Monthly Archives: February 2017

February in Review

The Site

I think WordPress.com is calling me a freeloader.

A bit back WP.com changed their revenue scheme.  Previously they had an array of ala carte and package deals to get various features.  The list was a bit confusing, mostly because it was a chore to get things you wanted while avoiding things you did not want.  And, of course, it changed every year, which means that after more than a decade writing on their platform, I can never remember what I signed up for the previous year because the option is often renamed, gone, or rolled into some other package.

WP.com decided to simplify all this by wiping away all previous options and going with three plans.  Well, four plans, since “free” is a plan.  It is the plan they tell me I am on despite the fact that I gave them $30 for features last year.  The non-free plans are Personal, Premium, and Business:

WordPress.com plans - February 2016

WordPress.com plans – February 2016

The problem for me now is how to get what I want.  I current have a comb-item that gives me access to modify the CSS, which allowed me to remove that annoying floating “follow” button that WP.com puts on your site by default, and removes ads.  If you visit my other blog you will see ads under the pictures.  I don’t get any revenue from that.  Here you see none.  I pay to keep them away.

The new plans cost, in actual amounts you have to pay:

  • Personal: $35.88  $15.84 / yr
  • Premium:  $99    $78.96 / yr
  • Business: $299   $279 / yr

You can see all of the features of the plans here.

To get No Ads as an option, I can go with the personal plan, which would actually save me some money at the current discount. (They have been discounted since announced. We’ll see if they ever go up.)  It also gets me more storage space for the copious screen shots I upload, though they seem to have forgotten the space taken up by the first 10 years, so only currently show me using less than 4% of my allocation. (They said I was at 78% back in September.)

But I do not get access to CSS.  To get that I have to go to the Premium plan.  That boosts the price per year considerably and doesn’t get my anything else I want.  I have no illusion that the ability to put ads on the site from which I would get revenue would make up the difference in price.

And then there is the custom domain that comes with both plans.  I don’t want one.  The dumbest thing a site can do is change its domain, and I have had tagn.wordpress.com for more than a decade.  Yes, I know that will map to the new domain.  But I still don’t want it, as some day I will stop blogging, or at least stop paying, and I will lose the domain and, at least theoretically, break any links to my blog using that domain.  People do still link here once in a while, I swear.

I have a couple months until my current package expires, but I wanted to get a start on deciding what is really important.  I think No Ads is important, but I am not so sure about the annoying floating Follow button.

What is important to you, the reader?

One Year Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon, for the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two games; H1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Five Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

A quick check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site shows nothing on my guess for this years expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO does show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which is mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title? (Aradune = Brad McQuaid, for those not completely immersed in EQ history and lore.)

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard and calls for the demise of Aradune were literal.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita Returns for 2017
  2. EVE Online Multiple Character Training Deal
  3. Time to Log into LOTRO
  4. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  5. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  6. At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. High Noon for Asheron’s Call
  9. Landmark Shut Down
  10. I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft
  11. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  12. Moving Day Again

Search Terms of the Month

menu options novalogic f 16
[Pretty obscure I would guess]

subaru kv3 thermostat malta
[Ummm… I have no idea]

eve online terms brick tank
[Look up “alpha” next]

ship colors caldari navy
[Pretty much gray and olive drab]

money talk porno
[Sounds like a winner to me]

EverQuest II

My interest in Norrath waned late in January, so I don’t think I have logged in more than twice over the past month, leading me to cancel my All Access subscription.  Everything will just have to wait for the next burst of nostalgia.

EVE Online

There was something of a quiet gap in February where I didn’t mention New Eden very much, something even Asher Elias mentioned to me on a fleet op, and then things started to happen, with fleets getting called up and Burn Jita.  If nothing else, I got some nice screen shots and all the fleet participation credit I needed.

Minecraft

I continue to plug away at the long road south, having passed the half way mark.  Still, it took me from late November to now to get that far, so I have a lot more time left on that project.  The distance left looks so small on the map render.

Pokemon

I went on a Pokemon Sun binge during the big storms out here in California.  The storms caused a series of mudslides that blocked the road to work, so I worked from home for more than two weeks.  That meant I was sitting at my desk all day working, so by the time I had time to play a game, I wanted to go somewhere else. (This may have helped feed my fantasy MMO malaise.)  The Nintendo 3DS does have the benefit of being portable, so took it out to the couch and finished the main story line, then started working on completing the Alola Pokedex.

Pokemon Go

This month finally saw the arrival of second generation Pokemon to the game.  A few had been available from eggs since last month, but they are finally out and about in the wild now, which boosted my interest in catching for a bit.  Then, of course, it became clear that around our neighborhood at least Spinaraks and Natus have become the new Pidgeys and Rattatas, while 3K CP Blisseys seem to own every gym.  Still, new Pokemon are lurking out there if you can find them.

  • Level: 26 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 128 (+16) caught, 153 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Wartortle

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 12 elections will commence with all the brouhaha and complaining that entails.  I’ll dive into that with a Blog Banter post tomorrow.  The promised March patch has some proposed changes that are causing eye rolls and/or gnashing of teeth, such as further Rorqual nerfs.  Also, something with d-scan.  I’ll cross that bridge once I get to it.

On the Daybreak front, EverQuest will be turning 18.  An adult game at last, I suppose.  There will no doubt be an event for that.  They also have a big event planned for King of the Kill.  The question is, will Just Survive survive?

In Pokemon Sun & Moon a new global event launched yesterday, though I couldn’t register due to server issues.  Having reaped the bounty of festival coins that were showered on participants in the last event, I am going to sign up and make some effort to do it.

There is a non-zero chance that I will log into LOTRO.

Oh, and Nintendo is releasing the Switch on Friday.  Will there be another chronic supply issue like past console launches?  Well, past launches save for the Wii U I suppose.

What else will March bring?

Anyway, laissez les bons temps rouler, as today is Mardi Gras!

WoW East and WoW West

SuperData Research just put out their January Top 10 lists.  Despite my skepticism about their methodology and the likely incompleteness of their data set (not every company hands over data to them) I do like to watch it month after month on the theory that watching data over time can mark trends, even if any individual data point is suspect.

This month, however, brought a new twist, with World of Warcraft being broken out into East (meaning China, presumably) and West (which I would then assume was the rest of the world, which Blizzard runs directly).  So divided, WoW manages to take up two spots on the PC top 10 list.

SuperData Research Top 10 - January 2017

SuperData Research Top 10 – January 2017

I am curious as to why Blizzard would break those numbers out.  Did they want to push somebody off the list? (I posted the previous month’s list here if you want to compare and see who might have fallen off.)

Or did Blizzard want to boost Overwatch further up the list?  Last time WoW was above Overwatch, but splitting Azeroth into two parts drops them both below the shooter.

Is this another attempt to prove that Blizzard isn’t completely dependent on the fortunes of WoW?  It certainly seems to be a testament to WoW’s strength that it can hold two spots on the chart.

Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga continues to hold on to that 10th spot on the mobile list while Pokemon Go remains in 4th position despite not adding much of anything in January.

Reflections and Postcards from Burn Jita 2017

(7:28:12 PM) directorbot@goonfleet.com: MORE THAN 700B DESTROYED NOW – THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE BURN JITA IN HISTORY – WE DO IT FOR THE KIDS~

~~~ This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2017-02-27 03:28:11.474368 EVE ~~~

Burn Jita should be wound down by the time this post goes live.  The plan was for it to run from the end of downtime on the 24th of February through until the start of downtime on the 27th of February, New Eden time, and it does not seem like there is any reason to extend it further.  The goal was to set a record for destruction and that mission was accomplished with hours left to go before downtime.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that freighter ganks have stopped.  CODE and MiniLuv are still out there.  They just have more discerning taste in ganking.  They gank for fun and profit, so choose valuable targets.  With Burn Jita the goal was more quantity of ganks than quality.

As I mentioned in the previous post about Burn Jita 2017, one of the gimmicks was to get people to make a new character with the first name “BJBee” and then get them into the corporation Suddenly Seamen – A Naval Charity.  If nothing else, this made it easy to track kills for the event on zKillboard, as the corp was only active for Burn Jita.  The total stands at 747 billion ISK in ships destroyed.

Many Coercers died to kill those freighters

Many Coercers died to bring us these freighter ganks

Somebody needs to convert 747 Billion ISK into dollars so Massively OP will post about the event.  They like a nice dollar amount for their headlines.  Actual media coverage of the event was minimal, with no mentions I saw outside of the EVE Online focused sites and Reddit.  Remember the news coverage the first Burn Jita got?

EVE News 24 logo right at the top...

Le Figaro covers Burn Jita 2012

I wonder if even CCP will even bother with a dev post or the like this time around.  With the node going down I would think they might want to go over that aspect at least, why we saw that this time around relative to past events.  As for who “won” Burn Jita, I’ve been down that rat hole before.

I did join in for a bit.  I had renewed my alt account early to take advantage of the multi character training deal that CCP was offering, so used about a week of that time to build up an Amarr alt that could fly the basic Coercer fit.  I didn’t quite follow the guidelines, which suggested that your character’s last name should be a number, so went off with BJBee Amerika.

My event character

My event character

I ran through the NPE, which I will have to write about later, used the mini-skill injector, then rounded off the final skills needed with a couple days to go.  I also fitted out a few Coercers on my own in advance, just to make sure I was able to jump into fleet and go when I had time.  After I used those up I took the hand out ships as I could get them.  All in all I was on 16 of the kills over the weekend.

I will say that I was very impressed with the efficiency of the operation.  I have to applaud the MiniLuv people, as they really know their stuff and there was no slack in the operation.

There were bumpers out there wrangling targets, so a fleet would undock with 100 or so Coercers as soon as suspect timers were down, quickly warp off to an insta-warp location, then either to a perch if the target was in Jita, or a gate if it was in one of the adjacent systems.  Then from there it was generally a warp onto the target, the green light to shoot, and then a dead hauler.  Only once did I witness a bad warp in, and likewise I only saw a single freighter survive a first pass, and both of those were quickly rectified with the target going down.

The only real mess up I saw was when we sat on the insta-warp spot for too long and the Caldari Police showed up and started picking off people with very low sec status.  We had to dock back up, let those who got popped re-ship, and the go again.  But we still got our assigned target.

Sixteen kills moved my guy from 0 to -3.0 security status, not enough for me to worry about anything in high sec.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with him post-event.

Those attempting to fight against our fleets were pretty much limited to shooting us once we had a criminal flag, by which point it was generally too late and the target was dead.  Mostly that padded some people’s kill stats, as CONCORD was going to blow our ships up anyway.  It was amusing to have somebody occasionally shoot at us early and get hit by CONCORD themselves.

That does bring up the whole defense question.  You can defend a freighter by simply putting enough reps on them to boost their effective hit points beyond what the attacking fleet can put out.  But that takes time, coordination, and doesn’t get you on any kill mails.  Most people just wanted the latter, while the freighter pilots didn’t seem very interested in coordinating with defenders.  Of the 16 kill rights I earned, only one freighter pilot chose to activate it.  I guess when you are faced with 100+ such that might be a bit of a chore, but if my freighter got hit I would activate them.  I certainly activated the two kill rights I got when people shot me early, for the deluxe price of 1 ISK each.

Anyway, as with most everything in EVE Online, some people love Burn Jita, some people hate it, and most people don’t even notice… except when the Jita node goes down.  That happened at least four times that I know of, which was a hindrance and not a goal.  We were there to blow up ships, not break the game.

Yeah, that wasn't good

Yeah, that wasn’t good

I wonder if CCP learned anything new from this stress test of the game.

Of course, the best part for me were the visuals.  CCP makes a beautiful game and I fly around with the graphics turned up and my UI turned off more often than is probably healthy.  This year the new explosions really stood out as well as the lighting.  The way explosions lit up surrounding ships and wrecks… when the light hits just right…

I need an EVE Online version of this meme

I need an EVE Online version of this Pacha meme

So on to a gallery of screen shots I took.  You can click any of them for a larger view, and can flips through the whole gallery in that mode.  And if those are not enough, Razorien has a Flickr gallery of screen shots in much larger format.

I Survive My First Capital Op

While Burn Jita was still raging on Saturday afternoon, I was back in Delve and going out on my first real Cap Fleet operation.

I have formed up a couple of times for operations that never went anywhere, and I went on last week’s training on SiSi, the public test server, but those don’t really count.  But yesterday I happened to be sitting down at my computer just in time to see a ping from Thomas Lear for a CapSwarm form up.  I was already in our staging, so I hopped into my Apostle and got undocked to wait for instructions.

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

And then I docked back up because we were told to fit 500MN MWDs to aid in speeding up warping between gates.

I chose to go with the Apostle because I ran with my carrier during the training op on SiSi, which proved to me that I have no clue how to use fighters.  I have to find a guide somewhere about the basics of moving them, as everything I have seen so far seems to operate under the assumption that you have that part mastered and just need to hone your technique.

Anyway, I undocked with the MWD fit and waited for instructions again.  That was a bit difficult as we were sharing coms with Asher’s subcap fleet that was coming along to cover us.  There is an oft repeated joke that USTZ fleets are much more… talkative… on coms than EUTZ fleets.  I don’t buy it fully, as I have been on some EUTZ fleets that could sperg with the best of them, but this fleet seems set to prove the rule.  For the first time in a long time I had to go down to the “no chatter” channel, where you only hear people on the command channel.  And even that channel was a bit chatty as there seemed to be a bunch of people there across the two fleets.

We were first given a destination, then told to warp off to another citadel as the first gate we needed to take was on the back side of the Keepstar, so attempting to warp straight to it would end up with some of us just bumping off the face of the citadel.

I picked a nearby Astrahus and warped off, then turned about and headed for the gate.

Apostle warping off

Apostle warping off

While capitals have jump drives and can move 6 light years at a jump, jump fatigue keeps us from using those drives unless we have to.  So we went by gates to the first system in Fountain.  Once there we took off the MWDs and used our jump drives to put us close to our target, hopping over some hostile space, then took a few more gates to the target.

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

The subcap fleet did managed to bubble us on an in gate at one point due to the presence of hostiles, so we had to hang about for a short bit while that came down.  No hostiles were trapped.

Partially bubbled cap fleet

Partially bubbled cap fleet aligning out

The only tense moment for me during the trip either way was when I lost connection.  We were jumping through a gate and I was stuck in the warp tunnel for a long stretch, then got disconnected.  When I got back in game an rejoined the fleet, I had to go through the return from disconnect routine.  My ship had been warped off, so it had to go back to the spot it left from, which happened to be a few hundred km off the gate.  I had to warp to the gate again and jump.  Looking at local though, the fleet had left me behind, but there were half a dozen hostiles in system.  However, they didn’t show up and I was able to jump the gate and catch up with the fleet at the first target, a tower belonging to The Culture in G95F-H.

There wasn’t much for faxes to do during the first shoot.  I put out some Warrior drones and shot modules with the carriers, but other than that we were orbiting around Thomas Lear while the carriers and dreads did their work. (I even got on the kill mail for a couple of modules, though I didn’t think you could kill modules unless you killed the tower, only incapacitate them.)

We then went after a second tower, which was also reinforced.  This one had a jump bridge, which required the usual special treatment wherein you burn it down to half structure, then rep the armor back up to half again, so the owner has to either take the time to rep it back up or put damage on it to destroy it and replace it.  When it came time to apply reps the faxes were told to go into one cycle of triage.  The triage module greatly boosts the amount of repair a fax can put out, but you cannot recieve reps, move, or warp.  I lit mine for a cycle and started applying my reps.

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

And then, as I watched my capacitor drain away, I realized I did not bring and charges for my cap booster.  Well, something for the list.  So I turned off the repair modules after a bit and just let the triage timer run down.  Something to remember for next time.  Once we were done with that it was time to turn around and head for home.  Enough time had elapsed for our jump fatigue to wear off, so after a couple of gates we were able to jump to Y-2ANO and then gate back to our staging.  I managed to get through the op without screwing anything up too badly.

One thing I did notice was that, while the Cold Iron skin for the Apostle looks really good, in the darkness of space it can sometimes be too dark.  I ended up changing to the all white Purity skin every so often just so I could see myself.

Skin change in progress

Skin change in progress

But otherwise I was able to keep up with the fleet, jump when told, and find my way back when disconnected.  I just have to remember those cap boosters for next time.

Burn Jita Returns for 2017

It is that time again.

click to enlarge

The original CCP warning

The annual event, which vacationed in Amarr last year, has returned to its home in Caldari space.  Burn Jita went live just after down time today and by the time I got up this morning to check there were already a dozen freighters down. (The reported first victim of the event.)

The event was promised for February, some disinformation was sent out to confuse the issue.  While Reddit correctly detected the ruse, that did not stop Crossing Zebras and EN24 from reporting the event as having been delayed or even cancelled.

Just in case they decide to remove another post

Just in case they decide to remove another post

This morning there was a post over at INN describing what went on to setup the disinformation campaign.  But the net result was mostly this:

Old memes, best memes

Old memes, best memes

Another tale for the annuls of New Eden.  Meanwhile, the event is on!

This years Burn Jita poster

This years Burn Jita poster

Jita and its surrounding systems are now the hunting ground of hundreds of angry bees… bees, because another theme for this year was to create a new character with the first name “BJBee.”  Having that name isn’t a requirement, but a bunch of people ran with it and you can see them all in local.

Also new for this year is a ship change.  Gone is the trusty Catalyst of past years.  The Amarr Coercer is now the gank ship of choice for the event… preferably with the Blood Raiders SKIN.

Coming to get you!

Coming to get you!

Amarr is, of course, the home of lasers, so each gank will now be highlighted with mass of multi frequency beams.  Somebody is going to use another crystal just to stand out I bet.

Bees with bright stings hit a Rhea

Bees with bright stings hit a Rhea

The result though is the same.

Charon explodes in Jita

Charon explodes in Jita… CCP does such pretty explosions…

The event is set to run from today through to the 27th, though I wouldn’t bet against the event being extended a few days if there are still Coercers to burn.  There are reported to be more that 30K fitted hulls in place.

So you’ve been warned.  If you value your freighter and its cargo, it might be a good weekend to stand down.  If you undock and find a wing or two of Coercers landing on you, it will be too late to change your mind.  They only show up when you’ve already been bumped into position.

My Current Favorite New Eden Screen Shot

I take a lot of screen shots in EVE Online, which I suppose is natural enough for somebody who runs a blog devoted to screen shots taken in EVE Online. (Yet another shameless plug for my soon to be nine years old other site.)

When you are faced with a large quantity of something it can be easy to sort by general quality, but to pick out a favorite, even a transitory favorite of the moment, can be difficult.  And I tend to be indecisive on that sort of thing in any case.  It I have to fill out a security challenge question and it is something like, “Your favorite movie” all I can think is, “Are you kidding me?”

I have trouble limiting to a list of ten my favorite anything, and that can be very situational.

So it is odd when I do fixate on one thing, and when it comes to my EVE Online screen shots, this is the picture.

Doomed Vigil in the middle of things

Doomed Vigil in the middle of things

The screen shot was taken during the battle of the F4R2-Q Fortizars at the beginning of the year.

It features a Vigil, a modest Minmata frigate, in the midst of the battle.  My alt was flying it and it was setup as a target painter.  My alt had been disconnected and had logged back in eventually to find himself in the thick of things and far from our own fleet.

The ship show damage from having exchanged fire with some other small stuff, but isn’t completely wrecked.  And behind it, the battle rages.  There are two huge Apostle force auxiliaries In the near distance, both wearing the Cold Iron skins.  Beyond that you can see other carriers, the straight green beams from a fleet of battleships as well as the more wispy effects from capacitor transfer and remote repair modules.  If you look at the picture in its full size you can see other ships.  And the whole thing is lit up by an explosion at the bottom center of the picture and back dropped by a nebula.

I couldn’t have staged that shot if I had tried and it does reflect what you might see in a battle, provided you’ve left your graphics settings turned up.  That marks me as a tourist I am sure.

I only wish I had a large version of it.  My now ancient 1600×1200 monitor is starting to seem small.

Now to see if I can get some more screen shots this coming weekend.  There will likely be a bunch featuring this ship, the Coercer.

Coercer with a Blood Raiders Skin

Coercer with a Blood Raiders Skin… and CONCORD on patrol

You might see some of those swarming about if you’re in the right place after downtime.

Landmark Shut Down

Yesterday was the day, the last day, for Landmark.  As Daybreak announced back in early January, the game was destined to go.  And with it goes any last remnant of EverQuest Next as well, and whatever that might have become.

LandmarkSteam

I gave my own brief synopsis of the life and times of Landmark in that post linked above, along with links out to the reactions of others. (Including the harsh EQ2 Wire summing up of the EverQuest Next debacle.)

But now the day has come and gone.  The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down.  The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page.  The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria!  That was the name of the place.

And so we are reminded:

  • There is a minimum population for an MMO to be viable
  • It costs more than just electricity to keep a game running
  • Daybreak’s “indie” status means it can’t carry games that don’t make money

As for the inevitable hopes of a fan made Landmark emulator, Daybreak won’t be helping out.  As the now missing FAQ about the closure stated (backup of it here):

What happens to all the code/data from Landmark? Can someone open an emulator server for Landmark?

Daybreak Game Company will retain all of the code and data from Landmark. Daybreak Game Company will not license or authorize the operation of a Landmark emulator or a fan-operated Landmark server.

It doesn’t say they are going to come after you, but they aren’t going to give you a pass either.

And so we say good-bye.

MMOs that I follow or pay attention to, as opposed to just the market as a whole, now shut down frequently enough that I have even developed a posting pattern around such events.

At the announcement I post the company statement, my summary of the game and what it meant to me, and links out to others in the community doing the same.  Then at the closure I put together a list of my posts about the game in question.

So here is my brief coverage of Landmark, including two seven day passes to try the game out:

And so it goes.  Landmark, announced in August 2013, on sale for Early Access in November 2013, launched June 2016, and shut down in February 2017.

I would usually link other blogger reactions to the final day, but so far all I see is Syp, who mentions it in passing.  If that changes I will put together a list.

At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front

I seem to have fallen off the fantasy MMORPG wagon once again.  This seems to happen every so often.

I stopped playing WoW a couple months after the Legion expansion hit.  My Winter foray into EverQuest II kept my interest for about a month, which seems to about par for the course.  I poked my nose into Lord of the Rings Online long enough to buy the level 95 Blessing of the Valar upgrade.

Two blessings, depending on your need

Two blessings, depending on your need

That got me a pile of stuff and whisked me off into a different place where I met up with Eowyn.

Yeah, about you and Strider... he's not that into you

Yeah, about you and Strider… he’s not that into you

However I soon lost interest there.  Well, “lost interest” might imply I logged in again after that, and I did not.  Of course, I might have been influenced by wanting to start out on something only to be hamstrung by the legendary weapon system.  I had to choose a weapon, which I then received.  But you cannot just use the weapon yet.  You have to find the special NPC to identify it and then choose a bonus and then something else.  I forget.  I am sure, as with every aspect of every MMO, that legendary weapons are somebody’s favorite part of LOTRO.  But it ain’t mine. I just wanted to grab it and run not worry about reforging.

So that fell apart.  I might go back, but the fact that I haven’t felt any need to do so for a couple weeks is pretty telling.

At some point in the last few weeks… erm, months… I also made a RuneScape account, played for a couple of hours, then never went back.

The fantasy MMORPG thing just isn’t holding me at the moment.  But the habit of at least the last decade and a half… or more if you count the TorilMUD, in which case we start to reach back past 20 years… makes something inside of me think something is missing if I am not playing one.

So my eye wanders down the list of possible other choices.  Do I try out The Elder Scrolls Online, which just added in housing and seems to be doing well enough to be secure?  Do I give GuildWars 2 another try?  Is there something still in Rift that I might enjoy?  Is it time to start digging into Project: Gorgon yet?  What titles on my 2017 MMO Outlook post are even live yet?

But should I bother.

EVE Online doesn’t fill that niche for me certainly.  But I continue to play Minecraft, which does much to fill the world and building and housing drive I might have.  And right now Pokemon Sun seems to have a lock on the RPG… or maybe just the collecting and achievement… aspect.

And there is also something I will call “virtual world weariness” in me that feels the essential sameness of all of these games so that they blur together into a gray, uninteresting mass.  It might be time for a longer break from such games.

Alola Pokedex Binge Time

Sometimes I wonder how my brain works, why something is fun one day and not the next.

For stretches of December and January I couldn’t be bothered to pick up Pokemon Sun, or when I did I played just a little bit and then put it down again.

Coming in Q4 2016

Sun and Moon

I finally got in the mood to play and managed to get through the main story line, as I noted last week.  But I did that mostly just to get to the end and say I got there way, heading straight down the final path and not exploring anything off to the side until I was champion.  This past weekend however, I suddenly got in the mood to play… or at least do one specific thing, which was work on the Pokedex.

For those who do not play, the Pokedex is the list of Pokemon in the game.  There is the game specific Pokedex, the regional Pokedex, which in the case of Pokemon Sun & Moon contains 302 Pokemon.  You get credit for just seeing a Pokemon on that list.  And then there is the National Pokedex, which is all Pokemon ever and contains 802 Pokemon.

I am worked on the Alola regional Pokedex in Pokemon Sun, though I am trying to catch them all as I go just to be the completionist.  So far I have caught 57% of the Pokemon in the game, up from the 41% I reported last week.

Rotom say 57% caught!

Rotom say 57% caught!

That basically equates to going from 123 to 173 caught, or about 50 new Pokemon.

On the overall front of just seeing all the Pokemon I am going even better.

Alola Pokedex stats

Alola Pokedex stats

The first number is caught, the second number is seen, so I am at 259 of 302 seen, which is about 86% done.

In the Pokemon Sun & Moon version of the Pokedex it is also broken out by islands, which isn’t totally necessary… I suppose it narrows down where to hunt… and is kind of neat.  It even gives you a graphical representation of all the Pokemon from a given island.

All the Pokemon from Melemele island

All the Pokemon from Melemele island

Those that are in shadow I have yet to catch.  There is only one I have not seen, which I believe is Salamence.  Have to go find him.

You can actually “see” all of the Pokemon in the game if fight every trainer you pass and go through the story completely, without avoiding and side paths.  I failed on that at points, so that has been part of my replay action.  But catching them all, that requires you to do some trading.  Some of the Pokemon can only be caught on Pokemon Sun OR Pokemon Moon, but not both.

Fortunately there is the Global Trade Station.

The GTS came in with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, as the DS series came with WiFi build-in.  It was pretty clunky back then, but it has gotten better with each generation of the game.  With Pokemon Sun & Moon it is pretty easy to get what you want… at least if you have the right mindset.

One of my gripes about GTS is that people often want things way out of proportion to what they are offering.  For example, I went onto the GTS to see if I could trade for a Persian, one of the Pokemon shaded in that picture above.  Not a tough Pokemon to get, but you have to raise up friendliness on a Meowth and then level it up before it will evolve into one.  Takes a little time, so I was hoping to skip that with a quick trade.  However, the trades that were up wanted legendaries in exchange for this rather run-of-the-mill Pokemon.  I saw somebody asking for a Dialga, the one-per-game final legendary from Pokemon Diamond.  Yeah, that is gonna happen.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to put up reasonable trades, they get filled pretty quickly.  There are a lot of like minded people out there looking to fill up their Pokedex.  So, for example, I put up a trade with a low level Drifloon, which is only in Pokemon Sun, asking for a Misdreavus of any level in trade, a Pokemon Moon exclusive that spawns in the same area.

Sun only for Moon only Pokemon

Sun only for Moon only Pokemon

That trade went through pretty quickly, as did a number of similar parallel offers. (If you register your copy of Pokemon Sun or Moon at the Pokemon Global Link site it will show you your trade history.)

Likewise, there are a number of Pokemon that only evolve into their final form if you trade them.  So I had a stack of those that I listed over the weekend.

A selection of trades to evolve

A selection of trades to evolve

Each of those evolved into a new form upon completion of the trade.

So the GTS was out there doing some of the lifting for me, but for the most part I was out running through tall grass to try and find wild Pokemon.  I played such a long stretch on Sunday that I got the low battery warning at one point.  The 3DS XL is good for quite a few hours of play, so that says something.

Of course, even knowing where to go takes some time.  The in-game help just puts a splotch on the map for you if you’ve seen the Pokemon already, but doesn’t provide you any details.  The official Pokemon Sun & Moon Guide book has some more info, but can be sparse on relevant details.  For a few I had to fall back on the internet to figure out if I was even close to doing the right thing to catch certain Pokemon.  (I found a good Sun & Moon Pokedex online here.)

For example, I wanted to catch a Happiny, a pink blob of a Pokemon that has two additional evolutions, so catching that one will eventually fill three slots in the Pokedex.  However, you can’t just go and find a Happiny.  It turns out it only shows up when another Pokemon calls for help, what I gather is called an “SOS battle.” (The guild uses this term, but doesn’t define it on the chart where it appears.)

So to get the Happiny I had to go down to Hau’oli City and troll through tall grass until I finally got a Pichu to appear.  The Pichu has a low chance of appearing, so it took a while.  That took a while, but eventually hit.

Then, once that fight was going, I used an Adrenaline Orb, which is an item that makes wild Pokemon more likely to call for help.  Since calling for help is often a more annoying than fun trait in a wild Pokemon, I was wondering why anybody would ever want to encourage that.  Now I know.

After using the orb, I then had to drag the fight out until the Pichu called for help AND a Happiny finally showed up. (I got another Pichu on the first couple of calls.)  Then it was time to defeat the initial Pichu, hit the Happiny with the move Hold Back, which my now level 71 Snorlax has just to catch Pokemon, and which will never reduce a Pokemon below 1 hit point (same as False Swipe), then throw Pokeballs at it until it was caught.

I got the Happiny then evolved it through to a Chansey and then a Blissey.  Three Pokemon down.

However, I still have a few on my list that require similar SOS battles.

And I also have a few Pokemon that only evolve to their final form on a trade, but which also require that the Pokemon in question is holding a specific item.  Since you can’t request a Pokemon and an item through the GTS I am going to have to get my daughter to trade with me at some point, since I don’t want to lose items.  I only trust the GTS when it requires both sides to do something.  I can see myself getting the same Pokemon in return, but without the item in question, so no evolution.

Ah well.  So that is what I spent a lot of the weekend doing, including most of Sunday, Pokemon hunting.

I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road south continues.  For those needing a reminder, this is the overland route I am building from the Forest Mansion I found back to the nearest connection to our main settlement.

This means clearing a road 3 blocks wide and at least 3 high in tunnels for about 20km.  I’ve been working on this for almost three months now, off and on.

And, just to be a stickler, I decided that the road would be marked by a strip of cobblestone running its whole length.  Since the blocks are 1m cubes, that means 20,000 cobblestone blocks… or more, really, since I haven’t been able to take a straight path and I do need to build bridges now and again.

Anyway, since the setbacks of last post, I have pushed ahead.

Progress so far

Progress so far

After improving my way point village… and then another village along the way, because I just can’t help myself… I had a good straight and mostly level into a mesa biome.  This was one of three mesa biomes I have discovered on the way to and from the mansion, and this one was generated since the 1.10 update, so is full of abandoned mining tunnels.  They are visible all over as you travel through the biome.

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

One interesting item is that in that bundle of webs there is a cave spider spawner.  I have not run into one in a place that gets direct sunlight before. (They don’t spawn when list and are usually in deep, dark places.)

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

There are some exploration opportunities here for anybody who wants to settle down in the area.

Mesa biomes themselves are a bit of a pain when it comes to building a road.  There is no straight path through unless you want to build up one side and down the other of every mesa in your way.  To keep the effort under control I had to zig-zag a bit and build some bridges between mesas.  But it wasn’t a huge biome, so I hit the other side eventually.

Scouting ahead I chose to exit into a swamp, which offered a decent stretch of flat going for road building.  There was also a pack of wolves near by, so I ran back to grab some bones I had stored away and managed to tame a pair of them.  They are good to have around as they will defend you from zombies and skeletons if you work past sundown.

Two new pals

Two new pals

Unfortunately, like the AI for most NPCs in the Minecraft, the tamed wolf AI isn’t very good at keeping itself safe.  I had the pair of them with me when I was out ahead and burning down a path through a canopy forest to clear the way, only to get the message that one of them had died.  I turned around to see the other one standing in a fire and die as well.

Dogs will be dogs I guess

Dogs will be dogs I guess

And it was night time and I had to fight my way back to my nearest camp.  I tamed a couple more, but left one at my camp and took the other one with me as I started building my road through the swamp only to get another death message.

Seriously?

Seriously?

I do not know what happened there.  One moment he was running around, the next moment he was dead.

Still, I have one more in reserve.

All happy back at the camp

All happy back at the camp

The road ran past a witches hut at the start of the swamp, so I converted it to camp, complete with a corral for the horse.  I haven’t lost the horse yet, despite his propensity to run off the moment I am looking the other way, and I aim to keep it that way.

And so the road south carries on.