Category Archives: EverQuest II

Given the Boot in Fallen Gate

One of the weak points of a primarily quest driven MMORPG is pacing.  If you are going to make quests the focus of you game, then they really ought to be tuned so that a player doesn’t out level them or find the quests growing in difficulty faster than they grow in power.

The former is the usual problem.  As a development team adds more expansions and more levels they often want to help players “catch up” so that they can play in the new content.  This is most easily done by simply reducing the amount of experience required to level up.

And so it is that in aging quest driven MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and EverQuest II, you can easily find yourself out leveling the quest lines… and whole zones if you’re not careful… as you try to follow the prescribed path through the game.

A couple summers back when I was shooting for the Loremaster achievement in WoW… an achievement as yet unachieved by me… part of my plan was to finish out the zones with a character of the appropriate level.  This required me to run with three different characters due to the leveling too fast issue.

Once in a while though you run into the opposite problem.  Such is the case on the Fallen Gate nostalgia server in EverQuest II.  In order to give the server an old school feel the rate of leveling has been throttled back.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As noted, EQII is an aging MMORPG where out-leveling the early content is comically easy on the live servers.  Some throttling was required.  But EQII isn’t EverQuest, where you can unmindfully move the experience gain slider and not change how people play the game.

In EQ you’re going to go grind mobs with a group at a spawn most likely.  Quests, such as they are in the early EQ content, were all side quests and mostly deliver gear of some sort rather than experience.

In EverQuest II the way forward is via the ubiquitous quest hub.

A likely location in the Frostfang Sea

Technically, EQII wasn’t always as quest oriented.  Back at launch quests were more common than in its predecessor, but were still a bit hidden.  There were no little quest feathers on your mini-map because the quest available markers floating over the heads of NPCs didn’t appear until after WoW launch with its now almost universally recognized exclamation point/question mark quest markers… and because EQII didn’t have a mini-map back then.

So for a few months in the early days you went out in a group to grind heroic mobs because the quest chains would only carry you so far.

That changed in 2005 as the team at SOE added more and more quests to the game to flesh out the zone experiences and accommodate those who expected to level up solo by doing quests.  And then they reduced the experience table and we ended up with the situation on the live servers of having many more quests than you can possibly run at level.

This was somewhat addressed back in 2010 with New Halas and the Frostfang Sea zone with a series of interlocking quest chains that would bring a new player from character creation to level 20 in one smooth progression… a smooth progression only marred by its unfriendliness to groups and the occasional recurring reduction in the experience requirements.

Basically, designed to be smooth in 2010, still relatively smooth in 2017 on a live server.

On the Fallen Gate server however Daybreak has rolled the experience table back to what seems to be a pre-2010 level.  It isn’t comically out of whack, but having skipped most of the Isle of Refuge (where the problem is apparent as well) the quest levels creeping further and further away from my level did start to become a burden, even with my completing the collection quests along the way.

Fortunately, if there is one thing that EQII does not lack for, it is low level content.  As quests started to get three and four levels ahead of me… rewarding gear I couldn’t use yet due to level restrictions, gear that I really needed in order to handle quests that far ahead of me… I decided to take a detour to Qeynos and Antonica where one can unironically kill ten rats for a quest.

Before it was a meme

I didn’t head for Antonica first, as I was only level seven and that zone was really for level ten to twenty, but the mini zones that are part of Qeynos proper.  Or I hit those once I could find them.  Back in the day they used to be connected to the various racial ghettos of Qeynos.  I spent a lot of time in Graystone Yard because that was the home of Dwarves and Barbarians, a zone that also held the entrance to Oakmyst Forest.

But they closed off all of those ghettos and so I was running around for a bit trying to recall how to get into those zones.  If Quasimodo had been about, he would have reminded me about the key to getting around Qeynos; The bells!

So I pottered about those zones, which was a bit of an “Oh yeah, I remember this…” time, perfectly fit for nostalgia, before venturing out to the plains of Antonica to slay some of the wildlife out there.

Beetle infestations are ever a Qeynos problem…

Some time there put me back on track for the Frostfang Sea, so I returned there to pick up where I left off.  The gear that you get as quest rewards is good both in stats and from a cosmetic angle, so I was keen to carry on there… as were many others it seems.

The Frostfang Sea remains popular

There it was all about thwarting orcs, because orcs are orcs and fill the generic bad guy role so often.  I think there might be room in Norrath to make orcs a third faction playable race given how ubiquitous they are.  You could start on the Zek with Emperor Fyst as your mentor rather than the Isle of Refuge.  But for now, killing orcs is still the thing.

Facing the orc onslaught

I came back to the Frostfang Sea well into level nine, so it wasn’t too long before I hit level ten.

An easier achievement on the live servers…

But this is a special server with its own special achievements, so level ten is a two-fer.

Featuring the boot

A special achievement for a special server, and indicative of the reward you get for reaching the exalted level of ten; possibly the most heinous mount ever conceived by Daybreak,

The Pedipowered Posterior Punter

And I might well have eschewed this mount, as I do any of the gnomish contraptions, except that in a world where you are running around on foot any speed boost is a good speed boost.  And, being a “leaper” mount, you also get some jumping/soft landing benefits from it.  That does something to mitigate its look.

Also, it doesn’t stand out too much on my back.

The mount matches the Guardian armor… sort of…

The quest line through the Frostfang Sea ends with the player getting a nice mount… a horse.  I hope I can then use the horse as the cosmetic “look” while retaining the benefits of the boot.  Either way, having it will make getting around quicker and at least one heritage quest will be pretty easy with the speed boost.

Otherwise I am continuing on with the Frostfang Sea.  When I get through that it will be about time to start looking for a guild.

Looking for Nostalgia and a Guild on Fallen Gate

Over the weekend I gave in and re-upped for EverQuest II in order to potter around on the new Fallen Gate server.  That seemed to put me in league with just about every other EverQuest II player out there judging by the server status monitor.

Fallen Gate is #1

I did make one concession to my current play pattern and only opted for a single month Daybreak All Access subscription.  As I documented with Runes of Magic and Guild Wars 2, my interest seems to be wane in about three weeks.

Daybreak was happy enough to take my money and soon I was hooked up as a subscriber.  The first thing I needed to do was roll up a character on Fallen Gate.

But that meant deleting a character.

Through means shrouded by the mists of time I have managed to acquire 18 character slots on my account.  That is about half a dozen more than I think I should have.  I know I didn’t buy that many extra slots.  And, of course, all of them were full.

Fortunately a couple of the slots were taken by filler characters I rolled up back when the Stormhold server launched about two years back and never really used.  I wasn’t sure what class I wanted to play, so rolled up three right away because there was some early start prize or bonus if you did.  What the actual benefit was I have forgotten, but they got it and then never used it, so deleting them was easy.  My other characters, going back as far as November 2004, remain safe.

As usual I wasn’t sure what to roll up, so I went for my default, which is a berserker on the Qeynos side of the world.  And then I clicked the wrong thing and ended up with a guardian.  But, since I don’t think I have ever played a guardian, I ran with it.  I was soon on the boat to the Queen’s Colony on the Isle of Refuge (I got that bit right at least), a rescued bit of flotsam from the sea, and as quickly on the isle itself ready to start my new life.

On the Isle of Refuge

The isle isn’t what it used to be back in the day.  My memory is no doubt faulty to some degree on this topic, but the quests seem different as do some of the mobs.  And the pacing of the quest line seems to be set to accommodate specific rate of advancement not present on Fallen Gate.

Do I know you guys? Were you here in 2004?

On the Fallen Gate server experience gain is supposed to be set close to 2004 pacing than what you would find on a current live server.  For the first 50 levels on a live server you out run the old content pretty quickly.  On the new, while the pacing wasn’t completely hamstrung, I did find myself picking up quests that were marked as high and higher level without leveling up myself.

Well, the isle isn’t the only option.

Back in the day I used to stick around on the Isle of Refuge with a new character until the bitter end, doing all the quests, hitting the max level allowed, banking up some additional experience so at least one more level would pop as soon as I left, and, most importantly of all, I would finish up the two isle-only collection quests.

The feathers quest

Back in the day you could not return to the isle nor could you find the items for those collections in any other place in Norrath.  So you had to find the last item there or pay what was often an extortionary price on the market later on.

Now though the feathers and shells spawn in the other starter areas and you can go back to the isle if you feel you must.  So while the Isle of Refuge has some nostalgia value, I’d been through it a few times since its return a while back, so was ready to move on.

Yes, I get it.

Even the NPCs on the isle were bringing up the idea of getting the hell out of there pretty early on.  Here I am hitting level 3 and being given a prompt to get out of Dodge.

Are you still here?

That meant talking to Captain Varlos to arrange the voyage to the mainland.

What are my options here?

From the Isle of Refuge you can head to Qeynos, which is semi-nostalgic though much changed since 2004, or the Frostfang Sea, which at this point is old enough to have some nostalgia value of its own.  The Frostfang Sea and New Halas also have a more coherent quest line and better housing when the time comes, so I chose the frozen wastes even though I had yet to find shoes.  Gear was an issue.

Alas, Captain Varlos and his ship did not survive the journey.

A quirk of the change from the Isle of Refuge to the newer starting zones is that they operate on the same assumption, that you were fished out of the sea.  So when I arrived I was telling people how orcs attacked the boat I was on.

Relating the tale of Captain Varlos… apparently

Since Captain Varlos and his crew were nowhere to be seen I have to assume they did not survive.

I was dropped into the shallow end of the pool in the Frostfang Sea, where the first low level quests start.  This seems to be at odds with Bhagpuss’s experience, as he ended up in the deep end somehow.  I am not sure why we were in different points, but logic doesn’t always survive the journey to Norrath either.

I kept on running the quest line from there, getting bits of gear.  I did spent a bit of Daybreak Cash to buy a pair of 24 slot bags from the shop.  They were 150DC each, but I got 500DC for subscribing, so I am still ahead on that front I suppose… plus I still had another 13K in DC on my account.

Another quest hub on the Frostfang Sea

This is the usual story, starting out, running through the initial content, getting the first bit of gear.  I suppose the next decision is what trade skill I should go with… I cannot imagine playing EQII and not crafting.  The problem is that EQII trade skills all have their merits, and by picking one I know I will feel the sting of missing out on another.  This is how alts develop.  I am leaning towards armor crafting, since you need to re-up all your gear every ten levels, or alchemy, to boost my skills through the complicated skill level process in the game.  I haven’t committed yet, but I am harvesting along the way in order to be prepared.

And then there is the bigger question.  What should I do to keep myself from tiring in three weeks and wandering off to some other short-lived adventure?

Ideally I should find a guild to join.  There is even a guild recruitment interface in the game so you can find guilds that are looking for players.

Looking for a Guild looking for me

However, I am horrible at picking guilds.  I tend to pick guilds where I know somebody so I have someone to chat with. I tend to be a very quiet person… ever the outsider at the party… so being in a guild of strangers ends up with me playing solo.  Of course, that isn’t all on me.  Guilds looking to simply scoop up players wholesale in order to boost levels tend to be a mass of individuals with a common tag as opposed to a team.  You can’t really be on the team if the team never gets together.

So that is my goal, to find some group or guild to join so I’ll have a reason to stick around.  I don’t mind playing solo 90% of the time, but I like to do some group content now and again.

Of course, part of getting into a guild is being something a guild is looking for, and at level 6 on a server where the great bubble of players looks to have already hit level 20 and beyond makes me feel like I am behind.  So I must grind up to join a guild so that I may be in a guild to grind… or something.  We’ll see how it goes.

EverQuest II Opens Up the Fallen Gate Progression Server

Daybreak is back to playing the nostalgia server card again, this time for EverQuest II.

The server was expected to go live at Noon yesterday.  However this is Daybreak, so unexpected issues are the order of the day..

That got extended for a bit.

But by late afternoon Daybreak announced that the server was up and people could log in.

This isn’t the first progression server that Daybreak has done for EverQuest II.  Back in the summer of 2015 they brought the Stormhold server online, springing the revised Isle of Refuge on us as part of the experience.

Since then there hasn’t been too much news about the server, aside from the expansion unlock votes and its PvP server twin Deathtoll being merged into Stormhold due to a lack of interest.  But that is the nature of these sorts of servers; there is often a fuss up front, but they excitement tends to fade over time, especially when they get many expansions out.

So after two years I suppose it is about time for a new one, and so we have the Fallen Gate progression server going live today, named for the dungeon zone that is sort-of the Commonlands version of Stormhold.

Outside Fallen Gate, which has a door that is still standing

As with the Stormhold server, you need a Daybreak All Access subscription to play.

The difference between Fallen Gate and the old Stormhold server appears to be that all races and classes will be available immediately on Fallen Gate and that expansion unlocks will come at regular 12 week intervals rather than being subject to the whims of a vote.  Voting just leads to bad feelings, especially if the vote is close.

There is also something of a theme for the server, which is focused on heritage quests.  Those quests are a nostalgic nod to the Norrath of the original EverQuest, proving that even 13 years back SOE hadn’t completely lost sight of the link the two games share.  You can earn some special achievements by completing such quests.

As usual, there are some incentives to come and play on the server, including a deplorable “mount” you can get if you reach level 10 on the server before July 11.  There is also a special Gateway to Adventure Pack you can buy in the cash shop that has a 66-slot bag, speed enhancing Journeyman’s Boots (not the ones from the heritage quest I assume), and some potions to help speed your progress in other ways.

 

There is an announcement page with the overview as well as a FAQ posted about the server.

My favorite item from the FAQ has to be this:

What will be available for Tradeskills?

Tradeskilling should look similar to the original EverQuest II launch.  Apprentices will not be made available until a later date.

I seriously doubt crafting will look anything at all like the interdependent tradeskill chaos that marked the launch of EverQuest II, but the thought of it amuses me.

As keen as I am on such servers being available, I do not think I will be joining in this time.  My nostalgia for the Norrath MMOs involves playing with a semi-regular group, so embarking on what would be a solo venture doesn’t have much appeal.

How to Level Up in EverQuest II the Easy Way

There are three easy steps:

  1. Create a Daybreak account
  2. Wait until they offer a free character boost
  3. Profit!!!

For the last few years I think I have only leveled up in EQII when Daybreak offers yet another free character boost, like the one that they just made available:

Offer good through May 22, 2017

The information is also in the release notes for this week’s update:

LEVEL 100 BOOST PROMOTIONAL GRANT

  • All accounts created before April 20th 2017 will be granted a level 100 boost item that will increase a single characters level to 100 and grant a set of equipment appropriate to playing within the Proving Grounds, or beginning their adventure in Kunark Ascending zones.

  • Accounts created after April 20th may obtain the level 100 boost item by subscribing. Only a single boost will be granted per account.

So you can see why I suggest you make an account in advance.

My account was created on November 12, 2004, so I think I am safe.  With this I think I will have a level 85, a level 95, and two level 100 characters and I think I only ever played any of them up to level 70 back in the day.  I think this time around I decided to level up Reynaldo on the Halls of Fate server.  He’s been hanging around in the Revelry & Honor guild since 2008 at about level 50.

To get the level boost you have to use the /claim command to bring up the claim window.  The boost bauble is in the Promotions section.

Level 100 Boost Bauble

When you activate it, hey presto, you are level 100.  You also get a package of gear.

Gear for you

I could not open up the packet of level 100 equipment because Reynaldo’s bags were full of junk, because of course they were.  But I think I will leave his cosmetic gear set to the rusty armor he has been sitting in for most of the last decade.

Reynaldo in the Sinking Sands

Maybe some day I will get around to playing him again.  However, my luck with Daybreak level boosts has not been so good.  I boost up and then tend to find myself lost in uncharted territory.  Ah well.

But if you do boost yourself up, you will find that they are also running a double currency event in the game as well, because who cares about inflation!

February in Review

The Site

I think WordPress.com is calling me a freeloader.

A bit back WP.com changed their revenue scheme.  Previously they had an array of ala carte and package deals to get various features.  The list was a bit confusing, mostly because it was a chore to get things you wanted while avoiding things you did not want.  And, of course, it changed every year, which means that after more than a decade writing on their platform, I can never remember what I signed up for the previous year because the option is often renamed, gone, or rolled into some other package.

WP.com decided to simplify all this by wiping away all previous options and going with three plans.  Well, four plans, since “free” is a plan.  It is the plan they tell me I am on despite the fact that I gave them $30 for features last year.  The non-free plans are Personal, Premium, and Business:

WordPress.com plans - February 2016

WordPress.com plans – February 2016

The problem for me now is how to get what I want.  I current have a comb-item that gives me access to modify the CSS, which allowed me to remove that annoying floating “follow” button that WP.com puts on your site by default, and removes ads.  If you visit my other blog you will see ads under the pictures.  I don’t get any revenue from that.  Here you see none.  I pay to keep them away.

The new plans cost, in actual amounts you have to pay:

  • Personal: $35.88  $15.84 / yr
  • Premium:  $99    $78.96 / yr
  • Business: $299   $279 / yr

You can see all of the features of the plans here.

To get No Ads as an option, I can go with the personal plan, which would actually save me some money at the current discount. (They have been discounted since announced. We’ll see if they ever go up.)  It also gets me more storage space for the copious screen shots I upload, though they seem to have forgotten the space taken up by the first 10 years, so only currently show me using less than 4% of my allocation. (They said I was at 78% back in September.)

But I do not get access to CSS.  To get that I have to go to the Premium plan.  That boosts the price per year considerably and doesn’t get my anything else I want.  I have no illusion that the ability to put ads on the site from which I would get revenue would make up the difference in price.

And then there is the custom domain that comes with both plans.  I don’t want one.  The dumbest thing a site can do is change its domain, and I have had tagn.wordpress.com for more than a decade.  Yes, I know that will map to the new domain.  But I still don’t want it, as some day I will stop blogging, or at least stop paying, and I will lose the domain and, at least theoretically, break any links to my blog using that domain.  People do still link here once in a while, I swear.

I have a couple months until my current package expires, but I wanted to get a start on deciding what is really important.  I think No Ads is important, but I am not so sure about the annoying floating Follow button.

What is important to you, the reader?

One Year Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon, for the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two games; H1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Five Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

A quick check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site shows nothing on my guess for this years expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO does show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which is mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title? (Aradune = Brad McQuaid, for those not completely immersed in EQ history and lore.)

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard and calls for the demise of Aradune were literal.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita Returns for 2017
  2. EVE Online Multiple Character Training Deal
  3. Time to Log into LOTRO
  4. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  5. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  6. At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
  7. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  8. High Noon for Asheron’s Call
  9. Landmark Shut Down
  10. I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft
  11. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  12. Moving Day Again

Search Terms of the Month

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[Pretty obscure I would guess]

subaru kv3 thermostat malta
[Ummm… I have no idea]

eve online terms brick tank
[Look up “alpha” next]

ship colors caldari navy
[Pretty much gray and olive drab]

money talk porno
[Sounds like a winner to me]

EverQuest II

My interest in Norrath waned late in January, so I don’t think I have logged in more than twice over the past month, leading me to cancel my All Access subscription.  Everything will just have to wait for the next burst of nostalgia.

EVE Online

There was something of a quiet gap in February where I didn’t mention New Eden very much, something even Asher Elias mentioned to me on a fleet op, and then things started to happen, with fleets getting called up and Burn Jita.  If nothing else, I got some nice screen shots and all the fleet participation credit I needed.

Minecraft

I continue to plug away at the long road south, having passed the half way mark.  Still, it took me from late November to now to get that far, so I have a lot more time left on that project.  The distance left looks so small on the map render.

Pokemon

I went on a Pokemon Sun binge during the big storms out here in California.  The storms caused a series of mudslides that blocked the road to work, so I worked from home for more than two weeks.  That meant I was sitting at my desk all day working, so by the time I had time to play a game, I wanted to go somewhere else. (This may have helped feed my fantasy MMO malaise.)  The Nintendo 3DS does have the benefit of being portable, so took it out to the couch and finished the main story line, then started working on completing the Alola Pokedex.

Pokemon Go

This month finally saw the arrival of second generation Pokemon to the game.  A few had been available from eggs since last month, but they are finally out and about in the wild now, which boosted my interest in catching for a bit.  Then, of course, it became clear that around our neighborhood at least Spinaraks and Natus have become the new Pidgeys and Rattatas, while 3K CP Blisseys seem to own every gym.  Still, new Pokemon are lurking out there if you can find them.

  • Level: 26 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 128 (+16) caught, 153 (+16) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Final evolution of any of the starter Pokemon
  • Current buddy: Wartortle

Coming Up

In EVE Online the CSM 12 elections will commence with all the brouhaha and complaining that entails.  I’ll dive into that with a Blog Banter post tomorrow.  The promised March patch has some proposed changes that are causing eye rolls and/or gnashing of teeth, such as further Rorqual nerfs.  Also, something with d-scan.  I’ll cross that bridge once I get to it.

On the Daybreak front, EverQuest will be turning 18.  An adult game at last, I suppose.  There will no doubt be an event for that.  They also have a big event planned for King of the Kill.  The question is, will Just Survive survive?

In Pokemon Sun & Moon a new global event launched yesterday, though I couldn’t register due to server issues.  Having reaped the bounty of festival coins that were showered on participants in the last event, I am going to sign up and make some effort to do it.

There is a non-zero chance that I will log into LOTRO.

Oh, and Nintendo is releasing the Switch on Friday.  Will there be another chronic supply issue like past console launches?  Well, past launches save for the Wii U I suppose.

What else will March bring?

Anyway, laissez les bons temps rouler, as today is Mardi Gras!

At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front

I seem to have fallen off the fantasy MMORPG wagon once again.  This seems to happen every so often.

I stopped playing WoW a couple months after the Legion expansion hit.  My Winter foray into EverQuest II kept my interest for about a month, which seems to about par for the course.  I poked my nose into Lord of the Rings Online long enough to buy the level 95 Blessing of the Valar upgrade.

Two blessings, depending on your need

Two blessings, depending on your need

That got me a pile of stuff and whisked me off into a different place where I met up with Eowyn.

Yeah, about you and Strider... he's not that into you

Yeah, about you and Strider… he’s not that into you

However I soon lost interest there.  Well, “lost interest” might imply I logged in again after that, and I did not.  Of course, I might have been influenced by wanting to start out on something only to be hamstrung by the legendary weapon system.  I had to choose a weapon, which I then received.  But you cannot just use the weapon yet.  You have to find the special NPC to identify it and then choose a bonus and then something else.  I forget.  I am sure, as with every aspect of every MMO, that legendary weapons are somebody’s favorite part of LOTRO.  But it ain’t mine. I just wanted to grab it and run not worry about reforging.

So that fell apart.  I might go back, but the fact that I haven’t felt any need to do so for a couple weeks is pretty telling.

At some point in the last few weeks… erm, months… I also made a RuneScape account, played for a couple of hours, then never went back.

The fantasy MMORPG thing just isn’t holding me at the moment.  But the habit of at least the last decade and a half… or more if you count the TorilMUD, in which case we start to reach back past 20 years… makes something inside of me think something is missing if I am not playing one.

So my eye wanders down the list of possible other choices.  Do I try out The Elder Scrolls Online, which just added in housing and seems to be doing well enough to be secure?  Do I give GuildWars 2 another try?  Is there something still in Rift that I might enjoy?  Is it time to start digging into Project: Gorgon yet?  What titles on my 2017 MMO Outlook post are even live yet?

But should I bother.

EVE Online doesn’t fill that niche for me certainly.  But I continue to play Minecraft, which does much to fill the world and building and housing drive I might have.  And right now Pokemon Sun seems to have a lock on the RPG… or maybe just the collecting and achievement… aspect.

And there is also something I will call “virtual world weariness” in me that feels the essential sameness of all of these games so that they blur together into a gray, uninteresting mass.  It might be time for a longer break from such games.

January in Review

The Site

I remain mildly stunned that WordPress.com decided to forego their briefly traditional yearly summary report for people’s blogs.  So I’ll just take last year’s main chart and update it for the year.

2016trafficsources

Top Traffic Sources in 2016

Oddly, that list is almost all EVE Online driven, save for Reddit.  The majority of the Reddit traffic came from repeated links to my homage to/preservation of Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!

That aside, I do have more tangible WordPress.com issues to complain about.  The new stats page is still broken as I indicated last month.  Furthermore, comments have been acting oddly for a while now.  I will get a notification that somebody has left a comment on the blog, I will be able to see the comment on the admin page, but the comment won’t actually be visible on the post in question for quite some time.  The comment count on the post will take even longer to update.  And the comment in question won’t show up in the Recent Comments list on the side bar for ages, often only showing up when somebody else leaves a comment, which then follows the same routine.  Ah well.

And then, as the month went along, WP.com did another revamp of the UI, which made things tangibly worse for me.  But I can at least still find the old (and reliably functional) editor and most of the functionality I am used to hidden away under a menu at the bottom of the list.

Sanity is under WP Admin

Sanity is under WP Admin

They also changed up their subscription packages in a way that is going to complicate things for me, but I will get into that in another post at some point.  No need to spend all my anger here!

My blog did hit a record high number of page views this month… not this blog, my other blog.  CCP Phantom used a picture from the blog and linked back to its source in an EVE Online news post, which led to a spike in traffic yesterday.

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

350 views in one hour, when 3 views is the norm

As it so happened, traffic here was down… skill point posts are dull, I understand… leading to the first time ever when daily page views for EVE Online Pictures exceeded the page views here by 81.  Usually the ratio is something like 8 -20 to 1 in favor of TAGN.  Strange times.

On the bright side, at some point Google finally mumbled something about how they changed the G+ API and WP.com dragged themselves over to update that bit of code.

google-plus-logo-640

That connection broke just about a year ago for me, causing posts to be shared, but only with myself.  Not all that useful.  All you have to do to make it work again is disconnect G+ from your blog then connect again and it seems to start working again.  So now the five people who both follow me on G+ AND still actually use G+ will get spammed by my posts yet again.  Blame

One Year Ago

I had 16 predictions for 2016. (Results for those who need to know.)

I was also included on some sort of MMO info page thing.

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

I was wondering what Early Access should really be.  I was also checking out which MMOs made PC Gamer’s latest list.

Smed was going to Kickstarter for Hero’s Song.  It got cancelled before I could finish the post about all the problems it had.  More than a bit of foreshadowing in that I guess.

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

The price for the Occulus Rift was announced, which led to quite a sum if all I wanted to do is play EVE Valkyrie.

In EVE Online I ran my first incursion boss.  We also got the first of the “no name” monthly updates.  Karma Fleet turned one.  CCP told us about skill extractors. Blog Banter 71 was about spaceships.  Also, there was some sort of conflict going on between I Want ISK and SpaceMonkeys Alliance.

In space we reinforced a tower and ran about in Typhoons and Jackdaws.  At the end of the month Reavers headed south to Wicked Creek to tangle with TEST.

Outside the game Battle Clinic, long a staple of the EVE Online third party universe, was set to shut down while the election process for CSM XI was kicking off.

Daybreak announced that they were going to port the five year old DC Universe Online to the XBox.

I went in to Diablo III to try out the Season 5 content.  I ran through the story quickly, but there was more to do.

I wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

Finally, I was marveling at all the movies from 1986 that I remembered.  Aliens! Top Gun!  Platoon!  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!   It was a hell of a year for movies.

Five Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Rider of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Ten Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied an expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. I Will Play Candy Crush No More Forever
  2. Daybreak Doomsaying
  3. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  4. The End of Landmark Foretold
  5. Would You Rather Fight Than Switch?
  6. Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered
  7. 2017 – Predictions for Another New Year
  8. Opening the New War at F4R2-Q
  9. Falling Back in Catch
  10. Too Fast Through Tristram!
  11. Steam Winter Sale 2016 Results
  12. Seagulls Stop it Now!

Search Terms of the Month

what does dellmon mean
[Been asking what he means for years]

pretty alien sto
[The one in Kirk’s quarters]

everquest imperfect diamond
[Summed up correctly]

what is vanilla wow
[A unicorn we all want to find or slay]

Broadband Advertising Church
[Our Latency of Perpetual Round Trip?]

“pantheon: rise of the fallen” pipe dream
[So you may think]

Diablo III

The 20 year anniversary event, The Darkening of Tristram, got me to patch up and log into Diablo III again.  It was an interesting little distraction, some additional content, but beyond superficial graphical tweaks, it had about as much to do with 1996 as Twitter and the iPhone.  It did get me to go find the soundtrack from the 15 year anniversary, which is available on iTunes.  But I got the bulk of the achievements and the pet all the same.  I am just not sure that the event is something that will necessarily be a draw for people every year.  Anyway, if you want to see it this year, you had best patch up and try it, as it is supposed to go away soon.

EVE Online

I started off with a bang in New Eden around New Years, with the battle over the two Fortizars.  But then it was back to work where I caught the flu that was going around and I found I didn’t really have the stamina for ops at that point.  I joined in the return from Catch, but that was about it.  Once I was better I started getting my carrier together to see if I could join in on the promised training ops.

EverQuest II

Somewhere along the line I fell off the wagon when it came to Norrath.  The single quest chain I was able to find wasn’t thrilling me so I was just logging in daily to do a couple of crafting writs and maybe just enough harvesting to get the daily loyalty token reward.  I have about 500 of those and have yet to spend a one.  I haven’t unsubscribed yet, but it seems likely to happen before the next billing cycle.

Minecraft

While I was slacking off elsewhere, I was putting a bunch of my free time into Minecraft.  Not only do I have a big project under way, but I was ill for a week or so and Minecraft is conducive to playing when you’re not feeling well.  The long road hasn’t reached the half way point yet, but I moved the end of the road forward several kilometers over the course of the month.

Pokemon Go

Bad weather and illness kept me from playing very much… though there was at least one evening where you could have seen me leaving the house past 10pm to get in the car in order to drive the half mile to the nearest Pokestop because dammit, it was Day 7 of my streak and I wasn’t going to give up on that big payoff just because I wasn’t feeling well.

  • Level: 25 (+0)  Almost to 26, but not quite.
  • Pokedex status: 111 (+5) caught, 137 (+3) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Anything second generation
  • Current buddy: Nidorino

Pokemon Sun

As with a couple of other titles, I fell off the Pokemon Sun bandwagon for a good stretch of the month.  You would think that Pokemon would be a good game to play when you’re sick, but for some reason whenever I picked it up, I fell asleep.  Late in the month I did finally get back on track and finished up the final trial on Poni island, finished the main story line, and made Nebby get in the goddam bag for the last time.  On to the Pokeleague and then endgame activities.

Steam

For once the Steam Winter Sale actually distracted me from other games.  I bought a few budget titles and actually played through them.  Train Valley probably got the most attention.  I did start off in Stardew Valley, but wasn’t really in the mood to get through the inevitable initial hurdles any building/farming sim puts you through.  I will get back to that later.

Coming Up

The Activision-Blizzard 2016 financial report ought to be rolling in next month.  While the first rule of subscription club remains “don’t talk about subscription club,” I do look forward to seeing what I can divine from whatever clever number arrangements and MAUs charts the company puts out.

There is the inevitable monthly patch headed for EVE Online.  Also the CSM 12 candidate period will be in full swing and we should know by the end of the month who will be on the final ballot.  Then there is the Winter War in the south and a plan for another Burn Jita, though no final date has been set for the latter yet.

There are some things afoot with Lord of the Rings Online… something about a horse… while their partners at Daybreak will be putting and end to Landmark.  And, as I mentioned in the post earlier today (I am writing this before I have written that post, so I hope I didn’t forget to write it!) there is some distant rumor that we might hear something later this week from Turbine about the final fate of Asheron’s Call... something besides “bye!”

Also, wasn’t the EverQuest II Race to Trakanon server supposed to close in January?  I haven’t seen an announcement yet.  Was the team was too busy with server issued this month?  Maybe that will be something for February.

Also, after writing a ranty opinion piece about an EverQuest successor, I suddenly feel like I should got back and revisit a few other opinions.  Maybe.  My writing has strayed from opinions towards reporting on what I am doing over the years.  It might be time to update some views that may have been altered with the passage of time.

And, in a final question, when did my month in review posts start passing 2,500 words on a regular basis?