Daily Archives: September 17, 2015

Expansions Win Again – EVE Online Returning to Larger Releases

According to CCP_Seagull, Executive Producer for EVE Online, at the onset of the 07 Show earlier today, and followed up by a Dev Blog on the topic, CCP has recognized that having everything showing up their about-every-five week drops has caused the whole system of updates and features to become a bit confusing.

Also, a picture from space

Also, a picture from space

Well, for me it has all pretty much become a blur.  I remember Phoebe, because of jump fatigue, and Aegis, because that was the final switch over to Fozzie Sov, but other than that… well… Crius was something about industry maybe?   I’d have to go look them up to be sure which expansion brought what feature.

So expansions will be back.  The smaller releases allowed some things, but fell short on two fronts laid out by CCP Seagull:

  • It encouraged us to take bigger changes that should really belong together and chop them up into multiple releases once each part was done – which has created a disjointed experience in some cases
  • We put a lot of responsibility on you players to figure out what’s coming and when, and what the future of EVE is, instead of us packaging big changes together and telling you about them all at once

CCP is not going to do away with regular updates.  The five week release schedule will remain for smaller items.  But major features will be held back and released as full fledged expansions as opposed to coming in bits and pieces that way the sov changes have been coming over the last year or so.

Expansions won’t be on the twice-a-year schedule we grew used to during the first decade of EVE Online.  They will come at need to deliver big features to the game when they need to.

Coming on the heels of the EverQuest and EverQuest II announcements that expansions are back, along with the ArenaNet decision to go with an expansion for Guild Wars 2 this year after nay saying the whole idea previously, I am going to take this as some sort of endorsement that the big event that is an expansion is still a thing worth doing.

Minecraft and a New Age of Exploration

Last week I put up snapshot of the rendered map of our world in a post to show how much… or how little… of the potentially huge part of our minecraft world we had explored.

Strange World - Sep. 7, 2015

Strange World – Sep. 7, 2015

And in that world, the part we actually live in was a pretty small circle even within 6km wide, 5km tall rectangle of space.  That was maybe a square 2km by 2km at the most, not counting Skronk’s sand supply base south of his main settlement or other such outposts.

Local neighborhood

Local neighborhood

I also mentioned that a new friend, Aaron, had joined us in the game.

He spent some time setting up his own base… another source of new ideas for me… and the set out to do some exploring.

Up until that point Xyd and I had done some exploration, mostly by digging through the nether a ways and putting up portals to the overworld, taking advantage of that 8 to 1 travel bonus you get down there.  There are a number of such portals set out around our map.  You can see a couple of lone squares where we popped up but never bothered to make the overland trip home.

Aaron though had a different plan.  His declaration was “I’m kind of a ‘the journey is the reward’ kinda guy.” and so after he got his base settled and was equipped, he set off to walk further afield than we had previously, uncovering some as yet unseen biomes in our world.

So this week the map of the explored segments of our world looks like this.

Paths of the explorer

Paths of the explorer

While the east/west axis of exploration hasn’t expanded by much… I’m not going to count that lone ocean square that Xyd found… the north/south axis now stretches from about 8km north of the spawn point to 6km south, for a good 14km run.

I am actually not sure who did the northern run.  I suspect that was a special effort by Xyd in the nether, since I spotted one of his usual little towers at the north end of that run.  But I haven’t found his portal in the nether, so I cannot be sure.  However, on seeing the mesa biome with its colored clay layers, I made my own effort to tunnel through the nether and put up a portal there.

In the Mesa biome

In the Mesa biome camp on the map

That wasn’t a huge effort as Xyd had already started digging in that direction previously, so I took the furthest point I could find and continued moving from there.  My portal, of course, came up at level 14 in the world, so I had to dig up to the surface, build a shelter, take that portal down, and put it up again where it was more easily spotted.  I have plans for some of that colored clay.

But on the southward trek, Aaron reported back that he had found a couple more rare biomes.  The first was plain of ice spikes, where you can go and harvest packed ice if you have a pick with silk touch.

Ice spikes on the map

Ice spikes on the map

The other was a mushroom island, where giant mushrooms grown and where giant mushrooms grown and where you can find the rare mooshroom cow.

The island

The island

Aaron also mentioned that, in the interest of not having to make the many day journey back and forth, he had built a nether portal at each location, built a structure around each, and gave us the coordinates in the nether where the portals showed up.

I decided to go find the portal to the ice spikes, wanting to see that biome, so I headed down to the nether to look for the path.  Due to the 8 to 1 nature of things, the area around our spawn point portal is starting to fill up with portal protecting structures, which are becoming more elaborate in and of themselves.

Some nether forts

Some nether forts

I am not sure if you can see, but the fort in the back has a tree growing out of its roof.  Wood in the nether is never an issue, right?

There, I started looking for a path to the coordinates he gave, encouraged by his description of the terrain around the portal, which he said was one “…a decently wide plain with netherack and soul sand.”

A plain sounded good, as maybe then there would be a minimum of tunnels and lava.

But as I tried to thread my way through, I kept running into the usual barriers, mountains of netherrack and seas of laval.  So I decided to blaze my own trail.  It was just about 700 blocks away.  How hard could it be?  In fact, a trail had already been started in that dirction by Xyd, leading to another one of his portals under the sea, that got me 200 blocks closer on the Z axis.

From there however, I had to dig.

Well, actually I had to bridge first, as that portal was on the edge of a river of lava, so I opened up a passage over the lava and started moving backwards, pinky finger holding down the shift key to keep me from falling off, laying a single wide bridge of cobblestone with a guard rail on either side.

Oddly, heights still make my stomach flutter in Minecraft.  I can feel my body reacting to the idea of being way up high over things and in peril of falling off.  Not that height makes a difference over a sea of lava.  Fall one meter or one hundred meters into it, you’re dead and all your stuff is gone either way.

After that bridging effort, it was time to start tunneling through a wall of netherrack.

From one angle, that is actually the easy part.  Netherrack comes apart nicely with one hit from and iron pick, so the work goes fast.  There is just the whole bit about being careful where you come out and not stepping out over open space should there cease to be a floor and just figuring out where you are in the nether overall.  Landmarks are scarce unless you build them yourself.

Oh, and the ever present threat of lava.  Netherrack is well stocked with squares of lava just waiting to flow out over the hasty tunneler.  I actually had to bypass an area that had three such squares close together which conspired to keep plugging up the hole… you just have to put something in the lava square and it ceases to be… from being a reasonable proposition.  I just blocked up that little segment of tunnel and went around.

I got through that wall and was welcomed to another sea of lava work around.

Always more lava to cross

Always more lava to cross

I also started thinking about moving along the X axis.  I was closing in on 600 blocks along the Z axis, but was still 150 blocks away on the X axis.  I had hit something of an open-is area and started to thread my way through things, eventually running into another wall of netherrack.

Back to tunneling.

I made it through that to another open area full of lava.  It was a wide sea, but there were some islands of netherrack above the sea.  I decided to build up to them to help get over the whole thing without doing a full bridge.  If nothing else, I was starting to get low on cobblestone.  So up I went.

Stairs up in the nether

Stairs up in the nether

It is actually easy to build stairs up.  It is building stairs down from a high point that is a bit of a pain.

Upon getting to the top I found that the islands were a bit less substantial and more spread out than I thought.  This was going to require some more bridge building.

As I stood there eyeing the possible path, I thought I saw some cobblestone lit up in the distance.  So I build a quick bridge over to the next island, which turned out to be fairly flat and made up of netherrack and soul sand… and had a cobblestone building on the far side that contained a portal.  I had, pretty much by sheer luck, found the portal up to the ice spikes.

So I went through that and headed outside just in time to see the ice spikes lit by the warm glow of the setting sun.

On the plain of ice spikes

On the plain of ice spikes

I went back and finished off the bridge and paved a bit of the way across the soul sand, which slows you down when you move over it, finishing the nether road to the portal and using up the last of my cobblestone reserves.

The next task will be to try to find the portal that Aaron put on mushroom island.  But first I have to mine some more to rebuild my cobblestone supply.

And while I am doing that, I am also going to refine the huge pile of netherrack I acquired along the way to make nether bricks.  My plan is to use that, along with some of the colored clay blocks from the mesa biome, to build the Barad-dûr within sight of Xyd’s castle complex, so at night the unblinking eye will be staring his way.

Of course, that will need a lot more netherrack.  You have to refine down four to get one block of nether brick.  So I might as well harvest that while I look for mushroom island portal.  That will also give me time to consider how to build a giant unblinking eye out of lava.

The Trilogy is Complete – World of Warships Goes Live

Wargaming.net’s Land/Sea/Air trio of online action games is now complete.  Today World of Warships takes its place beside World of Warplanes and World of Tanks as a live game, finished in the way that any such game is finished… meaning a team will probably keep working on it for years to come.

It has been a while since we first heard about the game.  I first posted about World of Warships back in August of 2011 when there were trailers for the two “new” games, that and World of Warplanes.

Battleships!

State of affairs back in 2011

Of course, back then it had a different name and seemed to emphasize only the big guns of the battleships that were then part of the title.

Fire!

Heavy broadsides

I was interested in it back then, when World of Tanks was still new and fresh, though I was wondering how they were going to pull off 20th naval combat.  Combat between battleships of that era, as I mused, was generally an at or over the horizon affair.  The range of the big guns made the idea of laying along side, as in the age of sail, a silly idea.  How was Wargaming.net going to accommodate that without either making a map so huge that nobody see the other side or nerfing the guns to unrealistic short range.

As it happened, Wargaming.net revised the whole idea and the game was rechristened World of Warships and became a naval combined arms with destroyers, cruisers, and carriers joining the fray.

It has been in open-ish beta for a while now, with keys being handed out pretty freely.  I think I secured a code for the game back in the spring without much effort, and I have played a bit over the last few months.

It is a pretty good game, very much in the mold of World of Tanks; easy to get into and easy to play in short bursts when you don’t have hours of free time.  It might even be a little easier to start playing than its land based sibling, and it is certainly much, much easier to start off in than World of Warplanes.  A decent “other” game for somebody playing EVE Online. (There does seem to be some overlap on that front.)

And I expect it will follow the same trajectory as World of Tanks, with new ships being introduced over time and ships being rebalanced as players discover which ship is the best in each class and which are dogs.  And so it ever goes in such games.

With land, sea, and air covered, will Wargaming.net go into space next?