Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

Nine is a Magic Number

Yes, I was testing you… it’s nine. And that’s a magic number

-Dewey Finn, School of Rock, misquoting Schoolhouse Rock

However the magic being referenced here is mostly a product of stubbornness or persistence or force of habit as opposed to anything that one would find amazing or entertaining.

Also, references to my childhood

Also, reference to my childhood

Yes, here we are again, another anniversary, the ninth time through this sort of post.  If I were married to the blog, something my wife might suggest was the case at times, Hallmark would be suggesting I buy it something of pottery or willow or perhaps leather if you prefer the modern view.  Instead all it is getting is words, just like every year.

But just to keep on the video game theme, WordPress.com even popped up an achievement for me at 17:05 UTC, which I guess is when I clicked the create button nine years back.


“Good blogging” is making something of an assumption there I suppose, but I appreciate the sentiment I guess.

Meanwhile, past runs through this sort of post for those who just need to know what came before.

I think I have settled down into a pretty regular pattern at this point.  I went well out of my way with some stats in the early years, in part because they were easy to derive with only a year or two of data to sift through.  Now I just present what is close to hand and hope for the best.

Base Statistics

An attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last years totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 3,287 (+365)
Posts total: 3,707 (+360)
Average posts per day: 1.13 (-0.02)
Comments: 25,558 (+2,346)
Average comments per post: 6.9 (+0.0)
Average comments per day: 7.8  (-0.1)
Spam comments: 1,277,992 (+104,525)
Average spam comments per day: 388.8 (-12.8)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 50 (-0.6)
Comments written by me: 2,994 or 11.7%
Images uploaded:  9,259 (+1244)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 3 GB allocation (70%)

Eventually we’re going to need a bigger boat or something for all the picture I upload.

Further stats, summaries, a mildly off-the-rails semi-rant, and a forward looking statement are hidden below because I seem to be going on and on this year.  ~4,000 words after the cut for those interested in such things.

Continue reading

One Hundred and Forty Million Skill Points

Months pass and the skill points continue to add up until, suddenly, it is time for another milestone post.  The skill point milestone story so far:

The ongoing attempt to have it all on one character continues.  I keep telling myself there will come a point where I will switch over and start training an alt, Wilhelm having finally trained up all of the skills he could possibly need.

Still not there yet, that’s for sure.

 Spaceship Cmd   36,330,616 (42 of 71)*
 Gunnery         13,915,745 (36 of 39)
 Leadership      12,803,000 (14 of 14)*
 Missiles        10,572,290 (21 of 24)*
 Drones           9,884,163 (19 of 21)*
 Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)*
 Armor            6,899,137 (14 of 14)
 Engineering      5,974,395 (14 of 14)*
 Shields          5,645,390 (11 of 12)*
 Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Science          4,408,426 (21 of 39)
 Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Electronic Sys   2,900,285 (6 of 15)*
 Targeting        2,306,195 (8 of 8)*
 Scanning         2,045,230 (7 of 7)* 
 Neural Enhance.  1,770,275 (5 of 8)* 
 Subsystems       1,320,000 (10 of 20) 
 Rigging          1,312,395 (10 of 10)* 
 Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)* 
 Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12) 
 Corp Mgmt        1,108,784 (4 of 7) 
 Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5) 

 Total         ~140,000,000 (295 of 398)

My focus over the last 10 month or so has been to get my character able to be a booster, either on or off grid, for fleet ops.  That is why there has been a big boost in skill points under Leadership.

Damnation in a POS

Dreams of being an on-grid boost…

Last April, at the 120 million skill point mark, I sat at just over 2.4 million points in Leadership.  Now I am way up to 12.8 million skill points in that category.  I also trained up command ships for the on-grid boosting role in addition to already having all my Tengu skills up to 5 for off-grid boosting.  So I must be a totally excellent fleet booster and sign up for that role in every fleet possible, right?

Um, no.

I have yet to actually fly in the booster role for a number of reasons.  While I sort-of know how to fly the role, the only time they have been asking for boosters have been for important ops, and I’d like a practice run before an op is counting on me.  You also have to invest in the ship and some expensive implants up front and be in that clone with that ship handy and ready to go at the right location.  And, while command ships and on-grid boosting was still a thing when I started down this path, off-grid boost is now all there is.  You go to a safe spot, turn on your links, and keep hitting the directional scanner looking for probes, in case the enemy is trying to scan you down to kill you.  That sounds dull.  I like to be with the fleet so I can at least see what is going on.  Ever the tourist.

Having Wing Command trained up to 5 has helped out a few times at least.  There tends to be a need for that so fleets can be the full 255 pilots.

Otherwise I have spent my training time rounding out my skills, getting things that affect my ships up to level 5.  I got the two missing racial frigates, Minmatar and Gallente, up to level 5, so I can fly all the stealth bombers now.  I am currently training up the sensor compensation skills for each of the races, which explains why targeting got a boost in points this time around.  Targeting may be the first category where I have all the skills to 5, though it is admittedly a small category.

I do have quite a few skills at level 5 at this point.  My skill breakdown is now:

 Level 1  - 3
 Level 2  - 22
 Level 3  - 41
 Level 4  - 82
 Level 5  - 158

Meanwhile, I have been quite enjoying the fact that losing your pod is now pretty much a no-cost issue for me.  Aside from the potential fleet booster role and my training clone, my clones are all implant free, so there is no loss potential on that front.

I have a neural re-map coming up in June.  The last one I did I flattened out all my skills so that anything I trained would be equally fast… or slow.  This time around I think I will go back to being biased towards training ship and weapon skills at the expense of the social and leadership.  I am not sure I need to train into Fleet Command V, which would be all I have left under Leadership.

And then there is the final silly metric that I have been using throughout this series of posts, which is how long it would take me to train to fly a titan.  By the 130 million skill point post, simply flying one was down to two skills, so I changed that up to what it would take to fly a fully fit titan, specifically the Minmatar Ragnarok.

Free wheeling Ragnarok

Free wheeling Ragnarok

When I looked at that I was 130 days and 17 hours away from being able to lock myself away forever in a rusty, angular space coffin.  Super caps are like the Hotel California; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.  Not that I will ever opt for that.  I am not yet that much of a bitter vet.

I did not expect that number to change, but then I found I had actually trained a few of the of the skills.  Astrometrics 5 was a big one, though I don’t remember exactly why I trained it.  And then I trained up Jump Portal Generation to 4 so I could operate a black ops battleship, in case we needed one out on a Reavers op.  That seemed important after our misadventure with hot dropping.  Those two skills combined pushed the titan timeline more than 17 days, knocking the number down to 113 days and 12 hours.  The biggest skill in that is still Capital Ships 5, which is close to 70 on its own.

Anyway, my skill training online adventure continues.  The next stop will be 150 million skill points, which I ought to hit around the new year.

Twelve Years a Clone

EVE Online turns twelve years old today, which is a ripe old age for an MMO.  By the time a decade rolls by for a lot of games in the MMO genre they have often been superseded by a sequel (Guild Wars), have become niche interests for a nostalgic few (Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot), have been put into maintenance-only mode (Asheron’s Call), have become a small fan supported project to tinker with (Meridian 59, Saga of Ryzom), or have been just shut down outright (do I need a list?).

I remember a time when the idea of closing down an MMO seemed strange.  I’ve since been cured of that delusion.

And even many of those that have avoided completely falling off of the mainstream of MMOs for more than a decade feel their age.  EverQuest, which turned 16 back in March, is still a viable money maker for Daybreak, but it really feels old when you play.  Meanwhile, the big ten year anniversary plan for World of Warcraft, the undisputed leader of the MMO free world (or something), was to try to recapture 2007 by returning to Draenor.

Yeah, when you bring in a BILLION dollars of revenue annually, you tend to be shy about making radical changes to game play.  Even with all they have done the game still feels mostly like it did back in 2005 when I first started playing.  The details have changed, but the look and feel remains.

And then there is EVE Online, which still feels like it is finding its way to something, still bringing the game forward to what it should be, still making mistakes and then fixing them… though the fixing part is relatively new.  CCP itself views almost the first nine years of the game as the preliminaries to what they are trying to do now.

The Phases of CCP

The Phases of CCP – Mistakes made, but the jury is still out on lessons learned I think…

I wasn’t there for the early, early days of the game.  No beta, no crude early graphics for me.

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much, the UI though…

I first heard about EVE Online back when the first bloom of EverQuest II had faded and we faced the first great exodus from our guild.  People who left… and who bothered to leave a forwarding address… were mostly headed either off to World of Warcraft or back to EverQuest.  But one old TorilMUD player, whose name escapes me now, said he was off to a game called EVE Online.  That was the first time I had heard the game mentioned.  He said something about spaceships, but I never followed up on it.  I was still committed to EQII, the game having not hit its low point for me yet.

EVE Online did not come up again in my world until more than a year later, when I started listening to the VirginWorlds podcast.  Brent (who I just saw in EVE Online on Monday night, so he lives still and might even be MMO-ing as well) mentioned EVE Online and its unique nature, problems, and challenges frequently, as did Ryan and Gary from the Massively Online Gamer podcast. (And Ryan ended up working for CCP at one point, so we just keep closing the loop here.)

That talk got me to actually try the game, which looked like this when I started in August 2006.  Witness me foundering in the long gone tutorial of the day.  And then my first post-tutorial mission was “Worlds Collide!”  Not really viable in an Ibis.  But I persisted… for a while.

EVE as I found it

EVE as I found it… I meant to upload the one with the UI on…

The game didn’t stick for more than a few months.  I left… and then like so many EVE players, I came back and did something different.  Then I got bored with that and left again.  Then I came back and found something else.  What to do in EVE Online is a pretty open question.  There is a myriad of different paths and you can mix and match or alter any of them to fit your mood.

And the paths can be very different.  Rixx Javix and I both theoretically fly in harms way in potentially hostile space expecting to get shot at on the far side of every gate.  But his game is bizarro world different than mine.  For example, he goes on about warp core stabilizers all the time and those aren’t even a thing in my world, while my fear of warp disruption bubbles doesn’t play into his low sec view of the game.

Sometimes these different aspects of the game can be hilarious.  I have seen long time, hardcore null sec vets get nervous flying into empire space.  They don’t know the rules.  Being in high sec with all those damn neutrals makes a null vet very nervous.   Plus you can’t just shoot people without consequence.

And here, at the twelve year mark, long after most viable MMOs seem to have plateaued and hit a formula that keeps its core happy and subscribed… regular content heavy expansions, with more levels, more dungeons, more raids, more shiny things… CCP is proposing radical changes to the way things work in my part of space.

Going through a phase

Heading to Phase 2

I poured out twelve hundred words yesterday about how I have to pack up and move a bunch of crap across a couple regions because the updates coming next month are going to change how the world works in null sec.  If I had been writing about doing that much lifting and carrying in a game like WoW, I probably would have been annoyed.  But moving crap is part of EVE, as I said at the top of that post, and if you cannot accept that is part of what makes the game what it is… well, it might not be for you.

But beyond just accepting that as the way things are in New Eden, I am actually excited about what it portends.  When the next update drops, it will be a new world in null sec… a new, chaotic, probably broken, likely full of exploits new world… but a new world none the less, which will bring its own forms of excitement and comedy and bitching and drudgery.  CCP will be both praised and cursed, often in the same breath.  Then we’ll all figure it out, the most egregious problems will be addressed, and a new dynamic will be born.

EVE Online is a strange mix of the traditional MMO values, which is often heavy on nostalgia and incremental improvements and N+1 changes, and its own sort of chaotic ability to shake things up, piss people off, and still keep going.

So here we are at year twelve and CCP is still… well… figuring things out, for lack of a better phrase.  And, as happens on these occasions, CCP has some gifts for those currently subscribed, something that always makes a few people angry.

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain, then triggers them

The implants that CCP is giving out, which I won’t use because my ship will get blown up, I will get podded, and I will lose them, apparently crashed the market and I who needs another jacket… unless you’re some sort of space roleplay dress up freak.  Who is that over the top?  Hrmm… Amarr Victor I guess.

So happy twelfth birthday to New Eden.  Things have changed a lot over the years.

Rifter and Harpy in warp

More recent Rifter and Harpy hulls warping off

I look forward to seeing how the game continues to evolve.

Avoiding Guild Wars for a Decade

Guild Wars occupies a strange spot in my gaming history.

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words...

To start with, I am never sure if there is a space between the two words…

It came along ten years ago this week… something I only noticed when another bloggers mentioned the anniversary… at a point in time when the future of MMOs seemed golden.

EverQuest had brought a lot of players into the genre in a way that no MMO or proto-MMO before it had.  It confirmed that there was a bigger audience out there than was suspected, and that audience would pay to play.  Other games came on the scene like Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars Galaxies that were clearly differentiated for EQ.  It seemed like we would have all sorts of unique choices when it came to MMOs going forward.

Meanwhile, EverQuest II and World of Warcraft had both launched the previous November (we hit my 10 year anniversary with WoW last month and I totally forgot) but, while WoW was clearly taking off, we were not yet at a point where “must make a WoW clone!!!” was the dominating developer thoughts.

The market was also small, at least when it came to the number of titles.  It felt like you could realistically know something about all the major titles on the market as well as those under development.  The whole VirginWorlds podcast era was predicated on the idea that you could talk about the MMO market segment in detail in a weekly one hour or less session and pretty much cover all they key players.

At the time I was just back into the MMO thing, having quit EQ and the genre back before Planes of Power launched.  As noted in the relevant anniversary post, Gaff got me to play EverQuest II at launch.

By the time Guild Wars launched in 2005 I had given WoW a try and wasn’t really thrilled, something I mentioned to a co-worker who had played EverQuest over lunch.  A surprising (to me) number of my co-workers ended up playing EverQuest.  This particular one had also burned out on EQ and was somewhat reluctant to get in on the subscription MMO level grind again.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t enjoyed some, or even most of his time in Norrath.  It was just that feeling you get when you’re too busy to use something you’re paying for.

He told me the game he had his eye on was Guild Wars.

He was keen on the MMO, or MMO-like, multi-player experience without the whole monthly fee.  Buy the box and you’re done, like a REAL video game.  That is what made it stand out among the so-called third generation MMOs. (And this ignores the whole Guild Wars isn’t an MMO thing, which I can’t even begin to address.  As with H1Z1, the company simply saying it isn’t an MMO doesn’t make it so.  The definition is both complex and situational in my mind, but there is also a certain amount of “quacks like a duck” in there as well.)

He was kind of our scout into this game.  He picked it up at launch and I would go by and ask him about it now and again.  He talked about the character models and the way cities were shared but that zones or content was all instanced and the skill system where you were limited to the number of active skills you had.

And the graphics.  He was effusive about the environment.  Most people with whom I have spoken to about the game over the years have praised that aspect.

At the time though I was fully committed to EQII, a game that had been changing and evolving… and breaking now and again… since launch.  Too much to keep up with there to start a new MMO-like game.

Then we all defected to WoW and the focus was on Azeroth.  Then I started EVE Online for a bit, then the blog started, then there was the instance group and so forth.  Somewhere in there I entered the VirginWorlds sphere of influence and would listen to Brent and sometimes co-host Brenden talk about other MMOs, which got me both more interested and more aware of the wider genre which, as noted above, seemed like a thing a single person could know about.

And Guild Wars was a common topic.  Brent and Brendan would talk about it, Van Hemlock was big on it, there were other former bloggers keen on the game, so it was always part of the mix.  Eventually I bought a copy.  I know this because the box is still sitting in my bookshelf.

MMO Boxes on my shelf

MMO Boxes on my shelf

At some point in the past I dumped a bunch of boxes but, for whatever reasons, I chose to keep these particular ones.  The EverQuest and the EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark CD jewel cases are on the far left, while the original EverQuest manual is next to A Theory of Fun on the right.

And you can see there isn’t just one, there are TWO Guild Wars boxes.

Yet I cannot recall ever really playing the game.

I remember taking a couple of runs at it.  I found exactly FOUR screen shots from Guild Wars after sifting though my hard drives that indicated that I made at least two characters, one male and one female, at some point.  I think that might have been after a podcast discussion where somebody was effusive about the female character models in the game.

Sexy or Sexualized?

Sexy or Sexualized?

I also recall at one point trying to get a group together in Guild Wars with Potshot and Ula during one of the hiatus periods of the WoW group.  I have a distinct memory of us in a small town with very pretty and detailed flowers… and being unable to jump over an ankle-high obstacle… but little else.  Something didn’t click because we clearly did not stick with it.  I did not even make a blog post about it.  I have literally written more about games I never played myself, like LEGO Universe, or games that never launched in the US, like KartRider, or games that never even existed, like Planet Michael, than about Guild Wars.  I have certainly written more about games the instance group has tried and dropped.  Runes of Magic has gotten many more words than Guild Wars, for example.

This might be my first Guild Wars post in more than eight and a half years.  And despite having been aware of the game since before launch, I have very little to say about it.

Meanwhile the landscape of the MMO market has changed.  The golden age ended, for me at least, with the crash of Warhammer Online, which killed the idea of being both popular and different from WoW. After that the tomb was sealed when the idea of another mass market subscription MMO, the now cringe-inducing idea of a WoW-beater, was laid to rest when Star Wars: The Old Republic went free to play.  Now we talk about niche games and funding and variations on business models and funding and fanciful ideas about developer independence and funding and cash shops and what went wrong back in the day and how it is all Blizzard’s fault.

And yet Guild Wars is still there, which is kind of amazing given the propensity NCsoft has for shutting down games that simply are not making enough money.  It has been overshadowed by Guild Wars 2 (which I can actually remember playing still!) and is never going to see any further expansions or content updates, yet it still abides.

Anyway, it has been ten years.  Happy anniversary!

Other places writing about Guild Wars at age ten:


LOTRO – The War of the Ring as an Eight Year Long Quagmire

Lord of the Rings Online officially went live eight years ago today.  I had been in the late beta, but made sure to note the first day that it was officially a going concern back in 2007.

Yahoo Headline 2007

Yahoo Headline 2007

Of course, one of the ongoing jokes about the game is how long it has take it to move through the story relative to how long the events in the books were reported to take.  Even allowed a generous spread of dates, say from when Gandalf warns Frodo to get out of the Shire (April 11, 3018 TA, or five months before Frodo gets off his ass and goes… hobbits…) through to when Sam Gamgee arrives back from the Grey Havens (October 6, 3021 TA) after Frodo and Bilbo depart Middle-earth, still only comes up to three and a half years.  The old LOTRO news site A Casual Stroll to Mordor came by its name honestly,

It wasn’t so bad at first.  The game only took about a year longer to get to The Mines of Moria than it took the fellowship to get through to the other side, though that still put the expansion out longer than it took to Frodo to throw down Sauron, celebrate with the new king, meander back to The Shire, fight the last battle, and start complaining about his PTSD.

But here we are, eight years in, and still in The Two Towers, with Minas Tirith still over the horizon.  I like to try to imagine the story playing out over a longer stretch, the war of the ring as an ongoing quagmire, though it requires both sides to move at a pretty lethargic pace.  Vast armies slow to form then lumbering about at a snails pace as Frodo… I don’t know what Frodo is up to.  He and Sam seem to have found something to do.

Anyway, Turbine’s vision of Middle-earth is still here to explore.  Things do not look promising, at least if you were holding out hope against hope of seeing Mount Doom or the gates of Mordor.  The look forward into 2015 seemed rather modest, and then we had all those tales of woe about Turbine itself leak.  But we are also unlikely to see as ambitious an attempt to recreate Middle-earth any time soon, so enjoy it while we have it.


Sweet Sixteen for Norrath

It was sixteen years ago today that I picked up a copy of EverQuest at Fry’s on my way home to work, only to get completely hooked on the game almost immediately.

EverQuestHere it is, many years, many changes, and twenty one expansions down the road and thinking about that first evening of discovery still strikes a chord within me.

I haven’t played the game by any definition of the word for over a year now, but I still might at some future date, if Daybreak takes a run at another round of progression servers.

So, without much to say, I’ll point you at Bhagpuss who is reliving some EverQuest moments in Neverwinter, thanks to Tipa’s hard work.

Of course, if you are still actively playing EverQuest, there are a whole series of events going on for the anniversary.

Has Rift Only Been Around for Four Years?

I ask because in my gut it feels like Rift has been around longer, that it has joined the pantheon of elder games, that it has traveled a long, long road to get where it is today.

I think Rift has just lived life at an accelerated pace, having gone through various stages of its existence at a run.  I mean, we had the game show up and receive accolades in beta.  Then there was the “aimed straight at World of Warcraft” marketing campaign just as WoW subscription numbers were flagging.

No, not Azeroth!

No, not Azeroth!

David “Triple-A and Here To Stay” Reid was quick to claim that those missing citizens of Azeroth were swarming into Telara, boasting of the game having one million subscribers… I mean customers… or maybe it was just a million boxes sold.

Meanwhile, the open beta finished up and the game went live to the immediate cries that the game was better in beta, thus punching that ticket on the game’s journey.  No transition to live is complete without that!

Then there was the inevitable “dumbing down” and solo play focus, the initial drop in subscribers and server consolidation, the Raptr deals, and a raft of updates and features like mentoring and instant adventures.

That rolled into the first expansion, Storm Legion, which seemed to be missing some element that made the original game so compelling.  I ran four characters to level 50 but couldn’t bring myself to get those next ten levels.  Something just didn’t click.  Maybe bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Storm Legion so far

About as far as I got in Storm Legion

After the expansion failed to bring subscriptions back to the game’s peak, there was the inevitable descent into the free to play model.

RiftFreeThat changed things.  There were no more individual vendors, just a store window you could invoke to purchase things with the various currencies available.

Welcome to every store in the game

Welcome to every store in the game

Free, being a price anybody can theoretically afford, brought a pile of players back, but every surge tide must ebb at some point.  The server count was reduced again, the game shut down in China, and Trion closed its office in San Diego.

The game carried on.  A new expansion, The Nightmare Tide, was announced and Trion joined the insta-level craze, allowing players to boost a character to level 60, effectively past the Storm Legion expansion.  Somewhere along the line Trion decided that they needed to compete with Steam and Origin and forced their Glyph game service on all of their customers.  I mean, even EA had the good sense not to force Origin on their SWTOR customers.  Anyway, the Glyph requirement, along with Trion’s cavalier attitude to what they feel they can install (but not uninstall) on my computer, now pretty much blocks my ever returning to Rift or trying any other game they might publish.

Such is life.

Still, it wasn’t a bad game.  For a season or three it served as a home to our regular group, giving us a place to play during our crisis of confidence with Blizzard and World of Warcraft.  We enjoyed our time there, adapting as the game changed beneath us.

Freemarch before us

Freemarch before us

That was enough to put Rift at the top of the list of games I spent time playing in 2012. (It fell well down the list in 2013 and, if Raptr publishes a report for me for 2014, it likely won’t be visible at all.)

All of that in four years.  It hardly seems possible.  It is like a compressed timeline of the genre in a way, having passed through so many familiar phases.

Anyway, the team at Trion has put together an infographic about the game to celebrate four years of Rift.  A crop of the very top of the 976×7223 pixel document is below.  Clicking on it will bring up the whole thing.

Top of the Rift Infographic

Top of the Rift Infographic – Note “pretty” race bias

More than a billion quests completed and nearly a quarter of a billion rifts closed in four years.

At this point the game has probably hit that foreign country status for me… more so than other, much older games such as EverQuest II.  Too much has probably changed at this point and I hadn’t even finished up what was on my plate before I left.  But it was fun while it lasted.