Category Archives: entertainment

Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime MMO Ennui Blues

Theoretically, this should be an exciting time for MMOs for me.

Blizzard finally gave us the WoW 6.2 patch, bringing us a new zone and opening up flying in Draenor.  Daybreak has the EverQuest time locked progression server thing running, and it is more popular than ever.  They are also warming up an EverQuest II version of the same, which could be interesting.  There is a new update dropping for EVE Online next week and then the final round of Fozzie Sov changes the following week, which should liven things up.

And yet, I am not really feeling it right now.

The 6.2 patch in WoW, far from bringing me back into the game, seemed to tip the balance the other way.  I had been in something of a garrison and pet battle holding pattern for ages, and then 6.2 hit and I stopped logging in altogether.

There was the momentary shock of the Master Plan addon breaking.  Really, doing garrison missions without that makes the whole thing such a chore that I didn’t bother trying.  And even when the addon was fixed a day later I didn’t bother.  Garrisons kept me going for a bit, but they are also my undoing in the end.  (The death of the easy-money gray trash from the salvage yard didn’t help either.)

I think, perhaps, that the two year straight run with WoW might mean it is time for a break.  Blizz has said that 6.2 is it for the expansion, so the whole game will be in something of a holding pattern until BlizzCon, at which point they will likely announce the next expansion.  We’ll see if Blizz can wait that long.  I suspect that the Q2 2015 results, which ought to be announced in August, will show another sharp decline in subscribers.

On the EverQuest side of things, I am just not feeling it.  For all the nostalgia I feel for the game, I might not be in the right state of mind for another round of bandit camping in West Karana, undead in Unrest, and whatever else.  I am glad it is going on, I am enjoying watching from the sidelines, but I just don’t log in.

I fear the same might be true for the EverQuest II nostalgia servers.  I am not entirely happy with the name choices.

Deathtoll seems just a bit too cute for the PvP server.  And, while Stormhold would have been my first choice for the PvE server had Isle of Refuge not been on the list, I am somewhat shocked that Isle of Refuge didn’t win.  It was the runaway favorite in the nominations.  I don’t want to go all Daybreak vote rigging conspiracy theory on this, but I seriously thought Isle of Refuge winning was pretty much a given.  But, Stormhold it is I guess.

Stormhold, in Antonica

Stormhold, in Antonica

There is the promise of more polls to come for the EverQuest II time locked expansion server, along with a beta promised for next week, though I have to wonder how Daybreak is feeling about polls now given the seeming “ain’t nobody happy” compromise around the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote.

And then there is EVE Online.  I suppose that EVE doesn’t really count, as boredom and finding it difficult to log in is the normal state of affairs for me with the game.  Then something will happen… a war, a deployment, a new fleet doctrine… that will lead to the moments of excitement that make the hours or boredom worthwhile.

All of which has added up to me mostly playing Minecraft every evening when I have some time.  So you can probably expect more “letters from those late to the party” posts about the game going forward.

A Return to the Skies of War Thunder

I mentioned in the May in Review post that getting a closed beta key to World of Warships had prompted me to download that game, plus World of Tanks and War Thunder.  Air, land, and sea, if you will.

World of Warships was okay.  It seemed considerably easier than, say World of Tanks, to not be bad at.  But it didn’t really do much for me.  Something for another time.

I also pottered about in World of Tanks for a bit, but wasn’t really feeling it.

The air component though, War Thunder, that I actually started playing somewhat regularly over the last month… which is odd, because of the three games, it is the one I am objectively the worst at by far.

Of course, it helps that there is a “bad at this game” mode for people like me, which involves flying bombers and trying not to get shot down by people who aren’t as bad.  So I returned to that while I tried to figure out what had changed in the game in the year and a half since I last played.

The tiers appear to have been reworked, squished, and otherwise revised.  I still have what appears to be the same planes I was flying back then.  However, as an example, the A-20 Havoc I was doing ground attack with was once a tier 5 plane that I had to work my way up to.  Now it is a tier 1 plane.

Not that the change made a huge difference so far as I can tell.  It is still a bomber that gets to start at low level like a fighter, and woe may befall any shaky biplane that wanders into range of its six forward guns, though my trained up gunners are much more likely to hit something.

But the whole leveling up and earning points and such seems to have been slowed down somewhat, perhaps to accommodate the fact that there are only five tiers now all told.  The game has also started to pick up some of the characteristics that free to play games start to acquire when the initial rush of enthusiasm… and the associated income… starts to taper off.  So, for example, there is now a daily gift for logging in, a staple of fading titles like Lord of the Rings Online and Need for Speed World.

Here, have something for just showing up!

Here, have something for just showing up!

The rewards at least do appear to get better for consecutive days logging in, to the point of actually earning some golden eagles, the RMT currency, around day 25 if the dialog above is to be believed.

Mostly though, the game relies on slow progress and requiring the RMT currency to unlock much of your accumulated experience to coerce players into spending money on the game… which is exactly where the game stumbles for me.

If I were better at the game… or getting better through play… I might be tempted to spend some money on it.  But I am just horrible and cling to my tier 1 and 2 planes, where at least my gunners can hit something now and again, rather than seeking to advance to the higher tiers where I will likely die all the quicker.

So I suppose my net benefit to the game as a whole is to provide a fat target for the fighter pilots who camp the bomber spawn point.

On fire yet again...

On fire yet again…

I do help my team out when I can, to the best of my ability.  And, fortunately most of the match types have some role for a bomber pilot.  Sometimes the goal is to simply destroy ground targets, which represents the high point of my skills.  I can do that.

Then there are the domination maps, where you have to land on an airfield to capture it.  I can sort of do that as well.  Bombers are easy enough to land and at least my gunners can give me some measure of defense as I try to touch down.

The air domination map though… and that is a new one since I last played… bombers are something of a liability there.  On that map you have to control a section of air space, chasing off or shooting down all your foes until on only your forces are in that area.  That allows you to capture it and win.  In that scenario, a slow bomber is mostly meat for the fighters.  I have helped win one or two of those matches, generally by flying and climbing in a slow circle in the designated airspace, avoiding the fight until it wanders off to another section of the map, at which point I have captured the zone.  But mostly the result is me getting shot down while maybe inflicting a bit of damage on the fighters attacking me.

I have also fiddled with some of the other options.  The run wartime scenarios that you can join, if you have the right aircraft.  You only get a single spawn and you have to land for repair and reload, unlike the arcade matches where you reload after a timer while still in the air.  Those are fun, and always have roles for bombers, though they only show up sporadically.

I’ve also played a few of the historical scenarios, which are solo ventures where you are given a mission to perform with some NPCs.  Again, bombing represents my only successes on that front, and the bombing missions are fairly rare.  I did get to fly Stukas over the English Channel.

Like an early scene from "Battle of Britain"

Like an early scene from “Battle of Britain”

I also did a pass to sink a Japanese battleship, which included the varied complexities of launching and aerial torpedo.

Mission accomplished... by one of the NPC planes...

Mission accomplished… by one of the NPC planes…

But mostly I fly standard, multiplayer missions, maybe two or three a night.  Enough to make a little progress, upgrade my planes and crews a little bit, and earn a bit of currency… just not enough to get much better at things.  It is a fun distraction, a gaming hors d’oeuvre rather than a substantial meal for me.

Ragefire – Counting Votes, Fighting Boxers, and Keeping Casuals at Bay

The results of the Ruins of Kunark vote are in for the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers.  As a reminder, here is what the ballot looked like:

Vote early, vote often, vote all your accounts

All votes in

The vote ended on Monday and the results have been posted in the EverQuest forums.

The key for a lot of people is this quote:

On both servers, the 6 month option got the most votes by far, meaning a very large percentage of you like things as they are and want to continue on that path.

That means the status quo won, right?  The “stay the course” option got the most votes.

Well, no.  That option did not win a majority… 50% + 1… of the votes in the polls on either server.  The majority of players voting voted votes cast were for either the ASAP option or the three month option on both servers.

So shortening the unlock date won, right?

Well, no.  If this had been some sort of parliamentary democracy there would have been a run-off vote of some sort on each server between the two options that received the most votes, which on Ragefire was 6 months and 3 months and on Lockjaw 6 months and ASAP, to decide the course of action.

But this is not a parliamentary democracy, it is a business and a dictatorship.  Daybreak sets the rules of the game.  And so they have come up with a compromise worthy of their SOE heritage.

On the Ragefire server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will be reduced from 6 months to 3 months.  On the Lockjaw server, the unlock vote for Ruins of Kunark will remain at 6 months.  The possibility of free transfers between the servers has been mentioned, but is not a sure thing.  And given how allegedly important server communities are in EverQuest, it shouldn’t be popular even if they implement it.

So there we have a decision pretty much guaranteed to provoke the more vocal members of the community, as well as pulling the two servers out of sync before the first expansion, something that will muddy all future decisions on this front.

We will have to see how that plays out.  Keen has his own views on this, stronger than my own, likely because I haven’t really invested in the whole progression server thing this time around.

Meanwhile, in an interview over at Massively OP, EverQuest team chief Holly “Windstalker” Longdale spoke about some other issues facing the EverQuest progression servers.  One of them was the alleged plague of multi-boxing groups on the server.

If you read the forums you might be convinced that every worthwhile spawn on Ragefire is being camped by some guy running six mages who never logs off or takes a break, but simply farms that spawn everybody else wants all the live long day.

I couldn’t tell you how prevalent that actually is, but it is generating a lot of forum rage and so, Daybreak being the child of SOE, where forum rage is how players have long been trained to get what they want, the EverQuest team is looking into this.  Holly mentioned the possibility of limiting EverQuest logins to one per computer.  You can still multi-box, but you’ll need multiple computers to do it.  However, given the long tradition of multi-boxing in EverQuest… SOE at one point fixed the client so that it was officially a supported thing… I am not sure how you then make this change to the client… the same client the rest of the servers use.

So I guess we shall see how that plays out.  I would like to hear from Daybreak some numbers on how many people they think are out there running the dread six mage multi-box group (and paying almost $90 a month for the pleasure) on your average night before I make up my own mind on that.  I distrust forum rage.

And then there are the raid issues and zone instancing and all that.  Way back before the progression server beta Daybreak already had an official stance on whether or not they would instance raid bosses in the expansions before Gates of Discord:

Uninstanced content on this level was a unique experience for EverQuest, and there are people out there who have never experienced it. We want to believe that you can work it out on your own. We have plans for what to do if you can’t work out something equitable, though, and we might have to contract Alan Rickman to read them.

Basically, no instancing because that wasn’t the way things were, with at least a tacit admission that the whole contested raid thing was going to be a problem because it has literally always been a problem every time it has been a thing.

Apparently unsatisfied with this stance, Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to clarify this with a quote that is likely going to haunt her for a while:

What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.

You cannot get tone from a quote in text, but it is really hard for the voice in my head not to read the start of that second sentence as “Filthy casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen!” in a voice filled with derision and mockery at the very idea of such a thing.

Now, that is just the voice in my head playing games.  I know this.  But I also know that voice is working from notes based on years of war over who should get access to raids, raider elitism, causal entitlement, and the general muddle of conflicting views that is MMO community.  And Holly, given her time having to deal with this sometimes toxic community, ought to understand that.  She isn’t some junior dev dropping a casual quote, she is the Executive Producer responsible for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  Her views set the tone for the game, and that was the tone we got.

No Casuals!!!

Nagafen says, “No Casuals!!!”

Meanwhile, just after the ellipses, we have a confirmation from her that allowing casuals to do things that elite players do hurts the elite by diminishing their achievements.  This goes back to there being an intangible equity system in play where things like LFR hurt the game and should be banned.  What you are allowed to do affects my game, even if we do not interact.

Ah, such fun!  Burn, baby, burn!  At least she didn’t tell casuals that, if they want to fight Naggy, they should just buy a level 90 on a standard server and go solo him.  Wait, no, that would diminish the achievement of others… or would it?  Crap, how does this even work?

This is an issue where I can wander either way depending on my mood, the direction of the wind, and whether or not I went with the hot salsa on my Chipotle burrito. (Always barbacoa!)

I absolutely think there should be aspirational content in games like this, things that take some work and skill and that not everybody gets to do.  There should be things that take a lot of effort and which few attain.

On the other hand, I quite enjoyed my time doing LFRs in WoW.  The raid tourism thing was interesting, I got to see the content, and I was perfectly happy not getting the same drops that people doing the raids at the highest levels got.  But I wasn’t there for the loot, I was there for the show.  Anything else I got was a bonus.

So I, personally, have no answer.

And, on this front I do not expect anything to change.  This is the third time through the whole progression server thing, making it the fourth time through the exact same set of problems.  Daybreak will most likely follow in the grand SOE tradition and try to muddle through until raids are all instanced, when they can forget the whole thing.

Anyway, here in the summer doldrums, when not much generally happens, Daybreak is doing their best to give us something to talk about.  And we haven’t even gotten to the EverQuest II time locked expansion servers yet.

Addendum: Meanwhile, Massively OP apparently couldn’t resist going the click bait rage route with the Ruins of Kunark vote, gratuitously tossing the casuals quote in there for good measure. (And somebody at Daybreak agrees with my assessment.)

Addendum:  In response to accusations on the forums that the whole poll thing was just a smoke screen to allow Daybreak to do what they wanted to do in the first place came this dev response:

This is not what we wanted.

It would be much easier for our team if both servers remained on the 6 month timeline. We wouldn’t need to support character transfers, prep Kunark while waist-deep in the Campaign effort, or maintain two servers with staggered unlock schedules. This is not the ideal outcome for us, and we’re putting in extra work to attempt to give those interested in max nostalgia or early unlock a place to play the way they’d like.

Also, if we did what we wanted, the TLP servers would be on a seasonal ruleset. :p

June in Review

The Site

Well, WordPress.com finally decided to impose their new stats page on us.  I am not a fan, to say the least.  While they did fix the problem where the first three years of my stats were missing, which I complained about previously, the format leaves me cold.  They have added a few more informational tidbits to the mix:

That is 18:00 UTC, probably when Bhagpuss gets home from work

That is 18:00 UTC, probably about when Bhagpuss gets home from work

But they have removed all the summary charts that I really, really like.  Fortunately, for the time being, you can still access the previous version of the stats page at the URL:

https://wordpress.com/my-stats/

You can also find the even older version of the stats page for your WordPress.com blog if you modify this URL to add in your blog’s domain:

https:// <blog name e.g. tagn> .wordpress.com/wp-admin/index.php?page=stats

You do have to log in and have permissions for any given blog, so you cannot modify that URL to see the stats of others.

Meanwhile, WordPress.com and Automattic, its parent company, are coming up on their 10th anniversary in August of letting people in to blog for free.  It seems odd that I have been around and blogging on WordPress.com for almost 9 of those 10 years.

One Year Ago

I toasted the Newbie Blogger Initiative class of 2014.  Long may they post.

WildStar launched… and started its journey to F2P.  Still alive though.

SOE finally broke its ties with the ill-fated and ill-conceived ProSiebenSat.1 deal.

Derek Smart was telling us why to charge for beta.  Lord British was getting serious with virtual real estate.

It was summer and the short lived strategy group was looking to the Steam Summer Sale for a new game.  Meanwhile we were still playing our epic game of Civilization V.

We heard about how CCP handled/mishandled World of Darkness.

CCP launched the last of its expansions with a six month lead-time.  Kronos was the end of the line for twice yearly expansions.  I set off on the training plan to be a wing/fleet booster in EVE Online.

In Azereoth, my attempt at the Loremaster achievement had me in Darkshore and then on to Ashenvale and the Stonetalon Mountains .

Meanwhile the Warlords of Draenor alpha was starting, so I had to avert my eyes.  So I started pondering things like how Blizzard should change the starter edition of WoW.

The instance group, heading towards its regular summer hiatus, was hitting the Mogu-shan Palace.

I took a look at a long history of gear obsession.

And I was wondering if authenticators were still a thing.

Five Years Ago

Warhammer Online, whose game tips I previously mocked, was out soliciting user written game tips with the most boring video game related video ever.  Really, I was embarrassed for them.

Meanwhile, there were comical tips to be found in another game.

CCP was telling people that the steep learning curve in EVE Online was just part of the game, and Hulkageddon III was on the way.

FrontierVille came along, evoking the whole Oregon Trail thing… for which they recently were sued.  And a good thing to, as they are a bunch of lying bastards there at Zynga.  They never sent me my FarmVille magnet.

There was the big news from Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play.  I wondered is Lifetime Subscribers like myself would get the shaft in this transition.  But Turbine made me a perm VIP instead and put out one of those charts that seems to accompany these multi-level subscription scams structures.  But I was winning LOTRO lotteries, so I was happy for the moment.

In Pokemon SoulSilver I had beat all the gym leaders, but we were having Pokewalker problems.

Then there was Blizzard.  Where to start?  They were to the Summer of 2010 what CCP is becoming to the Summer of 2011.

They were selling WoW Gold straight from the main page.  Really.  It just isn’t what you think.

They screwed up the parental controls interface… in my opinion… along with compromising the security of it.

The whole RealID thing was just getting warmed up.

One of the accounts in our guild was compromised and the guild bank was looted.  That has happened a couple times since and is barely news any more.

And during all this, the instance group was working its way through The Burning Crusade content with our Horde alts, but we weren’t really feeling it.

Ennui had set in and our only hope was Cataclysm.  And there were plenty of offers to get us into the beta.

New Linking Sites

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. Fine, You Can Fly in Draenor, But Only AFTER You Hit an Arbitrary Content Threshold!
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. The Search for the Summer Game
  4. Introducing Carnyx the Magnificent
  5. Entosis Link Modules in Action in Querious
  6. Travel Advisory – Conflict in Amarr
  7. Quote of the Day – F2P Insight
  8. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  9. What Future for Turbine after Infinite Crisis?
  10. The Revenant Kill in JU-0WQ
  11. A Bit of Ancient History that Still Sticks With Me…
  12. On to 64-Bit Gaming

Search Terms of the Month

civ iii on win 7 64 bi compuer
[That isn’t the hardware info I need to help you]

aggronauts myspace
[I’m pretty sure Belghast gave up on MySpace]

is turbine developing a new mmo?
[If they are, they haven’t shared it with me]

totally free and legit courses online
[Good luck with that]

why does server emulation take so long to do
[It probably takes less time than the original]

Spam Comment of the Month

So, sum up the advantages of belonging to the pre-war, animal husbandry, which is the top 30% inhibition, can play a little more aggressive, make good use of the hammer then fear storm control, and no brain start to play shield + disperse oppressive force play. Danelaw went to the former and Wessex to the latter with each side taking half of Mercia.
* Fast Poison.

EVE Online

After the Reavers left Querious things slowed down a bit for me in New Eden.  We ran a couple of ops to Fountain to assist Brave Newbies, making us the rare exception to the “let’s go to Fountain and farm!” trend.  And there was Burn Amarr.  But the last week or so has been more about settling in and finding a home in Tribute.

EverQuest

I have probably been playing this for some definitions of “playing,” but even so I have not made much progress.  I made a few characters to claim the storage box that was given to those who joined the beta, which gave me a pile of alts to work on.  So now I have a pile of low level alts.  None of them are even level 10 yet.  It is just like 1999 again.

EverQuest II

I have been keeping an eye on EverQuest II because of the plans for their own nostalgia server.  I am interested to see how this will turn out.  I suspect it will be successful for reasons different than the EverQuest side of the house.

Minecraft

Since Father’s Day I have put in quite a few hours in the low-res world of Minecraft.  It certainly has a charm of its own, even if I am a few years late to the party.  But then, that just means that they have fixed all the bugs by now, right?

War Thunder

I have been putting in a bit of time with War Thunder over the last month.  I am still horrendously bad at it.  If I was better I might spend some money on it.  But I have a whole post on that and how the usual trend in F2P is manifesting itself in the game.

World of Warcraft

This has been in something like maintenance mode for most of the month.  I log in to tend my garrison.  I totally fail to show up for group nights.  I don’t do much else.  Then came the 6.2 patch last week.  Well, I am sure I will have a post about that.  I am just not sure what to say at this point.

Coming Up

July is the start of the summer silly season, when news dries up and we all start fixating on things like prognosticating octopi and the like.  Then we’ll head into August, the barren wasteland of new content and game launches, where memes and questionnaires will be all to sustain us as we entertain bizarro world ideas, like turning Pong into an MMO or imagining Star Citizen delivering on all its promises or taking crazy ravings on the internet seriously.  I will no doubt be digging deep into my drafts folder looking for something to write about then.

It is enough to make a body want to just take the summer off.

Still, there are a couple of things on the horizon.  Daybreak will be doing whatever it is they plan to do with EverQuest II and their nostalgia server.  There is supposed to be a beta starting as soon as the week of July 7th.

CCP has another expansion coming up on July 7th, to be followed a week later with the final transition to Fozzie Sov, at which point we’ll get to see first hand just how many loopholes and exploits there are in the plan.  I expect at least two sov holding alliances to fail cascade in simple frustration at dealing with the mechanics.  Could be interesting times, and doubly so since SniggWaffe (Pandemic Legion Junior) and some pals look like they came along and kicked J4LP out of half of Cloud Ring, so we’ll have them on our doorstep.  That should make for some excitement.

What else is coming up in July?

Further Exploration in Minecraft

After the Father’s Day round of Minecraft my daughter seemed to think we were done with it.  Or that I was done with it.  So she was surprised to find that I launched the server again over the next few days and was interested in further exploration.

Despite the fact that she likes to play on servers with mods, she agreed to come play with me some more, picking up where she left off on building us a what she considered a proper house.

A house on the hill

A house on the hill

My job was to gather sand and melt it into blocks of glass in the furnace so that we would have lots of windows.  It is two stories with a room for each of us.  Each room also featured a skylight… more glass blocks… which was neat when it started to rain.

Rain at the house

Rain at the house

She built the house on a hill not too far from our farm, so the beacon she built to help us navigate the area would still be useful for getting home.

The farm, lit up at night

The farm, lit up at night

I eventually built a raised road between the house and the farm just to make it easier to travel between the two.  That is one thing about Minecraft is that you can sit around and make minor updates and adjustments and additions all you want.  I eventually built that road, expanded the lot around the house, built a wall with several gates to keep the monsters out, and planted a pumpkin patch around back just because.

All of that happened later though, because my daughter was insisting on something of a whirlwind tour of the game, which started out with horses.

She spotted some horses not too far from our home so we headed out there to tame a couple which involves getting on the horse until it gives up and stops knocking you off.

Mounted on horses

Mounted on horses

She had also found a village near by and was able to trade for saddles, which are apparently also part of the whole horse thing.  This went by pretty quickly so I wasn’t sure how she even got the saddles and was mildly surprised that villages of NPCs were actually a thing.  But there they were.

The village

The village

When we got back to the house with the horses it was already night fall, so we boarded them downstairs and went to bed.

Horse in the living room, not recommended

Horse in the living room, not recommended

The next morning we build a stable adjacent to the house for the horses.

Then my daughter wanted to go mining.  We needed iron for some of the things she wanted to do, so it was down and down underground until we picked up enough of that to build a set of armor for each of us.  That probably explains why I haven’t died yet.

We also came across some diamonds as well, so were able to craft some high quality weapons and tools.

Armored up with a diamond shovel

Armored up with a diamond shovel

We needed the diamond tools… or at least the diamond pick… in order to harvest some special materials for her next item on the list, a portal to the nether.

The portal looms

The portal looms

That built, we jumped in and took a quick visit to the nether, though we had to stop for a minute and watch the video Screw the Nether on YouTube which, up to that point, constituted my total knowledge of the nether.

In the nether for a bit

In the nether for a bit

Our trip there was short.  We took a quick look around, harvested something, and then headed back to the portal.  The portal in the nether somehow ended up surrounded in flames and I caught fire and nearly died getting back.  After that she walled up the portal lest anything venture from it.  We still have it close by should we need it.

And that was it for the whirlwind tour.  She went back to other servers and I was left to potter about.

As noted, I spent some time improving the house.  I also delved into the mines below us, harvesting materials, boring out new galleries to work, and occasionally falling into a deep hole which then necessitated digging myself back to the surface again.  The land around our house started to look like it had been set upon by a pack of rather large gophers.  There were holes all over.  So I spent some time marking those, putting up walls and torches to keep myself from falling in.

That lasted for a while, but eventually I got the urge to explore.  I decided to keep it simple and just headed south in a straight line in hopes of not getting lost.  That worked for a while.  There were, of course, things in the way.  I bored out a tunnel at one point and had to pave over yet another hole in the ground to keep the path straight.  And I would drop a cobblestone block and put a torch on top of it every so often in order to mark my way.

Exploring turns out to be pretty neat.  There is definitely a hard limit on how far one can travel in a day and terrain can limit your progress drastically.  I decided to bore through a hill and ended up breaking out at the top of a sheer cliff at one point, so had to go back a stair step my way down.

And then night falls and you have to hole up and make a shelter.  I was smart enough to pack supplies, the key item being a bed.  You dig yourself a shelter, secure it, put down your bed and sleep through the night.  Then, when you wake it is day time again and you can pick up the bed and move on.

I kept on heading south for a few days, then ran into a wide body of water.  It was getting on in the day so I built a more elaborate shelter than normal, lit it up, and even put a door on it.  Then I built something like a dock on the water and called it a night.  The next day I built a boat, my first, and sailed off to explore the lake.

And promptly got lost.

Then started my adventures in the wilderness.  I never got back to my dock or shelter on the boat.  I ended up way off in a jungle area and tried to make my way back in the direction of home.  I remembered to pack some wool, so I could make another bed, but otherwise had to find materials along the way to replace my tools as they wore out.

Eventually, channeled off course by a series of steep valleys, I was way out in the boonies and had no idea which way home might lay.  I had passed through jungles and wooded areas and a high plateau with snow, and eventually down into some more wooded valleys.  That could have been close to home or it could have been further away.  I had no idea.

In going through the recipe list I saw that, among the things you would make, was a map.   So I set up a camp on a river and started farming some sugar can, which can be turned into paper, along with some watermelons for food.  I build a shelter, tended my farm, and then started mining for the necessary additional materials.

Days went by.  I built a spire on top of a nearby mountain and lit it with torches as a marker so I could find my way back as I explored around the area.  I eventually had paper, but was still missing other ingredients.

My daughter came in to see what I was up to and I told her I went exploring and she said, “Alone!?!?!” and told me I should only go exploring in a group.  I was totally lost but had no idea how far from home I was, so she logged in and made some fireworks to set off to see if I could see them

Eventually I gave her admin powers and she summoned me to the spawn point, which she moved near our home.  My first action was to make a compass, as I had the materials in a chest in our house.  That always points to the spawn point so now I at least know what direction home is going forward.

Then I kind of missed the little base I had built up while lost and tried to find it again.  I made it south and found my dock and the stuff I had left behind, but sailing out on a boat again I couldn’t find where I had eventually come ashore.  I am kind of sorry I let her summon me home, as I feel like I left something undone out there.  So I will carry on trying to find my old base, building new ones as I explore.

But I could see this as a potential group game, setting up a base and improving it while exploring and taming the world around it.

Anyway, our home abides and there is more to explore.

Home at sunset

Home at sunset

Postcards from Burn Amarr

Burn Amarr is over and the accounting is in.  You can find final tallies and conclusions at TMC and EN24.  As happens in all such events, everybody picks their point of view and spins the data to prove somebody won and somebody lost.  Everybody claimed they won during the first Burn Jita, why should this be any different?

I think the main difference is that the shock of the first event has passed.  The first Burn Jita was covered by the international press.  It was new and different.  My video from the undock on the first night has more than 140,000 views, putting it about 138,500 views ahead of my next most popular video.

But now, in the wake of three Burn Jita events, Burn Amarr wasn’t anything new.  There was the roleplay aspect of it, which got CVA up out of Providence to participate in the defense of the Empress Jamyl Sarum.

But taking the circus of destruction out of the big city and letting it play out in a second tier trade hub… Amarr at its peak is about the same as Jita on a very slow day… on top of it being the fourth year running, made for a less spectacular event.  Only 360 billion… or 440 billion… ISK in freighters and industrial command ships were destroyed in and around Amarr.  That is less than any of the Burn Jita events, which all exceeded 500 billion ISK.

Still, exchanging 32 billion is losses (over 11,000 individual ships, mostly in the form of the Gallente Catalyst destroyer, the backbone of the gank fleets) for even 360 billion ISK in kills is hard to paint as a “complete failure” as some have claimed.

Many Catalysts died to bring you this event

Many Catalysts died to bring you this event

So content was created, forces on both sides of the even had their moments, but there won’t be any headlines in the mainstream press about the alleged real world value of this virtual spaceship destruction.

My own participation was pretty small.  I decided that this year I was going to fly in the gank fleet a few times to see what it was like.  My security status dropped, I got on a few kills, but I saw some pretty amazing sites.  And I got a few screen shots to share.

 

A Flirtation with The Sims

After about a week of pondering, my daughter came to me and told me which game she wanted to play instead of World of Warcraft.  The choice of a summer game was at hand.

Then she said, “The Sims!” and I went, “Huh?”

Specifically, she had decided on The Sims 4 based on something she read somewhere on the internet.

Just in case you need a picture

Just in case you need a picture

I had to ask if she was doing this because she read something about murdering Sims by trapping them in basements or pools or doors without rooms and, if that was her plan, could I watch.  That did not appear to be her plan at all, but her response made it clear that these were things worth looking into.  A proud parenting moment, where the values of one generation are transmitted to the next.

To my somewhat mild surprise, The Sims 4… and the evil of Origin that is required to play it… were both available for Mac OS.  I didn’t think EA still did anything on Apple products, aside from horrible iOS apps that you have to pay for up front and which then still show you ads.

And, as it turned out, The Sims 4 had been marked down from its original list price to something approximately equal to the three month World of Warcraft subscription, which made the math easy.  I told her she would be giving up WoW for at least three months and using that subscription money to buy The Sims 4.

She was fine with that, so off we went.

First I had to create an Origin account, which proved to be awkward.  EA has apparently somehow come into contact with every single email address I have ever used and had set aside a pre-made account for each.  Seriously, a couple old addresses I hadn’t used in years came up with, “You cannot create a new account with that address because we have already absorbed it into the Origin Collective! One of us! One of us!”

Not creepy at all EA.  I know you’ve tried to meld everything into your evil plan.  I’ve run across these account merges before.  But seriously, I had never before downloaded the Origin software or specifically created an Origin account.  It might be nice to at least make me think this was my idea or something.

Eventually I picked an email address, went through some password reset hoops, downloaded the software to the iMac, and had everything setup short of entering my credit card information.  At that point I asked my daughter one last time if she was sure.

She was sure.

So the deed was done.  The Sims 4 was purchased and downloaded and she began to play.

And play she did.  I have to admit she threw herself into The Sims 4 and played it to death.  She would have taken all her meals at her computer and stayed up all night playing if she had been allowed.  That went on for three days when she suddenly approached me and told me that she absolutely NEEDED to get the Get to Work expansion for the game.

Best expansion name ever

Best expansion name ever

I explained that she had used up the house gaming subsidy for the quarter, which only covers a video game subscription to WoW or other MMO or the cash equivalent.  She understood that and was prepared to spend her own money for this expansion, which ran $30.

I made her hand me the money before I would even get out the credit card.  This made my wife roll her eyes, but I wanted to be very solid on the fact that she was paying for this… plus I am bad at debt collection, so I want cash on the barrel head.

So the cash was forked over and the expansion purchased.

She immediately went to town on that for another day or so.  At one point I came over and found her designing the most efficient eight person sweatshop possible, a veritable North Korean work camp without the political indoctrination, and wondering how long the workers would survive.  A true child of Silicon Valley, where we are all big on fair trade coffee and work/life balance until we’re put in charge and every expense comes out of the bottom line.

The next day I came home from work and she said she had to reboot the iMac for an update and needed me to log back into Origin for her.  I said I would be over in a bit, but she didn’t seem in a hurry.  When I put my stuff down and wandered over to see what she was up to, she was playing Minecraft on some PvP server and didn’t really want to pause.  I came by a couple more times that evening, but something else was always going on, Minecraft or drawing or looking at cat .gifs on Imgur.

Days passed and I kept offering to log her in.  Eventually I checked while she was away and saw that Origin had actually been logged in the whole time. (Don’t remember telling it to do that, but you know, EA.)  So I asked her why she stopped playing.

She said the Get to Work expansion had been a disappointment and did not really open up the game the way she thought it would from the description.  The base game was still okay and she liked some of the creative aspects of it, but the lack of an open world limited the game’s appeal over time.  Having read some follow-up items on the web, she felt that she might have been better off with The Sims 3.

There was clearly some buyer’s remorse, enough that she wasn’t ready to spend her own money to jump into The Sims 3 despite it being only $20 on Origin. (At that point it was even cheaper on Steam, but only the Windows version was available.)  Still, she got quite a few hours out of the game.  If it hadn’t been for the expansion, the cost/hours ratio would have probably put it ahead of what we get out of a lot of gaming purchases.  And I am sure she will revisit it at some point.

But that was sort of how we ended up playing Minecraft on Father’s DayThe Sims were off the menu for a bit, but Minecraft was still there for her and for us.