Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

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.

Continue reading

Fifteen Years of Kill Mails in New Eden

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my starting off in EVE Online.  As has become something of tradition, I put up a post on the day that takes a look at some aspect of the game, because otherwise I’ll go on about my first days, the horrible excuse for a tutorial the game had, how my first mission was Worlds Collide, and the fact that it influenced my decision to start this blog, and I’ve told that story enough times.

My EVEWho Details

In the past I’ve written about skill points or my various homes in the game or the changing spaceship meta.  This time around I am going to talk about kill mails.

In EVE Online a kill mail is basically the receipt for a ships destruction that shows the who was blown up, how the ship was fit, how much damage it took, and who was involved in killing the ship, which includes people who applied damage, people who had damage on the way (like a missile in flight) before the ship blew up, and those who were pointing, scramming, painting, or applying ECM effects to the ship.  There are a few other circumstances that will get you included, such as being the interdictor that launched a warp disruption bubble, but only if the ship in question tried to warp but fail due to your bubble, but those are the usual suspects.

The actual kill mail goes to the person who gets the final blow.  Today it shows up in the form of an entry on the interactions tab of your character sheet, though as I understand it, back in the day, it arrived in the form of an in-game mail message, which I guess explains why we call it a kill “mail.”  I never actually got a kill in those days, though I seem to recall getting a few loss mails.

I will also say this; being excited about your overall kill board or total kills or the “green” state of your record is kind of silly.  People who fuss over that tend to be mocked.  But each individual kill mail is a story and batches of them can trace a battle.  They are important not because of what they say about you, but due to how they become a record of your journeys through New Eden.

Anyway, I thought about making kill mails the topic a few months back both because there was a war on… that tends to include a lot of kill mails… and because I was closing in on a round number.  I figured getting to 5,000 kills for my 15th anniversary would be kind of neat and I was fretting a bit back in May as to whether or not I would make it.  And then some battles finally hit and I was at the mark and past it.  So it goes.

As for tracking kills, there have been a number of kill board sites over the years including eve-kill and Battle Clinic, none of which ever quite lined up with each other.  Today zKillboard is the kill board of record, its competitors having fold up shop over the years.  So I will use its numbers, not having much of a choice.  You can find my entry on the board here.

zKillboard totals for now

As of writing this… which is a couple of days early because these posts don’t just poop themselves out… I have been on 5,267 kill mails over the last fifteen years.  That isn’t a big number, certainly not one worth bragging about, but it is my number.  That is roughly 350 a year, though honestly I was not on a kill mail ever for my first five years playing EVE Online.

The first kill mail I ever was on happened on December 21st, 2011 and was a POS tower that belonged to White Noise, the alliance we went to war with almost as soon as I joined TNT and jumped out to null sec.  I even have a blog post about that operation, during which I did and saw a bunch of things for the first time and managed to get on 60 kill mails.  When you shoot a POS you get on the module kill mails as well.  There was even a super capital assembly array in the mix of kills.

So if we just count the last ten years of my career, then that is over 500 kill mails a year, or well more than one a day.  They do tend to come in bursts.

And then there are losses.  The kill board says I have lost 334 ships, though that number is low by at least a dozen, if not more.  Due to API changes no kills or losses before 2008 or so are counted, and I know I managed to lose some ships during 2007.

My first recorded loss was a Drake that got blown up in Rancer in February of 2008 after being tackled on the gate by pirates.  I didn’t pay pirates then and I don’t pay them now.  I took the loss and learned to avoid the system.  There is a post about that encounter too.

I’ve been a lot of places since those days.

The kill board has evolved over time as well so that zKill now offers up some stats about your combat record, and there are few things that I enjoy as much as meaningless stats.  If we look at my top all time stats page, you can see see the ships I’ve been in for kills and the systems where they have happened.

Top 20 ships and systems

The venerable Drake is on top.  My first kill mail was in a Drake and I came to null sec when the MWD heavy missile Drake meta was just ramping up.  For the first year I probably flew that and little else.  I had the skills already trained… I had a mere 70 million skill points back then…. so I flew Drakes and trained for other ships, first combat ships then logi.

The Malediction is a more recent addition to the list, and kill mails from it are almost all likely to be from ECM burst runs.  I got on a couple hundred such kill mails during the recent World War Bee in the Keepstar fights in Fountain. (This also applies to the Ares down in 8th position.)

Then there is the Harpy, a solid assault frigate that we fly pretty often.

And then, then we get to the first logi hull.  By the time we hit the Fountain War in 2013 I had trained up my logi skills enough that I could start flying logi ships regularly.  I have a (bad) habit of keeping a combat drone or three in my drone bay when flying logi so as to get on a kill mail now and then.  My general goal is to get on one kill mail a month just as a proof of life measure.  So there was a long stretch when I flew logi more than anything else and a kill here and there starts to add up as the years go by.  And so there is the Guardian in 4th, the Oneiros in 10th, the Basilisk in 16th, and the Scalpel in 19th place. (And the Scimitar in 22nd.)

The rest of the hulls in the top 20 have all been mail line combat ships for doctrines the coalition has flown over the years.  They come and go as the meta changes.  Megathrons or Apocs are popular one day, gone the next, then back again as things change.  Feroxes and Cormorants seem to be evergreen in popularity.

I have been on kill mails in 65 different hulls over all, discounting the capsule kills, which total up to 29.  If you shoot somebody, then your ship blows up, but you last long enough in your capsule for the person you shot to get blown up you get on the kill in your pod.

As for the systems, many of them have meaning to me, many of them bring up that sense of place I wrote about last week now that I have history that includes them.

Saranen was the low sec system where the Imperium retreated to during the Casino War.  We fought from the Quafe Factory Warehouse station for months before retreating to Delve.

O-PNSN was the location of a Keepstar fight in which I racked up many of those ECM burst kill mails.  227 to be exact.

3-DMQT, T5ZI-S, and M2-XFE are all systems that saw ongoing battles during World War Bee.  It is probably telling that they rank much higher that 1DQ1-A, the Imperium capitol system and the focus of the PAPI onslaught that never really came together.

The other systems all have tales too, but I can’t write about them all here.  I’ve no doubt written about many of them already, like 3WE-KY, site of the Lazamo.

The kill board site also has a stats page, which tells me, among other things, that I have been on 15 titan kill mails.  My main combat alt has been on 18 though.  Kind of disappointing that.  But I don’t want to start in on him and his 712 kills, mostly in Feroxes and Ishtars.

According to the stats page the top five hull types that Wilhelm has blown up the most of are:

  1. Combat Battlecruisers – 495
  2. Heavy Assault Cruisers – 452
  3. Cruisers – 421
  4. Battleships – 383
  5. Logi Cruisers – 326

Mobile Warp Disruptors were in 6th place, with 300 down.

And the top five hull types I have lost the most of are:

  1. Combat Battlecruisers – 32
  2. Logi Cruisers – 31
  3. Interceptors – 24
  4. Stealth Bombers – 18
  5. Battleships – 16

My capsule has been popped 133 times.  I have lost no capital ships on my main, but I sacrificed a dreadnought on my alt.

That is my reflection on kill mails 15 years into the game.  I know some people hate them, or hate the idea of them, or just hate what the imagine they represent, but they are an integral part of the game to me.  Not for any “Ha ha! Gotcha!” sort of reason, but because they are markers that chart some of my journey through New Eden.

Plus I like a good explosion.  Even my own explosions, though other people’s are a bit more fun.

A Revelation blowing up

That, by the way, was the most recent kill mail I was on as of this writing.  I really like it when capital ships explode.

Past anniversary posts:

Blog Advisory – Feedburner and Akismet

Time for a bit of blog administrative business, which I suppose I could spin as a Blaugust post, it being related to the issues that come with a blog.  Or not.  Either way though, it is a post in Blaugust.  We’re about half way through the month.

Feedburner Email

I have been advised by Marina at Follow.it that Feedburner is discontinuing its email syndication program.  Her company apparently has a substitute service they would like to offer me.

And apparently at some point in the distant past I did post a link for people to get my posts via email.  I don’t remember encouraging it at any point after that, but there it is.  I have long since swapped over to recommending the WordPress.com integrated email delivery.

So, if you are subscribed through Feedburner and wish to continue getting my blog posts in you inbox, you will need to switch over to the WordPress.com service.  It is available in the side bar near the top.  Just enter your email address and it will send you a confirmation email that will let you select your preferred deliver method from “immediately on post” (not recommended unless you want to see all my typos), to “daily summary” (I’ve usually fixed a lot of typos by then), to “weekly summary” (which might be a bit too much of me in a single dose).

Feedburner RSS

There was a time when I used to do blog posts about RSS feed.  I think RSS is dying interface from a more civilized age now.

While we’re on the topic of Feedburner, I pretty sure I mentioned at some point that the Google had removed email account recovery as an option from the service (and from Blogger).  I missed the window for recovering my account and have no clue what the password might be, so I couldn’t migrate their email option over to another service even if I had the inclination to do so.

While Google said that they won’t be shutting down feeds of purging accounts Google, as my wife puts it, “Says a lot of things.”  Whether they mean it in the moment is debatable, but we have all learned that promises from companies have an unlisted expiration date.

So I think I am going to recommend that if you’re using a read to read TAGN, that you go with the default WordPress URL, which i:

https://tagn.wordpress.com/feed

I realize that about seven years back I asked everybody to go the other direction, so all I can do is reinforce my change of heart in meme form.

Use your best judgement

Everything will probably be fine for now if you don’t, but if I suddenly disappear from your feed, that might be the immediate cause.

Akismet

Some of you will recognize the name Akismet as the spam comment protection package that comes with… or at least used to come with… WP.com hosted blogs.  I reference it in my blog anniversary posts most years to indicate how many spam comments end up here.  I even have the counter widget down at the bottom of the side bar.

Well, Akismet was broken on WP.com for a stretch, at least for some sites.  That meant rather than about 200 spam comments landing in my spam folder every day I was getting at least 2,000 spam comments to go through, and usually more.

Which means that if you left a comment and it landed in the spam folder this month, I probably didn’t see it.  I am pretty good about going through and fishing out such comments, but when the number gets into the thousands, I just don’t have the will.

WP.com took their time getting to things.  I sent them a note a couple weeks ago, got a response back about ten days later that referred me to a bug they had opened on the issue, and then they closed the support ticket.  The bug got fixed about a week later, which isn’t bad I guess.

But if you leave a comment and it disappears you can always use the contact form on the About page to ask about it.  If I know the name on the comment I can almost always find it.

6,000

Also, after writing this I was looking at the stats and realized that yesterday was post 5,999, which means that this is my 6,000th post.  Another meaningless milestone achieved.

Runes of Magic at Twelve Years

I am still on the Runes of Magic mailing list so still get updates from them about the game every so often.  Most of it isn’t of that much interest to me.  It is a game I know about and even pay attention to now and then, but not one I ever really got into.  I mainly recall it for its significance at its launch, of being purpose designed free to play MMORPG in an era where titles that went free to play had generally just failed at the subscription mode.  That and the whole ten dollar horse thing, which was quite the amusing controversy in hindsight.

Anyway, I covered a bunch of that in my post about the game’s tenth anniversary, if that interests you.

Instead, I want to poke into the state of things here at the twelfth anniversary, which was actually last month, but the celebration lasts through until April 22nd, so there is still time to join in.

The big incentive seemed to be a new server, the “largest server ever” according to the promo copy in the email.

Runes of Magic turns 12

This fresh start server offered some bonuses for faster leveling:

  • 50% bonus for XP and TP
  • 75% bonus for item drops
  • Special Bonus Pack of Goodies

I just had to log in and get going.

Logging in went… okay.

On the bright side, I was able to get the new launcher, which found my old files and updated them quickly… the horrible old 2009 patch is finally gone…  and I was able to use my email address to recover my account and log in.  Sort of.

When I last played you needed a user name to log in.  Now it is your email address.  However, on getting logged in with that it assigned me a new user name… because user names are still a thing, just not for logging in I guess… so ended up with no old characters.  Those I could live without.  The diamonds… them RMT currency… that I bought back in 2009 and which were still around the last time I played, those were gone too.  That I am kind of pissed about.  I couldn’t figure out how to inject my old and support was no help.

I doubt I was going to play seriously anyway, but that is the sort of thing that confirms it.

Anyway, I got logged in and… there were no special servers, just the two US servers.

But I expected that.  Fortunately I know somebody who actually plays the game and had already told me about the new servers, which were actually launched back in February.  They wanted to have them up and running and solid before the anniversary hit I guess.

My friend told me how to get to the shiny new server, which is hosted in the EU.  In the launcher you have to click on the settings button and change your game region from North America to Europe.  Then you have to create a new account for that region… so I guess my diamonds wouldn’t have followed me there anyway.

In the game settings

The odd thing is that, once in the game settings you cannot get out.  Or I couldn’t see a way out.  There was no visible way to close the window and return to the main launcher.  This seemed bad… but then there is a little launch button to start the game… the light blue square with the arrowhead in it… so I guess maybe this is a feature.  It seems odd… but if that is the price of doing away with their old patcher, then I will gladly pay it. (I was able to close it from the task bar, but it still seems like an odd UI choice.)

Once into the EU server list… and they have a bunch more servers… the two special servers, one international and one German, are highlighted.

Hard to miss

Once I created a new character… well, the game is pretty much the same.  The UI is still a bit too busy for my liking.

How many buttons can you fit around the mini-map?

But it still runs.  In fact, it runs pretty well.  And an addon I applied back in 2017… still up to date.  I was even a bit surprised to find that the game scales up to run on the wide screen monitor I got last year.  At first, when I got into the settings, it seemed to have me locked down to old HD dimensions.  But after I quit and came back, 3440 x 1440 resolution was on the list.  Something got updated.  And more real estate makes the UI feel a bit less cluttered.

As for the special server, it certainly seems to have the bonuses as advertised.  I ran through some quests on one of the US servers, just as a baseline, then did them again on the new server and you are certainly getting more XP and more TP to apply to your skills.  And the game hands you a bunch of stuff already, but getting even more on the new server was noticeable.  I grabbed the free stuff from the shop, but was starting to worry about bag space.

The free thing in the shop

And then it was a holiday weekend, so there was even more stuff, including a temporary bunny mount.

Easter in Taboria

I did not spend a ton of time playing, but I was there long enough to confirm that Runes of Magic has stayed true to whatever it is trying to be.  If you liked it before, it is still there for you… and if you didn’t, well it hasn’t changed, so unless you have you probably won’t change your mind.

EverQuest at a Crossroads as it Turns 22

In the US at least, your 21st birthday is generally your last achievement “happy to get older” birthday.  At that point you can drink, smoke, gamble, and do whatever, where allowed.

Turning 25 used to be a bit of a goal.  There were a couple quiet unlocks, like the ability to rent a car without it being a huge hassle, that came with the age, but some of those have passed away since I turned 25.  Then, after most of your life looking forward to being older, there is often some euphoria momentum left.  But at some point you realize that you’re just getting old and the years begin to weigh on you, and you start to feel your age and wonder if it wasn’t a mistake to be in such a hurry to get there.

So there are no fun analogies for EverQuest turning 22 today.  Their official Discord channel still has the 20 year anniversary logo up, which kind of proves my point I guess.  That is a hell of a run, but like me, the game does show its age as soon as you look at it.

There is, of course, still a celebration.  A Producer’s Letter has been posted and there will be bonus XP and new quests and prizes, including an extremely tall hat.

The Othmir Fez

Even though the game’s youth is behind it, EverQuest is still moving ahead, still holding players and making money according to insights we received late last year.

Page 15 – Year to Date numbers as of Sep. 30, 2020

It is also the most profitable game in Daybreak’s portfolio.

Page 16 – Revenue and Earnings compared YTD through Sep. 30 2020

Not bad for a game that old.  A solid title and certainly in no danger of getting the SOE sunset treatment.  Enad Global 7 continues to highlight Daybreak titles in their presentations even as the continue scooping up more studios.

6 out of 8 of those are from Daybreak

However, happy talk and banner positions can only take you so far.  The game’s future lays with its new Swedish masters, and we don’t really know what that means yet.  We’re still in the honeymoon period.  It has been just over three months since the acquisition of Daybreak was announced, and that only closed at the end of December.  That isn’t a lot of time to have an impact… or a positive one.  There has been plenty of time to get the Gamigo treatment of slashing staff and crushing expectations, so perhaps we can breath easy on that front for the moment.

The question still remains about what the future holds for EverQuest and other titles in the Daybreak stable.  The Daybreak era was something of a trauma at times for some titles.  There was the bloodletting at SOE that was, in hindsight, a clearing of the decks for the sale of the division, the cancellation of EverQuest Next and the closing of Landmark, and the fumbling of H1Z1 after they briefly had a hit on their hands, along with the lies, half truths, and long awkward silences that became the hallmark of the Jason Epstein team.

But, in that era, the Norrath team quietly flourished.  There was an initial stumble when the declared an end to expansions in favor of smaller bites of DLC in the form of adventure packs, but community push back got annual expansions back in the plan.  And since then they have chugged along putting out an expansion for both EverQuest and EverQuest II every Q4 along with mid-cycle game updates and holiday revamps and special servers.  The time hasn’t been without its missteps… a vocal core of EQII fans remain a surly and restive bunch… and there have been layoffs and server issues and games down for a couple or days, but for the most part the games have carried on doing what they do without any real fear that they’ll be closed or reworked in some crazy, right angles to reality sort of way.

Let me reiterate: A paid expansion every year for both titles.

That is kind of an amazing rate of content growth in the genre.  EverQuest has had 27 paid expansions, and EverQuest II has had 16. (I don’t think Age of Discovery, which brought in free to play, was a paid expansion.  Was it?)

Companies don’t keep doing that unless they are making money on it.  Having the luxury of doing expansions is a sign of success, and not a lot of other titles have even come close.

So the question is whether or not EG7 will continue down that path, perhaps nurturing the Norrath titles to allowing them some additional resources for projects to enhance and update the aging titles.

Or does EG7 have other plans?

Their jump into video games through acquisition has an end goal somewhere beyond “let’s be a company that owns a bunch of video game studios!”  Some bright person in the board room has a series of steps up on a white board that ends with, “Profit!”

I assure you, somehow these add up to “Profit!”

What does this mean for Norrath?  The latest EG7 purchase was of Innova, a company that localized MMOs for the Russian market and runs a number of them there.  That seems like a move to expand more of their titles there, though EQII at least already has a Russian server. (Did Innova do that work?)

And even that seems like a stepping stone, not an end goal.

One has to wonder if the golden age of EverQuest might be over or if some new horizon beckons that will see it flourish even more so.  People are usually done growing by the time they turn 22, at least in physical height, and video game years are more like dog years than people years, making EQ a very old game indeed.  We will have to see if EQ7 has a fountain of youth up its sleeve or if the retirement home might be in the offing.  The Gamigo route is always a threat.