Category Archives: Minecraft

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.

Quote of the Day – What Should Early Access Be?

For us, Early Access is not something that should be taken lightly. It should be considered a final release in the sense that you’re on a path to finishing the game and you’re going to get it out there.

Studio Wildcard co-founder Jesse Rapczak over at gameindustry.biz

We are in the age of early access for video games, and Steam has been a huge enabler on this front.  When going through my queues during the winter sale I saw this plastered on many a page.

Warning: Not a finished product

Warning: Not a finished product

Steam has a statement about Early Access (that “Learn more” link), but it is really up to the developer as to when they go for early access and what it means.

The interview with Rapczak linked above represents the world from which I came… more than 25 years ago at this point… where you don’t give half finished items to customers, that you let them in only when you think you’re ready to ship but want feedback before the official launch.

And this seems to have worked out pretty well so far for Studio Wildcard’s game Ark: Survival Evolved.  They wanted/needed feedback as opposed to funding to finish the project and, judging from what I have heard about the game, things have worked out very well for them.

Of course, not every developer has the luxury of delaying funding until the game is nearly ready to go.  There are some indie projects out there that need the dollars to just keep going.

But there are established companies out there that ought to be able to get further along without the cash infusion.  Derek Smart said he was charging $99 to be in the Line of Defense early access program because he didn’t want any freeloaders using his resources.  A $99 barrier to beta so that only the truly motivated would join in.

Then there is Daybreak (née SOE) and its two Early Access children, Landmark and H1Z1.

Landmark is two years in with no release in sight, while H1Z1 will be a year in Early Access next week.  Certainly Landmark seems to be the poster child for how to build some excitement quickly and then let it dissipate slowly as development grinds on for years.  I am actually much happier about the state of EverQuest Next.  Yeah, we’ve been talking about it for more than five years now, but at least nobody has paid for it only to lose interest in a less than half done product.

Meanwhile, I don’t think it is unreasonable to be concerned about the future Landmark.  What happens if too many Early Access customers lose interest before it launches?  Do you ship a product that can’t keep enough of your truly dedicated fans?

And then there is H1Z1, which at least seems to have some excitement around it now and again… there is at least enough activity to keep its subreddit aboil.  Then again, according to the official statement on Steam, it was supposed to go “live” last year.  Of course, Daybreak apparently told their lords and masters at Columbus Nova Prime that they had shipped the product already… like 11 months ago.  There were probably some revenue recognition issues which lead to that, but at least somebody there thinks the game is live already despite the soon to be year old Early Access banner on its Steam page.

We live in interesting times when it comes to game development funding, with crowd funding and Early Access, and variations on the theme all looking to get money up front for project to be delivered down the road… often much further down the road that originally estimated.

Sometimes it works… and even works well.  As noted, Ark: Survival Evolved seems to be doing well, and of course Minecraft started out that way and is now so ubiquitous that I see references to it or related products everywhere I go. (Your favorite game may be popular, but it likely isn’t on the shelves at Target, doesn’t have a series of LEGO kits devoted to it, or its own market segment devoted to hosting servers.  Minecraft has quietly taken over my daughter’s generation.)

But sometimes Early Access just seems like a good way to make a quick buck as your product peaks too soon.  Community involvement and growth is one thing, but too long in that pre-launch state can take the bang out of the eventual go-live.  And if you’re charging money, you reap the press response you sow with your state of readiness, which may set the tone for your product.

December in Review

The Site

Here we are at the end of another year.  Somehow most of us survived.  2016 looms, just hours away here.  This is my 10th December in Review post, 112th month in review, and my 3,814th post overall, during the life of the blog.

WordPress.com didn’t anger me this month…. at least not with anything new.  They introduced a new stand-alone app to managed your blog, available for both Mac and Windows.  Not sure I need that, but there it is.  The only external apps I regularly use for the blog are Notepad ++, Paint.net, and Corel PaintShop Pro X3.

They also introduced some new blog themes.  They are actually pretty good about cranking out some new themes, generally on Thursdays.  They are all just appallingly ugly and unreadable in my opinion, though I clearly have very specific tastes on that front.  I want something I can read, not something that depends on a gimmick.

They did put out the usual Annual Report for blogs.  For me the most interesting part is who refers the most traffic to the site:

Top Traffic Sources in 2015

Top Traffic Sources in 2015

That is some heavily EVE Online focused traffic.  I suppose the biggest surprise is getting as much traffic from Gevlon as I did, me being a minion of evil and all.  Of course, the report doesn’t mention the biggest source, which is Google.  Google sends me as much traffic as all other sources combined, and then some, so should be number one on the list. (The next four on the list, just as an FYI and to round out a Top 10, are Twitter, Keen & Graev, Bhagpuss, and SynCaine, after which the numbers drop off fast.)

Anyway, if you are interested, you can read the report here, and you can substitute in the years 2011 through 2014 in the URL if you want to see past years and chart my decline.

One Year Ago

After my hardware woes the month before, I had to figure out which games to install again.

My MMO Outlook for 2015 was bleak.  But not as bleak as the reality ended up.  And then there were the highs and lows of 2014.

Syp was on about “real” MMO studios, strongly suggesting that you had to have more than one MMO to be legit.  I questioned whether that was really the case or not.  Examples were discussed.

It was the 10 year anniversary of the Nintendo DS handheld system.

Warlords of Draenor having launched at the end of November, the instance group was getting together in Azeroth and building garrisons… so we could be apart.  Of course, my first character into Draenor was already level 100 shortly thereafter.  We engaged in some jumping puzzles and then had to ride across country to the Bloodmaul Slag Mines.

Coming back to WoW also got me to post five seemingly simple things I wanted to see fixed.  I think they’re all still unchanged at this point.

I also spent a bit of time in EverQuest II over the holidays, figuring out where to go, getting some AA points handed to me, and rolling out into the Kylong Plains.  I also tried to recall the events around the great downtime of December 2004.

In New Eden, NCDot’s invasion of Fountain was pushed back.  Reavers were operating in their backfield in Querious, where Asher managed to setup a trap that lead to us killing four supers.  Then it was back to our home in the north.

We also got the Rhea expansion from CCP, which gave us graphical updates, the Bowhead freighter, the removal of clone costs, and Thera, a new kind of wormhole system.  There was also a blog banter about what to tell new players about EVE Online.

I was also wondering if PLEX-like currency items were working out well in any games besides EVE Online.  That was before the WoW Token came on the scene.

And I posted about three science fiction series I had started reading.

Five Years Ago

That December I had one of my all-time most popular posts, Talking Cats Playing Pattycake!  You can thank me for not taking the hint and going all talking cats, all the time.  Or hate me for not doing that.  Take your pick.  And We Didn’t Start the Fire?  Nothing.

But I still had kitty pictures.  Awww.

I still think that if you label a window “Currency” it ought to show all your currency, not just the odd-ball stuff.

I was still feeling the sting of ThinkGeek teasing us with the iCade at April Fools, all the more so because some pretenders were on the scene.

Turbine was giving away 10,000 Turbine Points, which comes out to real, and possibly taxable, value in real world dollars.  The comments on the post were obviously not from tax professionals.

I visited EverQuest for long enough to find a house.  And then I was out of money.

In EverQuest II they were starting the run up to vampires.

And I summed up what we knew about The Agency to that point… which was bupkiss.

In World of Warcraft, Cataclysm launched.  If you weren’t in the beta, there were still scams promising to get you in.  There was the digital pre-order, which worked for me.  And one final hardware upgrade we needed at our house before the expansion launched.  And then there was picking a new character for the re-rolled instance group in Azeroth.

The U.S. release date for Pokemon Black and White was announced at last.

Finally, I wrote something that looked sort of like a review of Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s book Mogworld.  And then there was something about zombies vs. werewolves vs. vampires vs. unicorns.

New Linking Sites

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 December

  1. The Fountain War Kickstarter and Some Existential Questions
  2. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  3. Operation Frostline: New Ships, Improved Graphics, Giant Grids, and More
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. My MMO Outlook for 2016
  6. Reviewing My 2015 Predictions
  7. Adventures with The Imperium in Low Security Space
  8. Steam Holiday Sale – Even Valve Seems a Bit Bored
  9. Turbine Finally Figures Out Insta Levels, Will Send You to Level 95 in LOTRO
  10. Why Not This George?
  11. Four Hours in Cloud Ring
  12. Mirkwood – As Dank as the Dankest of Memes

Search Terms of the Month

how to 2 box on phinigal server eq1
[You are really going against the spirit of things here…]

why do villians in bond movies don’t just shoot him when they got chance
[He’s the hero, he can’t die]

john wayne shot first
[If he didn’t, he’d be dead]

“heart of thorns” “selling well”
[Fishing for good news?]

heir to the empire audiobook cast
[It was just that one guy]

EVE Online

I don’t feel like I have spent a lot of time in New Eden this month, yet if I look at the dashboard, I am well beyond the number of participation links my corp would like me to click on for the month.  (I need four and I have over a dozen.)  I read a comment somewhere by an FCON pilot bitching about how onerous the participation link requirement was and how nothing was happening, but I have to guess they just haven’t been paying attention.  Scrolling back in Jabber I seen many, many fleets rolling out of our staging system at all hours of the day for the Cloud Ring and low sec tower bashing campaign.  Oh well, people will complain about anything they don’t like.

I also built up my bank account a bit, ratting away.  I ratted enough that I actually moved into the modern age.  I am not carrier ratting yet, but I changed up my tools a bit so clean up is quicker.

Lord of the Rings Online

I was teetering on the edge of interest with LOTRO when the month started out.  I was happy to get into Mirkwood, but that wore off after a bit as I got into the usual side quests about killing bears, spiders, wolves, and boars.  One wonders that there is any wildlife left in Middle-earth.  Also, Mirkwood seems to be very heavily populated, as opposed to the dense and lonely place described in The Hobbit.

And then something happened and I can no longer log into the Brandywine server.  The process halts at loading character data.  And since my Mirkwood character is on that server, my progress is pretty much hosed.  I can log on to other servers, but Brandywine just ceases when it tries loading character data… which might just put an end to my time in LOTRO for now.

Minecraft

I have a few posts I have to write about Minecraft still.  I am a bit behind on the front.  However, they are more about the work others, especially Aaron, have done in the world, as opposed to things I have done myself.  I haven’t come up with a big new project since the great northern road.  Something to think on for the new year.

Others

Since I didn’t MMO much, I must have played something else.  I did dig into my Steam library a bit.  I got back to Defense Grid 2 and finished out the campaign, and then went back a redid the chapters where I missed getting a gold medal until they were all gold.  But after that I stopped.  It isn’t a bad game, but it suffers from being a sequel.  After playing the hell out of the original Defense Grid (the only single player in my Raptr top 20), DG2 was a more of the same in a lot of ways.  It even suffers from some similar problems.  In DG, the solution to every level was “lots of cannons and a few lasers.”  In DG2 the solution to every level seems to be “lots of guns, a few lasers, and 2-4 missile towers.”  Not a drastic improvement.

I also got out Total Annihilation, my long time favorite retro RTS game.  Unfortunately, I am still missing all of the mods that made the AI a challenge, so I have to play a few AIs on hard, which means less tactics and more setting up kill zones for mass slaughter… which is fun for a while, but can turn into a slow slog as the AI clogs your treads with its wreckage.

And then there was the Steam Winter sale itself, which I have stared at every day, going through my queues and collecting my cards, but I have yet to spend a penny on anything since it kicked off.  I still have until 10am Pacific Time on January 4th for the current prices.

Coming Up

A new year, which means a new set of bad predictions coming tomorrow.  I’ve been thinking about that all month and only have three written down so far.  Expect some tragically bad last minute guesses at the future.

In New Eden there is a hint that there will be a Reavers deployment before the end of next month, with a new doctrine.  An expensive one, too, so it is a good thing I have been banking some ISK.

My latest fling with LOTRO may be over, given my character loading issue.  Of course, that I haven’t even bothered to Google the problem might indicate that the fling was over already.

In Minecraft I need a new project, though I would settle for version 1.9 coming out soon, as it appears to have a lot of changes and updates to the game.

And then there is the rest of 2016.  Being a leap year makes it 24 hours longer, while it being a presidential election year in the US will make it seem much longer still, and I am not making any predictions as to how that will play out.

Minecraft – This is The End

We hit a bit of a slump on our Minecraft server in December.  People have been busy or ill or have just run out of projects… ever an issue with the game… to the point that Aaron has been the primary resident and by far the most active of us over the month.  I still have to do a post about all the things he’s done since Thanksgiving.

But even Aaron ran out of new things to build by the time Christmas had arrived.  So after the holiday he asked if he could just run out and kill the Ender Dragon.

We had been talking about getting together to do that at one point.  But with nobody about and nothing new to do, Aaron wanted to get at it, and all the more so since The End is going to change with Minecraft 1.9 and you will be able to fight the dragon multiple times.

I had already been getting ready for a possible Ender Dragon assault.  I had a full suit of enchanted diamond armor ready, and enchanted bow, and a few stacks of arrows ready to go. (I never got the infinite arrow enchant for my bow.)  So I said I wanted to go to, so we set a time.

While I had found an end portal previously, he had found one as well (right by Skronk and Enaldi’s Italian town), and had set it up to go for our venture.

Skonk and Enaldi's settlement in the distance

Skonk and Enaldi’s settlement in the distance

There was a building with a nether portal, from which you get the above view, then a ladder down into the depths to a sea lantern lit path through the underground dungeon area to our point of departure.

Portal armed and ready for travel

Portal armed and ready for travel

Once we were set, we stepped through and into The End.

It was dark.

First look at The End

First look at The End

The End appears to be a floating island of a special type of stone, populated by Ender men with some towers… and, of course, a dragon.

Aaron set about immediately building up to the top of the towers to destroy the items at their peaks, which he said would heal the dragon during the fight.  Meanwhile, I was having a hard time just seeing things in the dark.

Aaron up one of the towers

Aaron up one of the towers… in the dark

Not only was it dark in The End, but my office at home has a southern facing window, which means that, in the northern hemisphere during this time of year, the sun is shining directly into it most of the day… and during the morning it shines right on my monitor even with the shades drawn as tightly as possible.  So that screen shot, which is pretty hard to decipher as it stands, is still better than what I was experiencing.

It was so dark in The End that I can’t even tinker with brightness/contrast effectively.  But using Paint.net’s Auto Level function, you can get something akin to a night vision scope’s view of The End.

The End artificially lit

The End artificially lit

You can see Aaron atop a stack of cobblestone getting to the top of a tower to break the healer, along with other towers, and the Ender men that inhabit The End.

While he was doing that I was having problems with the Ender men.  They attack if you look straight at them for too long, and since I could barely see anything, I ended up getting attacked repeatedly, to the point I thought I might die before the dragon even showed up.  I managed to survive, but only by facing into one of the towers so I could eat and heal up while not looking at anything.

Then the dragon was out and about.  I flailed away with my bow trying for a hit as it flew past, but Aaron said that only head and neck shots would hurt it.  Those were hard to make when the dragon was on the wing passing overhead.

Aaron has the infinite arrow BOW, not bot

Aaron has the power 4 BOW, not bot

However, the dragon comes down and flies straight at you now and again, which offers a prime opportunity for a hit.  Also, when he comes down for a run, he sometimes hits the Ender men, who then turn on him and attack.

I got lucky and as he was down to his last bit of health, he dropped down and flew straight at me and I was able to get in the killing shot.

Dragon takes a fatal hit...

Dragon takes a fatal hit…

The dragon then went through a series of effects before finally dying.

Dragon death throes

Dragon death throes

And then he was dead.  In his place was a portal with a lot of experience globes scattered about.

The exit portal

The exit portal… looks like a fountain…

The experience I got walking into that boosted me from level 23 to 54.  The wiki entry about the Ender Dragon says there is enough total to boost a player from level 0 to 78 if they get them all.

Then Aaron, equipped as always, went about the process of harvesting the Dragon Egg block, which is the black on black bit at the top of the little tower in the middle of the portal/fountain.  This involved some building and the use of a piston block.  He said that the egg would allow him to build an Ender man farm.

As we hung around I got in trouble with the local Ender men again.  I had been harvesting some of the end stone when the Ender men started getting hostile.  They seemed to be in a rage and eventually I had to jump into the exit portal…

And then the game started getting all philosophical on me.  A scroll of text, starting with the Minecraft logo, began to roll slowly over the screen, speaking of me and the world and beliefs and perceptions and what is real and what is just ones and zeroes and so on.  Here is a snippet.

A bit of the End Poem

A bit of the End Poem

This is apparently the End Poem.  You can see if scroll by in real time because somebody recorded it and posted it on YouTube… because of course they did.  It runs for about 10 minutes before it finally his the game credits. (You can save yourself 9 minutes by going here and looking under the spoiler flag, though it is a spoiler.)  You can hit escape and end it early, but I let it roll.

Once I was done, I was back in my base at the bed where I last slept, the usual respawn point for the game.  I had the achievement, The End was complete.

Been to The End, defeated the dragon

Been to The End, defeated the dragon

And that was that.  Later I went back and collected some more end stone.  I want to build something in the world with it.  But now we just have to wait for Minecraft 1.9 and the expansion of The End.

MMO Activity Chart for 2015

Inspired by Belghast’s chart (and Liore did one as well) I thought I might put together a little chart about what I played this year.

2015 MMO Gaming Chart

2015 MMO Gaming Chart

You will note that there are no single player games on the list.  I don’t actually spend that much time playing what one might call the traditional, non-networked, video games, as my five year Raptr list would certainly attest.  I do play other games, but not to the extent that I do MMOs.  So while I played some Defense Grid 2 and Elite: Dangerous, and a few other titles, the time spent on those was nowhere near the time spent with games on the chart.

Likewise, I supposed I could list iOS games I played on the iPad.  But those are almost a different context of gaming.  I pop in and spend a couple minutes with DragonVale or Candy Crush Saga or Neko Atsume when sitting on the couch or in bed before I turn out the lights.  It isn’t really the same.  Those are like little snacks when we’re talking about full meals.  MMOs are the full meal around here.

So, now that we have narrowed it down, what did I play?

Well, EVE Online is no surprise.  It is the only MMO I played consistently throughout 2015.  And I wasn’t just docked up doing the skill training thing.  One of the reasons I liked to get on a kill mail now and again is that it shows I have been undocked and active.  So you can see my chart from 2015 for New Eden.

2015 Kills and Losses

2015 Kills and Losses

In a lot of ways kill mails are deceptive or misleading.  As I noted in the past, a positive kill ratio is the norm, since you get counted on every kill mail you assisted on, but losses are only when you blow up.  But they do show you’ve been undocked and doing stuff.

World of Warcraft was good for the first half of the year, until the garrison blues got me.  I came back for a bit in November by buying a WoW Token with some gold, but all I did was garrison stuff to earn back the money I spent on the WoW Token.  It is cool that you can log into the game and reactivate with gold.

WoW Tokens are up in price

WoW Tokens are up in price

I just wasn’t that interested in coming back to play.

Minecraft took over in June and has rolled out through the end of the year.  As a game, it is very project oriented, as sandboxes will be.  When I have something I want to build, I can spend hours playing.  But when I am done, I don’t log in so much.

There were brief runs with EverQuest and EverQuest II, largely due to the nostalgia server thing.   Then I played a bit of Diablo III, while lately I have been dabbling in Lord of the Rings Online.

So that was my year in MMOs.

Of course I’ve done charts before, they just tended to be of a bigger scale.

The Genres

My favored genres over the years

Did anybody else do a chart this year?  It seems so:

Prismarine Towers and Horse Field Dreams

I spent a chunk of time idle in Aaron’s guardian farm harvesting the components for sea lanterns, a natural self-contained light source.

One of the byproducts of the guardian farm is excess prismarine shards.  You need four prismarine shards and five prismarine crystals to make a sea lantern.  However I would estimate that the farm generates 5-8 times as many shards as it does crystals.

You can use that excess to make prismarine blocks (4 shards) or prismarine bricks (9 shards) which can be used as a building material.

Having created an abundance of that, I set out to use it.  The first idea was a pool, prismarine being a nice aqua blue color that seemed suitable for that.  So I put one in around back of a project that somehow became something of an evangelical church (this is what you get when you just start building without a plan) that I call “Our Lady of… Crap, Another Creeper!”  The pool, accessible from a door back behind the altar… but beware the trapdoor for casting apostates into the dungeon below… seemed like a reasonable addition.

The pool, lit by sea lanterns, at night

The pool, lit by sea lanterns, at night

I clearly need to build a fence around it, lest it comes the sheep dip around back.

However, that didn’t use up much of my materials.   So I decided to head on up the great northern road to one of the way points where I figured I ought to build up a minor base.  There was a point that seemed to be a major spawn point for horses and donkey that I spotted while building the road, to which I mentally assigned the name “the horse fields.”

Donkeys!

And Donkeys!

I packed up a pile of prismarine, some sea lanterns, and headed up the road to build another scenic point along the route.  I put together a tower and some stables along with some supplies (leads and saddles) to keep with the horse theme.

Horse Fields tower

Horse Fields tower

Not exactly the most unique of buildings, a square based tower, but it is nicely lit with sea lanterns and the floor levels are all done with prismarine blocks, which look a bit different than the prismarine brick.  The stables were also lit.

Prismarine stable

Prismarine stable

From the top of the tower you can see the horses wandering in the fields.

horses in the fields

horses in the fields… and some sheep and cattle…

And at night the whole thing is lit by sea lanterns… and some jack-o-lanterns I placed around the area.

Prismarine tower at night

Prismarine tower at night

And, just to finish it off, I built a nether portal around the back and put in some wheat to make hay for the horses.  The age of riding is at hand, with easy access to mounts.

Of course, Aaron has been working away on another project in the nether that might bring us into the age of rail and the great northern road might becomes the great northern rail road.  But that is for another post.

 

November in Review

The Site

WordPress.com continues on its way to “improve all the things!” with its general philosophy of “if it is newer, it must be better, right?”  One of the things announced this past was a new “high speed” editor, a tactic admission that their old “new” editor was complete crap.

I remain happy only because the old editor, the one that help convince me to pick WordPress.com over Blogger, is still available.

And I am not alone in this.  I saw just this past weekend that Mabrick moved his blog back to the Blogger platform after tiring of the “improvements” to the post editor.  See, I’m not just a solitary old crank!  Somebody agrees with me!

WordPress has also introduced some new stand alone apps for using their site.  I do actually use the iOS app, which has been around for a while and through several gyrations, on my iPad to check the site.  I will say that they have at least figured out that when I go to the stats page it should default to the current day’s data and not their mildly interesting but not really useful “Insights” tab.

But Thursday at 7pm may not be the most popular point combined...

But Thursday at 7pm may not be the most popular point combined…

It also took me a moment to figure out this chart.

Posting Activity Chart

Posting Activity Chart

That is the last 12 months, by week, oriented vertically so that Monday is the top box and Sunday is the bottom, color coded by how many posts I made.  Gray is zero, light blue is one, dark blue is two, black is three.  Apparently I never post more than three times in a single day.  That is probably healthy.  The white boxes are the result of somebody’s OCD need to square off each month’s rectangle.

Again, I prefer the old stats page if, for no other reason, it doesn’t regularly error out with a script running in an infinite loop.  And that is my WordPress.com complaint of the month.

On another blog topic, I actually had to dig deep this month to find a couple of blogs that had me on their blogroll and which I had not previously linked in a Month in Review post for the “New Linking Sites” section below.  I eventually found two, but it took me a while.  There was a lot to filter through.  I had one site tell me that there were 19,962 links to the main page here.

So, if you have me on your blogroll and I haven’t mentioned you in a previous post, drop me a note and I’ll make sure to link you!  I want to get one more month out of this, then I’ll probably swap to “who is still alive and still links me in their blogroll” or some such for 2016.

One Year Ago

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Launched.

There was BlizzCon, about which I made the usual predictions.  I found the event itself vaguely dissatisfying.  But those who were bitching about lack of focus on WoW at BlizzCon 2015, go back and look at how little attention it got in 2014!  Otherwise we were in Azeroth collecting achievements and waiting for the expansion to hit.

Oh, yeah, the expansion hitWarlords of Draenor and server queues and all that.   Blizz was trying to fix that while I had to figure out who to play.  Blizz eventually gave everybody 5 days free for the problems.  But hey, they had 10 million subscribers on the hook again, up for the 7.4 million low point during the summer.  Doesn’t seem so low now, does it?

In EVE Online the Phoebe expansion arrived, bringing with it Jump Fatigue and the 10 year/50 skill long training queue.  Then they were on about removing other annoyances with the upcoming Rhea expansion.

In game the Reavers had finished up in Feythabolis with a bang and were off into Omist next, hunting the unwary before returning home again.

Rixx Javix was drawing spaceships.  He’s still at it.

And there was the This is EVE video that became wildly popular.

I reflected on EverQuest II at its 10 year anniversary.  Veterans of the game even got their own island.  Over on the EverQuest side of the house, The Darkened Sea, the 21st expansion for the game, went live.

And, finally, the power supply on my computer blew out, taking the motherboard and drives with it.  I had to rebuild, but was up and running again in a couple of days.

Five Year Ago

I was talking about group size and roles.  That has come up again, especially since SWTOR groups seemed to be limited to four players.

On the retro front, I played some Total Annihilation.  Still one of the best RTS games ever.

I took a look at the soon to be defunct EverQuest II Extended.  It seemed quite busy.  Of course, I went Station Access so I could peek into EverQuest II  (with some issues) and EverQuest as well.

The rump instance group was wrapping up another Summer in Middle-earth at the far end of the Lone Lands as well as in and around Ost Guruth.

At the same time, Turbine was putting crafting materials in the LOTRO Store.  Meanwhile, the OTHER LOTRO store, the real life one, wasn’t doing much for me.

CCP announced that they were removing learning skills from EVE Online.  I hit 60 million skill points and was going to get to reallocate some.

The Cataclysm open beta was coming to an end at last. I think part of the problem with the expansion was how long people were freely talking about the expansion… and playing it… before it came out.  We all knew what the hot new hunter pet would be and how much the world was going to be changedCheap copies of WoW were not going to fix that.

Back in pre-Cataclysm Azeroth, I was summing up my Wintergrasp experiences and moaning about missing the damn Hallow’s End mask quest achievement again.

On the Pokemon front, I finished the National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver.  In your face!  And the march to the release of Pokemon Black and White was commencing.

The news seemed to be confused as to whether or not flying cars had come at last.

And, finally, in the completion of a boyhood dream of mine, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, officially releasing me from caring about major league ball ever again.

New Linking Sites

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 November

The power of spontaneous blogging.  A half-assed, spur of the moment blog post two days before the end of the month climbs to the #2 spot on the most viewed posts list.  The only thing that topped it was the LOTRO server merge post, which Google is favoring of late.

  1. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  2. Dating My Daughter – The Star Wars Test
  3. BlizzCon 2015 – Announcements and Need vs. Greed
  4. Legion in September 2016 is… about Average for Blizzard
  5. EVE Online, Kickstarter, and The Fountain War
  6. Quote of the Day – The Power of Fallout 4
  7. Finishing the Great Northern Road
  8. Of Sinks and Faucets and What People Do in New Eden
  9. Quote of the Day – The First Rule of Subscription Club…
  10. The Fountain War – Not Winning Fast Enough and Other Issues
  11. BlizzCon 2015 – Scoring Need vs. Greed
  12. In Which We Blob

Search Terms of the Month

world of warcraft banned for no reason
[Oh, I bet there was a reason]

trion rift is dead
[Not yet, though having to install Glyph killed it for me]

windows 95 dell
[Isn’t that the tech equivalent of saying “All your bases?”]

civilization 2 windows 10
[Civilization defeated in something of a blow out]

wow classes for couples
[How sweet!]

EVE Online

The Reavers deployment down to Curse to spar with TEST in the adjacent Wicked Creek region wrapped up.  Then we were into Pure Blind and pushing back on NCDot and the then current residents of Cloud Ring who were busy plinking at our sovereignty.  I participated some in that, but took the last week or so of the month off from the game, so skipped the push to bring the fight them.

Lord of the Rings Online

I am tentatively back into LOTRO.  I am going to try to press through, re-learn how to play my Captain after two years away and a skill revamp by Turbine, get through the lukewarm tedium of Lothlorien… no wonder the elves think immortality is a burden, I would too if I lived there… and into Mirkwood, an expansion I bought… six years ago maybe?  We’ll see how that goes.

And then there is server transfer dynamics as Gaff is playing, but his highest level character is on a different server from mine, and mine is on Brandywine, the only server you cannot transfer TO, so do I move stuff from Brandywine to Landroval, which characters do I send over, what do I do about various guilds, and so on and so forth.  Have to come up with a plan for that.

Minecraft

As noted, I finished up the Great Northern Road so that you can now ride a horse from the spawn point all the way to the Mesa biome about 6km north.  I then spent the the rest of the month building things along the road.  Tourist attractions and what not.  I did build a small tower and some stables in an area I am now referring to as “the horse fields,” since it is an open grassland area with more horses (and donkeys) roaming about than I have seen any place else on our world.

Xyd, Skronk, and Enaldi haven’t been on much, though Minecraft is a very project focused game for most of us.  When you finish building something you feel “done” until you figure out the next thing to work on.  Aaron though, he has another project lined up.  We’ll see how that turns out.

World of Warcraft

I bought a WoW Token, so I had 30 days of WoW time at my disposal, and yet little real inclination to actually play WoW.  After squandering the first week, I resolved to see if I can earn my gold back through garrison missions and a bit AH work.  Fortunately I invested in getting followers with the Treasure Hunter trait on my characters, so every mission for gold is multiplied by 2x or 3x.  I should be able to recoup my WoW Token given that.

Coming Up

Well, it is the end of the year.  That prefigures at least three standard, I do it every year, posts.  So you all have that to look forward to.

There is a new Star Wars movie coming out, episode VII of many.  While that doesn’t really have much to do with video games directly, judging from Saturday’s post, wrangling over the relative merits of Star Wars movies is a popular topic.  I might go there again.

In EVE, there is the eternal question of, “what are we going to do now?”  It isn’t as much of a sandbox as Minecraft, but the game does depend on being able to set new goals, lest you burn out.  At least we have a new Proteus doctrine to look forward to, and some new ships with the December expansion.  I don’t want to put too much weight on Asher’s shoulders when it comes to finding fun for me, he does a lot of work for us already, but I do hope there is something for Reavers in December.

With Minecraft I am wondering what I should build next.  In WoW it is a matter of making back by gold.  In LOTRO, the quest to get to Mirkwood will continue.  Meanwhile, 2016 looms and I keep chanting to myself under my breath, “No, really, 1990 was just 10 years ago, the calendar is wrong.”