Complaining About Small Things in WoW… Yet Again

The time has come to once again gripe about a few small issues that are bugging me in World of Warcraft and see if people commiserate or call me crazy.

Tabbing Out

At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, Blizzard decided that if you are playing full screen and you tab out of the game, well, fuck you.  Auctioneer stops getting data from the auction house, pet battles patiently wait for my return, and redraws stop happening so I have to go through a loading screen when I tab back in.

It wasn’t always this way, was it?  I mean, I remember, at one time, being able to tab out of WoW and not having my auction house scan just sit on the same page the whole time.  Tabbing out is so ingrained in me that I am sure it must have worked fine at some point.

And I get the whole not using system resources when you don’t have focus thing, but this seems like it has gone too far.  My of my processor cycles to go the idle task anyway, feel free to waste some.  They aren’t roll-over cycles.  I can never get them back.

Losing That Highlighted Feeling

All your bags open up when you access a vendor.  They all close again when you close the vendor window.  Big deal, right?  Been that way for half of forever.

And it was fine… until Warlords of Draenor.  And then Blizz introduced that thing where it highlights new items in your bag.  Cool feature.

So now you hit the vendor, bags open, you buy something, it is there highlighted in your bags, but you can’t click on it or anything lest you sell it back, so you close the vendor window, and your bags close.  Then you open them up again to find your new thing and… the highlight is gone, because it only lasts though one bag open cycle.  After that, it is old business and hidden in amongst all your junk.  And since Blizzard is still using the same 27 icons from 2004 for everything, sometimes finding you new purchase can be a chore.

There is a work-around.  If you open your bags before you hit the vendor, they don’t close, so you don’t lose the highlight.  But I forget to do that about half the time.  So I feel like that first pass with the vendor shouldn’t count for the purpose of turning off the highlight.

Carnie Dialog in Darkmoon Faire

When running through Darkmoon Faire… and I run through it with a dozen characters every month… I am done seeing this.

Yeah, yeah, get back to work already

Yeah, yeah, get back to work already

When does every carnie have to put up a dialog?  At what point did somebody say, “Hey, I know what people wanr!  More windows to close while playing!”  I play with sound on, if they have something to say to me they can mumble it out like the other NPCs.

I know there is a sweet spot for doing the carnie quest, a distance from them that is far enough not to trigger the dialog box yet still close enough to bandage them.  But I get too close at least half the time still, so I’d rather Blizz just turn this off so I don’t have to see it come up a couple dozen times a month.

Parental Controls on the iPad

I have complained specifically about aspects of Blizzard’s parental controls before.  But even with my gripes, their parental controls are the best I have seen in any online game.  In fact, in my experience, such controls are almost non-existent in online games, especially in kids games.  I remember LEGO Universe touting their parental controls, which were pretty much useless, while Club Penguin parental controls were a joke last time I looked.

So Blizzard’s parent controls work out pretty well for me… as long as I am at the computer.

But there I am, sitting on the couch, watching a movie and my daughter asks for a little more WoW time.  I reach over for my trusty brain extension… erm… iPad, always close to hand so as to be able to look up actors or whatever, and then stop.

That won’t work.

You cannot (or at least I cannot) use the Blizzard parental controls UI with a touchy-feely tablet interface.  I have to get up off the couch and wander back to my office, log into Battle.net, and change the time there if I wish to grant my daughter this boon.

Blizzard, stop making me get up and move about!

Also, setup parental controls for your other games already.  You have a decent template.

EVE Online Problems

So, a while back, WoW got update 6.1 and EVE Online got the Scylla expansion, and now they do not play well together.

This is important to me because EVE Online is often a game where it is good to have another game to play in the background.  For all you fans of the old days of EQ, downtime and waiting and all that are still very much alive in space.  So for quite a stretch I was doing pet battles in WoW while waiting for things to happen in EVE.

But when I do that, tabbing in and out, WoW is horribly choppy, to the point of being nearly unplayable.  Pet battles are manageable, but if I have to actually travel to get to one, things become painful.

I suspect that CCP is the main culprit here.  EVE certainly doesn’t stop using resources when you tab out!  But WoW is doing something odd as well.  Having either game running seems to kill performance with Paint.net.  And I have had my own odd problems with WoW in the past, like that stretch of time where the game would crash whenever I was in Dalaran.

Of course, it could be that I need a video card upgrade as well.  Having had to go back to my five year old nVidia GTS450, a modest card back when I bought it, after the big power supply blow up last November, I am certainly nowhere near the leading edge on the GPU front.  At some point I am going to have to find some money and buy an upgrade.  Maybe if I can find a GTX 960 on sale.

Anyway, those are my current top five annoyances with WoW at the moment.  What is bugging you?  Are you feeling any of these?

 

Falling off of Skyreach

After our last run, which brought us through Auchindoun, we spent a week off getting everybody up to the minimum level to get into the next dungeon on the list, Skyreach.  Take my complaints about level locking dungeons from walk-ins as read.

Fortunately, the goal was pretty modest and we were all at that minimum, level 96, when last Saturday rolled around.

  • Earlthecat – Level 96 Human Warrior Tank
  • Skronk – Level 96 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Bigbut – Level 96 Draenei Monk DPS
  • Tistann – Level 96 Dwarf Hunter DPS
  • Ula – Level 96 Gnome Mage DPS

Skyreach is out in the Spires of Arark, out at a flight point that only a couple of our group characters had, Skronk and Earl to be exact, and we had to walk in, because Skyreach is locked until 97 if you want to use Dungeon Finder.  But that was fine, we walk in by tradition, so those two flew out and summoned us to the stone.  Tistann was first, and he joined in the summoning.

I fucking love summoning!!!

I fucking love summoning!!!

Sorry, I just had to use that screen shot because of the expression on Tistann’s face.

There we assembled, wondering how we would do.  As I mentioned before, four of us went in with level 100 alts, led by Earl’s “done all the raids, got all the upgrades” insane fury warrior, only to get out asses handed to us on the first boss.  Healing on the move was a problem, but we should have had enough DPS, to my mind, to blow past on that alone.  Instead we wpied six times and called it a night.  So facing this with five level 96 characters seemed like it might be a challenge.

I did go grab Alioto, who does inscription, and made Bigbut an item level 630 staff for his monk so as to up our game a little bit, but otherwise we were going in pretty much as we did in Auchindoun, which barely added up to a faceroll for out four level 100s.

We got in, buffed up, and started, getting ourselves into a bit of trouble almost immediately, at the second fight.  We engaged one group right as a mobile group walked into aggro range, which gave us a lot of targets and we ended up with a couple of deaths.  That was sloppy, but we learned from it and used a bit more care, clearing the mobs right up to the first boss, Ranjit.

Eying Ranjit

Eying Ranjit

I am still not sure who brought the shirtless lumberjack in that shot.

We went through what to expect and what we had learned from our past fiasco, which largely amount to “stay moving and stay out of the wind.”  Skonk had changed his priest spec from discipline to holy base on our experience.  Then, with nothing else to say, we ran in and started the fight.

In with a hunter, who can fire on the move, the fight wasn’t too bad for me.  I had gone in as melee DPS with the 100s, and the wind is always a problem then.  However, nobody else seemed to be having much of a problem either.  Skronk especially seemed to be holding up and keeping people healed.  So, after a few minutes of running all over Ranjit’s platform, he went down while we were all still standing.

Ranjit, dust in the wind now

Ranjit, dust in the wind now

That was something of a “wait, what?” moment.  The fight wasn’t super easy or anything, it was more a matter of the five of us (which amounted to considerably less combined DPS) working with our regular group characters managed to keep it together long enough whittle Ranjit down.  The fight easily took as long as any two of our level 100 wipes.

We let that sink in for a moment, then started on toward the next boss, Arknath.

Amongst the beams of light

Amongst the beams of light

Here is a tip I figured out too late.  The first guy you fight, he isn’t the boss, so you shouldn’t necessarily unload all of your focus and any skill that has a cool down on it when you engage him.  Not that the fight was tough, we blew through it on the first go, but I was thinking, “Wow, we are capping this one in record time” only to find myself flatfooted and using auto attack for a bit because I shot my load.  (I didn’t know the bosses name until after the fight.)

Anyway, we blew past him and around to the next platform and Rukhran, who has a set of mechanics we had to figure out.  First there were the birds on the platform that we need to kite around to kill.  Unfortunately, kiting around managed to aggro the whole set on the platform, causing a wipe.  But at least we had most of them down, so the return was just a clean up operation.

Then it was on to Rukhran himself, who summons flaming bird minions from piles of ash who go after specific party members.  You have to put DPS on them and kill them before they reach their target, or they explode for many, many dice worth of damage.  However, if you kill them right by any of the piles of ash… and when you kill one it leaves a pile behind… another one will spawn.  Or something.  We were figuring this out as we went along and managed to wipe on the first go.  The second run through, however, we managed to pull it together and at least make less mistakes, bringing Rukhran down.

After that, we were on to the most deadly part of the whole instance for me, the windy stairs.

Seriously, after Rukhran there are some steps up to a platform, and some steps up from there, that are plagued by winds trying to blow you off the platform.  The first bit is fun.  I ran up the stairs and let the wind blow me back down, ha ha.  And then I got to the platform.

The whirl of wind

The whirl of wind

There you have to get in the right groove and go the long way around to get to the second bit of stairs.  I first tried to go straight through and got blow off to my death.  Then I tried to run a shorter route through the platform and got blown to my death.  Then I again I got caught in the wrong guest, but Skronk hit me with Leap of Faith and pulled me up to the top of the stairs, saving me.

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith – it has its uses

Ula got through easy because she used blink to get across, while everybody else seemed to have figured out the pattern of the winds on the first try.  And then, of course, at the top of the stairs we managed to pull aggro on everything, wiped, and we had to go through the wind again where I managed to die because I managed to get hit by all of the birds… they wait for you to pass and take a run at you… on the way back for another death before finally making another trip up the far stairs.

Once you get here it is easy

Once you get here it is easy

As Skronk had his Hypnocroak platforming problems, I had my wind issues.

After that, we cleared the rest of the trash, we were left at the final platform facing the big boss, High Sage Viryx.

Facing the high sage at last

Facing the high sage at last

The Viryx fight is one of adapting to mechanics.  He bombs the crowd.  A mechanical assistant shows up and shields him, so you have to kill the assistant.  He has a giant laser that targets people, which you then must run from without dragging it over your comrades.  But the most exciting dynamic are the Solar Zealots he summons, which pick up a player with the intent of dropping them over the side of the platform to their death.  All of that ends up keeping the ranged part of the group in motion quite a bit.

During the fight

During the fight

The Solar Zealots were certainly the most troublesome and, like back at Arknath, a good reason not to blow your cool downs until you really need them.  I was the first to get picked up, then Ula, then Skronk, then me again.  We managed to save people, burning down the Solar Zealots and then returning to the fight, while Earl and Bigbut continued to keep the boss busy.  Our dancing around was a success and we brought Viryx down and got the achievement for the instance.

SRachiHowever, that happened while I was in the grip of yet another Solar Zealot and, having been caught too close to the edge of the platform out of focus and on cool down yet again (having poured everything into the last bit of Viryx) things looked grim.

Carried way over the edge...

Carried way over the edge…

Sure enough, before we could kill it, the Zealot dropped me and I plummeted to my death.

And there I go!

And there I go!

So I had to release and run back up to the group.   Fortunately, at that point, the wind was turned off on my personal platform of death.  It was time for a screen shot of the group.

At the end of Skyreach

At the end of Skyreach

All in all, that run did not take us very long, so we outside, reset the instance, and did it all again.  Earl, who runs an addon for boss fights that, among other things times your fights, reported that our second run at Ranjit took less than half the time.  In fact, we shaved time off of all of the bosses and managed not to wipe.  I even made it through the wind without falling off.  So we seemed to have mastered Skyreach on normal mode, and picked up some upgrades along the way.

That puts the group half way through the eight normal mode instances in Warlords of Draenor.  The remaining four all require the group to be level 100 to walk in, so it is time to start leveling up.  Everybody in the group was close to 97 by the end of the night, though both Ula and I had turned off experience in order to not get too far ahead.  We can turn on exp now, and I think almost all of us were 97 before the end of the weekend.  But with our varied play schedules it may be a while until we all hit the level cap and can pile into The Everbloom, the next instance on the list.

Need for Speed World and Three Others to Get the Chop

Earlier today Electronic Arts announced that it would be shutting down four of its online F2P titles, Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, FIFIA World, and Need for Speed: World.  The games will be around for another 90 days, finally going dark on July 14, 2015.

Of those four, Battlefield Heroes is probably the most well known, being one of EA’s early forays into the F2P market and because its art style looks suspiciously like that of Team Fortress 2, back when you had to buy TF2. (Later it went F2P and became a bigger success, so go figure.)

TF2 and Battlefield Heroes explore the square jaw...

TF2 and Battlefield Heroes explore the square jaw…

It had some early issues with the whole free model, and how hard it can be to “take things back” once you have made them free.  And our group actually tried to play Battlefield Heroes one Saturday evening, though without much success.  We couldn’t figure out how to all get in the same battle on the same side at the same time.

But of those four games, the one I will actually miss is Need for Speed: World.

I first tried the game back in 2011 after Tipa mentioned it in a post.  It ended up being a fairily unique game for me, a free to play PC title I actually enjoyed and where the business model seemed just about right.  While I was never a whale (per that question from SynCaine) I was happy enough buying some neat cars now and again.  And for a stretch I just enjoyed driving around with the TRON Legacy sound track playing.  The instance group even spent some evenings playing.  We bought cars and I even made a video or three.

It was light fun.  There were things I liked and things I did not, but over all it was some good fun.  I like cars (just not enough to own a nice one) and this allowed me to play around with some interesting ones. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was my favorite of the series, so I ended up with a lot of Japanese cars.)

Pimpmobile!

74 Nissan Skyline GT-R Pimpmobile!

Now, however, the count down to the final day is on.

The Race is Coming to an end.
By: rhiordd | 04-15-2015

After five years on the race track, Need for Speed World is about to run its last lap. The free-to-play PC action racer will be permanently shutting down its servers on July 14th 2015. Purchases of SpeedBoosts will be disabled as of today.

When it launched 2010, Need for Speed World brought together best-in-class action racing with an unparalleled social experience on PC. However, five years on, we feel that the game no longer lives up to the high standard set by the Need for Speed franchise. The steady stream of live content kept our players engaged but unfortunately we were not able to keep pace with feature development. At this point, the major overhaul needed to bring the game up to speed is not viable for us, so after careful review we came to a decision to stop development and begin winding down support of Need for Speed World.

We’re still leaving Need for Speed World on for a couple more months. If you have a balance of in-game currency, we encourage you to spend it before July 14th. While you can spend the currency you already have, we are disabling the functionality to purchase SpeedBoost, as well as the ability to register new accounts, from now until the closing date.

It’s been a great ride. We would like to thank our community for a wonderful five years. We’re grateful for the time we spent together.

Need for Speed World development team

This is, of course, one of the problems playing a game from a big organization like EA.  They have lots of games, so if one isn’t doing as well as expected, they can chop it, save some money, and move the devs to another project. (Or lay them off to really cut expenses.)  A smaller company might fight… might have to fight to survive… to keep these games viable.

I was also interested to see that the press release included a bit about SWTOR doing fine, as if EA was patting that team on the head while showing them a reminder of what happens to games that fail to meet revenue goals.

Anyway, I will have to find some time to log in and take a last tour of the game in its final state.

Hail The Imperium! Amarr Victor!

Goonswarm 2015: We are not here to ruin your game, but to ~enhance your immersion~

The Mittani, CEO Update: The Imperial March

And here I thought a few jackets might be pushing things.

The CFC has been declared dead, a clusterfuck no longer.  In its place rises the Imperium.

And the first act of the Imperium was to formally declare its loyalty to the True Emperor of Amarr, Maximilian Singularity VI.  Any residual loyalty to the irredeemably tainted Empress Jamyl Sarum will be rooted out and destroyed and our ideological purity will be assured as guardians of The Sixth Empire.

The Mittani kisses the ring and swears his allegiance

The Mittani kisses the ring and swears his allegiance

I am not sure exactly when The Mittani fell under the sway of Maximilian Singularity VI, though he did mention his admiration for him publicly a couple of times before Fanfest (where Maximilian blessed other known figures), but now our coalition is wed to his crusade, with The Mittani names as “The Sword of Redemption.”  His cause is now our cause.

Jamyl Sarum has stolen our Golden Empire and is no longer True Amarr…  I am True
Amarr as Tash-Murkon and Kador family lines and I shall see in my time all four Empires in battle while a gathering storm of the fifth empire comes. We Capsuleers of all races are the rising Sixth Empire… and we shall follow a storm!

All four empires are tainted. War is coming to them, my words will be true. The fifth empire is in turmoil. WE ARE THE SIXTH EMPIRE to rule the galaxy. The old ways are no more. Vitoc is an abomination we ALL SHALL BE FREE and no longer dogs of war to the poisoned State, Republic, Federation and Empire. I preach LOVE (and by love I mean lasers).

-Emperor Maximilian Singularity VI, to his Imperium forces before blessing his followers

Maximilian Singularity VI and his claims to the Amarr throne face issues, including a pro-Jamyl faction in Providence.   But with the usual squabbling between the five houses, Jamyl’s weak position after violating the doctrine of sacred flesh, and the ever present pressure from the Blood Raiders and Sansha’s Nation, a claim to the Amarr throne backed by Imperium titans cannot be dismissed lightly.

Within the Imperium itself, a new order is being forged.  Change is coming.  Uniforms are being discussed and appropriate propaganda being prepared.

Meanwhile, out in the farms and fields of sovereign null sec, the N3 appears to be falling apart under pressure from all sides.

Reavers leaving the roost for another night mission over Querious

Reavers leaving the roost for another night mission over Querious

Delve continues to be overrun and, in a surprise move, Imperium forces declined to deploy to the obvious choice of ZXB-VC in Delve and moved instead to a base designed to block Darkness and The Kadeshi (themselves working out of 1-SMEB) from having easy access to their route out to low sec Aridia.  Sahkt it to me?

NCDot has decided to abandon Querious and has reset its renters in the region.  The Germans may be stepping in however, as Ev0ke has already said they are headed that way.

Meanwhile, Nulli Secunda, unironically based for the moment in the system 3-BADZ in Feythabolis (and thus inspiring a new nickname for the N3 coalition, The Three Bads), facing the threat of Pandemic Legion dropping on them, is reported to now be headed for the exits as well, giving line members very short notice to pack their stuff.

So with all of that plus Brave already leaving null sec (or maybe headed to 1DH-SX in Delve, I don’t know, what with coup and counter-coup) and the Russians reportedly interested in exploiting N3’s weakness, the Imperium set to set to return to its new, Fozzie-sov-sized domain (consisting of the regions Deklein, Fade, Pure Blind, Tribute, Tenal, Branch, and Vale of the Silent) while dropping sov on its other conquests and holdings (Delve, Fountain, Cloud Ring, and anything else we might take along the way), and I don’t know what going on in Wicked Creek, the declining weeks of the Dominion sovereignty system look to be interesting times. The map will change before the updates hit.  I need to put that sov war updates blog in my reader.

And then we will have Fozzie-sov where, we hope, the real fun and chaos will begin.

While that is all going on, the troops of the Imperium are still out in the field and still taking sovereignty from its foes the old-fashioned, Dominion-style way.  Last night Reavers shot an infrastructure hub and reinforced a station while I was on, while dodging neutral or disenfranchised renter.

Sometimes we bring out the big guns, like this Drake XL

Sometimes we bring out big guns, like this Drake XL, to shoot ihubs

Tonight there will be another station.  Tomorrow there will probably be another ihub.  Or a POS.  Or another station.  Or some SBUs.  The war goes on.  Sovereignty will be overturned and infrastructure smashed.

Somebody put up a Gallente tower

Somebody put up a Gallente tower, let’s shoot it

And so it goes, until there is no more enemy and Emperor Maximilian Singularity VI sits on his throne without dispute.  Amarr Victor!

And The Sims Shall Continue to Rule Them All

I haven’t seen an Entertainment Software Associate sales chart in a while, so I was keen to see their new 2015 Essential Facts publication that includes a couple such charts.  The big news, The Sims still dominate the chart when it comes to PC gaming.

 

The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

The Sims and a few of the usual suspects

Yes, the source is NPD, whose data collection has flaws.  But some data is better than no data I guess.  They say they are better at collecting data on digital distribution in any case.

Blizzard is pretty well represent, with World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Diablo III all hitting the charts for both base games and expansions.  And you can see the hole that The Elder Scrolls still has on gamers.  It is also nice to see Civilization V on the list.  But 8 out of 20 on the list for The Sims is pretty funny.

On the console list, which holds less interest for me, I will note that Mario Kart 8 made the cut for the Top 20, which I am going to guess means that every single Wii U owner bought a copy.

And then there was how we buy games.

Digital vs. Physical

Digital vs. Physical

Digital sales are clearly the bigger slice of the pie now, though if you look at that footnote as to what counts as digital, that casts a pretty wide net.  For what NPD counted, physical still looks like a force that cannot be ignored.  I guess GameStop won’t be going out of business any time soon.

Anyway, the report is an interesting little glimpse at video games in 2014.  Game Informer sums it up if you don’t want to look at the PDF.

Liebster, Schmiebster

I was tagged by Kirith Kodachi and SynCaine as part of the whole Liebster thing that has been going around our corner of the blogesphere of late.  I suspect that there is something in the fact that two fans of EVE Online picked me, as opposed to anybody else so far.

There are apparently rules for this somewhere.  I think I grasped them.

I think this is part of the rules as well...

I believe this is part of the rules…

I have to list eleven random facts about myself, I have to answer their questions, and I have to pick somebody else with eleven questions of my own.  Easy enough I suppose.  I meant to get to it sooner, but I keep having those “I don’t know what I’ll write about… oh, wait, I have too many things I want to write about” weeks.  This week for sure!  So to kick off.

11 Random Facts

  1. I am not fond of yogurt, but am otherwise pretty pro-dairy products.
  2. I probably ate all of the black jelly beans.  I will pick them out of the bowl.
  3. I cannot smile if I am deliberately trying to smile.  I’ve learned to fake it by just trying to laugh, so at least I look happy and not like there is something seriously wrong with me.
  4. I am determined to beat Candy Crush Saga without paying a dime… and before King goes out of business. (Currently at level 369)
  5. I have never hit the level cap in any EverQuest game.  I’ve been close, but something always comes up, I get obsessed with alts, and then the cap gets boosted and I am behind again.
  6. If I live to be 80, the end of WWII will be as distant in time as the end of the US Civil War was when I was born.
  7. If I want to remember something, I need to say it 10 times… or write it out with surrounding context. (Hence, blog.)
  8. In 34 years of driving I have owned 6 cars, but two thirds of that stretch has been two cars, a Mazda 626 I bought in 1986 and a Toyota Camry I bought in 2003, and which I still drive.  I’d probably still be driving the 626 if a Honda Civic hadn’t plowed into it while I was stopped at a red light.
  9. I hate inkjet printers, and have since the HP DeskJet 500 came out way back in the late paleolithic era of computing.  We recently picked up a cheap Samsung M2020W laser printer and it makes me happy just to print stuff on it.
  10. I am much more outgoing in text than I am in person.  Much more interesting too, I suspect, which should serve as a warning.
  11. I think eleven is an unreasonable number, the person who started this should have stuck to five because, lets face it, most of us have trouble staying interesting past two or three.

Now onto the questions, which seem mostly focused on superlatives.  My favorite this or most memorable that.  Those are horrible questions for me, because I can never pick a favorite anything.  Ah well, I’ll give it a shot all the same.

Questions for Kirith Kodachi:

1. What was your first PvP experience in an MMO and did you like it?

Define MMO?  Define PvP?  I am going to go with Stellar Emperor on GEnie.  My scout ship got blown up.  I am not sure I realized what was happening at the time.

2. What’s your favorite season? What’s your favorite season for gaming?

Autumn.  There is a chill in the air, there is some rain, and contrary to popular legend, California… at least the northern end of it… does get season so the leaves turn color and all of that.  Also, it means the transition from allergy to flu season.  Winter for gaming, as bad weather is the all purpose excuse for sitting at my computer all afternoon.

3. What is your favorite period / place in history?

To live? Now, or any time/place with clean bathrooms and cheap WiFi.  To read about?  I run though interest cycles.  When I was a kid it was WWI and WWII.  Since then I have gone through periods where the Napoleonic era, or 1848 to 1914, or the immediate post-war eras have interested me.  And I like Rome as well.  I couldn’t really pick.

4. Talk about the first computer game where you were pulled in by the story instead of the gameplay.

Probably Wizardy, though I will admit up front I am frequently more of a “roll player” than “role player.”  I spent a lot of hours moving through that game, step by step, mapping my way, notating traps and regular encounters and what not.  I was immersed.

It can be hard for me to let go of the mechanics of a game.  Oddly, post-Cataclysm WoW, where the content got easy enough that you can mostly ignore gear and such, is one of the places where I can actually let that go and just get into the story.  Hrmm…

5. If you had to pick, which Bad Guy would you choose to be in any game?

Bowser.  He gets to steal the princess pretty much without long term consequence (and it is so easy and so frequent that she has to be in on it, right?), has a pile of castles, plenty of minions, hangs out with his kid all the time, and on his days off he goes karting or plays tennis or soccer with his nemesis.  The guy has it made.

6. What’s your favorite novel or novel series?

Again, how to pick?  Most re-reads?  Probably Catch-22 or The Lord of the Rings series.  Total time invested?  Probably Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series.  Most inspirational in my youth?  Larry Niven’s Known Space stories probably get the nod.  I could go on and on and not even get into things I liked at one point in time but which fell flat later because I changed as a person.  I have a problem picking favorites in any situation because everything is so situational… and I tend to over think these sorts of things.

7. Describe your perfect vacation.

The one where I actually come back rested, recharged, and happier.  Unfortunately, I find travel a pain, so coming and going is always involves stress and anxiety, which tends to undue the good bits.

8. Star Wars or Star Trek? Explain your answer.

Star Trek.  That was the inspirational bit from my youth.  I would sit and watch every episode, we would play Star Trek at recess, I read the novels, had the models, saw all the movies, and so on.  Not that I do not like Star Wars… and certainly Star Trek has waned in its influence over the years, especially relative to Star Wars… but it came after.  Star Trek was first and will remain so in my heart, even if only generated maybe three good video games. (And Star Trek Online is not one of them.)

9. If someone offered you a substantial sum of money to stop playing MMO’s forever, would you take it? What’s your price point? A million? A billion? Nothing? (Stole this one ’cause its good)

This is a good one?  Define MMOs?  I’ll say five million dollars.  For that amount of money I could change careers without worrying about retirement and find a new hobby… like LEGOs or console gaming.

10. Smart Phones are a boon to humankind, true or false?

On balance, true.  Access to all sorts of information and the ability to stay in touch and record so much of what happens in the world probably outweighs that guy talking loudly into his iPhone at the next table.

11. A solar flare is about to wipe all electronics on earth and it may take years to recover fully. You have three days to get all the gaming in you can, what do you play?

Sorry, I am too busy burning my iTunes library to CD and building a lead-lined box for a DiscMan to play games.  Oh, and shopping for a serious typewriter again.  I am not sure where my old Olivetti Lettera 32 is these days.  And printing out my blog.  On my laser printer.  Which rocks.

Or maybe I am just standing in line at the bank trying to get my money out like everybody else.

Seriously, three days left… I might log onto EVE and WoW to say goodbye to people, exchange addresses, and maybe have one last peek, but if everything is going away in three days, doing anything is futile.

Questions from SynCaine

1. What is your greatest MMO achievement?

That is a tough one.  There are a number of “being there” achievements I could mention, like being present for two of the biggest battles in EVE Online history.  But there wasn’t much I “did” during those, my presence didn’t make much of a difference.  A lot of the times I am most fond of are stupid things that happened early on in a game, things that become trivial later on, like my first successful run from Qeynos to Freeport in EverQuest or the day I managed to solo the Return the Light heritage quest in about two hours, back when the whole thing was a huge pain to finish because of a pile of special random spawns required, due to a succession of unbelievably lucky breaks.  Basically, all the spawns were up that morning and nobody else was doing the quest.

Let’s just go with that last one.  It was a good time.

2. If you could go back and stop any MMO from every being released, which one would it be and why?

I get the feeling you want me to name a specific game.  I don’t have a good answer for this one.  There are any number of MMOs that have disappointed me, or that I wish had been done differently, or where I think the dev resources might have been better used on other projects.  But wishing one out existence, I can’t really name one.  Just because a game didn’t click for me doesn’t make me hate it, and I am not obsessed, like some, about WoW or some other game ruining the genre or whatever.  People play the games they like.  If EQ or UO were the paradises we paint in hindsight, we never would have left.  And us leaving is what caused them to change.

3. What is your greatest ‘rage out’ moment in an MMO?

I don’t really rage all that much.  Probably the most annoyed I have been that I can recall involves a Nek Castle run in EverQuest II, back when that was current content.  A kid, whom I will call “two shirts” for reasons only Gaff will likely understand, enthusiastically agreed to lead us through what was a very complex run in order to wrap up a couple of heritage quests (and to start a third).  At one point, after a fight, about two thirds of the way into the whole thing (call it the three hour mark) he excused himself for a bio and went away… and didn’t return.  He was still logged on, his character was still there in game.  After about an hour of trying to ping him through other means, we managed to find somebody in the guild who knew him in real life and called his house.  His mother answered and said he had gone to bed and was asleep.  He just went to bed without bothering to let us know.  Of course, he was like 14 years old or some such, so what can you expect?

4. If you were forced to stop gaming and gaming-related activities (blogs, reading game sites) what would you do with that time?

I told my wife once that if we won the lottery I would quit my job and take some classes in oil painting and start doing landscapes or some such.  I think I was reading a biography of Churchill at the time.  Pretty unlikely, and since lottery winnings aren’t in the question, I’ll have to keep my job I guess.

I would probably go back to playing with all the LEGO sets I have accumulated over the years.  I have been tempted to go back and try and build that X-Wing kit again, which would mean finding all the parts and so on.

5. Do you have any plans to retire from gaming? From blogging?

Retire from gaming?  That is like asking if I am going to retire from breathing.

From blogging though… I have considered it from time to time.  There are plenty of days when I spend more time writing about video games than actually playing them.  But somehow I keep going.  My current plan is to get to the 10 year anniversary and then think about how I want to carry on.  10 years might be enough.

6. Which game had the most memorable ending and why?

Games have endings?  Seriously, see question 8.  Very little I have gotten into in the last decade or so has had an ending, and those that have had them I haven’t finished.  I am horrible like that.

But if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Pokemon White Version 2, which I wrapped up last summer.  It was a surprisingly good entry into the Pokemon core RPG genre (even if it has possibly the worst name) and actually changed up the standard Pokemon RPG ending.

7. Have you ever been a ‘whale’ in a F2P game? If yes, confess!

I am not very good with F2P when it comes down to it.  I will opt-in for the subscription, if there is one, if I am going to play a F2P game, just to cut through the restrictions.  But I tend to avoid the cash shop.  Well, maybe “avoid” is too strong a term.  I open it up, stare at it, and wonder who buys this crap.   I have problems spending cash shop currency that companies just give me, so I rarely even consider of buying any.  I think I bought some diamonds back when we tried Runes of Magic, but that is about it.  Given we played that for about 15 minutes five years ago (I think I spent more time patching than playing), so that isn’t a very good example. The F2P cash shop isn’t my thing, and that is where the whales go.

8. Is there a game or genre you wish you could enjoy, but just don’t?

I wish I could get back into single player RPGs again.  They were a staple of my early days, but since online multiplayer came around, it has been tough for me to focus on a world by myself.

9. How much time, on average, do you spend doing gaming-related activities per week (not counting actually gaming).

I am just glad that Raptr doesn’t track that.

10. Which former blog do you wish still existed or was updated?

Aggro Me or maybe Michael Zenke’s MMOG Nation.  So many have come and gone over the years.

11. Your ‘Mount Rushmore’ (top 4 all time) games are?

I already picked my 15 most influential games a while back, and had trouble winnowing that down to 15.  So, for me, a ‘Mount Rushmore’ game is more than a ‘top 4,’ it is a foundational game that lead me to greater things.  With that in mind, I will have to call out:

And it was tough to get down to that four, because I want to put Wizardry and Marathon on the list as well.

My Questions

Okay, I am going to come up with eleven superlative-free questions and then try to tag a couple of people who haven’t yet been drawn into this mess.

1. Why blog?  In this age of Facebook and Instagram and Twitch and what not, why do you work in a medium that is still mostly about words as opposed to video or connections or other things?

2. Why MMOs? (Or, why not MMOs?)  What is it about this never ending genre that pulls you in, relative to single player or even multi-player co-op games?

3. Science Fiction or Fantasy?  Which way do you lean when it comes to games, literature, movies, or whatever?

4. What of Steam?  Do you feel like you’re missing something by not browsing the shelves looking at boxes when shopping for video games?  Digital distribution is here, on the PC at least (consoles still depend on a lot of physical boxes), do you miss the old way?  Are you old enough to even remember the old way?

5. What gaming relics to you hang on to, if any?  Chat logs? Screen shots? Physical boxes? Just memories?

6. Name three (or more if you like) video games that shaped the gamer you are today.

7. You’re rolling up a new character in yet another fantasy title.  What race and class is always the first set you go with?

8. What video games, if any, did you play before you discovered MMOs?  Did you leave them behind?  Or have you left MMOs behind?

9. By whatever definition you choose, what would you consider to be the Video Game Capital of the World?  LA? Austin? London? Elsewhere?  Maybe just the Video Game Capital of your world?

10. Which MMOs have you really invested yourself in?  There are a lot of them out there, but you can realistically only really get into so many.  Which were they for you?

11. How do you spend most of your MMO time with relation to other players?  Are you solo, in a partial group, in a full group, in a raid, in a coalition-wide fleet operation, or some other formation?  What is your default mode?

So, there are my eleven questions.  I hope I made them interesting enough to answer.  I think one of the rules of this whole thing should require you to do a separate post to answer your own damn questions.  How clever would they seem then?  Maybe I’ll do that later, because I couldn’t even finish writing them before I had answers springing up.

Now for the tricky part, picking some people to tag.  As in my youth, it seems like all the cool kids have been picked already.

I want to pick a few people who have not yet done this (and, ideally, who have not yet been tagged, but I’m not going to try to check that, there being only so many hours in the day), who are likely to actually respond (we all know a couple bloggers who would find this beneath them), and who actually read this blog enough to actually have a chance to see that they have been picked.  That leaves a pretty narrow set of choices.  So who is on Team TAGN for this then?

That is a longer list than some but, with a few long shots in there, I am going feel good if two of them actually pick up the torch.

Addendum: Secondary Effects

Mrrx and Stargrace recycled my questions, so now I feel compelled to track those posts as well.  So you can find additional answers to my set of questions below:

Back and Forth Across Fountain and Delve as Dominion Fades

The repulse of the attack on Fountain and the subsequent punitive invasion of Delve have been going well for the CFC.  I joke about Goons invading Delve out of sheer habit at this point, but the joke has its basis in fact; this is my fourth year in the CFC and at least my fourth time into Delve.

In the near corner of Delve, N3 continues to lose systems, with 15 now having been taken from them, a jump of 8 since Thursday.

The conquest continues

The conquest continues

As that was going on I missed what might have been one of the most glorious moments so far in Reaver history.  Sure, we’ve caught and killed some supers in the past, but this was even better.  The Reavers managed to break NCdots hold on one of their systems in Querious, so that they lost sovereignty for a short stretch of time.

In ED-L9T the Reavers, with some help for the final fight, managed to temporarily wrest sovereignty away from NCdot.

ED-L9T slips away for a few hours

ED-L9T slips away for a few hours

N3 lost more in that fight than we did, including a big fat Moros dreadnought, and had to pull allies back who should have been defending Delve (in addition to offering ship replacement coverage to their renters) in order to retake and hold the system while their TCU came online.  The system now has to go through the slow process of regaining “levels,” something that just happens over time as you hold a system, in order to restore full capabilities to the system and station.

This is exactly what the Reavers are supposed to do, keep prodding behind enemy lines until the hostiles have to respond in force, at which point we fade away.  Asher gave us a day off from operations to celebrate this coup so we could satisfy any need we might feel to join the main fleet and help burn a bit of Delve.

All of which is a lot of fun, but which also ignores the longer term question as to what the CFC plans to do when the sovereignty changes come this June.  We gave up Delve, Querious, and Period Basis, selling them to N3, before the Phoebe changes back in November, and nothing has changed to make me think that we will suddenly be able to hang on to Delve in the longer term.

Then, over the weekend, the other metaphorical shoe dropped and it was announced that the CFC will be pulling out of Fountain before the June Fozzie-Sov hits.  This came as a statement directly from The Mittani and via the LAWN state of the alliance update.

That means that at some point in the near future, the CFC is going to hold, the relinquish, possession of Fountain and Delve (circled in red below) before moving back to the north, outlined in blue. (Map from the usual source.)

April 12 map, marked up in MS Paint

April 12 map, marked up in MS Paint

The CFC will back at the top of the map, alliances packed into closer proximity so as to better defend our space during the chaos of change.  Because there is still a question as to what Fozzie Sov will bring.

I doubt it will bring down any of the established null sec organizations.  That would require a system where the best organized groups were put at a disadvantage, which would seem like a pretty counter-productive long-term goal for CCP.  Punishing the people who are likely the most invested in your game would be a bad plan.  But the goals laid out in early March made it clear that CCP wants to make sovereignty easier to take, which should still favor the organized.  And, as a counter to that ease of conquest idea, there is the plan that sovereign space that gets used for things like mining or ratting should receive a defense bonus.

What I have yet to hear… and I haven’t dredged through the 200 page long threadnought regarding the Fozzie Sov changes, so maybe it has been fully addressed… is whether or not null sec space is going to get any sort of boost to make it worth keeping.  Because, right now, there are systems in null sec, in the space I live in, that are held merely because they are adjacent.  They don’t spawn anomalies worth doing (and spawn very few at that) nor do they have belts worth mining.  Add in systems on heavily traveled paths through null sec, so nobody wants to rat or mine there as potential hostiles are always passing through, and you will find a not insignificant number of systems in null that nobody will want to invest time in.  I will be interested to see if there is a plan for those, or if they will simply become the weak parts in any sov holding entity’s armor by design.

Meanwhile, it looks like a good time to get into null sec if you are a new player.

Back when I started, getting into null meant establishing a reputation and knowing somebody already in an alliance to vouch for you.  Recruitment of newbies wasn’t all that common aside from certain groups that could pull from their external source, like the Goons from Something Awful or TEST from Reddit.  I got into null because I knew Gaff, and he got in because he knew somebody through another game, and how he got into null I am not sure, but it was probably through yet another recommendation.  There was something of a wall between new players and null, enough to cause some rage to be directed at me when I highlighted one day old character tackling in a fleet op because those results were not typical or available to everybody all the time.  How dare I pretend null sec entities want new players by telling an anecdote about a fleet op!

And then Brave Newbies, a group that specializing taking on new players, got into null sec, and the flood gates were open. (Not that it was tough to get into TEST, but it required a little effort.  BNI removed even that minor effort.)

The success of Brave Newbies and their ability to field large numbers apparently had some impact.  Goonswarm opened up Karma Fleet, which allowed just about anybody to join up and get into the fight in null sec.

Seriously, anybody was getting in for a while... though not everybody was allowed to stay...

Seriously, anybody was getting in for a while… though not everybody was allowed to stay…

Since then, Pandemic Legion has announced their own new player friendly enterprise, the Pandemic Horde, which already has more than 600 pilots, not all of which can be spies.

I would suspect that other null sec entities would want to get in on that influx of new players in order to bolster their own numbers, lest they find themselves at an even greater disadvantage, and to provide a pool of potential candidates to promote into their core organizations… if they can get over their elite PvP bias.  I suppose you could view renting as an ingress, but it really isn’t the same thing.  There is a distance between the renters and the landlords.

So Fozzie Sov, when it arrives, will at least start with the CFC in a smaller space and probably with a scramble for the soon-to-be-abandoned Delve and Fountain sovereignty.  I wonder who our new neighbors will be?

Addendum: And judging from how Jabber is humming today, there should be an epic GSF Alliance Update out in the next day that will be full of smug.