Monthly Archives: March 2015

March in Review

The Site

My RSS feed isn’t quite the problem it was at one point, but I have noticed that the direct feed from the site seems to propagate more slowly that the Feedburner feed.  This is doubly bizarre as the Feedburner feed works from the direct feed, so there is some sort of voodoo going on there.  And then, for some reason, Blogger seems to have it in for my feed again as it is once again updating very slowly in some (but not all) blogroll side bars on that platform.  The mysteries of Google.

I took the VirginWorlds feed off the side bar for now as the site seems to be in a state of neglect.  It isn’t updating feeds correctly and some of the longstanding feeds have been taken over by new sites that are not related to MMO gaming.  I dropped Brent a note, but I think he may be busy with other aspects of his life.

Meanwhile, on the WP.com front, they are now pushing the new editor and stats page rather aggressively.  I can no longer edit a post from the main page without using the Fisher-Price “Babby’s First Text Editor” option, as they remove the “classic editor” link from it.  At least the classic editor is still available from within the admin page for posts, so I just have to go that route now to fix my inevitable typo.  And the new stats page is now the default, though you can can still get to the old one via a link down at the bottom.  I don’t mind progress… WP.com has improved things over the years… but this is one of those lessons in why re-writing things from scratch is often a bad ideal; you lose functionality that was added to the old code base over time.

Also, what is with this pop-up I get from WP.com every day?

Howdy yourself!

Howdy yourself!

I just click the ‘x’ to dismiss it most days, but yesterday I decided to click the up arrow just to see what I would get, and that also dismissed it.  I suspect they are not that interested in being helpful.

One Year Ago

I was thinking about the word “free” and how it really brings up negative connotations.  Basically, “free” is usually a scam, so why should we expect “Free to Play” games to viewed as anything else?

A year back my other blog, EVE Online Pictures, qualified for inclusion as an EVE Online fan site.  We’ll see if that gets renewed this year.  Meanwhile CCP lost money through “derecognizing” an asset which would turn out to be the demise of World of Darkness as a project for them.  CCP was also taking a stab at cosmetic options for ships.

I picked my 15 most influential video games, and got some other people to pick theirs as well.

WalMart was going to get into the used video game market.  Did that ever go anywhere?  I don’t shop at Wally World.

Something called MyDream wanted to be a Minecraft killer or some such.

It was the end of the line for Free Realms and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures as SOE chief John Smedley vowed never to make kids games again.  While over in EverQuest the 15 year anniversary included the introduction of instant level 85 characters.  I gave that a try and got lost immediately.

Facebook bought Occulus Rift.  Where is your VR now?

Brad McQuaid was a month past his unsuccessful Pantheon Kickstarter and I was wondering what the plan was.

In a set of short items, I also noted that EverQuest Next Landmark became simply Landmark, two of the founders of Runic games left the studio to try their luck elsewhere, while King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, went public and are now one of the most shorted stocks on the market! (They were mentioned on the Planet Money podcast about shorting.)

The ongoing “Blizzard isn’t giving you…” series continued. while Diablo III: Reaper of Souls went live, an event which included the end of the auction house.  I had gone back to the game to try some of the changes.

Also on the Blizzard front, they managed to find a hook to get me to play Hearthstone… or at least a couple rounds of it.

I was also musing about WoW and when the expansion would launch and the stat squish and guild levels and pseudo-server merges and my insta-90 choice and Warlords of Draenor being $50… which was at least better than it being $60.  While, actually in the game the instance group took on Zul’Aman.

We formed something I ended up calling the “strategy group,” if only to distinguish it from the “instance group” which started out playing some Age of Empires II.

And I wrote another installment of my ongoing TorilMUD series, this time about the Faerie Forest.

Five Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVilleWe all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

I ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

New Linking Sites

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Progression Server Progress in EverQuest
  2. Quote of the Day – A Treasure Trove of Turbine Turmoil
  3. WoW Tokens – PLEX with Price Supports
  4. Tech 3 Destroyers and Other Tidbits from EVE Vegas Keynote
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  6. Reviewing My Kickstarter History
  7. A Return to Writing about the Blogesphere
  8. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  9. Hitting 50 Yet Again
  10. A Sad Day for Sims
  11. Scylla Overshadowed
  12. Has Rift Only Been Around for Four Years?

Search Terms of the Month

eq2 is crap
[That is not an uncommon opinion]

how far away.is everquest next from launch
[How far away is the Moon from Tuesday?]

toontown axis
[of evil?]

qctffivhlbbgi
[Grundoon? Is that you?]

do you need help pitching a tent
[It is largely a mental exercise at my age]

EVE Online

I was bitching earlier in the month about being required to click on participation links, which can be annoying when there isn’t a war or a deployment in progress.  Then war were declared and that problem went away pretty quickly.  I have gone well beyond the minimum quota.  The war itself has been okay, though being in Reavers I have found myself a bit jealous that I haven’t been in-system for some of the cap fleet engagements.

Then there was this epic troll that got people worked up for about 30 minutes.  The EVE Onion got scooped on that one!  Also, deductive subscription numbers for Tranquility based on various tidbits that CCP has left laying about.

Lord of the Rings Online

I haven’t started playing it again, but earlier this month when I logged in to ensure I would get my monthly lifetime subscriber Turbine Points stipend (and to keep Gaff from usurping the leadership of our kin yet again) I ended up buying the Riders of Rohan expansion because it was on sale (1,747 points) and I had close to 11K Turbine Points socked away.  I am not sure what that will mean to anybody, including myself, except that all my characters got a new title.  Woot.

World of Warcraft

World of Garrisons continues on.  Seriously, having five characters in Draenor means daily garrison maintenance eats up a lot of my daily play time.  If only I could force myself to NOT do that, but the OCD gamer in me requires it.  The instance group has been out a couple of times doing things, and I have been spending some time working back through all of the zones to make sure I have finished up every single quest line, lest there be a follower I missed.  And I have spent a little bit of time with my Orc hunter, though he is still a project for later.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is just another day, right?

Anyway, after that, it looks like a lot of the same things on my agenda.

Yes, I got my copy of Pillars of Eternity like nearly everybody else.  And I have played a bit.  But, my garrison… and the war… must play MMOs!

Okay, I did start in on a run through one classic game from my past.  I’ll get around to posing about that at some point this month.

It looks like WoW Tokens will go live this month.  That will be interesting to watch.  How much gold will Blizzard sell you for $20?  And how will that compare to how much gold you will need to pay to get 30 days of play time?  I still suspect that those numbers will be different.

The five week expansion schedule for EVE Online means that there won’t be an expansion in April.  That is fine.  I barely noticed that last one… well, except for an issue I will get to later. [Okay, the next expansion is April 28. I need to consult a calendar before I hit “publish” I guess.]

EverQuest Progression Servers – How Slow Can You Go?

About a month back I posted about Daybreak putting up a poll about the next round of progression servers.  The options for that in-game poll were:

  • Existing Rules
  • Slower Progression
  • Locked Progression
  • Seasonal Challenge

You can read the details about each option in my previous post on the subject, but the results are in and posted on the EverQuest forums.  Slower progression won.

Slower progression isn’t a bad choice I suppose.  That is what I voted for.

Progression Server Polling...

Progression Server Polling…

What was the right choice depends upon your point of view, and there are any number of factions interested in the next server.

The raiders, who tend to drive the whole progression server thing, will probably be okay with slower, depending on how much slower things end up.  But if you had your hearts set on a classic server, one that stops progressing at some point, then you are probably not happy with the result.

Personally, I fall into the “everything after Ruins of Kunark is crap” camp, so my motivation is to have any future progression server spend as much time as possible on the base game and Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

And yet I am not all that interested in a locked server stuck in Kunark for all eternity.  I like the progression idea, that the server moves forward and unlocks content, and that the game changes and evolves.

I am not sure that such a server needs to pass through all twenty-one expansions.  There comes a point when the server is close enough to live that it makes little difference and it might as well be rolled into a live server.  Where that point is would no doubt make for a lively debate.

Anyway, with the first poll out of the way, there is now a second in-game poll up.  This time the choice is about how much slower should the expansion unlocks should be.

The original progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, which rolled out back in 2006, were driven forward entirely by unlocking raid content.  There were no brakes on the system and, while I do not have a timeline for those servers, I recall the response by many non-raiders as being “too damn fast.”

The still active Fippy Darkpaw server was put up as a “time locked” voting server, where by there was a minimum amount of time that had to pass after raid content was finished before an unlock vote for the next expansion could take place.  That slowed things down some.  Here are the unlock durations I recorded for the “important” expansions.

  • Ruins of Kunark:        3.75  months
  • Scars of Velious:       2.75  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      2.75  months
  • Planes of Power:        2.75  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       1 month after PoP
  • LDoN:                   1 month after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       4 months after PoP

So the server unlocked Ruins of Kunark in just under four months, because there was a special delay, after which each expansion unlocked in just under three months.  The exceptions were Gates of Discord, which failed three unlock votes, and Underfoot, which failed at least one, and then Legacy of Ykesha and Lost Dungeons of Norrath, which are considered mini-expansions and so get unlocked on a set timer after Planes of Power.

(All of the Fippy Darkpaw unlocks I managed to record are available here.)

The vote underway now is to decide how quickly to unlock expansions.  It has three choices, which I will list out from fastest to slowest.

Add 50%

This option would add a 50% boost the the minimum unlock time that we had for Fippy Darkpaw, so the unlock schedule would look like this:

  • Ruins of Kunark:        4.5  months
  • Scars of Velious:       4.5  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      4.5  months
  • Planes of Power:        4.5  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       3 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   3 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       3 months after PoP, then every three months

I think somebody forgot we were given extra time before Ruins of Kunark, though they did remember that LoY and LDoN were both unlocked two weeks late due to technical glitches.  Still, that does give the base game and RoK a longer run than they had before.  Estimated total time to run through the expansions is five and a half years.

Maximum Nostalgia

The second proposed rule set would put a six month gap between server unlocks up until Gates of Discord, after which expansions would unlock every three months… because who cares about that shit.

  • Ruins of Kunark:        6  months
  • Scars of Velious:       6  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      6  months
  • Planes of Power:        6  months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       2 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   4 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       3 months after PoP

So the time until each expansion could be unlocked would be fairly flat, with the server spending more that two years getting through Planes of Power, with the whole slate of expansions taking six and a half years to work through.

Half Speed

This is the most radical of the three proposals.  This would run the progression server forward at half the pace of the actual, real world release schedule of the expansions.  So the run up through Gates of Discord would look like this:

  • Ruins of Kunark:        6.75  months
  • Scars of Velious:       3.75  months
  • Shadows of Luclin:      6     months
  • Planes of Power:        5.5   months
  • Legacy of Ykesha:       4 weeks after PoP
  • LDoN:                   10 weeks after PoP
  • Gates of Discord:       7.75 months (after PoP)

After Gates of Discord the schedule calms down a bit, with expansions hitting about every three months through the “two a year” era and then every six months after Secrets of Faydwer.  At this pace it would take eight years to get through, since EverQuest is just celebrating its sweet sixteen.

What to Pick?

Give those three choices, I am inclined to go and vote for the Half Speed server, as it gives us the longest run from the base game to Ruins of Kunark, though the Maximum Nostalgia option isn’t completely off the table, as it would give us a full year of just base plus RoK, thus not selling that huge expansion short.

In addition to the three server types to choose from, there is a second vote up about whether or not expansion unlocks should be put to a vote every time… and thus possibly delaying releases… or if things should just unlock on a schedule.  I am in favor of the latter.  I would rather have expansion releases on the calendar so that the raiders, who will be part of the progression server community, can plan their activities.  One of the problems for them on Fippy Darkpaw has been knowing when to call everybody back to the game to move on. (Though most of the time that has been SOE screwing up the unlock for whatever reasons as opposed to unlocks being voted down.)  The raiders are not there for the same reasons I am, but I don’t think that should give me license to screw them over on a server that has been billed as progression from the start.

Anyway, I am happy to see that the progression server idea is moving forward though, like Bhagpuss, I have to admit that planning something that could take as long as eight years to get through might be an act of extreme optimism for Daybreak at this point.

Will there still be an EverQuest… or a Daybreak Game Company… in 2023?

Quote of the Day – The Power Blocs Will Never Die

Break the power blocs down and they’ll only build themselves up again, he shrugs. It’s human nature.

The Mittani to EuroGamer, Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones

EuroGamer gets a good deal of deserved mocking from time to time due to their sacrificing quality/depth of reporting in order to keep up with the pace of news on the web and the need to be able to be first (example one and two), but they have a post up today about the EVE Online meta game titles Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones that makes up for some of their shortcomings.

Reinforcements bridge in

Blocs Battling at 6VDT-H back in 2013

The article runs through some of the realities of the big null sec power blocs and is a decent read if the topic interests you (certainly more so than that article in The Atlantic that ran along as though the CSM was central to the meta game), though you have to remember that the focus is just on one aspect of EVE Online.  Null sec is just a slice of the pie.  And yes, there is some smugness to be had for CFC pilots as the article displays a tone of exasperation when it comes to our traditional foes like Black Legion and NCDot.

There are a couple of takeaways from the article that are important to remember.  One is the social bonding aspect and how a lot of people run ops more for the people they play with than because EVE Online is full of fun and exciting game mechanics. (It is objectively a pretty poor game in the regard on many fronts.)  That one comes out pretty clearly in the article.

The other one is stated less directly, but it is one I have brought up before. And that is, in any game where being organized and working together brings advantage, groups that can do so in the long term will tend to dominate in the long term.  Such group will tend to adapt to change better and will continue to succeed, which leads to the quote at the top.  Making the game more difficult for the organized groups will tend to harm the less organized groups even more so.  History has born this out.

And if you’re dying for more on the topic, there is Sion’s presentation from Fanfest about diplomacy, coalitions, and the meta game, now up on YouTube.

Punitive Expedition to Delve

I’m back from Fanfest and I’m FUCKING BORED – this ‘invasion’ we faced last week was the most laughably, pathetically weak attempt at our shit in years, and that says something. For too long we’ve been dealing with our foes thinking they can assault us and get away with these ‘fake invasions’ for funsies.

It’s almost April. It’s ~that season~. Who’s up for a bit of bloody-handed, oldschool reprisal? Get your face-stomping boots on boys. We’re not going to ~take space~ but we might make some ‘freeports’ or just give shit to Pizza, whatever. I have literally no idea except this urge to twist the knife and we’re going to do exactly that.

-broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2015-03-25

Like Goons need an excuse to invade Delve.  I think some of them were getting the shakes at not having invaded Delve recently.

Still, we brought a lot of toys down to Fountian, sent the Reavers south into Delve, took back the one system the hostiles grabbed, defended against their other attack on a system, and generally spent a lot of time chasing around after a seemingly reluctant foe.

You can say that CFC has greater numbers, but everybody knew that long before NCDot and friends came to Fountain.  If you’re going to poke the beehive you had better have a plan.  So both TMC and EN24 are reporting the Delve invasion as a go.

The main force of the CFC is packing up their Domis and convoying south to 319-3D… we’ve been there before… to hole up in the Blood Raiders station while they are not burning Delve to the ground.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Of course, if the main fleet is headed for Delve, then the Reavers have to find a new place to operate.  We operate in small groups behind enemy lines, not up front with the main fleet unless there is a special need.  So we had to wrap up our business, drop one final tower, then start packing.

A jump bridge module without a tower isn't very useful... still, we blew it up too

A jump bridge module without a tower isn’t very useful… still, we blew it up too

Then there was an immediate convoy operation to get us to our new forward base.

That big ship... it's... a Drake! Yeah!

That big ship… it’s… a Drake! Yeah!

We are now set up and running ops into the enemy’s backfield.  Now to see what the enemy has in mind.

The initial rumors were that Darkness and The Kadeshi were just going to fold up shop and evacuate to their other holdings in the N3 empire.  But war rumors always include some theme about the enemy running away.  I am sure that NCDot had rumors early on that the CFC was going to evacuate Fountain.

Other, more substantial news has been showing up though.  Just yesterday Brave announced that they would be joining in the fight and helping to resist the CFC invasion. (More on Brave here.)

Brave words

Brave words

Brave, of course, brings numbers along with a willingness to fight against the odds if needs be.  With them entering the fray I feel a bit jealous of my Domi fleet comrades back in Delve… at least until I start thinking about the time dilation that comes with big fleet fights.  I can live with that, but it generally isn’t an issue with Reavers.

So the Southern Coalition N3 empire looks like this at the moment, with major moves noted.

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

Unless somebody can mount a credible threat on the far side of CFC space and distract us, it looks like it might be an interesting time in Delve in April.  We sold it to N3 back before the Phoebe expansion hit, I wonder if we can sell it back to them again when we’re done?

Crowfall Kickstarter Brings in over $1.7 Million

Early this morning… early for me anyway, here on the left coast… the Crowfall Kickstarter campaign wound down to its final timer, more than doubling their initial goal of $800,000.

CrowfallSuccess$1,766,205 is a mighty number.  I still think that, with the right mid-campaign publicity they could have hit two million, but that should not take away from their success.  Camelot Unchained made the two million mark, but with less that 13K backers, while Shroud of the Avatar made the two million milestone with 23K backers, which puts Crowfall about in the same league.

As with many successful Kickstarter campaigns, there was a decent boost in numbers in the last 24 hours, as is shown on the final chart from Kicktraq.

Daily pledges and backers

Daily pledges and backers

The last day doesn’t look that impressive until you remember that it was only a third of a day in hours, the campaign having wrapped up at 8am eastern time.  The last push wasn’t quite enough to bring in the last couple of stretch goal, which were based on total backers rather than dollars, so no

Crowfall Stretch Goals

Crowfall Stretch Goals

So that is done.

Only such campaigns are never done, as we have seen.  The Kickstarter was a success, but they apparently need/want more money and backers.  If you missed the Kickstarter and are now regretting it, you can head to the official Crowfall site… if it isn’t swamped at the moment… and get in on the backer deals.

More money, we would like that!

More money, we would like that!

And now we wait.  Some people will be keen for the early alpha access promised.  I personally don’t count anything as delivered until a game is actually released, and the current promise for Crowfall is December 2016.  We shall see if they can hit that mark.

A Return to Writing about the Blogesphere

Writing about the blogesphere, trying to capture the conversations and summarize what is going on and generally connecting with one another, has a long tradition in our corner of the woods.

Some still thrive...

MMO Blog Island circa 2007

I have been on about this whole community thing before, I know.  But it is undeniable that it does exist in some form.  That so many of us have blog rolls on our side bars speaks to a sense of community.  We also link to other blogs on a regular basis by way to joining a conversation or continuing a point made elsewhere or setting the foundation for something we want to write that might have started out as a comment and then grew in the telling.  It is a way to connect and nobody… well, almost nobody… acts like they are doing you a huge favor if they link to something you have written.

Some people have gone beyond just links and blogrolls at times.  For quite a stretch Tipa wrote a Daily Blog Roll column (which I once attempted to parody) on her own blog to try and take the pulse of our little corner of the net.  Others have gone for a less arduous weekly wrap up at times.  Currently we have J3w3l at Healing the Masses and her Monday Link Dead Radio posts, Marcus Scarus is starting up a weekly Blog Bulletin, and there is Silverangel and the semi-regular Weekly Wyrm posts over at Kitty Kitty Boom Boom.

(I know somebody else does something like that as well, but I cannot think of who at the moment, so hit me in the comments and I’ll add it in.)

(Also, a note to bloggers: If your are going to do a regular series like that, give it an exclusive tag or category so readers can view the whole thing as a specific body of your work.  Also, it makes it easier to link to it!)

There have also been events, like various “tag, you’re it memes” and events like the Newbie Blogger Initiative (a new one coming this year I hear) and things like the EVE Blog Pack and the monthly EVE Blog Banter.

Then there are people who take this even a step further and put together sites to help bring the blogging community together.  VirginWorlds started as a blog and a podcast, but quickly became a focus of our little corner of the web as it created a popular amalgamation of feeds featuring MMO bloggers.  Then there is Scr.ee from the Scree of the Cynic Dialogs, an attempt to map and track trends in the blogesphere.  And for space nerds there is EVE Bloggers and Total EVE, sites focused on bringing together EVE Online blogging into a single feed.

And then there are the commercial MMO sites.  It seems natural for those sites to pay us some attention, seeing that they have drawn any number of contributors from our ranks.  The earliest column I can recall that spent time with the MMO blogesphere was Michael Zenke’s Massive Update column on the late 1UP.com site.

Michael Zenke's old column at 1Up.com

Michael Zenke’s old column at 1Up.com

It was focused on MMO news, but Mr. Zenke spent many of his column inches linking out to us.  And that tradition carried on when he went on to become the founding editor-in-chief of the recently departed Massively.  And while he  (and his successor Shawn Schuster) ran the show, the site was often very generous in acknowledging the blogesphere.

But at some point that idea seemed to pass from Massively and other commercial MMO sites.  I am not sure why this happened, if blogging had been declared dead yet again or if blogs were suddenly passé or if editorial policy was changed to never acknowledge that there are other sites on the internet or if people were just sick of hearing about us, but there was clearly a period of time when a link from Massively was exceedingly rare and them writing about the blogesphere appeared to be strictly verboten.

That time of neglect seems to have passed.  Towards the end of Massively’s run, Syp revived the blog community presence with the Global Chat column, a regular feature that has found its way to the Massively Overpowered successor site.

Meanwhile, over at MMOGames, Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut had a bi-weekly Bel’s Blog Bonanza column start up this month with links out all over.

And then just today Liore of Herding Cats had her debut over at MMORPG.com with Tales from the Neighborhood, giving her take on what topics were are covering in the blogging world.

Of course I am happy to see some more focus back on the grass roots blogging scene, but I am also interested in why this turn of events has come.  Are MMOs just not generating enough news these days?  Have budget constraints meant that sites have gone to covering niche topics by linking out to the crazies? (And we’re all crazies on this bus.)  Have such sites decided that they need to tend the garden from which so many of their staff have sprung?  Or is this just a quiet time aberration, soon to be dropped once something interesting happens?

What do you think?  And who did I miss in my summing up?

Addendum: Mr Luvva does a regular blogging wrap-up feature as well.

Scylla Overshadowed

With all of the stuff going on around EVE Online recently… the ongoing talks about the sovereignty changes coming this summer and the whole EVE Fanfest thing and all that got announced there (reviews of Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3)… I nearly forgot that there is another one of those every five weeks expansions hitting New Eden today.

And I am guessing that even CCP was having trouble remembering that Scylla was a thing, as they have a placeholder for the usual expansion page, but haven’t actually put anything there yet.

No clicking on Scylla

No clicking on Scylla

I was speculating that maybe this was CCP being cute and trying to play into some aspect of the Scylla of mythology… and I am still holding out hope that the next expansion will be Charybdis just so we can throw that idiom around… but I am going to guess that this is just a matter of the community team being too damn busy with Fanfest.

But according to CCP, Scylla has been released all the same.

And there are patch notes for Scylla! We have that going for us!  And I will jump straight to the absolute, most critical bit in the whole thing.  Yeah, they’re nerfing Tengus and Ishtars and changing fighters and tinkering with bomb launchers (some of which was covered in a dev blog), and there is something about the new player experience (which also has a dev blog), but ahead of all of that in order of importance, there is this monumental entry…

Added the ability to reverse the zoom direction of the scroll wheel and left+right mouse buttons. The setting can be found under Display & Graphics in the Esc menu.

Fuck yeah!  I’ve only been complaining about this since freakin’ 2007!    I am just two years shy of putting that in the “10 Years Ago” section of my regular month in review post.

And in all of that time, I have never gotten used to having EVE Online basically invert the operation of the scroll wheel relative to every other piece of software I own.  So now that is finally off my plate.

Oh, and be careful about the whole download on demand patcher no day one because it will hurt you bad it you let it.  Don’t use the repair tool until it is done or something.  Because CCP.

Other than that, Scylla seems to be a modest affair, as one might expect now and again when CCP is pushing these things out every five weeks.  Lots of little tweaks, lots of bug fixes, and the ongoing persistence of CCP referring to NPC locations as “dungeons.”  I thought we were over that last bit a while ago, but it has reared its ugly, out of context head again in the last few releases.

Anyway, at least the music is still on track.  Scylla got its own moody bit of atmosphere with its release.

 

 

Fountain, Wartime Jabber, and Points South

It isn’t much of a war, but it’s the only war we’ve got, so enjoy it

-Major General Charles Timmes, Military Assistance Advisory Group 1962

The war in Fountain continued from last week through the weekend.  By Thursday we had moved enough numbers to the region to stand up on every timer as well as to start reinforcing hostile targets on our own.

The enemy host was able to grab a foothold in Fountain while we were still getting organized.  D4KU-5 on the border with Aridia (Amarr low sec) fell while we were still involved with move operations.  An embarrassing loss of territory, but not a system with a station in it.

FW2015D4KUHowever, a push on Y-2AN0 and LBGI-2… both station systems, the latter being the system NCDot held briefly during their last fling in fountain… were both thwarted and both systems remained in CFC hands.

Y-2ANOThat is the extent of the strategic situation, with D4KU-5 timers set to run down today during Euro time, so the system might be back in CFC hands before I get home from work.  They will have held the system less than six days.

Generally I only keep Jabber up and logged in to the GSF feed when I am home and might be able to make a fleet.  But during a war I use the iOS Trillian client and keep myself logged in all the time.  The Jabber feed will include a lot of fleets I will never make, but there are wartime updates and bits of news and propaganda… like the assertion that Black Legion is steadfastly refusing to join its current allies in structure shoots or how BL’s leader has earned the nickname “Flee-lo Knight”… and basically keep me up on how things are going.

And I need Jabber up to stay in touch with how the war is doing, since I am not on the front lines.  No, the night after the big move op push to Fountain, Reavers had their own move op to push across the frontier and behind the lines of our foes.  We slipped through the gate to Delve and headed to the far end of the region to setup shop and start blowing up or reinforcing anything we could find.

Of course we’re in Delve.  Even the name of the place is like a magic incantation around Goons.

If your goal is to shoot Goons, all you have to do is lay in some ships and put a jump clone in one of the NPC Blood Raiders stations in the region and wait.  Goons will show up eventually.  They won’t pass up a chance and feel almost put out if they aren’t fighting there at least once every calendar year.    So while we could have staged out of high sec Amarr or gone deep into Period Basis, we ended up in Delve.

I suppose it is close to the war, so that we can lend (or get) support when needed, though I am not sure that is really in line with Reaver doctrine.  But our friends in Top Goon have been out our way, which has been nice.  And there are those NPC stations, which can be used to park clones and resupply losses.  Besides which, shooting structures plays out about the same in any region, so we might as well scratch that “must march on Delve!” itch for the GSF members, who make up most of Reavers.

So there we are.  I have spent a few hours on ops shooting structures.  Unlike past deployments, we seem to have actually brought an abundance of logi ships this time around.  I haven’t had to be the sole Basilisk in fleet more than once, and there have been a couple of times where it was requested that people swap out for Ishtars so that we have enough firepower to reinforce something while we’re all still young… or young at heart.

It has been the usual thing, shooting with occasional interference from the locals.  We were hitting a large tower with a small force… we were knocking down the shields at a rate of 1% gone every minute and a half, and since you have to get the shields down to 25% to reinforce, that was going to be nearly a two hour shoot… when a couple of the locals showed up and started deploying guns to try and stop us.  We had just enough firepower to offline the first couple of guns before they were up and ready to shoot, but we were clearly falling behind and could have been in danger had they been able to persist.  However, they stopped after about six guns.  The speculation was that they simply did not have any more on hand.

Then they moved to trying bomb us to kill our drones.  However, they started by hitting us with a single bomber, which won’t kill a sentry drone, and by the time they moved up to two bombers, we were all just sitting on our drones and able to pull them in before bombs hit.  Then they gave up on even that and we were able to reinforce the tower, though they did push the duration of the whole thing out to nearly three hours.

Otherwise, it has been the usual routine behind enemy lines.  The occasional gate camp to try and catch us moving around alone (and official doctrine is to never move alone or without a scout) and some attempts to interfere with our shoots, but no real organized defense as yet.  But we are starting to drop towers and make a nuisance of ourselves, so at some point the hostiles on the Fountain front will have to drop back to defend or we’ll actually start getting to real timers.  But with the way the war on the Fountain front is going, they may not have much left to do up there soon.

Addendum:

And NCDot lost D4KU-5 right on schedule.  Now we just have to sit on it for a bit.

NCLosesD4KUAnyway, the war doesn’t seem like it will go on much longer.  There has been a frenzy of ops running around the clock according to Jabber, but unless the hostiles have it in them to keep attacking, things could taper off very quickly.  Time to get on some ops while they last.  At least I got my combat drone out an onto one tower kill so I could prove I was there.

Some pictures from our time in Delve so far.

How Magic Beat the Bubble

I just mentioned the Planet Money podcast in Friday’s post, having supported a Kickstarter for one of their stories.

PlanetMoneyAnd, as I was catching up on some episodes this weekend I hit on one that was actually related to gaming – Episode 609: The Curse of the Black Lotus.  The game in question is Magic: The Gathering and the title refers to one of the early rare cards, the Black Lotus, that became very valuable in the secondary collector’s market.

Purportedly worth $25K in mint condition

Purportedly worth $25K in mint condition

The show description:

In a classic bubble — housing for example, or tech stocks or Beanie Babies — the fun ends in a crash. Things go belly up, and people can lose a lot of money.

The creators of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering faced such a bubble. The cooler they made their cards, the more the resale value increased — and threatened to send Magic cards the way of the Beanie Baby.

Today on the show: how the folks who made Magic cards came up with a plan. A plan to once and for all conquer the science of bubbles, and make a collectible toy that could live forever.

And the whole thing is 17 minutes long, an easy and interesting listen.

Reviewing My Kickstarter History

With some Kickstarter campaigns of interest running of late, like the Massively Overpowered funding campaign and the much-talked-about Crowfall campaign, I decided to look back at the projects I had funded to see how the whole Kickstarter thing has treated me.

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

NOT the official drink of Kickstarter

Fortunately Kickstarter has a nice little page that lists out the campaigns you have supported.  It was then just a matter of figuring out where everything stood.

Successful Campaigns

1 – Campaign: The Jason Scott Documentary Three Pack

  • Date Funded: November 11, 2011
  • Date Promised: December 2015
  • Project Status: Not late yet

My first ever Kickstarter.  Jason Scott, who did the documentaries BBS: The Documentary and Get Lamp had a plan to do three more.  He wanted to cover tape as a recording medium, the 6502 processor, and video game arcades.  What is not to love about those three topics?

I was a little annoyed when he went out and did another documentary after getting funded, but the man is like a force of nature and cannot be controlled.  And I have no doubt I will get all three documentaries.  We’ll see if it happens by December.

2 – Campaign: Defense Grid 2

  • Date Funded: August 14, 2012
  • Date Promised: December 2012
  • Project Status: Delivered January 2013

Hidden Path Entertainment wanted funding to do a sequel to their game Defense Grid: The Awakening.  They only made their initial goal, which was enough to fund an expansion to the original game as opposed to a whole new game.  That got delivered just a month behind schedule, which is pretty good for a Kickstarter so far as I have seen.

Then they went on to get other funding for Defense Grid 2 and eventually everybody who backed the Kickstarter beyond a certain level got a copy of that, including me.

3 – Campaign: Planetary Annihilation – A Next Generation RTS

  • Date Funded: September 14, 2012
  • Date Promised: July 2013
  • Project Status: Delivered September 2014

Here was the promise of a successor to Total Annihilation, one of the three great RTS games of 20th Century, along with StarCraft and Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.

Of course, the project ran long, Uber Entertainment thought it was a good idea to sell pre-orders on Steam for less than the cheapest Kickstarter backer price, and when the game finally showed up I found it kind of blah.  Still, not the worst $20 I ever spent.

4 – Campaign: Project Eternity

  • Date Funded: October 16, 2012
  • Date Promised: April 2014
  • Date Delivered: March 26, 2015

Obsidian Entertainment said that they were going to make a spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate and a few other great single player RPGs.  What is not to love about that.  And, again, $20, what the hell, right?  And while it is nearly a year late, it got there and I should get my Steam code next week for Pillars of Eternity, as the game has been christened.  We’ll soon see how it turned out.

5 – Campaign: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

  • Date Funded: February 5, 2013
  • Date Promised: August 2013
  • Project Status: Soon

Tunnels & Trolls was the first RPG rules set that I spent a lot of time with.  We started with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but getting all three books was expensive back then and there was Tunnels & Trolls all in one book at less than half the price of of the TSR tomes.  Also, you could plunder that copy of Risk in the back of the hall closet and have all the dice you needed.  Anyway, I’ll write more about the rule set when I get the new edition.

Getting the new edition though…  The promised date was August 2013, and that was viewed as conservative because they were sure it would be done by July of 2013.  Well, here we are in March of 2015 and they keep sending out updates, but it is still somewhere over the horizon.

6 – Campaign: Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

  • Date Funded: April 7, 2013
  • Date Promised: October 2014
  • Project Status: Alpha releases available to backers

The Lord British successor to whatever aspect of the Ultima series he is speaking about at the moment.   Clearly optimistic on dates, it is still in an unoptimized alpha state that does not run very well on my CPU.  But it is there and you can poke at it if you want, and it has been in that state for more than a year, improving slowly while trying to raise more money.  I am still waiting for it to get more solid before I devote any real time to it.

7 – Campaign: Camelot Unchained

  • Date Funded: May 2, 2013
  • Date Promised: December 2015
  • Project Status: First alpha just available

At some point Kickstarter became “spiritual successor” central.  Anyway, like the previous entry, I have written a few posts about Camelot Unchained, Mark Jacob’s run at capturing all the good of Dark Age of Camelot in an updated package.  Promised for December of this year, it just had its first alpha last week if I read the update correctly.

8 – Campaign: Planet Money T-shirt

  • Date Funded: May 14, 2013
  • Date Promised: July 2013
  • Project Status: I got a shirt in December 2013

Planet Money is one of the few podcasts I listen to regularly, in part because it covers a wide range of interesting financial topics, and in part because shows tend to run 20 minutes or less so I can listen to a whole episode during my rather short daily commute.  Their Giant Pool of Money episodes on the financial crisis were great stuff.

Anyway, Planet Money decided to do a practical project on how T-shirts are made, starting with the basic materials, raw cotton for example, and ending with people actually getting a shirt.  So there is a series of shows in their backlog about this.  The shirt showed up late, but it is nice.

Men's and women's versions of the shirt

Men’s and women’s versions of the shirt

I wear it around the house on weekends because, while it is soft and I like the graphic, it is a bit snug on me.  I am not sure anybody at the office needs to know that much detail about my body contours.

9 – Campaign: A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online

  • Date Funded: May 25, 2014
  • Date Promised: May 2015
  • Project Status: Still has two months to run.

Andrew Groen’s epic attempt to write the story of the null sec conflicts in EVE Online.  The campaign, which only asked for $12,500, funded in seven hours and hit nearly $100K.  I am not sure we’ll get the books on time, but his monthly updates have covered his progress in some detail.  He is even now up in Iceland, having given a presentation about his work.  But when we do get it, you can be sure I’ll review it here.

Failed Campaigns

And then there were the campaigns I backed but which did not fund.

1 – Storybricks, the storytelling online RPG – May 2012

I am still unclear as to what I was actually getting in exchange for backing this project.  They were working on a development tool, which doesn’t translate well for end users.  Believe me, I know that pain.  I have been working on development tools for the last 17 years.  But Brian Green was part of the project, so I kicked in before the campaign ended.  Eventually Storybricks got in bed with SOE for the whole EverQuest Next project, then the buyout happened, Daybreak ended their contract, and they folded up shop… dropping a final bit of crazy on us on the way out the door.  I am not at all sure what the trajectory would have been had this campaign succeeded.

2 – Project: Gorgon – An Indie MMORPG by Industry Veterans – October 2012

The first Project: Gorgon campaign.  Eric Heimburg wanted $55K, but barely got past the $14K mark.  Too obscure to get the backing it needed, the project soldiered on without it.

3 – Tinker Dice from Project Khopesh – June 2013

Tesh makes some dice.  While this first campaign did not fund, he later went on to have success in subsequent campaigns.

4 – Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – January 2014

Brad McQuaid decided he was going to get into the whole spiritual successor funding thing with a throw back to EverQuest.  He asked for too much money… at least more than his name and reputation could draw… and spread his focus too wide in my opinion.  The project is theoretically still going, but post-campaign funding has been problematic at best.

5 – Project: Gorgon – A new approach to MMOs – August 2014

The second coming of the Project: Gorgon kickstarter campaign.  By this point there was a solid, playable game to be supported.  Asked for $100K, got just over $23K in pledges.  Eric Heimburg just isn’t a name with much draw, and as has been discussed before, the project name itself isn’t doing him any favors.  The project doesn’t even have a page on Wikipedia.  Still, Project: Gorgon lives and you can go play it right now.

Summary

Overall, Kickstarter has worked out pretty well for me.  I have managed so far to back only projects that have come to fruition. (I don’t count the failed campaigns.)  I like to think that I have chosen wisely, picking only campaigns run by teams with a track record of success.  But it is probably more likely that, in backing just a few projects, I managed to get lucky.

There was clearly a stretch of time where I was more enthusiastic on the whole Kickstarter thing.  That has faded somewhat, and you will no doubt notice some omissions from the list, popular projects I opted to pass on.  There is no Crowfall on my list, as an example.

The only project I have mild regrets about not backing is the Ogre Designer’s Edition campaign from Steve Jackson Games.  I played Ogre and G.E.V. back when they came in a zip-loc bag, so there was a strong nostalgia factor present when the campaign launched.  That said, I am not sure what I would do with the 29 pound box that resulted when the campaign raised nearly a million dollars when they only asked for $20K.  I don’t have anybody to play table top games with and I have more than enough stuff around the house I do not use, so another huge box in a closet probably wasn’t necessary.

So that is my Kickstarter tale.  I am still waiting on some projects to finish, and every single project I have backed has been late to one degree or another, but things have still turned out okay so far.  How have you done with Kickstarter?