Category Archives: YouTube

Carbot and Diablol 2

Carbot Animations has a Diablo II series of videos running on YouTube, akin to the Diablol series they ran early last year for the original Diablo.  As with the previous run, it combines audio from the original game with the Carbot animation style.  They are a few episodes into the series.  You can find the playlist here.

My favorite so far covers the Blood Raven fight in Act I.

This nicely corresponds with the 20th anniversary of the game… no doubt intentionally… and my own replay through the game.

The Steam Summer Sale of 2020 Slips Away

Yesterday the annual Steam Summer Sale wrapped up, the mass of discounts were reduced to the usual state of something on my wishlist always being on sale, and whatever sticker collection game they had going came to an end.

Summer 2020

The ongoing pandemic, which is especially acute in the US where wearing a mask is now seen as a political testament, seems like a good time to have a sale on video games.  I’m coming up on four months of working from home and not going anywhere on weekends. There is only so much television I can watch in a day, so gaming seems a likely outlet for me.

The timing of the sale was poor for me.  It landed just as our group was having a bit of a resurgence of activity in WoW Classic, when the new Minecraft world still seemed fresh (and there was a new Minecraft update which I have yet to go into), and then a war began to brew in EVE Online.

The latter, the war in New Eden, has actually eaten up most of my gaming time since it started to boil last week.

Given all that, my need for, and bandwidth to deal with, has been somewhat restricted.  Anything I purchased from the sale was likely to go into my library and sit unplayed, and I have enough titles like that already.

Still, I did end up making two purchases.

The first wasn’t a new game but some DLC.

Space empire building of another sort

I saw that Stellaris had its addons marked down so I figured I would grab those.  I like the game and have played it quite a bit.  It is one I will likely go back to at some point when things are slow.

The second was another remaster.

Retro RTS Remaster

The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, which came out just over a month ago, was marked down a bit, so I grabbed a copy.

I am still a fan of the RTS genre and willing to play some classics.  I have not, however, played any of the Command & Conquer series before.  Skronk, who has, said we ought to give it a run, and the price, even without the discount, was not too dear.  And, it had been on my mind anyway as Honest Game Trailers did a video about it.

So I have those two to dig into when the war settles down in EVE Online.  Until that happens though, expect more posts about space battles.

Friday Bullet Points about EVE Online and Bonus Skill Points

It is Friday and, despite not playing much in New Eden myself this month, I have accumulated a few items I want to mention about EVE Online.

  • More Bonus Skill Points

Another bonus skill point event starts today.

Bonus skill points are the best skill points

Log in daily from today through Monday and get some free skill points to spend on skills you need… or to hoard  for some potential future need.  Alpha pilots will get 75,000 skill points if they claim every day while Omega pilots will be eligible for 250,000 skill points.

  • PLEX For Good

The PLEX for Good campaign to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross is still going.  You can donate PLEX, the cash value of which will be donated, through until January 26th.  Details on how you do this are at the link.

PLEX for Good

There is also a Stream Fleet event coming this weekend to raise awareness for the efforts and drum up more donations.

  • Download Your Year in EVE

I wrote about the Your Year in EVE videos CCP produced already.  You can see one of mine again if you need a reminder as to what they were.

If you enjoyed your video and want to keep it, you need to download it by January 30th.  CCP will be purging them after that date.  Fortunately, each video has a link included that downloads an MP4 copy of the video to your system.  That format is pretty much ideal for uploading to services like YouTube, which is what I did.

Everybody who got a video should also be getting a reminder in the email about the videos going away, but it you don’t check that email account very often here is another reminder.

  • 64-Bit Client Transition Complete

Last year saw the introduction of the 64-bit client which promised to make EVE Online a better experience when it came to big space battles, or even smaller ones as you would no longer have to go into “potato mode” just to be sure the old client wouldn’t exceed the 32-bit memory limit and crash. (64-bit was also necessary for ongoing MacOS compatibility.  Apple doesn’t hang about supporting legacy features the way Microsoft does.)

Getting people to move to 64-bit went better than expected according to a Dev Blog from CCP, such that they have declared the transition complete.

Every dev blog gets a graphic

Because of this the old 32-bit client will be officially sunsetted on February 26, 2020.

In addition, the system requirements for EVE Online will be raised, with 4GB becoming the new minimum RAM requirement and 23GB being the new minimum drive space allocation.

  • December MER

The Monthly Economic Report for December 2019 is out at last, so now people have all the data for the year so they can explore what went on.

December 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time – Everybody’s favorite chart

The Nosy Gamer has already been at it.  I don’t have much to say myself and am giving up the monthly posts about the MER.  They got tedious when I was reporting on them generally, so I went to focusing on specific items each month, but I think most people find the whole thing a snooze, so I’ll just play with the data on my own.

  • I Won a Thing

In conjunction with the Year in EVE videos I mentioned above CCP ran a social media contest around the hash tag #MyEVE2019.  Winners were picked at random and so I managed to make the RNG cut with this tweet.

Winners all got 500 PLEX which was delivered this week and the promise of a special SKIN to arrive at some future date.  I am going to keep the SKIN of course, but I am sending off the PLEX to the PLEX for Good campaign mentioned above.

The Library and the Armory

After a bit of time off around the holidays the instance group was able to form back up for another run this past Sunday.  Various holiday distractions meant that not much progress was made by anybody during the off time, which meant that we were still mostly in the level range for the library in the Scarlet Monastery, which we had previously run through.

Also, we were a group of four again, our lineup looking like this:

  • Viniki – level 34 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 33 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 33 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 32 gnome mage

I fear that Obama may have lost interest… or has other, more pressing interests… as he hasn’t logged in for quite a stretch.  Meanwhile, things have not settled down enough to get Earl on with us regularly, leaving us with the gang of four.

As the Scarlet Monastery library was still in the level range for us… maybe a level or two above our range really… we decided to take another run at that.  There was a quest in Ironforge that we had neglected to pick up previously that required us to pick up a book in the library, so at least we had a task.

We all grabbed the quest and headed for Southshore where we commenced another trot across the landscape to the Scarlet Monastery.  This time we managed to neither go completely wide of the mark nor run through the camp with the guards that wiped us out last time.  We kept to the road, swinging wide once we got past the Undercity.

Dangerous turn off

I did veer us a little bit more northward than I might have needed, but we arrived outside the Scarlet Monastery complex intact.  And we got the map update for Brill, so our Tirisfal Glades map isn’t quite so blank as before.

While it was Sunday afternoon, which can be something of a quiet time, we did have a couple other groups around, so we didn’t have to clear the whole way to the library door, though we did get in over our heads a little bit at one point before another group wandered in to help.

And once inside we nearly got a wipe on the second engagement.

The first area is corridor with four groups and a walker that comes and goes.  We cleared off the first group right away.  Then I shot the target in the second group to pull him, only to find he just wanted to sit there and cast, so I ran up to him and engaged.  Moronae followed me in cat form and got behind him, which put him just in range to proximity pull the next group.  Now we had four mobs to deal with.  As that was going on, the walked came up as well and joined in just as Skronk was dropping a heal on me.  An archer, she began pelting Skronk at range while her hound pet went chasing after him.  We were spread out down the corridor so losing aggro on somebody meant scrambling about, and I got there too late to save Skronk at one point and he went down.

Things were looking bad, but then somebody remembered that Moronae, a druid, had a combat ress, so he was able to get Skronk back up as we carried on.  I thought things were getting worse when I saw another hound engaged in the fight, but that was Ula using the dog whistle she got as a drop from Houndmaster Loksey last time.

In the end, we made it, but it was something of a mess.  At least we had cleared out most of the room.

We remained standing

That done, we took it a little more carefully going forward, clearing the courtyard and taking down Houndmaster Loksey without much in the way of drama.  Having been through the instance once already, we were somewhat aware of places we where we needed to take care, though being a few levels below some of the mobs, which range 33-37, we still managed the accidental proximity pull now and then.  But that generally happened when we were setting up for a fight anyway, so we carried on, stopping for a rest now and then.

Just enough chairs for our group

We picked up the book we were looking for along the way.  That took a couple minutes as the book disappears once somebody picks it up.  But it respawns eventually.

Ula grabbing the book

We worked our way around to the final corridor with only a few more accidental proximity pulls along the way.

Look, we won, didn’t we?

That left us with the main boss, Arcanist Doan.  The fight with him went about as well as we could have hoped.  He still sheeps the healer now and then, but we burned him down quickly enough that there wasn’t much of an issue.

Doan Down

As with our last run, he dropped the robe and the illusionary rod, the two big caster items.

There was a bit of confusion over who should get the illusionary rod.  I was sure it had dropped the last time but nobody remembered who got it.  Then Ula found it in her bag.  The problem was that it requires level 34 to use and neither she nor Skronk were there yet.

Skronk’s reward this time

At that point we were done with the instance, but we still had some time.  Both casters had the boss drops they wanted, so there wasn’t much point in doing the library again, so we decided to poke our noses into the armory wing of the Scarlet Monastery.  We were well below level for that, but we wanted to see how far we could get, so we started to run back to the entrance of the library… and ran unwittingly into a bunch of mobs and promptly wiped.

About where we picked up that book

Now, I remembered that instances in vanilla WoW respawned.  There was always that hanging over a group’s head back in the day if the run was going too slowly.  But in my mind respawns were something like a 2 hour thing.  We ran into respawned mobs at the location where we had taken them down about 30 minutes previously.  These instances are small, so maybe that accounts for the quicker timer, but it came as a surprise.

Still, we were out and nobody was keen to fight our way through the library in both directions.  So we ran back as ghosts, revived in the library, then exited to go next door to the armory.

Like most of the complex, the armory isn’t a big instance.  You work your way through the courtyard and then the open plan office area where most of the mobs hang out, to the the long corridor, finally ending up with Herod and the Scarlet Monastery floor show at the end.

The armory layout

We were definitely a little paranoid going in.  For some reason I had a bad feeling lurking in the back of my head about the open archery range, like there was some event or such that gets triggered there.

Are we the targets?

However, that might be something from the post-Cataclysm revamp in my head.  It proved to require just a careful clear to get through it, and only careful due to the rising level of the mobs and the possibility of more proximity pulls.  Mob levels were running 36-38 and, while Ula and Moronae had both leveled up, we were still punching up with a short group.

Once inside the armory we managed to keep things mostly under control.  The open space plan means that fleeing mobs can run straight to the next group if you are unlucky.  But we seemed to do okay.

The armory layout

Our first problem came at the top of the stairs in the room with the cannons, where we managed to get a patrol and proximity adds due to the closeness of the groups.  Things again looked like they might fall apart as mobs took down Skronk while I was trying to taunt them off.  Mobs resisting taunts and spells and polymorph were becoming much more common.

But Moronae’s combat ress was off cool down and Skronk was alive again and we managed to get through the fight.  We carefully moved forward, arriving at the fireworks stockpile after a few careful fights.

There we were facing a pair of level 38 mobs off to the right down the corridor.  There was also another pair of level 38 mobs on the left side of the corridor, which I thought everybody saw, but when I pulled the right pair somebody stepped into proximity range of the left pair and we suddenly had four mobs that were very resistant to our efforts to deal with.  It did not end well.

Ula throwing ice in the last moments

We wiped.

And, when we ran back we found that the instance had begun to respawn as the library had.  Also, we got too close to the first two mobs and pulled them by proximity… again… and had to flee the instance for the dark anteroom outside.  That happened to have another group hanging out in it.  We decided that we had gone about as far as we were likely to get… there was no way we were going to be able to take on the boss encounter with most of the group six levels below him.  So we recalled.

Stoning out in the dark anteroom

Three of us had our stones set in Ironforge, where we landed comfortably back at the bar.

We needed a drink

Along the way Skronk made it to 34, so was able to wield the illusionary rod.  Ula still has a ways to go for hers.

From the bar we ran first to repair, then across Ironforge to turn in the one quest we had.  The reward for that was a +6 stamina +6 spirit item for the neck slot.  Given that was empty for all of us, we were happy to have it.  Now we only have empty trinket slots, and it might be a while for that.  You don’t get the carrot on a stick until ZF.

We might have to spend a bit of time leveling up between instance runs.  We’re clearly shy of being able to do the armory wing, and nowhere close to the cathedral.  Also, we might have to work on a plan to fill out that lingering empty spot in our group.

Addendum:  Ula did a video of our run through the library where you can see, among other things, our near wipe at the start of the instance.

As always, amazing work by Ula with a fun sound track.  If you watch it on her channel you can see it in full 1440p.

Tales from New Eden – The Ghost Training GDC Presentation

Back at GDC 2018 up in San Francisco, CCP gave a presentation about the “ghost training” exploit that was introduced into EVE Online with free to play.  At the time this got some coverage, including over at Massively OP.  But to actually see the talk you had to be there or pay for access to the GDC recorded archives.

However, the GDC organizers post older presentations to their YouTube channel on a regular basis, and this session was posted in December so we are all free to watch it.

 

The presentation is just under an hour and opens with a few minutes of describing EVE Online before getting to the exploit.  It then unfolds with what the problem was and how CCP went to address it.

Interesting, and relatable to anybody in enterprise software, is how critical accurate and detailed steps to reproduce are, how unexpected results can come from interactions in complex and often aging systems, how the simple “just do this!” fix may not actually fix the issue (in this case it made things worse), and how assumptions about players/customers need to be validated.  That latter was especially important as the mood was “ban them all” both inside and outside of CCP because it was assumed this was primarily and deliberately being exploited by skill farm operators.

Some people were still banned, but the lighter approach the company chose to take meant that a range quite a few people remained customers after having their ghost training gains pointed out to them and given options to correct the situation.  In a game… in a genre… in an industry… where customer retention is vital for ongoing success, this seems like a wise approach.

Gnomeregan, But with a Plan

Last week’s Gnomer run could be rated as a success.  We went in, worked our way through to Electrocutioner 6000, obtained the back door key, killed the bosses up to that point, had a couple of intense fights, only had one death, and had zero wipes.  Op success.

On the flip side, the five of us went into the instance with six Gnomer quests in our log and only one of us, Skronk, came out with even a single one of those quests completed.  That was not stonks.  I think the first time we did the instance back in 2006 we did better, but still came out with a lot of quests undone.  But we went on to Scarlet Monastery and deleted those from our quest log.

So over the course of the week Skonk looked into what we needed to do and came up with a plan.  It wasn’t a complicated plan.  It was more of a reminder of the things we needed to do to wrap up some of the quests we had.

On Saturday evening we assembled again in Ironforge, set to return and finish things off.  Our group was:

  • Ula – level 30 gnome mage
  • Viniki – level 30 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 29 dwarf priest
  • Obama – level 29 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 29 night elf druid

Well, we sort of assembled in Ironforge.  Obama had logged off outside the instance the previous week, so we ran out to him.

Once more through the snow

For some reason he thought it wise to go into the instance, and did so before we grouped up.  Then he got aggro and died at about the time we arrived.  However, because he went in before he was in the group, entering Gnomer ourselves we did not see his corpse so could not ress him.  So he had to release and run back to the instance, go in, come back to life, then come back out to meet up with us.  There is always some complication.

He had to come back out because we had things to do outside the instance first.  We had to run around to where the side door is and find Techbot for the Save Techbot’s Brain quests.  That was a kill and loot.

Techbot’s brain saved, body slain

We also had to get our white punch cards update at the machine that is outside the instance as well.  Once we had done that, it was back to the instance itself. When we were previously at the instance there had something of a scene going on, with a group jumping out of the instance having gotten into some trouble within, only to get jumped by the mobs outside the instance.  This time around all was quiet.

Once inside things went pretty smoothly.  We cleared our way to the edge of the open area, jumped off the ledge, took on the ooze we landed on, then cleared a mob as the Viscous Fallout once again came up behind us mid-fight.

Here he comes, sneaking up again

As with last time, he may have been an add, but we still didn’t have much problem with him either.  However, he dropped the staff again, rather than the cloth boots the casters were coveting.  Such is life with RNG.

We went from there over to the ramp up to the dormitory and the room with the sloped walls where we had such a chaotic battle last time.  This time around we just needed to clear a couple of mobs to reach one of the punch card machines we needed for the second punch card upgrade.  We were on our way.

Then it was off to the gauntlet again, where we managed to clear through to the big room with the Electrocutioner 6000 in the middle.

We’re here already

Elapsed time in the instance at that point was 20 minutes.  We cleared around to the ramp, and got stuck in with the Electrocutioner 6000 pretty handily.

This time fighting in a lit section of the platform

At just past the 30 minute mark we were already up to where we made it last week.  Things were going smoothly as we cleared around to the tunnel that would take us to the Crowd Pummeler 9-60.  Moronae coveted one of the possible drops.

Again, clearing through to him wasn’t a big deal.  We were able to take groups out easily enough and were soon looking at our target.

The Crowd Pummeler 9-60 waits

Like many bosses, he doesn’t have a lot in the way of complicated mechanics.  He stands apart with an attack that throws you back, which could get awkward if you were fighting with your back to the ledge.  However, we had arranged ourselves in such a way that it was not an issue… totally by chance, yes, but it worked out.

At that point we were bopping along pretty well.  We cleared around to the elevator and then cleared the whole room below just to make sure we got all the “coke machines” that were down there for quest updates.

Then it was up the side tunnel that empties out into the ramp which leads down to the final boss, Mekgineer Thermaplugg.  We were pretty close to the end.  And then our troubles began.

Once again, there is something of a sudden ramp up in difficulty mid-instance.  As I have said before, vanilla WoW instances seem like a mix of experiments and assumptions about dungeon design.  And one of those assumptions was clearly that people were going to take multiple runs at instances.  While Gnomer doesn’t have the steep level ramp from start to finish the way Deadmines does, the key you get for the side door is an indication that they expected people to get that far, the work up a bit before going further.

So while things were very manageable so far, the moment we spilled out into the tunnel with the Dark Iron Agents and their mechanical friends, things suddenly got more difficult, though it would take us a bit to notice how much in over our heads we were.

The one wise thing we did was take out a small group that was up the tunnel from us, just to give ourselves more room before we took on the foursome of Dark Iron Agents in the direction we needed to go.  Not only were there four mobs to handle, all level 32 or 33 while we were still 29 and 30 as a group, but we totally forgot about the mines that the Dark Iron drop.  Add in an alarm bot that came up behind us and called in adds and the wheels came off pretty quickly.  We ended up with a wipe on that group, having taken down just one of them.

Dead on the ramp, mines about

But at least we got one, and Skronk had the soul stone ready.  We were not sure what the mines would do, there being one on either side of Skronk’s corpse.  He popped the soul stone and the mines immediately detonated, killing him again.

Strewn about sans mines now, Skronk face down rather than face up this time

That meant we had to release and run back.  In running back we decided to take the side door in, hoping to avoid the stuff we left behind.  We got to the door, over by where Techbot spawns, and found we could not use the key while dead.  Oh no!

And then one of use realize that, as ghosts, we could walk through the door and we were able to get back into the instance.  We buffed up and cleared our way ahead, hitting a second locked door.  I guess they needed a double door solution, the first to keep people from just wandering in if they didn’t have the key and the second to keep people from ghosting in the back door.

We were back and facing the three remaining Dark Iron, still marked with targeting icons.  Three should be easier than four, right?  So we checked our buff and got stuck in again.

And then something odd happened, which I still haven’t figured out.  Somehow we managed to draw what must have been 6-8 additional mobs, Dark Iron Agents and the mechs that are mixed in with them.  Maybe proximity to a group of two down in the lower part of the tunnel?  They swarmed in from up the ramp mid-fight, causing us to wipe again.

Everybody freakin’ shows up to kill us

On the bright side, the soul stone was up again, so Skronk had that in hand before the wipe.  But he was once again dead right next to one of the Dark Iron mines.  It seemed like we were going to have to do the return run again.  But, since the soul stone is “use it or lose it” he gave it a shot.  And, for no reason I can see, the mine didn’t go off.

Skronk escapes the mine

So he was able to ress us.  We buffed up again and carried on, trying to stick to the wall side of the ramp lest we draw a crowd again.

We were also becoming very diligent about zapping alarm bots when they showed up.  They only take a couple of hits, but if you don’t get them you’re going to have some adds.

The only good Alarm Bot is a dead Alarm Bot… from earlier in the instance

On we went, finally clearing that first group of four.  After that there were a couple smaller groups before we hit another group of four where things once again got our of hand and ended up in a wipe.  The soul stone hadn’t been ready yet, so we had to run back again, which is a bit of a pain since the closest graveyard is in Kharanos, which is a bit of a trot from the instance.

Skeletal remains of that wipe

We got one of the fours again though, which left us with a threesome that we could handle.

From there it was another clear and we were at the bottom of the ramp.  There four mobs wander.  As we were sizing that up I looked over the lip of the ramp to see what might wander up behind us.  There was a Dark Iron Agent there and as everybody piled over to look we proximity pulled him.  I figured we were toast yet again.

But he ran up the ramp, turned around and came up our ramp, just shy of where the mobs were roaming and didn’t bring anybody from the door with him. (Though he did bring his own friend.)  Some luck at last.  And then we found we could pull each of the mobs before the big door individually if we let them wander off by themselves.  We opened up the door and found a mixed group there, two elites and some non-elite helpers.  We took them on and managed to muddle through.  It turned out we could have taken each group individually, but I figured that out too late.  Ula went down in that fight, but Skronk was quick on the ress.

That left us looking at Mekgineer Thermaplugg, the big boss.

There he is

Moronae had something to do for a bit IRL, so we camped there at the edge of the big room and planned how to take on the final boss.  That let the soul stone timer run down, which ended up being handy.

As we sat there we saw the Dark Iron Ambassador wander by on his loop.  We would get him too.

We looked up how to deal with the big fight.  We all vaguely remembered something about bombs and buttons and such, but were pretty hazy on the mechanics.  The question was who to put on button patrol.  You have to push the buttons when the bomb towers get activated or they’ll keep unleashing mech bombs to come an disrupt the fun… and help the boss kill you.

There are six towers and buttons, and we decided that the two ranged DPS, Ula and Obama, ought to take three each.  They could run to buttons and cast in between.  I would stay in the middle with Mekgineer Thermaplugg and hold him there, Moronae would DPS, and Skronk would keep us all alive.

This was a tough fight.  The boss was level 34 and, Viniki had just made it to 31, but everybody else was still 30 save Obama, who was 29.  When you’re more than 2 levels below a mob, your attacks and spells and abilities become less effective and much more subject to resists.

So, while it started smoothly, the battle quickly devolved into chaos.  I had to work to build up aggro and two of my biggest aggro generators, sunder armor and mocking blow, were getting shrugged off and resisted more often than not.  With the damage I was taking Skronk drew aggro after not too long, leaving me to chase the boss around throwing a taunt at it every eight seconds, which it seemed to shrug off more often than not.

Skronk went down and I was left chasing Mekgineer Thermaplugg around the room as he went after the casters, then back to me, then after the casters again.  Skronk used the soul stone and got back in the fight again.  But, again, with him needing to pour on the healing… the boss chasing the casters drove them away from the buttons so as I chased the boss the bombs were chasing me… he drew aggro yet again as I tailed the target trying to get aggro back on me.

Skronk went down a second time.  The only bright side at that point was that Mekgineer Thermaplugg was down to his last sliver of health, so we were able to burn him down.  The fight was won.  Moronae used his ress to bring Skronk back.  It was a messy win, but a win none the less.  We took our traditional screen shot with the dead boss.

Victory over Mekgineer Thermaplugg

Thermaplugg dropped the Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator, a very nice cloth head piece that went to Skronk on the caster roll-off.  He earned it with his extra deaths.

Then we went back out to the tunnel and waited for the Dark Iron Ambassador.  He takes a while making his rounds, but we had seen him come and go a couple of times, so we knew we just had to wait until he made his way to us once more.

The Dark Iron Ambassador approaches

As a fight he was pretty quick.  And he had the potential to drop a mace that would have been a serious upgrade for me… or a gun that would have been an upgrade for the one I use to pull.  Instead he dropped the leather wrist pieces, which went to the only leather wearer in the group.

It was a successful run, but not without its share of wipes.  The Recount total of deaths for Gnomeregan round 2:

Repair time

After that we ran around the boss room, there being a memory of a chest or something in there.  But there was nothing, so we all stoned back home to get on the quest turn ins.

All of us stoning out together

On the quest front we had done pretty well.  I managed to get them all done, and everybody else was just one shy.  We may need to go back to find a few more of the “coke machines” to wrap that up.

Quest log for Gnomer

Back in Stormwind I ran over to the Dwarven Quarter to find Shoni the Shilent.  Then it was into Deeprun Tram to get to Ironforge where a bunch of quest turn-ins awaited.

Right there in tinker town

Then from there is was a run down to Kharanos for the final turn in.  That one actually led to another quest back in Gnomer.  Given that, the fact that we need a few more items for another quest, and that a couple of us want boss drops that we didn’t get, and that we could all probably use a few more levels before Scarlet Monastery, we might yet return to Gnomer at least one more time.

I will likely get Viniki out and to level 32 before we go back in.  The final fight would probably be a bit less dramatic if I could hold aggro.

In case we don’t go, I’ll add in the part that links back to our past Gnomer runs below:

  • Gnomeregan – Round 1 – Dec 2006 – Our first run, with an odd writing style. I was still figuring out how to write about instance runs.  Also, there was no “round 2.”
  • Road to Gnomeregan – Dec 2009 – We go as our Horde group via the Booty Bay teleporter.  This was after Gnomer was refactored to be slightly lower level than in vanilla.
  • You Brought Me Here, Now Give Me The Damn Quest! – Feb 2011 – We run the Cataclysm version of the instance.
  • The Key to Gnomeregan – Nov 2019 – I might as well include last week’s post here for posterity.

Addendum:  Ula posted a pair of videos covering the run.  The first video goes up into the Dark Iron Agents.  You can see us jumping off the ledge to get to the Viscous Fallout through until our wipes.  You can see much better how many mobs came and swarmed us on that one wipe.

The second video carries on with the Dark Iron Agents, shows that proximity pull, the final clearing fights, and then the big battle Mekgineer Thermaplugg.

As always, excellent work by Ula!  Go follow her blog.

EVE Online Gets Rapid Fire and Triglavians in its Third November Update

I thought EVE Online going to updates every five weeks was a bit of a fast pace, but now we’re into our third update for November.  We had the new player login campaign update first, a tiny update yes, but it got its own release notes, so I covered it.  Then we got the Beat Around the Boosh update two weeks back.  And now we’re getting an update to the Triglavian event and the Team Talos Rapid Fire update, which was mentioned back at EVE Vegas.

The invasion continues

On the Triglavian front, the event has been updated, with CONCORD observatories being deployed around New Eden to study the Triglavian stellar accelerators.  But, as always, CONCORD needs your help.  In this case, they want you to defend these observatories from Triglavian attack.

Also coming with this update is the Triglavian dreadnought, the Zirnitra, which was previewed at EVE Vegas.

Very big Triglavian ships arrive

With it comes a new capital ship class entropic disintigrator weapon along with the X-large ammo to go with it and the skills you’ll need to train up in order to use the ship and its weapons.  And, of course, there are BPCs out there.  This dreadnought is supposed to be less expensive to build than past faction dreads have been.  CCP wants people flying this beast.

Then there is the Team Talos project, the Rapid Fire update, which brings good news to a number of Minmatar hulls and auto cannons.

Stabber Fleet Issue, Tempest Fleet Issue, Typhoon, Bellicose and Rifter are all getting a bit of a buff, while medium autocannons are getting a bit of stat increase as well.

On the flip side, the over-used Muninn is getting a bit of a nerf (no wonder Elo Knight is taking a break now) as are Angel Cartel ships.

Then there is Team Five-0 and the shareable bookmarks update.  This brings the long sought after Alliance Bookmarks feature by creating a way that bookmarks can be shared via the Access Control List interface.  There is a cost however, in that there are limits to the number of bookmarks than can be saved.  There are 102 individuals that currently exceed the 20,000 bookmark hard cap that the system will enforce, but with 248 million saved locations in New Eden, some effort to keep system performance viable had to be made.

There is a dev blog that covers this in detail and the forum thread where problems with the change are brought up.  No matter what CCP does at this point, somebody will be unhappy.  Of course, I only have a few hundred bookmarks, so I am nowhere close to the problem zone.  And I know people who are very happy with the change as well.  I’ll personally be glad to have wormhole bookmarks that can be set to expire and go away on their own.

Then there is the Black Friday login campaign which will reward capsuleers who login daily between Nov 27th (tomorrow) and Dec 3rd.

Further details for these changes are in the updated November patch notes, with some additional information on the updates page. The update has been reported live, so it is our reality now.

In addition, as part of EVE London CCP released a new trailer for items coming to the game this winter.

However, a good portion of them are available as part of today’s update, which is dropping nearly a month ahead of the calendar maker determined first day of winter in the northern hemisphere.  But I’ve always maintained that seasons are more a state of mind… though November still feels like autumn in my book.

Addendum: Probes are now optional in Thera thanks to the bookmarks change.

The Key to Gnomeregan

As I mentioned in the Stormwind Stockade post, we were skipping straight ahead to Gnomeregan, bypassing Razorfen Kraul.  This was, in part, due to Ula demanding that we face something challenging lest her video recaps of our adventures get dull.  We cannot depend on Skronk falling off of things every time to liven up a run.

So it was to be Gnomeregan, with the group capped at level 29 according to the MOTD in guild chat and the pinned notice in our Discord.

Not that we were in danger of getting too far ahead.  When the designated time came on Sunday afternoon, our lineup was still mostly at level 28.  We were:

  • Ula – level 29 gnome mage
  • Viniki – level 29 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 28 dwarf priest
  • Obama – level 28 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 28 night elf druid

We met up outside the bank in Ironforge to get ourselves together.  With an eye towards getting things rolling as quickly as possible I brought my warlock, Winki, to the bank to use the summoning skill to bring Obama and Moronae to us, since I could see from the guild roster that they were strewn about the map of Azeroth and there was no need to waste our limited time on travel.

Summoning before the bank

Still, it took us a while to get sorted and to get all of the quests shared out.  Like the Stormwind Stockade, Gnomer has its share of quests.

Most of the quests

We had to trot down the hill into Kharnos in order to pick up an additional one, and I am not sure we got them all.  There is quite a list.  But once set there, it was off for the instance.

Through the snow to Gnomer

Which is a bit of a trot.  And Gnomer is also one of those instances where the elite mobs start before you get to the portal.  But that is fine.  Troggs are for killing.

And more so once inside.  Clearing troggs is a bit like clearing Defias in the Stockade.  They hang around in groups and you get the occasional walker… well, runner… passing through, though the runners are at least non-elite.  As tends to be the case, the mobs on entering the instance were lower level than us, but that changed as we moved further in.

Moving further in though… nobody brought a map and it had been ages since we had been in Gnomer, so we moved through the instance in what was probably not the most efficient method.  But we didn’t fall off of anything, which is a hazard.

We found our way to Emi Shortfuse pretty quickly and ran through her event.

Emi starts us off

The end of that event had no drop.  I was kind of hoping for the gauntlets that are a possibility, but we were denied.

Afterwards there was some question as to where to go.  I had some recollection of jumping off the ledge to get to the Viscous Fallout boss, but I wasn’t sure that was the best idea.  So we decided to just clear our way through to where ever, including that platform in the middle.

Fighting on the high platform

The fact that you can fall off of high places in Gnomer was a bit of a reminder about how things have changed.  I recall being in instances in later expansions and finding all sorts of invisible walls that would keep you from falling off into anything.

Given that we all needed a ton of drops and a bunch of the “Coke machines” that are scattered throughout the instance for quests, taking the long way around and killing as we went seemed like a reasonable approach.

At one point we came out into a room that we had to clear and things started getting out of hand.  We don’t have anybody who can quickly stop troggs when they start to run… the wind up for druid root is a bit long… so there were a couple of adds from that.  We were also fighting on a sloped section of wall with some open doors to other rooms, which ended up in a proximity pull or two.  I hope Ula got Skronk falling into one of those open areas on video.  The fight seemed to be getting out of hand but we somehow managed to come through it without losing anybody.

Taking a breather after the fight

From there we found our way into the safe zone, where we used the vendor and played with the machines.

3 silver for a piece of lead? At least it gives exp on the first try

After that we carried on to the floor area where the Viscous Fallout lives.  We were careful pulling mobs, clearing out a large area around the doorway before venturing in.

Pulling ooze back from the main floor

And then, as we were taking on one of the slimes the Viscous Fallout wandered up behind Moronae and the fight was on.  I honestly thought it was just another elemental, and the fight went pretty fast.  But, it turned out we had another boss down.  He didn’t drop the shoes, which all the casters were looking for.  Instead he had the staff.  It is a nice staff, but not what people really wanted.

After that we cleared our way back around to the out door and into an area I have heard referred to as “the gauntlet” in the past.  It is a long corridor with a walkway up on the left side, both of which had mobs wandering around.  You have to pick one or another to travel down to get to the next area.  The comedy comes when you’re in one and get close to the end of the other and pull proximity aggro and get a few surprise adds.

Here is where we ran into trouble.  At the start we went into the wide section, eschewing the walkway, mostly because there was a “Coke machine” sitting there waiting for us.  The pair of mobs next to it didn’t seem like much of an issue.

And then we got a walker as an add.  Then an alarm bot showed up and called for help before we could kill it.  And then somebody strayed too far left and we got a proximity pull from the walkway.  And then another as a walker on the walkway joined in as well.  Things were becoming a bit chaotic.

Fight in the gauntlet

At one point, with my taunt on cool down yet again… that is a long 8 seconds to wait… Skronk went down.  That was fine, he had a soul stone, we could still pull this out.  But then we had to have a discussion about whether or not we wanted to “blow” the soul stone on a fight with trash mobs.  I was very much on the “yes, revive yourself and heal me now please!” side or the discussion, and he did use the soul stone.  I suppose Moronae could have used his combat ress as an alternative, but we didn’t really have the time to bring that into the debate.

Also, all of our buffs took the opportunity to drop during that fight, just to add to things.

And yet we lived.  I figured, after that previous fiasco in the room with the sloped wall, that there was a good chance of us pulling through.  Despite being older and rusty and not very well coordinated (I’m pretty sure the voidwalker ran off and pulled another add on its own) we are still not as bad as we were back when we were doing this as a group for the first time in 2006.

Once we recovered and got buffs back up, we decided to take the walkway forward.  Its narrow confines had more mobs and would keep us marginally less likely to get proximity adds from the big open trough.  We still managed it, but we never ran into a situation quite that bad again.

Through the gauntlet, we ended up in the big room that had the next boss, Electrocutioner 6000, in the middle.  We just had to make our way around the room to the ramp up to his platform.

Around the platform, working on gnomish aircraft, are groups of five or so gnomes linked together.  They are all non-elite, so the idea was to pull them, group them up, then do “fire & ice” so the casters would burn them down.  And that sort of worked.  There were a few hiccups.  Amongs the groups there is the occasional elite mob.  The pathing for the gnome groups is still as broken as it was back in the day, which makes getting them all together awkward if you try to pull them through one of the areas they refuse to enter.  And, frankly, mage AOE wasn’t as OP effective as I recalled, so we had to get in and chop down individuals.

Still, we managed, nobody died, and we made it to the ramp and laid eyes on the boss in not too long.

There he is

Despite the Electrocutioner 6000 being a few levels above us, level 32 to our mostly level 29 group, with only Ula having hit 30 so far, the fight with him was short.  There are no special mechanics, it is just a “there he is, get him!” sort of fight that went very quickly.  Maybe our DPS isn’t all that bad.  The main complaint was that I pulled him into a dark area on his platform, so the fight wasn’t going to look good on video.

Over the corpse on the dark corner of the platform

The Electrocutioner 6000 dropped the Lagnut ring, which went to Skronk, it being spirit and stamina focused.

At that point we had been running for about 2.5 hours and there was some spouse aggro developing for a couple of us.  We started a bit late in the afternoon and dinner was ready for some of us… I had to pause the group at one point to call in a Thai food order for my wife to pick up on the way home from a listing where she was holding an open house… and pointed reminders that there was food on the table were coming.  So it was time to call it for the day.

Fortunately, the Electrocutioner 6000 dropped the workshop key, which lets people come in the other entrance, bypassing the initial bosses.

They key

So we were set for our next run.  We recalled back from that platform.

…after playing on the planes

So Gnomeregan will be a two-parter for us.  Maybe a three-parter if we decide to finish off all of the quests.  I don’t think we knocked out a single one.  As for next time, the level cap for the group was raised to 30, since Ula was already there.  We will pick up where we left off next time.

Ula has posted two short videos from our run.  The first covers entering the instance through the Emi Shortfuse event.

The second takes us through the Electrocutioner 6000 fight.

Among other things in this video, you can see the Viscous Fallout wandering up on us, the fight in the sloped room, the chaos of mobs showing up in the Gauntlet, the pathing issues I mentioned, and how quick the Electrocutioner 6000 fight and why we took the fight in that dark corner. (Hint, proximity pull again!)

Cragboar Reba and the Running of the Gnomes

For the running of the gnomes last weekend none of us had a pink haired gnome ready to hand, so we all rolled up new ones.  I was content to click the name generator until I got Westonty.  I’m not sure how Skronk ended up with Bandearg.  But Ula actually thought about her name and came up with Cragboarreba which, as Skronk noted, is either a great name or a Nashville insult.

The Three of us

More importantly though, at least for purposes of this post, she had her video capture running and was able to put together a video of the 2019 running of the gnomes on the Bloodsail Buccaneer server in WoW Classic.

As with some of her past videos, you can compare and contrast what she shows with what I wrote about the event.

You can see some of the layering oddities as gnomes fade in and out, the ride on the tram, the forming of the heart in Booty Bay, and even the odd lag effect that made gnomes jumping into the water appear like they were plummeting to the bottom.

Nobody being attacked by a tiger or a giant ape in Stranglethorn Vale though.  She was further back in the pack so the shepherds had already cleared things away most likely.

So if you want to see a video about a mass of pink haired gnomes running to Booty Bay, then taking a boat to die en masse in Orgrimmar, Ula has you covered.

Friday Bullet Points about Playable Worlds and ManaWorks and Other Things

Another Friday with just some tidbits to share.

  • Playable Worlds

Raph Koster announced his latest venture yesterday.  Called Playable Worlds, it got $2.7 in seed capital to start making it a thing.

As jaded as I am, $2.7 million doesn’t seem like a lot of money.  Thanks Star Citizen!   But it is seed capital, so the team has to make some progress before they will get any more I suppose.  At least it is not being crowd funded. The description though… that is wide open.

As you might guess, with the online world, we are going to build a massively multiplayer world where all sorts of players can come together and find ways to regardless of whether they like exploring or adventuring or socializing or player-versus-player (PvP). It’s a sandbox world that supports many ways to play.

-Raph Koster, VentureBeat interview

All things to all people much?  It won’t be a themepark I guess.  But what will it be?  Possibly` another MetaSpace, Raph’s previous venture, where you got tools and had to make your own content.  That did not end well.  But there is a solid team signed up to give it a shot, and Bhagpuss has run down the backgrounds of some of them already.  Massively OP also has a post up about it.

As for when it will show up, you had best find something else to occupy yourself for a few years, this is going to take some time.  But you can sign up for the email list on the Playable Worlds site.  Or follow them on Twitter or Instagram or whatever.  You can also apply for a job there.

Also another article over at Games Industry Biz about MMO lessons learned that may be applicable.

  • ManaWorks

Another new studio was announced this week, ManaWorks.

Good for those looking for something from a new studio, but perhaps bad news for fans of GuildWars 2.  As Kotaku notes, the lead of the new studio is Mike O’Brien, who was up until now president of ArenaNet and quite possibly involved in whatever would come next from the studio.  With his departure, along with other members of the GW2 team, the future of ArenaNet projects is very much a matter of speculation.  There are posts up about this at Massively OP, Inventory Full, and Nerdy Bookahs that are worth reading if this topic is of interest.

  • EverQuest Show Daybreak Teaser

The EverQuest Show traveled to San Diego to talk to the Norrath team and has promised to share the interviews in the next episode of the show.  Until then there is just a teaser video up featuring a short chat with executive producer Holly Longdale.

  • Norrath Soundtracks

Daybreak has announced that the original soundtracks for EverQuest and EverQuest II are now available for purchase from Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and maybe Pandora.

Sound Tracks for Both

I’ve not been a big fan of the Norrath music myself.  It tends to run between too brassy and too few strings on the lute for me.  But I barely like anybody’s soundtrack and generally turn the music off and listen to my own while I play, so Norrath is hardly an outlier for me.

  • Skywalker Speculation

And, completely off the video game topic, a new Star Wars movie is coming this December, the third film of the third trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker.  I am sure it will make many people angry and/or happy, while making Disney just that much more wealthy.  Not a lot is known about the story, or even the meaning of the title.  Over at How it Should Have Ended on YouTube they have put an episode of Villain’s Pub that speculates on what is really coming for this entry in the saga.

It is as least as good as any of the fan theories you’ll find on Reddit.