Category Archives: Minecraft

The Mineserver Kickstarter Campaign One Year Later

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

— The Ninety Ninety Rule, Tom Cargill, Bell Labs
Way back in October of last year the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign was wrapping up.

The campaign was being run by author, pundit, and former InfoWorld columnist Robert X. Cringely and his three pre-teen sons and the plan was to take some off-the-shelf hardware, some available Minecraft server software, combine it with an admin interface of their own, and create an easy to use Minecraft server that you could setup at home and that mom could admin from her iPhone.  The Cringely team had been working on this for a year and it was all done save for some details.

The campaign ended on October 21, 2016 with 388 backers pledging $35,452, well over the $15,000 the campaign sought.  Thus funded, the team was working towards wrapping things up and shipping out units to customers by the end of the year.

Full production will begin at the start of November and our goal is to deliver all Mineservers™ — burned-in and tested — by Christmas.

-Mineserver Campaign Page

The final line on the campaign spelled out the attitude towards their goal.

This is not rocket science… That’s next year.

-Mineserver Campaign Page

So it was off to production.  There were some updates through October and November about finishing up the admin software and sourcing parts and getting units ready.

And then things got a bit quiet in December, until on December 21st there was an update with the title “Man Overboard!

Their Linux consultant, needed to tie the whole package together, had gone missing and had to be replaced.  He was a rare person, being a very familiar with Minecraft, but they found another guy who was very familiar with the hardware, but wasn’t up on Minecraft.  Shipments, already a behind schedule, would be delayed a bit longer.

Again, we’re sorry, but shipping will be delayed about one week.

-Man Overboard update

And then began the long dark winter, as more than a month went by before the next update titled “Better Late Than Never!”  More problems had cropped up.  The compiler they were using for their chosen version of Linux wouldn’t work with the ARM based motherboards they had chosen, motherboards which they had purchased and were waiting for installation.

Mineserver motherboards - January 2016

Mineserver motherboards – January 2016

This was going took a bit of time to solve, but wasn’t insurmountable.  The custom admin software was moving along and they had support for the server flavors they wanted, except for Cuberite, which they expect to add soon.

Server flavor choices

Server flavor choices

While they worked on Cuberite support and a WiFi issue, they put up some test servers so people could try them out for performance and use the routing software to see if it resolved correctly. (It never did for me, I had to use the IP addresses to connect.)

Comments from backers, which started to take a negative turn after the last gap, got a bit darker when a month and a half went by before we heard another word from the Mineserver team.  On March 17th we got an update titled “The Devil is in The Details.”  There was a statement up front that they won’t delay between updates that long again.

Getting the Cuberite server software to work with the admin application had been problematic, it being the odd man out on the Minecraft server front as it is compiles in C++ rather than Java.  This however was what made Cuberite desirable, as it is way out in front of the other options in terms of performance and really needs to be on the box for the Mineserver to meet its supported players claim.

Meanwhile, the dynamic DNS system and a the WiFi support also had issues which needed to be solved before they could ship.  And, finally, there is what they think is an Ethernet issue causing the boxes to drop off the network occasionally.  But the mood was still upbeat.  These were solvable problems, solved already really save for the last one, so the update ended with optimism.

It’s the final bug, we’re approaching it with planning, gusto, and plenty of Captain Crunch, and fully expect to solve this last issue and start shipping next week when the kids are off school for Spring Break.

-The Devil is in The Details update

Three weeks later there was a small update that included a call to help test the Mineservers they have setup and a mention that the Ethernet bug may not yet be solved.

Then there was another month and a half gap, proving that they in fact would do “that” again, before we got the Science Experiments/Finally Nearing the End update.  Cringely’s son Fallon used the Mineserver setup for a science fair entry, which features at the top half of the update, which then goes on to the fact that the underlying management software still doesn’t support the Cuberite server.  Support for Cuberite will be available at some point in June, so they are going to wait for that.

Meanwhile Mojang has released Minecraft 1.10, which comes up in the comments as to how updates like this are going to be handled.  There is no response to that question or, frankly, any question ever that comes up in the comments.  Cringely doesn’t do comments, he just drops updates and goes away it seems.

An early July update said that the Cuberite support had been delayed, but that they continued to work on the product and that it will support Minecraft Pocket Edition at launch, which needs its own flavor of server.  There is a promise of regular updates.

At this point we’re going to start doing updates every Thursday with the idea of keeping you better informed. Thank you for your patience.

-Still waiting for AIM update

By July 22nd there seemed to be a breakthrough, with an update that says Cuberite support is now a thing, and getting it to work right is all that is delaying shipping.  Optimism still reigns.  They have only missed one Thursday update since making that promise  Again we are told, “This isn’t rocket science. ”

The next Thursday update has an admin interface issue solved, but there is still the Cuberite support issue.  A week later, on August 5th, things seem really close, plus now the Mumble voice server software will be bundled in with the Mineserver.

And then summer vacation ends and Thursday updates cease.  I expect that with three young boys heading back to school that the Cringely household has its hands full.

Finally, on September 14th we got an update that says the WiFi doesn’t work reliably.  WiFi hasn’t been mentioned since January, and the comments indicate that some people have been taken aback by this. (One person claims to have filed an FTC complaint.)  Apparently the part they chose isn’t compatible with Arch Linux, so they have ordered a replacement that should fix the problem.

No further updates have been posted, so the status of the WiFi and Cuberite support remains a mystery.

On September 23rd the one year anniversary of the launch of the Kickstarter campaign passed, and on October 1st it had been one year since campaign met its funding goal.

Welcome to crowdfunding.

Ah, but a project’s reach should exceed its grasp, or what’s a Kickstarter for?

-Me, abusing Robert Browning’s quote

Last week over at Massively OP there was a post about 10 questions you should ask before backing an MMO Kickstarter.  In the comments I, along with several other, proposed some additional question, mine being focused on your readiness to accept that any dates promised during the campaign are generally blind optimism at best.  I mean, Star Citizen, right?

Being late is part of the experience.

About a year and a half ago I reviewed the Kickstarter campaigns I had backed, and those that had shipped were universally late.  Not all drastically so.  Defense Grid 2 shipped just a month after the promised date.  Go, go Hidden Path Entertainment!

In fact, I have been meaning to do a follow up on that post as time has passed and a number of promised delivery dates have gone by, but I was waiting for the Mineserver issues to get resolved, since it seemed like that would just been a few weeks off… for the last nine months.

Ah well.

I am not particularly annoyed by the delay.  This is not a rage post, but a summing up of the tale so far.  If I want something delivered on time, I order it from Amazon.  I did rather optimistically plan to move our Minecraft world to the Mineserver at a couple of points, but not being able to do that hasn’t really changed much.  Instead it got moved to different hosting providers.

This is more of a review post to look at how things were handled.  These days I am more interested in HOW people run campaigns as the campaigns themselves, having come up with my own success predictors and such.

The campaign itself went very well.  It got enough publicity, in large part because of the Cringely name, and hit funding milestones that indicated it was going to be a success early on.

No, the problems here have all been post-campaign.  Success is a problem everybody wants to have, but how you handle it can make any victory Pyrrhic.  For example, No Man’s Sky was a huge financial success (yes, I know, not a Kickstarter campaign, but work with me here), however the gap between what was promised and what was delivered will likely haunt the studio and key devs going forward.

For the Mineserver campaign I think there have been two obvious problems.

The first has been over-optimism, which is ever a curse here in Silicon Valley.  At several points during the campaign it sounded like problems were just about solved and we were told that units would be shipping soon.  And then they didn’t ship.

You cannot foresee all problems, and people will forgive you a couple of slips.  But after a while your predictions lose their credibility.

The second problem has been communication.  Updates have been sporadic and the comments might as well be turned off for updates section since they never get any sort of response.

At one point Cringely said he didn’t want to do updates unless he had good news to share.  In my experience though, any update is better than no update.  And that is doubly so when combined with optimism, when an update says there will be a week’s delay and then the next update doesn’t show up for a month.

I think the campaign was on the right track for a bit with the “every Thursday” updates.  But, as I noted, those fell by the wayside and now we are in limbo again, waiting for some news.

So we shall see.

At this point, with our current server happily chugging away on Mojang’s hosting, I will probably use the Mineserver to play with Minecraft mods.  When it finally arrives.

Addendum: We got an update on October 7, there are new problems, a possible solution, and shipping is still a few weeks beyond the horizon.

Up All Night in Leuthilspar

Syl wrote about day/night cycles in MMOs a couple of weeks months years back.  Clearing of the drafts fodler here, as you might guess. Of course, one aspect of that is how long such a cycle should be.  At one end of the spectrum is World of Warcraft, where Azeroth turns on a literal 24 hour cycle, and server time is in-game time.

EVE Online also runs on a real-world 24 hour clock, though I am not sure that a day/night cycle makes much sense there.  It is always night in space, right?

Anyway, in Azeroth that means if you are like me… I live in the US Pacific time zone but play on a server in the Easter time zone, 3 hours ahead of me… you might spend most of your time in WoW playing at night.

Not that night is all that big of a deal in WoW.  Every single instance group screen shot has been taken during the night cycle and most of the time you couldn’t tell it was night.

The lair of Lockmaw

This is night. Stars in the sky.

There is, as Syl noted, a nice sunset period if you are on at the right time, and likely a similarly pleasant sunrise, though I’ve never seen that.  I’ve been online when it has happened, I was just deep in Uldaman at the time.

Other games have a much shorter cycle.  In EverQuest you passed through the day/night routine every 72 minutes if I recall right, 3 minutes per in-game hour.  That could leave you running around in the dark a few times in a single long play session.

Scarecrows in West Karana

Night, when the Scarecrows come out in West Karana

And at the extreme end is Minecraft, which has a 20 minute day/night cycle, which means if you play for an hour… and who plays Minecraft for just an hour when you’re into something… you will spend half that time in daylight and the rest in the dusk, night, and dawn portion of the cycle, during which time the night life will be coming for you.

Coming to get me...

Coming to get me…

Of course, the Minecraft example brings up what is probably the key question when it comes to a day/night cycle; should it have impact on game play?

In World of Warcraft there is almost no impact on game play.  As noted, you can barely tell it is night as the moon over Azeroth apparently reflects 80-90% of the sun’s luminosity during the night time hours.  And I am hedging by even using the word “almost” there, because something in the back of my brain believes there was a “night only” spawn at some point.  But that could be me.

At the other end of spectrum is Minecraft, which isn’t an MMO but is MMO enough for this discussion, where the transition from day to night changes game play dramatically.  It actually gets dark out, so lighting matters.  But even more so, as noted above, things come out at night.  Bad things.  Things that seek to kill you or blow you up.  So you either hunker down and wait out the night… or sleep if you’re alone on your server… or get out there and fight the encroaching zombie/skeleton/creeper menace.

Maybe that is an extreme example.

But I do hear calls now and again for not only a day/night cycle in MMORPGs, but that the cycle should impact game play, that night should be different than day, and that NPCs should behave in a way attuned to the cycle of the world and their lives.  They should go to bed at night.

That last bit… that is one of those things that always sounds better in theory that it does in reality.  And I say that as somebody who has lived a bit of that as reality in an online game.

Back we go again, back through the mists of time, back to TorilMUD and the days of text, triggers, and ANSI color characters as a substitute for graphics.

All text, all the time

All text, all the time

I’ve written about TorilMUD many times before, and specifically about the hardship of the elves of Evermeet, stuck until recently in their own little corner of the game until level 20 with few zone choices and not much in the way of gear available.  The sorrow of the eldar is never ending and all that, as my Leuthilspar Tales series has illustrated.

But we did have one advantage there on Evermeet, and especially in the city of Leuthilspar.  For the most part elves don’t seem to need any sleep.  Shops were open all night long and even the city gates, which the guards closed and locked at sunset, could be passed through after hours if you spoke the right word. (It was “peace.”)

The rest of the world however…

It was a sure sign that a player was fresh through the elf gate and in Waterdeep for the first time when, locked outside of town, they would stand there saying things like “peace” and “please” and whatnot trying to get the gates to unlock so they could pass through.

And imagine to confusion in the a poor elf’s eyes when a vendor in town suddenly announced they were shutting up their shop for the night and wouldn’t be serving customers until the morning.

Outside of Leuthilspar, shops had business hours!

The vendors wouldn’t go away… though I think one in Baldur’s Gate used to move into another room… they would just stand there as usual.  However, when you attempted to interact with them, they would announce that they were closed and admonish the player to come back later.

In a way, it sounds quaintly archaic in today’s world.  But TorilMUD, measuring from its predecessor Sojourn MUD, is past the 20 year mark as well.  It was a simpler time and a different audience in an era when game devs sometimes felt the user ought to conform to a much more rigid set of rules.

I couldn’t imagine a MMORPG today putting something like that in place.  But TorilMUD was smaller than even the most niche MMORPGs we’ve seen.  I would guess that maybe 10K people created accounts on the game over its lifetime.  During its peak it could get a couple hundred people online at the same time, which was considered quite the crowd.  In that sort of small, self-selecting environment, you can set different rules.

And the vendors didn’t just have hours, but would also only deal in specific goods at times.

But, at least the day/night cycle was short.  The ration was one real life minute to one in-game hour, so a day went by in just 24 minutes.  Not as fast as Minecraft, but close.

Anyway, such were the was of the past.  How niche would a game today have to be to get away with that sort of thing?

August in Review

The Site

I guess the site news this month was participation in the annual Blaugust event.  This year is was a more chill Blaugust.


For the Relaxed Edition of Blaugust, you got to choose what sort of posting goal you were going to pursue.  You didn’t HAVE to do a post a day.  So, feeling a bit worn, I chose the “weekday posts” plan, which is what I usually do anyway.

And the, of course, I posted every day of the month anyway, this being post number 36 for August.  Go OCD Wilhelm.  I actually have leftover posts I didn’t finish.

I did manage to post them all to the Blaugust forum on Anook as some sort of proof that I was in the event.  Anook seems kind of dead this year however.  Gamer social network sites, still not a viable business plan yet.

Anyway, I should go nudge Belghast, the founder and administrator the Blaugust event, and see if I can bump up my commitment on the list to “every day,” since that was what I ended up doing.

I will likely do a further post-event summary next month, but Psychochild already has his up if you need something like that right now.  Be sure to leave a comment!

One Year Ago

It was Blaugust and a lot of people played along.

I told the strange tale of my first automotive test drive.

Project: Gorgon had Kickstarter success at last, then there were stretch goals, the grand total, and mapping out a plan going forward.

Blizzard, on the other hand, was facing bad news as WoW subscriptions dropped to 5.6 million, the lowest since December 2005.  In order to drown that our, Blizz had a big WoW announcement planned later in the week.  There was much anticipation.  I speculated on what it might be, but it turned out to be the WoW Legion expansion announcement, sans cinematic.  Of course, once they announced it, everybody wanted to know when we would get it.

In EVE Online, it was all about Fozzie Sov.  People were complaining.  We had to take sov from allies in order to transfer it, at which point MOA temporarily scooped up a couple systems. Crazy days!  The Galatea expansion addressed some of our issues.

Then the Imperium went to Providence to test out the new sovereignty mechanics… and to purge the Jamylites with the blessings of Maximilian Singularity VI.  The resulting conflict is all under the Provi War tag here.

Meanwhile, CCP was doubling down on VR, adding EVE Gunjack to their lineup.

Turbine was warming up for the great LOTRO server upgrade and merge effort.

Daybreak was also planning server consolidations, these for EverQuest II.  They were also working on a server for misfit players, which seemed like a dubious idea.  And on the Stormhold server, the first expansion unlock vote came up.  The players said “no” to the unlock.  And in EverQuest, on the Ragefire and Lockjaw servers, the inevitable enforced raid rotation schedule was implemented, with an eye to keeping out casuals it seemed.

In Minecraft, I was discovering fire and putting our world up on a hosting service to share it with friends.  Xydd joined up and began working a lot on the nether, while Skronk began his own building project, as I tinkered with dungeons.  We had a setback with our hosting service.  It was a good thing I was keeping backups.

And I wrote a little something about the passing of Robert Conquest.

Five Years Ago

Blizzard announced some crazy idea that you would have to be logged on to at all times to play Diablo III.  Glad that never came up again.  Oh, wait

SOE finally got a comprehensive server status page, and Scars of Velious opened up on Fippy Darkpaw.  I was wondering if they had “made good” with customers after the great hacking in April/May of the year.

I hit 70 million skill points in EVE Online and prepared to check out after the summer or rage.

I was back playing LOTRO for a bit.  I made it into Moria, then went looking for hoes.  I also wrote a post summing up my relationship with LOTRO up to that point.  It’s complicated. announced World of Battleships.  They have since changed the name to World of Warships, because we cannot have enough games we can shorted to WoW yet.  This got me musing on battleships and related games.

Meanwhile, World or Warplanes (another WoW) got a web site with cool pictures and stuff.

David Reid was telling people that Rift had ONE MILLION CUSTOMERS.  How one actually defines a customer was left as an exercise to the student.

I was still playing some Need for Speed World.  I was enjoying destructible terrain, though the weekend the police broke lead to some different destruction.

I mentioned some of the little things I liked in MMOs.

I was wondering about World of Warcraft Magazine issue 5.  It seemed to be very late.

And Namaste put out a Very Short History of MMOs video.  Wasn’t there a follow up video?

Ten Years Ago

This is the last time I have to do this before I can simply re-run five year old “Five Years Ago” segments, which is good, because bugger all seems to have happened a decade back this August, judging from what I was able to scrape up from Wikipedia year and month entries.

AOL, which apparently is still a thing even today (I strongly suspect my mother-in-law still gives them money every month), bought the GameDaily site which, in a case of foreshadowing, was eventually disappeared into the Joystiq brand.

The original Saints Row launched… on the frickin’ XBox 360.  Eventually its popularity brought sequels to the PC Master Race.

I started playing EVE Online on August 29, 2006.  That must have been my last “pre-blog” MMO start.  It was certainly another stepping stone on the way to the blog, as I felt I have to tell somebody about the horrible new player experience.  Some things never change.

I was also mucking about somewhat aimlessly in World of Warcraft, stuck in the bag-stuffing morass that was Stranglethorn Vale of old, trying to get past the level 40 slump on a few characters, and wondering if it might be time to run back to EverQuest II.  If only I had a regular group to do something like run dungeon content in Azeroth!

Features Sites of the Month

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

Ah SynCaine, the raider who burned out on WoW and who has been damning it ever since.  Somebody who can flame bait like no other, the only person on who regularly comments on my blog whom my mother thought was “mean.”  In many ways the anti-me in posting, always blazing in the purity of his point where I tend to hedge.  He’s been a pain in the ass for almost the lifetime of this blog, but without him, what would our little corner of the internet be?  Also, he is in GSF now, so Imperium solidarity.

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

The site isn’t what it once was, and I’ve long since been stricken from the list of blogs covered.  But it is still a place of great MMO blogging significance to me, the cornerstone of a group of bloggers who crossed paths in posts and comments and cross-links over the last decade.  And, as I mentioned earlier in the week, the VirginWorlds podcast archives, which was at its peak from 2006 into 2008, is a treasure.  I still go back and listen to some of the old shows now and again, as Brent often captured what people were thinking and saying about various games so well.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. Executive Outcomes Leaves The Imperium
  2. Breaking into Delve
  3. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount
  4. Cross Country to Frostfire Ridge and the Bloodmaul Slag Mines
  5. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  6. The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with an Arceus Event and More
  7. I Bet Blizzard Really Wants to Mention Subscription Numbers About Now…
  8. Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost
  9. Can Better PvE Save New Eden?
  10. Who Has Successfully Changed Horses Midstream?
  11. Fresh from the Legion Invasion Event
  12. Demon Invasion? What, Me Worry?

Search Terms of the Month

middle earth gamea for 2017
[Maybe LOTRO will still be around…]

85 beastlord where to molo
[Get your mojo on when you molo!]

eve online drop outs
[EVE University issue?]

i free won warlods of draenor
[I bet you did]

will clone wars adventures come back
[No, it will never come back]

Spam Comments of the Month

Don’t make your site look like a Christmas tree. It’s a complete turn off.
[Unless, of course, it is Christmas]

Don’t forget to keep records of your cost for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) , email campaigns, online marketing cost, PPC (pay per click cost) and BC Ecommerce.
[um, right-o!]

diy clock kit
[Yeah, we know how home made clocks work out]

EVE Online

We completed the move to Delve and began taking over the region, one constellation at a time, raising the ADMs as we went.  We are about two thirds done with that.  At some point the casino barons paid Progodlegend one trillion ISK to bring TEST down to Delve to fight us.  Comedy has since ensued, including trapping a TEST/NCDot Machariel fleet in a dead end constellation and camping them there, forcing them to either die running the gauntlet or self destruct. (31 kills so far.)  One guy even ejected from his Machariel to avoid giving us the kill mail, allowing Jay Amazingness to jump into the ship and fly it off.  Good times.


It has been a slow month for me in Minecraft.  I’ve been on a bit to tinker, but I do not have a big project currently to which to devote myself.  I was working on a bit of a rail line upgrade and beautification task.  But that is a long, long project with all the rail I have laid.  Of course, I’ve also had other games to play this month as well, so I haven’t really sat down and thought about Minecraft much either.

Pokemon GO

Since I actually own an iPhone now, I started playing Pokemon GO.  Current end of month stats:

  • Level: 11
  • Pokedex status: 39 caught, 40 seen
  • Pokemon I want more of: Eevee naturally
  • Surprisingly rare catch: Geodude – Those are usually pretty common in the the Pokemon RPGs

World of Warcraft

Lots of WoW play time this month.  After wandering about a bit aimlessly after the 7.0 class apocalypse and garrison nerfs, the Legion pre-launch events hit and I was down with that and leveling characters up and trying to formulate some plan.  And then the expansion hit yesterday.  We’re finally there.

Coming Up

There is a whole new WoW expansion, what do you think I will be spending my time with?

EVE Online will probably be pretty quiet next month, with just the Delve conquest to finish up and maybe a Reavers deployment to recover the Jacket Dispersement Station in ED-L9T.

Just kidding, the lid is coming off in the EVE Online community with the announcement of a complete change up to boosting and a free to play plan coming in with the needs-a-name-now November expansion.  Crazy Viking game devs in action again.  I will likely have something to say on that front, though I am waiting for the dust to settle a bit.

Also, as noted at the top, there will be some sort of summary and linking out to everybody post about Blaugust.  And, given that this is my 120th month in review post, those capable of simple math might expect some sort of anniversary post to well up at some point in September.

I am not sure I will have time for much beyond that.  What else will need to be covered in September?

July in Review

The Site

Nothing exciting happened to the site itself this month.  The scheduled post notification, which still uses the “new comment” icon most of the time, is still annoying.  I haven’t quite gotten around to looking at the blogger feed in the side bar just yet.  So all I have is that at some point this month I passed the 4,000 post mark.

Quantity... has a quantity all its own...

Quantity… has a quantity all its own…

Also, I still have some storage space left, which a concern given the number of screen shots I upload.

One Year Ago

I was feeling a bit of the summertime MMO ennui blues.

Project: Gorgon was off with another Kickstarter campaign.  Would the third time be a charm? (Spoiler: yes.)

Need for Speed: World shut down, so I said farewell to Palmont.

Derek Smart began what would become is crusade against Star Citizen, detailing why he felt we would never see the game that was promised.  It could have ended there, but RSI responded in a way guaranteed to turn it into a fight and took away his Rear Admiralty.   Game on!

In Minecraft I was learning about not falling off of things, bringing light to dark places, and accumulating materials.  Also, sheep stole my mine cart.

I was mucking around in War Thunder for a bit.  It is a pain to return to the game because there is always a huge update required.

Over at Daybreak, there was a vote up for the EverQuest progression server Ragefire about speeding up the unlock of Ruins of Kunark, as well as talk about raids and such.

On the EverQuest II side of the house, there was a beta for its first nostalgia servers.  I avoided the beta but was there when the servers went live… for the big surprise, the return of the Isle of Refuge, adding to the nostalgia experience.

And while that was going on, it appeared to be the end of Smed at Daybreak.

In New Eden my alliance, TNT, handed over its last system in Deklein. We then lived in Tribute.

The Aegis expansion hit… but there was a delay between that and other bits of what we now call Fozzie sov to be deployed.  But entosis link modules were finally able to take sov as the month rolled along.  So we started to learn by doing.

There was a plan in the Imperium to bring in care bears to mine and rat in order to raise ADMs so that our now much reduced space holdings would remain secure.

At one point Mordus Angels managed to claim some sovereignty in Pure Blind!  Can you imagine?  Crazy times!

Meanwhile, in the cash shop… erm… New Eden store, more skins were being rolled out.  Or, rather, the same skin on more ships.  The blog banter of the month was on about attributes, and I was bitching about never having enough jump clones.

On the Azeroth front, Blizzard said they would be announcing the next World of Warcraft expansion… right after the Q2 quarterly report was released, which raised some suspicions in me.  What would the subscription numbers look like if they felt they needed a big announcement to distract from them?

And I finally got my copy of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls from the Kickstarter… only two years late.

Five Years Ago

Google+ was already starting to become annoying.

I tried Civ WorldI didn’t like it.

In EVE Online, the results of the emergency CSM Incarna summit were released with CCP basically saying, “Ooops.”

I hit level 50 in LOTRO, got into Eregion, and actually saw the door into Moria.   Only a couple of years had passed since I bought the expansion. Gaff was ahead of me, as usual.   Meanwhile, Isengard was in beta, but nobody was supposed to talk about it.

Getting lost… rules.

EA, BioWare, and their new Origin service got together and combined my accounts without bothering to mention they were doing it in advance.  Just another day at EA as I understand it.  Customers come behind their own convenience.  Still, I was interested in their authenticator and how it stacked up against others.  Can you actually buy those yet without getting the CE?

Speaking of authenticators, SOE made one available as well that looked just like the Blizzard model.  But they cannot be swapped, one for the other.  I got the official line from VASCO on that.

And on the SOE front, they announced that they were going to revamp Freeport, which I took as a waste of time.  (Plus, of course, Qeynos got shoved off until later.)  I am still not convinced that either revamp was worth the effort of the time spent downloading the assets.  But I am not sure Beastlords were either.  They seemed pretty broken when they launched.

The instance group wrapped up our last adventure in EverQuest II Extended.  There were a number of way the game wasn’t right for us.  It wasn’t just the ugly mounts.

The pending closure of Star Wars Galaxies led to interest (and concerns) about SWG emulation.

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.  I think they are in closed technical alpha at this point.

I started playing Need for Speed: World, a driving MMO.  It wasn’t a bad game with the right music playing.

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

And World of Warplanes was announced, which got me wondering if this might not be a spiritual successor to Air Warrior of old.

Ten Years Ago

July 2006 was some sort of barren wasteland for related news.

Microsoft was talking about a device to challenge the iPod and denying they would ship an XBox 360 with an HD DVD drive.  Being on the mark half the time is pretty good for them.

EA was trying to retain people by giving out more stock options while Take-Two Interactive was being investigated over stock grants.

The ESA announced they were downsizing their yearly E3 conference.

The Civ IV – Warlords expansion came out on Windows and Super Dragonball Z launched on the PlayStation 2.  Woo hoo.

Featured Sites of the Month

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

I have my own EVE Online picture blog, but Mark726 at EVE Travel goes way beyond that, finding the various attractions in New Eden, documenting them, telling you where to find them, and how dangerous the journey might be.

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

Connor has been running MMO Fallout for over seven years now.  He covers MMO news that doesn’t always make the big news sites.  It is not unusual to see Massively note MMO Fallout as an initial source for a story.  If you want to know about what is up with Jagex or NCSoft or some other non-headline grabbing companies, it is a site that should be in your feed.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Titans Down in Okagaiken Trap
  3. The 7.0 Patch Looms
  4. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount
  5. The Pokemon GO Phenomenon
  6. LOTRO Headed for the Grey Havens?
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Cross Country to Frostfire Ridge and the Bloodmaul Slag Mines
  9. Last Moves Before the Big Move
  10. Defeat in the North and New Destinations
  11. Pointed Towards Delve
  12. Last Minute Garrison Gold Grubbing

Search Terms of the Month

orcs fucking
[What I get for using the phrase “more fucking orcs” in a post I guess]

دانلود بازیهای پورنو برای
[This is what the Ayatollah said would happen]

where is darkrai in pokemon emerald
[Nowhere, as it happens]

eve online on kindle
[I don’t think that meets the system requirements]

world of warcraft legion will suck
[There is always somebody…]

origin unifies your gaming life
[Unity is over rated]

EVE Online

It was time for a change of direction in New Eden.  After a strong start to the month, where we bagged some titan kills, The Imperium gave up its war in the north, postponed the reconquista indefinitely, and set its sights on Delve, the traditional place for Goons to invade.

And then we spent the rest of the month packing our stuff and hauling 41 gates/13 jumps south through hostile territory.

EverQuest II

I wasn’t expecting to play much in Norrath.  My account was set to lapse soon.  However, the Race to Trakanon server came up and I used my last few days to get to level 10 and collect a “one for every character on your account” mount as a prize.  Worth the effort to me.


I have spent some time in our Minecraft world, but I haven’t had a real project to focus on.  so I built another base with a giant structure along the great rail loop.  I am thinking about trying to build some sort of city skyline in the near distance along the rail line, with lit up windows so if you take the rail line at night it will look like… well… a city skyline at night with windows lit up.  We’ll see.

Pokemon GO

Since I do not actually have a smart phone, Pokemon GO hasn’t really been much of a game for me, personally.  And yet it is everywhere.  It is something those birthday cards that list out what was going on during the year you were born will mention decades from now.  As to whether or not it will survive as a game, I couldn’t tell you.  But it has gotten to much press to be forgotten now.

World of Warcraft

There was the roll up to the 7.0 patch… and after that I sort of lost interest.  The game is in a strange spot for me, as I am somewhat interested in playing, but not so much that I want to get out and do things with my level 100s.  When I have played, it has mostly been with lower level alts.

Coming Up

Considering what an empty month August can be, with so many people on vacation, there are actually some things coming up.

There are the Olympics, provided anybody is going to show up and compete.

There will be a chill Blaugust event according to Belghast.  Sign up today!

WoW Legion pre-launch events will be kicking off, and people who pre-ordered the expansion directly from Blizzard will have access to the new Demon Hunter class on August 9th.  Scrubs like me who got the 20% Amazon Prime pre-order discount will have to wait until the box shows up on or around the expansion launch date.

And then there is the big WoW Legion expansion launch on August 30th.  Will the servers be ready for it?  How long will the queues be on opening night?  How many people will show up?

In New Eden we should be done moving to Delve and ready to attack the region in force.  Lots of player groups in the area likely to oppose us.

Plus we will have to see how Pokemon GO fares as time wears on, school starts, and gyms are taken over by increasingly higher CP Pokemon.

Minecraft and the Map Room

l have gone on a bit about how much I like having access to rendered maps of our Minecraft world.

The current-ish map of our world

The current-ish map of our world

Having that available really helps me with the big scope road and rail projects I have been working on this year in addition to just helping me find things in the world.

But there are also maps within the game.  I have tinkered with them before, but they can be a bit quirky and I haven’t really found a lot of use for them, aside from being decorations.  I have maps of the local area hung up in a few of my bases.

On the decorative front, Skronk’s map room in Firenze is probably the high point of their use in the world.  Skronk went out and put together maps of various locations in our world and hung them up with labels in the map room.

Looking at the map room in Firenze

Looking at the map room in Firenze

Recently, Aaron went on a tour of our world, riding the rail loop I had built.  He too was impressed with the map room he saw.  He was so impressed that he decided to make his own map room, in a very Aaron sort of way.  He is the guy whose base has samples of all of the flora and fauna in the world in neat little areas.  And now he has a map room with the biggest map collection in our world.  Behold the map wall.

Aaron's map wall

Aaron’s map wall

That is 224 map segments affixed to the wall with frames.  The just visible red square in the middle of the map is part of Aaron’s base.  The map itself is backlit using sea lanterns at several points.

A closer look at the map gives a better feel for the level of detail that the in-game maps can achieve.

Standing closer to the map

Standing closer to the map

There you can see the red square is actually a grid of red netherrack from Aaron’s charged creeper farm, detailed in a past post.  This also shows Xydd’s castle in the upper left corner and one of my bases to the right of Aaron’s  Also visible is some of the road and rail network.

It is pretty cool.  It won’t replace my rendered maps, which show more detail, but it is still something great to have within the confines of our world.

The same area in a rendered map

Approximately the same area in a rendered map

And, being another Aaron epic project, you can see that his map room has two more walls ready for map segments so that the room will eventually give a panoramic view of a segment of the world.

Ready for more maps

Ready for more maps

I do like the idea of having the maps backlit.  I may go do that to some of the base area maps I have hung up around the world.

Minecraft Night Renders

I have written about Minecraft Overviewer before, the utility that will take the data from your Minecraft world and render it into the Google Maps format so you can see the big picture of your world in a browser. (There is a GUI utility as well, for those who want to avoid command line fun.)

While I have avoided mods and kept to a vanilla server for more than a year now, this utility is now almost essential to me for the sort of big road, rail, and exploration projects I have been interested in.  Yes, with location coordinates available, I could build in a point to point fashion.  But that isn’t as much fun as looking at the terrain you have explored and finding the more interesting or optimal path through the world.  The great rail loop is made up of straight lines, but I usually knew where I was headed due to the map.

The current-ish map of our world

The current-ish map of our world

That screen shot of the map doesn’t do the map output justice.  Being in Google Maps format, you can zoom out to get the big picture… as big as your monitor will allow I suppose… or zoom in to see details.

Firenze continues to grow

Firenze on the rail line

But Overviewer has a number of rendering options.  I tend to just run it with the high quality, smooth render option set, which gives you a daylight view of the world.  But you can also render the world at night.

Firenze lit

Firenze lit

I played around with the night rendering when I first downloaded Overviewer.  It is kind of an interesting view.  However, its utility didn’t seem all that great.  It lets you spot dark patches in your compound, which is where monsters will spawn at night, but you can also render with an overlay option that will highlight dark spots in red on the daylight map, which is more precise than looking for shadows.

Since then though, I have warmed to the night render.  To start with, I think it just looks nice.

Xydd's castle lit

Xydd’s castle lit

And it does let you see how well you may have lit a given outpost.

Fire station town along the rail line

Fire station town along the rail line

I am definitely going to get monster spawns in that fenced off area north of the wall.  Better light it better to protect my flock.

You can also see the strange yet useful bug where lighting remains behind after you burn down part of a forest to clear a path for progress.

No need for torches here

No need for torches here

And, zoomed out, you can see the lit path of the rail line running through the world.

Some sections need more torches

Some sections need more torches

It is like those views of Earth at night from space, where you can see population clusters because of how they are lit.  (You can see the lit woods from the picture above along the lower left of the wide view picture.)

But it was the wider view that caught my interest.  You can also see all sorts of pools of light on the map.  Every bit of exposed lava shines, as does every torch I planted while exploring. (Also a little strip of woods I may have set on fire.)  I realized that the night view was a handy way to find things that wouldn’t necessarily show up on the daylight map.  I used to use lit netherrack to mark places, as that shows up in daylight, but in the night render single torches stand out in the darkness.  You can scan about for little pools of light which highlight villages that we haven’t visited yet.

Needs more torches... and a wall

Needs more torches… and a wall

I can also locate a lot of the little overnight rest stops I have dug out while exploring, often just a door in a wall somewhere with a torch for lighting.

Wilhelm slept here

Wilhelm slept here

So I have spent some time looking for the foot prints we have all left around our world.

But sometimes I just look at the night map because it is neat, like the guardian farm lit up and glowing.

The Guardian farm at night

The Guardian farm at night

Now I wonder if there is a way to count how many torches there are deployed in our world.  Given all of them I can see on the surface, plus all of them strewn about the nether, plus all of them in the various mining operations under our bases has got to add up to a significant number.  I know that most of the coal I dig up goes to torch production.

June in Review

The Site

In the land of, another new feature/annoyance was introduced this month.  There is a little alerts icon at the top right of the browser window when you are logged into WordPress.  It announces when somebody leaves a comment or follows the blog or when your page view stats see a spike.  Generally I see the latter only with my other blog, where more than 30 page views in a single hour is cause for mention.

But added a new notification in June.  This one pops up to tell me that a scheduled post has, in fact, been posted as scheduled.



The problem for me is that every single post that goes up here is scheduled in advance.  While that is only one or two notifications a day, they aren’t something I really need.  I already have a notification scheme in place that doesn’t require me to be sitting in front of a browser and logged into the blog.  Additionally, the notification uses the “somebody left a comment” icon, so inevitably I go to the blog, see that icon, wonder who left a comment, and am rewarded with a reminder I didn’t need.  Not the worst affliction in history, but I am still looking for a way to turn that off. (Actually, they finally changed the icon to something unique, but I’m still annoyed.)

Meanwhile I am getting a little tired of seeing this in my side bar.


My MMO blog feed seems to be down quite often of late.  At first I thought it must be related directly to my Rube Goldberg implementation.  But I have a second feed, for Gaming Company news, down at the bottom of the side bar, that uses the same process, and it is never down.

But that feed gets relatively few new items in it on a daily basis.  The main feed potentially  draws from more than 200 feeds a day.  And given the times it appears to be down most frequently… which tends to correspond with times when most bloggers in my feed seem to post… makes me wonder if it is struggling to keep itself up to date, or just won’t display when an update is pending.  Anyway, I may pare down the list of blogs it draws from to just a few to see if that changes the reliability.  I’d like to have lots of blogs able to appear, but I would also like the list to appear a bit more regularly as well.

One Year Ago

There was a cheer for the NBI class of 2015.

I was wondering what Turbine would do after they cancelled Infinite Crisis.  I was also looking for a summer game to play.

After waffling before a live audience, Blizzard finally caved and said there would be flying in Draenor.

Remember that time we killed a Mordus Angels Revenant?  It seems like everybody has killed one by now.

Also in EVE Online we got the Carnyx expansion, which had some of the initial Fozzie Sov features.  So we were out sov-wanding station services, though Dominion sov quirks still ruled the day in our fight at ED-9LT.  We then headed back north thinking maybe our friends in Querious would come visit us some day… *cough*

The coming of Fozzie Sov also meant further consolidation of holdings to make sure we could defend our space.  TNT got pushed out to Tribute to share space with the Circle of Two.  We saw how well that worked out.

And then there was Burn Amarr.  I took some screen shots.  And I splurged on ship skins.

Over at Daybreak they were talking about special servers for EverQuest II at last.  It looked like we might get some sort of progression server, for which there was a poll.  And then another poll, looking for a name.

Meanwhile, over in EverQuest, they were still working on how to deal with raiding on the Ragefire server, and the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote was upon us.

I was playing Neko Atsume on the iPad… back when it was only in Japanese!  I was also going on about 64-bit OS requirements finally coming to video games and an old grievance of mine.

My daughter suddenly wanted to play The Sims.  That lasted for about three days.  This is why I make her wait a week on any sudden new fad she want to follow.

The Steam Summer sale came and went and I bought nothing.  That turned out to be the last sale with the traditional daily specials format.

I brought up the F2P business model yet again based on a quote over at Massively OP which, if nothing else, got a long comment from Brad McQuaid on the subject.

And, finally, I played Minecraft with my daughter for Father’s Day, which led to a whole new adventure in gaming.

Five Years Ago

I had to get out my Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD.

Team Fortress 2 went free to play.  Begin the hat-based economy!

I was wondering if people were picking on Lord British.  This was before he started talking about his “ultimate RPG” and made it a very entertaining sport.

We were not playing WoW, but guild accounts were being hacked.  And we were not even among those 600K WoW players that supposedly went to Rift.

LOTRO announced the Rise of Isengard expansion and offered up a exp boosting item for pre-orders.

I was wondering what launch conditions would be like for SWTOR.  Of course, I sort of figured it might launch before mid-December.

LEGO Universe announced it was going free to play.  At our house, my daughter enjoyed it for a bit, but eventually dropped it for Animal Jam.

CCP began a slow and deliberate campaign of alternating between shooting itself in the foot and sticking said foot in its mouth, all in the name of the Incarna expansion.  And my sentry drones were still boring.  And then LulzSec brought them down.  At least they had finally made it much easier to find an agent in the game.

SOE announced a new version of Station Access, its “all games for one low monthly price.”  Called SOE All Access, which had a price of $19.95 a month.  This was a welcome drop from the previous $29.99 a month price.

However, by this point, SOE had dropped The Matrix Online and had just announced they were killing Star Wars Galaxies, so there were certainly less games to play.  Of course, that was also back when they had some games that were not free to play.

At least SOE was up and running after the PSN/SOE outage.  A pity they fumbled the marketing opportunities offered by their make good plan.

The instance group had finally gotten out of the damn starter zone in EverQuest II Extended, but the game still wasn’t sitting well.

On the Fippy Darkpaw time locked progression server, the Ruins of Kunark expansion was opened up and then “finished” in short order.

Ten Years Ago

Paul McCarty turned fucking 64 already and could probably afford to buy the entire Isle of Wight at that point, regardless of how dear it was.

Sonic the Hedgehog turned 15, which I guess means it is 25 now.  Maybe I shouldn’t do call backs to birthdays.  But relevant gaming history was a bit light a decade back, so I felt like I needed some filler, which explains the first three items in this section.  Come September it will be better.

Bill Gates announced that he was planning to relinquish his remaining full time positions at Microsoft in order to focus on his foundation.  Though Steve “Uncle Fester” Ballmer had been CEO since 2000, Gates was still Chief Software Architect and Chief Research & Strategy Officer (along with being chairman of the board).  As of today he still retains the position of Technology Advisor to current CEO Satya Nadella.

EverQuest II got the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack, the last such pack until 2015’s Rum Cellar.

Nintendo finally shipped the Nintendo DS Lite in Europe, though $3.2 million worth of them went missing en route from China.

Half-Life 2: Episode One was released as Valve briefly tried to pay attention to the core of their biggest franchise at the time.  Still waiting for Episode Three.

Featured Sites of the Month

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

Rohan has been at it for more than a decade now digging into the nuts and bolts of game mechanics as well as bigger picture issues.  While World of Warcraft has been a prime focus, he has delved into other titles along the way.

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

I am a little bit late in pointing at this, give that the NBI 2016 event ends today.  But I haven’t been able to keep up with the event in any case, it having taken to Discord.  Still, it has weekly summaries of this year’s event, which includes the new bloggers joining in and the blog posts done in support the whole thing.  Hopefully there will be a final event summary post tomorrow so I can crib the list of new blogs for a post of my own.

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Remembering Spaceship Warlock
  3. Blizzard Admits that WoW Expansions are Just Going to Take Time
  4. Thrill of the Hunt Not Thrilling Enough, Being Removed from New Eden
  5. RAZOR Leaves The Imperium
  6. One Hundred Million Copies of Minecraft
  7. Scenes from the Saranen Undock
  8. Return to Draenor
  9. Minecraft 1.10 The Frostburn Update
  10. Hurricane Massacre
  11. A Carrier Dies in Deklein
  12. Landmark Goes… Live

My post about the Warcraft movie was in 13th place, but on the Chinese version of the blog it is totally at the top of the list.

Search Terms of the Month

recommended skills to fly a naglfar well
[A tolerance for losing expensive ships?]

hyperion or dominix

joke european heaven and hell
[Must involved Brexit somewhow]

does anyone play everquest 2 time locked servers
[Yes, yes they do]

jotunheim brass tiamat corpse mud
[Mixing up your Forgotten Realms areas aren’t you?]

Spam Comments of the Month

Labelling the third time inside collection of as the most important improve nevertheless, Jagex documented potential customers will capability to take part in the wow free of necessitating coffee beans or other stopper inches.
[And that is just one sentence out of five long paragraphs of nonsense.]

With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems
of plagorism or copyright violation?
[Posted to my picture blog.]

EVE Online

Just to annoy people with another inapt WWII analogy, so popular with sideline pundits over the course of the war, we seemed to have our Battle of Britain Adlertag in Saranen.  After trying to sit on us and hold us down for weeks in the system, during which we undocked to fight again and again against superior forces, where we were losing the ISK war daily, and were feeding the hostiles many kills, our foes got tired of the whole thing and went away.  Now we just have to liberate Europe… erm, the north.  Maybe the MBC will attack the Russians.  Of course, if we really want to beat this analogy to death, that ends up with them making satellites out of the eastern half of the area and a new cold way or some such.

Anyway, we’re still in Saranen, but with the letup on pressure, we have begun to push back into null sec again.  For us, the war, the same war that has been going on since January, continues.

EverQuest II

I did spend some time pottering about on the Stormhold progression server.  I continued moving along at a leisurely pace.  What I might call my “main” there is just level 25, but I spent some time crafting with him, so his crafting level past 30 now.  And then I used his skill, he is an armor smith, to equip and alt that I ran up to nearly 20 before I set him to crafting as well.  Pretty much usual story in EQII, just at a slower pace.

However, with the return to WoW, I suspect my time here is at and end.


I passed the one year mark for playing the game.  Our world continues to get sporadic attention, though after finishing one grand project, the rail loop, I am looking for another.  Minecraft pretty much took the time slot that used to be filled by a secondary fantasy MMORPG, which is why EQII has fallen off the “games I play” section of the side bar.

World of Warcraft

My daughter and I are back in WoW, though just yesterday she confided with me that maybe we came back a little too early.  She is stuck with one level 100 on the horde side and a level 91 on the alliance side and isn’t keen to do level cap stuff or run through Draenor again.  We’ll see if we can find something while waiting for the pre-Legion 7.0 patch.

As noted, I have made unlocking flying in Draenor my goal, which has given me a series of things to do on a regular basis without it becoming too grindy.  I did warm up a couple of the trade skills so I could get my tailor cranking out hexweave bags again.  Bigger bags are always good.  So I am reasonably content for the moment having a few goals that won’t take huge efforts.

Coming Up

There are a few posts I have planned already, including a salute to NBI Class of 2016, if I can find a definitive list of them somewhere… or even if I cannot… some sort of summary of where I ended up in EQII and what I liked (or did not like) so far with the Stormhold progression server, what I am up to in WoW in some more detail, and some mention of the original PlanetSide, which goes dark tomorrow.

On the WoW front, there is a reasonable chance that the pre-Legion 7.0 patch will drop around the end of this month.  I would not expect it to hit earlier than July 26th.  August 2nd seems more likely, as that would give us four solid weeks with it before WoW Legion goes live.  More than that “feels” like it might be too much, with August 9th being the latest date I think it will hit.  We shall see.

Amazon also delivered my copy of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  If I can get some time in front of the TV, I will play it and probably end up writing about it.

The Steam Summer Sale is going on right now, and will wrap up this coming Monday.  I haven’t posted about it.  But then I haven’t bought anything either.  I haven’t even been logging into Steam to get my daily trading cards during the sale.  I am bad at Steam.