Category Archives: entertainment

August in Review

The Site

Well, I already wrapped up Blaugust in the previous post and, this being my 42nd post in August,  With this I managed to cover at least the “post every day” aspect of the event.

That done, I can go back to my usual routine of complaining about WordPress.com.  This month they did a couple of things to annoy me, the primary one being the addition a little floating control bar to the bottom right of the site.  This is what it looks like to me.

WPCustomizeIf you are logged in to a WordPress.com account, you will see it as well, though it you are on somebody else’s site it might look more like this.

WPFollowI found it distracting and annoying almost immediately, so when WordPress.com eventually got around to putting up a post about it, I was in there immediately with a comment asking if I could turn it off.  I got the expected “but it is a wonderful thing, why would you want to turn it off” level of response.  WP can do no wrong in their own eyes and all changes are improvements.  Or maybe I am just a grumpy old man.

I did get a direct response from one of their staff offering up a way to turn it off in CSS, which I have not tried yet.  That was both unexpected and literally the high point of my customer experience relationship with WP.

While I had that person’s attention, I asked why WP implements changes on their production servers and then gets around to telling people about them half a day or more later.  There is almost always at least a six hour gap between “Wait, what happened?” and WP actually telling people what they did.

Unfortunately, the response I got was that they don’t always tell people about changes… I already knew that, as they screwed up how embedded links work in the editor this month and didn’t post about that… which, while a frank admission of their policy, didn’t actually explain why they thought that policy was a good idea.

I try to imagine making changes first and telling customers later in my job and I can only picture people’s heads exploding.

Anyway, I got a CSS fix that appears to remove the floating bar.  However, in giving this to me I was told that they would be moving features from the perfectly serviceable and stationary menu bar at the top of the page to this annoying winky blinky tool bar in the future, so I might have to turn it back on again at a later date.

The CSS, should you have access to such things on your WP.com hosted site, which requires at least having purchased the Custom Design option, is:

#actionbar {
display: none;
}

You can pop that into the CSS window in the Customize editor and you should be set.  Enjoy.

If you are not logged in or do not have a WP.com account, I am sure most of this is pretty meaningless to you.

One Year Ago

I was marveling at the prescience of some quotes from GDC 2007.

We had a couple more SOE games close.  Vanguard saw some touching tributes, while Wizardry Online pretty much passed without comment.  Then Dragon’s Prophet launched without comment, which I suspected might be a sign.

The last ever SOE Live tried to get us excited about EverQuest Next again.  Otherwise it was sort of business as usual on the Norrath front.  I wished for more than I got certainly.

Project: Gorgon was having a Kickstarter and was asking for $100,000.  I was dubious.

Google was forcing me to make bad referential post titles.

Our months long Civilization V game wrapped up with victory for mattman and China.

DarkFall introduced another PLEX-like currency, DUEL.

I was wondering what to do about Raptr.

Blizzard gave us a date when they would tell us the launch date for Warlords of Draenor,  then eventually told us November 13th.  Meanwhile WoW subscriptions were down 800K during the long summer of mild discontent.  But people were in the beta for the expansion at least.

I took my lormaster project into Outland and content from The Burning Crusade., staring with what I consider the worst zone in the game.  Then I had to search hard in Terokkar, and had trouble in Nagrand.

We also had that whole 10 Years, 10 Questions thing about WoW to write about.

EVE Online gave us the Hyperion expansion, which included burner missions that killed a lot of player ships.  I was on about hats in New Eden.  We also deployed to Delve, because we always deploy to Delve at some point during the summer, and hung around towers.  There was also a fight at our staging system.

And then there was the first Blaugust, from which I at least got a post out of a questionnaire.

Five Years Ago

Let’s see… five years ago people were hating on GameStop for selling used games, which was equated with stealing.  That was before GameStop actually started officially stealing.

Massive Blips went away.  I miss it.

I made my position on raspberries perfectly clear.

Yahoo had a couple game related lists.  I love lists.

Cryptic and Atari announced they were doing the game Neverwinter.

Runic started talking about Torchlight II.

Stunt Rock.  I need say no more.

EverQuest Next was announced at Fan Faire, and I was wondering about the lessons SOE has learned after a few turns of the EverQuest wheel.  We’re still pretty much in the dark as to when (and if) we will ever get EverQuest Next.

In the real world, boars were starting to become more like their MMO counterparts.

WoW account hacking was still a big deal, though getting to be common enough as to not be news on an individual level any more.  People have their views on whose fault it is.  But was any game facing as much account hacking as WoW?

My daughter got into the WoW Cataclysm beta.  She got me some screen shots of StormwindSouthshore and the Barrens.  This, by the way, probably killed her interest in Cata when it finally did ship.

Blizzard got a serious judgement against somebody running a for-profit WoW pirate server.

The instance group, done in WoW and on the now usual summer hiatus, was spending some time in Middle-earth, which required a bit of selling.  We made it through Othrongroth, and to the North Downs and the Lone Lands.  I finally found my way to Evendim, which I had never  managed to visit before.  It was in a state of change, pre-quest revamp but after they added in the boat routes.

And, finally, in EVE Online, there was the PLEX story we had all been waiting for.

New Linking Blogs

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

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. WoW Legion – Slouching Towards The Broken Isles
  3. When is WoW Legion?
  4. In Which I Predict The Next Big World of Warcraft Feature
  5. WoW Needs Expansion Badly – Subs Fall to 5.6 Million
  6. Mordus Angels Overrunning West Pure Blind!
  7. The Invasion of Providence – ADM Can Save Your Systems
  8. WoW and the Token Subscriber
  9. The Imperium goes to Providence!
  10. The First EverQuest II Progression Server Polls and Some Details
  11. The Evolution of Fozzie Sov
  12. Leaving Providence

Search Terms of the Month

wow legion broken iskies
[Wait, what?]

why is my computer crashing in new pvp zone in lotro
[I thought Turbine said people don’t PvP in LOTRO]

2017 new middle earth mmorpg
[Only in your dreams]

yarljdjdjdjdjjdjdndjxj
[You’ve been using Bing again, haven’t you?]

Diablo III

A co-worked has been talking about Diablo III and, with the coming of a new patch, I did spend a bit of time playing the game this month.  The game still looks very good and I remain quite happy with the post-auction house state of the game.  The game is just a bit too far down my list of things to do for me to get very far in it.

EVE Online

In New Eden August was a month of complaining about and testing Fozzie Sov.  Lots of sovereignty holding entities are not happy with it, though in the grand tradition of EVE Online, plenty of groups that do not hold, and have no interest in holding, sovereignty were gleeful in expressing their satisfaction that somebody else was unhappy.

Think of it as sort of the traditional MMO “raiders vs. non-raiders” or “pvp vs. pve” player conflicts, only cranked up to 11.

CCP did tweak Fozzie Sov some this month with the Galatea expansion and promised to look into further changes.  Meanwhile, the first big operational test of Fozzie Sov happened with the five day war in Providence which was mostly great fun for those who participated.

EverQuest II

As with Diablo III above, I have been keen to play a bit of EverQuest II, on the Stormhold TLE server at least, but haven’t really found the time to do very much.  At least the population of the server voted to push the Desert of Flames expansion off for another 30 days, so I am not behind on expansions yet!

Minecraft

This is the game that has eaten all of my play time recently.  It is one of those games where, once I come up with a plan, I can invest hours of digging up and placing blocks while trying to light my environment and fighting off zombies and skeletons and what not.  And when I don’t have a plan I go explore or mine or modify and improve what I have already built.  Oh, and patch over holes in things cause by creeper explosions.  They are the bane of the builder in survival mode.

World of Warcraft

My account is still active, but I have no desire to log in.  It will lapse eventually and then I will have to decide whether or not to spend some gold to keep it active or not.  We’ll see.  I did log in once, but logged back out within five minutes.  I also logged into Heroes of the Storm because, as a Warlords of Draenor owner, I get some sort of special mount there.  I didn’t actually play any HotS, but I got my mount

Coming Up

September will be probably start off here with me cleaning up all the topics I accrued in my attempt to make sure I had something to write about every day during Blaugust.  As I noted in my wrap up of the event, I ended up with more half finished drafts at the end of the month than I started with.

Other than that, I cannot think of something coming up in September.  I suppose there is flying in Draenor coming tomorrow.  Something worth noting, though I am not sure I have much to say about it otherwise.

There is the usual EVE Online expansion coming, titled Vanguard.  But the every six weeks train for those has ended up making them less special, as I suspected they would.

I think Lords of the Rings Online will start letting people transfer off of the closing servers at some point next month.  Or maybe that was October.

Otherwise, aside from those and another blogiversary, which means a great big post full of numbers and lists, I don’t see anything spectacular on the horizon.  I am sure I am forgetting something.

So September is mostly about settling down, getting back to school, the end of summer, and all that… which generally means more time to play games, so I have that to look forward to.  Maybe it will even rain.

 

Blaugust in Review

Here we are on Day 30 of Blaugust and I am already rushing to the exit, ready to review the whole thing.

Now seems like an appropriate time to flash the even logo

Now seems like an appropriate time to flash the even logo

I’m not really in a rush (and somebody else has been down this path already), but I had a post slated for yesterday, I have the traditional month in review post already queued up for tomorrow, and something already queued up for Tuesday, but nothing really planned for today.  So I figured it would fit nicely here.  Not that I need another post.  I hit the 31 post mark nearly a week ago, but I guess we actually have to do one EVERY day.  Can’t just stop at 31.

What I Did Do

I posted at least once a day, every day, for the whole month.  Last year I wrote 39 posts for Blaugust, this year I will manage 42.  So three better, for specific definitions of “better.”

I linked up my post over in the Blaugust section at Anook.com, both as a blog post and as a forum post.  At about Day 22 I had finally refined my method so I could link my blog, embed a picture, assign a related game, and have it all publish correctly on the first try.

By the way, the craziest thing on Anook has to be this:

The bar has been set very, very low...

The bar has been set very, very low…

Bhagpuss could easily topple me from that #1 spot if he joined and linked up his posts.

I visited other bloggers, left comments much further afield than I usually do, added a couple blogs to the blog roll and even more to the blog feed in the side bar, and became Blaugust buddies with Ysharros.   I think that should be a Blaugust feature going forward, a random pairing of participants or some such.  Maybe?

What I Did Not Do

I did not write much in the way of special Blaugust posts.  I didn’t use any of the writing prompts and I was even able to dodge the AMA thread in the Blaugust forum when I pointed out I already wrote a post on the requested topic for the NBI 2015 event, so there wasn’t much left to say.

Basically, I don’t seem to have much problem coming up with a topic to write about on a daily basis.  I didn’t even use any of my emergency backup topics.  That is, in part, one of the joys of having a somewhat generalist gaming blog.  If I were single game focused things might be different.  Also, it was a pretty big news month for August.  There was a lot to write about, plus a week long war in EVE Online, which always helps.  I think I have more half finished posts in my drafts folder at the end of Blaugust than I did at the beginning.

I did not inject the word “Blaugust” into post titles, use it as a hash tag, link to the rules page, or any of that except when posting explicitly about the event.  That was partly me just being finicky about style and partly a matter of being “in” the event but not “of” the event, to get a little philosophical.  My blog was here before Blaugust, it will be after Blaugust, so it doesn’t need to be tied directly to Blaugust even during Blaugust.

Also, I managed to use the word Blaugust four times in a single sentence there

And, to be honest, going into Feedly during the event and seeing post title after post title starting with the word Blaugust looked kind of icky, to use the technical term, and a bit confusing.  I didn’t want any part of that.  Such is life.

I also didn’t see much in the way of traffic from the event.

Not that this month wasn’t a banner month for traffic, so there appears, on the surface, to be some correlation between that and Blaugust.

But digging into the traffic sources that brought people to the blog over the last 30 days, Anook is way down in 14th place.  Search engines were the top source, with Anook bringing in just 0.6% of the traffic Google sent here.  And individual blogs of participants in Blaugust fell further down the list than Anook, with In An Age being the top there.

The top 20 sources of referral traffic for August, for those who are curious.

  1. Google
  2. lowseclifestyle.com
  3. evebloggers.com
  4. totaleve.com
  5. greedygoblin.blogspot.com
  6. bhagpuss.blogspot.com
  7. blessingofkings.blogspot.com
  8. syncaine.com
  9. Twitter
  10. keenandgraev.com
  11. feedly.com
  12. Reddit
  13. theoldreader.com
  14. anook.com
  15. Facebook
  16. inanage.com
  17. WordPress.com Reader
  18. popehat.com
  19. weritsblog.com
  20. mmoquests.com

Search engine traffic was up significantly this month, and it was largely directing people to posts about World of Warcraft. The first week of August saw two big WoW announcements, first the subscription number drop and then the big WoW Legion reveal.  That also got people talking and linking back and forth and what not.

Basically, if you want more traffic, write about WoW drama.

Though, in a surprise move, my post about Lord of the Rings Online server merges i topping the chart here for August.  That was mostly by virtue of few people posting about it, so my post made it to the first page of the results on Google.  Go me.

Also, Gevlon linked here more than anybody else this month.  What does that say about August? And me?

But the traffic thing is really beside the point.  I didn’t come here to make friends.

Wait, no!  I totally came here to make friends.

This was a community event and a chance to mingle a little more closely with my fellow gaming bloggers and all that.  So much better with people and all that.  So I am going to declare op success on that front, though now I am confused as to how this all fits under the heading of things I didn’t do.  Well, not making a lick of sense never stopped me from clicking the publish button before, so why stop now?  Maybe I should inject a new heading.

Summary

Never too late for that.

All in all it was a good event.  As noted above, I found some new blogs to follow.  It got some people back to blogging, including Brian “Psychochild” Green who somehow found the time write a significant post every day while on the very busy Camelot Unchained team.

A great big thanks to Belghast for setting it up and a shout out to all of the blogs that joined in.  I think I have the list below.  We had even more people to part than last year.  There some prizes to hand out, an accounting of who made it the whole way, and some further summaries to write, but things should be mostly arriving at the finish line.

Blaugust 2015 blogs:

  1. A Green Mushroom
  2. Adamantly Complacent
  3. Ald Shot First
  4. Alexandria Mack
  5. Aywren Sojourner
  6. Battle Priestess
  7. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  8. Bio Break
  9. Blue Kae
  10. Cannot Be Tamed
  11. Comics and Cookies
  12. Contains Moderate Peril
  13. Diary of a Mom Gamer
  14. Endgame Viable
  15. Floor Tank Gaming
  16. Game Introspection
  17. Gaming Identity
  18. Hello Kitsune
  19. Herding Cats
  20. I Have Touched the Sky
  21. In An Age
  22. Intermittent Daily Posts from Howard
  23. Jamie’s Blog – Daily Vlogs
  24. JVT Workshop
  25. Kateri Morton
  26. Knifesedge
  27. Lair of the Wolf Dragon
  28. Leaflocker
  29. LFGryph
  30. Light Falls Gracefully
  31. Me Vs Myself and I
  32. Memoirs of a Lady
  33. MMO Gypsy
  34. Moonshine Mansion
  35. Murf Versus
  36. My Life in Azeroth
  37. Nerdy Bookahs
  38. No Market Collective
  39. Nomadic Gamers
  40. Pizza Maid
  41. Pleasant Gamer
  42. Psyche Plays
  43. Psychochild’s Blog
  44. Pumping Irony
  45. Sagacyte’s Digital Adventures
  46. She Rides Dragons
  47. Soulbound Life
  48. Star-Fired Beef
  49. Stars of the Spiral
  50. Static Refresh
  51. Stropp’s World
  52. Stylish Corpse
  53. Tales of the Aggronaut
  54. Thalen Speaks
  55. The Driveling Dwarf
  56. The Friendly Necromancer
  57. The Mystical Mesmer
  58. The Tankquisition
  59. Through Wofly’s Eyes
  60. Tyrannodorkus
  61. Why I Game

The Test Drive

I stood there on the edge of the dealership lot, on the sidewalk, but just barely.  My eye had been caught by a 1969 Buick Skylark convertible.  It was the GS 400 trim level and was white with red interior.  It sat there and beckoned me as I walked by and I was drawn to it.  It looked something like this:

A Skylark Convertible

A Skylark Convertible

However, that picture doesn’t really capture the moment as it was back then.  It was a bright, sunny and warm California day, the car was fully detailed and every surface gleamed.  We were in that dead period for US made convertibles, so this car, with a powerful motor and an open top on a perfect day for such things, was an object of desire.  I wanted it.

As I sat there, likely drooling on the body work as I ran my hand lightly over the synthetic leather-ish seat material, a salesman wandered over and began to engage me in conversation.  He must have been good because I didn’t run away immediately or make the sign of the cross and shout, “Just looking! Back! Back! I am JUST LOOKING!” as I tend to in such situations.

As I recall, he was quite willing to talk about the object of my desire for a little while, and so we went for a bit.  It was a weekday afternoon, so things were slow I imagine.  I certainly do not recall anybody else on the lot clamoring for his attention.

Eventually we started talking about other cars and he said he had another one that he wanted me to see.  I had nothing else to do, so I followed him, wondering what other treasures the lot might hold.

However, he wasn’t really interested in looking at cool cars and shooting the breeze.  He wanted to sell me a car and, having sized me up from our conversation, brought me over to the used end of the lot where he showed me a 1976 Plymouth Arrow GS.

In this very shade, though not this shiny

In this very shade, though not this shiny

This was, I must admit, a lot closer to my potential price range.  It was a popular car for a bit, being heavily advertised with the Me and My Arrow track from the Harry Nilsson’s album The Point! back in the day.   The salesman was quite keen to show demonstrate the vehicle to me, insisting that we go for a test drive.  Being somewhat shy, I let him lead on and got in the passenger seat.  He started it up and drove off the lot and up the street a ways, then pulled over, undid his seat belt, and said we should switch seats.

Slowly I got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side, slid in, adjusted the seat a bit, and buckled up.  The salesman was busy telling me how he had to drive the car off the lot for “insurance reasons” but I could take it from here.

This is the point in the story where I need to stop and tell you I was 13 years old at the time.  It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade and I was standing in front of the Century Chrysler Plymouth dealership there on Stevens Creek Blvd. because that is where the old 23/24 line bus stop was located.

But rather than getting on the bus and heading to… I don’t recall… probably to the San Antonio Hobby Show up in Mountain View… where ever I was going, I was now sitting in the driver’s seat of an automobile on Kiely Blvd. with the engine running and an adult in the seat next to me waiting for me to put it in gear.

What the hell! Let’s go!

Actually, the whole scenario wasn’t all that bad.  If I put my daughter in the same situation today, as she is the same age I was back then, she would be lost enough for it to be obvious she shouldn’t be driving.

But I had spent many a summer on my grandfather’s farm out in the central valley of California.  I had been driving farm equipment of one type or another since I was six.  The thing about being tall when you are a kid, and I was tall as a kid, is that adults frequently… and mistakenly… estimate age, maturity, ability, and general assumed knowledge of the world based solely on your height.

In hindsight, my grandfather, who didn’t stand all that much taller than me by the time I was 13, just had me do things that he estimated were appropriate for my height as much as anything.  I was the first grandchild, so everything to do with me was pretty much experimental anyway.  Boundaries that corralled my cousins later on had not yet be drawn.  Plus, when you’re out on the farm and you have to drive out to help repair a piece of broken equipment or top up the tank of a pickup that ran out gas, and there is just the two of you, both of you have to drive back.  Practicality dictates.

So, technically, I could drive.  I had certainly driven vehicles more complicated than this Plymouth.  It was even automatic transmission, so why not?

I don’t recall if I put my signal on or looked over my shoulder before I pulled out onto the road, but I got there.  As we reached Saratoga Avenue the salesman told me to turn right.  I went through the channelized right and onto Saratoga where he again indicated I should take a right, only this next right was the on ramp to Interstate 280.  I was a little rough making that corner, not having bothered to slow down, causing the salesman to grab the overhead handle.  There was no real danger, I just hadn’t gauged the corner quite right.

We went down the on ramp and onto the freeway and I brought the car up to and then past the speed limit, the engine roaring to the extent that the little four cylinder could.  He then indicated I should take the next off ramp, which would put us along Lawrence Expressway and then to turn back towards the dealership up Stevens Creek Blvd. again.

I took the corner onto Stevens Creek a bit too fast, but otherwise kept it between the lines and managed to pull up into the dealership lot and park the car with some degree of accuracy.  I am sure the salesman had seen worse.  The route was something like this, with the X marking where I took over driving and the red pin where the dealership lay.  Oak Tree Mazda is right next door and only on the map because I used it as the start point and then made the route go via Interstate 280.

Map copyright Google Maps and all that

Map copyright Google Maps and all that

Google puts the whole route at just shy of three miles.  Great fun and likely the highlight of my summer on reflection.  I have actually driven that same test drive route on several occasions when shopping for a car on that stretch of Stevens Creek, and I think about this day every single time.

So there we stood, the salesman and I, his hand on the hood of the car.  We were now into what I recall as the difficult bit.

As you might have guessed, he wasn’t just taking people out for joy rides for the fun of it.  He wanted me to buy the car.  He was just three years early on that front.  When I was 16 and had spent two summers working at the family business to save up money and had a fast food job during the school year to keep an automobile in tires, gasoline, and repair… and actually had a driver’s license… this would have been a very good car for me.

I even thought about this very car when it came time to buy one of my own.  Unsurprisingly, it was long gone from the dealer’s lot by then.  Trust me, I checked.  The optimism of youth.

But at that point in time, with no job, a weekly allowance of $2, and lacking any official state sanction to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads, the whole idea… no matter how much I might have wanted the car… was pretty much off the table.

But how to communicate that?

I was already keenly aware of the unlawfulness of what I had just done.  I was not about to blurt out my actual age and lack of a driver’s license.  I figured trouble lay that direction and could see them calling my parents at a minimum and maybe the police if they were well and truly enraged.

But I couldn’t just up and run away, though the temptation struck me.  While I lacked any sort of polished manners, not an uncommon situation for 13 year old boys, I had a sense of what being completely rude was, and turning on my heel and walking off after being offered a test drive seemed to fall into that territory.

So I adopted an attitude of non-committal interest in all the salesman had to say.  Yes, the car seemed to be a good deal, if not explicitly for me.  I appreciated that he had some room to work with on the price if I was a serious buyer.  I acknowledged that the detailing they offered to do on the vehicle and the extended warranty were generous, as far as it went.  I just never said, “I ain’t buying the car” and I never hit a point where I felt I could exit the scene gracefully.

This went on for a while as the salesman pointed out that I clearly liked the vehicle, that the price was one of great reasonableness for a car of such value and efficiency, and offering to sweeten the deal in this way or that as time dragged on.

As an adult I have never been able to hold this much sway over a car salesman as I did as a scared and embarrassed 13 year old boy.  I could have set my price, had I been in the market and all those other details.

Eventually he decided that he needed help to pull me over the threshold and get me to buy the car.  I was clearly interested, as I was still standing there on the lot with him next to the car.

So he went to get his manager.

In hindsight the couple of minutes I was standing there alone next to the car was my opportunity to escape.  I could have bolted around the back of the lot and come up around behind the Meridian Quad to hide in the Time Zone arcade where I would later see Space Invaders for the first time.  I would have been free.

Instead I waited, not wanting to be rude.  And so I was standing there as the sales manager came out.

He was a salesman of the old school.  He was loud and brash and literally used the phrase, “What do I have to do to get you to drive off the lot in this car today?”

He wasn’t going to put up with my non-committal nonsense.  He wanted an answer… the right answer… and he wanted it now.  And when I kept veering away from the direction he wanted to go, he got angry… or decided that playing angry was the right move.

That was actually a liberating moment.

I have much more trouble saying no to people who are being reasonable than people who are not.  And somebody who starts yelling at me… well my Catalan heritage has a tendency to surge to the forefront and I will go from very inoffensive and deferential to yelling back twice as loud in a flash.  It can be very much a light switch mood change.

I didn’t quite go there, but my temper flashed and it gave me the courage to storm out of there like I was offended and wasn’t going to take that shit from anyone.  And so I was free.  To this day I hope that the salesman felt that his manager came out and screwed up his sale.

I don’t recall what I did for the rest of the afternoon.  I am pretty sure I didn’t go back to the bus stop around front.

I was also unsure who I could tell about this.  Who could I trust to not tell, because I still feared that some trouble might follow, and more importantly, who would even believe me.  So I kept it to myself for quite a while, but every once in a while I drag out this anecdote when sitting around swapping tales of misspent youth.

Meanwhile, time has moved forward, as it tends to do.

Century Chrysler Plymouth on the corner of Stevens Creek and Kiely has long since folded up shop.  The location is now the home of Stevens Creek Toyota.  The VTA 23/24 bus line has since been re-routed .  When it came time for me to buy a car three years later, I did end up with a Plymouth.  However it was a 1974 Plymouth Duster, with the 225 Slant Six motor and a three speed shifter on the floor, a ride probably better suited the abuses a young driver can inflict on a car.  It came into contact with a number of large objects over the years I drove it… a tree, some garbage cans, a mountain, the side of a house, a concrete bridge abutment, Barbara Avenue, and two considerably less solid Japanese cars… though one of the latter hit me first.  It was also the vehicle I used back when we played U-Boat, a topic I wrote about previously.

Some of the U-Boat crew in 1982

The Duster, second from the left, me sprawled on the hood

And in late 1986, when the old Duster finally stopped running and could not be revived… it literally quit on me as I drove and the mechanic could not get the motor running again… I bought my first new car, a 1987 model year Mazda 626 Coupe, the last year for that generation, and a great car that I might still be driving today if some guy in a Honda Civic hadn’t plowed into it as it sat at a red light.  A tale for another time.  I purchased it from Oak Tree Mazda, which is right next door to where the events of this story began.  I even went on the same route when I test drove the 626, though the salesman at Oak Tree Mazda wanted to see my driver’s license first.

Probably a wise plan, all things considered.

Project: Gorgon and the Post Kickstarter Plan

Fresh off of the successful Kickstarter fundraising effort, Eric Heimberg has posted a new update indicating the next steps for Project:Gorgon.

ProjectGorgonLogo

The update timeline presented looks like this:

Right now: the game continues to be open for anyone to play. Feel free to jump in any time!

So you can still jump in and try the game out over at the Project: Gorgon web site.

Within a week: if you pledged at the $25 reward or higher, you’ll receive a survey email from Kickstarter which asks you for your Project: Gorgon account name (among other things). When we have that, we’ll be able to tie your Kickstarter and Project: Gorgon accounts together so that you get the appropriate rewards.

So those of us who pledged will get registered.  I actually haven’t made an official account for the game, having opted in the past to just use the easy method to run in and play.  I need to fix that!

Mid September (2-3 weeks from now): we will close the server to everyone except people who pledged in the Kickstarter. (Behind the scenes, we’ll begin transitioning everything to Steam authentication at this point.)

Ah, herein comes the rub.  Free samples for a limited time only.

Late October: the game will be available for sale on Steam early access. You’ll be emailed the Steam key(s) you’ve purchased, and we’ll have a process to help you transfer your Gorgon account to Steam. After this point, you will need Steam installed in order to log into the game.

Steam is okay by me.  I am fine with that, though it sort of makes creating Project: Gorgon account a bit of a waste.  Still, we have to get there somehow I suppose.  Selling the game as “early access” will be interesting.  I have generally been against such, but Project: Gorgon, which has been free to play through development so far may have earned the right at this point.

Beyond that: we’ll be focusing on improving the game! Judging by previous experience, we expect to have game updates 1-3 times per month.

We’ll also have a few game updates during the transition, including new game features, new content, balance, etc. Multitasking! We have an update planned for early next week, in fact.

Well, that is what you expect for a game that is a work in progress.

There is also a short FAQ with the update which says that if you didn’t pledge for the Kickstarter but now regret that, there will be a way to get in on that at some offers in the near future.  Also, if you cannot abide Steam, there will be a way to play without Steam at some future date.

And that is about it.  A preview of guilds is planned for the next code push.  Now I just have to find some time to really give the game a try.

Leaving Providence

The Jamylites looked upon the systems and saw ruins and destruction and they despaired in their heresy as the devices of retribution smote them again and again.

And then Maximillan spake, and a wormhole did open directly from Providence to Deklein and the instruments of his will, the shining victorious fleets of his faith, did enter and arrive safely at their homes, and a triumph was declared.

-New Amarrian Scriptures, Book of Safizon, 45:14-17

So the long expected war ended, as suddenly as it started, as many of the ships of The Imperium went home via the most fortuitous wormhole ever.

Timer Board right now shows just 29 structures in play currently, including 14 stations that remain in the freeport state and three systems that were captured by alliances in The Imperium.  The map looks like this at the moment.

Providence - August 28, 2015

Providence – August 28, 2015

It is time for Provi Bloc to clean up the mess we left, to recapture the stations and the few systems that they lost outright.

The general message on Jabber is that the whole thing was a lot of fun, with Provi Bloc undocking to fight us and generally giving no fucks in defense of their space.  There is a reason they have held that corner of null sec for most of the time I’ve played this game.

Now we are back home, our goon clocks pinging us when we need to form to clean up the rather minimal mess that MOA left while most of the combat pilots in The Imperium were away in Providence.  I am looking forward to posts assessing the conflict and discussing the new face of war under Fozzie Sov from people who know better than I.

Now, the real question:  Will the Jamylites of Providence repent their heresy?

 

 

Stormhold and Deathtoll Players See Their Shadow, 30 More Days of EverQuest II Classic

Another poll result for the EverQuest II Time Locked Expansion servers.

That is Daybreak's graphic for the idea

Wooo! Nostalgia!

Last weekend I was imploring players on the Stormhold server to vote no on unlocking the Desert of Flames expansion a mere 30 days into the life of the server.  Too soon!  Too soon!

DoFUnlockPoll1

Well, the results are in and have been posted to the forums.

Thanks to all on the TLE servers who participated!

DEATHTOLL: Voted “NO” on the expansion. The 2/3rds requirement was not met by a long shot.

STORMHOLD: Voted “NO” on the expansion. The 2/3rds requirement was not met by an even longer shot.

We will re-run the Desert of Flames Expansion vote again on Sept. 20 – 27 for one week!

Woo hoo!  Another month for me to get my act together and get a character past… oh, I don’t know… level 20 maybe?

Seriously though, I felt pretty strongly that 30 days was an awfully quick time frame in which to get the player base to level 50 and ready for more content.  I know that some people rushed through and are even now complaining on the forums about being bored.

As somebody pointed out in the forums, the vote actually runs through tomorrow.  But EverQuest Franchise Executive Producer Holly “Windstalker” Longdale decided to announce the results early as the voting was strongly against the unlock to the point of being extremely unlikely to change between now and when voting ends.

The question is now more about how long the server will be held in the “classic” EverQuest II state.  The rules say that if there are three failed unlock votes in a row, the voting moves to every 90 days.  That could lead to a long stay in the land of classic.

Providence and the Fleeting Existence of Infrastructure Hubs

Providence continues to be the hot spot in null sec, leading the chart again for ships and pods destroy in the last 24 hours by a significant margin.

ProviMostViolent2

F-YH5B seemed to be a particularly contested system as almost a quarter of the ship kills in the region happened there.

While after the non-event of last night I opted to watch some more of season 4 of Boardwalk Empire with my wife, others in the north used their jump clones or hopped into interceptors for the ~20 minute run down to Provi to join in on the action there.

This was, after all, day four, when the timers set on day two started to come out and structures became vulnerable to the Fozzie Sov whack-a-mole attack/defense mini-game.

Again, I do not have any personal anecdotes or pretty screen shots to distract people with, having come back to the north during day two for our own little Fozzie Sov mambo in UMI-KK.  So I figured I would sit back and at least tally up the score from the events down south.

The primary stated mission of this war, aside from experimentation with Fozzie Sov mechanics, was to blow up all the infrastructure hubs in the region.  Taking sovereignty by eliminating territorial claim units and freeporting stations and such, those were bonus objective.  The ihubs were the goal.  So I should count how many ihubs were destroyed.

Unfortunately, ihubs do not impose themselves on the game in a very trackable way.  You can find out when they are reinforced.  There is a listing up on DOTLAN for each region.  But once they have been destroyed, what gets left behind?  There are not structure kill mails any more.  The ihubs don’t flip sides, they just go away.  There is no history of them being there, so far as I know, just an indication as to whether they are there or not right now.

So I have to go with what I wrote yesterday, when I looked at the structure map for Providence to find out how many systems in the region lacked an ihub.  My visual tally was one.  A single system lacked an ihub, which meant that there were 83 ihubs in the 84 systems.

Unfortunately, of all the maps variations of which I took screen shots, that was not one of them.  So my somewhat faulty memory is in play here.  I don’t know how I can prove there were 83 ihubs yesterday.  All I can do is show you the map as it stands to day, of which I damn well took a screen shot.

Providence Structures - August 27, 2015

Providence Structures – August 27, 2015

That map view shows the structures in each system, with T being a TCU, I being an ihub, and S indicating the presence of a station.  If you expand that and count you might end up with the same number I did on the third try, which was 46 systems with ihubs, 38 without.

So 37 ihubs destroyed out of 83 possible so far, with some still counting down to their vulnerability time frame.  44% success to this point, with another 26 ihubs still reinforced or vulnerable according to Timer Board.  So that number could peak at 60 ihubs, or 72% of the region.

I also count, looking at the structure list for the region, 15 stations that were put into Freeport status, which means anybody can dock up there.  That actually seems like a very Provi thing, maybe they will keep that.  Or maybe not.  It will affect the ADM.  Anyway, out of 77 stations in the region, that means a mere 19% were set to Freeport status.  But that was also a secondary objective, so count that as you will.

As for TCUs, for that we have to look at the sovereignty view of the map, because any system that is owned by an alliance has to have a TCU.  So for that we can count unowned systems plus systems captured by alliances of The Imperium.

Providence - August 27, 2015 (late)

Providence – August 27, 2015 (late)

On that map I see 9 unowned systems and 2 systems captured by alliances of The Imperium, one by The Bastion (BASTN) and one by Space Monkeys Alliance (SMA), for a total of 11 systems down, plus another system grabbed by the Gun Fun Alliance (GFA in H6-CX8) a third party that appears to have taken advantage of a moment of opportunity, bringing the tally up to 12.  Provi bloc has not, as yet, recaptured any of their systems according to the sovereignty change listing for the region on DOTLAN.  That is 14% of the region turned.

The summary I come up from this is:

  • 37 ihubs destroyed (44% of ihubs in the region)
  • 15 stations put into freeport stations (19% of stations in the region)
  • 12 TCUs destroyed (14% of the region)

Plus, of course, lots of battles and ships destroyed.

That is my attempt to summarize the war in Provi with some of the metrics available.  I would be interested to hear if somebody has come up with a better, clearer, or more reliable way to track sovereignty war progress under Fozzie Sov given the information available.  This is, after all, Spreadsheets Online, so agreed upon numbers are clearly required.

Addendum: As brought up in the comments, Gun Fun Alliance is a Provi Bloc alliance, so while the TCU destroyed count remains at 12, the Provi Bloc have recaptured a system by dropping a new TCU.  My mistake for not looking into Gun Fun Alliance more deeply than I did.