PLEX Shattering Proposal for New Eden

Yesterday CCP made public their intention to change PLEX, the in-game item that can be bought, sold, moved, blown up, redeemed for 30 days of Omega game time, and occasionally redeemed for Aurum or multiple character training.

This old screen shot may make PLEX look more expensive than reality soon

CCP wants to make PLEX the universal secondary currency so that you will only have ISK and PLEX… and LP if you’re into that, but that is a whole different thing.  To do this CCP wants to break a single PLEX into 500 units of PLEX, in which capacity it will replace Aurum, the unloved New Eden Store currency.

CCP also plans to introduce the PLEX Vault, wherein you will deposit your PLEX to be used and where your PLEX will be accessible to any character on your account from any station or citadel location you can use in New Eden.

The Proposed PLEX Vault

Anybody who has a PLEX right now will end up with 500 PLEX when this change goes into effect, while anybody who has 1,000 Aurum or more will receive 1 PLEX for every 7 Aurum they hold.

The logic behind the 1,000 Aurum cut-off is in the questions at the end of their post:

Q: Why are you only converting Aurum balances above 1000?
A: A large portion of the total Aurum stockpile is in small balances left over from past giveaways and by not converting those small balances we mitigate risk of oversupply in the PLEX market

Basically, if you have less than 1,000 Aurum you probably got it from us for free, so screw you we’re taking it back now that it might have actual in-game ISK value.  I will be interested to see if there is enough hew and cry about this to get CCP to relent on this front.

And, of course, the other big change here is that PLEX becomes a digital currency more akin to ISK, something that is in a wallet you can access where ever you go.  I suppose that makes a bit of logical sense, as opposed to PLEX being a physical object in your inventory.

This potentially means no more PLEX-tanked frigates worth billions of ISK being blown up… remember the first big loss, involving a pilot who could have kept his account going for over six years if he hadn’t stuff 74 PLEX into an unfit Kestrel and undocked… if people are smart.

The thing is, people are not smart.  That people, to this day, still move PLEX in rookie corvettes is proof of that.  There is almost no need to do this, as you can activate PLEX remotely and buy it via contract from anywhere in New Eden.  So I live in hope that stupid will out and that we will still see the occasional PLEX kill mail since CCP plans to leave in the physical aspect of PLEX if you want to take it out of the PLEX Vault.

And, if everybody does suddenly get smart, we still have skill injector losses.

So that is the plan.  There is even a video with CCP Seagull explaining the plan.

 

There is no announced date for this change yet, and even the UI proposal is tagged as a work in progress, so there is still time to head to the forums and howl over any aspect of this you do not like.  I fully expect CCP to relent on the 1,000 Aurum limit for conversion to the new PLEX, if only because some people will have residual balances less than that which they paid for.

But at some point in the future any PLEX you have… which could be worth as much as 1.2 billion ISK each…  will go away, replaced by 500 new PLEX worth as much as 2.4 million each.

As somebody who doesn’t use PLEX, the only change for me will be a lack of comedy kill mails I suppose.  But as somebody who has some Aurum and buys ship SKINs now and again, this will be a bit of a boon, since it will be easy enough just to buy new PLEX with ISK in the quantity I need for a given transaction.  This might make the New Eden Store more viable.

This may be the biggest change to PLEX since it was introduced over eight years ago.

Addendum: Official forum thread for feedback on this plan.

EverQuest Turns Eighteen

The date has come again where I tell you I still have that receipt from Fry’s for a copy of EverQuest dated March 16, 1999 and reminisce for a bit about the good old days and what a revelation an open, 3D world was back in 1999 and how far the game has come and how amazing that here, eighteen years later the game is still live and viable and getting updates and expansions.  I think you will find similar posts just about every March 16th (or 17th if I was lazy) over the life of the blog.  Ten years ago today there was a post here on the blog about EverQuest turning 8.

And there is nothing wrong with that.  Why shouldn’t I celebrate something that clearly left a mark on my life?  The EverQuest team is celebrating as well.

They can now buy cigarettes and vote

There are all sorts of things going on in old Norrath, with new events, bonus experience, and the return of old anniversary favorites.

You can even get a free level 85 boosted character between now and March 31.

Being level 85 makes you heroic by default

The offer is good for any account that has ever played EverQuest or any new account that is an All Access subscriber.

There is also a new Producer’s letter up that, among other things, promises a new Progression server called Agnarr that will stop unlocking content at Lost Dungeons of Norrath and simply stay there.  There is also an explicit statement that there will be an EQ expansion this year, as though we would doubt that at this point.

All good stuff for a game that continues to defy expectations and carry on despite its age.

1999 EverQuest Trivia from 2011… the level cap is 100 now

But the anniversary also brings up some questions as well.  A lot of MMORPGs have come and gone during the game’s run, and it is purported to still be one of the most popular/highly populated games at Daybreak.  This leads me to wonder how long can EverQuest last?  How long will it keep getting updates?  What combo of critical mass and notoriety does an MMO need to hit to achieve this sort of longevity?

I have failed to answer those questions before, though not for a lack of trying from time to time, starting with a post back in 2007 when I wondered how many more expansions the game would get.  This was at the time when the EQ team moved from two expansions a year to just one.  I guessed two or three.  So very wrong.  Currently Daybreak summarizes the game’s features as:

  • Experience 18 years of continuous development including 21 expansions of amazing content
  • Build your character through 100 levels of power
  • More than 500 zones to explore
  • Choose from 16 unique races and 16 distinct classes
  • Thousands of Alternate Abilities available to further customize your character
  • More than 50,000 items to earn and collect
  • Hire and control unique mercenaries to aid you in your heroic adventures
  • A robust in-game marketplace containing potions, weapons, armor, and mounts
  • Solo, Group and Raid across continents filled with perilous dungeons, eerie crypts, floating landscapes, and underwater adventures
  • Participate in several seasonal and holiday events throughout the year

Anyway, another year passes and Norrath still seems to be going strong.  Same time next year?

My past anniversary posts, just to keep track:

From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun

I did it.  I finished the Alola Pokedex in Pokemon Sun.

Alola Pokedex at 100%

It took a bit of work.   I ran the final series of missions that send the player off to catch the ultra beast Pokemon.   The missions send you out to catch five different ultra beasts, along with having to engage in three trainer battles to prove you are up to the task, before you are done and rewarded with 1,000,000 in the local currency for the effort.

I did the missions and caught the five ultra beasts.  The catch is that there are seven ultra beasts, two of which only appear in Pokemon Sun and two which only appear in Pokemon Moon.  So, in order to get all seven, which is required to complete the Pokedex, you have to trade… trade or own two copies of the game or, in my case, use your daughter’s copy of the game.

So I grabbed my daughter’s 3DS and looked into doing the missions on her copy of Pokemon Moon, since she had no interest in doing so herself.  She finished up the main story back in December, long enough ago that she couldn’t remember if she had defeated the Elite Four.  It turned out she had, though with a really odd team… odd to me anyway… so I ended up trading my team over to her game to run through the missions.

Once I completed them I traded my team back to my copy of Pokemon Sun, then swapped two of the Sun-only ultra beasts for two of the Moon-only ultra beasts (you end up catching multiple of both) and the Alola Pokedex was finally complete.  You only need 300 for that, but I hit 301 because of the Magearna download, which you get by using the QR scanner.

I then went to the GameFreak office in the game and got my trainer book stamped to mark the achievement.

Achievement notarized

After that I figured it was time to unlock the National Pokedex.  The ritual for that in past Pokemon titles generally involved going to speak to the local tree-named Pokemon Professor to get them to unlock the National setting on your Pokedex.  But when I spoke to the shirtless Professor Kukui, he was still giving me the same line he had last time I spoke to him.  There was no mention of a Pokedex upgrade.

After poking about a bit more, I headed to Google to search up the answer.

As it turns out, there is no National Pokedex within Pokemon Sun & Moon.  This was a bit of a let down.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to attempt it, but being denied the opportunity stung a bit.

I was instead directed to Pokemon Bank, Nintendo’s Pokemon cloud storage application.  It had been upgraded back in January to integrate with Pokemon Sun & Moon, something I mentioned in a Friday bullet point post.  The app has its own rather sparse site here.

How things line up now

One of the features I did not notice… and which really wasn’t called out all that well… was the integration of the National Pokedex option into Pokemon Bank.  That is all you get with Sun & Moon.

I have Pokemon Bank, because of course I do, so I went in to check it out.  If you launch it, choose Pokemon Sun or Moon, and go to the menu, there is now a Pokedex option.

Accessing the Pokedex

This went off and catalogued what I had collected in Pokemon Sun and gave me a total.

My total for Pokemon Sun

That gave me a total of 330 Pokemon, both caught and seen.  I had moved some of the legendary Pokemon from last year’s distributions last year over to the game along with a few of the starter Pokemon from past titles in anticipation of a National Pokedex hunt.  330 isn’t bad, but the total is over 800, so I was far from there.

Pokemon Bank also lets you view the Pokemon in a table view by generations if a simple number isn’t enough for you… it certainly isn’t enough for me.

First gen Pokemon, Bulbasaur through Mew

As you can see, I moved some over, but Pokemon Sun & Moon also included a lot of Pokemon from past generations as well, which was a good thing I think.

In all it was kind of neat… though after using the new box interface in Pokemon Sun & Moon, navigating felt very awkward… but was I really going to have to move everything to Sun & Moon to finish the National Pokedex?

But then I wondered… since it didn’t actually say this anywhere… if this was actually a cross-title National Pokedex.  If I had it scan other Pokemon Bank compatible titles, would those sum up into a single National Pokedex?  So I had it scan Pokemon Y and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and the answer is yes, it is a single cross-title National Pokedex.

My totals across the three titles

So there it is.  Across the three titles I have caught 512 types of Pokemon and have seen 650.  That gets me a little closer to the past 800 number of the total National Pokedex.

Pokemon Bank also gives you some stats as well under Adventure Records.

Wild Pokemon Encounters

You can tell the game I worked on the Pokedex hardest.

This also means that if I want to work on the National Pokedex, my best option is probably to go back to Pokemon Y and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and finish up the regional Pokdexes in those games.

My Pokemon Y stats… and see, National Pokedex built-in

The problem there is that going back to earlier games means giving up whatever UI and control improvements the current generation has introduced, and Pokemon Sun & Moon really went far in improving controls, especially for simple things like handling Pokemon in your storage.

Still, that might be a thing to pursue.  I am pretty much done with Pokemon Sun since I don’t do battles and such.  Catching them all is generally the end of a title for me, and I haven’t caught them all yet in the past versions.  So it is play older titles or wait for the next new title to be announced.  The thing is, I think I already know what the next title will be.  But that is a topic for another post.

YC119.3 Update Brings Rorqual Nerfs and Bubble Decay to New Eden

This month’s update for EVE Online, YC119.3, brings some significant changes to New Eden.

I am once again content to use CCP’s logo for the update

The Rorqual and its capabilities are once again in the sights of CCPs nerf gun.  The industrial capital ship, which long languished in POSes across low and null sec space as an AFK booster for mining ops, was given a serious boost of its own with the Ascension expansion back in November.  Suddenly its new mining drones were the path to wealth in null sec.  Even after the previous nerf to mining yields, Rorquals from Delve to Cobalt Edge were still out making bank according to the February economic report.

February 2017 report mining value by region

This was bringing down mineral prices thus, according to Dinsdale Pirannah, who I am going to troll on this front (“Trolling Detected” tag deployed), depriving high sec miners their inalienable right to grown rich by mining veldspar two jumps out of Jita. (Note the mining value of the high sec regions around Jita, Lonetrek and The Forge, on that chart.)

So, despite the likely overall net benefit of making production cheaper and lowering prices for all (plus the insane nearly 103 trillion ISK negative trade balance Delve, the mining capital of New Eden, was running on that report, which means that ISK was likely enriching high sec, not impoverishing it) that had to be fixed!

Okay, the Rorqual has been too much of a money printing machine of late, but I wanted to point out that the economics aren’t as simple as “high sec loses.”  So now the billion ISK mining drones that Rorquals use (which will also now provide kill mails) will have higher skill requirements to get tech II benefits, while a change to spread out the asteroids in mining belts and anoms means that drone round trip time will effectively reduce yield.  This will reduce overall productivity of the Rorqual by an estimated 25%.

High sec has been protected from belt spread by having the lock ranges of mining barges increased proportional to the change.

Meanwhile, the invulnerable PANIC jump hictor usage of the Rorqual has been curtailed a bit, as the ship now needs to have an asteroid locked in order to activate its PANIC module.  So long as Jay can keep his super carriers out of asteroid belts, this should improve his quality of life.

Also on the null sec nerf parade is carrier ratting, likely the greatest source of individual null sec wealth.  (If CCP is controlled by Goons, how come they can’t stop this?)  Fighter signature radii are being increased and NPCs will view them as more threatening, thus making fighters both easier to hit and more likely to be targeted in the first place.  The range of responses I have seen to this change have gone from “carrier ratting is dead” to “no big deal if you pay attention.”

Since I haven’t mined in ages and still rat in an Ishtar, neither of these changes make a difference to me personally, but the drama around the changes has been mildly entertaining.  And fighters are getting a UI pass as well, so maybe I’ll figure out how to use them properly some day.

Another big change coming up for null sec relates to mobile warp disruptors, or anchorable bubbles as I generally hear them called. (I love when player terminology deviates from the official terminology.)  Up until today, these things lasted forever once you dropped them, were a pain to shoot, had enough passive regen to make them somewhat proof against solo attacks, and after all that work didn’t even provide a freakin’ kill mail.  Each of these items has been addressed in some way.

The biggest deal is that bubbles will die of their own accord when left in space.  The timers are:

  • Two days for all T1 bubbles
  • One week for all T2 bubbles
  • Two weeks for all Syndicate bubbles

Meanwhile, hit points have been reduced, regen has been toned down, and they now provide kill mails.  Let the bubble holocaust begin!  Also, the updates entry for these changes uses a screen shot I took at 319 station in Delve back in 2012.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Then there is a great big change to scanners and probes and that interface.  That has really been a work in progress since I started player, but maybe this time for sure!  I will have to see it in action to see if it makes any difference to my own indifferent scanning skills.

I mentioned the change to the Caldari Cormorant destroyer in a post last week, but the Caldari Chimera carrier is also getting a new look.  We will see how the former sits with me once it is live in space.  The latter… well the old model always looked like some sort of amphibian life that was trying to wade ashore, so I suppose it couldn’t get much worse… could it?

Those are what I think are the big items coming with today’s update, which has been deployed.  For further details the patch notes and updates page are both available.  And, as always, it isn’t an EVE Online release/update without another music track to go with it.

Getting Home from Oasa

The ping said that if we got in Cainun’s fleet fast, there was a chance of a big kill.  The call was for the armor T3 cruiser fleet doctrine, which features the Legion and Proteus strategic cruisers along with armor logi and support.  I happened to be at my desk at just the right moment to log in, get in fleet, get into my Oneiros and undock as we warped off to a titan to get bridged on our way.

Off we go, are we committed yet?

The bridge off the titan sent us to another system where a wormhole to Thera awaited us.  We formed up on the null sec side of the wormhole, waiting for the orders to go through.  The wormhole was not fresh and there was concern about how much mass we would be pushing through it.

To this end we were asked to go to our fitting window and offline the armor plates on our ships to reduce the mass going through the whole, though I admit that I did wonder how you can turn off something like an armor plate.  Armor isn’t like a shield, it doesn’t go away when you turn off the switch.  But I followed New Eden logic and set mine offline.

Lolling about at the first wormhole

Tackle was sent through first, and they zipped off to the exit whole in Thera, through, and off to catch up our intended target.  Then the call was for command ships and logi to go through the hole and into Thera.  After we were in successfully, the DPS ships were called to jump through.  That was enough to collapse the hole, though only about a dozen ships got left on the other side.  No wormhole adventure for them and they got to head home.  That still left over 200 ships in the fleet.

Once we were warped to the out hole in Thera, we followed the same routine.  Tackle had already gone through, so the call was for command ships and logi, with yet another follow up reminder to turn off armor plates in case somebody hadn’t done it when asked the previous dozen times.  Command ships and logi went through successfully, so the call went for DPS ships to make the transition.  About six DPS ships made it through before the hole collapsed.

That left us in something of an awkward position.  A small fleet consisting mostly of logi was now in 1-HDQ4 in the Oasa region, a long way from home, while more than 150 T3 cruisers were hanging about in Thera where the direct hole home had already closed and the hole to the target was no longer available to them either.  Those left in Thera docked up at one of the stations there.

Those of us stranded up in Oasa were told to start burning to KED-2O where an Imperium Caracal fleet, which had used the same holes before us, was already engaged.  They had killed a Rorqual up there and had a titan tackled.  So off we went with Thomas Lear now leading us.  Why not?  We were already there and didn’t have anyplace else to be.  But even as we closed in on the destination system, word came down the line that a titan kill wasn’t going to happen.  The defenders had been successful at blowing up any tackle and the big ship got away.

So there we were, up in Oasa, a long way from home, 33 ships made up of boosts, lots of logi, and a few DPS ships.  We were like the incarnation of old school WoW paladins in New Eden; we weren’t going to die, but neither was anything we rolled up on.  It was time to figure out how to get back to Delve.

As it turned out, there was another Thera wormhole about 20 jumps from our current location, over in The Vale of the Silent in 9-GBPD.  We just had to get there.  Getting there though, turned out to be a bit of a chore.  Going gate to gate for 20 jumps takes some time, but that got multiplied as we went through Russian space in Perrigen Falls.  The Russians have a habit of covering gates around their space with anchorable warp disruption bubbles.  Lots of them.

The gate inside the bubbles

So for a series of gates we ended up landing 60-90km off of a gate, slow boating with after burners lit to jump through, then slow boating on after burners out of the inevitable bubbles on the other side of the gate.

Out of the bubbles on the far side for another warp

The bubbles were all around the gates, so there was no sending somebody ahead for a perch around them, and we didn’t have enough DPS to blow them up as we went. (Though I think we did destroy a single small bubble as we motored to a gate, just out of boredom and anger more than anything else… launch logi whore drones!)

The bubbles probably didn’t cost us all that much extra time, but subjectively, having to motor on ABs felt like a long time.   Ironically, tomorrow’s patch is making a change to anchorable bubbles so that they decay and go away after a given amount of time, so this might be the last time we have to drag ourselves through a series of forever bubbles.  And if our trip felt like a long time to us, I am sure the rest of the fleet wasn’t happy about it either.

While we had been gating about the northeast of New Eden, the rest of the fleet had been hanging out in Thera just waiting for us to get back.  Jay, who was with us, started trying to get them to rise up against Cainun to get him to take them home rather than waiting for us.  I have to admit, keeping more than 160 people hanging about waiting for 30 or so of us had a lot going against it.  On the other hand, our detachment was made up of the boosters and logi pilots.  Everybody tells us we’re special… everybody who just wants to fly DPS and get kill mails… so I guess it was time for them to show us just how special we were.

We made it past the bubbles gates and finally arrived in 9-GBPD where B33R was sitting on the wormhole as a warp in.  We went through and found Cainun and the rest of the fleet sitting there waiting for us.

Back with the fleet in Thera… also, the only good Oneiros SKIN

Once we were all through and back into Thera, Cainun warped us to the out connection.  There, we had a plate check once again.  Then he called out four Guardians to stay behind before sending people through.  This hole was also questionable, but there was another Thera connection option if this one collapsed.  Cainun just wanted to be sure any fleet that had to take an alternate route had some logi support.

And he was correct, the whole did collapse before we all got through.  I was through and in the system I-ME3L in Stain.  That put us 23 jumps from home on a route through Period Basis, Delve, Fake Querious, and Delve again.

Down in Stain

Fortunately, there was only a single anchorable bubble on the route home, reported by our scout, and it was down before we even got to the system where it was.  We were able to gate home without incident.

All told, that was about a two hour adventure which took some of us on a multi-region tour the length of New Eden.

Our route, Blue for wormhole travel, Red for gate travel

You could certainly find systems more distant from each other than we hit, but Oasa to Period Basis does cover a lot of the breadth of New Eden.  And it also shows how handy wormholes can be and the hazards of them collapsing on you.

Oscar at Peace

After we moved into the old house… our first real, single family detached dwelling in the mold of the suburban American dream… and had settled in a bit, it became time to get a cat.  We had a cat at our old condo, a charmer named Woody, but he had passed and we decided not to think about another cat until we had settled down in a new home.  Getting there took a while, but once we had ourselves established in the autumn of 2000, we went looking for a cat.

Two cats actually.  The thought was that a pair would be happier.  And so one weekend we picked Felix from a rescue shelter.  He was an adult can of unknown age who had been living in the parking lot of the IBM facility on Cottle Rd. in San Jose.  When that was closed, the woman who had been feeding him collected him up and brought him in to find him a real home.  He was happy and friendly and liked people and warmed right up to me, so he came home with us the day we met him.

The next weekend we went searching for a companion.  Since I had chosen Felix… or maybe he chose me… my wife was looking for a cat for herself.  After some searching we came across a black kitten with a white tummy, white paws, and a little diamond shaped white spot on his forehead.  He wasn’t a tiny kitten, but about five months old.  My wife thought he was adorable and so we brought him home.

Earliest known picture of Oscar

Earliest known picture of Oscar, hiding under our bed

He came with the name Dylan, but we changed that to Oscar, to match Felix as the “Odd Couple” of cats, and it turned out to be quite the fitting name.

When we brought him home we followed what we had been told and set Oscar up in the guest room with the door shut to keep the two cats apart until they grew used to each other.  That lasted for about 30 minutes.  They were almost immediately on either side of the door sniffing and meowing and obviously anxious to see who was on the other side.  There were no hostile signs, so we said, “What the hell” and opened the door and the two became immediate buddies.

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

But while the two of them were pals for life, they had very different personalities.  Felix had to be around whoever was over to visit, greeting every guest, and was always happy to sit in anybody’s lap.  He was the good cat, gregarious and happy and always in the thick of things.

Oscar, on the other hand, was quite reserved.  He loved Felix and my wife, but held himself aloof from the rest of the world.  I joked that it took him five years to get used to me, but it was about the truth.  He wouldn’t go out of his way to find me, but would seek out my wife day and night to be close to her, preferably in her lap.

Felix would be in the thick of thing and Oscar would be peeking around the corner or sneaking around the periphery of any event, keen to know what was going on but not willing to go out there with all those strangers.  He was also always getting into everything.  While Felix was content with things as they were, Oscar had to know what was under, behind, over, and around anything in the house.  He could be quite the wiener, and his nickname quickly became Oscar Meyer.

And then my daughter showed up and there was a whole new world of adventure for Oscar Meyer.  There was some combination of new stuff and a little human that was constantly around my wife and who, no doubt smelled a bit of her, that made my daughter and all of her stuff of immediate interest to him.  I don’t think my daughter had been home for more than 10 minutes before he appeared at her bassinet to see what we had brought home.

What do we have here?

What do we have here?

Of course, he immediately tried to get into the bassinet with her and curl up.  She was nice and warm and that was a trait he loved in people.  We had to keep a close eye on him and even had to get a mesh “kitty tent” to go over my daughter’s crib to keep him out once she started sleeping there.  But her stuff was his stuff as far as he was concerned and looking back at the pictures he was around her and my wife a lot.

Life with Oscar and Felix was good.  They were pals and Felix, who would welcome anybody in our house, took up the slack with visitors as Oscar remained wary of strangers and really only liked my wife and daughter for years.  I remained under suspicion.

Of course, when it came time to go to the vet, I was the one who had to stuff the kitties in their boxes.  Felix would go easy, but Oscar… who could somehow sense I was coming for him even if left no evidence about… would run and hide under the bed the moment I glanced his way.  I recall once having to take the mattress and box spring off the bed to get at him.  Still, once in a while he would show up and hang out with me.

Hey, is that Age of Kings you’re playing?

Felix, older and having lived a harder life in his youth, passed away just about eight years ago.  Oscar though, he was in his prime at that time.  He was king of the house and soon had to rule over two new kittens.  The coming of Fred and Trixie worked out well, and the three of them became pals, with the two younger cats cuddling up with Oscar.

Black and white fur at rest

With three cats, everybody in the house had one.  Oscar remained ever my wife’s cat, while Fred would sleep with our daughter, and Trixie would hang out with me… though she would cuddle up on my wife in bed.  She knew where the warmth was.

Fred and Trixie were not with us long however.  They both suffered from a congenital issue that cut both of their lives short, feline aortic thromboembolism.  Fred went a year before Trixie, and in the interim she had to have a new cat to call her own, so Rigby joined us as a kitten.

Not being black and white, the new tabby kitten wasn’t welcomed very warmly.  It took a while for Trixie and Oscar to accept Rigby, but eventually they did.

Trixie, Rigby, and Oscar together on the tower

By this point Oscar was slowing down.  He was still king of the house, and held court on the couch where he would welcome any guest and sit in their lap… so long as it was warm… but he was more interested in sunny spots and treats than running around and playing.  Then Trixie passed and it was just Oscar and Rigby.

Those two were not pals.  When Rigby was young he wanted to play when Oscar wanted to sleep.  Later when Rigby came into his adult size, he stated testing Oscar over who was really the boss.  There were the occasional fights, but mostly it was the kitty equivalent of “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you!”

Oscar trying to pretend Rigby isn’t there

They could be cuddly at times, but their rivalry was never far from the surface.

 

And Oscar was getting older and slowing down even more so.  The vet told me a couple of times that 12 to 15 years is a good life span for a healthy cat.  Oscar hit 16 last year and was closing in on 17 this year, but time was telling on him.  His hips were bothering him, so we got him a heating pad to sleep on during the day.  He had gone deaf at some point, which meant that an already vocal cat had no real way to gauge his volume. He then got a bad ear infection about 18 months back that took a long stretch to go away with antibiotics, a respiratory infection late last year that sapped his strength before it was over, and then this past January an episode that looked like another ear infection (head tilt, problem with balance) but which the vet thought was an issue with his brain; not a stroke but some sort of episode.  His blood pressure was very high and in addition to his other symptoms he was blind in one eye.

I started writing this post after that day at the vet because he looked to be done, even crawling under our bed to be some place dark, something past cats I have owned have done that indicates their time has come.

Then he bounced back a bit.  The “maybe this will help” medicine the vet gave us seemed to actually help.  He got up on the bed with us the next day.  His balance improved, he could get around the house on his own, and he started eating again.  He wasn’t eating much though and he was far from his old self.  We made him as comfortable as we could and offered up food he really liked just to get him to eat more.  Even Rigby (mostly) stopped being a pain to Oscar and would groom him.

But it was borrowed time.  Oscar was eating less and less and was losing weight.  Even for an older cat who slept a lot already, a lot of his time was spent asleep.  And then when I got home from work Wednesday I found him in the middle of the floor of office.  My wife said he had used the litter box, but then just stopped in the carpet there and wouldn’t move.  She had food and water close to him, but he was just sitting there.  I found a cat bed he would occasionally deign to sleep in, put it down next to him, then placed him in it.  He curled up there and slept.  He did not move until the next morning when he was trying to walk to our bedroom.  I picked him up and put him on the bed in the dark room and he curled up again and stayed there.

I was working from home yesterday and my daughter was home sick from school, so we kept an eye on Oscar, but things did not look good.  There was no interest in food or water.  I let my daughter take him out in the back yard where it was warm (72 degrees) and sunny to see if that would stimulate him.  Oscar has never been outside and has shown no desire to ever leave the house.  But as a cat any new environment is of interest to him. He explored a bit, but could barely go a dozen steps before having to lay down and rest for a bit.

Out in the grass

While he was out there with my daughter I called the vet and made an appointment for one last check before the end.  We all went to the vet and cried a lot  as we said good bye.  He is at peace and suffers no more, but we are still sad today and miss him.

The end of an era.  We always grow attached to our pets, but after 16 years the bond is very strong and the parting all the more difficult.  Oscar had been with us since before my wife was even pregnant with our daughter, and we used to joke, when my daughter wanted a sibling, that he was her older brother.

It is even difficult to choose pictures to post of him.  We got our first digital camera as a gift just before we got Felix and Oscar and he has been a kitty of the digital camera and then the iPhone age.  There are literally hundreds of pictures of him to choose from.  But I think my favorites are from the early days, when he and Felix roamed our house and were such pals, and when Oscar just had to get into everything, so I will add a few more of those to the end of this already over-long post.

Final Stretch for the Alola Pokedex

I have been down to the nitty gritty when it comes to chasing down the Alola Pokedex in Pokemon Sun.  I have been past the point of simply finding pokemon in the wild grass out in the field.

Trading has been a large part of getting the more obscure samples.  Last time around I found that breeding Gabite for GTS trades wasn’t as successful as I thought it would be, so I went back to Goomy.  That actually yielded me a key success in my effort.

Goomy for Vanillish

Yes, I know, a pokemon that is pretty much literally a vanilla ice cream cone.  Not everybody can be Pikachu.  Still better than Klefki, which is just a key chain with a few keys on it.

But Vanillish was one I didn’t have and did not know how to get, but once obtained opened filled in not just his slot on the Pokedex, but another for evolving him into Vanilluxe, an even larger vanilla ice cream cone, by simply leveling him up, and Vanillite, a baby vanilla ice cream cone, by breeding him.

And once I had him bred, I cranked out a few more for trades, which turned out very well.  Vanillite seemed to be in demand and got me the remaining Eevee evolves I didn’t have and even this guy.

Vanillite pays off

I actually probably didn’t need to trade for Silvally.  I had the pokemon that evolves into him already.  However, it is one of those evolutions that requires the pokemon the reach some level of “happiness” and I was tired of trying to make him happy, plus I had surplus Vanillites, so I got him in trade.  And then the one I had evolved about 30 minutes later, because that is the way it works, right?

That left me with a few evolves that required a link trade while holding a specific item.  The Porygon evolutions require two such trades, but the game just hands you a Porygon and the items if you know where to go, so it was just a matter of my daughter cooperating with her 3DS.

More time consuming was getting Scyther to evolve into Scizor.

Scyther to Scizor

Scyther is supposed to be a somewhat rare find in a wild, but I already had him.  To evolve him requires a link trade with him holding an item called the metal coat.  The game doesn’t just hand you one of those.  You can buy one with points earned by fighting on the battle tree, but that doesn’t thrill me.  Or you can find one in the wild on Magnemites.  But you can’t just defeat them, you either have to catch them and take the item or have a move that steals the item.  Also, the item is rare on them, so you could be a while finding one.

I decided to Google for the optimum path on that and came up with the info that Magnemites spawn on about half of the encounters in the tall grass off to the side of the Training School on Route 1.  So that meant a ready supply of targets.  The other tidbit I found was that if you hunt with an Exeggutor as your lead, it has the innate ability Frisk which tells you if a pokemon is holding an item.  I had one of those as well, so I had him train the skill Thief, which steals an item as part of the attack, and went hunting.  It took a while, but I finally got the metal coat.  I decided to get a second, then gave up after a bit because they do seem to be rare.  I’ll get one another time if I need it.

That just left me with one of the island guardians, Tapu Fini, who lives on Poni Island.  The only problem was that I accidentally defeated him on my first attempt, and once he faints he won’t respawn automatically.

To get him back you have to go back and defeat the Eilte Four of the newly constituted Alola Pokeleague.  That wasn’t going to be too tough, since I had done it before and, with all of this running around leveling up pokemon and such, most of my original team was past level 80 while the Elite Four pokemon are all low to mid 60.  In an interesting twist, once you defeat the Elite Four you don’t face the old champion, as in past Pokemon titles, but rather you are the champion… you won the spot to finish the main story line… so instead you have to face a challenger in the form of one of the NPCs you met along the way.  I drew Hau, my friend/rival from the main story and defeated him.

That got Tapu Fini to spawn and, this time using a bit more care, I was able to capture him.  That gave me all the island guardians.

The Tapu Family Collected

That also gave me all the pokemon for the island Pokedexes.

Gold Crowns mean Complete Across the Board

However, there was a catch.  While all four island Pokedexes were complete, the total percentage sat at 97%.

Almost complete…

As it turns out, there is a post Elite Four story line that I had not done yet that involves catching several special pokemon, ultra beasts.  So I have that to do still.  We shall see if that gets me to 100%, finishes off the Alola Pokedex at last, and opens up the horror of the full National Pokedex.

Along the way, as I was doing this, the game did wish me a happy birthday.

Pokemon Remembers

That actually surprised me as I don’t generally use my real birthday online.  I tend to put my late grandfather’s birthday (though with my year so they don’t think I am 101), but apparently in a moment of weakness I shared my real birthday with Nintendo.  While I was surprised, it was a nice little surprise.  It was certainly better than all these AARP ads I suddenly started getting on Facebook.

Anyway, now for the ultra beasts.