Category Archives: Minecraft

April in Review

The Site

Well, the MMO Bloggers Feed in my side bar got a last minute reprieve when IFTTT decided not to cut off Pinboard support on April 4th.

FeedlyPinboard

Pretty much the synopsis…

That was probably a good thing as my experiments with Delicious created RSS feeds have been a complete flop.  Not only do they have ads injected into the feed… which I get, they have to make money somehow… but something between Delicious and WordPress.com isn’t picking up the feed as it updates.  So while I look at the raw RSS and see new things being added, the feed just sits with the first couple of items.  Bleh.

Meanwhile, nobody has suggested anything about the Google+ syndication issue I mentioned last month, which I am going to take as a sign that either nobody really cares about Google+ syndication or nobody noticed that my posts stopped appearing there.  Probably the latter.

In addition, because I have a Google login that I use to comment on Blogger sites, I made a blog over there to point to this one since my Google profile only likes blogs they host.  But as I was tinkering with various RSS and feed options, I thought I figured out how to get anything that posted here to also post straight to that site as well.  I put that in place but never actually tested it.

Imagine my surprise when I passed by the blog half way into the month and found that it worked.  So I renamed the site The Redundant Ancient Gaming Noob.  The only problem is that it takes the post as published and never picks up any revisions, so all my original typos are there. (And I am too lazy to go fix them… though it takes a while to poll, so if I fix them right after I hit the “Publish” button… which, due to some lesser known physical property of the universe,  is the only time I can actually see my own typos… then I can catch them in time.)  Still, it seems to work.  Not sure it is much use and I figured the whole thing our about nine and a half years too late for me to jump ship to the Blogger platform.

And, finally, I thought I might not have anything to complain about when it came to WordPress.com this month, and then they decided to change the interface for doing inline links in such a way that they are more annoying AND you can easily delete them by accident.  Since that is a feature I use constantly… just look at them all in this post… that bit of nonsense has had me fuming for days.  It is like they never think things through.

One Year Ago

As ever, it was April Fools at Blizzard and elsewhere.

Elsewhere, EA was still selling lots of Sims titles, but were cutting online games like Need for Speed: World.

In what I thought must be an April Fools joke, Daybreak said they were not going to do any more expansions for EverQuest II.  Instead it was going to be DLC like the Rum Cellar.  A rum idea if ever there was one.  Likewise, though EverQuest was getting a new progression server, it seemed like it was the end of the road for expansions in old Norrath.  Also, that logo, totally not stolen.

Of course, why would you even need an official progression server, since Daybreak declared Project 1999 totally legit.

And speaking of rum ideas from Daybreak, they were also pushing people off of their forums and on to Reddit.  How were they going to lock threads and delete posts there?

CCP was talking about ship skins in EVE Online, in hopes of finally finding the right formula for the Mosaic expansion.

In New Eden the war was still going in Delve, including a big fight at ZXB-VC, while the Reavers were doing their work in Querious.  Not only that, but we were also decked out in our spiffy new jackets… well, some of us were.  I was trying to be in both fronts of the war. The Reavers front was the place to be though.

The Imperium was declared, with Max Singularity VI as our spiritual leader.  Also, Karma Fleet was launched and Xenuria got in and was a Goon for like ten minutes!  How crazy was that?   I’m sure that will never happen again.  Right?

Blizzard’s WoW Token idea went live, and the US regional version immediately dropped below the opening price.  They also had a beta for the Legacy of the Void expansion for which I was not prepared.

The instance group was doing Auchindoun and Skyreach in Draenor… after which we were fresh out of dungeons until we all hit 100.  After that I was leveling up some characters and complaining about little things in WoW.

Meanwhile, the war of the rings in Lord of the Rings Online was dragging out into its eighth year.  Is this Mordor or Afghanistan?

While we’re there, Guild Wars turned ten.

And there was this Liebster thing, which feels like it happened a lot longer than just a year ago.

Five Years Ago

Of course, there was some April foolery both here and at Blizzard.

I also wrote something about magic quadrants.

Sanya Weathers had one of the best quotes about MMO gamers ever, made all the more amusing by its truth.

Battlefront.com released a completely new version of their original WWII Combat Mission series.

Wargaming.net released World of Tanks.

SOE’s spy themed MMO, The Agency, was officially cancelled.

We got a PlayStation 3.  And then the PlayStation Network got hacked.  At least I could still play Blu-Ray disks and stream Netflix.

The instance group got together and decided to try out EverQuest II Extended, the one-time separate free to play version of EverQuest II.  However, the game immediately began to kick us in the teeth for daring to do solo content as a group.

Being there in EQIIx also meant looking at what the cash store had to offer.  Some of this stuff is gone now in the post merger era of EQIIFlying mounts are still around.  And some idea, like selling max-level characters, would have to wait a while to come back.

And Potshot and I were still playing EverQuest.  We moved on from Unrest to Lake Rathetear and spent an evening there.  Then it was on to Kerra Island and finally we made it to Runnyeye, at which point SOE also went down due to the PSN hacking.  That pretty much ended our EverQuest adventures for 2011.

I did have to explain EverQuest to my daughter.  Her foundation in MMOs is World of Warcraft.

Ten Years Ago

ANet releases its first post-launch Guild Wars expansion, Guild Wars: Factions. It only took them a year, too.  Right, Blizzard?  See?

Auto Assault went live, perhaps the first “troubled at launch” MMO I am personally aware of that fails to get past its issues.  The game ends up being shuttered by NCsoft 19 months down the road.  It is, for a while, the poster child for MMO launch failures.

Nintendo announced the name of their new console, slated to replace the GameCube.  Known up to that point only by its code name “Revolution,” Nintendo said it was going to call it the “Wii.”

Viacom spent $102 million to purchase Xfire.  According to Viacom: “Xfire and its users fit squarely into the Company’s multiplatform strategy to build an engaging universe of music, gaming, entertainment, news, networking and interactivity for focused audiences.”  They also thought NeoPets were worth splurging on as well.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Kirith Kodachi has been plugging away for more than a decade at his blog.  While not initially about MMOs, he fell into EVE Online at about the same time I did (I beat him by 10 days), at which point it began to take over his blog, a situation that persists through to today.  EVE is just a crazy game that is fun to write about, and it has been interesting to watch our parallel, yet very different, trajectories through New Eden.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

While zKillboard now gives you something of a battle report with its related kills option, I much prefer the output from the Battle Report Tool.  It draws data from zKillboard to piece together the raw details about who shot whom and which ships got blown up and how much ISK it was all worth.  While I am not all about the kill mails, I do like looking at battle reports this site generates in order to understand what happened.  I often have a sense in a battle if we’re doing well or not, but this helps quantify what just happened.

Most Viewed Posts in April

Well, I can write every day of the week about EVE Online, but nothing brings in traffic like a World of Warcraft post.

  1. April Fools at Blizzard – 2016
  2. Blizzard, Nostalrius, and the Classic Server Question
  3. Will Nostalrius Drama Shift the Sleeping WoW Giant?
  4. War Footing, War Fever
  5. FCON Leaves The Imperium
  6. SMA Leaves The Imperium
  7. World War Bee – What’s in a Name?
  8. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  9. Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead
  10. The Russian Complication
  11. FCON Shows Up in Immensea
  12. CSM 11 Announced – Xenuria Wins at Last

Search Terms of the Month

Claude Ring
[Once I saw that, I made an alt with that name]

origin unifies your gaming life
[The way your mom organizes your trading cards]

legion gonna suck
[And haters gonna hate]

if you change world of warcraft payment plan do you get a refund
[no]

lotro level store
[I don’t think the cash shop is quite there yet]

what do you get after you complete the national pokedex
[Your life back?]

Diablo III

I haven’t really played much Diablo III this past month, except to go in once Season 5 ended to clean up my storage situation.  It is nice to have everything combined into the common storage, but the fact that the game mails you all of your seasonal stuff was kind of a pain.  Okay, maybe I should have recycled some of those legendary items I held onto, because it took a while to collect all the items and then sort them out into different boxes.

EVE Online

The war goes on.  On the down side, we’ve lost almost all our sovereignty.  On the up side, we don’t have to go very far to find fun.  There has been an almost continuous supply of fleet ops from Saranen for the last few weeks.  I am starting to think the war effort depends mostly on Boat holding out.  He has been running fleets every day for hours at a stretch.  Best fleets to be on though.

Oh, and there was the Citadel expansion that has the potential to change everything in New Eden.

EverQuest II

I have pottered around on the Stormhold nostalgia server off and on this month.  EQII is less of a solo game for me than others.  I don’t think I have ever played for more than a week or so without ending up in a guild with at least a few people I know.  But it is fun.  The pace is slow and it is relaxing if I have a couple of free hours.  My shadow knight is level 22 and fumbling around between Nek forest and Butcherblock.

Minecraft

I swear I meant to do a Minecraft post this month.  Actually I have a few.  But I never quite got there.  News of the moment from the war in New Eden and Blizzard managed to preempt tales of building.  Still, if I look at Raptr, I spent more time in Minecraft than any other game in April… though that might be because Raptr stopped tracking EVE Online when I upgraded to the new launcher.  Doh!  I have to remember to manually enter that time, and I forget more often than I remember.

Pokemon

I have been carrying on with Pokemon Blue.  Another gym badge down.  Progress has been slow in part because it remains the fourth item on my list of things to play of late, and because it is a game I don’t play sitting at my desk in front of my computer.  As such, I never launch Pokemon by default, I have to actively want to play it.  Still, I have time to finish.  Pokemon Sun & Moon are not due until winter.

World of Warcraft

I did not actually PLAY WoW in April, aside from logging in to check something out on a level 20 character.  But I did write about it.  I didn’t even write that much, but if you look at the top posts for the month, WoW was definitely a big topic.  The whole vanilla/classic/special server thing opened up a lot of emotions and I am sure we are not done with it yet.  I know I am not.

Coming Up

Summer is coming, and May is its harbinger… at least out here in Silicon Valley where despite what the calendar says it can feel like Summer from some point in April through until November.  Not sure that means much for the blog, aside from the fact that I might write more with the window open in the evenings.

The war in New Eden will carry on and we shall see who has the greater endurance.  CCP though, I am going to bet we are going to see a lot of post-Citadel patches in May.

The Warcraft movie is just a month and ten days away, so I expect to see Blizzard ramping up on that pretty strongly while trying to go back to ignoring the whole vanilla server drama it stirred up by shutting down Nostalrius.

Speaking of Blizzard, their latest title, Overwatch, will go live this month.  I am not really interested in playing myself… and my daughter, who wants to play, is fuming about the lack of MacOS support… but another game from Anaheim means that much less focus on WoW.  It isn’t a zero sum thing, but a company can only put out so much PR before it is trying to talk over itself.

Also, isn’t Daybreak supposed to ship Landmark this spring?  May is the last full month of spring left this year… well, that and 20 days of June.  That will be a thing.

I will write something… or finish writing something… about Minecraft.

And… what else is coming up in May?

Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead

There is a game you can play with Google… well, there are probably many, but this is one of them… where you enter the name of something, followed by “is” to see what pre-filled search suggestions come up.  These results are driven by what people have searched for previously.

As I was playing this game the other night instead of doing something important, I began to notice a trend in my searches.  It seemed like Google was declaring most everything dead.

Sure, sometimes that was apt.

GSAbeVigodais

Abe Vigoda, after being reported dead by mistake on multiple occasions over the years, does indeed now sleep with the fishes, having passed earlier this year.

And sometimes the result wasn’t so spot on:

GSObamais

I’m pretty sure somebody would have mentioned if he was dead… or a mack daddy.

I decided to see if that trend held for video games on my side bar.  First on the list was, of course, EVE Online:

GSEVEis

Given that “EVE is dying…” is practically an meme at this point, that wasn’t too surprising.

Likewise, EverQuest, at 17 years of age got a similar result:

GSEQis

At least it wasn’t both “dead” and “dying” I suppose.  Of course, that last item lead me to World of Warcraft:

GSWoWis

Three of those aren’t so good, “dead,” “dying,” and “boring.”  Even EVE Online didn’t get “boring” as a top result.  That lead to a series of other titles, all of which at least got dead as a result:

GSGW2is

GSLOTROis

GSRiftis

GSWildStaris

I had a whole run there where “dead” wasn’t just a result, but the top result.  Then I started branching out from MMOs:

GSSCis

GSTF2is

I finally hit a game where “dead” wasn’t the top result, though I am not sure that was a good thing:

GSStarCis

Even Minecraft got “dead” as a result, though at least it was in fourth position, which was practically an endorsement at this point:

GSMinecraftIs

Hey, “awesome” came before “dead!”

Landmark was odd, but I think it suffers from having a generic name:

GSLandmarkis

Still, I think “dead” might be in there just for it.

Then, finally, I hit a game that wasn’t dead:

GSLOLis

League of Legends is only “dying,” not “dead.”  Also, it is “gay,” which I think says more about the demographic that is searching for things about it.  Still, it is doing better than Heroes of the Storm:

GSHotSis

“Dead,” “dying,” “bad,” and “free!”

Then at last, I hit a search where “dead” wasn’t even a result:

GSHearthis

I’m not sure Hearthstone was really winning with that draw.  I mean sure, “dead” wasn’t on the list, but the rest was hardly an endorsement.

March in Review

The Site

This month, many words about the site.

For reasons unclear to me, the automatic WordPress.com syndication to Google+ stopped working for me in the last month or so.

Well, technically, it still works perfectly for me… but only for me.  Everything that gets syndicated is shared only with myself.

GPSharedOnlyWithYouAs far as I can tell, nothing has changed at my end.  The transition seemed to have happened somewhere between the 22nd and 23rd of last month, because on the 22nd things were sharing just fine!

GPSharedPubliclyBut after that items were only shared with myself.  Looking through Google+ for some setting or change brought me no joy, while the settings within WordPress.com are minimal.

Looking at the WP.com support forums though, it appears I am not the only one seeing this issue.  However, given that WP.com is not answering any threads opened about the topic, instead choosing to close them without comment, seems to indicate that I am not going to find a solution there.  I have a manual work around, but that requires me to go into G+ every day and republish every item.  And then they appear twice in my own feed, which is kind of annoying.

So, if you were following my blog via Google+… which I think would make you Potshot, Tipa or Brian Green, my G+ following being fairly limited… and you noticed I suddenly stopped posting there, this is why.  Of course, if you only follow me there then you may never see this.

Elsewhere automatic syndication remains active, so I am still a menace on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a somewhat sleepy month here there was a sudden spike in page views when Reavers CO Asher Elias posted my Higgs Anchor Rigs tale to /r/eve.  That was a big enough one day boost to secure that post the top spot on the “most viewed” post list below and to prove that people in /r/eve/ will click on just about any link put in front of them.

Then there was this:

Which made it sound like my MMO Blogesphere side bar feed was about to die.  Since that came up I got a notification that my Rube Goldberg implementation only has until April 4th, then it is gone. Time to figure out a new course on that one I suppose, because it is the one thing readers here click on regularly according to the stats.

Addendum: Got a note this evening indicating that IFTTT and Pinboard might come to some agreement that will keep them working together.  At least it won’t shut down on Monday as planned.  We shall see.

And then, in a minor odometer moment, one of my post categories actually rolled into four digits.  With this post, the top five most used categories (aside from “entertainment” which is everything here) now are:

  1. EVE Online – 1,000
  2. World of Warcraft – 999
  3. EverQuest II – 612
  4. EverQuest – 492
  5. Lord of the Rings Online – 360

CCP wins the race to one thousand.  Is this an EVE blog or a WoW blog now?  Random people keep telling me it has to be one or the other.

One Year Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Five Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of five years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server last year, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 57) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Ten Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting.  His site is still up and chugging away and you can go and listen to VirginWorlds episode 1 if you care to relive the world of possibilities that seemed to be ahead of us for MMOs back then.  It was a different time.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

Belghast, who runs the blog, is in the “must post every day” club.  If there are 31 days in the month, he’ll have 31 posts on his site.  He doesn’t even take weekends off.  And every day he posts many words about the MMOs and other games he plays.  Then, every August, he runs a community event called “Blaugust” where he invites his fellow bloggers to join him in his post-a-day routine.  I’ve kept up with him each time so far.  He is also much more active in fostering community in our corner of the internet.  I talk about that community once in a while, he tries to make it really a thing.  Oh, and he does a podcast as well.  I get tired just thinking about all that.  So go visit him and say, “Hi!”

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

I remember when Meclin first went to null sec and told me about this site.  It seemed confusing, but I was mining in high sec in the same system every day.  I didn’t need all that.  And then I went to null sec, and the site became as necessary is air.  I have said in the past that EVE Online’s in-game map is a very impressive.  Show it people who don’t play and they will be in awe.

But it isn’t very useful.

Yes, it is more useful than it used to be, but it still mostly getting by on looks alone.  And the new map is even more slanted in that direction.  So if you want to know what is where, what the best route is, who owns what system in null sec, or what systems are being attacked, DOTLAN is THE place to go.  I am constantly looking at the site and regularly use screen grabs of maps there for posts.  I need to donate some more money to Wollari just thinking about all that.  You do too!

CCP also did a community spotlight dev blog about DOTLAN a few years back if you want to read more about it.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Me and the Medium Higgs Anchor Rig
  2. Betrayal at M-OEE8
  3. The Imperium Abandons the Vale of the Silent Region
  4. EverQuest Next and the End of the Classic MMORPG
  5. The WildStar Headshot
  6. Setting Sail with Yacht Fleet
  7. Upgrading to Minecraft 1.9
  8. Will EVE Online Get a Bounce from M-OEE8?
  9. SOE and Its MMORPGs
  10. Market Saturation and the Cash Shop
  11. Skill Injectors, Meet Experience Injectors
  12. Contemplating that Last Stand at VFK-IV

Search Terms of the Month

how to 2 box everquest on phinigel true box server
[You are  a bad person]

syncrude shutdown march
[I think SynCaine is planning to carry on]

how many characters are in wheel of time
[Too fucking many]

pantheon rise of the fallen will the trolls be playable
[No, the trolls will remain in the forums and comment threads]

playstation how to use daybreak cash?

psn soe settlement how to use daybreak cash?

ps3 how to use station cash?

how to use daybreak cash psn dcuo

bought dc market cash but can’t use it
[There is some problem with Daybreak Cash on PSN I guess]

Diablo III

Well, I carried on and played through Season 5 right up until the moment I competed the set dungeon for the final baseline achievement… and then I totally stopped playing.  There is a lesson in that somewhere.  Anyway, it is off my currently playing list and will likely remain so until at least Season 6 starts… whenever that happens.

EVE Online

To put it mildly, shit got real in our small… now smaller… corner of null sec.  The war has been given a few names.  The Second Great War, or World War Bee, starring Goonswarm in the role of Band of Brothers.  Noizy dubbed it The Casino War, because one side is being proudly financed by an online gambling site. (Making it one of The Mercenary Wars in Matterall’s expansive write up.)  Then this week it was suddenly The Easter War, because CCP likes… bunnies and Cadbury eggs?  Seriously, CCP claims this is what most people are calling it, but I never heard the term until they started using it this week.  I get the feeling that, in hindsight, we might end up calling this the Propaganda War, as spin on both sides is getting quite thick.

Anyway, I expect we will be seeing a lot more of that from both sides as the war continues.  It will all be a good read a year from now.

EverQuest II

After writing about all sorts of Daybreak topics this month, including the cancellation of EverQuest Next, I had a rather unsurprising urge to go wander around Norrath.  I picked EQII and the Stormhold server for my focus, and spent some time doing the quest lines in The Commonlands.  It was both nostalgic, a lot of things haven’t changed in 11 years, and a bit disappointing, a lot of annoying things haven’t changed in 11 years.  Still moving myself slowly forward in hopes of getting to Nek Forest.

Minecraft

I wasn’t playing too much Minecraft until our server bill started to loom.  That got me in and playing as I was looking for a new home.  I settled on Minecraft Realms, which has worked out well so far.  That got me back in and working on a huge new “public works” project, which I will post about at some point… as soon as I get around to posting about my last such project.

Pokemon

Pokemon celebrated 20 years back in February and I bought a copy of Pokemon Blue for the Virtual Console from the Nintendo eShop.  As I spent some time traveling early in the month, I actually got to spend some time focused on the game. (Nothing like a couple of five hour plane trips to make time for that.)  I have been pleasantly surprised by the game, though perhaps not for the obvious reasons.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is that day where the unfunny think they are funny, the grumpy act grumpier, and the wise treat any headline as though it were posted on Reddit.  It is only for a day, but since nothing on the internet is ever fully gone, your regrettable mistakes will last forever.

The war New Eden will carry on.  After the hammer blow of the CO2 betrayal, things feel like they are hitting a new equilibrium, with a war of attrition over command nodes running every night.  Each side either needs a new tactic, a new defection, or the other side to stop showing up to make big gains.  Rumors say that there will be an official State of the Goonion tomorrow.  One has to ask if April Fools is setting the right tone?

Meanwhile, the new expansion looms, bringing with it citadels and capital ship changes.  Will that change the face of the war, and will the war still be going when it hits?  April promises to be interesting.

As noted above, I hope to make it to Nek Forest in EverQuest II.  I am not sure how well nostalgia will sustain me there however.  The original version of the zone was a punishing horror show, so I don’t really miss that.  The last time I did anything in the zone though, the whole thing had turned into a tedious amount of running half way across the zone and back for quest updates.  Maybe Echoes of Faydwer will go live by then.  I already have a crafting guild request to go to Butcherblock, which won’t be live on the server until that expansion hits.

I also want to buckle down and finish Pokemon Blue… then write about it.  Or maybe just write about it.  Something.

And I need to figure out a new scheme for my side bar.  My current plan is to try Pinboard’s mortal enemy Delicious.  A test version is even now lurking at the bottom of the side bar.  If that doesn’t work out though, it will be back to a static blogroll for a while.

The Move to Minecraft Realms

The server move was on.

As I mentioned in the last Minecraft post, our term with MC Pro Hosting was up this past weekend and I was looking for a new home.  Performance on our server there was poor, especially at peak hours, and the only solution they had to offer was to upgrade our service.  However, given that only eight people have ever logged on to our server, and having even four of us on at once was a rare occasion, I felt that our server plan (we ended up with the Iron Plan), advertised as good to host up 40 players, should have been sufficient, especially given we were using the vanilla server with no mods.

But where to go?

Back when I was first looking at hosting plans, people had nice things to say about Minecraft Realms, which is Mojang’s own hosting service.  It was stable, safe, and easy.  It was just expensive relative to what else was out there.  However, late last year Mojang decided to fix the pricing part, dropping the rates to as low as $7.99 a month for a six month run, $8.99 a month for a three month commitment, and $9.99 for a month to month billing cycle.

And, they also offer a free two week trial.

I setup a trial server a few weeks back, and then life got in the way and I never quite got back to it until last week, after the trial had expired.  Still, I had gotten a peek and decided to commit.  That was on Thursday last week, and I had until Sunday to wrap things up with MC Pro Hosting.

Dealing with Minecraft Realms though, that is a little different than other hosting services.  Netherbyte and MC Pro Hosting were similar, if not in pricing and service, then in how you managed your server.  They both used the same third party admin tool, both gave me FTP access to our partition, and allowed me to basically tinker with all the bits and settings directly.

You don’t get any of that with Minecraft Realms.  Or the bits that you do get are not like that at all.  You do all of your server work in the Minecraft client.

Everything is under the Minecraft Realms button

Everything is under the Minecraft Realms button

For me, having used various other tools up to this point, it was a bit confusing at first.  However, if you are coming from playing on local, single player worlds, it is clearly an attempt to make a hosted world as much like a local world as possible.

So the control panel won’t overwhelm you with options.

Controlling our world

Controls for our world

You can have three different worlds on your realm, though only one may be running at a time.  You can generate them from scratch as with a local game, but to use a current world you have to have it available locally as a single player world first.

That meant making a backup of our current world, downloading it, and then converting it into something that could be accessed locally.  That generally just means putting the “world” folder in the “Saves” directory for Minecraft, but since we tried running a couple different server types over the last nine months… in search of better performance… our directory had a some extras in it, including two extra copies of the nether in their own folders, as opposed to the DIM1 (or is is the DIM-1?) directory.

I managed to get that sorted and a right items in the right place so the world appeared as a local realm that I could successfully log into.  Then I clicked on my one remaining empty world slot (the first two were test runs) where it let me select our world to upload.  Weighing in at more than 800mb, the upload took a bit of time, but it went through successfully.

(At some point I will do a post about how Minecraft was in part a success due to the fact that it was created in a world where it resources like drive space were readily available.)

That was a success.  I was able to log into our world on Minecraft Realms and everything looked good.  Now I just had to get everybody else to follow me, which primarily meant getting Aaron to come along.

Of course, there were complications.

In order to use Minecraft Realms, you have to have a Mojang account.  All of us had old school Minecraft accounts.  There is a conversion process, where you start with a Minecraft account and end up with a Mojang account.  It isn’t even particularly difficult.  It was just, like so many things, documented by somebody who already knew how to do it, so it makes assumptions that you might not at a couple of points.

I went through the process with my daughter’s, just to see how it worked.  You have to log onto the Minecraft site, go to your settings, click the link to convert your account, give it an email address (which will be your new login), click a verification link that is emailed to that address, then log in to the Mojang site using your email address, your old account name, and your password, which remains the same.

At that point you are converted and, as a side benefit, you can now change your Minecraft in-game name once every 30 days, since it is no longer your account login.

I then logged into Minecraft Realms, clicked on the Players button, and invited my daughter’s account, using her in-game name (which she can now change, so I am not sure how that will work out if she does), so that she could join the server.  Minecraft Realms servers are all by invite only, so it clearly isn’t the service for you if you want to run a public server.

When my daughter logged back in to Minecraft, she had a notification on the main screen.

you've got mail or something...

you’ve got mail or something…

Clicking on the Minecraft Realms button revealed a pending invite for her.

Also, would you like to rent a server?

Also, would you like to rent a server?

That was the invite to join the server.  Clicking on and accepting that put our server on her list and she was able to log in.  Op success!

So I put that together in an email and sent it out to the rest of the team on our server.

And then Aaron had a problem.  He converted his account but wasn’t seeing the invite to the server.  I verified his user name on the invite list, which was suspiciously gray on a list of otherwise white shaded names.  Then Xyd chimed in that he had converted his account and had logged in just fine.

Invite success...

Invite success…

Of course, the mocking tone that might have accompanied that note might have spurred Aaron to double check his end of things, as he came back a while later and reported success as well.  Skronk followed up after that, though he reported problems with 1.8 client mods not working with 1.9, but at least a quorum seemed to have migrated to the new location.

I ran around the world, rolling down minecart rails, which is one place that performance lag was very apparent and things seemed okay.  Aaron tinkered for a bit and said things were at least as good as before.  So I cancelled the MC Pro Hosting server and that was that.  We had a new home.  I don’t have as fine a control for the moment… we’ll see what happens when the Mineserver finally ships… but that is okay for now.  I do get an activity chart for people now.

Some of us have been playing more than others...

Some of us have been playing more than others…

While I was still rolling around and finding some new things with 1.9, such as a couple of the new zombie models…

Coming to get me...

Coming to get me…

… Aaron got stuck right into the new server and spawned the Ender Dragon again, something new for 1.9.  After more than a few deaths… I was on but elsewhere for some of the fight… he brought down the beast, which spawned a new type of portal in The End.

The New Portal

The New Portal

Throwing an Ender Pearl into it… something in rich supply due to the Enderman farm pumping them out just down the path… brings you to one of the new cities in The End.

End City

End City

There he found some new treasures, new materials, a new light source (the end rod), the dragon’s head (for his collection), and more Ender men.

They are just hanging out all over

They are just hanging out all over

So there we are for now.  On a new server, exploring some of the Minecraft 1.9 features, and dealing with some of the Minecraft 1.9 bugs.

Just Another Pig in the Wall

Aaron has been busy reworking some of the automated farms in our world.  He worked out the Blaze farm in fairly short order, but the zombie pigmen turned out to be a bigger challenge.

With the 1.9 update mobs don’t seem to spawn on mine cart tracks anymore and seem reluctant to even stand on them (good news for rail travel!), so a system that was based on scooping them up in carts to dump them to their death… and the dumping bit broke as well… seemed problematic.

And then there was a lack of spawns as well.

So Aaron undertook a major redesign and construction effort.

First he needed to go higher, so the spire in the are above the nether roof grew taller.

Then he changed the harvest model, going from a passive method to one based on zombie pigman aggro.  For this he constructed, at the top of the tower, a large multi-level platform on which pigmen could spawn, wide enough to allow for the full aggro radius range.

To start the harvesting, the player stands on a spot in the center of the platform and shoots an arrow at a nearby pigman, causing all of the pigmen in the area to go aggro.  As they try to reach the player, they are channeled into a single file path that leads them to fall to the death, fooled by the presence of a trap door.

Upon seeing it for the first time, I was struck by the image of the pigmen queued up to be fed into the harvester.  It was like a scene from the Minecraft version of The Wall.

An orderly queue... of death

An orderly queue… of death

As a further benefit of this new method, as the user stands there, experience globes from the slain pigmen float up the shaft and level you up.

Leveling up on murder... as usual...

Leveling up on murder… as usual…

As a method of farming gold, it was an astonishing upgrade from Aaron’s previous system.  And when you are done you just head down the ladder and out of aggro range and soon the pigmen forget out you.  Then you can pop up and collect the loot from Aaron’s sorting machine.

Output, plus some exp globes that leaked out

Output, plus some exp globes that leaked out

The whole thing works so well that… it crashed the server a couple of times.

It puts such a strain on MC Pro’s system that it falls behind, eventually exceeding the maximum tick count delay of 60,000ms.

We have been with MC Pro Hosting for about six months now and, while the customer service has been better than Netherbyte, the server performance has been much worse.  Getting errors about falling behind when running a very active zombie pigman farm is one thing, but I see those sorts of errors in the log when simply riding a mine cart or when traveling on foot somewhere.

These problems are especially noticeable during prime time hours, leading me to believe that we are sharing a CPU with one or more rather active Minecraft servers.

So, as well as adapting to the 1.9, I have been looking into a new hosting solution.  My initial plan was to go with the Mineserver hardware I backed as part of their Kickstarter, however they have been having technical issues, so it isn’t ready yet.

Barring that, I am looking into Mojang’s Minecraft Realms hosting service.  Back when I was first looking for a host, they were noted for being safe and stable, but expensive.  They have since gotten serious about being competitive, so their prices are way down from before.

So that is where we stand, rich in gold thanks to Aaron, but looking for a more stable host.

Upgrading to Minecraft 1.9

I was kind of excited when the announcement came through that Minecraft 1.9 had been released.  After playing Minecraft for the last 8 months or so, this is the first real feature update I have been a part of.  So I was in a rush to see this new combat update.

mcupdate19_600px

While I have not been especially happy with MC Pro Hosting since we moved to them… performance suggests we share space with a very active server so things bog down a lot during the evening and I have had a series of server issues with them… they do make upgrading to the latest server version pretty easy.

First I brought the server down and took a backup of our world.  Then I flipped the selector to give us version 1.9 of the Minecraft.  Then it was time to start the world back up and see if anything exploded.

Aside from some errors about a few chickens sharing ID numbers with other chickens, things seem to come up okay.

Then it was time to log in and give it a try.  For some reason I had set my client specifically to use version 1.8.9… I don’t recall why… so I wasn’t able to get on the server until I logged back out and fixed that in my settings.  Then I was able to log in.

The first thing I ran off to do was make a shield.  Shields are one of the new features with 1.9.  So I had to have one.  But first I had to look up how to even make one.  Fortunately, the internet was way ahead of me on that and there was already a pretty full entry about shields on the wiki, including the recipe.

Making a shield

Making a shield

That information secured, I made a shield.  You can also apply a banner to a shield to give it a pattern, but I wasn’t there yet.  I just wanted something to try out.

Then there was the whole “how do I use this?” aspect.  You can move things off of your hot bar into the new off-hand spot by selecting the item and using the F key.  I fiddled with that for a bit and eventually got myself setup.

Sword and shield ready

Sword and shield ready

Then it was time to give it all a try.  I waited for night and found a zombie to hack up.

Combat is definitely different.  You can no longer mindlessly hyper-click to kill things fast fast fast.  Weapons now have a cool down… or so the release notes said… so fast clicking yields nothing.  Clicking at the right time… and so far I have just been guessing at when that is… yields a nice sword stroke across your foe and you can see hearts, representing its hit points, spilling away as you strike.

Pretty neat, though it will take some getting used to.

I slew my first zombie with ease.  Thinking that I had mastered things I ran off into the dark and was promptly slain by a witch and zombie combo.  It was here I learned the futility of trying to fast click as I tried to take them out as poison drained my hit points.

I managed to recover my items and kill the witch once daylight had taken care of the zombie.  But I clearly need a bit of practice.  The shield, when deployed with a left-click, is suppose to block damage from things, so I will need to work on attack/block/attack with the new cool down.

likewise, killing creepers, which used to just require three quick chops of the sword now requires a bit more finesse, requiring a strike, then a retreat to keep it from exploding.  I have a few more large holes in the local landscape that testify to this.

Meanwhile, as I was swanning about with my sword and shield, Aaron was attending to more important business… like what did the update do to the automated farms in our world, most of which I mentioned in a previous post.  His report, from which I lifted most of the text below, indicated the following.

Still Functional:

  • Guardian farm
  • Spider (string) #1
  • Spider (string) farm #2
  • Skeleton farm
  • Zombie farm
  • Iron golem farm
  • Witch farm
  • Enderman farm

Not Functional:

  • Blaze farm (presumably change to AI leading to different movement patterns)
  • Zombie pigman gold farm (nothing seems to spawn above the ceiling bedrock any more)

TBD:

  • Charged creeper farm (takes a long time, plenty of charged creepers in back stock)

Notes:

  • General mob farms (i.e. zombies, creepers, skeletons and spiders – anything that spawns in the dark) seem to be operational, but at a drastically lower output than previously.  Presumably this is due to changes in spawn behavior that came with the update.
  • Interestingly the Enderman farm seems to be operating at at least 2x the output it used to.  I don’t know why this should be and I can’t go up to the spawning floor to observe as my presence alters their movement behavior.  All I know is that when you’re at the bottom of the thing looking up it’s freaking raining Endermen.

So that is where we stand at the moment.  Aaron has some work before him as he sets about working on a new was to collect zombie pigmen.  I saw a method the other days where a player built dozens of nether portals in the overworld that would drop zombie pigmen to their death.  But that was a two year old project, so I am not sure it would still work with 1.9… and it required a LOT of obsidian blocks for all those portals.

And while he is looking into that I am going to see what else I can find from the list of changes.  Time to start hunting for igloos.

We remain committed to the vanilla Minecraft life for now.

February in Review

The Site

Here we are, another month gone by as we move through the tenth year of the blog.  Despite the extra day we get this year… the third leap day for the blog… it has been a quiet yet active month here.

It was quiet because I was pretty much gone for a week as we went to Hawaii for my wife’s birthday.  I wrote a few posts in advance, but nothing spectacular.

img_0439

Obligatory “I was in Hawaii” picture featuring Diamond Head

But then it was busy because somehow, even with that interruption, I ended up writing 29 posts this month, if you include this one.  Things happened I guess, like the DUST 514 shut down announcement (I wrote that post while waiting for my wife to get ready to go to the airport!) and skill injectors and the Pokemon 20th anniversary.  Another lesson that, if you have low standards, you will never run out of things about which to write I suppose.

One Year Ago

Sony Online Entertainment ceased to be, having been sold off to Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Games Company.  The launch was not auspicious to my mind, with Columbus Nova issuing a questionable press release while the new company shed many old hands.  Still, classic Norrath seemed to be safeNew progression servers for EverQuest were announced fairly quickly thereafter.

H1Z1 was out in early access (or “recently launched” according to Colubus Nova) and having some issues.  Polygon took my own point of view in stating that if a company is out there taking money for a game then they felt entitled to review it as it stood.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign launched and the game quickly hit its initial goal.  Meanwhile, I was wondering how Nebula Online, another project with a Kickstarter, was going to make any money.

Massively and WoW Insider were recreating themselves as Massively OP and Blizzard Watch.

I was still playing WoW , which still had 10 million subscribers, while looking towards the 6.1 patch was due.  I was doing pet battles and looking at my addons.

I was also still flailing about a bit with Elite: Dangerous.

Star Wars: The Old Republic seemed headed back to that vaunted fourth pillar.

The Tiamat expansion hit EVE Online, unleashing the Svipul menace.  CCP was bribing people to vote in the CSMX election. And for the monthly blog banter walking in stations came up again.  I was also figuring out how to change my space clothes and Reavers were making a difference.

The now defunct BattleClinic had just finished their site overhaul, allowing players to mine more data out of their kill mails.

Then there was Juche.

And, finally, a farewell to Leonard Nimoy.

Five Years Ago

At one point I was declared influential.  We got over that pretty quickly though.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it is free to play.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos Hills, Blackburrow, West Karana, and the Qeynos SewersImportant spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Ten Years Ago

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

SOE launched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which became the first bit of content that I did not buy for the game.  I never purchased the expansion, getting it for free as part of the later Echoes of Faydwer expansion.  It marks the line between “classic” and “new stuff” in my brain, as illogical as that seems ten years down the road.

Dungeons & Dragons Online went live.  I remember picking up the box at Fry’s and reading the label on the bottom of the box that declared the game required group play, that no solo play was supported.  I put the box back on the shelf and moved on.  How times have changed.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s feature site I want to bring your attention to:

While I remain confused as to what to call him some days… the blog is the “Nosy” gamer, but he goes by “Noizy” when he signs his handle… his is the blog you go to if you want to see somebody track and follow up on topics like illicit RMT in EVE Online and other such goings on.  He is a respected source in the EVE Online community.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

This is a long form blog that delves in depth into video games and other related digital entertainment topics.  Posts come up about weekly, but they usually dig deep into the meat of the topic at hand.  Take a look at the table of contents for the site.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. MMOs and their Middle Age Problems…
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. First Night of Skill Point Trading in Jita
  5. Pokemon 20th Anniversary Download Events Kick Off with Mew
  6. CCP Continues to Confound Recognized Financial Expert
  7. Further Anecdotes from the Skill Injector Front in New Eden
  8. Diablo III Season 5 and into Chapter IV
  9. Our Automated Farms in Minecraft
  10. DUST 514 to Shut Down on May 30, 2016
  11. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  12. Quote of the Day – CSM members have no agency

Search Terms of the Month

elder scrolls online 1 million
[I wouldn’t pay that much, wait for a Steam sale]

need someone to hack my empires and allies accnt
[Wouldn’t you be better of just letting that go?]

what expansion is fippy darkpaw in
[They were trying to unlock Underfoot back in July 2014…]

wow token useless for free players
[For specific definitions of “free” I suppose]

Diablo III

I have carried on with Season 5, finding fun in chasing down the various goals and achievements laid out for this round.  This has led me to my highest level character yet in the almost four years since the game launched.  That probably says something, though I am not sure what.

EVE Online

The month started with the Reavers and some of KarmaFleet down in Querious having a good time brawling with the locals.  Then we got called back home because we had a real war… or as real of a war as we can manage these days… to fight.  The Casino War, pitting the Coalition of the Billing against SpaceMonkey’s Alliance.  So that has been the main focus for the last couple weeks, with content being delivered to our doorstep fresh daily.  And it looks set to continue on.

Meanwhile, the theme of the month seemed to be skill injectors.  I have yet to be in a fleet since they were introduced where somebody hasn’t announced they have a new ability thanks to injecting billions of ISK worth of skill points straight into their head.

Finally, we seem to be ending up the month with server issues and extended downtime.  I hope that isn’t a sign of things to come.

Minecraft

It has been a quiet month on the Minecraft front.  I’ve still played some, and Aaron built another automated device for us, but there hasn’t been much to write about.  However, the 1.9 update looks like it is finally threatening to arrive, and that should stir things up a bit.

PlanetSide 2

In a moment of odd timing, just as the Casino War was heating up to the point that Reavers were called back home, The Imperium decided we should go play PlanetSide 2.  The deal to get us there was no doubt struck with Daybreak ages ago, so the timing was what it was.  Still, it is free to download and a pretty easy game to jump in and out of.  I’ll be interested to see if it sticks.

Pokemon

Pokemon turned 20 years old just two days ago, which got me focused on the game somewhat.  There is a series of legendary download events over the course of the year to celebrate.  And the next installments in the core RPG game, Pokemon Sun & Moon were announced three days back, so we have those to look forward to.  Meanwhile, the most immediate action was the release of the original games, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, on the 3DS Virtual Console.

In order to experience the origins of the series, I grabbed a copy of Blue, while my daughter picked Red.  We shall see how far we get.

Coming Up

What is coming up next month… aside from the dreaded start of Daylight Savings Time?  For a week or two I will be extra groggy every morning as I try force the reality of my sleep pattern to line up with the illusion that is time.

As noted above, there is the distinct possibility that we will get the Minecraft 1.9 update in March.  That could lead to some fun as we try to upgrade our server.

In EVE Online the CSM XI elections kick off today.  That will mean something to somebody I am sure.  There will likely be a March (YC118.3) Update coming, though I am not sure what we’ll get besides fixes.  I am not sure what features are slated to hit before the big Citadels expansion later this year.  Are we getting that new watchlist update?  And, of course, the Casino War will carry on for a while I am sure.  We’ll see who gets tired of nightly content first I suppose.

There may or may not be some PlanetSide 2 times worth writing about.

I will no doubt have something to say about Pokemon Blue as I play to discover just how far the series has evolved in 20 years.  I played quite a bit yesterday and I was actually a bit surprised at where things stood “in the beginning” as it were.

And I suspect that Season 5 of Diablo III might be winding down for me.