Monthly Archives: October 2015

October in Review

The Site has failed to get me riled up yet again this month.  Nothing to rant about on that front I guess, so I will just shake my fist in general annoyance at some of their “improved” features that I still manage to avoid, like that new editor… how I hate it.

Where I am headed...

Where I am headed…

Other than that is was a modest month here at TAGN.  I was away for a few days for EVE Vegas, but managed to keep up with the post-every-weekday schedule.

One Year Ago

The SF Giants won the World Series for the third time in five years.  I was just happy when they won it once in my lifetime.

I was wondering about guild progression and whether they should have levels.

I was disappointed at Trion installing HackShield on my system and only deigning to notify me of this after the fact.  That got their Glyph launcher off my system for good.

EA put a new twist on insta-level by introducing a limited 12x experience bonus offer that would essentially let Star Wars: The Old Republic players level up via just their class story, without indulging in the myriad side quests the process would otherwise require.  Basically, you could play just the good bits of the game.  Imagine that!

The strategy group was doing city assaults, river crossings, and ambushes in Total War: Rome II.

At EVE Vegas there were development plans for the coming year, which included Tech III destroyers.  Jump fatigue was also announced.  But at least we were also getting a much longer skill queue. (Limited to 50 skills or ten years of training, whichever you reach first.)  That was much on my mind as I crossed the 130 million skill point mark.

The Reavers, a group within The Imperium dedicated to living in hostile territory and attacking enemy infrastructure, formed a year ago this month.  Our inaugural operations went to Insmother , where we blew up plenty of stuff, and then to Feythabolis.

Closer to home there was a capital brawl in our staging system.  That was part of some battles with Black Legion, where they would visit us and then we would visit them.  Or blob them.  I also experienced one of the classic EVE mistakes for the first time.  People seemed anxious to use their capital ships before the Phoebe expansion changed everything.

In World of Warcraft I summed up my summer campaign for the Loremaster achievement.  It was not a success.  I did get my Sha’tari Skyguard reputation to exalted though.  More mounts!

Meanwhile, the WoW 6.0 patch dropped and the count-down to Warlords of Draenor began in earnest.  I was looking at the new features in that.  The instance group also stirred in anticipation of the new expansion, mostly finishing off Mists of Pandaria.

Finally, Planetary Annihilation arrived at last, and proved once again that recreating past fun isn’t as easy as it should be.

Five Years Ago

I had some hopes and expectations for BlizzCon.  They were pretty much unmet.  But Blizzard had already announced the Cataclysm ship date, so what else did I expect?

I asked if people ever look at the items in the blog side-bar.  People mostly do not.

I finished building my new computer.  Windows 7 64-bit was the wave of the future… unless you wanted to take that LOTRO survey.

The EVE Online screen shot contest wrapped up, winners were declared and prizes were sent out.

I was playing Lord of Ultima innocently enough and then somebody attacked me! Oh noes!

I was suddenly determined to “catch them all” and finish the National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver.

The instance group was playing in LOTRO, which had been live as a Free to Play game for one month. In-game, we were subjected to the disturbing habits of some of the residents of the Lone Lands, while I indulged in one of my own habits, the mid-game character swap.  And then I made one post completely unreadable by making anagrams out of all the proper nouns.  I had to repost a corrected version.

I bought Civilization V, which like every Civilization launch, had issues with my current computer.  The unwritten rule of Civilization is that you need to upgrade your machine in order to play.

My daughter and I were drinking new and interesting sodas. and was really hoping that the SF Giants could make it to a World Series victory.

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 Read Posts for October

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. EverQuest II Server Consolidation Plan Announced
  3. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  4. When is WoW Legion?
  5. EverQuest Announces The Broken Mirror Expansion
  6. Quote of the Day – The Problem is You Not Buying My Stuff
  7. Mineserver – A Minecraft Hardware Solution
  8. Minecraft and the Great Northern Road
  9. Quote of the Day – Statements Least Likely to Secure My Cooperation
  10. Multibuy – A Vanguard Feature I Totally Underrated
  11. Costly Castles in Crowfall
  12. Leaving EVE Vegas

Search Terms of the Month

they added up their ages (32+7) and what happened next…wow!
[It came out to 39… Jack Benny’s age!]

demographic cliff
[The fate of many an MMO]

the vortex pinnacle is missing from my game
[Are you playing WoW?]

eve plex for wow token
[THERE is a budding entrepreneur!]

Best Spam Comment Name

brain injury attorney
[Basically, you if you click on that link, you are probably suffering from a brain injury.]

EVE Online

We have been having ongoing content in Cloud Ring and Pure Blind.  There was also a “Reavers and friends” deployment to the south to pick some battles with TEST, which carries on.

The big deal was EVE Vegas however and meeting people and the announcements of what CCP has planned.  That took up a good four days and I have been digesting things from it ever since.

Something I only barely grasped however was that EVE Online had a holiday event in-game.  That’s what the Crimson Harvest event was, right?  CCP giving us a Halloween event?

Diablo III

I carried on through Act V of the game, which wasn’t as long as I expected, and then started in on Adventure Mode.  My goal is to get my crusader up to the level cap.  He is at level 65 currently, so just a ways to go.  I am not sure I will carry on after that into paragon levels however.


The shared world continues, with each of us on our various projects.  At one point my daughter saw Skronk and Enaldi’s Italian city and was inspired to come back and start playing.  I think that lasted for about two hours, but it was a happy two hours.

Coming Up

So the big item on the November calendar has to be BlizzCon and what Blizzard will say about the WoW Legion expansion.  Expectations about things like release dates will be high.

But I suspect that before we get to BlizzCon we will hear the Activision-Blizzard quarterly report for Q3 2015.  At least we will if the WoW subscription numbers are down, otherwise that would rain on the BlizzCon parade.  If the numbers are stable or up, they can come during or after BlizzCon because nobody will care.

Then November will see expansions for games that start with the letters “eve,” including EverQuest, EverQuest II, and EVE Online.  Now if we can just get Ever, Jane on board we’ll be set.

On my return from EVE Vegas my daughter, hearing about the Signal Cartel “space hippies” and that people role play in New Eden (and Provi Bloc in particular), has decided she wants to try EVE Online.  I suspect hilarity will ensue.  At a minimum I will have to blog about her reactions.

Soon enough we will be into the rapid pace of the holiday season, destined to spit us out in January dizzy, with a big credit card bill, and wondering what in the hell just happened.

EverQuest Progression Servers – Faster Unlocks! Faster! Faster!

I haven’t mentioned much about the Ragefire and Lockjaw EverQuest time-locked progression servers recently, mostly because I haven’t been playing on them.  But they have also skipped mention because key events, like polls and expansion unlocks, have been spread out.  Not much has happened since the early Ruins of Kunark unlock poll for Ragefire that got pushed by the demands of some players.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

Still the only fully good MMO expansion ever

Well, the complaints were not done.  While the Ragefire server got Kunark early, Lockjaw was going to be the place that waited the original duration… until people started asking for a sooner unlock.  So Daybreak put up a poll last week that closed out today asking the following of Lockjaw player:

Do you want to open Kunark early on Lockjaw? Future expansion schedules will not be affected.

  • No preference
  • Wait to vote for Kunark on the normal schedule (Voting starts December 1st).
  • Unlock Kunark early (November 2nd), with no vote

The polls closed at midnight PDT last night and the results are out today.  The Ruins of Kunark expansion will open up on Lockjaw on Monday.

Meanwhile, there was a more general poll on the Ragefire server asking if people wanted to speed things up… even more so.  The poll specifically asked:

Do you want the Ragefire server to unlock expansions on a faster schedule permanently?

  • No preference
  • Keep expansion unlocks the way they are.
  • Cut expansion unlock time in half. They will take 3 months to unlock until Gates of Discord, and 6 weeks after that.

The results for that poll asked for unlocks to stay the way they are.  So they got Ruins of Kunark early, but will stay on track for everything else.  The requisite raid content has been cleared and the vote for the next expansion, Scars of Velious, is set for March 11, 2016.

Original Box Art

Just in time for spring… snow!

Maybe this just proves my long standing theory about Ruins of Kunark being the best MMO expansion ever.  People wanted that early.  But the rest of the plan is on track as originally laid out.

Unless somebody gets impatient again.  But Daybreak would never go along with that…

A New Home for World of Darkness

Together, we will create the industry’s most innovative games leveraging both online and offline systems.

-White Wolf president Mike Tinney, November 2006

The ongoing tale of CCP Games, White Wolf, and the World of Darkness IP.  A story as old as this blog.

Back in 2006, during the heady days of MMO glory, when every virtual world idea seemed like a good one, CCP bough White Wolf with the express desire of turning World of Darkness into an MMO.  We had heard that by 2009, during the growth years of EVE Online, that CCP was had a team actively working on that project.

World of Darkness

World of Darkness

And then fortunes changed.  There were layoffs in 2011 and again in 2013 that directly affected the team working on the project.

Then there was the mysterious asset derecognition in the company books in March of last year that later turned out to be World of Darkness.  Then, finally, in April of 2014, the 56 people still working on the project were let go and the project was officially terminated by CCP.

After that, some tales of the project leaked out to the press, with stories of hitting alpha a few times only to be rejected and a large amount of “borrowing” of assets from the WoD team to support other projects, especially EVE Online.

And that is where things were left.  It has been well over a year since we have heard anything substantial.  And then yesterday there was finally some news.  Paradox Interactive, the Swedish King of computer strategy games, is buying White Wolf from CCP.  On the Icelandic side of things, this unburdens CCP some and provides them with some additional cash in the bank.  But we already knew that they were concentrating on the EVE Online universe and related VR titles like Valkyrie and Gunjack.  (What fate awaits DUST 514 though, the only “not in space” game in the set?)

What Paradox will end up doing with White Wolf is less clear.  The phrase “…will pursue development opportunities across relevant categories of game…” is as open ended as one would expect at this stage of things.

Does that mean a World of Darkness MMO some day?  That still seems pretty doubtful to me.  The age of “MMO all the things!” has passed.  I am not sure “WoW with vampires!” would do any of us any credit. (And hopefully nobody is thinking “LoL with vampires!”  We’re past that too now, right?)

But we might get a decent computer RPG some day.  We shall see.

The press release from Paradox Interactive is below.  There was no press release from the CCP side of things, but then they cannot even seem to keep up with EVE Online expansions there.

Paradox Interactive Acquires White Wolf Publishing from CCP Games
New Paradox Subsidiary will Operate Independently and Manage All White Wolf Properties, Including World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade

STOCKHOLM – Oct. 29, 2015 – Paradox Interactive, a global games developer and publisher, today announced the acquisition of White Wolf Publishing from CCP Games in an all-cash deal. Now a subsidiary of Paradox Interactive, White Wolf Publishing is a licensing business that owns and manages intellectual properties including World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Led by CEO Tobias Sjögren, former EVP of Business Development at Paradox, White Wolf Publishing will operate as an independent entity with a dedicated team.

White Wolf Publishing has a long history of producing gaming universes that span mediums, including tabletop and collectible card games, PC games and books. Paradox Interactive acquired all of White Wolf’s brands, and its new subsidiary will pursue development opportunities across relevant categories of games under the White Wolf Publishing name.

“Like Paradox’s games, White Wolf’s properties have dedicated, passionate communities. While there are similarities in spirit, White Wolf’s IPs have very different themes than Paradox’s titles, and deserve their own brand and team,” said Fredrik Wester, CEO and President of Paradox Interactive. “We have great respect for White Wolf’s gaming worlds and see big opportunities for their expansion in the future under our new subsidiary.”

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with beloved studios like DICE and Paradox on the business management side of games, and as a developer earlier in my career. I look forward to bringing my experience to bear as we pursue new ways to interact with White Wolf’s universes,” said Tobias Sjögren, CEO of White Wolf Publishing. “The White Wolf IPs are well suited for all kinds of media and we see great potential to expand them in the future.”

“At CCP, we have great admiration for the White Wolf brands and communities, and it was extremely important to us that the acquiring company share the same respect and understanding,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games. “With Paradox, we know we are leaving the brands in good hands.”

For more information about White Wolf Publishing, please visit

A Year of Reavers

In putting together the usual month in review post for Saturday, I noticed that my first post about Reavers came up in October of 2014.  A quick check of our super secret section of the GSF forums shows the first posts on October 14 of last year, so I am a couple weeks late on the anniversary, though less than a week off from my post about our first op.

The Imperium holds itself and its many players together through a variety of special interest groups, or SIGs.  The Imperium is, in its way, a microcosm of EVE Online.  On the outside looking in, you may view The Imperium as a whole by your interaction with one of those groups.  MiniLuv, the high sec freighter ganking group… which turns a tidy profit through its actions… gets a lot of attention despite being a rather small group.  There are other combat groups like Space Violence, Top Goon, Black Ops, Bomberwaffe, and CapSwarm.

Groups have their symbols or logos

Groups have their symbols or logos

There are also groups that do wormhole ops, faction warfare, incursions, industry, shipping, escalations, and other such things.  Some are official, some just small ventures.  Some take all comers, while others have skill or ship restrictions or require somebody to vouch for you.  You can roll into Space Violence pretty easily, but they might want to check you out a bit for Corps Diplomatique, you don’t get into CapSwarm unless you have the skills and own the right hull, and for GIA they will want more than just a bit of skin off the nape of your neck.  Some love newbies and dilettantes, others want old hands and dedicated players.

While I try to err on the side of caution when writing about the inner workings of The Imperium, you could see all of this yourself (unless you’re Gevlon) by joining Karma Fleet.  There is a whole sub-forum devoted to recruiting people to these groups.

You do not have to join any of these groups to fly in The Imperium.  There are plenty of coalition-wide fleets, and some of the groups will ping for outsiders to bring up their numbers.  They are there to help you find something you like to do and other players to do that with.  And your alliance and corp will likely also have additional options for you.

I went through the first three years in the CFC/Imperium as just a non-affiliated line member, joining only CrapSwarm, the group for people with a capital ship (in my case an Archon) and minimal skills, but not yet skilled up to fly in CapSwarm.  I think I once got a ping about a move op for that.

Even not joining any of those groups, I did not lack things to do during that time, as this blog will attest.  Eventually though, I began to drift.  War time was always exciting, but between such conflicts ops could be dull.  I tend to prefer ops with a goal, something beyond sitting on a gate in an fast locking ship and popping strangers flying through.

And then came the Reavers.  Formed from the ashes of Freedom Squad, Reagalan’s US time zone “let’s go shoot things” group, it was announced by The Mittani during an internal State of the Goonion talk (and later revealed in an alliance update) and was to be headed up by Asher Elias.  It was put in place as a reaction to the changes coming with the Phoebe expansion, specifically jump fatigue.

I seem to recall the name Reavers being a placeholder, and a Firefly reference, and then nothing better came up, so it stuck.

Reavers forum bee

Reavers forum bee

In a null sec of far flung rental empires, the ability to bridge, jump, or otherwise move fleets rapidly across many light years was being curtailed.  In a war, a group with a large area to defend would have to commit to the front lines of any conflict.

In this situation, Reavers were to go deep into the enemy’s territory, far behind the front lines, and cause havoc by blowing up SBUs, reinforcing towers, siphoning mining operations, setting timers, disabling station services, snapping jump bridge connections, and generally making such a nusance of ourselves.  The enemy would thus be forced to decide between fighting on the front lines or putting out fires deep in their rear areas.

The Reavers themselves would arrive via wormholes, carrying all they needed in their Ishtars.  They would live in, and log out from, safe spots and refit via mobile depots.  They would, scout, hit targets of opportunity, set timers, call in coalition support for particularly juicy targets (like capital ship assembly arrays), but otherwise safe up, cloak up, and log off should the enemy show up in force.  Our existence was to be denied, we were never to speak in local, we were to be a rumor and a story to scare renters with when it was dark out.

And such was our modus operandi for a while, so long as the large rental empires remained.

Naturally, the stealthy nature of our group also made it difficult for me to write about.  Other EVE Online players do occasionally read my blog.  Even The Mittani was momentarily aware of this site at one point a few years back.  I couldn’t write after action reports, or what passes for such here, when it came to daily ops or our location or targets or such without compromising operational security.  Still, I summed things up occasionally, wrote about successes or battles after the fact, and generally kept some track of what we had been up to, trying to share out details sparingly or only after they had been revealed via other sources.

Of course, null sec changed over the last year.  The big rental empires shrank, then faded for the most part, remaining now just in the north east of null sec. (Maps from the usual source.)

October 14, 2014 and October 14, 2015 compared

October 14, 2014 and October 14, 2015 compared

And with that, the tactics of the Reavers changed.  We went from living in safes to holing up in NPC stations.  For two campaigns in Querious, we lived out of high sec space which, if nothing else, made resupply very easy.  We’ve gone from Ishtars to Tengus, with some special docrtines along the way, including an all to brief stint flying Ravens. (Reavans!)

Smart bombs activated

Ravens with smart bombs activated

We’ve gone from those deep behind enemy lines deployments where we avoided contact to cozying up next to somebody’s home,  hitting their stuff, and looking for fights… because there aren’t a lot of big empires left to hide in.  We have changed as null sec has changed over the year.

And, in that year I have felt like I have been a part of a special group.  I’ve made an effort to go on every Reaver op I can.  I have been out for every deployment.  I changed up my avatar to meet the jacket pal spec and even wore a rough copy at EVE Vegas.

Jacketpals unite

Jacket pals unite!

I might be the least well known Reaver inside the group.  I almost never speak on voice coms… to the point that Asher was surprised to learn at one point that I actually had a mic, I just never use it… but I still feel like I belong.  I have learned a lot along the way, got to do fun things, and felt like we had a mission in the coalition.

So here is my retrospective, all my Reaver posts from the first year of the group.

That is 27 posts that cover a good portion of the first year.  Going through all of that I noticed that I missed a few ops.  There was our past run at TEST and a Rokh op that had us in Fountain with Brave Newbies that I never got around to posting about.  But I have at least a timeline of sorts that shows where we started and what we have been up to.

As for what the Reavers will be doing a year from now in null sec, we shall see.

While We Were Away…

On the Monday before EVE Vegas the Reavers, along with a couple of other groups, started deploying south to Curse.  With no real war on, and things turning quiet in Pure Blind, NC seeming to slow down and MOA off to greener pastures, the deployment was something to keep us busy.

The ostensible reason for the deployment was to defend the Phoebe Freeport Republic, which had been under assault by TEST.  That was your role play hook, if you needed one.  In reality, it wasn’t like we set standings to blue with PFR.  We just wanted to go brawl with TEST and whoever else we could find.  So we packed up our various doctrine ships and started heading south.

I see at least three doctrines, plus logistical support

I see at least three doctrines, plus logistical support

I actually got in the first move fleet with both my main and my alt each flying a Basilisk, the current favored shield logi.  They work with Tengus, they work with Feroxes, and… hrmm… not sure about Cormorants.

We moved via the usual route, which is to say through wormholes.

Fleet standing off a wormhole waiting for orders

Fleet standing off a wormhole waiting for orders

With battlecruisers and support ships and a couple of carriers along with the usual mix of ships, we were pushing the limits on the wormholes we used.  Our exit hole went critical and collapsed when one of the carriers went through, sending it off into the weeds in the system.  Fortunately, it was also the last ship through so nobody was stuck.  But nobody was going to be following our route or catching up later via that path.

We managed to get to our staging system in Curse and got people setup with setting the station as their home.  There were more move ops to follow and a few ops to start off against TEST, but by the time we got to that point it was time to start packing for EVE Vegas.  I jumped my main and my alt to high sec clones with learning implants and left EVE Online the game behind for almost a week. (According to Raptr I played less than one third as much as usual last week.)

I did, however, have Jabber running on my iPad and could see that ops were being called.  You can see from the latest report over at the Null Sec Updates blog that a series of battles were fought between us and TEST down in “Content Creek” as it has been dubbed. (You might need to scroll down a bit to find links to all of the battle reports.)  We apparently even took the system R4N-LD for a bit, though not everything went our way it seems.

So yesterday afternoon I saw a warning from Asher that we had a timer coming up and an op planned at approximately 23:00 EVE time.  I got myself into game early, clone jumped to our staging system down south, strapped on the Basi, and waited.  Like a few other people, I even got onto voice coms early in anticipation of the upcoming op.  Azure and Argent even put up a fleet just to keep us occupied and to get a pilot count as we waited.  The time designated time came and passed and still we sat and waited.

Then the word came down that there would be no op down south.  Something else had been going on while I was away.  Well, I and apparently a large portion of officers and FCs in The Imperium.  It seems to be a regular occurrence with Fanfest and Vegas, with that group away somebody shows up to take advantage.  This time NC apparently used this opportunity to reinforce things in Pure Blind, so the call was to clone jump back up to the north to join fleets running up there.

Of course, having just jumped both characters, I was out of sync.  But it looks like more timers and more fights possible up in Pure Blind tonight.  And we shouldn’t have too far to travel, as the coalition staging system, 3V8-LJ, if where one of the timers will come out.

So back to space and stabilizing the situation after time away.

Blog Banter 68 – Rig Check

This month’s EVE Online Blog Banter, number 68 in the series, is titled This is my Rig.

This is my Rig, There are Many Like it…
What do you play Eve on? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! Are you pew-pewing on a laptop? Plotting universal domination on a 12 monitor set up? Mining away on a 50″ TV? Is your set up located where your other half can speak to you or do you lock yourself away for hours in your Eve themed shed? How do you play your important internet spaceships?

So I looked at my desk setup and realized that not much has changed over the last few years.  I did a post on a very similar topic back in 2007 and found that not much has changed on my desk.  So much so that I am not going to bother taking a new picture, because the old one still pretty much reflects my desktop situation.

The table is unusually clear in this picture

The table is unusually clear in this picture

Also, I would have to clean up the stacks of papers that tend to accumulated on either end of my desk for a decent picture.

But otherwise I have the same Dell 20″ 1600×1200 (4:3 ratio) monitor (still with the same desktop pattern), the same Logitech G15 keyboard (though the back lighting is going out on half the keys), the same Kensington Expert Mouse (though the ball was marred when one of the cats decided that biting it was a good idea), and the same Logitech speakers (which now have a loose wire in the volume control so I have to wiggle it sometimes to get sound).  Even the power strip and the holder for envelopes are the same more than eight years later.

EVE Online Jump Gate

Desktop picture for many years…

I am a couple of headsets down the road, though I still have the pair in the picture, a Plantronics .510 set, I just use it at work for VoIP calls rather than at home.  At home I have a Logitech g930 wireless headset, which I wrote about in another post, and which I am only moderately fond of.

And I have gone from a 3rd generation iPod to a 3rd generation iPod Nano, which I purchased not long after that picture was taken, so there is no longer an iPod dock on the desk, just a cable with the old style connector which works with both the iPod and my iPad 2.

What is under the desk has changed a few time since that picture was taken.  The big purple Alienware case is long gone.  The Velocity Micro system I got at the end of 2007, with an early Intel Quad Core processor, replaced my wife’s last computer and is still mostly suited to her needs.

The big black and well ventilated Cooler Master case from the system I built back in 2010 is still there.  However, after the big disaster of a year ago, when a power supply I had been thinking about replace went out and took almost everything connected with it, there was a pretty substantial rebuild.

So here is what is driving my gaming today:

  • Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Processor
  • nVidia GeForce GTX 960 video card with 4GB of VRAM
  • 12GB of RAM
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 240GB SSD for the OS
  • 2TB internal HDD for storage
  • 2TB of external HDD for backups (all those screen shots gotta live somewhere)
  • 1 BluRay/DVD/CD Read/Write unit that survived the power supply incident

All of which is enough to give the system a Windows 7 experience score of 7.6 on a scale of 1 to 7.9… because why would we do something crazy and use a 1 to 10 scale or something. (The scale is different on Windows 8 and Windows 10 if I recall right.)


I also like how your score isn’t a weighted average or anything, but just the lowest item on the list.  I smell a marketing decision.

All of which gives me sufficient resources to run most games I play with the graphic settings turned up pretty high.  Specifically, I can play EVE Online in pretty graphics mode in a big battle with two clients running and things seem to run okay.  Windows 7 does insist on turning off the Windows Aero desktop graphics when I run two clients, but that is fine by me.

So that is what I am running.  Ergonomically I am still playing in 2007, while under the covers I do have enough horsepower to play what I want to.  I’ll probably need a new keyboard at some point, and I dream of a bigger monitor some day, but for now I am still set, and there are a lot of other things on the list that come ahead of new toys for me.

Others participating in Blog Banter 68:

Leaving EVE Vegas

If you follow my Twitter feed at all… and hell, it is there on the side bar down towards the bottom, so no excuse even if you don’t… you probably figured out that I went to EVE Vegas this past weekend.

EVE Vegas Baby!

EVE Vegas Baby!

My wife and I actually flew in Thursday afternoon to have a bit of time for ourselves in Vegas before events started to take their course.  And then, suddenly it was Sunday evening and I was in a cab to the airport and the whole thing was winding down.

So, in order to try and organize my thoughts, possibly for future posts, I am going to go over some highlights of the whole thing.  This is more stream of consciousness than any attempt at a strict summary of things.


The EVE Vegas Keynote was the big reveal, the introduction to the upcoming features, some of which had been talked about before, like the upcoming structures, and some new ones, like the capital ship rework.  Both of those appeared to be slated for the Citadel expansion in the spring.

Coming Spring 2016

Coming Spring 2016

There were also some smaller items, coming sooner, such as the new ice mining frigate. the endurance, and new hit effects for ships.  For the latter, some shield hit effects were shown,  and they look really cool. (They start at about 50:30 in the keynote video on YouTube.)

There are also changes coming to the camera.  You will be able to move the camera with being focused on a ship or other in-space object and you’ll be able to focus on things more than 100km away.  There is also a first person mode in the works.

Then there were media and goodies.  CCP had stuff for sale at the convention and announced that some items would be available before Christmas through the site Think Geek.  There was a mention of Andrew Groen’s upcoming Empires of EVE book that so many of us pledged for in the Kickstarter way back when, and a new initiative between The media and the author Jeff Edwards to create a pilot’s view telling of the 2013 war in Fountain. (For those who need a reminder, I have my own timeline of the war.)

Then CCP Seagull finished up by thanking us all for coming, said she would see us at the pub crawl, waved, and walked off stage.  The audience then, almost as one, stood up to leave… at which point somebody came out to remind us that the EVE Valkyrie keynote was up next and we should all leave.  I stayed for that… though I cannot recall a single thing… but most people wandered off.  Sucks to be the poor relation.

Anyway, unlike Noizy, I came out of the keynote quite upbeat.  Yes, that was in part because nearly every game related item they spoke of involved null sec, though I would point out that capital ships are a thing in low and WH space, while citadels will be everywhere… except Thera… which is where Noizy lives, so I guess I can see his point of view.


A mistake on my part was to arrive in Vegas without any plan to meet up with anybody.  Going to a convention where I know nobody personally and, thus, have little or no chance of actually recognizing anybody and being somebody who can find it difficult to approach and start speaking to strangers, especially if they are already in a group and talking… well, not an optimum scenario.

Still, I muddled through, largely thanks to my wife, who was a sales rep for years and is the type who makes lifelong friends in the line at the grocery store.  Of course, there were some false starts.

In line for badge pickup… because a couple hundred of us decided that we needed to pick up our badges right at 11am when registration opened… I resolved to speak to the people around me in line.  So I turned to the two guys behind me who were chatting and said that we were all obviously EVE players and asked what part of the game they played in.

And they said that no, they did not actually play EVE.  Their boss plays EVE and he had sent them down to collect his pass.  This is who I end up standing next to.

Though it wasn’t too bad.  They were game devs and they had both tried EVE at some point.  They worked on the game Gray Goo, which is available on Steam.  So we talked about video game industry stuff, the price of living in Vegas, and where to find alcohol cheaper than the cash bar that was setup near the registration desk.  My wife had them covered on that front. a conversation that spilled over to the people in front of us.

An extra shot is just $2.00 more, making them reasonably potent

An extra shot is just $2.00 more, making them reasonably potent

Soon several people had very large beverages in tow.

I did end up talking to some other people in line, including fellow Reaver Victor Fel.  But I was not particularly social.  I spent a lot of time at sessions and such sitting by myself.

Dinner Friends

I did however, manage to find some people to hang out with.  Thanks to the fact that Gabby uses an actual picture of herself for her Twitter profile, so I was able to spot her at breakfast in the PBR Rock Bar. (Which, by the way, serves the most excellent tater tots as a side with many of their breakfast items.  This was the only place we ate at twice.)  Later we caught up with her and some of her fellow corp mates from Signal Cartel, the people who run the EVE-Scout site that is so near and dear to the hearts of many space travelers.

Rather than go on the pub crawl, which was sold out in addition to likely being beyond my ability to handle, my wife and I joined Signal Cartel for a bit of Las Vegas exploration.  We were headed to Lotus of Siam, a place alleged to be the best Thai restaurant in the US.  I am not sure who says this, but that was the story and we were willing to run with it.

There were nine of us with a vague idea as to were the place might be at the cab stand.  But we figured how could a Vegas cab drive NOT know where the best Thai restaurant is.

We ended up split across three cabs.  The guy at the cab stand knew where we were headed and gave the driver the cross streets to head to, but before we got to the street in front of the hotel, the driver had lost all of that and was asking where we were going.

Pro tip: Short term memory is a very important trait for a cab driver.

We told him what the guy at the cab stand said and he started off in what we assumed to be the right direction, burning down the road in that little cab like he had an extremely lucrative fare to pick up after he dropped us off.  At one point, when he was weaving in and out of lanes and thrashing that poor little motor for a bit more speed, my wife dryly asked what sort of race car he was driving.  The driver, bereft of both short term memory and a sense of irony explained that it was a Scion xB and a very reliable car.

We did manage to arrive at the destination, though not before the drive had to pull out his Android phone, get Google maps running, and have my wife say the name of the restaurant so that he could get directions again.  I was a bit worried, as from the street side the place looked like it might be abandoned.  But the parking lot side of the building showed it to be open for business.  Gabby paid for the cab and, though I bought her a beer, I still owe her some money from that ride.  Next Vegas?

Of course, with nine of us showing up on a Friday night, there was something of a wait.  Fortunately they had a huge bar area… large enough that one might wonder which that wasn’t a dining area… where we were able to push some tables together and sit around and talk for a bit.  In a stroke of luck, Johnny Splunk brought along his wife Jamie who, like my wife, doesn’t play EVE, so they were able to have a non-video game conversation at one end of the table while the rest of us recounted tales of internet spaceships.

Eventually we were dragged from our reverie and had some dinner.  It was decent Thai food, but no better than the Thai place I go to near our house, so it seems like there is a very fine line separating “best” and “runner up” in the whole Thai restaurant category.

Sitting at Dinner

Sitting at Dinner

I like this picture because due to the way we present ourselves and my own short term memory issues (I could never be a cab driver or a waiter, I forgot stuff in two seconds) this is the only common baseline I have for everybody’s name.  I know some of their real names, I know some of their in-game names, for those who blog I know their blogger handles, but Twitter is the only place where I can identify almost everybody.

Anyway, a great time was had and a few of us decided to walk over to the Las Vegas monorail for the trip back to the hotel.  This involved a stretch through a pretty sketchy neighborhood… and, as always, everything in Vegas seems closer than it actually is… but we arrived safely and took a ride on the rail.

The Party

The party at the Chateau club at the Paris Hotel was quite a thing.  We were running late but felt we had best eat BEFORE starting in on the drinking.  As there were no snacks or hors d’oeuvres at the party, just free alcohol, that turned out to be a good plan.  My wife and I hung out with the Signal Cartel team for a bit and then circulated some.

EVE Vegas Party Time

EVE Vegas Party Time

We ended up talking to some smaller groups of people around the edge of the party.  The stratification seemed to be large groups of null sec players clumped about and smaller packs of low sec and wormhole pilots a bit further out.  I am sure this says something about the social structure of EVE Online.

We sat with a couple of low sec pilots from Edmonton for a bit, and my wife got to show her hockey chops as the Oilers now have Todd McClellan as their coach after he was cut by our local team, the Sharks.  We also hung out for a bit with a Provi bloc pilot who, when he found out I was in TNT, wanted to know where the hell we went during the Provi invasion.  He lives in one of the constellation that TNT was supposed to attack, but then we got called back to defend UMI-KK against MOA.

We also saw this guy

We also saw this guy

We stayed past the 11pm mark, at which point the EVE players got pushed over into a roped off section of the club to keep us away from the high rollers.  I suspect we did not stay long enough for such high rollers to show up however, as I didn’t see anybody ordering thousand dollar magnums of champagne from the menus they laid out.

Eventually we decided to call it a night, at which point we were faced with the trial of getting out of the club.  There are stairs, but that is an emergency exit only.  You have to line up for an elevator… and then walk a ways to line up for another elevator… before you are back in the casino.  This may have been the only club I have ever seen that had a line as long to get out as to get in.

EVE Valkyrie

During a lull I spotted a short line for the demo and queued up for a try.

I was happy to find that the VR headset would fit on my own fat head, something that is more of a problem than you might think.  When the game came up I immediately started moving my head around to test the whole VR aspect, which prompted the person from CCP to ask if things were okay.

Fortunately I was given a pretty good briefing on the controls.  How missiles work was explained correctly, which I gather from talking to some other people, was not always the case, so I was able to blow some stuff up.  The Gatling gun was more problematic.  I *think* I hit some things with it, but aiming was odd.

Mostly I was just impressed with being in the VR space environment and seeing the big ships.  I could see CCP giving their new first person camera view a VR option.  But I didn’t walk away dying to get a VR headset.  15 year old me would have had to be dragged away from the game, but current me is a bit more jaded.  At least I didn’t feel any motion sickness.


My wife made an Interbus Jacket for me, which is the official Reavers jacket.

Jacketpals unite

Jacketpals unite

It was crafted from the finest materials the Minmatar Republic could provide… which is to say that it was done up largely with duct tape.  Not quite my in-game avatar come to life, but what can you do?

Wilhelm Arcturus in game

Wilhelm Arcturus in game

However, Reavers were not heavily represented at EVE Vegas, so far as I could tell.  I ran into Viktor Fel, but that was about it.  And not many people outside of Reavers know that we wear this jacket, so I while I got a few compliments, though the comment “We don’t see many Interbus Cosplayers” probably sums up the average reaction.

I was a bit nervous about wearing the jacket.  There is a pretty large impulse to not draw attention in my psyche.  But for the most part people didn’t seem to notice.  When it wouldn’t fit in the luggage for home, I just wore it through the rest of the last day, in the cab, and through both Las Vegas and San Jose airports.  Nobody looked twice.

Still, I did get my moment in this sun, a pose with Maximilian Singularity VI.

Looking into a bright future...

Looking into a bright future…

And, having dressed up as such, I then HAD to buy the Interbus luggage tag that they had for sale.

That yellow matches my duct tape!

That yellow matches my duct tape!

The only other cosplay I can recall seeing was this guy.

Chicken guy

Chicken guy

I had to explain to my wife what a chicken had to do with EVE, though honestly I was stumped for a bit until he let his Fweddit flag fly.  I hear they are recruiting, if you want some fun in Cloud Ring.

Vegas Itself

Las Vegas feels like a very appropriate place to hold an EVE Online convention.  For practical reasons alone it is pretty reasonable.  It is setup for these sorts of events.  It has many distractions.  It has a large and pretty well run airport that handles direct flights from a lot of locations.  People can get there, stay there, and find things to do.

But for all the lights and excitement, it can be as hard of an environment as New Eden.  If you forget for a moment that the place exists to separate you from your money, it will quickly remind you.  I ordered a Jack & Coke and a Vodka Cranberry for myself and my wife at the Heart Bar down in the casino and would have done a spit-take if I had had a drink in my mouth when the bartender laid out the drinks and said it would be $23.50 for the pair.  Plus a tip, you know.

Over at Bellagio I got two scoops of mint chip ice cream and goggled a bit when that came up as $7.50.  That seemed extreme until I ordered a single scoop from a place across the street and it rang up as $6.25.  The Bellagio serving had about four times as much ice cream and seemed like a deal after the other place! (Also, it was very good ice cream.)

And let’s talk about cigarette smoke.  It is always bizarro world odd going to Vegas from California.  It is a short flight, but we’ve been in the process of banning smoking for 30 years.  I don’t think people have been allowed to smoke indoors for the last 20.  So to be in a place where smoking is fine in most every public venue is strange… and painful.  Smoke in the eyes, smoke in your face, the burn in the back of your throat from being around it for a while.  That was why I was buying ice cream, to sooth my throat.

Then there is the reality of Vegas, which includes a lot of people working there… look at all those people in the casino… who are likely priced out of the glamour of the whole thing and live off the strip in a place that was essentially carved out of a desert.

I think Vegas was best summed up by a scene that took place outside of Planet Hollywood on our first day.  A person working for tips… and they are all over the strip… dressed up in a somewhat worn and dirty Hello Kitty costume accosting a pair of tourists who had taken a picture with her (or him, who knows) but hadn’t left a tip.  It was like a Sanrio version of Goodfellas, with Hello Kitty ready to get all, “Fuck you, pay me!”  Put Joe Pesci in that suit and let the camera roll.

Other Bits

I am sure I am forgetting half a hundred other things, but a few items that spring to mind that I want to call out.

Andrew Groen’s presentation about his book The Empires of EVE.  He has a great voice and stage presence and now I want to back the Kickstarter for him reading the audio book version.  He only had 30 minutes on stage, but could have kept us all interested for two hours if he had been given the time.  Really cannot wait for that book to arrive.

CCP Quant’s presentation and the return of the EVE economic newsletter, coming again in November.  Numbers!  We love numbers!

Max Singularity’s NASA session.  The man is passionate about far more than New Eden and gave a moving presentation.

The Broadcast 4 Reps video.  Help your fellow capsuleers when they need it.

A lot of being able to sit down and talk about the game with other EVE Online players.  Noizy and I sat at a table in a quiet area between sessions to talk about the CCP Quant presentation which itself sprawled into other topics.  As interesting as the presentations were and as much fun as the party was, I want more of that.

I’ll mention Signal Cartel again! It was great to meet you guys.  Mynxee was back in the original EVE Blog Pack with her old Life in Low Sec blog back in the day.

And, finally, I have to give a huge shout out to my wife who pretty much made the trip possible.

My wife and I at the party

My wife and I at the party

She put up with the internet spaceship stuff, and still managed to have fun… enough fun that she was already talking about next year.

Now to get back to playing video games.  The irony of such a convention is that I was away from games for four days.

Can You Find Love with a Heart of Thorns?

Today is the day.  The easily predicted, even when ArenaNet was still denying it, expansion to GuildWars 2 launches today.  Today it is Heart of Thorns day.


I have no real stake in the game or its expansion at this point.  I played GW2 for a bit, but it never really hooked me.  It is very pretty, and there was nothing really wrong with it, I just never settled in and felt at home.  I think that was, in part, because a lot of people I knew who played the game got in, made a character, played up to level cap, and left.  There didn’t seem to be much hanging about for some, and while I do a lot of things solo in MMOs, I do like to have friends around to share the experience with, even if it ends up with us being involved with parallel solo play.

But it is a major MMO, lots of people do still play it, and it launching an expansion seems worthy of note here.

I have been interested in the reactions to the expansion as well.  They have not been… wholly positive.  I find interesting because it stirs within me my own conflicted view of expansions.

Part of me, of course, loves expansions.  Who wouldn’t want MORE of a game they already enjoy?!?!  I find enthusiasm for expansions easy to stir up within myself.

But in my gut and in the back of my brain and lurking in other dark recesses of my being, there is an aspect of me that believes expansions aren’t all they are cracked up to me.

When I am channeling that particular bit of myself, I am apt to say that EverQuest Ruins of Kunark was the only good expansion EVER.

Expansions, by there nature, tend to be dividing lines in the game, before and after points where the game changes, sometimes significantly.  Sometimes the changes are good, or at least not bad, but sometimes they are very disruptive and completely change your relationship with a game.

I hold Ruins of Kunark in esteem as it is one expansion that seemed to extend what we already liked about EverQuest without changing the game too drastically.  That is a rare case indeed, at least in my experience. (And I will admit to time perhaps distorting my view of Ruins of Kunark, but I’ve held to that opinion for a long time now. 2007 me seemed to be in full agreement with 2015 me.)

But I think of all the times that expansions… or the hype for expansions and the accompanying build up of expectations… changed my relationship with games for the worse.

As an example, I was totally a fan of Rift for a stretch, played through to level cap on four characters… including a mage type, and I never play those… and was totally down with their system and tight, well designed zones.  And then came Storm Legion, and the game just stopped clicking with me.  I gave it a couple of runs, but it just wasn’t the same.  The game had changed.  They opted for huge, sprawling zones, new quest mechanics, and a few other items that just broke the game’s hold on me.

Not that a game can’t get past that.  I’ve been back to World of Warcraft since Cataclysm alienated our group.  But each expansion brings change.  Mists of Pandaria was actually quite good in the end, despite my skepticism.   Then Warlords of Draenor kindled some hype in me again, only to crush it later by endless garrison labor.  And now we’re looking towards Legion.  Should we trust another expansion from Blizzard, especially one with a single word title?

Sometimes I think we might be better off without expansions.  Sometimes I think companies should just make their 1-50 or 1-60 or 1-80 level game and be done, moving on to the next game.  Maybe add some new classes or some new end game content, but otherwise let the world be.  Because expansions just add complexity, move your core user base further away from any new players if you choose to raise the level cap, trivializes old content, and otherwise bring as many problems as they may solve.

Or such is my dour mood this morning.

How about you, how are you feeling about expansions today as we see a new one launch?


Minecraft and the Great Northern Road

As I mentioned in a previous post, we all seem to have different things we like to do in Minecraft.  It is the nature of a sandbox game which allows us to focus on projects we enjoy.

Exploring is one of the things I like, and I have wandered quite a ways, leaving a trail of little bases, flaming netherrack, and the occasional burning forest behind me. (Don’t put the flaming netherrack too close to the trees.)  Between all of us, we have expanded our borders and filled in a lot of the empty bits on our map, which now runs about 14km north-south and about 8km east-west.

Our world on October 20, 2015

Our world on October 20, 2015

You can compare that with the state of the world back in early September.

But I also like to build infrastructure.  When I go to a place I have the urge to build a road there so that I can get back easily.  I actually like to lay down minecart track too, but that requires such a large investment in iron that I put down track sparingly these days.  So I tend to focus on roads.

I did, however, get it into my head that I wanted to build a nice bridge.  I just needed to figure out where I ought to build one.

Eventually, looking around the map I decided that I should connect the mesa biome in the north with the landmass to the south of it.  There was no real good reason other than it looked like a decent stretch of water, about a half a km across in an area where we had a portal hooked up to our nether roof transport system, so I could get there easily.

Well, sort of easily.

It is still quite a haul through the nether, even on a mine cart.  And then the point from where I wanted to build the bridge to the portal was a bit of a stretch over rough terrain as well, so before I built my bridge, I had to build a road to the bridge.

Then I had to build a little construction office where I could hunker down at night and store supplies.  Once I had that, I started hauling materials, including stacks and stacks of stone brick and polished granite blocks.

Finally, I could set in and start building.

My building technique is a bit haphazard.  I tend to eye something, figure things look about right, and start laying down blocks.  If the preferred method is “measure twice, cut once,” in Minecraft I am more “start cutting, size things up a bit, finish cutting, see what happens, then claim that was what you wanted all along.”

Still, I am not unhappy with how my bridge ended up.

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

It has a bit of Golden Gate Bridge to it, thanks to the use of polished granite for the structure.  It is well lit, just about symmetrical, and connects things nicely. (Though looking at the picture, I see I left a block out and now it is going to drive me crazy until I fix it)  I used some excess material to build a diorite tower at the southern end of the bridge.

I also put up a nether portal at the south end of the bridge.  I dug out the location in the nether and built a portal there.  On stepping through I was surprised by my luck, as the over-world side of the portal was up on the surface and not deep down in some cave.  No need to dig myself back to sunlight this time.

All of which took me considerably less time than I thought it would, and also left me with a bridge to no place in particular.  Time to expand the project!  So I bit the bullet and decided that this bridge would be the end of the Great Northern Road, which would run north from the spawn point and the would be navigable on horse back the entire way, which meant any tunnels needed to be three blocks high and two blocks wide.  That is about six km in a straight line, but likely more if I wanted to route things along easier terrain.  I didn’t want to have to tunnel through yet another mountain range.

I quickly ran out of material from my initial batch of supplies and, as I started getting further and further from the portal at the south end of the bridge.  When I hit another water crossing, I settled down and dug another construction base, then proceeded to mine there to build up supplies of cobblestone to build the next stretch of the road.  It wasn’t as nice as the bridge, but it gets the job done.

The long crossing...

The long crossing…

Now that I have crossed that I am edging closer to a small base, complete with a portal, that I set up on a previous expedition.  Just another forest, grassland, swamp, and a mountain range to cross to get there… about a km from the end of the causeway.  Then from there it will be a drive to spawn point.  We’ll see how long it takes to get there and what I will see along the way.



A Farewell to Crushbone as We Head Towards Maj’dul

Just shy of 11 years ago, on November 13th, 2004, Gaff and I and a few other friends and acquaintances, an odd group made up of people from EverQuest and TorilMUD players,  decided to hop into the just launched EverQuest II in order to see what it was about.

The game had been up for a few days at that point, but just as we rolled into to town SOE, having learned from their EverQuest days, was already rolling out a couple of fresh servers to accommodate the expected influx of players.  One of those second round servers was Crushbone.  We rolled up their, opting for the Qeynos side of things, and formed a guild.

Our day one guild on Crushbone

Our day one guild on Crushbone… I left and came back at one point…

Unfortunately, while SOE seemed to be planning for another EverQuest style launch, with plenty of growth, that wasn’t how things played out.  I’ve been down this road before here, but needless to say there ended up being little call for more rounds of fresh servers.  There was even a previous consolidation of servers years back.

We persisted for over a year in the game, though our ranks were whittled down by defections to WoW as time moved on.  The game was rough, awkward, and in a constant state of change over that first year.  But we rode it out, and it was something of a bonding experience, the sort of thing that happens with shared adversity.  We held together through two adventure packs and into the Desert of Flames expansion, but by the time Kingdom of Sky hit, which brought with it a horrible server lag issue that persisted for quite a while, we were folding up shopOur guild still stands, the Knights of the Cataclysm, though nobody still on the roster is active any more.  I think we all ended up in WoW on one server or another, even Wooflin, our guild leader, who used to rail against Blizzard and their cartoon, easy-mode MMO.  A few of us collected on the Eldre’Thalas server, but for the most part we were scattered to the winds, never to group up again.

Almost everybody in this raid went off to WoW

Possibly our last raid group as a guild…

l’ve been back to EverQuest II multiple times over the years since that great departure, but it has never quite been the same.  For more than a year we were, as a group, as a guild, pretty much committed to this as our one and only game as we struggled with the crafting system, the market, five minute group-only buffs, and a quest journal that could only hold 20 quests… which included collection quests, heritage quests, and everything else that fell in that category,

So when I think of Crushbone, I think of those times, rose colored glasses worn proudly, in full on nostalgic denial mode, and call them “the good old days.”

The server being merged, along with Oasis and Butcherblock, into the new Maj’Dul server doesn’t change those memories.  And it likely won’t change much of anything for me, as my more recent and higher level characters are on the Freeport server.  But the name disappearing does make me reflect on those times.

We shall see how the merger fares.

Addendum: EQ2 Wire, as usual, has some helpful info.



I haven’t see a final Twitter update, but I was able to log in at around 8pm PDT and access all of my Crushbone characters.  I had to choose a UI layout for each, which was easy for most, but a couple I hadn’t logged in since I last reinstalled, so I could just choose the Crushbone version of the same character.  Fortunately I tend to use the same layout most of the time, so one character is as good as another.  (One long neglected character had about 10 minutes of update messages to cycle through as well.)