Category Archives: entertainment

The Age of the Full Zone Respawn

More memories from the depths of TorilMUD lore.

Being one of the proto-MMO MUDs, and the MUD in particular that influenced the creation of EverQuest, TorilMUD included early/crude/simplified versions of many of the MMO mechanics we have come to love/loathe.

One of these is, of course, the respawn.

Oh, the respawn, one of those quirks required of a shared world.  You can’t just kill a thing and expect it to remain dead in a game where a hundred or a thousand other people might need to kill the same thing… or ten of the same thing… as well.

And so we have grown used to respawns, spawn tables, rare spawns, and all of that in our MMORPGs.  The sight of slain mobs reappearing on the field is nothing strange.  I remember when the two hour respawn timer for mobs in WoW dungeons used to be an issue, back when WoW dungeons took longer than 20 minutes to run.

(Even the term “mob” dates from the MUD era, when it referred to a “mobile object,” which is all our orcs and dragons were back then.)

But back in the MUD era, things were less sophisticated, resources more restricted, and even drive space could be an issue.  Back then there wasn’t any process keeping track of every single trash mob in the world, respawning them one by one on individual timers.

Sure, there might be a bit of code keeping track of a very special boss mob or a rare world spawn, but for the most part respawns were handled at the zone level.

Kobold Village - Surface

Kobold Village Zone – Surface Level

A zone back in TorilMUD… back in DikuMUD… was something of an autonomous process.  I tinkered with zone creation at one point and have forgotten most of what I once knew, but I recall that they were discreet areas that contained all the data… rooms, descriptions, objects, and mobs… that they contained.  There could be a lot of zones in a MUD.  You can see a list of zones from TorilMUD on a previous post I did.

When actually playing TorilMUD, it could sometimes be difficult to tell where one zone ended and another began.  The world was seamless in its way, probably more so that WoW, where you can see the change in geography and color palette as you move from one zone to another.  You had to look at the style of the text in the zone.

Sometimes it was obvious.  An old or connecting zone might have no ANSI color characters in it or the writing style in room descriptions might change dramatically.  And, sometimes, there would be a sign announcing the area, often including a warning about dangers ahead. (See the sign on the fence outside Kobold Village for example.)

Within a zone, all the mobs would respawn at the same time.  The standard timer in TorilMUD was 20 minutes if I recall right.  When off on a experience group, grinding levels some place like Kobold Village, the buffalo fields, the pirate ship, or even on the walls of Waterdeep, where elite guards gave great experience, it was important to establish a flow that worked with the respawn timer so as to limit down time.  We used to come up with regular cycles and move from mob to mob, winding up back where we started just in time for the respawn.

Some zones were different.  There were a couple of zones that were set to not respawn.  Once they were done, they were empty until the game crashed and restarted.

Other zones… the special zones like City of Brass that required a full group of 16, correctly balanced… would not spawn until empty.  That is, nothing would respawn until there were no players left in the zone.  That could lead to difficult times if there was a full party wipe.  With everybody dead and back in their own respawn points… their class guilds in most cases… the zone would respawn and all the mobs between the players and their corpses… corpses which had all of their equipment… leading to difficult times.  It was not uncommon to bring along an extra person just to sit in the first room and “hold the zone” for the group to keep it from respawning in the event of a wipe.

And there were, of course, some oddities with the full zone respawn, like spawn order.

Any unique mobs in a zone were likely just that, unique.  There was only one and they had a specific spawn location.  But more generic mobs, guards or patrols, or other trash if you will, might be a single mob that was set to spawn at a list of points.  At respawn time the zone would then refill any missing mobs from that batch starting at the top of the list of spawn points.

This meant that if you killed a generic mob from the second spot on the list, when respawn time came it would respawn in the first spot.  The process was simple.  It didn’t check what spots were empty or keep track of which mobs had spawned in which spot.  It just checked to see how many of that mob were left and, if the count came up short, it spawned more of them to fill out the desired number.

This could be painful if somebody killed the wrong mob.  Spawn order was serious business.

For example, I mentioned the elite guards on the walls of Waterdeep.  Those were tough mobs, but they would not call for help or trigger a city-wide alarm if you attacked them.  And they were excellent experience and dropped a decent amount of cash.  But they were generic mobs and you had to be careful to kill them in spawn order.  If you didn’t follow spawn order, or missed the respawn and kept killing in order past the first spawn after a respawn, you could end up with two elites in that first room.  And while elite guards wouldn’t call for help of set off the alarm, they would assist each other, so now you faced a double spawn.  And given that you probably setup your group to maximize experience, which meant keeping it as small as possible, a double spawn would be then end of things unless you got some help.

And so it went.  As I recall, the reavers on the Pirate ship

Anyway, that is my MUD memory of the day.

A Brief History of Station Cash Complete with Tirade

(Warning: Tirade contains less than 20% new content)

Whenever the topic of currency for “microtransactions” comes up, I think back to the origins of the term, more than 20 years past at this point.  The idea, back in the day, was to let people use their credit card to buy another currency so that they could make purchases that were smaller than would be practical for a credit card transaction.

Basically, at about the $5.00 mark, it stops making sense to take credit cards due to transaction fees, and these currencies were supposed to let people make payments down below a dollar if they wanted.  That was the goal.  It never really panned out despite some serious attempts over the years.

The idea was picked up in other places though.  Almost eight years ago SOE grabbed the idea and stumbled off with it, introducing Station Cash and a lackluster store with a meager list of depressingly priced items for sale.  Even four years after it launched, I couldn’t find anything worthwhile in the Station Cash store.

The pricing there, and in other in-game cash shops since, strongly indicate that the transaction cost had ceased to be the prime motivator.  In fact, the tragicomic tale of SOE and their virtual currency points straight to what companies want.  They want to separate their customers from some cash up front and worry about the cash shop later.  SOE went so far trying to boost their bottom line with Station Cash sales that they devalued the currency like a Latin American dictator.

TripleSC01

Stock up now? Don’t mind if I do!

For a stretch they had to stop letting players pay for their subscription or buy expansions with Station Cash because, if you worked things just right, you could have ended up paying as little as $1.25 a month for your Gold Access subscription.

Where were those people who love to study virtual economies when this was happening?

Anyway, SOE had to have a Station Cash austerity program (did the Virtual World Bank step in?) for a while, going so far as to suggest they might stop giving out the monthly 500SC stipend for subscribers at one point, as they worked out how to get people to spend their giant piles of cheap Station Cash.  I think they actually got a few useful items in the various stores after that, plus some mounts in EverQuest II that were not hideously ugly.

Still, SOE carried on.  They were committed to Free to Play.  The term was part of their marketing slogan for a while.

My way includes constant pop-ups asking me to subscribe...

My way includes constant pop-ups asking me to subscribe…

They were invested in the cash shop and getting people into their game for free, so that they might become paying customers later. (Via an unsubtle combination of inconveniences and incentives, but that is another tale.)  They were at least trying to be a stand-up player in the market. (For all its mistakes and missteps, SOE always tried to do the right thing in the end.)   Station Cash was pegged to the real world at a penny a point (except when on sale of course) so players could figure out how much something really cost without getting out a calculator.

Failure to do this is generally a bad sign.  Customers do not like it.  Microsoft fiddled with that in the XBox store for a while before going to a penny a point.  Nintendo dumped points altogether, assigning straight up dollar values in their shop.

I think companies suffer in the long term by trying to obscure the value of their in-game currency… which leads me to Turbine and Lord of the Rings Online, which has one of the more arcane RMT currency systems around.  Turbine Points can have a wide range of values depending on how you purchase them, and once in the game Turbine has added in subsidiary currencies, like Mithril Coins, that you have to buy with the main currency, in order to purchase certain unlocks.  Trying to fool the customer is only ever a short term strategy and I am sure LOTRO has suffered over the years for going all in on that.

Anyway, at least SOE didn’t go down that path.

And SOE stuck to having a single currency wallet across all of their games. (Well, on the PC at least.  There were complications in the land of PlayStation.)  If you played EverQuest II and wanted to move over to PlanetSide 2, your station cash went with you. (Again, looking at you Turbine, and how Turbine Points in LOTRO and Turbine Points in DDO are two separate and distinct things.)

Then came bad times at Sony and SOE was sold off to the investment bankers at Columbus Nova Prime, a group with a reputation for milking their acquisitions.  SOE became Daybreak, Station Cash became Daybreak Cash, and so on down the branding line.  No longer covered by Sony’s checkbook, reality set in quickly with layoffs and changes to the business model.

EverQuest and EverQuest II, perennial foundations of the company, managed to get back on their old track of an expansion a year after dabbling with the idea of more frequent, but less fulsome DLC.  I think the fact that loyal followers of the game have a habit of buying collector’s editions probably helped there.  How much DLC do you have to ship to equal on CE?

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

$140 offsets a lot of DLC

Also, the expansion thing keeps the player base from getting totally fragmented and unable to play together because somebody doesn’t have the right DLC for the night’s content.  Add in some special servers for subscribers only and the classic Norrath part of the company seems secure for the moment.  They did have to kill off PvP for the most part, but that is what happens when you have to focus on your core.

Over in another part of the company, quiet yet solid DC Universe Online got ported over to the XBox One.  Not bad for a five year old title.  But then, access to XBox and other platforms was supposed to be one of the big upsides of the acquisition.

Other titles were less secure.  Somebody found where Smed hid the last PlanetSide server and turned it off finally.  Dragon’s Prophet was sent packingPlanetSide 2 was having problemsEverQuest Next became EverQuest Never, heralding the end of the classic mainstream fantasy MMORPG. That is a niche genre now, but it probably always anyway.  Legends of Norrath was finally taken off life support, then its loot card organs were harvested for the cash shop.  And my question about how Daybreak would get off the sweet, sweet Early Access money drug was answered when they ditched free to play for Landmark and H1Z1, charging $20 a pop to get into either.

Ars Technica Reports...

Still have to replace that founder’s pack revenue stream though…

Well, $40 a pop for all of H1Z1 unless you already had a copy, since they split that into two games, each with its own $20 price tag. There is now H1Z1: King of the Kill, the money making one that turned out to be mildly popular on Twitch, and H1Z1: Just Survive, the mostly neglected worldly survival game for oddball old school MMO players.  King of the Kill got a “Summer 2016” ship date, which it has since pushed off (though there was already a press release saying it had launched quite a while back), while Just Survive seems to be living up to its name.

All of which brings us up to yesterdays fun new announcement that King of the Kill will not be using Daybreak Cash, ditching that for its own currency.  From the King of the Kill site:

INTRODUCING: CROWNS

Daybreak Cash will no longer be used in H1Z1: King of the Kill after the game update on September 20. Instead, the new currency will be called Crowns. Crowns are a unique currency, available and usable only in H1Z1: King of the Kill. With Crowns, you will be able to purchase crates and bundles as you did previously with Daybreak Cash

Beginning on September 20, you will have the option to convert all or some of your existing Daybreak Cash into Crowns. This is a one-to-one conversion: 1 Daybreak Cash = 1 Crown. This conversion is only one way; once you convert your DBC into Crowns, you cannot convert Crowns back to DBC. This conversion opportunity will only be available for a limited time. You will be able to convert your Daybreak Cash into Crowns from September 20 through December 31, 2016.

Daybreak Cash is still usable in other Daybreak games, including H1Z1: Just Survive. Crowns can only be used in H1Z1: King of the Kill.

So there it is, another turn in the long tale of Station Cash/Daybreak Cash.  You can, until the end of the year, change your Daybreak Cash into the new currency, Crowns.  But from then on Crowns are Crowns and Cash is Cash, and never the twain shall meet.

The question is, what does it mean?  Why separate the one game from the rest of the of the Daybreak family in this way? (On the PC at least, consoles are a different story.)

One of these things is not like the others... also, why a pig?

One of these things is not like the others… also, why a pig?

Does this mean that there are special plans for King of the Kill?  Does Daybreak see the game as especially promising when compared to the rest of its stable?  Is this a one-time event in special circumstances or a chilling portrait of things to come where Daybreak Cash gets stranded on specific games?

Not much of a tirade in there, unless you read it aloud in the right tone of voice ( I recommend whiny/sarcastic for the best effect) or you’re somebody who conflates criticism with hate.  I’m often critical of the games I play, but the ones I hate get no mention at all.  When it comes to H1Z1, at least in the King of the Kill flavor, I am largely indifferent, except where it intersects with Norrath.  This is really just another marker on the long journey of the company that made EverQuest back in the day.

Though when I go back to EverQuest II now and again, I still can’t find anything worthwhile in the cash shop.

Related topic: SOE and its MMORPGs, a post from a while back.

Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered

I rolled over, waking as I shifted into a more comfortable position.  It was dark out and I was ready to fall back asleep until my eyes landed on the clock and saw that the alarm was going to go off in less than ten minutes.  I was done with sleep.

I reached over to the night stand and picked up the iPad, then rolled on to my back and propped myself up a bit on my pillow.  I unlocked it and first went to turn off the alarm.  That done, I went to browse email to see what might have come in over night.

Generally it is the same set of automated posts, spam, and press releases.  But there at the top of the pile was the following email:

From: Pokémon Customer Service
Date: Sep 20 at 5:11 AM
Subject:
A change has been made to your account.

Dear Pokémon Trainer Club Member,

This email is to inform you that your Pokémon Trainer Club password was recently changed. If this change was made in error or without your permission, please write us at support@pokemon.com or visit pokemon.com/support.

Sincerely,
The Pokémon Company International

I hadn’t changed anything on that account in quite a while.  Furthermore, the time stamp was just ten minutes past, strongly suggesting that the change had been done while I was asleep.

I got up, walked down the hall to start up my desktop computer, then wandered back to the bathroom to hop in the shower.

After getting showered and dressed, I kissed my still dozing wife good-bye and went back up the hall to check out my Pokemon Trainer Club account.  I tried logging in and got the following message:

Your username or password is incorrect. You have 4 attempts left before you will be locked out of your account for 15 minutes.

Well, I knew the username was correct, and I doubted that I had forgotten the password.  Back when I created the account I used one of my “this account doesn’t matter” passwords because, at the time, it didn’t seem like an account that I needed to worry about getting hacked.  There is almost nothing to “do” in the Pokemon Trainer Club, nothing to steal or wreck or anything so I chose an oft used password.

Of course, that was back when I made the account quite a while back.  Since then Pokemon Go showed up on the scene, and one of the login options was to use your Pokemon Trainer Club account, which I had done because people were freaking out about how Pokemon Go was reading your Google Mail or some such.

Anyway, somebody had clearly gotten into the account and changed the password, and now I could not get into the account.

So I clicked on the “Forgot Password” option and had them send a password reset link.  However, that was taking a while, so I went back to the login page and did four more bogus logins to lock the account for 15 minutes, then packed up and drove to the office.

By the time I got into work, the password reset email had finally arrived and the 15 minute lockout had just expired.  The joy of going to the office early is that traffic is light.  I hit the link and reset the password to something more secure and quickly received another email message from the Pokemon Trainer Club alerting me that the password on my account had been reset, with the elapsed time between the two alerts being just over an hour.

And then I had to text my wife to tell her that she would need a new password to login to Pokemon Go.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife took over my initial Pokemon Go account and has been playing it ever since.  She is up to level 22 and has been doing gym battles.

She was able to log back into the account with the new password and reported that while whoever took over the account had trashed a bunch of stuff out of her bag, including most of her carefully hoarded revives, so necessary for post-gym battle clean-up, the account seemed to be otherwise intact.  The in-game journal even showed that somebody was catching Pokemon while we were asleep.

Not our activity

Not our activity

So, account recovered.  However, we got lucky.  The person who took the account over didn’t have it for long and, aside from deleting those revives, didn’t do much with it.

They also didn’t bother to change the email address associated with the account.  Googling for tales of Pokemon Trainer Club accounts being hacked turned up some stories of that happening and people having to get in touch with the site support staff to try and recover their account.

I suppose the real questions here are how and why?

As noted, the password wasn’t very secure.  But given how many Pokemon Go characters are likely tied to Pokemon Trainer Club accounts, it seems unlikely to be hacked totally at random.  Was the account targeted and, if so, based on what?

And then there is why… or why bother… or why bother if you you’re going to do such a half-assed job?  The person who took it apparently just wanted to play on the account.  Did they think it was abandoned or unrecoverable?  So many questions.

I wish the journal told you which PokeStop they used… they are all associated with locations… so I could tell where they were.  My guess, given the time frame, is somewhere further east.

Last Ship out of Deklein

I am going to have to make a “Last Ship” tag or some such for the blog, as I seem to be, from time to time, trying to fly one last ship back from a deployment or some station in hostile space.  And so it was again last night.

Down in the south, the incursion running SIG is getting rolling again and I thought it might be about time to get back to that to earn a little ISK between deployments.  I still had my incursion fit Scimitar and my clone with the required implants.  There was just one problem; the ship and the clone were still in Deklein.

Time for another off-peak extraction.

The ship and the clone were docked up in 2R-CRW, one gate from our old staging at YA0-XJ.  The question was which route to take out of Dodge.  From 2R-CRW there are two equidistant null sec exits, EC-P8R and 93PI-4.  It was 14 systems to either of them, all through hostile territory.  The EC-P8R route ran through the heart of Pure Blind though, while the 93PI-4 route made a run up what has often been a quiet part of space.  That made the 93PI-4 route more attractive.  Also, my recollections of EC-P8R, with its connection directly to high sec, is that it was always a good gate to camp as people would wander into null sec unwittingly.  So 93PI-4 was my destination, though if there were problems there, EC-P8R was only two more jumps.

The way out

The way out

I got the route all set before I clone jumped because I wanted to be on my as quickly as possible before local intel got anybody on my tail.  So it was a jump to the station, into my ship, a quick check of the inventory to make sure I wasn’t leaving anything behind, then undock and on my way.

Undocking into the red light of 2R-CRW's star

Undocking into the red light of 2R-CRW’s star

There was only one person in system with me, a Brave pilot, as I aligned for the out gate and warped off.  I would be crossing their space soon enough.

In the next system I took a moment in warp to check my possessions in Deklein to see what I might be leaving behind now that my last clone was leaving.  I was bit surprised to see that the cupboard was bare.  I am rarely ever that efficient at cleaning up after myself.

Nothing left in Deklein

Nothing left in Deklein

The same isn’t true for Tribute, and I still have stuff rattling around in Pure Blind as well, but Deklein, where I set up camp for more than three years, was clear.

From CCP-US there was the jump into Fade and DO6H-Q, which is Brave Newbies capital.  There were quite a few people in local, but the gates were not being camped and I slipped through, using a bounce, and exited into Pure Blind via the U-INPD gate.  The bounce was a bit hairy though, as I dropped in on two Brave pilots, but they didn’t seem to notice and I sped off unmolested.

That put me into Mordus Angels space.  That was empty for a few jumps, until I made it to BDV3-T, which turned out to be their capital system and which had about a dozen of them in local.  I decided to use an old corp bookmark as a bounce, though it turned out to be a poorly named one as it dropped me onto the station grid.

That was unfortunate

That was unfortunate

I turned for the out gate and warped off, but I had been spotted.  A Legion had been sitting on the undock, so unless he was asleep my ship had been reported.  I jumped into WW-KGD, which was empty, and warped off to the next gate.  It was a short warp, but even before I arrived, two MOA pilots I have seen in BDV3-T jumped in with me.

The next system was another short warp to the out gate, and I made it before my pursuers arrived in system.  I pressed on hoping that they did not have any friends ahead.  I passed by a GSF Atrahus, still sitting there, a happy sanctuary in the midst of hostile space, and considered stopping there for safety, but decided to press on.  By that point I was getting close to low sec and didn’t really want to make this journey a multi-day epic.

No further MOA pilots were spotted and I finally jumped into 93PI-4, which is held by NCDot.  There were a pile of reds in local there, so I decided to hit a bounce and then head to the gate.  However, yet another bad bounce choice meant that I still hit one of the drag bubbles around the Saranen gate.  I quickly reversed course and lit the AB to get out of the bubble and ready to warp off to a safe… and then I noticed that nobody was on the gate.  There, within sight of the NCDot Keepstar citadel, I decided to just motor to the gate.

In the distance, a Keepstar

In the distance, a Keepstar

Nobody came out to take a look and I was able to jump into Saranen and low sec.

Of course, low sec, where I feel safer because there are no warp disruption bubbles, is where I ran into a problem.  I hit the gate out of Saranen at the same time as an NCDot pilot and came through on the other side in Karjataimon to find another one, who attempted to lock me up.  I warped off in time, headed for the Nannaras gate.

Fleeing through low sec

Fleeing through low sec

I beat them there, but they were landing as I jumped, and on the other side I found yet another red waiting for me.

This time I decided to head to a station, dock up, and log off quickly in the hopes that they might try to follow, not see me, and figure I went to a different gate.  I would just disappear from local and not be where ever they went.  After I logged out I went and rousted my daughter to get her to finish folding her laundry and get ready for bed.

I don’t know if this worked as intended or not, but when I logged back in a bit later my pursuers were gone.  At that point is was just a few more jumps to high sec.  We have a couple of war decs going on at the moment, but they generally hang around Jita looking for fat targets.  I did not see any war targets as I moved into Amarr space.

Back to Amarr jump gates

Back to Amarr jump gates

Once in Amarr space it was time to head to Aridia and more low sec space and then Delve and home.  One last ship out of Deklein.  Of course, once I got back I decided to go to the Incursion SIG section of the forums to see if I had to update my fit… and found out that we switched to an armor tanking doctrine a while back.  I haven’t been keeping up with that SIG since early in the year it seems.

Anyway, one more ship to hand, which won’t go to waste, a jump clone freed up for use elsewhere, and another minor adventure in New Eden.

Chasing Purity Skins in Querious

I still have not decided if I should acknowledge the obvious backronym of Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings and write “SKINs” in all caps like an acronym or just go with my gut and call them what they are, “skins” we can apply to our ships.  Things that keep me up at night.

The whole SKIN thing

The whole SKIN thing

That bit of trivia aside though, I am a fan of the whole ship SKIN/skin thing in EVE Online.

Granted, I am something of an odd duck in New Eden in that I am often more enchanted by how the game looks than how it plays.  I try to keep my screen as clear of view-obscuring windows as possible and often have the UI turned off at the worst possible times.  But hey, screen shots.

I am also the person most likely to grab a skin for a ship I fly regularly.  I am the guy in fleet the red Basilisk or the Raata Sunset Guardian.  So the current Purity of the Throne event had my interest piqued due to the fact that it rewarded skins… lots of skins… skins for every Amarr ship.  I have to admit that I let the lore reasons for the event slip by… I am not so concerned about why these skins are out and about as opposed to the fact that they give me the option to paint my ship a different color.

You get a random skin from killing the final spawn in the Purity of the Throne sites that have been spawning all over New Eden, and people have been farming them like crazy, so I figured I would just pick some up in Jita when the market dipped low enough as supply outran demand.  I wasn’t planning on actually running any sites unless I happened upon them by chance, as with the Operation Frostline sites.

And then I ran into what appeared to be the headquarters of the Purity of the Throne movement.

Reavers were doing a move op back to Delve from Querious and I was shuffling ships about when I noticed a few of the sites in the YB7B-8 constellation as I was passing through in my Raven (with the Wiyrkomi skin naturally), a ship left over from a past deployment.

I stopped to run a site.  The Raven wasn’t the optimal choice for such a thing, the NPCs being largely frigates while the battleship was armed with cruise missiles, which are only suitable for much larger targets.  But with those and the drones in my bay, I was able to kill off the purists easily enough, looting a skin from the final spawn as a reward.

That's the guy with the skin

That’s the guy with the skin

Then I ran another site and got another skin.  And then I ran another.  And then I realized that I was going to be late for the fleet and I parked the Raven in the station at 60M-TG, installed a jump clone, and raced back in my pod to catch the fleet home.

Once I had my doctrine ship back in Delve, I jump cloned back to 60M-TG and carried on running sites in that constellation.  They were thick in space and there was almost nobody in the area.  Querious was almost eerily quiet and I was left to pick off sites and collect skins in peace.

Naturally, running what is essentially the same battle over and over again led to some attempts to optimize my attacks and make a game out of efficiency.  The efficiency aspect largely concerned smart bombs.  The old Reaver Raven doctrine included a smart bomb fit to the ship and once I noticed it, I decided that this would be a better way to kill the frigates that spawned than trying to swat them with inefficiently over-sized missiles.  So I started sending my drones after the cruiser sized ships, which were further off, letting the frigates some in close.

Frigates orbiting my Raven

Frigates orbiting my Raven

And then I would light off the smart bomb and let it cycle until the frigates popped, which usually took about three cycles.

Frigs go boom... but I missed one...

Frigs go boom… but I missed one…

Of course, then the real goal became to get every frigate in a wave to pop on the same smart bomb cycle.  The main wave has five, so I had to take care, let them all get within 5km radius of the smart bomb, and then start up it up to kill them.  It took a couple tries, but eventually I started popping them all on the same pass.

Five explosions... one behind the structure...

Five explosions… one behind the structure…

And so I started collecting skins, taking down sites as I cruised around the constellation otherwise unmolested.  After two evenings or running them, hitting almost 40 sites on my own, they suddenly stopped spawning in the area.  My hunting… and the random number generator… sent them elsewhere, and I was left alone to sort through my loot.

I did get a couple of skins that I wanted.  The Archon skin was probably my best drop.  But I mostly got skins for ships I don’t fly regularly, often the Navy Issue version of a ship I wanted. (Crucifier? A doctrine ship!  Crucifier Navy Issue?  Never even seen one.)  And, of course, I managed to get nearly a dozen dupes, because the loot fairy in New Eden is a cast iron bitch.

Mostly I wanted a skin for the Guardian, the Amarr tech II logi cruiser, as I thought a space priest in medical white would be appropriate.  For that though I had to hit Jita where I filled in the glaring gaps in my list.

My skin list now...

My skin list now…

Prices had fallen drastically since I checked at the start of the event, so I picked up missing skins for ships I know I would fly… Crucifier, Confessor, and the Guardian… along with a few for ships I might fly some day.  If I train into the Apostle, I will have a nice medical white skin for it.

My Guardian with the white skin

My Guardian with the white skin

Of course, once you have a white surface, it starts to look like a canvas if you stare at it too long and you start to want to draw on it.

I couldn't get a nice, even red cross...

I couldn’t get a nice, even red cross…

Anyway, the event nearly doubled my skin count.  They aren’t the best skins in the bunch, but I like to have the option available to me.

And now a gallery of me popping frigates with smart bombs… because, explosions!

Honest Game Trailers – Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

Over the years I have seen bits and pieces of Phoenix Wright… games on the store shelves, a reference in here and there, somebody inevitably cosplaying as him at Fanime every year… but I never really got what the series was about.  Now, thanks to Honest Game Trailers, I guess I do… and I sort of want to try playing it.  We’ll see.

Friday Bullet Points – STO, SuperData, Legends of Norrath, and EVE Online

It is another Friday where I have some topics rattling around that I want to mention but am not really keen to make full posts about.  And so we return to bullet points… the format of which seems to have moved away from actual bullet points over the last few posts.

STO on Consoles

Start Trek Online never did much for me, but it does keep chugging along as the title made the jump to consoles last week.

Never not final frontier

Never not final frontier

Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios have brought the six year old game to PlayStation 4 and XBox One, updating the control scheme for the consoles so that players can enjoy all those episodes of content, some console exclusives, and the joy of lock boxes, from the comfort of their family room.  I am mildly surprised at the move.

The Ghost of Legends of Norrath

And speaking of lock boxes, the late SOE/Daybreak collectable card game Legends of Norrath may have gone west back in August, but the spirit of its loot cards carries on, haunting the cash shop.  Loot cards from the second season of the game… which must put them from about 2008 I would guess… will be available from the Daybreak Store in simulated foil packs that prevent you from knowing what you’re going to get until you’ve paid for it.  This was done previously for season one of the game.  While I am sure there is some hard core completionist out there looking to complete their collection, I couldn’t begin to tell you what any season had to offer, so for me this isn’t even a pig in a poke, but mystery wrapped in an enigma and listed in the cash shop.

SuperData July Numbers

I just like the SuperData charts every month. (June’s here)  A single chart by itself can be dubious, but a series of charts created using even flawed data gathering methodologies can provide unintended insights.

SuperData Sez - July 2016

SuperData Sez – July 2016

I don’t have any such insights yet, but there is the chart.  More of the same, with Pokemon Go making its debut at the top of the mobile chart.  We’ll see what the August chart looks like soon enough, once it shows up on the SuperData Blog.

EVE Omega Rewards

With the coming of the very New Eden flavor of Free to Play this November, some of the usual parts of the transition parade have made their appearances, including a bonus package to remind current subscribers that they are indeed special snowflakes and of great value to the company.  There is even a special ship, the Society of Conscious Thought destroyer the Sunesis, the name of which I expect to be mangled on coms should we ever see one in space.

The Sunesis looks a bit flimsy

The Sunesis looks a bit flimsy

However, in order to get any of that bonus pack you have to have an account subscribed and in good standing by 23:59 UTC on September 16, 2016.  Considering that today is the 16th and that this post is going live at 17:15 UTC, that doesn’t leave you much time to get on the spaceship gravy train.

EVE Vegas

EVE Vegas is coming at the end of October and I am on board to attend.  The list of announced speakers include Dave Andrews of Just for Crits who is going to be giving a talk about EVE Online bloggers and streams as we glare at him, daring him to call us out.  Also, he used to work for SOE, so I have a few, “Seriously, WTF?” questions for him.  Might have to wait until drinks have been flowing for a bit at the Saturday night party.

Vegas baby!

Vegas baby!

The event is not that far off, to the point that I ought to be encouraging people to buy their tickets NOW before they sell out, but it sounds like tickets are still available in quantity.  I think the dates chosen, October 28-30… the weekend before Halloween, which falls on a Monday this year… was perhaps sub-optimal, as people often have plans for that and, of course, it is a party weekend in Vegas so cheap rooms and discount flights are sparse.  On the bright side, this is probably one weekend where any cosplay will totally not stand out.

More information about the event is available at the official EVE Vegas site.