Category Archives: entertainment

Friday Bullet Points from Waikiki

  • Sunny and warm; February in Hawaii is about perfect summer weather
  • Umbrella drinks in plentiful supply
  • About as Vegas-like as Hawaii can get, in a good way
  • Lots of Japanese tourists wielding selfie sticks
  • Jellyfish warnings at the beach
  • Taxi fares all end up being about twice what people tell you they will be
  • Wife’s birthday planned for Farrell’s 
  • No Super Bowl craziness to deal with
  • Headed to Pearl Harbor tomorrow
  • Will be arriving back home when everybody is finally leaving

Also, we can see Diamond Head from our hotel room.

 

Diamond Head in the evening light

 
And, having climed up the peak of the crater rim, I can confirm that you can see our hotel room from the summit.

Pokemon 20th Anniversary Download Events Kick Off with Mew

Later this month Pokemon will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

There will be all sorts of things going on to mark the occasion, but for the serious Pokemon player, the download events will be a key element of the whole show.  There will be 11 special mythical Pokemon to download this year, starting this month with Mew.

The Mew you can have...

The Mew you can have…

To get Mew you have to run out to a participating GameStop to get a code that will enable the download.  My daughter and I have already been to our local GameStop.  This is what the card looks like, front and back.

Mew GameStop Card

Mew GameStop Card

This download event is limited to the 3DS versions of the classic Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.

For more about what they are doing to celebrate 20 years of Pokemon visit the Pokemon 20 site.

  • March – Celebi
  • April – Jirachi
  • May – Darkrai
  • June – Manaphy
  • July – Shaymin
  • August – Arceus
  • September – Victini
  • October – Keldeo
  • November – Genesect
  • December – Meloetta

LEGO Star Wars – The Force Awakens Sounds Pretty Cool

Okay, the trailer for LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens has me a bit excited.  I have gotten a bit jaded on the whole Traveller’s Tales LEGO games in the last couple of years.  While they add in new mechanics with each generation, the new stuff hasn’t always sat well with me while the old stuff hasn’t changed much.  But then I watched this.

That was pretty cool, very much in the sort of humor that Traveller’s Tales like to inject into their games.

And the whole thing got a bit better when I noticed at the end of the video, the supported platforms include the PlayStation 3.

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released...

Look at all the platforms on which it will be released…

That is pretty much the only platform I have that could run the game, since their LEGO games are really unsatisfying for me on the PC.  I suppose I could get it on the 3DS.  That probably wouldn’t be so bad.  But it likely wouldn’t be as satisfying as having it on our TV.

And, finally, there was this bit of news that the game would bridge some of the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

That is not as crazy as it might sound.  Playing the original LEGO Star Wars games was not only fun, but it was a really good way to bone up on locations, characters, and events.  Playing through the now incorrectly named LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga was almost like taking an undergraduate course in Star Wars.

Anyway, it is coming our way on June 28th.  We might have to get this at our house.

DUST 514 to Shut Down on May 30, 2016

And so it goes.  It seemed like an odd idea to create an adjunct to EVE Online on the PlayStation 3.  We all had PCs, right? (Plus PlayStation 3 support is going away at the end of 2016 if I recall correctly.)  Anyway, it officially launched back in May of 2013. (Open beta started in January of that year.)

Dust514Trans

Now the time has finally come to say good-bye, the game lasting just over two years.  Something on the PC will follow on at some point it seems.

Here is the announcement from the forums:

Dear DUST 514 Community,

CCP’s development team in Shanghai has been working on a prototype for a first-person shooter for PC with the goal of building a great FPS set in our sci-fi universe of New Eden (the universe in which EVE Online, DUST 514, EVE: Valkyrie, and Gunjack are set). Their experience is being utilized to build a new game from scratch using Unreal Engine 4 while harnessing all our learnings from DUST 514. This is in many ways an evolution of Project Legion, the concept we announced at EVE Fanfest 2014, but without the limitations of technical debt and development paths we quickly discovered in that effort that could never serve as a future-proof technology base for a full production game. This new project is still in an early phase of production, and we feel like we’re on the right track and plan to give an update at EVE Fanfest on April 21st as a part of the free livestream of the event. Since this new game will be different from DUST 514 (although keeping many of its great parts), we will provide tiered recognition rewards to our loyal DUST customers, details to be announced.

We are very proud of what we’ve learned and accomplished with DUST 514 on PlayStation 3 over the past three years and it is an honor to be a part of such a dedicated community. We consider DUST 514 one of the best free-to-play offerings on the platform, but the years have caught up with us. It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that DUST 514 will be shutting down on May 30th, 2016. We therefore will not be releasing the 1.3 update as we had planned. Players will continue to be able to play for free on our servers until then, but all further PSN packs and purchases have been removed and disabled from the in-game marketplace and the PlayStation Store. Players with existing Aurum will be able to continue to purchase items from the in-game marketplace.

Thank you for being a part of DUST 514 on the PlayStation 3. We look forward to the next chapter, and hope you’ll be a part of it and continue the journey with us.

I’m still annoyed I never got to kill anybody in DUST 514 via orbital bombardment in EVE Online.  I suppose somebody can be smug today as DUST 514 joins World of Darkness on the unfulfilled dreams list for CCP.  I hope that VR stuff is working out for CCP, because otherwise it is just us capsuleers keeping CCP afloat still.

Diablo III Season 5 and into Chapter IV

I’ve kept on with Diablo III and my quest for the Season 5 goodies.

Season 5 - All this can be yours

Season 5 – All this can be yours

As I have noted in the past, I am not really all that enthusiastic about Adventure Mode or rifts…  tt least not as a solo pursuit, and since I have only been playing Season 5 solo, it seemed likely that I might run out of steam once I finished the story.

But, while I may find little enthusiasm for slaying large quantities of mobs just to collect gold and sort through equipment drops, actually having a set of goals changes things.  I can immerse myself in checking off boxes for an extended period of time, being a somewhat task oriented in real life.  I like getting things done and the illusion of progress.

And so I have carried on and managed to work my way through the first three chapters of the goals… the journey as it has been spun… without too much problem.  A decent set of discreet tasks, helped along by the fact that if you accomplished any of them before unlocking the list of goals for a specific chapter, you still got credit.

I also notched myself up in difficulty, first to Torment 1 then Torment 2, neither of which made things drastically more difficult.  I do have a lot more gold now though.

And then I unlocked the Chapter IV goals for Season 5. (All the goals for Season 5 are listed out on this Reddit post.)

  • Penchant for Enchants: Replace a property on an item at the Mystic
  • Keeping it Low Key: Slay Xah’Rith the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • The Key to Success: Slay Nekarat the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • Mercy: Kill Zoltun Kulle at lvl 70 on T2 or higher (gives 2nd Haedrig gift)
  • Seeya: Kill the Sigebreaker Assault Beast at lvl 70 on T4 or higher
  • Great Expectations: Reach GR20 solo (gives 3rd Haedrig gift)
  • Set me free: Complete any set dungeon (doesn’t need to be mastered!)
  • Up all night to get lucky: Equip all slots with lvl 70 legendary items
  • Key Decisions: Slay Odeg the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher
  • Key Wee: Slay Sokahr the Keywarden at lvl 70 on T1 or higher

I actually had two of them done, and most of them seemed doable, so I got stuck in on a couple right away.

Another item from the list...

Another item from the list…

The Zoltun Kulle fight was surprisingly easy, and got me two new pieces from a set, though one of them wasn’t nearly as good as what I already had equipped.  That leads to the age old question of whether or not the bonus for wearing four pieces of the set was worth it or not.

four down, six to go

four down, six to go

I am, however, a bit skeptical of a couple of the items on the list.

Notching up to Torment 4 difficulty for the Siege Breaker ought to be okay.  But getting to the point where I can solo a level 20 Greater Rift might be a challenge, in part because I’ll have to figure out how to do that.  I haven’t been there before and  I imagine it will involve some grind, and grind is the enemy of my attention at this point.

Meanwhile, completing a full dungeon set and equipping level 70 legendary items in every equipment slot both sound like “go grind rifts” which, as noted, is where my interest in playing starts to break down.  Still, I remain a bit surprised I have gotten this far.

Crusader in gold

Crusader in gold

Charming Nonsense about the CSM

There was a bit of internet space drama over the weekend.

My exposure to this was on The Meta Show where The Mittani, head of Goonswarm and a former CSM member, along with Laz and Thoric Frosthammer, head of LAWN and a current CSM member, spoke about the recent changes to the CSM whitepaper which ended up excluding anybody associated from The Mittani dot com from running for CSM, but not any other EVE related sites.  The show isn’t up on YouTube yet, but should be in the Meta Show channel at some point this week, if that is your thing.

I mentioned this whitepaper change in my Friday post, so I won’t retrace my steps too much.  The upshot was that The Mittani and Thoric had a good time spinning a conspiracy theory based on the fact that the rule changes excluded exactly one current CSM XI candidate from running, the restive Sion Kumitomo.

CSM11_logo

It is The Meta show after all, so a perfectly fine meta topic to run with.  CCP Leeloo was already on record, long before the show even started, saying that the rules were not put in place for that purpose and that if CCP wanted to exclude somebody specifically they would just do that and not bother with this sort of rule lawyering.

CCP Falcon though couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt the need to return fire as noted on a number of sites.  Here is the quote that is making the rounds:

Falcon Speaks...

Falcon Speaks…

To be fair to CCP Falcon, The Mittani had taken his conspiracy theory on the road and was trolling other venues with it, so he probably felt some retort was required.

You can spin that however you like.  On Reddit there is a lot of cheering that Mittens got smacked down, though when Gevlon isn’t fully behind some striking out at The Mittani you have to start asking questions.

For me though, that drama isn’t really the interesting bit.  Drama blows over and disappears.  No, I like this line from CCP Falcon’s comment:

…there are areas of the whitepaper that CCP have no control over, such as the rights of a CSM delegate.

What complete nonsense.  I do not believe that at all.  There is no area of the whitepaper over which CCP does not exercise complete and absolute control.  This is literally playing right into my initial analogy about the CSM from back in 2008, when I called it the Galactic Student Council.

You can tell the student council that they get to choose the theme for the homecoming dance, and that will stick right up until the moment they choose something controversial, at which point the school administration will override the decision.

Likewise, CCP can tell the CSM that they have control over some aspect of their existence, right up until the point that the CSM does something CCP doesn’t like, at which point CCP will demonstrate exactly how much control the CSM really has, which is none whatsoever.

Smacking The Mittani… whatever.  Perpetuating this sort of nonsense about the CSM having some actual independent power… that is just too much to swallow.

Anyway, this drama has pretty much ensured that Xenuria will have a top spot on The Imperium’s CSM ballot.  I think that Mittens would send them Gevlon as well if he could arrange it.  I wonder who else will be on the ballot.  There are still a few days left for candidates to register.  Of course, then we will see if CCP decides to weed any of them out.

January in Review

The Site

I was actually warming a bit to WordPress.com’s new stats page, in part to the face that it lets you download the data in CSV format.  I like that.  Not enough to make me give up the old stats page, but at least I have a reason to go to the new one.

So I was afraid I might not have anything to complain about here… and then I noticed that they took away the tool tips from the calendar in the side bar.

Mousing over does no good now...

Mousing over a screen shot does as much now…

You used to be able to mouse over a date and it would show you the titles of the posts that were published on that date, which was a REALLY handy feature for somebody like me who goes back and reviews old posts.  So WordPress.com makes me rage again.  How did this help anything?

Also, in the run up to the 10th anniversary of the blog I am adding a “Ten Years” ago section to the month in review.  Unlike the one and five year sections, this won’t link to posts I made quite yet, but will bring up news and like foundation items related to things I’ve covered here.

Finally, tired of trying to fine a pair of new linking sites every month, something I have managed for all but two months so far during the life of the blog (or 110 time out of 112 tries) I am going to retire that section.  Instead I will feature a couple of sites from our little corner of the internet.  We shall see how that works out.

One Year Ago

The Elder Scrolls Online announced they were ditching their mandatory subscription model.

We bid farewell to Massively and WoW Insider as AOL pared down their web content presence yet again.

At long last Runic was poised to deliver the Mac OS version of Torchlight II.  I just didn’t care any more.

Anet surprised exactly nobody and announced a Guild Wars 2 expansion.

Elite: Dangerous was making me feel like an incompetent boob… well, more so that usual.

Smed took the bait and wrote “money grab” in a tweet, which then became a gaming news headline.  Of course, he was also saying things about disgusting carebears and telling us things were not MMOs when they were clearly labeled as such.

Sony players were told they would get as much as 450 SC for the great downtime of 2011, while the lawyers would pocket $2.75 million.

PlanetSide 2 got a record for what I considered a somewhat dubious achievement.

In EverQuest II I was running a paladin through the same content I just ran through with a berserker including the Palace of the Awakened.

The Lord of the Rings Online Producer’s Letter wasn’t impressing me, to the point I was wondering whether anybody else might create an open world Middle-earth game.

In WoW I got in and did the 10th Anniversary Molten Core event at the last minute.  The instance group was discovering that you had to be level 92 to do just about anything in Gorgrond.  I was also opining about garrisons in Draenor.  I had five after all.

In EVE Online it was time to usher in YC117.  There was also a video about the age range of the New Eden player base, the Proteus expansion, Gevlon was making more friends, and the Reavers deployed again, passing though Thera on the way,

I was muttering about paid early access and that sort of thing again.  Even Blizzard seemed to be in on the act.

And we had to say goodbye to our little Trixie cat.

Five Years Ago

Eschewing the predicting convention, I issued demands for 2011. and then tried to figure out the scale used for the Blog Health-o-Meter that WordPress.com sent out to various sites.

The blog was listed at a Vietnamese gaming site in a top 10 post that looked suspiciously like one from Massively.

TERA was trying to win notice by telling people how they had boars in their game!  BOARS!  Can you imagine?

EuroGamer tried to tell us PlanetSide 2 would be out by Q2 2011.

Rift, on the other hand, gave us a more believable release date.

It was time to start messing with the then new EVE Online character creator.

DC Universe Online launched.  I played in the beta just long enough to remind myself I am not a superhero kind of guy.  Sales of the game were pretty evenly split between Windows and PlayStation 3, but play time seemed to be impacted by American Idol when it came to the console side of the house.

Of course, that was back during the subscription era of MMOs, when Smed was telling us what paying a subscription to lead us to expect.

I used Google to tell me World of Warcraft’s five most pressing issues at the time.

Meanwhile, the Twilight Cadre was back in Azeroth in force and checking out Cataclysm.  We got our first guild achievement.  Our group of new characters, four worgen and a gnome, went through Westfall and all its phasing magic, wailed in the Wailing Caverns, before settling down to a pattern of doing three instances every Saturday night.  I wasn’t sure if we had skilled up a lot or if the game had been dumbed down that much, but clearly the 1-60 game in Cataclysm was proving to be not much of a challenge.

The official World of Warcraft magazine was asking me to renew my subscription, though they weren’t really up to mail merge technology it seems.

There was some cool stuff in Cataclysm.  I like the balloons.  Redridge, never one of my favorite places, got turned into a fun solo experience.  And there was the Murloc combat ability.  But otherwise, the game was starting to lose us.

I was muttering about rebates.  My daughter and I were rounding up LEGO minifigures.

And, finally, Pokemon was coming to town.

Ten Years Ago

SOE announced that they were going to merge EverQuest II servers a little more than a year after the game went live, trimming the server count down by folding 10 low population servers into 10 low to medium population servers.  The reason given is that the world was sooo big that the population was too spread out.  I’m pretty sure most people thought that the game had just lost too many players to WoW to make that many servers viable since MMO populations are rarely evenly spread but tend to form a bubble in the latest content.

Nintendo, which was still selling the GameBoy Advance (and would continue to here until 2008) announced the first major update to their crazy two screen DS handheld platform.  The new Nintendo DS Lite would end up being, in my opinion, one of the finest handheld consoles ever, with sharp screens, a compact form factor, excellent finish, and great battery life along with continuing the backward compatibility with the GBA.  The only problem I ever had with my cobalt blue unit involved me getting old and being unable to read text on the screen without glasses.

Featured Sites of the Month

So for the inaugural run of this, and I am not sure really what I want to do here aside from not go scouring blog rolls every month, I am going to call out a blog:

Bhagpuss, writes about all sort of MMORPGs I no longer, or never will, play.  He is, in his own way, the anti-elite player, being more interested in setting, story, and exploring the corners of things.  And his blogroll side bar makes for a good reading list.

Then for a bigger site I want to mention:

Feldon keeps track of all of the information you need to know about EverQuest II without feeling the need to fill space with a lot of fluff.  Excellent signal to noise ratio.  I wish every game I played had a site like EQ2 Wire dedicated to it.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. Sixteen Predictions for 2016
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Random Thoughts about The Force Awakens – Spoilers
  5. The Demise of BattleClinic
  6. Torn on MMORPGs
  7. Why Did the Hero’s Song Kickstarter Fail?
  8. MMOs on the List of Most Important PC Games
  9. How Much to Play EVE Valkyrie?
  10. Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away
  11. You Play the Hand with the Cards You Have, Not the Cards You May Want…
  12. Smed Goes to Kickstarter for the Hardcore

Search Terms of the Month

lotro serverbpipulatioms
[I think you might have your fingers on the wrong keys]

heir to the empire 20th anniversary audiobook
[Wow, Google has sent you to a relevant result!]

fans unsubscribe wow over flying in draeno
[I think they unsubscribed long before that was an issue]

warcraft conspiracies
[They are many and varied]

Diablo III

With the onset of patch 2.4.0 and Season 5 I found myself playing a lot more Diablo III.  I was previously somewhat indifferent to the whole “seasons” thing, having started out on Season 4 only to give up after an hour or so.  I think I made better choices this time, particularly by picking a class I already liked and upping the difficulty, so I ran through and made it to level cap.  I am in the third chapter of seasonal achievements.  We shall see if I can stick it out through all of them and collect the goodies.

EVE Online

A modest month in New Eden picked up when Reavers and KarmaFleet deployed down to Querious.  Things started out fun, but then locals got in a panic about Goons.  Now we are dodging much larger fleets, which can carry its own sort of satisfaction.  Somewhere along the way we even took sovereignty in a system for a bit, just because.

Minecraft

Minecraft has felt some neglect this month, though mostly because I finished another big project and am thinking about what to do next.  I also have a couple of posts I want to do about what has been up.  Aaron is our most active user of late, and he has built quite an array of devices that I will want to feature at some point.

Coming Up

It will be February tomorrow, but it will still be gray and gloomy… which is fine with me.  Of more bother is the Super Bowl 50, which is happening about 15 minutes up the road from our house.  A zillion fans, press, and hangers on are about to descend on the valley, so it might be a good time to leave.

In EVE Online we have the February update coming up, which will include skill stripping and selling.  Meanwhile, the Reavers/KarmaFleet deployment is expected to last for a while.

It will also be the height of the CSM silly season with many a plea to get out the vote as though there were a candidate one could vote for that would have any effect on anything.   Stabs wrote something about “regulatory capture” when the opposite is actually the case.  This is just CCP co-opting critical player groups so they can pretend like they are listening.  It is all PR and it has been since it the plan was announced back in 2008.

As for other MMORPGs… well… I guess I don’t play any other MMORPGs these days.  Minecraft and Diablo III both scratch bits of that itch I suppose.  I’ll probably have a post about that.

That isn’t much going on in February, but I am sure I am forgetting something.