Monthly Archives: May 2016

Rise of Kunark Vote on Stormhold

Over on the EverQuest II nostalgia server, Stormhold, the march of expansion unlocks continues.  The unlock vote for the Rise of Kunark expansion… I keep typing Ruins of Kunark, because the original EverQuest expansion is much more meaningful to me… and the names are so similar… has been sent out to players.

Yes or No on Kunark

Yes or No on Kunark

Of course, this brings us to one of those nostalgia server issues which I alluded to last week in that, even if a company decides to go down that path, it is tough to please all of those interested or to find a pace that doesn’t alienate some chunk of your audience.

In this case the Rise of Kunark expansion… the subject of perhaps the only spot-on prediction I have ever made on the blog… which, among its other features, raises the level cap to 80, doesn’t do a lot for me as I am still pottering about in the low 20s.

And I haven't hit 23 yet

And I haven’t hit 23 yet

Now, this is mostly my problem.  Since the Stormhold server launched I haven’t played very much, and even when I have been playing the game has been in third place behind EVE Online and Minecraft. Which isn’t to say I haven’t played at all.  If I had rolled up a fresh character in WoW and put the same amount of time into him, he’d be into Mists of Pandaria by now.

I am not sure on which game that reflects the most poorly.

And the fact that I have been playing solo hasn’t helped.  Unlike the live servers, unnamed heroic mobs are not soloable on Stormhold, but a lot of the quests I have been running drive you straight into their arms.

So close to me goal...

So close to my goal…

Stormhold would have been an excellent opportunity to play with a small group.  Even a healer and a tank together would have owned.  But solo and playing a Shadow Knight, a brand new class for me, has made things a challenge and kept progress down.  I run into quests I cannot finish at level solo often enough, then I have to go find another path to level up on, so I can return later when I can overpower my way through the original.

On the other hand, putting expansion unlocks to a vote every 60 days seems like a fairly brisk pace.  Well, to me in any case.  And so far, only one expansion unlock has been voted down, a vote that led to the usual amount of acrimony in the forums.  No matter which way the vote goes, somebody is unhappy and wants to share.  The forever war between those who want a classic environment that sits static and unmoving and those who want to race to the top and unlock the next bit of content goes on.

Of course, I was happy enough to seen Echoes of Faydwer show up after the last vote.  That added some more 1-70 content, the emphasis for being on the late teens and early twenties, didn’t raise the level cap, and represented an important change in the history of the game.

Now though, with Rise of Kunark, we’re getting into content I didn’t even finish the first time around… even though it went live back in late 2007.

I may not be enthusiastic for the expansion to unlock, but it won’t change my play style at this point.  I am way too far behind the pack to catch up so I will continue to meander along at my own pace, dying to heroic mobs until I am at least a few levels above them.

Finding the Northeast Passage in Minecraft

Theoretically, this should be easy.  I just need to lay rails starting at location ABC and ending at location XYZ and my mighty rail loop project will be complete.  Actually, it would probably be north from location ABC to JKL, then turn east until I hit XYZ, because Minecraft, like early Pokemon titles, just doesn’t do diagonals very well.

Unfortunately, mere coordinates do not tell the full tale.  Terrain has a pretty big influence on where I lay my track.  Some days I look at a mountain range before me and decided to simply tunnel on through.  Other days I might try to go around if I can.  And sometimes I just go up and over.  The view is better when you go over, but I have to use a lot more powered rail to get up the side and it messes up my planned rail production ratios.

And then there are the wide open bodies of water.

That is the situation I am in now.  Between my current location and the link up point in the mesa biome there is a considerable amount of wet.

The water situation

The water situation

From the looks of it, there are two possible routes, both of which are going to require a bridge.

The southern route (red line on the map) is the most direct and, as such, will require the least amount of rail to complete, and rail is a limiting factor for me.  Right now I am on another mining binge to collect up iron for the next big building push.

The southern route will also likely only require me to build one more major supply and mining base.  Such bases aren’t a big deal, really.  In fact, I tend to enjoy building them up.  Skronk has noted my tendency to go overboard on them.  However, they are a distraction and use up more rail since part of any major supply base is a nether portal connected to the transit hub in the roof of the nether.

On the downside, the southern route will require a lot of bridging.

Again, it isn’t like I haven’t built bridges before.

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

Mesa Biome Channel Bridge

Bridge at the south end of the Great Northern Road

Bridge at the south end of the Great Northern Road, before rails

I even put in bridges occasionally where I might not strictly need them.

A wooden bridge to cross a valley

A wooden bridge to cross a valley

But I have gotten a bit picky about them.  I hate to do just a two-wide platform across a gap.  I want something that is a bit of the scenery in its own right.  And the longer the gap to cover, the more materials the bridge will need.

In addition, the south route also goes through a watery area, so I will be building bridges or platforms just to get to the bridge.  Finally, the long water gap where the bridge will need to go is a bit dull when it comes to scenery.

The northern route (the purple line on the map) will require a lot more rail as it goes the long way around the top before cutting back to the mesa biome.  That means a lot more mining for iron to build rails.  I have been pretty lucky in that regard so far though.  Iron has been reasonably abundant.

The northern route will also require a bridge, but not nearly as long as the southern route.  Actually, with my current plan, the route will need two bridges before it hits the mesa biome, but the second one will be very short.  (The mesa biome is another story.  I will be building bridges… or digging tunnels… there no matter which direction I choose.)

I also estimate that I will need two, or possibly three, major supply bases on the northern route.  Fun to build, and I persist in the fantasy that we’ll get a few more players on the server who might use those bases as start points for their own projects, but they are a distraction from the main project.

However, the northern route also offers some better scenery judging from my initial scouting, something that counts for a lot.

Waterfalls where my bridge will likely end up

Waterfalls where my bridge will likely end up

So I am leaning towards the northern route, mostly based on aesthetics.

However, while I am building up supplies, I also have a bit more scouting to do.   There is a potential third route north of the peninsula on which I am building.  I have to get in a boat and go explore further north to see if there is a closer land connection possible.

Fortunately, contrary to some rumors I hears, boats are still excellent scouting vehicles in Minecraft 1.9.

The Warcraft Movie Approaches

We are just about three weeks away from the release of the long anticipated Warcraft movie… I mean, I was making silly guesses at possible actors more than six years ago.

It can take a long time for things to go from an idea in progress to an actual production in Hollywood.  But the day is finally coming.  June 10, 2016 is the big day.

And, I must admit, I’m not all that excited.

I will still go see Warcraft.  And, of course, Blizzard is happy to remind me it is coming.  They sent me a note about it.

Coming June 10, 2016

Coming June 10, 2016

It remains to be seen if this will be such a blockbuster that one would need to reserve tickets.  The trailer left me a little flat.  But that might just be my proximity to the franchise.  And Blizz is also putting some incentives out there.  If you go to the right theater chain… which isn’t local to me… you could win tickets to BlizzCon.

I have to drive past a lot of theaters to get to a Regal...

I have to drive past a lot of theaters to get to a Regal…

But if there is a Regal cinema near you, watch the promo to see what you have to do in order to win.

Meanwhile, Blizz is also using the launch of the movie to get more people playing World of Warcraft.  The link between the movie and the game is obvious to us, but perhaps not so to everybody.  So when you go see the movie you will also get a code for a digital copy of the game which includes 30 days of play time… if you go to the right theater chain.  Blizz has a post up about which chains will get you into Azeroth.

That seems like an odd box to include

That seems like odd box art to use

Here in the US the freebie is limited to United Artists Theaters, Edwards Theaters, and the aforementioned Regal Cinemas.  No break for those of us in a sea of CineMark, and AMC outlets, not to mention the local independents.

Blizzard even sweetened the deal for those getting a free digital copy by including Warlords of Draenor as part of the base package, an unprecedented move.  Generally the next expansion has to ship before previous content gets included in the base game.  Of course, that also means you have to call support if you have a copy of Warlords of Draenor you haven’t activated yet, otherwise you won’t get your free level 90 boost.

And for those of us who already have the game, who bought Warlords of Draenor, and who aren’t in range of any of the participating theaters in any case… well… we get some nice transmog items if we log in between May 25 and August 1, 2016.

Shiny movie transmog stuff

Shiny movie transmog stuff

It isn’t clear if you have to be subscribed or can log in your level 20 or under characters to collect.  I suspect that a subscription will be necessary, but I will likely subscribe by August in any case to get in on the build up to WoW Legion.

So the movie is coming.  Will you be going to see it?  Time for a poll I think!

[There is a multiple choice poll above this line, which gets blocked in some browsers.]

What is Vanilla WoW in Any Case?

The whole World of Warcraft vanilla server remains a divisive issue.

Both sides have armed themselves with arguments containing just enough truth that they feel entitled to shout it to the stars, while the opposing side sees the patent false assumptions that underlie these arguments and brush them aside.  There is no convincing anybody with these arguments, so the line remains drawn between the two groups and never the twain shall meet I suppose.

I side with the legacy server idea.  I believe it will serve a segment of the WoW fan base that is more substantial than people might think and will be unlikely to draw resources from the main bottleneck that slows down expansions, which is the development of content.

You no take catch phrase!

You no take dev resources either!

My beliefs are rooted in what I have seen done with EverQuest and EverQuest II, where such servers have proved popular, along with what I have read about Jagex’s experiences with their own old school RuneScape servers, which Bhagpuss has summed up in a post.

I am also thoroughly convinced that 3rd party pirate servers are not an acceptable substitute as, by their very nature, they will only serve a hardcore subset of the potential market.

So I am heartened by Blizzard finally seeming to soften a bit on subject they have for years rejected.  As I pointed out in my previous post on the topic, Blizzard has been shooting down this idea for so long that the company itself has had to bring things forward from the old forums in their responses.

So we have the Nostalrius team invited to come and talk to Blizzard at some point in June.  They will come armed with their own experiences in running a Vanilla focused server as well as the results of a survey that have been running about what people might want.

And then there is Mark Kern, who is trying to elbow his way into this affair in the hope that if he walks in front of the parade people will think he is leading it, to deliver a printed copy of an online petition.  Not an ally I would choose, as I would put the odds of him making things worse at about 50-50. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he just made the whole thing up.)

Still, things are happening.

While the thaw on this topic is nice, the fun has only started.  Those against the whole idea won’t cease to carp about it.  It is known.  Blizzard itself may simply hope that this whole thing will die down and be drowned out by the noise of the Warcraft movie and the impending launch of the WoW Legion expansion. But the real looming holy war will come if Blizzard actually agrees to do some sort of vanilla server.

What is a vanilla server really, and how should it operate?

WoW launched on November 23, 2004.

The Cataclysm expansion, which replaced the original 1-60 content with a new version, went live on December 7, 2010.

A day that will live in infamy...

A day that will live in infamy…

That is a six year gap during which a lot of things changed, even if the landscape remained about the same.  If I were Blizzard, any plan I built up around vanilla would involve something a lot closer to 2010 than 2004.  A lot of fixes and upgrades no doubt went into the code during those six years.

And that would be fine with me.  My own goals for such a server are focused on having the old content back, especially the 5 person dungeon content like the original Deadmines and the full version of Sunken Temple.  But that puts classes into the Wrath of the Lich King era.   While that time is a favorite of mine, even I will admit that the classes were hardly vanilla by then and that power creep in the spec trees made most options at least a bit overpowered down in the 1-60 content.  Blizz would need to tinker with that some to get things balanced for the original content.

That, however, will not be a satisfactory answer.  I suspect that a loud subset of those who want a vanilla server will draw the line at January 14, 2007, the last day before The Burning Crusade went live. (Atheren’s has a link to the final vanilla patch if you are interested.)  And among that group, there will likely be divisions as to how close to November 23, 2004 things have to get in order to be able to claim that things are really vanilla or not.  Somebody is going to call out Maraudon as “that new stuff” and somebody else won’t be satisfied unless Captain Placeholder is back in Menethil Harbor.

And while we are all arguing over what time stamp makes for an authentic vanilla server, there is the follow on question as to how Blizzard should operate such a server.

My own bias is that such servers should progress.  That is because, for me, one of the best parts about the SOE/Daybreak nostalgia servers has been everybody starting off at level 1 together in a giant mass.  To me that is far more important than any purity of content.  And once the bulk of the population has risen to the level cap, the fun wears off until another unlock comes along and another great mass rush begins.

Of course, progression runs into a problem just three expansions in for WoW, as then Cataclysm hits and the old world for which we are currently clamoring goes away.  Dammit Blizzard.  Furthermore, progression means that anybody late to the party misses the fun bit unless another such server is launched.  And launching a new server inevitably draw from the population of the older server, reducing its numbers.

So, for me, the most enticing part of such a server is transitory at best.  (It also explains why I am down with even Blizzard’s half-assed special rules server idea.  That would at least give me something, if not everything, I want.)

But no progression, just a static vanilla forever server, would quickly lose that new world feel as players capped out, did their nostalgia raiding, made an alt or two, and moved on.  A community will develop and remain.  Somebody will always stick around as we saw with EverQuest: Macintosh Edition, which sat with the same content for 9 years.  But a special server with most of the population lingering at level cap starts to feel more like a museum than a game.  But, if you were looking for that vanilla experience on demand, without the new server feel, at least it would be there.

So there we stand.  The only sure thing in all of this is that no matter what Blizzard does, somebody will be pissed off.  I have seen it in the flames.

Dread Goonristas Hiding Point

More than a thousand hostiles in Saranen with us… local was up to 2,600… and somehow the citadel survived and went online.  Unlike the previous night, no capitals were to be seen.

Now available in Saranen

Now available in Saranen

Yes, we lost the ISK war, including some other citadels set to go, but we got our new toy online.  Among the benefits is the ability to swap jump clones… if you want to move between implants… without a timer.

I arrived on scene just in time to experience the 10% time dilation and watch a bit of the fighting before we docked up.

Crucifier on the scene

Crucifier on the scene

Now when it hits its next vulnerability window the citadel will have guns on it to help with the defense.

Hurricanes and Fax Machines at Saranen

directorbot@goonfleet.com:

saranen importers: better restock hurricanes
93pi importers: better restock caps

~~~ This was a broadcast from kcolor to all at 2016-05-17 01:33:38.817622 EVE~~~

It was actually a busy day on the front porch of the Quafe Company Warehouse at Saranen V, moon 9.  But then, it has been a month of busy days despite our foes continuing to harp on the empty propaganda about us never undocking.  Again, another week and the top alliance at zKillboard remains unchanged. (Charts from May 6 and April 24 previously posted, rankings explained here.)

zKillboard Top Alliances and Corporations - May 17, 2016

zKillboard Top Alliances and Corporations – May 17, 2016

Pandemic Legion has picked up the pace and climbed the rankings, but Pandemic Horde, almost 9,000 strong these days, has been sliding down at the same time, to the point that it is in danger of falling off the list, ending up behind even my own alliance of 1,200 pilots.

I actually managed to undock three times yesterday and get on a few kill mails each time.

The first time was around mid-afternoon when Asher called up a fleet to chase off some NCDot Phantasms that were camping the undock.  This is why a some Imperium pilots like myself are pretty upbeat on the current situation.  Our foes come hang out on our doorstep until we’re ready to come out and play.  No roaming for content, it gets delivered.

We undocked in Hurricanes, The Imperium flavor of the day as it turned out, and chased them off, killing a few.  I happened to be doing a large file transfer in the background during the fight, which probably didn’t help my already slow reflexes, so I only ended up on a single Phantasm kill mail.  I was probably shooting the secondary by mistake if I got in a hit.

It was a nice quick op that wrapped up with us flying cover for some jump freighters bringing in more materiel to keep the war going before we docked up and stood down.

Most days that is all I can ask for out of an op.

After that the day went on, we had dinner, cleaned up afterwards, and were settling in for the evening when I sat back down at my desk and saw a series of frantic pings to get logged into Saranen to kill fax machines, the unfortunate yet immediately applied nickname for the new force auxiliary capital ships that came in with the Citadel expansion.

Again, it was Hurricanes and, while I was late to the party, I still logged in, got into Pittsburgh2989’s fleet, and undocked… to find there were indeed capitals and super caps on the undock.

Undocking alone into the middle of fun...

Undocking alone into the middle of fun…

The fleet was more than 100km away, too close to warp to but too far to burn to with caps hanging around and likely armed with the new high angle weapons for blapping subcaps like myself.  I aligned out to a celestial to bounce and warp back from.  Even as I was aligning out, more capital ships were jumping into the system.  But I could hear Pittsburgh2989 calling targets and fax machines going down, so my timing didn’t seem too bad.

I did the bounce, landed with the fleet, and anchored up.  Tidi was up and that transition out of warp so I could lock up and shoot felt like it took forever, but eventually was was on a target and shooting.  During a brief flurry of activity I managed to get on five Apostle kills, the Amarrian flavor of fax machine, along with one of the Talwars from a Pandemic Horde support fleet that showed up, a Cormorant that happened to stray into range between targets, and BlueMajere’s Apocalypse that was pissing Pittsburgh off for having survived through the fight right in the middle of things.

As we were doing this, more and more capital ships were jumping into the system off the undock.  The critical mass of the fight soon favored them as their fax machine logi increased as our Hurricanes were steadily popped.  Our fleets aligned to warp off, then warped back to the station to dock up.  That is the general plan, according to The Mittani on Sunday’s fireside chat; when our foes drop overwhelming numbers of capitals ships, we dock up and let them stare at the Quafe logo.

The battle reports floating about at that point showed us losing a lot of Hurricanes, but winning the ISK war with about half as much in losses as our foes.  Op success.  Participation links were generated, fleets stood down, and that seemed to be that for the evening.  We would leave the enemy to stew on our doorstep with no more kills to be had.

I walked away from my desk again, sat down and watched a bit of the Warriors game on TV, then went back to my computer to look through the screen shots I got during the fight and started putting together this post.

As I was doing that, another set of pings started popping up.  The enemy had started leaving Saranen, but in bits and pieces so that their numbers became assailable yet again.  Hurricanes were called for once more and people logged back in and filled up the first fleet, so that I ended up in the second fleet under Cainun.  Again, tidi was hitting hard to the point that we didn’t undock in a ball but in a chain of individual ships like the station was spitting us out in a stream.

We aligned and warped off, then back onto a spot to join in on the developing brawl,  There was a T3 cruiser fleet and some carriers and a some Pandemic Horde Feroxes on the field and even a few more fax machines to hit.  There was a rush to get points on the capitals, the high value targets, to keep them from getting away.

Our fleet was popping away at the T3s for a bit, though their logi seemed to be on the ball so our targets were catching reps.  We still managed to knock off a few as we closed with the capitals.  From there it was shoot and neut, as we had refit to carry energy neutralizers in order to deplete their capacitors.

While we were out a call when out for a Grinder fleet, which is Megathrons and Apocalypses, in order to blap stuff off the field.  Even Fearless Leader, The Mittani, got in a ship and undocked to shoot people.

The Mittani's Apocalypse

The Mittani’s Apocalypse

If you look at his kills, it is mostly Pandemic Horde Feroxes, so I am probably not zoomed in close enough to see the “Free Candy” sign on the side of the white, windowless Amarrian space van that he used to lure them in.

Then we hit the point where people were trying to hold down the last few foes as they warped off before the field around the undock was ours.  Cainun got popped along the way, but we had Pittsburgh2989 along with us, so he took over and kept us going.  People looted the field, there were high fives all around, more participation links were generated, and we then docked back up again.

The combined battle report I saw for both engagements combined put the ISK war well in our favor.

Saranen May 17 Battle Report Summary

Saranen May 17 Battle Report Summary

We lost a lot more ships… Hurricanes were dropping like flies at some points… but our ships were cheap relative to our foes.  We lost so many Hurricanes though that there was some worry about resupply.  The supply in Jita was way down, so I guess your economic tip of the day is to get some Hurricane hulls on the market.  With Welpcaines back as a doctrine, demand will likely remain strong.

So that was Monday in space, a good brawl where we got to blow up nineteen hostile capital ships.  No supers though.  Maybe next time.

Here are some screen shots I took along the way.

 

BB75 – Shooting in Stations

This month’s Blog Banter, number 75 in the series, asks the following:

What Does Project Nova Need to Be Successful?
At Fanfest CCP showcased their current iteration of the FPS set in the Eve Universe. Following on from DUST514 and Project Legion, Project Nova is shaping up to be a solid FPS with CCP taking the decision to get the game mechanics right first. However with so many FPS out there what will Nova need in order to stand out from a very large crowd and be successful? What are the opportunities and perhaps more importantly, the dangers for CCP? How can Nova compete against CoD, Battlefront and Titanfall to name a few?

And the topic of the month certainly hits the nail on the head.

EVE Online Forever

EVE Online Universe Forever

CCP has certainly found success with spaceships.  EVE Online is an enduring money maker, having just turned 13, and while the jury is still out on EVE Valkyrie in the long term, it certainly happened to be the right title at the right moment for VR and so will likely pay off the investment in the title.  But those two, and the board game Hættuspil, are about the limit of success for CCP.  Certainly DUST 514 didn’t pass that bar.

But at least CCP has some experience in that area now.  And they corrected one of the DUST 514 problems already by putting Project Nova on Windows, where most of its fan base resides.   But Project Nova still faces huge competition.

A prophecy?

A prophecy?

I think the last line in this month’s question undersells the market.

That last one is they key here.  According to Steam we’ve already had 30 titles released so far this year that match both “FPS” and “multiplayer” as keywords.  And while they are not all stars or even good or likely direct competitors, they are mucking up the market.

So many titles...

So many titles…

So we have a crowded market where the big players toss out a new, big budget, best selling titles at least once a year (along with a retro title now and again), and only a few titles endure and remain popular over time.  Given that, CCP has some options:

Play to your base – Give it an off-planet, space theme and put it in the EVE Online universe.  I only saw a bit of the footage from Fanfest, but it looked like fighting in stations or citadels was already on the list.  It felt a bit like Marathon updated to me.  Maybe give people a bit of the in-station experience that a small part of the player base craves.

Link with EVE Online – This is a bit more risky.  While a given, and something that would get EVE players interested, CCP should not make anything in one game depend on the other.  We were promised orbital bombardment with DUST 514, but I never ended up dropping rocks on anybody.  On the flip side, links with New Eden could make for a more enduring title, which I think might suit CCP better.  I do not think of them as a studio able to crank out a new title yearly.

VR perspective – CCP already has work invested in VR, so their claim to fame could be in bringing the first space themes FPS to market.  Granted, that would limit, rather than increase, their audience at this point, but it plays to a potential strength that CCP is trying to establish.

I am not sure that any of those would guarantee success even if Project Nova is good.  I am not convinced that being good is enough in a market where being the latest Call of Duty seems to be the key to financial success.  I think the best that CCP can shoot for is to be enduring, like EVE Online itself, to make something that has a solid and interesting base which can improve and evolve over time.  What that looks like though… I do not know.

Of course, my FPS days are long behind me.  I haven’t been any sort of good at the genre since the days of Desert Combat.  I don’t wish Project Nova anything but success, but I am not sure how you get there from here.

And just a couple blog banters ago the topic was what other games set in New Eden should CCP pursue, and my own entry was about as far from an FPS as one could get.

Anyway, that is my submission for Blog Banter 75.  Others answering the call:

Friday Bullet Points are Lucky Even Today

Here it is, Friday the 13th, a date synonymous bad luck and a series of horror movies that, oddly enough, capped out at an even dozen.  How could they not make a 13th one?

Fortunately my wife’s family embraces the number 13 as their lucky number, so that cancels things out… right?  I’m still working from home today all the same.

Meanwhile, here are some items I feel like mentioning but which didn’t quite make the cut for a full post.  If there aren’t 13 of them, well… that’s just bad luck.

They Are So Cute When They Are Young

Nintendo is starting the slow drip of information on the official site about the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon games, and so this week Nintendo gave us the date for the launch, November 18, 2016.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

We also got a look at the starter Pokemon for the game.

Which one will you choose?

Which one will you choose?

They are Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio, filling the traditional grass, fire, and water starter roles.  Starter Pokemon can be an emotional topic and people get quite invested in their choices.  Currently Popplio seemed to be losing the popularity race on Twitter.

The poll results

The poll results

I traditionally go with the water Pokemon, so Popplio is likely going to be my choice regardless of what people say about him.  Also he’s a seal, how is that not cute?  Meanwhile, is Rowlet wearing a bra or what?  Just asking!

Of course, Nintendo has a track record of turning cute into ugly with evolutions while punishing you by withholding key moves if you opt not to let your starter evolve.  Can’t they stay young and cute forever?  It is a complex issue.

Civilization Goes Cartoony

Firaxis announced the coming of Civilization VI, the next installment in the grand Civilization franchise…. and all anything people seemed to want to talk about was the new art style.  We are so shallow.

A first glimpse of Civ VI

A first glimpse of Civ VI

Alright, alright, I hear you saying that other details were somewhat sparse, so what else were we going to talk about.  I myself welcome a lighter look for the aging game series.  Anything to cut down on the resource demands of a Civ game is probably good.

The game itself is set to ship on October 12, 2016 and will be the industry standard $59.99 for the basic version, and $79.99 for the deluxe edition which will include the obviously planned in advance DLC.  It will probably be four more civilizations that they will end up throwing in with the first expansion in any case.

The question isn’t if I will buy Civ VI, but when.  Given the screw jobs that have happened with Steam sales showing up just weeks after Civ releases or expansions go live, the fact that Civ games are inevitably resource hogging, bug filled, crashing messes at launch… they put in auto-save after every turn for a reason…, and the fact that their last release, Civilization: Beyond Earth was as dull as dishwater and an insult as a successor to Alpha Centauri, and I am thinking I might pass on a day one purchase.  I’ll see what things look like at the Steam Holiday Sale… or maybe the next Steam Summer Sale.

WoW Legion to Beta

I don’t suppose the timing really matters all that much now.  We already have a launch date, so the usual metrics around things like beta-to-launch calculations will be purely academic.  So the important bit is that the WoW Legion beta is now live, having gone up last night.

Beta for those who care...

Beta for those who care…

Blizzard has the initial release notes along with a detailed intro into the features of the expansion.

I do not do beta any more, going so far as trying to avoid information about the release, as I find it spoils my enjoyment when a release goes live.  I feel like I’ve already played it and my enthusiasm quickly wains.

Still, I look forward to hearing some general reactions to Blizzard’s plan for the expansion.  And, of course, the big question is when will the 7.0 pre-expansion update drop?  My bet is on August 9, 2016.

EverQuest II Prestige Servers

The Norrath dev team at Daybreak… we can call the EQ/EQII team that now, since there are no other Norrathian projects now… is looking into what other special sorts of servers players would like.  And so there is a poll waiting in your mailbox in EverQuest II about prestige servers.

Just three options...

Just three options…

As with things in Azeroth, special servers at Daybreak have their proponents and detractors.  Foes of the idea are annoyed that there is no “none of the above” option so they can directly express their displeasure at dev resources being used on projects they don’t care about.  (As the poll notes, they can do so indirectly by not voting, since I am sure that Daybreak will notice if only a few people respond.)

I’m not sure I would play on either server option myself, though that is because I am still pottering around on the Stormhold nostalgia server.  The thing is, the long poll for expansions is content creation, and these sorts of servers just use content that has already been created, so the hand wringing about delaying new stuff isn’t all that valid.

Not That Wild, No Longer a Star

The NCsoft Q1 2016 financials are out and, while things look good for the company as a whole, and most of its properties, WildStar is the noticeable exception.

Q1 2016 results

Q1 2016 results

After an initial boost in revenue with the free-to-play transition, sales have already slumped to below where they were when the game was subscription only.  Of course, this shouldn’t have been a huge surprise given the moves NCsoft was making with Carbine back in March.  This is more the confirmation of what many suspected.

Oculus Rift Retail Rage

So for a brief stretch of time last Friday you could go to a store or Amazon and buy an Oculus Rift unit.  They sold out quickly and you can probably find more than a few re-listed for a well beyond their $599 list price on eBay.  I see one on Amazon for $1,099.  But if you were at the right place at the right time, you could have spent your weekend playing EVE Valkyrie.

But if you pre-ordered a unit back in January, you’re probably still waiting for it to show up.

And so there is a bit of righteous anger out there about the company snubbing the people willing to buy in early in favor of those who waited.  I didn’t buy in either way, but I would have been pissed were I still waiting around for my pre-order to ship.

As Jerry Seinfeld might have put it, taking pre-orders isn’t the important part.  Anybody can take pre-orders.  It is the delivery that matters.  Also, the comments on that linked video are hilarious AND on topic for this post.

CSM XI By the Numbers

I am sure others will dive into the details on this, but CCP just posted the Dev Blog with the details of the CSM XI election.  Charts and explanations and raw data are all available there.

CSM11_logo

It is interesting to see how the two winning blocks stuck fairly well to their suggested ballots.  You can see the top three Imperium candidates, Aryth, Innominate, and Xenuria, getting elected in rounds one, two, and three.  Other tidbits include the fact that players from the US and UK cast half the votes, that most votes came in during the first two days of the election, and that the more recent your account, the more likely it seems you are to vote.  Accounts created back in 2006, when I started, made up only 4% of the voting pool, while those from 2015, 2014, and 2013 represented 14%, 15%, and 16% of the vote respectively.

Episode 18 of the Asher Hour

Asher Elias, head of the Reavers and the 23rd 15th best fleet commander in The Imperium has a new podcast out after a long stretch of silence.  This time around it is just Asher talking about the war, fleets, and what it is like on The Imperium side of the fight.  Not party-line propaganda, but Asher is still enthusiastic and positive about what we can do in the war and where we may end up.

So that is what I had kicking around.  Of course, now that I have all those items cleared out I am starting to wonder what I will write about next week.

Oh, wait, I have 57 unfinished items in my drafts folder.  Maybe that isn’t such a big deal.

In Which I See a Citadel…

…and make good on a threat.

We got the Citadel expansion in EVE Online… what… two weeks ago?

For two weeks, citadels have been a thing.  I have been seeing news items and blog posts and guides about them.   People have been praising them, complaining about them, building them, and blowing them up.  I even saw a Jabber ping saying that MiniLuv had ganked somebody hauling a Fortizar, the large citadel, and that it dropped, so they scooped it up to be used later.

I just hadn’t actually seen one myself.  I wasn’t even sure where I might find one, citadels locations not being something that gets broadcast on DOTLAN.  So I asked #tweetfleet where I might go citadel spotting.  A couple of options presented, the most convenient of which were around Jita.

I have an alt in Jita.  Actually, I have a couple there, but I took the one I could remember and name, undocked and warped off to the Perimeter gate, jumped in to that system, and saw… nothing.

Well, I saw plenty of things.  There were lots of ships going to and fro, a couple of people obviously scanning for valuable cargo, the usual celestials and what not, but no citadels.

And then I remembered that this was a new item added by CCP.  The company really has only two options when it comes to adding new items to the overview; defaulting them on and visible, or defaulting them off and essentially invisible.

CCP always seems to goes with the latter.

While I appreciate the chaos and comedy that adds to the game… how many people were popped by T3 destroyers or command destroyers they didn’t “see” because they were turned off in the overview, and how many tech II logi frigates lived to fight another day because CCP had given them overview stealth by default… I am not convinced that is really the right choice.

Anyway, I opened up the overview settings and added citadels, along with the other new items in the same category, to my travel overview and, hey presto, I was now aware of two citadels lurking in Perimeter.  Some people were buying into the idea that all you had to do is put up a citadel outside Jita, lower the tax rate, and the riches would roll in.

I picked one, warped to it and took my first look at a citadel in space.

Behold, a citadel!

Behold, a citadel!

That is an Astrahus, the medium size in the medium, large, extra large continuum of citadel sizing.  It is even kind of pretty, but I immediately wanted to know what was going on around it.  What are all those lines and bits in space?  The whole thing looked a lot more… busy… than your standard space station or POS.

So I started to struggle with the camera in an attempt to get a closer look.  I had already put the focus of the camera on the citadel, so I figured I would just zoom on in and look at the details.

However, the in-game camera has a limit on how close you can zoom it in to something directly.  Everything in New Eden has a bubble of “personal space” which the camera is not allowed to violate, at least not directly.  So I could get a little closer, but not actually close enough to see details.

I guess those are space lanes...

I guess those are space lanes…

There are, of course, ways for space paparazzi like myself to get past this personal space limit.  I put the camera back on my ship and sailed in for a closer look.

The wee velator heads in...

The wee velator heads in…

I gathered that the lines were some sort of nod to there being docking/undocking lanes of approach and what not, like pilots in New Eden ever color within the lines.  But there were all sorts of other little bits that I wanted to see up close, little yellow rectangles and orange squares and so forth.  So as my little ship closed in, it dragged the camera with it until these items started to resolve themselves into the visible.

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

The yellow bits turned out to be warning signs about the status of the citadel.  It had been put into a sieged state during a previous vulnerability window I gather, so was in danger of being destroyed at some future time slot.

SIEGED!

CAUTION! SIEGED!

On the other hand, I am still not sure what the orange square is about.

Orange square is orange... and square

Orange square is orange… and square

As I was doing this the EVE Online client locked up.  I managed to get out of the client window… I play full screen… via control-alt-delete and launching the Task Manager, at which point I was greeted by a Windows alert saying that the “CCP ExeFile” had stopped working.

I’ve been seeing this quite a bit of late, but previously it had only been happening when I was tabbed out of the game.  Getting close to a citadel seemed to be aggravating the issue… or causing a new issue.  This happened half a dozen times while I was looking at citadels during this session, enough for me to open up a bug report.  I sent off a screen shot and a few of the .dmp files that the client creates when it crashes and hoped they could find something.

I actually got a response later saying that the problem seemed to be coming from a third EVE Voice library was causing the crash and that I should turn off EVE Voice.

Of course, I already had EVE Voice turned off so, in sort of reverse tech support logic, I turned it on then off again just to see if that did anything.  We shall see if the crashes continue.  Take note if you are seeing something similar I guess.

Anyway, I logged back in and docked up in this sieged citadel, which was about the same as docking up in a station, so I undocked again.

From this citadel I could actually see the other citadel in Perimeter.  They were on the same grid, though in space anything smaller than a moon fades to a dot in a couple hundred kilometers.  So I warped off to that one to see what might be different there.

Second citadel stop

Second citadel stop

The second citadel was another Astrahus and so was much like the first.  The primary difference was that this one was not sieged and so lacked the little yellow warning signs all over the docking area.  Those were replaced by green signs which announced that the citadel was invulnerable.

CAUTION! INVULNERABLE!

CAUTION! INVULNERABLE!

I am not sure why invulnerability rates a “caution” warning, but there it is.  The orange squares had been replaced by green ones, so I am going to guess that they were some sort of additional warning about the sieged stated of the other citadel.

Of course, now that I had seen a sieged and an invulnerable citadel, I felt compelled to complete the set and find one that was vulnerable.  I flew through the systems adjacent to Jita in search of more citadels.  I found some, including the one in New Caldari which I mentioned in a tweet, but none of them were vulnerable.

That isn’t surprising I suppose, given that the vulnerability window for a medium citadel is 3 hours a week.

Anyway, there it is, I saw a citadel… or actually several.  Op success.  I think the only thing left to do is try to give them some sense of scale, so here is my wee rookie ship passing by the right tower (if you’re facing the docking area) of and Astrahus.

Upwell Consortium

Upwell Consortium

You can see two lines of light terminating at my ship.  The one angling up and to the right is the ship’s exhaust trail.  The other one is the tethering effect, which is something that kicks in if you have the right standings and are within the outer circle of lights arrayed about the structure.  I took that screen shot and then the client locked up again and I called it a night.  My alt is still floating about in New Caldari.

And now that I have added in that nice sense of scale, let me just screw that up with this image that has been going around since citadels showed up.

That sort of messes with you, doesn’t it?  But at least there is a titan in the background to give you another measure of size against a know “big” thing in space.

I am not the only one who went out looking for citadels this week.  EVE Hermit had his own encounter.  He just didn’t spew out quite as many words in the process.