Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Blast in the Minecraft Jungle

I have been hanging around the forest mansion I made my way to a while back.  I set up shop there, starting building resources and infrastructure and exploring the local area.  I found several herds of llamas close by and so tamed some and brought them back to hang out.

All my llamas dressed up

All my llamas dressed up

I like how they all line up to follow when you put one on a lead, which made it easy to transplant them.  I haven’t penned them in or anything, letting them wander the nearby hills.  Every once in a while I just put one on a lead and run him around to collect all the rest up and reset them at a central spot to wander again. (Aaron, on the other hand, is running some sort of llama eugenics program and breeding super llamas in his lab.)

It was all the usual things I do when I settle down in a location.  I have a farm now and I am wondering if I can somehow leverage the mansion into some sort of super indoor town for villagers.  I could hand a lot of doors in there and let them all roam about on the roof or something.

But for me, Minecraft always cries out for the big project, the huge public works sort of effort, roads, railways, canals, and that sort of thing.  I explored the local area and tinkered with a few ideas.  I thought about a touring rail line or maybe a roller coasters.  However, the obvious project kept reasserting itself in my brain.  I was going to have to build a overland road back to the main settlement area of our world.

Let me remind you again how far north the mansion is from the main settlement.

Aaron, straight west, me, northish...

Aaron, straight west, me, northish…

My mansion is more than 26km from the spawn point.  It is almost a 10 minute mine cart ride to get out to its portal from the transit hub in the nether.  Overland that would be a ride of over an hour were I to lay rails.

But I decided not to lay rails.  Not yet anyway.  Instead, the plan is to create a road, three blocks wide, back to the nearest point on the great rail line, which would be the Desert Temple station.  That means I don’t have to get all the way to the spawn point, but there is still a good 18km of road to build to get down there.  And, to make sure the route is visible, the center set of blocks for the entire route will be cobblestone.

I also want to light the way as well as I can.  I started out with a couple of stacks of sea lanterns from the guardian farm placed every so often, but I am not sure how long that will last.  It might be torches most of the way.

The whole thing started out easily enough.  I had a stockpile of cobble, I was collecting dirt from high points in order to smooth out low points along the road, and the sea lanterns were still in healthy supply.

A path through some grasslands

A path through some grasslands

The early route was easy, passing through grassland and low mountains.  The abundance of horses near the mansion makes me think that I should collect up some saddles and build stables about a day’s ride apart at some point.

And then I came to the first obstacle, the jungle.

I haven’t really had to clear a path through a jungle biome up to this point, so when I saw all those trees and underbrush I figured flint and steel would solve my problems.  I have cleared great swathes of forest in our world by merely setting them alight.

However, as it turns out, fire is not nearly as effective in jungle biomes as it is in other wooded areas.  The fire will burn for a bit, clear out a bit of the foliage and maybe burn a bit of a tree, but it won’t spread very far and it goes out rather quickly.  I think the jungle vines suppress it.

So while I had chosen a narrow bit of jungle to pass through, it looked like it was going to take be quite a while to hack my way thought it.  Jungles are also surprisingly hilly under all that growth, so digging out/filling in a level road bed was going to be a chore on top of that.

I was bitching a bit about the tough slog through the jungle on chat with Skronk when he suggested throwing TNT at the problem.  That seemed like an idea to explore.

I had never gotten around to playing with TNT in Minecraft up to that point.  I knew about it, and had actually been saving up gun powder in order to make some one day.  I ran back to one of my bases where I had been storing it up and brewed up almost a stack of TNT and brought it out to the jungle.

As it turns out, TNT is an excellent way to essentially bore a hole for a path through a dense jungle biome.  I had to experiment with placing it right.  If you put it too low, you end up having to fill in much of the resulting hole.  But placed correctly I was able to stand back, shoot it with my flaming arrow bow, watch the explosion, and simply police up the debris.

I was able to put the TNT to good use and got through the jungle biome much more quickly than I would have otherwise… and a good thing too, because my damn horse kept wandering off and getting stuck.

Earlier he was up a tree, now he's in a pond...

Earlier he was up a tree, now he’s in a pond…

That got me through the jungle, though I do not have much TNT left now.  I did find a jungle temple along the way, the first one I have seen.

In the rain

In the rain

But other than that, the jungle was behind me.

I am going to have to scrounge some more gun powder… just in case.  The next segment of the road runs along the coast of a hilly taiga biome, so I should be able to clear any path I need with flint and steel again.

Of course, the big challenges are still ahead.  Much of my overland trip out to the manions was actually over water.  If you look at the map, there are some wide ocean gaps to deal with still.  I will need to scout those out to find a way around… or collect a lot of cobble to build some very long bridges.

Five Years in Null Sec

Back in December of 2011, even as Hilmar was telling the CSM that the era of the “Jesus Feature” was over, I was again subscribed to EVE Online.  Having unsubscribed after the debacle that was Incarna, I was back to see what CCP had done since then as they launched Crucible, an expansion that promised to get back to the nuts and bolts of the game and start a trend of fixing stuff that people had been complaining about for years.

I had to admit that it was pretty, with new nebulae and start gates that appears to be lined up to shoot you at the correct star even.

Jump Gate in Action

Jump Gate in Action

But as pretty as the update was, it wasn’t holding me.  I was back and looking at all the stuff I had in my hangar, leftovers from the various paths I had trod over the previous half decade in New Eden… mission, mining, production, arbitrage… along with 70 million skill points in training and felt no inspiration.  I was subscribed for a month and figured I would spend it toddling about looking at pretty things and then let my account lapse.

Even my friends, the people who came and went from our little corp, were all gone… all save Gaff.  Gaff was back and playing, but he was out in null sec where he had gone a year or so previously, and there was not getting there to visit, though he did stop by in high sec for the occasional romp.

He had tried to get me to join him in null sec in the past, but I am one of those people who gets stuck on “things,” and all of my things were in a station in Amarr space and I couldn’t imagine trying to get them all up to where he lived in Deklein.

This time, however, my commitment to the game was waning such that I was up to take a chance.  I filled out an application to join BSCL, got accepted, changed my home station, and self-destructed.

I was revived in the station at CU9-T0, the headquarters of my new alliance, TNT, but quickly scooted off to 0P-F3K, the system that BSCL mostly called home.  It was December 18, 2011 and a conflict had just broken out.  After the great VFK headshot Goonswarm had taken what was once DekCo, transformed into the Clusterfuck Coalition, or the CFC, once its boarders expanded, on the road after some neighbors to the northeast that were seen as threats.  The CFC struck out at them and these foes, White Noise and Raiden, announced they were set to come get us, promising to rid Deklein of Goons, a statement which was turned into the infamous cry of “VFK by February!”

It was war and I had to figure out what was what in a hurry.

I got to our staging system in VFK-IV, got on coms, got myself a doctrine ship, and was soon bumbling my way through fleets trying to figure out what was going on and not screw up.  But by December 21 I had already bridged off of a titan, been in a fleet fight, done a structure shoot, and had seen all sorts of new things in the game.  And probably more importantly I became part of the ongoing story that is null sec space.

Null Sec Sov. December 27

Null Sec Sov. December 27, 2011

Long after seeing a titan was no longer special and I had trained up skill points to fly in every subcap doctrine the coalition could come up with, being part of the sweep and story of null sec space has kept me interested in the game.  Before I came to null sec I used to drop my subscription and take a break every so often, usually after I wore out whatever goal or project I had been working on.  Since I came to null sec I have remained subscribed and logging in.

As something of an MMO tourist, being in a null sec alliance and part of a contentious coalition has afforded me the opportunity to witness many of the noteworthy events that have sometimes made it to the mainstream news.  To abuse a former CCP advertising catch phrase, “I was there” for:

  • My first “big” fleet fight in EWN-2U which saw the newly released time dilation mechanism in play (post)
  • Burn Jita of various flavors (Burn Jita tag)
  • Z9PP-H when CCP fumbled the node and saved TEST (Post, though I left just before that happened)
  • The Lazamo at 3WE-KY (post)
  • 6VTD-H at the end of the Fountain War (Post with lots of links about the battle)
  • HED-GP when we were killing nodes with drone assist (Post)
  • B-R5RB, which remains the most expensive battle in New Eden history (B-R5RB tag with several related posts)
  • M-OEE8 and the great betrayal of the Casino War (Post)
  • Defeat in the Casino War and the great migration to Delve (Delve 2016 tag)
  • M-OEE8 Keepstar fight with the most pilots ever to pile into a single system (Post)

Those are points in time that a lot of people will remember.  I think the one big event I totally missed was Asakai, which happened while I was at work and was done before I got home.  And these are just peak events.  For each great clash there are many smaller battles.

And even when there isn’t a wider war going on… which is usually when some vocal non-null sec players start chanting about “blue donuts” and “stagnation”… there is always something going on, even if it is just planning and building for the next conflict.  We can’t sustain constant war, it takes too much out of people.

And the story continues.  That series of discreet events I listed out are just points on the arc of a much wider and ongoing tale of which so many people have been a part.   Some actors and organizations come and go, others change sides or become part of new organizations.  If you read Andrew Groen’s book Empires of EVE, that is just part of the story, a great snapshot from null sec, but only a snippet from the ongoing saga of 0.0 space.  War, alliances, spies, betrayal, conquest, victories, defeats, old hands, bitter vets, new bros, null sec has it all.

Null sec sov Dec. 20, 2016

Null sec sov Dec. 20, 2016

Granted, null sec isn’t a game niche for everybody, and there are aspects of it that do get tiring.  After a couple of years of mostly being in the blob of main fleet, the whole effort was starting to wear on me.  If you look back at January of 2014, when B-R5RB happened, I am only on six kill mails.  They were six titans from that battle, but I wasn’t doing much else and my Dominix got left behind in the system after the Russians collapsed and lost all of that space.

And then Reavers came along with ops where 100 ships is a big turn out for an op and got to do all sorts of different sorts of fights all over New Eden.  And that isn’t a constant activity.  We deploy for a bit, have some fights, then come back home to do other things.

All in all though, being part of null sec is pretty much what made EVE Online finally “stick” for me.  Every time I think maybe it is time for a break, something new comes up in the story and I decide to stick around a bit longer just to see how that plays out.

A Standing Stone Gathers No Momentum

Well, today’s big announcement in the MMO world has to be this bombshell about the development teams formerly part of Turbine.

All it does is spin...

All it does is spin…

I am going to quote the text in full lest the site disappear next week.

Today we have some momentous news! The game teams responsible for The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) and Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) are now moving from Turbine to Standing Stone Games, a newly formed indie game studio. In addition, we’ve partnered with Daybreak Games to provide global publishing services. They’ve had a long, successful history developing and publishing MMOs, and we’re happy to lean on their expertise.

With the announcement out of the way, I wanted to talk to you about what all this means.

We’re embarking on an exciting adventure as Standing Stone Games, a newly-independent studio staffed by people who have been working on DDO and LOTRO for many years. The teams remain very much committed to both games and are thrilled to continue development and operations of these games as an independent studio.  This is an opportunity for us to bring about our dreams while still working on two of the biggest licenses in video games. It’s a huge honor, and for you this means your games will continue to grow and improve. We love to focus on games with a high level of depth and scope, and we can’t wait to show you what the future brings.

Although a great many exciting things are happening on our end, you’ll be able to continue playing the game(s) you enjoy with as little interruption as possible. Our development continues on track, and the plans we have already announced remain firmly in our future view. Again, although we are a new studio, we are also the same developers who have been and will continue to work on our games.

Our success has always been possible because of your support. As we move forward, this is more important than ever. The ultimate goal of our new studio is to continue to bring you amazing experiences. We are excited for the future, and we’re thrilled to have you with us on this journey.

Here’s to great games, epic adventures, and memorable times with friends!

~Sev

Momentous news indeed.  That is a lot to take in, so let my try and parse it out into bite size pieces, for my own benefit at least.

  • Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online are no longer part of the WB owned game studio known as Turbine.
  • Those two remaining money making online properties from Turbine will now be part of a newly formed studio known as Standing Stone Games. (SSG? Like the Strategic Studies Group?)
  • The studio is alleged to be “independent,” but doesn’t really describe what that means.  I am pretty sure Warner isn’t just letting them go without any financial interest or compensation.
  • SSG is partnering with Daybreak Games Company, our favorite lovable band of west coast cowboys, to provide global publishing services.

There is a whole FAQ that goes with this, which I can summarize as “Don’t Panic!” as it doesn’t really add much in the way of details.  We won’t know what all this really means until some time passes and things shake out.

What it sounds like WB is doing is getting LOTRO and DDO off the books the way that EA did with Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot when they handed over to those two properties to Broadsword, a studio that they probably had a hand in creating.  Rather than having the headcount and servers and what not counting against margins… and Wall St. is obsessed with margins, so if you’re a public company you are as well… the whole things becomes a licensing deal that just generates income.  And the fact that “Standing Stone Games” appears to be a trademark of “Standing Stone Games, LLC” certainly makes it sound like it is fully spun off.

All of which probably means that we are pretty much done with any big investments in either game.  They have to survive on their own.  But they just got new servers and upgrades over the last year, so they should be set there.  Now the team will slowly move towards Mordor in the case of LOTRO, and something else in the case of DDO, getting bug fixes and updates so long as the money keeps coming in.

In the end, this is probably a good thing for both games.  They seem much more likely to carry on over time than they would in a company where accounting is looking to chop under performing assets.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 however are probably going to disappear for good.

The strange bit is the Daybreak tie-in.  Why would you go to a company that has no significant presence outside of the US for your “global publishing services?”  Didn’t SOE/Daybreak spend a couple of years trying to ditch their European customers by selling them off to ProSiebenSat.1 before finally giving up on the whole thing and bringing as many resources back to the US as possible?

What does a deal with Daybreak bring to the table?  Unless the SSG team didn’t get the billing department for the games and needs somebody else to charge credict cards for them, I can’t see the logic.  Will Daybreak be running their data centers?  Or will SSG be moving into Daybreak’s data centers?  What else could Daybreak do for them as a “publisher” for a game you download directly?  They can’t even run their own physical game card sales without problems, why would you go to them?

We shall see.

I don’t think this is going to mean LOTRO and DDO will end up on Daybreak Access, but stranger things have happened.

Addendum: And, as predicted, AC and AC2 will soon be gone… or sunsetted… or whatever the current term of art is.

Others on this bit of news:

Another Night, Another Keepstar Fight

This is becoming a regular thing.

Saturday night, after having gone out to see Rogue One, gone out to dinner, come home and watched Star Wars: Episode IV, I finally wandered around to my computer to see what was going on in New Eden.

Jabber had been up long enough that there was a ping about reinforcements going off to attack a Pandemic Legion CHAOS Keepstar up in the system of Vey.  The Imperium New Twitch stream was showing live video from the fight which showed the Keepstar coming online and the repair timer paused due it being attacked.  It seemed like there could be yet another Keepstar kill this month.

I was keen to get there and whore on the kill mail help out our fleet.

However, Vey is in the Placid region, which is Gallente empire space, and something of a haul from way down in Delve.  Also, the reinforcement fleet was well on its way.  A run by myself wouldn’t be impossible, but there were a lot of potentially hostile gates to pass through on the way there.

My first thought went to my Alpha Clone alt, Reynaldo Fabulous, who is now truly and Alpha as his account has lapsed.  He was parked in one of his hull tanked Thorax cruisers less than a dozen jumps from Vey.  I got him out… which meant I couldn’t log anybody else into the game… and headed that direction, but got caught on a gate camp in Renarelle and blown up, sending him back to Jita.  I put the kill rights he got up for sale at a low price and logged him out.

Getting to the fight now meant doing something with my coalition characters, both of whom were down in Delve.  I logged them in and looked at where they had jump clones.  Wilhelm’s closest was in Badivefi, which isn’t much closer than Delve.  But my alt had a clone in Amarr, which wasn’t too far from the fight.  So I jumped him up there.

Once in Amarr, I grabbed the fitting for the target painting Vigil that goes along with most of our fleet compositions and bought that and fit it all up (“buy all” and “fit” buttons for the win!) and set a course for Vey.  Once in motion there, I jumped Wilhelm to Badifevi and put him in a support Crucifier I had stashed there, undocked him, and set his autopilot to the last high sec station on the way to Vey, just in case I needed backup.

Then it was back to my alt who quickly got into Placid, bypassing any trouble right up the gate from Agoze to Vey… and the trouble there was time dilation.  I went from fast moving space straight into the soul-sucking sludge that is 10% tidi surrounding a big fight.  The warp tunnel almost seemed to stop and everything was in super slo-mo.

Which was a bit of a surprise after the 5,337 pilot battle at M-OEE8 because the numbers were less than half that when I hit the system.

Time dilation factor 10

Time dilation factor 10

From what I heard over the weekend, the big fight at M-OEE8 actually got to use the super Jita node (so the Jita market had problems that day) while this fight was just a standard reinforced node.  Judging from coms, the node had not been up to the load and people had been dumped from the game a while back.  But I was there at last and joined up with Asher’s Machariel fleet because… well.. Asher.

Landing on the Machs

My Vigil landing on the Machs

They were right in at the Keepstar.  I got in an orbit around the anchor and started painting the targets being called, which at that moment were fighters.

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

I also locked up the Keepstar and sent a missile its way just to get some damage in while I had the chance.  It still had quite a ways to go, but seemed to in peril.

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

However, by that time Pandemic Legion had gotten themselves assembled and began dropping their considerable capital ship assets on the Keepstar in order to defend it.  The weight of that turned the tide in their favor.

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

While others in the fleet had been going for five hours or more for this battle, including time spent forming up and flying out, we were now aligning for the out gate and heading home just minutes after I had arrived.  I tabbed out and stopped Wilhelm’s slow autopilot progress to the fight and sent him back the way he came, then aligned with the rest of the fleet as we, TEST, and other attackers sought to exit the system.  The Keepstar was going to be saved.

We slowly warped off to the gate and then waited there a bit until everybody arrived.  Then we jumped through and back into playing EVE Online and its normal pace, leaving all but residual bits of time dilation behind us as we made the trip back down to Delve.  That put us into Cloud Ring and then through the well trod path down the length of Fountain to Delve.  I stuck with the fleet for the ride home just in case we ran into any opposition… though a nearly 200 ship strong Machariel fleet would need some serious opposition for there to be a real problem.

Aside from a Sabre along the way, the route was clear and we arrived in Delve where a titan was waiting on a citadel to bridge us back to the staging system.  A cyno was put up at the far end, the bridge went up, and we went to jump through.

Bridge up on the titan

Bridge up on the titan, second titan in the background

However, before much of the fleet managed to jump, the titan, ran out of helium isotopes, the fuel consumed to put up the bridge and then to send each ship through, so those left behind were not going to be taking that bridge.  I made it, but others were still sitting there.  However the fleet was in luck as there was another titan on the citadel. It had a jump portal generator fit and enough fuel in its bay to send the rest of the fleet on home.  The fleet op was over. (More about jump drives and such if you are interested.)

We did not get a Keepstar kill, but the whole thing… and the fact that this was the third Keepstar battle in just over a week… made me start wondering about the state of Keepstar and citadel proliferation.  Pandemic Legion and its allies are going back to the old rental space model in null sec starting with the territory they just conquored in Tribute, which will likely expand into the Vale of the Silent region now that TEST and CO2 are moving south to stage in Derelik with an eye towards taking territory in Catch.

With a solid income stream behind them again and a strong capital fleet available to drop in defense (that whole “last war” polemic has not aged well) Pandemic Legion can keep putting up Keepstars and Fortizars to make a fairly unassailable perimeter. They won’t be able to hold more than half of null sec like the Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition rental empires of old, but they may not need to.  Fozzie Sov upgrades to null, citadels, jump fatigue, and overwhelming local superiority in supercaps likely means they can settle in for a long and lucrative stay in the north in some prime territory with easy access to Jita.  The ISK rolls in while whatever neighbors they have will keep the line members entertained.

With more than seven thousand citadels deployed already back during EVE Vegas, maybe citadel proliferation should be a Blog Banter topic?  Or maybe supercapital proliferation as a topic, since “build more supers” seems to be on every null sec power’s list of things to do?  Or maybe we can just do a Blog Banter about how the more things change, the more they stay the same or Malcanis’s Law or any of the usual tunes we all know the words to after more than a decade in New Eden?

Addendum: And the official rental space announcement is up on Reddit.  You can join Rate My Ticks (RMT, ticker: WERMT) and rent some prime space real estate in Tribute.  It is good stuff.  I know, I used to live there.

Addendum: EN24 has a post about the wider battle, as my perspective was pretty narrow.

Reviewing My 2016 Predictions

Roll over Beethoven, here we are again.  There is still some time left in the year, but I pretty sure we are far enough along that anything I predicted back in January will have either come to pass or just won’t happen this year.

Blog2016

Back at the start of the year I listed out sixteen predictions for 2016, the sweet sixteenth birthday of the 21st century.  And then somebody spiked the Kool-aid and the party ran out of control in a way that even a National Lampoon script writing team would deem too implausible to put to paper.

So my predictions look pretty tame compared to reality.

Anyway, here is what I predicted back then.  As usual, the questions are worth 10 points each, with partial credit available.

  • 1WoW Legion will ship on August 16th, which will give Blizzard both one of the fastest expansion release cycles in its history along with one of the longest content droughts, leaving few happy.

Pretty close on that one.  Yes, I know that is two weeks off the actual date, but given the number of people insisting June simply had to be the date, not too shabby.  And it was one of the longest content droughts, about which nobody was really happy.  I’m giving myself about half credit on that – 6 points.

  • 2WoW Legion will be heavily criticized for the small amount of content it delivers at launch.  It will turn out that Blizzard can’t figure out how to make any more content than usual, so the plan will be to dole it out in more, but smaller, chunks over the life of the expansion.

Hrmm, not so much.  I mean, you could argue that the initial four zones and the run to level 100 were pretty darn quick.  But Blizz did have a bunch of level cap content ready, has rolled out the first content update and talked about future updates.  So I think I get a nada here – 0 Points.

  • 3 – The Warcraft movie will be a modest success, though after it settles down somebody will calculate that more people have probably played World of Warcraft than saw the movie in the theater.  The movie’s impact on the game will be negligible.

I think modest success is about spot-on.  The Chinese box office wasn’t all that profitable.  If you saw the movie in the theater you probably live in China and being the best movie in a traditionally crap niche still isn’t saying much.  As for impact on the game… meh.  Did anybody subscribe because they saw that movie?  And I think I saw that players vs. viewers calculation at one point in July.  I’m giving myself full points on this one just to make you angry.  If you disagree, go watch this then channel your rage into the comments – 10 Points.

  • 4Diablo IV will be announced at BlizzCon.  Really.  This time I am serious dammit!

Blizzard, however, was not serious.  We did get an announcement about a treat, a remake of the original Diablo in the game, plus something that sounds a bit like a new expansion vehicle for the return of the Necromancer class, but that was about it – 0 Points.

  • 5 – Daybreak will get a new head honcho who will be selected from another company and will have little or no experience with the fantasy MMORPG genre that has kept the team in San Diego funded for most of its existence.  Expect this person’s past experience to be the hammer and any Daybreak problem to be a nail.  They’ll be just like that VP we once hired from Oracle, for whom every solution required a database.  So if, for example, they have a history with first person shooters on the XBox, you’ll know what to expect.

How to score this?  I wrote a whole post about this two weeks back.  Long time SOE veteran Russel Shanks stepped in back when Smed got the axe… erm, stepped down… almost a year and a half ago.  I wasn’t sure if that was an interim move back then.  That lingered until October when Shanks stepped down and Ji Ham, a Columbus Nova Prime operative was put in the top slot, no doubt to make sure the spice cash was kept flowing. And while he has no notable experience with fantasy MMORPGs, he also isn’t exactly what my prediction implied either.  Also, is seems that we was co-president or some such this whole time.  Still, I suppose that appointment does mean we’ll know what to expect.  I’m going to go with Bree’s call on the score here – 8 Points.

  • 6 – It will be more tough times and harsh realities for Daybreak.  The EverQuest/EverQuest II teams, which pull their own weight, will be safe so long as they can sell expansions, but everything else will be up for grabs.  As a result I expect two of the following to happen:
  • EverQuest Next pushed out prematurely for early access dollars.
  • EverQuest Next and Landmark merged back into a single product/project, but you have to buy it again it you bought Landmark.
  • Legends of Norrath shut down.
  • Legends of Norrath turned into a stand-alone iOS and Andoid game, where it fails and gets shut down.
  • PlanetSide 2 shut down, relaunched with a new name as a buy-to-play title for consoles only, old version not compatible with the new one.
  • DC Universe Online shut down on Windows, left running on PlayStation.
  • H1Z1 basic package launched as a buy-to-play title, but seriously gimped unless you are a Daybreak All Access subscriber or plan to spend big in the cash shop.
  • New, console-only project announced.

You know, that list isn’t nearly as divorced from reality as I thought it was eleven and a half months back.  I even got one on the nose, as Legends of Norrath went away back in August.

And I could make the case that some variation of the first two on the list came to pass as Daybreak kicked Landmark out the door into the cold marketplace for the few players that remained.

Meanwhile, bits of that H1Z1 prediction contained threads of reality, while DCUO moving to XBox seems to confirm what was said in the past about the game being popular on consoles as opposed to being a big deal in the Windows market.

In the end though, I am only going to claim one, if only to off-set those ill-gotten points from the Warcraft movie prediction – 5 Points.

  • 7 – Turbine needs a splash in 2016 with LOTRODDO rolls along as is, sharing the Dungeons & Dragons license with Neverwinter.  But the contract with Tolkien Enterprises for LOTRO wraps up in 2017.  While a renewal seems pretty likely, barring a complete disaster, it would go over much better if some additional cash were flowing in.  So, after a couple years off… and perhaps learning from the market… a big expansion will be announced that will bring us to Mordor.  Cirith Ungol or maybe just to the main gates, but the end of the journey will be in sight.  Expect a special Blessing of the Valar level boost to be bundled in with it that will get you stuck straight into the new content.  Yes, I know this isn’t in the current 2016 plan for Turbine, but this will change before the end of the year.

Poor Turbine.  I don’t think they have it in them to get an expansion out anymore.  They’ll just slowly update their way to Mordor and toss in the ring eventually – 0 Points.

  • 8 – In EVE Online, citadels will be big. (Ha ha!)  Everybody will want one, which will cause a boom in construction and a spike in mineral prices and a rise in concurrent users.  It will be the new shiny.  This will wane as the close of summer comes to an end and we all figure out the flaw in the citadel plan and the game grinds to a halt while we argue about how CCP should fix it.

Well, I was certainly right on the “everybody will want one” side of the equation, with more than 7,000 of the things having been deployed across New Eden.  We never did get to the horrible flaw in them.  Some small ones, but no game breakers.  Then again, I think that part of the prediction might simply have been premature.  Wait until they want to kill null sec stations and POSes – 4 Points.

  • 9 – CCP will either close down the CSM or change it so drastically that it is essentially a different beast.  We’ll get CSM XI, but it will carry on the now familiar tradition of institutional animosity from certain sectors within CCP, something that won’t be helped by the fact that most CSM veterans will decline to run for election, leading to a fresh CSM with Xenuria and DurrHurrDurr (or a reasonable facsimile of the latter) as the permanent Icelandic duo.  That will force CCP to act.

I am claiming a few points up front for predicting Xenuria on the CSM and the whole “veterans decline to run” thing.  As for change, the most drastic was pulling CCP Falcon and CCP Leeloo off of CSM duty, as the pair of them seemed to be a major part of the drama creation machine that had been the CSM for a while… CCP Falcon especially, as he seems to thrive on building a reputation of being combative and confrontational… and putting in the ever-chill pair of CCP Guard and CCP Logibro.  After that and the election, the CSM almost disappeared into obscurity as they simply tried to get the job done.

So not a drastic change, but CCP seems to have succeeded, for now, in turning the CSM back into an asset rather than a public relations nightmare – 7 Points.

  • 10 – The return of The Fountain War Kickstarter will succeed when it kicks off in March, being better thought out.  Drama will be way, way down compared to the initial run.

Ha ha ha ha!  Ever the optimist am I!  CCP ran away from The Fountain War book idea like a scalded cat after the disaster of the first attempt.  We shall not hear of that again – 0 Points.

  • 11 Black Desert, the new anticipated hotness, combining an Asian MMO import with the word “sandbox” yet again, is going to be a replay of ArcheAge, with a big rush, overcrowding, disappointment and recriminations, before settling down for the core audience that will remain after everybody who pinned sky high hopes on it storms off in a fit of pique.

I mean, pretty much, right?  For a bit it was all anybody could talk about, then it pretty much fell off the map when it comes to the blogs I read.  I see update posts about it over at Massively OP, and it had a server merge recently, so it seems to fit in the ArcheAge mold well enough – 10 Points.

  • 12 Project: Gorgon, after being in the shadows for so long, will have a banner year in 2016, with early access success on Steam leading to the game going live for real before the year runs out.

Not quite there yet.  The game is on its way, but everything always takes longer than you think when it comes to software – 0 Points.

  • 13 – NCsoft will announce that WildStar is closing down, it’s free to play conversion having been a brief flash in the pan.

I keep expecting this as WildStar sets new revenue lows in the NCsoft quarterly reports, yet it is still around.  Congrats to a 2016 survivor I guess – 0 Points.

  • 14 – Despite all the back and forth and talk of lawyers and lawsuits and who is going to sue who for what and where, the Derek Smart vs. Star Citizen brouhaha will fade away without a metaphorical legal punch being thrown.

Okay, maybe I was looking for a gimme trying to get to 16 predictions.  No lawsuit, no how – 10 points.

  • 15 – Somebody will buy Funcom… for cheap… to rescue a couple of their titles, but Anarchy Online won’t be on the list of the saved.  LEGO Minifigures Online is the prize there.

Meanwhile Funcom remains in trouble, still wobbling around on its own, while LEGO Minifigures Online went the way of LEGO Universe back at the end of September – 0 Points.

  • 16Crowfall, will still be in development, allowing only limited access for backers by the end of 2016.  It won’t really be a thing until 2017.

I don’t think Crowfall is even that far along now.  It certainly won’t be a thing until late 2017 at the earliest – 0 Points.

  • Special Bonus Prediction – A big Pokemon announcement to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the series on February 27, 2016.

My make up gimme prediction.  We got the Pokemon Sun & Moon announcement and the launch of Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console on the anniversary.  I think the former counts – 10 Points.

  • Big 2016 Question – Will VR be interesting enough to spur people to spend money upgrading their systems in order to spend more money to buy an Occulus Rift rig?

Pretty much no.  VR is a fragmented niche market without a killer app currently.  Not a scored item, since it wasn’t a prediction but a question.

70 points out of 170 possible, including points for the extra credit question, which at about 41% would be a failing grade in any class I ever took.  But in the land of prognostication, that is a positively stellar record… or at least in the land of my own blind guesses at the future.  And so ends the year.

As for others scoring their predictions, this is what I have seen so far:

It just wasn’t the thing to do in 2016, so I expect I won’t have many on the list.

Meanwhile, I have the self-linking bonanza that is my summary of past predictions and results here at TAGN:

Now to think on what I should do for 2017.  First item on the list, get my daughter to make me another graphic.

EVE Online Launcher Problems

Well, I finished work and came home to find this response when I try to log into New Eden.

evecerterror

Hitting “Ignore” terminates things and hitting “Cancel” shows me a brief glimpse of the launcher, and then it goes away.

There is a thread up in the forums about it with suggestions from people as to how they have (or have not) been able to get around this, but so far no joy here and no official word from CCP.

Have to collect my daily Yoiul Gifts later once there is a fix I guess.

Addendum: I ran the launcher over and over and eventually it got past the error, but there was no rhyme or reason as to why it didn’t work the previous times or why it worked that time.

A Structure Fight in Catch

I could have had another EVE Online post yesterday, but I thought I would break up my seven post streak.

Tuesday afternoon a ping had gone out to Reavers asking who had ship ready for a new doctrine.  It turned out we had enough people ready and a ping went out for a “short” op that evening.  It was time to get out our Sleipnir doctrine.

Sleipnir riding through a fleet boost burst

Sleipnir riding through a fleet boost burst

The word “short” used in reference to a fleet op in EVE Online is generally deceptive.  There can be short ops, especially if they are homeland defense ops where you are chasing off enemies already near your staging.  But for an offensive operation where you are going to travel somewhere and shoot something or somebody, you should probably block out three hours for the whole thing.  It might take less, but these things have a way of stretching out.

For our op, getting close to our destination was easy as Thomas Lear had a wormhole connection setup for us.  As somebody noted, we were playing at PL, flying a command ship doctrine and traveling by wormholes.  Our destination was the system E-YJ8G in the Catch region, where we were going to help Volition Cult take down an Astrahus that Honorable Third Party had anchored in their space. (We crashed a node in that system about three years ago, back during the drone assist days!)

With the wormhole path, which started just one jump from our staging, the ride out was quick.  However, the wormholes shrank as we went through, indicating that they might not be able to accommodate us for the return trip.  But there is no point in worrying about that on the trip out.  The whole thing might be a trap so we could be going home the fast way in any case.

When we got there we found an Astrahus already under fire from our temporary allies in the fight and a POS with carriers and faxes in it on the same grid, though about 900km off the citadel.  The capital ships were sitting off in the POS with fighters deployed, and were the juicer target.  So Thomas led us to the POS to see if we could catch a capital kill.

Our foes in HTP were no fools, as their carriers and support were close to the POS shields.  In order to get a kill we were going to have to bump one of the carriers away from the shields and fax support.  That takes a bit of skill, a department in which we proved lacking for a bit.  We failed on a Nyx and a couple more before we managed to get a Nidhoggur away from the pack.

Nidhoggur out on its own

Nidhoggur out on its own

We managed to kill that, which gave us a warm feeling, until we realized that we had lost a couple of Sleipners along the way.  Sleips are expensive ships and we don’t have to lose too many in order to balance out the ISK value of a carrier.

We took a run at another target, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen, so Thomas had us pull range on the POS and we contented ourselves with killing their fighters.  That was what we ended up doing for a stretch.

We warped over to the Astrahus and put drones on that to keep it ticking down to destruction, then continued working on fighters.  We did warp back to try and get another carrier that looked like it was straying from the POS bubble, but that did not pan out.  Then it was back to work on fighters and the Astrahus kill.

All in all a decent little fight which yielded a “we all had fun” thread on Reddit which seemed to have gotten ignore by the usual hate crowd.  Or maybe I’ve just blocked all the Rob Kaichin’s there finally.  The battle report is a little wonky… fighters get counted as kills, but only if you take out a whole squadron of them… but it was generally a pretty even outcome and both sides got to kill a few expensive thinks without taking huge relative losses.

Null sec working as designed.

Of course, then we had to go home.

Thomas said that anybody who cared to could zip back to the wormhole, but it was not at all clear if it would stay up long enough to allow the whole fleet to pass, even with some losses, so he was going to lead people home the long way.  He had us set our destination to Keberz and let us off the leash to free burn.  I must have heard him first because when the fleet got tangled with some locals in ERVK-P, I was already at the gate two jumps down the road.  After some “stay where you are” and “jump back in” over coms, I decided to just wander on down the line, stopping in HED-GP.

HED-GP is one of those border system, this one representing a direct transition from high sec to null sec, which are natural choke points if you want to set up a gate camp to zap passers by.  The system, as expected, had a small crowd. (It is also another place where we killed a server in the drone assist days.)  After trying to bounce off of a celestial… no corp tactical bookmarks in the system… and finding that blocked by a drag bubble, I warped off and safed up to wait for the fleet to catch up.

I wasn’t really watching local… I tend to have it as narrow as possible so I can just see a total number and a compact list of names… so I didn’t notice that the people in the system were asking after me.  I eventually got two private convo request from what turned out to be the tow groups squaring off around the gate.

One was from MIC Improvise, who was with the group who had just been at the Astrahus fight earlier and who kindly gave me a celestial to bounce off to get cleanly through the gate.  I assume it was legit, though you never know, and our temp truce for the fight was over.  But the fleet had unstuck itself from whatever it had been doing back in ERVK-P and was closing in on the system, so I opted just to move with them.

The other was from Madmatt Otsito, a local give his corp name (HED Hunters) who seemed to want me to join up with his group to fight the other group around the gate.  I think.  Voice coms were busy.  I let him know that the gate would probably be hot in a bit as a couple dozen more Sleipners were on their way.

The I warped to our in gate in HED-GP and rejoined the fleet as they jumped into the system.  I am sure everybody could see local more than double and when we warped to a perch over the Keberz gate, most of the people on grid thought it was about the right time to get the hell out of the way and warped.  As we landed on the gate, somebody called a Harpy that was in range and that got quickly blapped.  Then somebody pointed out that there was a Cormorant at the extreme edge of lock range.  I happened to already have long range ammo loaded, so I locked him up and took a shot.

And that is how I got on Madmatt Otsito’s kill mail.  Ah well.  I didn’t even hit him, but I had projectiles down range for him.

From there we were off to Queious and the route back to Delve and the jump bridge network.  The route was quiet so aside from a side trip to kill an ESS, we made our way back to staging and called it a night.  Another small op, no tidi, no drama, just a good clean fight.

Some screen shots from the op:

Finding My Way in Norrath Again

The change of seasons, the chill in the air, and the release of a new expansion got my thinking of Norrath.

Hey, look, a post about something other than EVE Online!

I’ve also been a bit down on WoW of late.  As I noted previously, I enjoyed the going through the initial four zones in WoW Legion, but wasn’t really into settling down to a daily quest grind.  Add in the lengths one would need to go to get the eventual flying unlock achievement and I set off in other directions.  I was toddling along doing pet battles and crafting and a bit of transmog hunting when the last update broke the PetBattle Teams addon, which I find essential for managing a stable of over 400 battle pets.  And then they broke the ability to mail stuff to my alts and I was done.  It was like they picked two things they knew would drive me away, so I let my account lapse there.

Meanwhile, the usual Norrath nostalgia season was upon us and I was interested in the Kunark Ascending expansion, especially with its level 100 character boost.

Of course, I already had a character boosted up to level 95 from the free boost offer Daybreak had back in September, so I got myself subscribed and logged in and started trying to figure out where to go and what to do.

I have mentioned before that for MMOs that I have played there tends to be a dividing line which my brain flags as old stuff/new stuff.   While it is often a division based on time, it is also generally a division based on my knowledge of the game and what I am familiar with.  In World of Warcraft everything after Wrath of the Lich King is the “new stuff.”  I know Northrend and before very well, while I have never been as well… integrated I guess… with Cataclysm and after.

In EverQuest the line is somewhere between Ruins of Kunark and Planes of Power.  In Rift the new stuff starts with Storm Legion.  And in EverQuest II the new stuff starts with the Kingdom of Sky expansion, which takes the game all the way back to early 2006.  I never really got into that expansion.

That is a big knowledge gap, spanning a decade and all.

Now, the situation isn’t completely black and white.  I came back for Echoes of Faydwer ,have messed around in the Frostfang Sea, and have managed to play at least two characters into the Rise of Kunark expansion.  But that still leaves me in November 2007 as far as EQII expansions go, or about nine and nine years expansion behind the curve.  That leaves a lot of “new stuff.”

So I got my level 95 boosted berserker Sigward out and looked at the current map of Norrath.

Where should I go today

Where should I go today?

For whatever reason, when I took the level boost I went out to Cobalt Scar, so that is where Sigward was when I got back to him.  Then I had to figure out what mobs I could take on.  This is more confusing that it should be at times, and made all the more so since my last round of play in Norrath was on the Stormhold server.  There the idea of my level 25 Shadow Knight taking on a heroic encounter required serious planning, and the encounter had to be lower level than him.

Out in Cobalt Scar the question chain immediately set me up against some high level heroic encounters, so I began to despair.  However, giving it a “what the hell” try, I found I could defeat them easily.  I ran through a bit of that, but got stuck on a quest that seemed bugged.  So I wandered back New Halas where Frostfall, the winter holiday event was starting.  I started the quest for a new holiday tree for my home which sent me off to slay things in the Eidolon Jungle and the Obol Plains, zones that aren’t even on the map.

It turns out you have to go to Feerrott and find a special portal to get into the first, and then another portal from there to get to the second.  There I found my items and fought the usual array of interesting creatures… and actually finished up an old Lore and Legend and an old language quest along the way.

Right in the eye!

Right in the eye!

There I was somewhat emboldened with my ability to slay heroic encounters, stumbling into an instance where I was able to clear a whole range of them, including several named encounters.

Sigwerd versus a named 96 heroic

Sigwerd versus a named 96 heroic

Further on into the Frostfell stuff my assessment of my own abilities were further inflated as I took down some serious mobs as part of the even.

Just a 4 group epic raid mob, no big deal

Just a 4 group epic raid mob, no big deal

I’m pretty sure I had some sort of Frostfell buff on me for that, but it is hard to tell as the buffs and effects window in EQII gets pretty full pretty fast.

After getting some of the festivities under my belt, I was digging through my in-game mail and found the message that came with the level 95 boost which directed me towards yet another zone, the Tranquil Sea.

When I got there I found mobs that were a level or two above me, but not heroic encounters, so I figured they would be no big deal.  And then they totally kicked my ass.  The time to kill went up dramatically compared to the same level heroic encounters in Cobalt Scar and if I got a couple of them on me I was done for.

Well that was a fine move.

And then I remembered mercenaries and that I had a healer I could summon to follow Sigwerd around.  So I summoned him and things went much better.  In fact, things probably got a bit too easy then, as I found I could just pull mobs back onto Ben Nevis (his name) and he would kill them in a couple of blows.  That is a powerful merc.

My problem is probably gear related.  But, having jumped up 20 levels, I have no real feel for whether the gear they gave me with the boost is good or not or what stats are important or what I should look for when replacing them.

Do I swap for that sword or not?

Do I swap for that sword or not?

In the picture above, the quest reward sword has better DPS, but I am not sure how to weigh some of the other stats.  I think I should take it, but I am not sure.  Logic would say that they should be giving me gear good enough to take on the area.  But then, logic would also seem to indicate that they should have given me gear good enough to start the zone, and I was struggling there when I was solo.

But I was at least able to progress further through the zone with the merc in tow.  As a location, it was clearly design for flight.  While I got a flying mount with my level 95 boost, I stuck with my Race to Trakanon mount from the event server.

Flying about, enjoying the view

Flying about, enjoying the view

I will say that I have not quite mastered the controls for flying yet.  Is the flying mount ALWAYS going to go where I am looking rather than where I am trying to point?  I can get around, but I am constantly at war with the thing.  It seems designed to punish people for not using the first person view.

Anyway, this has made me a bit wary of the Kunark Ascending expansion.  That comes with a level 100 boost, but there was a strong thread of opinion in the forums when I last looked that the gear you get with the upgrade is NOT for Kunark Ascending, but rather to allow you to do Terrors of Thalumbra content that will gear you up enough to go do the new content.

That seems like an odd approach to take… here is some gear but it isn’t good enough for the content you just purchased.  Then again, I went where the game told me and found my level 95 gear wasn’t up to snuff… or so it seems.  I could just be bad.  Of clueless.  Even the EQ2 Wire expansion FAQ isn’t dumbed down enough for me to figure things out.

Meanwhile, I have decided to try and loosen up my grip on all that Station Cash… erm, Daybreak Cash… I have been hoarding since back in the day.  I might buy a couple more level 95 boosts if I can figure out which characters I ought to raise up.  I did buy a three pack of Legends of Norrath loot cards, which got me another painting for the wall and a pet that I sold for more cash than I have ever had in Norrath.

Now I am set for plat

Now I am set for plat

Well, post-cataclysm Norrath in any case.  Platinum inflation in EverQuest led to some silly things and I once found I was immobile because I forgot to deposit my cash when I left the Bazaar.

I even opened up the old Qeynos Credence Revival guild hall.  I wanted to get access to the guild gatherer for doing some trade skill stuff.  Back in the day 1.7 plat and 135K status rent a week seemed like a lot.  Now the plat is negligible and I can earn that much status easily enough, though there is more than 2 million status in the guild escrow and another 2 million on Sigwerd alone.

So there I am, back in Norrath again.

Claim Your Daily Yoiul Gifts in EVE Online!

Starting today, December 14, the Yoiul Festival is live in EVE Online. to celebrate the season and the coming of YC119. (Also noted on the Updates page)

There will be a new gift to redeem in game every day for twelve days.  Today’s gift, the first on the list, is a set of four frigate SKINs, one for each of the empires, covering the Amarr Punisher, the Caldri Kestrel, the Gallente Incursus, and the Minmatar Rifter.

Yoiul Festival SKINs

Yoiul Festival SKINs

I was happy with that, but I am a fan of SKINs.

A key part of this is that you must log in every day to claim that day’s gift.  As noted by CCP:

Each gift will be present for 24 hours, until 23:59:59 UTC, when it will be replaced by the next gift. Be sure to log in and claim your gifts from your redeeming system to avoid missing out!

If you don’t log in, you don’t get your gift.

Remember that the days are counted from UTC and not your local time.  Being on the west coast of the US, I was able to claim the first day’s gift at 16:00 local time on the 13th, which is when the date changes in New Eden.

Also, there have been some issues reported with redeeming gifts, to which CCP has responded.  I could not find the first one I redeemed in my inventory, but after I had logged out and back in again it appeared.

Addendum: You can also get some holiday themed EVE Online graphics.