly sped her along.  She would much prefer to get in the Warlords of Draenor beta and get pre-made level 100.

Coming Up

It will be August, the driest news month of the year.

We will have Blaugust going for us, which will distract us for a bit, but which won’t bring Warlords of Draenor much closer.

Civilization V, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online will be there for me one way or another.  And I have an game obituary half written for tomorrow.  Two, actually.

But other than it being the one month when I start to wish we had air conditioning, what else will August bring?

Hot Blaugust Nights

August is in the wings, waiting to bring with it the usual end of summer ennui on the gaming front.

Nothing new ships.  Very little gets announced.  The releases we are looking forward to are generally somewhere off in autumn.  At times it feels like you should join half of France and just take August off.

Over at Tales of the Aggronaut, Belgahst has proposed something to help bloggers get through August.

He calls it Blaugust.

Blagust_No_BR

The basic idea is simple: Put up a post a day on your blog during the month of August.

There are of course rules as to what counts, but to sweeten the deal there is also a community cross-linking thing going on, some potential prizes, and some topic suggestions that you can use or ignore at your pleasure.

Belghast explains it all in The Gospel of Blaugust, including the whole Anook aspect of things, which I am still pondering.  Go check it out.

Now, I suspect the immediate reaction from some will be that more posts are not necessarily better.

True enough.

But over the long term… just about eight years at this point… I have often found that longer “thinking” posts sometimes get overtaken by events and look horribly naive or just uninformed even a year later.  (Granted, that might just be me or just the things I write.)

On the other hand, some things that I have hesitated even to post, things like a game launched, an expansion shipped, some numbers were announced, or the ever amusing quote of the day, turn out to be nuggets of information I fall back on later.  Nothing like having a library of past Smed quotes when he is off on his latest bout of enthusiasm.

Basically, never stop posting.

Anyway, we shall see.  I come pretty close to posting once a day as it is, and Belghast looks like he’ll give us a pass if we get in 31 posts during the month, so I might actually be able to play video games on the weekends still rather than writing about them!

TAGN Theme Test

I was playing around with WordPress themes last night and came up with this one… which happens to be the same one I use for my other blog, Piano Black, with some different colors.

What do you think?

 

I’ve kept the old theme for nearly eight years.  Is it time for a change?

Addendum: For reference, you can see the old theme layout here.

Wrapping Up the Eastern Kingdoms

With the Cape of Stranglethorn out of the way, I had just four more zones left for the Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster achievement.  They were:

  • Eastern Plaguelands    40-45 – 70 quests
  • Badlands    44-48 – 35 quests
  • Searing Gorge    47-51 – 35 quests
  • Burning Steppes    49-52 – 40 quests

And given that my shaman, who had just finished up the Cape of Stranglethorn, had just turned level 40, I was a bit tempted to just keep running with him.

The Eastern Kingdoms

The Eastern Kingdoms

However, I decided to switch characters once again.  So far I have used a rogue who ended up at level 61, a monk who now sits at level 57, and my shaman.  Now I brought out my warrior, Makarov, who sat at level 46.  That seemed to be a bit high level to launch into the Eastern Plaguelands, but I had a reason to fall back on him.

For starters, he laid the groundwork for this Loremaster achievement bid back before I had actually decided to make a go of it.  As I leveled him up, he managed to knock out a few of the zones I would have otherwise had to go back and complete, the most immediate of which was the Western Plaguelands.  That meant he had a flight point up there.  Plus he had a fair start already on the Eastern Plaguelands, having completed about half of the required 70 quests for the zone achievement.  That was enough of a head start to seal the deal.  It was off to the Eastern Plaguelands with Makarov.

More after the cut, as there are four zones worth of words and pictures.

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Not Quite Calculating Gaming Return on Investment

There is a site and a chart going around that shows some games quantified in terms of return on investment.  The original source is the Video Game ROI site, hosted by Ebay of all things.

Of course, this is a list, and we love lists!  So I went to see the top ten value rated games, which are:

The Top Ten

The Top Ten

To me that was an interesting list, if a bit odd.  How did they come up with this?

Well, they are pretty up front with how they did.  How they calculated the value rating is there on the front page.

ROICalculation

Not bad so far.  Hours per dollars spent multiplied by the rating percentage.

So the original Animal Crossing currently costs $6… this is Ebay, I guess they know the used price, so we’ll give them that… and the hours to beat is rated at 69.5 hours, while the average rating for the game is 88%.

So 69.5 divided by $6 gives us 11.58, which multiplied by .88 ends up with a rating of 10.19, which is the best rating of the lot.

Now, you might ask if a game from 2001 qualitatively delivers an experience you would want to spend nearly 70 hours on here in 2014.  Fair point, and something not addressed as far as I can tell.  And the cost of the game certainly seems to favor used games, but this is Ebay and they want to sell you some used games, so go figure.

I was a little more interested in how they came up with the hours to beat a game.

As it turns out, there is a site called How Long To Beat that is just brimming with this sort of data.  I was curious as to how accurate it might be, but didn’t know how I could assess that.  I would have to actually beat a game to get that number, right?

Oh, wait, I did just beat a game!  I finished Pokemon Y, and all I really did was the main storyline as noted in my post.  So I went and looked that up on the site and, naturally, found Pokemon X and Y listed with lots of data.  But the essential bit, hours to beat for the main story was there.

 

PokemonXH2B

So they peg the main story at 33 hours of play time.  And I finished the main story in…

Pokemon Y Hall of Fame

Pokemon Y finish time

… 31.5 hours.  Pretty close.   Close enough that I am probably willing to accept the H2B numbers.  Meanwhile, the average rating is as close at MetaCritic, so I am good with that.

So it seems like we have some pretty solid numbers, even if they seem very biased towards older games, which are less expensive.  There is Civilization in second place, from 1991.  I am not sure, even if you could buy a copy for the $1 they show, that it would run on a modern operating system.  The ROI on unplayable games should be pretty low.

Of course, I am interested in MMOs, so I went digging to see what they had listed on that front.  Way down at 109th place I found World of Warcraft.  Current price, $20, hours to beat, 11.2, and overall review rating of 93%, giving it a value rating of 0.52.

WoWROI

Now, I expected the value rating to be low because I figured that they would account for the subscription model in some way.  But no, they figure you’ll be done with that free 30 days yet, since it only takes 11.2 hours to beat.

That seems sort of fast, 11.2 hours.  I mean, I am running through the 1-60 on the whole Loremaster achievement thing, so it seems like that number should be higher for somebody new who doesn’t have heirloom gear or what not.

So I started going further down the list and ran into Minecraft at 127th place.  The cost is $27 and the rating is 89%, but the hours to beat was 11.2, the same as World of Warcraft.

MinecraftROI

Now, if 11.2 hours seems very low for WoW, which sort of has a 1 to 60 main game, for Minecraft it seems very much off.

Reading through the site more carefully, I found that if a game is open ended or doesn’t have a well defined main game… which is to say the How Long To Beat site doesn’t show one… they went with the number 11.2 because that was the average of all the games measured.

Color me unimpressed.

Still, I suppose it is an interesting data point for discussing older games.  And, of course, it markets older games for Ebay.  But you’re not going to convince me that Pokemon Red and Blue, which ran on the GameBoy in 1996, provides a better return on investment than Pokemon X and Y for any qualitative measures.

 

Civilization – From the Halls of Montezuma

You don’t look like you’re having fun.

-My wife, watching me play Civilization V

As I said in a previous post, this is no longer about fun.  This is a grudge match now to prove that we can stick it out and finish our epic game of Civilization V in spite of some poor choices made early on.  Can we see this through until one of us achieves one of the possible victory conditions?

After nearly a month’s hiatus that had us on a variety of real world activities that kept even two of us, the minimum needed to advance this multiplayer match, from meeting up on a Friday night, it was time for a game.  We were back at last.

Or at least three of us were.  Myself, Potshot, and Mattman were able to get on last Friday to continue the struggle.  Loghound was otherwise occupied, so the AI took over for him as the leader of the Celts again.  However, this time around the AI seemed to keep to his past agenda of sticking it to the Russians.

R2Wk10CeltsCarryOn

So there was that going on.

Meanwhile, the rest of us spent quite a bit of the first couple of turns trying to remember what was going on nearly a month back.

Mattman was still trying to make his populace unhappy so that he could change ideologies.  Still smarting from rashly declaring war on Loghound early on in the game, the scientific victory seemed like his best bet.

And Potshot and I were assessing our foothold on the Aztec lands.

Springboard to Victory!

Springboard to Victory!

We got that in our smash and grab campaign last time, after which we got Montezuma to accept a peace proposal.  But it was a bloody fight and we both needed some time to build up forces for our next strike.

More after the cut

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Fight at the POS in A-ELE2

The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall.  Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game.  But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.

Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand.  I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately.  So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.

I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.

Passing into the POS

Passing into the POS

We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down.  There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.

A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.

Where things happen in Delve

Where things happen in Delve

I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing.  Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already.  It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything.  It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.

Landing on grid was agonizing.  My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp.  I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp.  Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets.  Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast.  Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence.  They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills.  I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.

Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted.  After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands.  That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.

And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets.  TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.

We sat there for a bit.  There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills.  So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled.  Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded.  Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two.  That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.

Then it was back to the POS and into orbit.  There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit.  We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time.  My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons.  He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages.  I go on strat ops and click on participation links.  I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.

After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate.  All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet.  Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.

I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.

According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined.  The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced.  Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up.  On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.

CFC is Blue

CFC is Blue

That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles.  And we ended up with the POS still intact.  So I guess we won.

One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle.  That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.

Addendum: There is now a write up about the battle over at TMC.

After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.)  It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)

And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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