Category Archives: entertainment

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 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.