Monthly Archives: September 2018

Stuck in the Waterfall in Kunark

Last night I got into EverQuest II and, following Bhagpuss’ suggestion on yesterday’s post, I went off to find Yun Zi and the Days of Summer quest line.  Or lines.  there is the 2017 quest line and the 2018.  They are literal nostalgia tours, which is somewhat amusing since I used to refer to the annual autumnal return to the game as a nostalgia tour.

Anyway, uncertain how long the Days of Summer quests would be active, the autumnal equinox having passed already, I got right on with it, taking a tour through the Desert of Flames, Kingdom of Sky and Echoes of Faydwer expansions, areas that did bring some nostalgia.

Next on the list was Rise of Kunark, which honestly starts to get into the edge of nostalgia for me.  That was probably the last expansion I was at level… or close to level… and able to get into as it launched.

I took the spires to get there… the spires transport system is the one that I never think about because it wasn’t active until Kingdom of Sky… which put me in the mountains at the north of the Kylong Plains.  I had to get down to the docks for the first check-in point.  Fortunately I have a flying mount so that wasn’t too tough.

But as I flew out of the snowy mountains I espied a long waterfall dropping from the mountain down into a pool far below, which itself was the head of a small river that flowed to a small lake.

Coming out of the mountains I see the waterfall

Trust me, that geometric, translucent aqua blue area is water.  This is 2008 level graphics.

As a lark I decided to fly through the waterfall on my way down.  And there I got stuck.

In the water and drowning

I was trapped in the column of water, unable to move in any direction.  The game flagged me as being under water and the breath bar started counting down and rather more quickly than it does in WoW.

I found that if I tried to move around that I could regain my breath.  I didn’t seem to be moving at all, but apparently I was breaking the surface sufficiently get breath, so the bar would refill and go away, only to return and begin to count down if I stopped.

I was in quite a spot as, along with drowning, I was way up in the air in a game where a fall can kill you.  There was water down below, but given how the water up here was behaving I wasn’t keen to trust it.  But after a while of trying various things I figured I had to go one way or another, so I dismounted.

That apparently was enough and I fell down the waterfall into the pool below unscathed, bobbing along with the current.

Headed down some sort of water hill

This was an attempt at getting flowing water to act on players to they would be pushed down stream, something I expect did not interact well with a flying mount, something that came along later in the history of the game.

So I was saved from peril of the waterfall.  But it made me a bit wary later in the evening when, while touring the Destiny of Velious expansion, I had to fly through another waterfall.

Later in Velious

However, Destiny of Velious is when they introduced flying mounts, so the falling water was more forgiving.

Looking for a Path in Norrath Again

As it ever does, the coming of autumn turns my mind to Norrath.  There is certainly some association in my mind with there finally being a bit of a chill in the night air and nostalgia for what once was.

Of course, having a long running blog… the self-recharging epicenter of my of my nostalgia… as well as Daybreak talking about expansions and events and what not feeds into this need to return to Norrath, visit my house, and see what is new in the world… or what is old and memorable and still there.

Going to go see that bitchin’ Firiona Vie poster in my room

I will even have some time.  The war in EVE Online has reached its conclusion so, aside from move ops home, there won’t be much activity for a month or so, while I seem to have paused in Azeroth for the moment, as noted on Friday.  So Norrath could be a thing.  I have room on my calendar.

The problem is that EverQuest II has, over the years, accreted layer after layer of barriers seemingly designed to thwart any sort of easy return to the game.  As has been said many times over the years, EQII isn’t WoW.  But I still manage to forget exactly how determined Daybreak can be in blocking people from getting back into the game.

And this autumn there was an additional barrier on the way to Norrath.  Having upgraded my rig recently I was still in the process of finding out what worked and what did not after the move from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

EverQuest II started off in the not working column.  It crashed early and often.

That it was copied over from the old system meant that something might have gotten corrupted, so I renamed its directory and did a fresh install.  That did not seem to help.  Fortunately, having gotten ZMud to run on Win10 I knew I was not out of options.  Setting EQII to run under Win7 emulation and as administrator seemed to take care of the block on actually playing the game.  It has not crashed since.

Which left me with the old problems of what to do once I could play.  I see three possible paths forward.

Level 100

Over the years, through various boost offers, I have managed to accrue several characters at, or very close to, level 100.  The character I would consider my “main” is level 96.  I used a level 95 boost on him back in the day and actually played him enough to get within striking distance of level 97.  There are two other level 100 boosts and then the super-special level 100 boost from earlier this year.

They were handing out flying mounts with that boost

So getting a high level character isn’t a problem.  Figuring out what to do with one, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a chore.  The last couple of times I have tried the in-game messaging has directed me in the wrong direction.  I certainly didn’t end up where many other people were playing.  But going out of game doesn’t seem to be much help either.  Googling what I should do in EverQuest II at level 100 gets me results like this:

  • A wiki article that directs me to an NPC that is no longer there
  • A wiki article that directs me to go back to the starting zone to run gray quests
  • A wiki article that tells me I need to learn two languages or I can’t play new content
  • A forum thread that calls level 100 boost “bait and switch” without very much in the way of push back

And I hate to say it, but those were among the more helpful, or at least on point, results I found.

Even if I can figure out where to go, there is the perennial problem of trying to figure out how to play a given class again, though that problem is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the last 100 boost I got had good enough gear that I could pretty much faceroll my way through anything I could find.

Start Anew

This is always an option, though it is one I have may have used a few too many times at this point.

On the upside, starting fresh does hit right at the nostalgia factor, especially if I start on the Fallen Gate progression server, which has the Isle of Refuge starting area.

The problem there is that I may have trod that path too many times at this point.  How many more times am I going to fight the orc on Zek or run through Feerrott trying to complete The Journey is Half the Fun?  And even when I throttle experience pretty heavily, diverting it to AAs, I will persist in leveling up faster than the content.  And then there is the need to completely re-gear every ten levels that becomes oppressive when you’re a level the market has forgotten.

And then, in the end, after moving through content I have done so many times I will hit a point where I will tire and stop, somewhere between the Desert of Flames and the Rise of Kunark if history is any indication, leaving me with yet another mid-level character.

Mid Level Options

The middle way is often the worst, and in Norrath it does tend to be a combo of problems.  I have an easy half dozen characters… probably more… situated between level 50 and 80.  I ought to be able to pick one of those up and carry on.  The double whammy here is that these mid-levels miss out on the old content nostalgia angle that I would get if I simply rolled up a new character but also face the age old EQII problem of having to relearn how to play the classes.

If I were to highlight a single problem that the game has, I would probably pick “too many damn skills” for every class.  I generally have to operate with three 12 button hot bars on my screen, which usually means I don’t have all the combat skills or most of the buffs/debuffs represented.

So this seems the least likely path forward.  I fear that my dual-baton wielding monk will never get any closer to level cap.

Finding a Path

So there I stand, looking for a way to proceed.   Subscribing isn’t an issue if that will make things easier to find, and the Planes of Prophecy expansion is half price, so if that was the way to go I would jump on board with it.

I am sure Bhagpuss will have a suggestion or two, but I an open to any advice on this front… as well as maybe a clue as to which wiki or site is the most up to date when it comes to EQII.

Hurry though.  That autumnal feeling doesn’t always last.

Time Capsule – Computer Gaming World October 2003

I ran across this while I was working on upcoming Month in Review posts.  If I have a block of time I will sometimes knock out a couple of those long in advance.  Well, I’ll knock out the part I can do ahead of time, the looking back sections covering a year, five years, and ten years ago on the blog.  That is the most important part of each month’s review post, at least to me.

The review section is primarily about what I was posting back in the day.  However, I have started adding in addition information for context of the time, usually in the form of launches or closures.  Those will sometimes fall further back in time, being 15, 20, or more years ago.

As I was tracking something down that came up in 2003 for a “15 years ago” entry I ended up on a website that has an archive of issues of Computer Gaming World in .pdf format.

I started digging through the site, scanning various years.  Computer Gaming World, which later became Games for Windows Magazine, stopped publishing back in 2008, having run for 27 year.  During its run it covered a lot of computer gaming history.

You can find the archive at http://www.cgwmuseum.org/ .  Or you could find it there.  At some point between Thursday night and Saturday the site went down.  When I went back to continue looking I was greeted with error messages about the site having gone missing.

The transitory nature of the internet is one of its major frustrations.  Things change or disappear and data goes missing.

Unless, of course, the Internet Archive is backing the site up.

Fortunately I was able to find everything that went missing backed up and waiting for me and I was able to return to this gem from October 2003.

Computer Gaming World October 2003 cover

Just for openers there is a preview of World of Warcraft from more than a year before its launch.

There is also the CGW review of Star Wars Galaxies, something which will annoy the purists I am sure.

And while those are worth the price of admission, there are just so many little things in the issue that are interesting to see.  There are, of course, the ads.  So many great ads.

For SOE fans there are ads for the EverQuest Evolution, a roll-up pack of EverQuest expansions, the EverQuest Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion featuring the all new “dungeon crawl” experience, and Lords of EverQuest, the Norrath based RTS.

There are many other things worth seeing.  Half-Life 2 was the top pre-order. (And EverQuest Evolved was on the top releases.)

And then there is the Pipeline section that has a list of upcoming releases with planned launch dates.  Included on that list:

  • EverQuest II – Q4 2003
  • Total Annihilation 2 – Q4 2003
  • World of Warcraft – Feb 2004
  • The Matrix Online – Q4 2004
  • GuildWars – Q4 2004

Good times.

Anyway, if you have time to roll though video game nostalgia, you could find worse places to wallow.

Addendum: If you go back a month, to September 2003, you can find their EVE Online review.  They liked the music and space graphics, but the UI… it sums up like this:

Two stars is all

Darkmoon Dirigible and Kul Tiras

Going back to look, I think I officially started collecting Darkmoon Faire tokens with the intention of getting the Darkmoon Dirigible back in November of 2017.  I already had a bit of a jump on it, having found a character with a couple hundred prize tickets already in hand.  This was because I have been in the habit of running alts through Darkmoon Faire to boost their trade skills when it is up and I am subscribed.  This is why all my alts can fish, as I explained.

Anyway, with the coming of the Darkmoon Faire earlier this month I finally had 1,000 prize tickets on hand so was able to add the Darkmoon Dirigible mount to my collection.

Flying over Stormwind in the Darkmoon Dirigible

I would have, could have, should have gotten it earlier, except that I took a break from World of Warcraft about when the alpha for Battle for Azeroth was hitting.  I figured it was a good point for a break before the pre-expansion events came along.  I already had the allied races unlocked and what not.

Of course in hindsight I wonder if I should have stayed subscribed and just run the DMF event a few more times, as on my return to Azeroth I found that Blizzard had been messing with trade skills again.  The first thing I found was that you no longer got your trade skills raised when you boosted a level 60+ character, a bit of a blow since I went to boost a character just a week after they made this change.  An opportunity lost.

And then Darkmoon Faire came around in August and I saw that the trade skill quests were no longer giving you the promised +5 boost to your skill when you turned them in.  I figured they would have to fix this sooner rather than later.  This seems like one of those changes in one location that broke something elsewhere.  However, Blizz came back and said that they meant to do this, that those quests would only give you a boost to your level 1-60 trade skills, which seemed rather useless in the new “segmented by expansion” trade skill reality of Battle for Azeroth.

With the trade skill masterplan seeming to be arranged to allow to people by bypass the mostly useless vanilla recipes, why would Blizz then make those the only thing you can boost with the DMF quests?  That seems backwards.  It certainly killed an incentive I had to visit DMF with alt, since they are almost all past 300 at this point.  I already have all the heirloom gear and pets and mounts from the event.

But it feel like Blizz has been struggling with trade skills for a few expansions now.  Warlords of Draenor trivialized them in the extreme, the Legion attempted to revive them by forcing you to do group content to obtain recipes to advance them, and now this with BfA.

And the response to all of this sort of thing, the change to boosts, the change to DMF quests, the ilevel scaling issues, the warfront complaints, has been pretty much summed up as, “we know and we don’t care.”

Not that I think a company has to jump and change things the moment anybody complains.  But when they address something like the fact that leveling up gets harder as your ilevel increases… basically, you are incentivized to not upgrade your gear… by saying they are aware of the issue but they don’t think it is important enough to fix, it does give one pause.

I’m not up in arms ready to rebel against Blizzard, but neither am I feeling the warm fuzzies from them either.  They have an agenda and my own play style just doesn’t fit into that.

Meanwhile, my enthusiasm for adventuring in Kul Tiras seems to have waned.  At one point I was happily logging in every night to take on the next set of quests and see the beautiful world that Blizz had built, and then I stopped logging in.  Syp was attempting to make a virtue out of slowness by announcing that he was going to be the last person to hit level 120 in BfA.  But when he made it there with his first character my main was still 117, only a zone and a half into Kul Tiras.

I am not sure what happened there.  It wasn’t the ilevel thing.  That was easily solved by downgrading my gear.

I know I tend to hit a post-launch point during an expansion cycle where I take a break while Blizz fills out the content of an expansion.  Then, when they finally get around to announcing that flying is possible to unlock, I show back up and carry on with that as my over-arching goal.  But I don’t think I am there yet.

Always another problem to solve… with violence

I also haven’t done any of the dungeons yet.  This is because I have gotten to the point where I don’t want to do them with dungeon finder groups.  Or, rather, that I want to be able to do them with a group at least once that goes through an instance slowly enough for me to absorb what is going on and catch the details.  That is simply impossible with dungeon finder, where every group ends up an exercise in trying to keep up with the tank who is determined to get things done at max speed.  Of course, if the tank dares to slow down somebody in the group will start nagging about the slackening pace, so you can’t really blame the tank.  Players will always optimize over time, and in this case it means going as fast as possible.

I miss the old days of the instance group when we could run an instance at our leisure.

Without dungeons as a draw, it is pretty much just the overland content for me, so if my interest flags there that is pretty much it.

But I have also been distracted by other titles, about which I will write in further posts.  So maybe it is a minor break from the game.  But enthusiasm around the house for WoW has been at low ebb since my daughter returned to school.  We were both big on the expansion when it first hit, but then school started and she has been busy with that.  She is a much better student than I was at that age.

That is where I stand at the moment.  My main is 117 and about halfway through the Kul Tiras campaign.  I have a Horde alt that is hanging out in Zandalar and an Alliance alt that is in Kul Tiras, but both are still 110.  I also managed to push another alt up to level 110 by leveling up battle pets in Draenor.  And then there was the Dakrmoon Dirigible.  Not much progress after a month, but in the scope of a two year expansion cycle, not horrible either.

The War in the North Ends with a Payoff

The news apparently leaked on Reddit from a disgruntled source so the official announcement is now out over at Imperium News: The war is over.  We have blown up enough stuff in the north and now we will be headed home.

Destruction in our wake

A deal has been struck between the Imperium and Guardians of the Galaxy.  The tale of how it came about, starting at the CSM summit in Iceland, is laid out by Aryth in the linked post.

The terms of the agreement are as follows:

  • The Imperium will withdraw main fleet, SIGs/squads, and cloaky campers from the northern territories* for 1 month, and from GOTG** space for 6 months, starting on Sep 29, 2018 if the following terms are fulfilled:
  • GOTG pays total of 40 faction fortizar equivalents
  • Within 72 hours of agreement, a payment of 10 faction fortizar equivalents or 500 Billion ISK which will be refunded when the 10 Faction Forts are delivered as the first payment to a highsec station with highsec only routes to Amarr.
  • Within 10 days of agreement, all 5 Moreau+30 other faction fortizars must be delivered to a to a highsec station with highsec only routes to Amarr.
  • For the purposes of this agreement Moreau fortizars count as 2 faction forizars. Example: 5 Moreaus and 30 other faction forts would satisfy this payment agreement.
  • GOTG will not attack any withdrawing Imperium forces or interfere with unanchoring Imperium structures or ships attempting to scoop unanchored structures.
  • GOTG will not attack Imperium structures*** during the period of this agreement.
  • Within 24 hours of this agreement, Imperium will cease creating new offensive timers outside Fade/Pure Blind. Existing offensive timers can be attacked until Sep 29. As a sign of good faith, the Imperium will not hit the 2 planned Ihubs on the night of Sep 16. Both parties will maintain the secrecy of the agreement as much as possible. Imperium will also attempt to reach a “natural stopping point” after the main Keepstar kills and use that as cover to withdraw.

Definitions:

  • * Northern territories (Tribute/Vale of the Silent/Geminate)
  • ** GOTG space (Deklein/Branch/Fade/Pure Blind/Venal) Venal blazers can do whatever still.
  • *** Any Imperium structures
  • Imperium Alliances (CONDI/BASTN (DUTCH)/B C C (RENTD)/INIT.(-IA-,IM)/LAWN/TNT/IMGAY/ME4U/MEX/PBLRD/SV./WI.) This means no structure hitting in Cloud Ring also during the 6 months for any structures belonging to IMP alliances. This does not apply to non-imp entities.
  • 500B down payment will go to “Aryth” who will refund it after 10 Faction Forts are delivered.
  • Faction Forts can be delivered to “Dj’s Retirement Fund”
  • Upon start of the 5th month both parties can come together to decide if an extension is needed if not both parties accept that by the end of the month this deal is completed.

So there it is.  The Imperium will be taking payment in the form of faction Fortizars to leave the north.  As I noted in a previous post, my impression was that we were pretty much done in the north for the time being once the CO2 Keepstar went down.

In a talk over at Talking in Stations last night (recording here) Sort Dragon spoke about the agreement.  Apparently Ayrth first asked for straight up payment of ISK, which GotG didn’t have handy.  But they had those Fortizars, many of which came from outposts that the CFC/Imperium planted back before we were kicked out of the north as a result of the Casino War.

On the Imperium side there was a fireside chat last night (recording here) where some additional details were spelled out.  The whole deal was supposed to remain secret, allowing GotG to save face.  However, RiotRick from Slyce decided to spin the narrative of the Imperium leaving on Reddit leading to the whole thing becoming public.  I am sure it would have leaked eventually, but you know who to thank for all of us getting the word early.

Asher spoke for a bit, specifically clarifying that while we have agreed to leave the north for a month, the only longer term arrangement is with GotG.  There is nothing longer term with NCDot, Pandemic Legion, Pandemic Horde, and certainly not with Circle of Two.  He also mentioned that, after some time in Delve to mine and rat, that there is another target in mind.

The war itself racked up an impressive amount of structure kills.  According to a tracking thread on the forums the citadel count was something like:

  • Fortizar : 47 (8 flipped and destroyed by hostiles)
  • Faction Fortizars : 6 (+1 stolen) (3 destroyed by hostiles)
  • Tatara : 6
  • Azbel : 6
  • Sotiyo : 3
  • Athanor : ~73 (9 flipped and destroyed by hostiles)
  • Astrahus : ~35
  • Raitaru : ~19

On top of that there were 10 Keepstar kills along with another one that was stolen:

  1. Aeschee – Essence (Shadow Cartel)
  2. Kinakka – Black Rise (WAFFLES.)
  3. X47-Q – Pure Blind (Northern Coalition)
  4. 46DP-O – Tenerifis (Fraternity)
  5. DW-T2I – Fade (Circle-Of-Two)
  6. 16AM-3 – Tenerifis (Blades of Grass)
  7. C4C-Z4 (Circle-Of-Two)
  8. 3V8-Lj (Corcle-Of-Two)
  9. DO6H-Q (Northern Coalition.)
  10. 7X-VKB (DARKNESS.)

Some of those bleed into the southern front, where activity largely died down after the the attack on TEST ground to a halt on the second Keepstar in ULAX-3.

And of course there were titans, supers, and hundreds of dreadnoughts lost on both sides as well, leading to a butcher’s bill in the trillions of ISK for the war.

The monthly economic reports for September and October should be interesting.  With the Imperium returning to Delve and the north free of our presence, I expect we will see a surge in mining, ratting, and production in a number of regions.

Now I have to figure out what I am going to do.  The Reavers SIG has been in the north since November of last  year, so while there is talk of the last two month, fighting in the north has been my reality for nearly a year, with only a few short breaks.  SIGs and squads are part of the agreement, so we will be headed home as well.

But according to Asher on that recording, we’ll have a new task soon enough.

Other news items on this:

Blizzard Will Give You a Mount if You Will Just Subscribe to WoW for Six Months

I think we’ve seen this before.

Back during Cataclysm Blizzard offered players a “free” copy of Diablo III if they would just commit to subscribing to World of Warcraft for a year.  The old Annual Pass gambit.  It seemed like a ploy back then to keep subscriber and revenue numbers up during the second year slump time of Cataclysm.  Is there a Battle for Azeroth slump already that they need to run this sort of deal again?

This time around you won’t be getting a video game with a $60 shelf price and a mount.  This time it is just a mount.  But you only have to commit for half the time.

For a limited time… between now and October 21, 2018… if you go to the Blizzard store… in game or at the web site… you can buy in on a special offer that gives you six months of game time for $77.94.

That is the usual price for a six month subscription, the longest time increment currently offered, coming out to $12.99 a month.  The bonus is the mount.

This is your bonus

The alleged reason for this is yesterday’s Talk Like a Pirate Day celebration, but I have to wonder if there isn’t another reason that Blizzard wants to lock players in for half a year.

If you were going to stay subscribed to WoW in any case, then this is basically a free mount.  If you are uncertain however, you might want to ask yourself how badly you really want this ride in Azeroth.

Others react:

A Five Keepstar Day

While I was at work the Keepstars I highlighted earlier in the week were destroyed.  The EU time zone team got some shiny kills.

The Keepstar lineup on zKillboard

While I only mentioned four in my post it turns out that there was a fifth ready to be knocked off down in Tenerifis which TEST took care of.  The five kill mails:

All told that is at least a trillion ISK in losses inflicted in a single day without much in the way of resistance.

The question is now what happens next in the war?