Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

Thoughts on Housing as EverQuest II Turns 18

EverQuest II launched 18 years ago today, back on November 9, 2004.  It was an event and the game was very much expected to carry on before it the way EverQuest had, becoming a dominant player, if not the dominant player in the fantasy MMORPG market.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

Yeah, that didn’t happen.  And I’ll be frank, as I was there at the time, even if World of Warcraft had launched six months or a year later, rather than just three weeks, EverQuest II was destined to be, shall we say, more of a niche title.

An ad for EQII from the August 2004 issue of Computer Gaming World

I mean, in the scope of the success of WoW at least.  If there had been no WoW, it would have been a modest success, if somewhat disappointing success.  A lot of people went from EQII to WoW, but as many if not more went from EQ to EQII and back to EQ.  Maybe they went to WoW later because, if anything WoW was the real successor to EQ, but people left EQII in droves.

EverQuest II on the cover of CGW – December 2004 Issue

Mistakes were made.  There were a lot of problems.  So many problems.  Technical issues, high system requirements, a chaotic market, crafting interdependence gone mad, no gear atonement so people would just resell their old gear, quest log problems, and just a host of core ideas that drove the design of the game.

About a dozen years back, when SOE was talking about lessons learned for EverQuest Next, I took that and laid out what appeared, in hindsight, to be the lessons learned that drove the EQII design.

It was a difficult game to play and I remember hearing about people with old machines playing the game on such low settings that basically nobody had a face in the game.

But one thing they got right, straight away on day one, was housing.

Once you got through the isle of refuge and made it to your home city… only two home cities with a bunch of oddly segregated ghettos… how did barbarians and dwarves get grouped together… you got a quest to set up your first home.

Yes, it was a crappy, shoe box sized one room apartment, but it was YOUR crappy, shoe box sized apartment.  And there was stuff to do with it.  There were quests and items in the world, trophies and such, that you could bring back to display there.

Wall of Weapons and some of my other stuff

There was also a whole profession dedicated to furniture and such.

And if you wanted to sell on the market you HAD to have a house.  That was also your store front.  And there wasn’t offline selling at first, so you had to leave your character logged on, in your house, so people could buy your stuff while you were away.  I used to log myself in, then go to work all day, come home in the evening, and find myself still logged in.

Whatever you say about the initial design of the game, they were committed to housing.

I’ve written about what makes housing feel worthwhile in MMORPGs.  There are a lot of aspects that can go into it, and some of them are subjective and also drive a lot of emotion.  Some people absolutely have to have a real physical house that occupies space that unambiguously belongs to it.  Nothing but such a literal simulacrum attempt will do, no matter the issues inherent in that. (Which exist in both the real in virtual worlds because, as any real estate agent will tell you, it is all about “location, location, location.)

EQII opted for instanced housing, which has its own problems.  But you can at least always get a place that is convenient to where you want to be or what you want to do.

And that is one of the strengths of the game, one of pillars that holds the game together in my opinion.  I have played a lot of games with indifferent housing, forgettable cosmetic ventures that add little or no value to your experience.  But whenever I go back to play EQII, and I was doing that as recently as a year ago, I always check in on my house, add new items, move stuff around.

Then I go to the guild hall, which is something else they did very well, though that took a little more time to gel into another cornerstone of the game.

So here we are, 18 years down the road.  Given that Ultima Online is celebrating 25 years and EverQuest is well into its 23rd year, 18 doesn’t seem quite so long.

Of course, on the flip side, a commercially viable online game run by a public company that is 18 years old… well, in a world where EA is a thing, that does seem a bit strange at times.  Plus I was there, playing the damn game on November 13th, 2004.  A lot has changed since then.

So congrats on another year of EverQuest II.  It at least gets to celebrate its birthday before World of Warcraft every year… sort of.  WoW is even now loudly making plans and trying to scoop up all the possible guests for its birthday on the 23rd.

At least it has more expansions than WoW I suppose.

Another year goes by and I add another anniversary post to my list.

Past posts if you are in a nostalgic mood:

Two Hundred and Fifty Million Skill Points

Back to New Eden again and another milestone moment as my main character in EVE Online hit 250 million skill points.  I carry on with this mostly because this has been a regular series of posts since I started playing the game way back in the day.  Since the introduction of skill injectors having any given number of skill points is possible if you have enough real world cash.  I have not gone that route, though I can’t claim any real purity since I’ve accepted my share of free skill points for login rewards and such.  But this series does, in its way, track my progress through the game.

Here is the full history for those with too much free time on their hands:

As I noted at the 240 million SP mark, my progress has generally slowed down over the last few years.  If I am diligent I end up getting 10 million SP about every 8 months.  But I have been spreading out the training with my alts on the same account fairly regularly.  So I am closing in on 300 million SP across my account.

My account skill point spread

If I had maintained sole focus on Wilhelm, I would likely be at 300 million SP on him today.  I still jump him into the +5 training clone in Jita when I know I am not going to play for a couple of days.

But I don’t focus on him solely because having alts is useful now and again.  If nothing else, all three of them now do Planetary Industry, so I have incrementally more income on that front.

Also, there was a bit of a slow down when I spent February as an Alpha clone, so no training was completed then.  Turns out being an Alpha clone kind of sucks when you’re used to having a couple hundred million skill points enabling you, so I came back to Omega in March.

Anyway, lets see where the skills on my main character stand as of this milestone.

Spaceship Cmd    80,297,970 (71 of 85)*
Gunnery          36,069,569 (50 of 63)*
Drones           19,564,708 (23 of 28)
Fleet Support    15,872,000 (14 of 15)
Missiles         12,252,872 (22 of 26)
Navigation       11,346,275 (13 of 13)
Electronic Sys    9,821,179 (15 of 15)*
Engineering       8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Scanning          7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Armor             6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields           6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science           5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Trade             4,626,275 (11 of 14)
Planet Mgmt       4,352,000 (5 of 5)
Resc Processing   4,585,347 (10 of 31)*
Subsystems        4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Neural Enhance    3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting         3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging           2,576,865 (10 of 10)
Structure Mgmt    1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production        1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social            1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt            24,000 (2 of 5)

Total ~250,265,220

As usual, the categories that changed since last check-in are marked with an asterisk.

This time around Gunnery gained the most skill points, adding nearly 8 million to that total.  Gunnery has the most skills of any category besides Spaceship Command, so I suppose that isn’t surprising.  Spaceship Command still has almost double the SP, but Gunnery was clearly my focus.

Why Gunnery?

The Vorton specialization skills for the EDENCOM ship weapon systems, which fall under gunnery, have finally become, if not cheap, at least not ludicrously expensive.  This, and the fact that there was a buff to the EDENCOM ships to make their special weapons more effective, means that we might actually use some of these hulls for special operations at some future date.

Vorton weapons in use

So I went all in and trained all of those up to V, plus rounding up some of the support skills that make them more effective.  I’ll probably never end up killing anything with them, but it wouldn’t be the first set of unused skills on my list.

Spaceship Command also saw some SP added, as it almost always does.  I was rounding out the Precursor ship skills to level V, another set of skills I will likely never use.  Oh well.

Electronic Systems got some fresh skill points.  I think Weapon Destabilization made it to IV.  Not a big deal, but it might come in handy at some point.

And, finally, Resource Processing got some skill points?  That is almost crazy talk around here, as I haven’t mined in years and have no real desire to do so since CCP’s resource starvation plan.

But then the coalition was asking people to start doing gas mining, because we need gas products in order to build capital ships.  So I trained Gas Cloud Harvesting up to V.  I had the skills for the Prospect already, so I fitted one out, got my scanning alt out and went into low sec in search of gas sites.

3+ hours later, having not spotted a single gas site, I headed back for home swearing I would never waste another moment in this game on resource harvesting.  More wasted skills, but at least I got a learning experience out of it… I learned that I no longer have the patience for that sort of thing.

So it goes.  That about sums up the skills I trained up since last check-in.

Overall I have 361 skills injected and trained to at least level I.  That is down from the 367 I had at peak, before they redid the Resource Processing skills, but up from the 357 I had from the 240 million SP post.

My skills are scattered as follows:

Level 1  -    1
Level 2  -    3
Level 3  -   15
Level 4  -   80
Level 5 -   262

That is ten more skills at level V.

Of course, the question is always what to train next.  My skill queue remains in the 600 day range, but very little on it would enable anything new.  It is mostly rounding out the 80 level IV skills to level V.

It might be time to turn the queue over to one of my alts again.

Sixteen Years of Driving the Blog

I suppose the go-to title for this post should have been something like “sixteen candles” or maybe “sweet sixteen.”  I mean, last year I went with “Quinceanera” in the title.  But those plays on the number weren’t really grabbing me.

So I will just say that the blog turns sixteen today.

WordPress.com acknowledges me effort again

That is kind of a long time.  More than a quarter of my life so far.  The elapsed time between my birth and when the state of California certified me as eligible to drive a car on the public highways was a mere 16 years and 5 days.

The blog has been going on for the about same amount of time it took me to grow from an infant to being able to drive a car on my own on the streets… legally.  There were some pre-license adventures.

It is not exactly the same amount of time.  There were five extra days because I couldn’t go get my license on my actual birthday, something many people my age, my wife included, did back then. I had to wait because my birthday fell on a Saturday that year.  Then my dad couldn’t spare the time to drive me over to the DMV until the following Thursday.  Oh, the humanity!

The whole thing involved a Peugeot 504 not unlike the one picture here

There is a whole story about driving, learning to drive, and the system around it that existed when I was a kid that I will get to some day in one of those weekend posts.  Another car story.  But suffice to say that sixteen years puts some mileage on you.

Past Anniversaries

For those interested in the history of my anniversary posts, which also represents, in a way, both the stylistic and level of effort arc of my writing career here, here are the past entries in the series:

It has been kind of down hill since year six.

Base Statistics

Since we’re on a bit of a car theme, this is pretty much the odometer of the blog, the numbers turning over as time goes by.

Days since launch: 5,845 (+365)
Posts total: 6,412 (+384)
Total Words: 5,256,386 (+417,030 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 820 (+16)
Post Likes: 18,244 (+3,080)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.003)
Comments: 36,407 (+1,299)
Average comments per post: 5.68 (-0.14)
Average comments per day: 6.23 (-0.18)
Spam comments: 1,793,899 (+74,983)
Average spam comments per day: 306.91 (-6.67)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 49.2 (+0.3)
Comments written by me: 7,347 or 20.1%
Images uploaded: 18,054 19,422 (+1,368)
Space used by images: 2.6 GB of my 13 GB allocation
Blog Followers: 2,237 (+164)
Twitter Followers: 800 (+15)
Tumblr Followers: 18 (-18, ouch!)
US Presidents since launch: 4
British Monarchs since launch: 2
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 8

This year represents the first time I have had to increment the British Monarchs count.

For most, that is already too much on the stats front.  But for those who want more, you will find much more after the cut.  I do this to spare the front page and not to generate a few cheap page views… though I’ll take the page views all the same.

Continue reading

Reflections on What Keeps You in New Eden for Sixteen Years

We are here again at the anniversary of my start in New Eden.  16 years ago today I created my account and logged into EVE Online for the very first time.

My New Eden birthday in the old character panel

It has become a tradition for me to write about some aspect of the game… because I can only recount my first day of play so many times.  My frustration helped prompt me to start this blog, its anniversary being less than two weeks distant.

Some of the topics I have covered in the past on my anniversary.

But here, at year sixteen, I am struggling a bit for a topic.

It has been a something of a bad year for the game, as I wrote about previously.  But bad times and bad decisions by the company are hardly unique, and they tend to bring out more opinions from me rather than less.

It isn’t like I couldn’t drag out a topic.  There are a multitude of things that I could potentially run on about related to sixteen years of playing EVE Online.  The problem is that post like this, opinions and remembrances and going on about what a strange and wonderful place New Eden can be, that comes from the emotional part of me.

And my feelings for the game are a little flat right now.

I know, I know, it has been a down year for the game, and that no doubt enters into it.  It is much easier to find some passion for writing when things are happening.  Even when things are not going your way.

Especially when things are not going your way.

I am sure I have said this before, but it bears repeating; being on the losing side isn’t all bad.  Being on the defense in Saranen during the Casino War or backed up into that last constellation in Delve during World War Bee, those were some of the most active times in the game.  It gave things an edge… and it is convenient when the enemy brings content to your front step on a daily basis.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

First, it is a video game, so the stakes aren’t really that high.  Nobody dies, everybody respawns in a fresh clone to undock and fight again another day.  Ships are expendable.  Losing them is what we do every day.  If you haven’t lost a ship, you aren’t really playing the game.

Second, the odds being against you can really heighten the experience.

You don’t want to be completely overwhelmed.  There is no fun in extremely long odds.  But when the chips are down and there seems like there is no way to win and a fleet gets pinged and you and a hundred or more other members of your space tribe log in, ship up, and undock all the same.

That comes as close to a “This is Sparta!” sort of moment as you can get with an internet spaceship simulator.

It is almost as though a certain amount of difficulty or adversity makes the game more interesting.

I am sure I have mentioned this before.  It is certainly more fulfilling to write about heavily contested battles, bloody clashes, and close run defeats than it is to try to spin a tale about an uncontested structure shoot.  Not that I haven’t done the latter, it just isn’t as interesting.

Of course, there is adversity and then there is adversity.  CCP having made it more difficult to earn ISK or harvest resources, putting a strangle hold on the economy of New Eden, that isn’t the good sort of adversity.  Making ships expensive to replace does not drive conflict.

I’d much rather have the assets to throw ships into a desperate defense, like the ones we had at FWST-8 almost two years ago, or betting some assets on a clever trap that goes bad, like the one at YZ9-F6, than to be wondering if my PI yield this month is going to keep me in enough ISK to invest in whatever the latest doctrine is.

But that is sort of the Tao of EVE Online.  The interesting bit can come upon us unexpectedly, and nobody is guaranteed a good time just for logging in.  But if you don’t log in you’ll never get that special high that arrives when things come together and events are suddenly swirling and you are in the moment in a fight and, while you want to win, the whole thing will still be memorable and worth talking about even if you don’t.

So, even in the face of the last year and then some, I am still subscribed.  I still log in.  Something interesting is bound to happen even as another year goes by.

A Decade in the Shadow of Error 37

What was going on ten years ago?  I mean, I guess you’ll get a full run down in a couple of days with my inevitable May in Review post, but work with me here for a bit.  But today we have a special anniversary to talk about.

Back in May 2012 people were trying to play the newly launched Diablo III and complaining about the dreaded error 37 that plagued the early days of the game.

Oh, I remember that

That was just the first of many issues Diablo III faced.  For example, there was error 75.

Once we could all log the game wasn’t bad, but there were the problems the itemization and the auction house, both the in game money version and the RMT version.

Wyatt “don’t you guys have phones” Cheng, the principle game designer on the Diablo team, gets irked if you suggest that the itemization was designed to force players to use the auction house (I’m too lazy to find his rant from a few months ago on Twitter), but it sure seemed like the simplest explanation.  If you take that out of the equation, then the team just messed up on itemization horribly because at-level drops were badly under powered for the content and the only way around it was to got to the auction house.

Still, even with that, it wasn’t a bad game.  The most controversial post I wrote in 2012 was probably the one where I said there wasn’t much of a gap between it and Torchlight II, which raised the hackles of a few Torchlight supporters.  A post with 38 comments is what passes for controversy around here.

That was, in part, because there was some rivalry between who would carry inherit the mantle of successor from Diablo II, the official next in the series, Diablo III, or something in the same spirit from a few of the same people who made Diablo II, which was the Torchlight story.

And then there was the dark horse, Path of Exile, the late entry in the race.

In the end, none of them really captured all of Diablo II.

Diablo III got story, Torchlight II got mods, and Path of Exile got atmosphere, but none were really a substitute for the original.  And then Blizzard gave us Diablo II Resurrected, after which nobody was really the successor because the original was alive and well again.

Meanwhile, over the last decade Blizzard spent a lot more time with Diablo III than its predecessor.  It got the Reaper of Souls expansion, which on the PC side of the house fixed itemization and got rid of the auction houses, both gold and RMT based.  That was a HUGE improvement for the game.  Then they did seasons and updates and a mini-expansion.

They did a lot better by it than they did Diablo II… at least until Diablo II Resurrected.

I even named Diablo III my ARPG of the decade, based primarily on play time.  I found it more engaging and playable than either of it rivals… and the Diablo II revival didn’t arrive until last year.

Now we’re about due for another Diablo title.  It took almost a dozen years to go from Diablo II to Diablo III, and we look to be about on the same time track as we wait for Diablo IV.

Lord of the Rings Online Fifteen Years Down the Road

It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.

-Gimli, Return of the King

It has been fifteen years since the journey to Mordor began in Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online, and it has been a journey of both highs and lows.

The fifteen year celebration

I want to say, up front, that the game is a charming and very special look into the world of Tolkien’s works and unlike any adaptation we have ever been able to experience or will likely see again in my lifetime.  Turbine brought Middle-earth to life in an open world environment that you could spend a lot of time simply exploring.  It is a wonder and has given me much joy.

I will add that as somebody who opted for the lifetime subscription launch back in April of 2007, I have gotten way more than my money’s worth out of that investment, even including the fact that I own every expansion as well.  It was the gaming deal of the century for me and nothing else comes close in value received for that price.

And the game also occupies a special place on the blog, being one of the first games to ship after I started writing here back in September of 2006.  I was writing about it along with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and pre-Cryptic version of Star Trek Online back in the day, and at least one of those panned out for me I guess.  I had a post about the potential, and potential problems, of the game back in that first month of the blog.

I was posting about beta and the launch and the instance group, which took a couple of runs at Middle-earth when WoW wasn’t popping for us.  I have been back a number of times, the last time being for the LOTRO Legendary server experience, a fresh start/special rules server meant to let people work through the content again in a mass.

All fine stuff… but I didn’t choose that quote at the top because everything has been rainbows and lollipops with LOTRO.  The history of the game has been marred by hubris, bad decisions, poor design, half measures, and a game engine that was awkward, unresponsive, and looked like it was a few years behind the curve on launch day.

I guess the hubris I can understand.  Given the popularity of the source material, the proximity to the theatrical releases of the first three Peter Jackson movies,which finished up just a few years before the game launched and introduced many new people to Middle-earth, and the MMORPG market being at about its peak, LOTRO should have been ten times more successful than it was.

Where else were you going to be able to literally walk around in Middle-earth?

Yahoo Headline 2007

I realize you can’t have everything you want when you launch a new product, and especially a product as complex as an MMORPG.  You got to Middle-earth with the engine you have, not the engine you want.  And you could see how Turbine’s engine had improved from Asheron’s Call to Asheron’s Call 2 to Dungeons & Dragons Online to LOTRO.  But being better than its predecessors didn’t make it feel current and, while the character models have been updated, they still look awkward and wooden and all the more so since launch as most of us have upgraded our monitors.

Google tells me that 1024×768 was half the monitor market in 2007.  Now, unless you but a laptop, a 1080p monitor… which is 1920×1080 resolution… is the minimum standard, and many of us have much larger screens.  I currently have a 3440×1440 monitor, on which the game is barely playable because, while bits of the UI do scale up, most of the text doesn’t.  And even the UI that does scale up looks like garbage at useful sizes on my monitor.

So when Enad Global 7 talks about how their going to put LOTRO on consoles and I am briefly able to set aside the sheer complexity of moving the mess that it the game engine onto a PlayStation 5 or an XBox X, I still stumble over the fact that you really have to support 4K video… 3840×2160 resolution… to be seen as a modern, competitive game.  It makes me think of the speedometer on my Camry, which suggests I could go 140 MPH.  The expense of making that a reality would quickly exceed reason just as the expense of refactoring LOTRO into something that would even look good on a console… let’s leave aside the playability issues… would probably require a greater investment than the company could hope to recoup.

And then there is the UI, the iconography, the responsiveness on controls, and a host of other little things that wear on you as you play if you’ve, for example, played WoW where Rob Pardo once spoke about how much effort went into making sure button presses had not lag.  A problem since launch and one that has sometimes gotten worse rather than better.

The world though, that remains a bright spot in the game.  I can forgive a myriad of sins because the world is a critical feature of the game to me and, while avatars look rough and the UI is less than ideal, locations are often beautiful.

If, of course, you can get to them.

When it comes down to it, I have not been many places in LOTRO.  I may own all of the expansions, but I have dead ended in Mirkwood largely due to it being a barrier of dullness comparable with its reputation in the books.  I have been through the base game half a dozen times at least… and many more times up to 40 or so… and through Moria a couple of times, but Mirkwood is just so uninteresting that even the promise of what lies beyond it cannot sustain me.

I did boost a character into Rohan, only to find that the character boost leaves you nonviable against the mobs you’re sent to face immediately unless you visit the cash shop and invest in your legendary weapon.

The legendary weapon system is another roadblock in the game, a non-optional requirement to care for a needy baby of an item that you constantly have to take back to camp and deal with.

My hope was that the studio would create a special rules server that would let you just do the main book story line quests to advance through the game, letting players tour the world.  That seems to be the only way I’ll get past Mirkwood.

But the game is still there, fifteen years down the road and is owned by a company that says they have plans to improve it.  One of the side effects of the console plan, if that is even viable, should be to make the game better on PC as well.  Or so one would hope.

It has been a bumpy ride this last 15 years, but as I said at the top, I have enjoyed most of the time I have spent in the game.  I’ve logged in to collect my anniversary goodies, though my bags and bank are so full of stuff from anniversaries and expansions at this point I am not sure I should keep redeeming stuff. (I still have unopened gift boxes from the 12th and 13th anniversaries… I must have skipped logging in for the 14th.)

I’d go play the 1-50 game again if were practical on my current monitor.  We will see what the future brings and live in hope of a better tomorrow for Middle-earth.

Addendum: In an effort to prove some points above SSG has given me a corgi, jumping on the MMORPG corgi bandwagon, which is also perhaps the most awkward looking corgi model I have seen in a game.

Chestnut Corgi chonk

He isn’t horrible, but he isn’t good either, and it feels like another attempt to copy more successful titles.

Two Hundred and Forty Million Skill Points

It is that time again.  Once more I have persisted in EVE Online long enough to have accumulated another 10 million skill points on my main character, bringing me past the 24 million skill point mark.

The story so far:

Progress on my main character on my main account has slowed largely due to my training up the two alts that are also on the account now and then.  My other two characters add up to a total of 44.5 million skill points, which isn’t all that much, but it makes them useful.

The account spread – Also, I am not very space rich in the current New Eden economy

Escher Alias is a Ferox alt at this point, though also capable of Tech I logi.  Percy is the character I did the Doctor Who event with.  He was a 2008 character I created then never trained up, so I used him to see how viable that event was for somebody new.  He has since been trained up to do high sec PI, which is a pretty low income proposition, but I have nothing else to do with him.

So I guess my account total is somewhere past 280 million.  But for my original character, 240 million is the current number.

Anyway, that is why I have gone from hitting a new 10 million mark every seven months or so to taking well over a year since the last time I did.

Spaceship Cmd   78,300,913 (71 of 85)*
Gunnery         28,402,517 (47 of 63)*
Drones          19,564,708 (23 of 28)*
Fleet Support   15,872,000 (14 of 15)
Missiles        12,252,872 (22 of 26)*
Navigation      11,346,275 (13 of 13)
Electronic Sys   9,364,904 (15 of 15)*
Engineering      8,939,855 (15 of 15)
Scanning         7,168,000 (7 of 7)
Armor            6,131,137 (13 of 13)
Shields          6,074,039 (12 of 13)
Science          5,714,282 (21 of 39)
Trade            4,626,275 (11 of 14)*
Planet Mgmt      4,352,000 (5 of 5)*
Resc Processing  4,329,347 (22 of 37)-
Subsystems       4,096,000 (16 of 16)
Neural Enhance   3,810,275 (7 of 8)
Targeting        3,207,765 (8 of 8)
Rigging          2,576,865 (10 of 10)
Structure Mgmt   1,446,824 (6 of 6)
Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)
Corp Mgmt        24,000 (2 of 5)

Total ~240,030,584

The skill areas that saw a boost are marked with an asterisk.

Spaceship Command is the usual suspect in these posts.  It always goes up because there is always something new there to train… and when there isn’t, there is something I already have trained that can use another rank of training.  My attributes are still configured to optimize Spaceship Command training speed.

Likewise with Gunnery.  There are so many skills under Gunnery… almost as many as under Spaceship Command… that I could spend the rest of my days rounding out skills there.

With neither of those do I recall training anything new or special.  Just moving the skill levels up.  You never know when Large Railgun Specialization V is going to make all the difference.

Likewise, Trade and Planetary Management were there to be refined, skill levels pushed a bit higher.

Drones also went up, but at least there were some new skills to be had there.  Or skill, maybe.  I think I was well on my way to Salvage Drones V at the last report, though I never bothered to get Salvage Drone Specialization.  Dunk Dinkle would be disappointed.  So the new skil must have been the Mutated Drone Specialization, which I trained all the way up to V.  I guess you never know when that is going to make all the difference either.

And, finally, one group had a skill point decrease!  With the great mining revamp of last December, skills were redone.  I went from having points in 22 of the 37 old skills to having points in just 9 of the 31 revised skills.  I got skill points refunded, which I probably put into Spaceship Command.  My mining days are behind me.

That also reduced my total known skills.  So, despite that work in Mutated Drone Specialization, my total known skills went down to ten, from 367 to 357.

As for skill levels, they shake out as so:

Level 1 -   1
Level 2 -   3
Level 3 -  19
Level 4 -  82
Level 5 - 252

That is eight more level V skills.  I don’t think I had any skills that high in resource processing, so those were all trained up since the last post.

As for where to go next, it might be time to swap over to an alt again for a while.  My current queue is almost 700 days deep, but I am pretty sure that Marauders V is never going to make all the difference, as I have never owned one.

A Decade in Null Sec Space

Ten years tomorrow I reset my home station, undocked in my pod, and self-destructed in order to death-clone my self to Deklein, which I used to pronounce as “Deck-lan” back in the day, but which I am reliably informed should be pronounced like “Decline.”  I’m much more accepting of that second pronunciation now that I no longer live there.

It was after the Cruicible expansion hit the game when CCP, despite insisting that everything the did in Incarna was great and wonderful and that all player complaints lacked merit, went back to the drawing board and began to fix the game mechanics their subscribers actually used rather than trying to cater to players who were not actually customers yet.  There were a lot of solid items in those patch notes, with more to come… this being the days when an expansion might see more than a few revisions and updates.  And it was very pretty.

After having cancelled my subscription due to Incarna, I came back to see what Crucible had to offer and, while there was a lot good there, I was still kind of bored with high sec life and missions and industry and all the stuff I had been doing for the nearly five years I had been playing up until that point.

And then my friend Meclin said said I should come out to null sec.  He had asked before, and I had been tempted, but the idea of moving myself and a whole ton of stuff was a bit too much to ask in the past.  Now, though, feeling no investment in my stuff in high sec, I said yes and self-destructed myself into the station at CU9-T0, which is where his corp had their HQ.

I was now in the BSC Legion corporation, which was part of the Tactical Narcotics Team alliance, and there was a war going on.  My very first alliance mail, which I still have because apparently I never delete anything, announced that war was upon us.

Back when TEST were our pals

I was a bit worried about showing up just as a war was commencing, since I had no idea what was going on, but it was probably the best time to join.  War unites a community and gives in a sense of purpose.  I just had to get on board the train.

I had 70 million skill points, which allocated correctly would have made me a formidably capsuleer.  But I had spread mine out all over the place and there were huge holes in my combat skills, especially around gunnery.  I couldn’t even fly the Tech I version of the Maelstrom fit for Alpha fleet.  I still had basic skills to train.

But as I got myself setup with comms and APIs and what not, I found that there was a Drake fit I could fly.  It was in something of an anti-support role for the Maelstroms, but that was fine with me.  The one ship I had skilled up more than any other was the Drake.

Within a few days I had seen capital ships and super captials, taken a titan bridge, been to a POS bash where we destroyed a CSAA and somehow survived.

Kind of a lot of titans in one place back then

I even got on my first kill mail.  All of that was completely new to me.

My Drake on the flank of the Maelstroms

I also lost that Drake a couple days later, the first of many combat losses.

The whole first few weeks was an introduction to null sec and bloc warfare, including propaganda… and propaganda backfiring, including the source of the long famous “VFK by February” meme that resurfaces every war, along with “not winning fast enough.”  (Also, if you get to the end of that post I mentioned PLEX selling for 500 million ISK.  Those were old PLEX, before the 1 to 500 split.  That is pretty cheap by today’s standards.)

And I found that war gave me a sense of purpose, a reason to log into the game that had been lacking in me for quite some time.  The big fights, the attacks, the wins, the losses, and the ongoing story of null sec is what has kept me playing since that day a decade back.

Since that day I have gained a lot of skill points (I’m past the 230 million mark now and have been training up other characters on my account of late), learned how to fly various ships, been in wars both won and lost, slugged it out on the field in soul crushing tidi, seen the servers crash more than once.  But the story carries on, and I count myself lucky to have “been there” for events that have become part of the history of the game.  The map of null sec has swirled with the various colors of sovereignty in my time, but it all weaves together into an ongoing narrative that is colorful enough to write books about.

Null Sec Sov –  December 27, 2011

For me, peace is dull.  Roaming to shoot people for the sake of shooting people doesn’t inspire me.  I don’t like to rat and CCP has worked to make mining a chore.  New Eden is full of things to do and explore, but it is only when we’re under attack or invading somebody’s space that I feel alive in the game.

So I potter about, reading the patch notes and the dev blogs and wondering when the next big fight will come.  That is what keeps me subscribed.

Seventeen Years of Baggage in EverQuest II

Here we are again, another spin of the planet and suddenly it has been seventeen years since I first jumped into EverQuest II.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

As sometimes happens, I am going to take a moment to reflect on a game that I played at launch and have gone back to a number of times, to the point that I am actually subscribed as I write this.  Here are some past posts on the topic:

I am clearly not as emotionally nostalgic about EverQuest II as I am about its older sibling… I think I have written twice as many anniversary posts about it… but I am much more likely to go back and play EQII than EQ when it comes down to it.

One of the interesting things about the Panda, Panda, Panda events, which send you around old zones in something of a scavenger hunt, is how many zones I remember playing through.  I didn’t play a lot of them when they launched and I played through most of them maybe once on a single character, but it is enough to bring back memories of many places.

Meanwhile, every time I go back to EQ and have to go anywhere that wasn’t in the the first three or four expansions, it is like I am seeing a brand new world, which I often am.  My EQ memories are pretty much limited to those zones, a few from The Serpent’s Spine, and the tutorial that got put in years after I stopped playing regularly.

The characters I play these days all come from the EverQuest II Extended and free to play era of the game.  There was a fresh start with that, letting go a lot of the baggage that had built up around my 2004 characters.

But time passes.  Expansions arrive.  Quests get run.  And now I log in and got to the bank and open up all my bags and I see this:

An accumulation of things

I don’t think the primary problem is really “what is all this stuff?” though there is certainly a healthy amount of that going on here.  EQII is pretty good about not putting quest items in your bag in the first place, but once it does put them there it never comes back for them, so there aren’t a bunch of items where I am wondering if it is safe to toss them or not.

I am actually pretty diligent about things like crafting items, which get put in the box in the guild hall.  Likewise, anything that is a housing item get put in my home pretty quickly.  And I don’t fill up my bag or bank with stuff from the /claim window.  Lots of stuff still left in there.

And I am pretty sure most of this will just stay here

No, most of the items in that screen shot have some sort of purpose that isn’t too terribly mysterious.  Instead it is a matter of me not knowing if I should save them, if I need to hang on to them because I might need them some day.  Anything from adornments to some very old experience potions are hanging around in my bank.  And the accumulation continues.

I will say this though.  At least EQII gives you lots of storage space.  I haven’t even tried to find the largest possible bank boxes yet.  The ones I have are all from at least five expansions back.

Though, if I am honest, more space probably isn’t helping me.  I am not forced to jettison anything, so things just accumulate.

Anyway, it has been seventeen years, though my account clock appears to be a little bit off.

I took this screen shot yesterday

Even allowing for my taking the screen shot a day early and perhaps the game not ticking over to the current day until it reaches the very moment of my first character creation, which took place at some point in the evening of November 13th, 2004, I am pretty sure 6,205 is still two days off.  Oh well.

I’ll take solace in my bonus days, which they used to give you with each expansion purchase.  And then they got all hard core and decided they should only count the days you were actually subscribed, before letting all of that go with free to play.

The bonus time used to mean that they would have to have the next year’s veteran’s reward available with each anniversary because some of us had 360 bonus days.  But the veteran’s rewards fell by the wayside at some point.  The 12 year reward was the last one I can recall.

Now they just run the Hero’s Festival to celebrate the anniversary, which is probably for the best.  I don’t need any more stuff cluttering up my bank space.

My Blogging Quinceanera

Here we are again at another blog anniversary.  It has been 15 years since I set out on this writing journey.

Think of it as a space quinceanera

As always, I spent a good few minutes fishing around for a theme for this post and quinceanera popped up as something related to the number 15.  Here in California quinceanera refers to the party given for a young woman on her 15th birthday, though the usage of the word varies.  But my wife has a friend who is a party planner for these events, which can be huge, and she uses the word to refer to the event, so I will do the same.

Were this the blog of a decade back I would have gone to some effort to dress up the post to go along with the theme.  Look at what I did for the fifth and sixth anniversaries.  These days I am a less invested in the whole thing, so I am going to declare the theme and the almost immediately walk away from it.  If you want to imagine me in a satin party dress with a tiara, that’s all on you.  My wife isn’t sharing those pictures.

If I were feeling motivated I might have tried to work in some key elements of a quinceanera, things like the pinatas, a cake, the dance partner, the first bouquet as a woman, and the last doll of childhood.  But I think I’ll just let you imagine me in the dress.  that is less work and I am starting late this year.

Past Anniversaries

In case you want to revisit the evolution of these annual posts.  As noted above, years five and six are probably peak effort on my part, then like life, it is all down hill from there.

Base Statistics

I was trying to figure out if statistics were the cake or the pinatas.  Pinatas I think, since there are a bunch of them.

Beyond that, we have the same opening set of numbers every year, looking at how the various needled moved over the last dozen months.  The current count is listed below with the change since last year noted in parenthesis.

Days since launch: 5,480 (+366)
Posts total: 6,028 (+419)
Total Words: 4,839,356  (+460,599 words, not including this post)
Average words per post: 803 (+22)
Post Likes: 15,164 (+2,578)
Average posts per day: 1.1 (+0.03)
Comments: 35,108 (+1,328)
Average comments per post: 5.82 (-0.21)
Average comments per day: 6.41 (-0.20)
Spam comments: 1,718,916 (+236,368)
Average spam comments per day: 313.67 (+43.1)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 48.9 (+5.9)
Comments written by me: 7,079 or 20.2%
Images uploaded: 18,054 (+1,844)
Space used by images: 2.1 GB of my 13 GB allocation
Blog Followers: 2,073 (+185)
Twitter Followers: 785 (+10)
Tumblr Followers: 36 (+2)
US Presidents since launch: 4
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 8

For some of you that will be enough stats. Others will want to dive deeper, which you can do after the cut.

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