Category Archives: Minecraft

Minecraft and Coming to the End of My Road

The end of the road is in sight, and I mean that literally rather than in some sort of gloomy metaphorical sense.  My long term project to build an overland route between the Forest Mansion I found last November and our central surface world rail network is about 90% complete.

In December I started on the road project to cover the 20km gap between the mansion and the nearest mine cart rail stop.

Status back in January. Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

As of this week only about a 2km gap remains between my current forward location on the road and the nearest base and rail stop.

So much closer

The road has taken a while largely due to logistics.  Given an infinite supply of cobblestone in my bag, I could have completed the road in a few sittings.  Having to manage a limited inventory, finding or creating resupply points as the road moves forward, and having to deal with the day/night cycle and the hostiles that spawn after dark make for the challenge of the project.

Also, it allows me to indulge in one of my favorite tasks, which is base building.  In order to not totally bog down the road building effort I have tried to limit my major bases to NPC villages, desert temples, and the like so that I have some structures available to set up in.

A Desert Temple base on the road

Desert temples make good bases, so long as I have some wood on hand to make a few doors.  I go in and loot the treasure in the basement, then set off the explosive trap down there, running away before it blows.  That opens things up so I can mine cobblestone easily.

Villages however tend to tie me down for a while.  While showing up at one gives me shelter, the Minecraft algorithm for placing them seems to just drop them on the terrain rather haphazardly.

A desert village on the only hill in sight

This leads to me spending time “fixing” villages. After I have picked a house to setup in, placed a bed and some chests for storage and built a corral for horses, I can’t bring myself to move on until I level out the paths and make sure all the buildings are accessible.  Placement often leaves a few buried up past the doors so you cannot get in or out.

And once I am doing that I also light up the village with lots of torches, straighten up the pathways, and add a bunch of doors to get an iron golem to spawn to defend the villagers.  If the village is far enough from the previous portal, I put up another nether portal to connect to the nether transit hub and maybe build a tower to make the village more visible from a distance.

A fixed up village with portal and tower

So every village becomes a new side project.  I suppose I have a vision of them being used as bases by other people, though at the moment there is scant activity on our server aside from my own work.

I did try to expand my working hours by keeping more tamed wolves around me in order to fight off hostile spawns at night, to the point of breeding a pack.

Happy wolves looking to be fed, also an iron golem and the back of an auto-furnace

Wolves can be fragile however.  You have to keep them healed up by feeding them, and securing a supply of meat to feed them led to breeding a flock of sheep.  And still I was losing them pretty regularly.

Damn dog, I am busy over here with slimes!  Slain by a spider

That was all becoming a more effort than it was worth, so I gave up on any illusions about working through the night in order to keep pushing ahead rather than wasting time traveling back and forth from the nearest camp to sleep.

So progress has been made and the end is in sight.  At this point I think it might work best for me to head back to our core territory and build the road northward to link up with what I have build already.  That will give me the advantage of drawing from already established supplies.

February in Review

The Site

I think WordPress.com is calling me a freeloader.

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

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

WordPress.com plans - February 2016

WordPress.com plans – February 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is important to you, the reader?

One Year Ago

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

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Years Ago

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

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

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Viewed Posts in February

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

Search Terms of the Month

menu options novalogic f 16
[Pretty obscure I would guess]

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

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

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

money talk porno
[Sounds like a winner to me]

EverQuest II

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

EVE Online

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

Minecraft

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

Pokemon

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

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

What else will March bring?

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

I Passed the Half Way Mark on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road south continues.  For those needing a reminder, this is the overland route I am building from the Forest Mansion I found back to the nearest connection to our main settlement.

This means clearing a road 3 blocks wide and at least 3 high in tunnels for about 20km.  I’ve been working on this for almost three months now, off and on.

And, just to be a stickler, I decided that the road would be marked by a strip of cobblestone running its whole length.  Since the blocks are 1m cubes, that means 20,000 cobblestone blocks… or more, really, since I haven’t been able to take a straight path and I do need to build bridges now and again.

Anyway, since the setbacks of last post, I have pushed ahead.

Progress so far

Progress so far

After improving my way point village… and then another village along the way, because I just can’t help myself… I had a good straight and mostly level into a mesa biome.  This was one of three mesa biomes I have discovered on the way to and from the mansion, and this one was generated since the 1.10 update, so is full of abandoned mining tunnels.  They are visible all over as you travel through the biome.

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

Visible are rails and the tell tale spider webs that mark mines

One interesting item is that in that bundle of webs there is a cave spider spawner.  I have not run into one in a place that gets direct sunlight before. (They don’t spawn when list and are usually in deep, dark places.)

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

Spawner visible, as are wooden tunnel supports

There are some exploration opportunities here for anybody who wants to settle down in the area.

Mesa biomes themselves are a bit of a pain when it comes to building a road.  There is no straight path through unless you want to build up one side and down the other of every mesa in your way.  To keep the effort under control I had to zig-zag a bit and build some bridges between mesas.  But it wasn’t a huge biome, so I hit the other side eventually.

Scouting ahead I chose to exit into a swamp, which offered a decent stretch of flat going for road building.  There was also a pack of wolves near by, so I ran back to grab some bones I had stored away and managed to tame a pair of them.  They are good to have around as they will defend you from zombies and skeletons if you work past sundown.

Two new pals

Two new pals

Unfortunately, like the AI for most NPCs in the Minecraft, the tamed wolf AI isn’t very good at keeping itself safe.  I had the pair of them with me when I was out ahead and burning down a path through a canopy forest to clear the way, only to get the message that one of them had died.  I turned around to see the other one standing in a fire and die as well.

Dogs will be dogs I guess

Dogs will be dogs I guess

And it was night time and I had to fight my way back to my nearest camp.  I tamed a couple more, but left one at my camp and took the other one with me as I started building my road through the swamp only to get another death message.

Seriously?

Seriously?

I do not know what happened there.  One moment he was running around, the next moment he was dead.

Still, I have one more in reserve.

All happy back at the camp

All happy back at the camp

The road ran past a witches hut at the start of the swamp, so I converted it to camp, complete with a corral for the horse.  I haven’t lost the horse yet, despite his propensity to run off the moment I am looking the other way, and I aim to keep it that way.

And so the road south carries on.

Setbacks on the Road South in Minecraft

Work on the long road southward continues.

In the last post I had reached a village out in the plains that I planned to make a new base/waypoint on the road.  I was already well beyond a day’s ride on a fast horse from my previous such base, so it seemed about right.

Village on the plains

Village on the plains

Setting up a base, including a nether portal to serve as a link back to our main transport hub to allow access to supplies I might not otherwise find easily, was going to take some time of course.  However, I ended up spending quite a bit more time there than I thought I might.

One of the first things I wanted to do was setup a mining operation, which generally involves digging down to level 12 in the world to give myself a chance of finding some diamonds along the way.  In an attempt to shorten the digging down process, I decided to check out the cave close by the village, which is the dark half-circle just above it on the map.  It certainly had potential to save me time getting to a lower level… as I walked in to a dark section I fell right through a hole in the floor… a hole that was positioned right over a pool of lava.

Lined up just right

Lined up just right

Walking up to it, it just looked to be a step down, with the floor continuing on, but then I was falling and in the lava, where I died of course.

Swimming in lava

Swimming in lava

I tried to make it to the edge of the lava pool, but the game clearly had it in for me.  You can see, in the background of the death screen, there are two creepers sitting at the edge of the lava pool just waiting for me to get in range so they can explode, killing me, should the lava fail.

That is enough to induce some paranoia.  Later on, when I was digging a path for the road, I fell through into another underground cavern.  Only I missed the pool that time… and it was a pool of water… which would have saved me… but I was literally one block off from hitting it.

At least I got all my stuff back that time.  Swimming in lava solves all of your immediate inventory management issues because everything in your inventory is gone.

I had started to setup shop in the village, so there were some things stowed away there, including a stack of iron ingots, so I could at least make some tools.  But going back to plain iron when you’ve been playing with enchanted diamond stuff for a while can be a bit of a drag.  Time to resupply indeed.

I had some diamonds stored away up the road, so it was back on the horse and back north to collect things.  Once there, I decided to head to the nearest nether portal so I could ride the rails a ways and setup a new one close to my new supply base.  So off I went to dig some netherrack and setup a new portal.

Unfortunately, in my calculation of coordinates, I transposed a digit (my 10-key skills have atrophied over the years) and rather than ending up with a portal just outside of the village, I ended up with one at the top of a tree in the jungle a ways off.

You can see it from quite a ways away

You can see it from quite a ways away

Once I got back in the nether from the jungle canopy and checked my math, I moved along and setup a portal in the RIGHT location, which popped it up right outside of town as planned.  I then pulled in some supplied dug myself a mine from the surface on the other side of the village from my previous lava experience, setup an auto-furnace, and cleaned up the paths in town because when they’re messed up they bug me and I am like that.

The village, some time later

The village, some time later

I even found out that the mine was in a chunk that occasionally spawns slimes, so I was able to make another lead for me horse… Minecraft logic is apparently that a lead is a rope with sticky on each end so you can stick your mount to something to make it stay, something my horse seeks to disprove rather regularly… as I lost the one I had been using as part of the lava incident.

Slime peek-a-boo

Slime peek-a-boo

Eventually I was well supplied and ready to strike southward again.

Along the way I ran into a lone wolf intent on slaughtering the local sheep population, a population I had been encouraging and breeding because it is nice to have a wool supply handy.  However, I happened to have some bones with me, so I managed to tame the wolf.  Tamed wolves become dogs, because of course they do.

Me and my new pet

Me and my new pet… and dressed in diamond gear again

Having the dog with me was a bit of a boon at times.  As I started building the road south again, I moved quickly along the plains and ended up spending time out in the dark, during which the dog would help defend my work site from encroaching skeletons and zombies.

While he seemed to have a knack for getting in the way, he traveled with me for quite a stretch as I scouted ahead, looking for the best path.  I found he would even get in a boat with me when I was scouting.

Me and the dog go boating

Me and the dog go boating

Since the update that fixed boats they also have two passenger spots.

Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that if you shoot a bow and arrow in a boat, it hits your passenger.  As I was approaching shore one evening a skeleton loomed out at the spot I was going to land so I opened up on him with the bow and killed the dog.  It was a sad moment.

I suppose at least he isn’t standing where I want to put a block any more.

Anyway, the road continues to move southward.  By the next update I will have probably passed the half way point to hooking up to out main settlement rail system.

January in Review

The Site

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

2016trafficsources

Top Traffic Sources in 2016

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

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

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

Sanity is under WP Admin

Sanity is under WP Admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

google-plus-logo-640

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

One Year Ago

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

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

It was the end of another Steam Winter Sale.

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

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

People were troubled by a potential paywall in Rift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wrote a bit about The Force Awakens.

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

Five Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Ten Years Ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Viewed Posts in January

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

Search Terms of the Month

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

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

everquest imperfect diamond
[Summed up correctly]

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

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

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

Diablo III

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

EVE Online

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

EverQuest II

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

Minecraft

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

Pokemon Go

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

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

Pokemon Sun

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

Steam

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

Coming Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southward in Minecraft Village by Village

Since my update last week I have managed to make some decent progress on the long road project, covering an additional 2km on the path south.

Where I stand today

Where I stand today

That puts me about 8km along the way to my goal.  Given that I started about 20km from my destination, I am not even at the half way point yet.  But I am getting there.

For this last burst of road building I have been trying to go straight south as much as possible so as to maximize my progress towards my eventual goal.  For the first 6km of southward progress I estimate I built an additional 2-3km of road that moved along the east-west axis, and so brought me no closer to our core settlement.  I did that in order to not spend time trying to fight the terrain.  However, in hindsight, looking at the map as I have moved on, I ended up spotting paths that were slightly more difficult but which would have saved me a lot of bypassing to east or west.  That has led me to try and scout more thoroughly, though I am not sure how I could do this scale of a project at all without being able to render out the map of our world so I can study it for paths south.

One thing I will go at least a bit out of my way for is villages.  I like to put them on the route as they make natural way points for rest and supply.  My recent 2km run was in part lined up to hit a village along the way, which I named Basin City as it was on a hill that ran down to the water in something of a semi-circle.  Also, Frank Miller.

Basin City

Basin City

The down side of villages along the route is that I feel the need to stop and improve them.  I have to level out the paths, fix the buildings, add new doors, light them up, add a horse corral, put up some signage, and work with some of the villagers if I can.

In the case of Basin City here, I also had to thin out the trees as it was in a roofed forest biome, which meant that skeletons and zombies were in the shade when day came, so the sun wouldn’t kill them off.  I cut a fire break around the village, then burned some of the forest beyond the break just to open up some land.

And, since this was going to be a supply point… in order to keep going straight south I was going to need to build a few cobblestone bridges from there to carry on… I started in on a mine, which itself yielded a bunch of iron ore and coal, so I build an auto-furnace and so on.  It is now a nice little place that you could base out of.

Villages have actually become a bit more interesting.  The Minecraft 1.10 update made them a little more diverse, so that the building materials match the biome they show up in.  So, for example, this village I came upon in a savanna biome is made of acacia wood, the local tree type.

In the savanna

In the savanna

That village was also interesting because it turned out to be a zombie village.  Another change with 1.10 was that villages have a 2% chance of being zombie villages, which means that they have no torches placed, no doors, and are populated by zombie villagers.  It took me a bit to figure out what was going on, but once I did I ran off to fetch some weakness potions and a few golden apples in order to convert some of the zombie villagers into normal villagers.  I managed to convert three, one of whom was a nitwit, a green robed villager who has no profession, which is also a recent addition.

You can see by the render of the village above that I lit the place up with torches and supplied doors for the buildings.  Those are birch wood doors, as I happened to have come through a birch forest on the way there, so had a lot on hand.  I tend to prefer oak or jungle wood doors, as they have windows in them so you can see out, but when you just have a stack or two of birch, you use that.

That was sort of a mid-point village, so I didn’t go through the effort of converting it to a full on supply base, but I still had to straighten things out and build a corral.

As I drove the road further south I ended up scouting ahead and found that after I built a nice wooden bridge… I don’t want every water crossing to be a cobblestone causeway, though the continuous cobblestone strip that defined my road still runs up the middle… I was facing a series of hills.  I could go over or through them to keep the the “go straight” plan, or I could veer east and go around, which would also let me pass through not one but two more villages.

That seemed like the obvious plan.  More villages!

Bridge and a turn to two villages

Bridge and a turn to two villages

However, as I scouted that after starting off towards the second village, I saw that the far side to the south went straight into a jungle biome.  And, honestly, I have had my fill of trying to build a road through a jungle biome.  You can’t burn the trees down, the hanging vines suppress fire, so you have to get out the TNT and blast your way through.

So I stopped my effort in that direction, though I did put up some signs about the villages so people can visit if they want (I also “fixed” a good deal of the first village, because me), and checked what lay to the west from the bridge.  I would have to go further to bypass the mountains… more road not getting me to my goal… but once there I seemed to hit plains.  Plains and another village.

Village on the plains

Village on the plains

While I had to bore through a bit of the end of the mountain range in order to head south again as soon as I could, after that it was into a long stretch of fairly open terrain, so road building could go quickly.

Of course, then other issues started to crop up.  By the time I hit that village I was already a day and a half ride on a horse from my last major base, “major” being defined as one where I put up a nether portal.  That connection to the nether becomes important as my logistical tail stretches out behind me and I need to do things like repair tools or I find a need for supplies… like potions and golden apples… that I don’t necessarily keep on hand.

So, while I have pushed past the village a bit, I may need to go back and set that up as another stop on the long rail line connected to our nether transport network.  But that is part of the challenge of doing a project like this, and the challenge is what makes it worthwhile.  I still have another 12km to go and a couple of wide ocean stretches I will need to figure out.

Minecraft and the Long and Winding Road

Every big Minecraft project I take on eventually arrives at that point where I wonder if I have bit off more than I can chew.

Somewhere in my drafts folder I have a post about the various stages of every big project.  They include the initial optimism, vague goals, and the eventual smack in the face by reality when the actual scope of the work becomes clear.  Happens every time I take on something beyond simple structures.

All of which brings us to the latest road building project, which is my attempt to create a marked overland route from the mansion in the far north and the infrastructure of our core settlement.  I knew up front that this was going to be a long slog, made all the worse by some of the terrain I would have to cross.  Jungles are… well… jungles.  TNT goes a long way there, but you still have to clear the remains.

My thought was to try and mitigate the effort by simplifying things.  I wasn’t going to make a paves road or a railroad, but just a single stripe of cobblestone leading from the mansion back south to the nearest outpost on the great rail line.  Cobblestone is easy to find, you can even create it from a machine.

So I set out to build the road.  And I actually have made some decent progress.  It helped that I was sick one weekend and when I wasn’t napping all I did was sit at my desk, listen to audio books, and play Minecraft.  Building the road doesn’t require deep thought, just effort.  As a result I am about six kilometers closer to my destination.

Progress so far

Progress so far

North/South is measured on the Z axis in Minecraft, and for some reason North is negative.  That is the sort of thing I would expect from an Australian and not a Swede, but whatever.  The the value is the number of blocks from the initial spawn point and each block is 1 meter, so I have managed to build a little over six kilometers of road so far.

Actually, I am probably past the 8km mark due to a good deal of going East and West along the X axis in order to avoid terrain obstacles… like the minor sea I ran into just south of the mansion.  That required a wide detour, as did a mountain range that cropped up as well.  The idea was to follow an easy path through the world rather than fight the terrain by digging long tunnels through mountains or long bridges over water.

But winding around things takes a toll of its own, and I do still have quite a trek between my current position and the eventual goal.

Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

Oh, yeah, that is quite a ways

Of course, in its way, this project is more about the journey than the destination.  Nothing gets you out and seeing the world better than having to scout the path ahead, finding landmarks, setting up forward bases, and tending to the most obstinate horse in existence.

He does this just to annoy me

He does this just to annoy me

I previously mentioned his apparent need to jump in the nearest body of water.

Earlier he was up a tree, now he's in a pond...

Aqua horse!

He is a very special horse.  It was suggested previously that I secure him on a lead. However about half the time I leave him thus secured I come back to find the lead on the ground and he has run off to find the most awkward position he could find.  I once dismounted on a bridge to fix something for just a moment and he immediately jumped off the bridge into the water.

I suspect by the end of this I will have to do a picture postcard post of all the places I have found him.

So when I end up at a base where I plan to spend some time collecting resources and building up supplied for the next road segment, I usually take a minute to fence in a patch to contain him.

Horse at my desert temple outpost... I found him some diamond armor there

Horse at my desert temple outpost… I found him some diamond armor there

The fencing usually keeps him in check, though occasionally he simply disappears.  I know he is in there, I bump into an invisible horse when I walk through his corral, I simply can’t see him or mount him.  The usual solution is to open the gates and let him wander out.  He seems to go visible as he leaves to make a run for the nearest water.

Anyway, the horse and I carry on building the road.