Monthly Archives: August 2014

August in Review

The Site

I took down the MMO Blog RSS feed in the side bar earlier this month.  Bhagpuss had been wondering why he was getting strange ping backs from my blog on his posts a while back.  Then, earlier this month, a couple of other people noted the same thing.  All of them had blogs hosted on Blogger, so there appeared to be some strange interaction going on.  The only thing I could come up with was the RSS feed, so I removed it lest anybody get more upset.

Which is a bummer, because I liked the feature when it worked.  So I am still looking for a WordPress.com compatible solution on that front.  My response to this change was to put a few more blogs into my blog roll.  Welcome to obscurity.  Nobody clicks on that.  I am working on a new feed option.  It is down at the bottom of the side bar.  But it needs some tuning as I am trying to combine multiple feeds that don’t quite follow the same pattern.

Meanwhile WordPress.com, no doubt feeling the sting from my lack of complaints about them recently, decided to implement a new editor for posts.

At first peek it was awful.

It was very slow to load, it was very small and didn’t resize, and it rearranged most of the controls, hiding many in nested menus.  Nested menus may be my least favorite control scheme ever.

Of course, they have billed this as a “better” editor, where better is apparently defined as “better at pissing me off.”  It is a classic example of not understanding the difference between “new” and “better,” as the new editor is objectively worse than the old one in some very important ways.  Fortunately, they do let you revert back to the old editor for now, though they “forget” that preference a couple of times a day, so I am greeted by the 10 second loading graphic.  10 seconds turns out to be exactly the amount of time it takes such a graphic to make me swear aloud.

Waiting for it to load...

Waiting for it to load…

They are working on it.  Every day or two when it comes up, they have tweaked something.  For example, the edit window no long feels as narrow as a 40 column monitor, and the controls have starting to get moved to where they were in the old editor, which makes you wonder what justifies the new one.  But I mostly object to the idea that the whole thing was in any fit state to shove in front of a live audience.  Or did somebody at WordPress.com really think that going with a very narrow editor was the wave of the future? (They probably thought it looked great on their phone and pushed the code.)

And, finally,  I reverted the site theme back to the format that it has been in for nearly 8 years.  I remain in search of a better alternative.  I liked the some of the other themes I tried, but not enough to stick with them.  Life goes on.

One Year Ago

I wrote about the hunter class in WoW, and how things used to work in the old days.

My summer in Lord of the Rings Online found me finishing up the waterworks and arriving on the far side of Moria at last.

We were trying to do something in Neverwinter.

There was the announcements that both The Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar would be going with the monthly subscription model.  I tried to tie this all up into one neat conspiracy theory.

We had the big EverQuest Next announcement, which I summarized with two pictures.  A lot of people were blogging about SOE’s big new MMO plan.  Cyanbane even put up a site dedicated to tracking EverQuest Next news. But I wondered, given SOE history, if they could keep the excitement going.  No they could not.

All that talk by SOE about voxels reminded me of NovaLogic’s Delta Force series of shooters.  So I went back and played the original.

And in EVE Online, the war in Fountain petered out a we took TEST’s last system in the region and began deploying to Delve.  We’re always in Delve during the summer.  The CFC changed long standing policy and created the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere in order to rent space in null sec.  We were also being encouraged to train for dreadnaughts.  And I also wondered who had the longest standing sovereignty claim in null sec, along with other bits of space trivia, including dumb ways to die.

And finally there was the Star Citizen Propaganda Video of Strongly Beating Spirit.  Is Star Citizen a thing yet?

Five Years Ago

The Matrix Online (MxO for those in the know) was shut down by SOE that AugustPlanetside is still around though!  For now.

Bruce Everiss was getting sued for libel by the makers of Envoy.  That was eventually worked though this past March.  Enovy, LLC dropped their suit, but not before causing Mr. Everiss much pain and hamstringing his desire to be as forthright in the future.

Somebody was granted a patent for something that sounded a lot like podcasting.  How did that ever turn out?  Oh, wait, like this.  Turns out podcasting doesn’t make any money, even for Adam Corolla, so trolling with that particular patent is a losing proposition.

That Wii Bowling Ball made another appearance.  Still no know deaths attributed to it.

I was wondering what genre our post apocalyptic future really was.  People assume it is Science Fiction.  Is it?

On the Blizzard front, we learned that we were not going to get StarCraft II for Christmas.  I still don’t own a copy yet.

There was a lot of speculation before BlizzCon about the next WoW expansion.  My guesses were far off the mark.

I also tried to draw parallels between 2004 and 2009.

I subscribed to the BlizzCon Pay-per-view event via DirecTV.  That was a lot of gaming coverage to watch.

Meanwhile in the instance group, we were finally almost all level 80.  It was time to screw around in some old raid instances.

I actually posted the results of that cheating poll I had set up.  I generally mean to post the results of these sorts of things, but somehow I usually don’t get around to it.

And, finally, I was on a re-reading binge last August while making Code Red floats.

New Linking Blogs

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 August

  1. Steam Mistake? Tropico 4 Collectors Bundle for 39 Cents
  2. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  3. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  4. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  5. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  6. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  7. Bloodmyst Isle – The Worst Zone in WoW
  8. Civilization – We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is The Game Itself
  9. Civilization – The Fall of Babylon
  10. Vanguard – All Sagas Must End
  11. Civilization – The Glorious People’s Victory over Imperialist Aggression!
  12. Civilization – The Battle for Yaroslavl

Search Terms of the Month

world of warcraft rolling toaster
[Dude, I want one of those]

eq next vs wod
[Look, you don’t even want to start that fight]

wizardry online august 2014
[In Asia, yes. Closed here at the end of July.]

my wow account keeps getting banned even with the authenticator
[I am not sure it will prevent that]

no character names left in everquest
[We all knew this day would come]

is obama autocracy
[The search term I was waiting for]

Civilization V

Our epic game of Civ V finally came to and end.  After fourteen sessions totaling to probably more than 40 hours of play, we might be done with Sid Meier and his games for a while now.  That includes Civilzation: Bey0nd Earth, which I expect will follow in the grand tradition of Civ games and launch in a barely playable state, only to be fixed months down the road.  This will be the first official Civ game I haven’t purchased at the earliest opportunity since the original Civilization.

EVE Online

The Delve deployment has kept going, but after some promising events early in the month, it has devolved to chasing people around like a game of interstellar cops and robbers.  Another bug hunt.  The Battlements Coalition looked like it might gel into something, but hasn’t exactly changed the scenery.  The members of it that were shooting us before, kept shooting us, while those who had not been did not look all that enthusiastic to start.  Meanwhile, the pile of random suggestions for how to “fix” null sec (which ranged from making it more fun to punishing those who have the temerity to organize) seems to have tapered off.  That SomerBlink thing must have distracted everybody.

Pokemon

I have started preparing for a potential run at the National Pokedex when Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire come out in November by tracking down various Pokemon in Pokemon X & Y.   But what I really need to do is finish Pokemon Black and White so I can move some of the hard fought or otherwise rare Pokemon I have collected over the years.  If I could get the bridge from Pokemon White to Pokemon Y going, I could funnel in Pokemon from as far back as Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen or further.

World of Warcraft

The instance group has been on summer hiatus for all of August.  People have been traveling and such, so no further instances have been run in Pandaria.  We still have enough time to finish them out before Warlords of Draenor though.  And with school starting, the days getting shorter, and the weather cooling off, we will likely find ourselves in Azeroth.  Meanwhile, I have been puttering along with my run for the Loremaster achievement in Outland.

Coming Up

You would think that after an SOE Live event I would find some time for some flavor of EverQuest or another, but I am not really feeling it.

I am also not really feeling it in EVE Online lately.  Random roams to try and catch people on gates or what not are not a big draw.

In Azeroth, more zones are waiting for me in my Loremaster quest, while it seems likely that the instance group will return at some point during the month.

With Civilization off the table for the strategy group for now, we move to our next game: Total War – Rome II.  I foresee comedy.

I should probably do some sort of wrap-up about Blaugust, now that we have arrived at its end, at least to congratulate those who managed a post a day in August.

And after so many announcements and such during normally quiet August, I am not sure what is left for September.  Things like Destiny or The Sims 4 just don’t interest me.  What is coming up?

Pokemon and the New 3DS

It is certainly expected that Nintendo, suffering from its various mis-steps with the Wii U, would tread a careful path with its other current console line, the Nintendo 3DS series.  And that is what it felt like with yesterday’s announcement of the New 3DS line.

The New 3DS

The New 3DS

There were a some comments about the button colors and how that harkens back to earlier Nintendo console controllers.  Oooh, nostalgia.

But the key discussion points have been around the upgraded processor, the addition of a second analog stick (the little nub above the colored buttons, which will keep players from having to buy/use an add-on peripheral for games that require dual analog sticks), the extra shoulder buttons, the slightly larger screen, some changes in layout, and the dubious current naming plan, under which Nintendo has christened the new units (which will come in both standard and XL form) as the “New Nintendo 3DS.”

I foresee in the not too distant future somebody going to GameStop and asking if they have a “Used New 3DS.”  Maybe that makes more sense in Japanese.

Aside from the name, there is also the question of a more powerful unit.  That seems like an uncontroversial move by Nintendo, but what does it mean?  What is Nintendo telling us by giving these new models more processing power?

My first thought on reading about this new unit was, “Am I going to need this for Pokemon.”  Because my own 3DS XL… which is a great piece of hardware… is pretty much a console for playing Pokemon games right now.

From what I have read, it does not seem likely that I will.  At least not for the next release.

There were a couple of points when playing Pokemon X and Y where the hardware felt like it was struggling a bit to keep up with what it had to draw on screen, but that felt more like rough edges from Gamefreak’s first attempt at a rendered Pokemon game rather than any shortfall in the hardware.  I suspect we won’t get to November and the Pokemon Alpha Ruby and Omega Sapphire release only to find ourselves wanting for more CPU power.  At least we had better not, since the New 3DS models won’t be coming to the US until some point in 2015.

But over at Forbes they are worrying that Nintendo has already said that some games will require the processor power of the new units.  That gets me back to the naming scheme, because if you’re going to ship games that run on one generation of a platform but not another, it had better be very clear up front which is which.  Nintendo has been through this before, with the Nintendo DS to 3DS generation change, and they not only made sure everything was carefully labelled, but 3DS cartridges have a tab that sticks out, preventing them from being stuck into the older DS platform consoles.

So we shall see if Nintendo manages to fracture their user base or not with nominally compatible systems in this generation, some of which may not be able to play all of the games available.  I suspect, no matter what, Pokemon will remain playable across the board.  Messing with a huge selling title like that comes with risks.  I bought my current 3DS XL just to play Pokemon, but I am not sure I would buy another one just a year later to carry on.

And the other aspects, the improved battery life in the standard size version and slightly larger screens, do not really move me.  The current 3DS XL is big enough for me to use without putting on my reading glasses, which is what really matters to me at this point, and the larger battery pack on the XL unit has me covered.

The Return of Project: Gorgon

Actually, Project: Gorgon never went away.  About two years ago there was Kickstarter to help fund some of the development.  That was not a success, but the project soldiered on.

I felt like I needed a picture here

The logo remains the same

Porject: Gorgon is back with a new Kickstarter.  This time around Eric Heimberg, the lead developer, is looking for $100,000 so that he and the two key artists working on the project can focus on it full time and bring it to a level ready to release.

And, to be brutality honest, just one day after the Kickstarter launched it looks doomed to fail.

The problem is name recognition.

Mark Jacobs was able to meet his two million dollar goal only on the last day of the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter, even with his name and a serious promise to match what was raised out of his own pocket.  Richard Garriott, was able to parley his Lord British persona and a load of nostalgia for his games into a couple of million dollars via Kickstarter as well, so his Shroud of the Avatar project could go forward.  They were both the public faces of games that have a legion of fans.

And even Brad McQuaid, mired as he was in the problems with Vanguard, was nearly able to hit the half million dollar mark with Pantheon, even if he did not make it to his $800K goal, based in large part on the fact we know who he is and that he is associated with a successful project, EverQuest.

Eric Heimberg worked on Asheron’s Call, which was a success.  But we do not associate his name with that project.  Sandra Powers, his wife, also worked on Asheron’s Call as well as EverQuest II, but her name out of context would just draw a blank for me.  So you can get a couple of bloggers writing about the project and a specialty MMO news site or two, but the mainstream gaming media won’t pick this up.  PC Gamer or GameSpot or Polygon are not clamoring for an interview with Eric Heimberg. His is not a name that draws any attention. There is no story that they can sell.

So while Space Tyrant Roberts is out there using the more than fifty million dollars thrown at him by adoring fans to create space bonsai, Project: Gorgon is going to have to do this the hard way.

But at least the project is prepared for that.  See, you can actually go download and play the early alpha version of the game.  It is there.  It is an available, downloadable, tangible thing that you can go try today.  So, unlike any of the examples I have list above, you can do so BEFORE you hand over any money.

And kill a skeleton or three

And kill a skeleton or three

It looks a bit awkward… the pace of walking doesn’t quite match the movement to my eye, as an example, and I have problems judging depth and distance in the cave… but there is quite a bit in place, and the whole thing has moved forward dramatically from the first access nearly two years back.  There is the groundwork for a serious game here.  The intuition system, for example, is interesting and used in an amusing way for an example.

Keeps you from turning into a cow

Keeps you from turning into a cow

And if you hang around in the starter cave while looking at screen shots in another window, you can even die.

Death comes...

Death comes…

Death does not hold much sting now, but this is still early alpha.

The Kickstarter page lists out the vision for this game.  Some of it sounds like other, similar ventures.  But here there is the bedrock of a game, a foundation already laid, that you can go try yourself before you pledge anything.

Because that is the only way this Kickstarter is going to is going to succeed.  Without name recognition as a draw, Project: Gorgon is just going to have to win people over, one at a time, with its demo.

So if you feel inclined, go give it a try.  The download is quick, the package is small, you do not need to register, you can just enter a character name and play.  Then don’t just go “yuck” and close the window.  Run around a bit.  Click on things.  There is a surprising amount of “there” there in Project: Gorgon.

Quote of the Day – The Machines are Winning

Really more of a Tweet of the day I suppose, but here was CCP Fozzie on the first day of the Hyperion release:

It sounds like the “Burner Missions“introduced with Hyperion are indeed hot stuff, with the NPCs blowing up 1,563 player ships for 207 losses, a 7.55 win ratio for the pirates.  Now that is a green kill board.

Tengus blowing stuff up

Meanwhile, in the CFC we even blob NPCs

Okay, that is a day one stat, when everybody was figuring out the mechanics of the new missions.  But at least it sounds like being forced to stick to frigate hulls in order to hunt down these faction flying NPCs aren’t a complete push over.  At some point somebody will write a guide complete with suggested skill set and a winning fit to tackle these missions, but for now they look to require some effort.

This got Tubrug1 over at The EVE Onion to declare that CCP Fozzie is an agent of the New Order and an ally of James 315, confirming that the slaughter of high sec mission runners has only just begun.  While the EVE Onion is nominally a satire site, as with The Onion on which it is modeled, I sometimes wonder if the whole thing isn’t a more accurate editorial page than what some legitimate news sites offer.

 

Slammed in Nagrand

After finishing Terokkar Forest last week I was feeling a bit optimistic about the next zone on my Loremater project checklist.  I was headed to Nagrand.

Nagrand Map

Nagrand Map

I was optimistic for a few reasons.  The first was because Nagrand is a zone that I seem to carry some fondness for in the back of my brain.  I remember doing the Kurenai faction grind, which is pretty easily accomplished if you have a yen for slaughtering ogres and collecting their war beads.  I finished that effort and have all of the talbuk mounts to prove it.  And while Hemet Nesingwary was lurking out there in the zone, what could he possibly do to me that he hadn’t done a dozen or so times before?

Hemet's Camp/Crash Site

Hemet’s Camp/Crash Site

The second reason was because I was already underway in the chase for the 75 quests needed for the Nagrand achievement.  Finishing up Terokkar required me to start in on Nagrand to pick up a quest line that would lead back to Terokkar.  So I was starting 10 quests up.  Go me.

Finally, Nagrand is kind of a pleasant zone, made up of rolling green hill with some rivers surrounded by hills, which keeps you from thinking about the color of the sky.

Flying in Nagrand

Flying in Nagrand

There are only a few ogre mounds and floating rocks and other oddities that mark much of the terrain of Outland.  And even the floating rocks are covered in green turf.

What could go wrong?

Continue reading

Civilization – The Glorious People’s Victory over Imperialist Aggression!

All good things must come to an end… and even the dentist will eventually decide he has gotten the last bit of plaque from your gum line with that iron hook and cease his infernal gouging and scraping… and so it was with our game of Civilization V, entering into its 14th week of play.   As I mentioned last time, a number of victory conditions were beginning to hove into view and become distinct possibilities.

Things picked up as they had left off the previous week.  Mattman, Potshot, and I were online and in the game, ready for turn 751 to commence.  We were expecting Loghound as well, but as the appointed hour rolled around he wasn’t online, so we pressed on.

I managed to hold on to Babylon for the first turn, thwarting Nebuchadnezzar’s feeble counter-attack, and went on to take Akkad, the next city in line.

Rolling over Babylon

Rolling over Babylon

Potshot managed to roll over another Babylonian city to the north at the same time, so it was starting to look like the end of their empire.  After the mountainous terrain past their former capital was an open plain, the perfect venue for my combined arms assault.  It looked like Nebuchadnezzar would be joining Harun al-Rashid of Arabia as a leader without any cities left to lead.

Arabia was still nominally in the game, as we had not tracked down his final units.  Choosing the option that kept empires alive so long as they still had units was such a mistake.

Meanwhile, Mattman and his Chinese empire were buying influence with city states again.  With the world leader election about 10 turns off, one of the victory conditions I mentioned, his ambition was transparent.  So I decided to liven things up with a little ploy of my own.

More after the cut as we work towards the end of the game.

Continue reading

Enter Hyperion

The Hyperion is a great ship for people who don’t like to ask questions, like “Why didn’t I just buy a Megathron?”

-Goon Wiki

Today CCP drops the second mini-expansion on us.  We had Crius five weeks back, and today we have Hyperion.

Of course, I was all “Heh, there is a battleship type called ‘Hyperion’ in the game, I should run with that!” when I saw the name of the expansion.

The CCP Train Schedule

And you know where I’ll go for Rhea then…

Not a very original idea and, as it turns out, the Hyperion seems to be a bit of a loser when it comes to Gallente battleships.  As the quote from the Goon Wiki above indicates, I would be hard pressed to come up with a scenario where one would choose the Hyperion over its Gallente stablemates, the Dominix or the Megathron.  I even went over to my other site to find a picture of the ship, but with more than 800 EVE Online screen shots posted, the Hyperion only appears once.  And that shot was a classic graphics shot from 2009, back when the ship might have had a place.  Oddly though, the year 2009 fits into the scheme of things, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The Old Hyperion

The Old Hyperion

Anyway, the Hyperion expansion was not named for the Gallente battleship, which as far as I can tell gains no benefit from the update, but from the mythical titans, who lend their name to the expansion out into the foreseeable future.  My momentary flirtation with the ship was mostly because Hyperion’s main focus is on wormhole space, and I know squat about wormhole space.

Hyperion Wormhole - Note ship not used...

Hyperion Wormhole – Note ship not used…

Wormhole space showed up with the Apocrypha expansion back in March 2009 (back when I was taking classic graphics screen shots of Gallente battleships) along with the skill queue, tech III ships, the ship fitting window, that epic mission arc thing I never did, and an updated new player experience, all of which seems far more recent in my brain than five years ago.

Apocrypha - March 2009

Apocrypha – March 2009

But there it is, and wormhole space added nearly 2,500 star systems, which makes up more than a quarter of space in EVE Online.  And I have barely ever been there.

Potshot and I were planning a wormhole expedition at one point.  We were going to find a small wormhole, set up a tower, and live the life of the independent space pioneer.  And then we found that we were far from alone in that idea as every wormhole we scouted seemed to be occupied.   Packing up to go live in w-space seemed to be a fairly common goal.  So it seems odd to read articles that talk about CCP’s vision for w-space being that of a nomadic existence, where players never settled but just roamed about, mining or ratting or whatever, only to return to known space at then end of their mission.  I only ever heard, “new lands to settle!” sorts of sentiment back then, probably influenced by the ideas of sovereign null sec.

Emergent behavior took over, players did what they wanted to, and w-space became what it was.  CCP has been clear in its blogs about Hyperion that they are not going to try to “fix” things to bring them back to what they envisioned, but rather change things to help suit what has become the defacto behavior in w-space… and, of course, tune some of the discoveries made by players over the years as to how to exploit w-space.  Given enough time, players will always find the best, or most efficient, approach to anything.

Since I know next to nothing about wormhole space, I’ll defer to those who live there as to whether the changes are good or not.

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

Other than wormhole space, there are some changes to incursions and missions, including a new type of optional level 4 mission called a “burner mission.”  In those missions, you will be tasked to go chase down and destroy a pirate faction frigate fitted for PvP style encounters.  And you, yourself, will be limited to a frigate hull as well, so this is supposed to be something of a challenge… which is why it has to be optional… and perhaps a way to get people to transition a little more towards a PvP mentality after running endless PvE missions.

I will be interested to see if this ends up being used much or not.

There are also a couple of additions to the New Eden Store (formerly NEX) that give players some additional items they can purchase for real world cash and turn around and sell for ISK in game.  The two new items are the Pilot’s Body Resculpt Certificate, which lets you redo your avatar, and the Multiple Pilot Training Certificate, which lets you activate a second training queue on your account so your alt can train up as well as your main.  Previously you could purchase both of these with PLEX.  At first I suspected that the increasing price of PLEX has prompted CCP to separate these two, though to get Aurum, the currency for the New Eden Store, you have to buy PLEX in any case, so the price of PLEX in Jita will still drive pricing so… what was the question again?  Anyway, these are now things in New Eden.

And then there is the usual array of minor adjustments and bug fixes for the release.  You can go read the Hyperion expansion page for the general overview and the patch notes for the gritty details.  The expansion itself appears to have been deployed without incident.

The next expansion on the list is Oceanus, which should show up in another six weeks or so, putting it somewhere in early-to-mid October.

I guess that CCP timeline is way-off by this point (so I should probably stop using it), largely because what ended up going into Cruis, all those industry updates (and did those change the shape of industry very much, I haven’t really paid attention), were supposed to be in Kronos, so the clock got moved up for that first mini-expansion.  And soon we will hear what Oceanus might bring.  But for today it is just Hyperion.

As I have noted elsewhere, at least we get new music with each new expansion, so with more expansions we get more music, so I will leave you with the official CCP music for Hyperion.