Tag Archives: Meaningless Milestones

One Hundred and Eighty Million Skill Points

In which we explore the musical question, “Do I have enough skill points yet?”

The answer is clearly, “No!”  At least not yet, not in a world where there are more sub cap related skills to learn and where Asher comes up with new doctrines that are helped by having skills to level 5.

And so it goes.  I have two other characters on my main account who are starved for skill points… I threw a skill injector at one so he could at least run a cyno… while Wilhelm Arcturus, my main, continues to keep a training queue that is two years deep.

Anyway, the story of Wilhelm’s skill point progression so far.

And now he is at 180 million, seven months after the last post, right on schedule.

Actually, he hit 180 million about a week and a half ago.  But this is one of those posts that can sort of go as I have the time, so long as it still lands in the same month.  I had other things to write about over the last week or so, enough other things that I doubled up daily posts for a couple of days and I still have a few topics in the “catch up before it is too late” bin.

Anyway, this is my skill point distribution as of when I pulled the numbers for this post.  Categories that saw a change in skill points are marked with an asterisk.

 Spaceship Cmd 59,729,416 (59 of 75)*
 Gunnery 17,197,141 (36 of 46)
 Fleet Support 12,896,000 (14 of 15)
 Drones 11,704,870 (22 of 26)
 Missiles 11,059,167 (22 of 26)*
 Navigation 9,660,314 (13 of 13)
 Engineering 7,253,895 (15 of 15)
 Electronic Sys 7,189,415 (14 of 15)
 Armor 6,131,137 (13 of 13)
 Shields 5,994,039 (11 of 13)
 Science 5,462,151 (21 of 39)
 Resc Processing 4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Trade 3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Targeting 3,207,765 (8 of 8)
 Neural Enhance. 3,202,510 (7 of 8)
 Scanning 3,028,369 (7 of 7)*
 Subsystems 2,199,294 (16 of 16)*
 Planet Mgmt 1,612,315 (5 of 5)*
 Rigging 1,312,395 (10 of 10)
 Production 1,157,986 (5 of 12)
 Social 1,130,040 (5 of 9)
 Structure Mgmt 1,084,784 (2 of 6)
 Corp Mgmt 24,000 (2 of 5)

Total ~180,000,000 (338 of 428)

Of course, there is Spaceship Command up at the top still.  And, as usual, it saw the bulk of the new skill points show up, getting almost 8.5 million of the 10 million new skill points.

Probably the biggest addition there was training up to Command Ships V.  I can now fly a boosting ship like the Damnation and, with the right implant, provide the best possible fleet boosts.

A Dark Damnation

Of course, there is the question of how often I might do that.  I fit out a Damnation for the Reavers deployment to H-ADOC and flew it a few times there.  But then we got back home and the fit for main fleet is different and I had the Armor boosting implant and fleets seem to want the Information Warfare implant, so I either have to destroy an expensive implant to swap or manage clones carefully.

Clone management is easier with Citadels, if you have one handy that is set up for it, but I am also running out of extra clones to hold implant sets.  Asher has implants required for some doctrines, so I have a number of clones tied up with various implant sets already.  Life is complicated.  Poor me.

I also hit Interdictors V, just to have that handy, as well as Minmatar Strategic Cruiser V, because it sounded like the Loki might be the coming thing after the T3 revamp.  But I haven’t flown one yet.  I also tossed in Marauders due to a rumor that there might be such a doctrine, and Mining Frigate V, because it was a short train, picked up a couple of sub caps I couldn’t fly, and was at a time when I wasn’t burning to train something else.

After Spaceship Command I did invest a little time in Missiles.  With Defender Missiles becoming a thing after so many years, I trained those up a bit.  I also racked up a couple levels of specialization for missiles types, since we now fly a couple of missile doctrines.

Subsystems, the subsidiary skills for strategic cruisers, went up some despite the fact that CCP removed four of the skills, one from each empire, and refunded the skill points. (Which I put into Command Ships V, which took a few days off of that.)  However, with what seemed like enthusiasm for the Loki, I trained all the Minmatar subsystems to V and made sure I was at IV or V for all the skills for the Legion and the Proteus.   The net result was that the total skill points in subsystems went up.

I also trained up to Command Center Upgrades V under Planetary Management to give me enough power/CPU to run an extra extraction head on some of my planets, since there always seems to be an imbalance in the two resources I am harvesting.  Now the lower output resources gets an extra extractor.

And, finally, I started training up scanning.  My alt is all level V in scanning and I have gotten used to having that sort of ability handy, so now I want to duplicate it on my main.  This always happens, I get something on one and want it on the other.  I actually have a list of skills in my queue that I want to re-spec for, including scanning, once I am done with a couple more Spaceship Command skills.

Oddly, for the probably the first time in the history of these posts, I ended up with the same number of skills two posts in a row.  I had 338 skills last time and I have 338 skills this time.  Of course, that must mean that I trained four new skills as CCP took away four skills.

Anyway, this is how my skills shake out by level trained.

 Level 1 - 1
 Level 2 - 7
 Level 3 - 42
 Level 4 - 98
 Level 5 - 190

190 skills at level V puts me up 8, while 98 at level IV is an increase of 17 skills at that level.  I rounded up a few level II and III skills it seems since last time.

And speaking of last time, at the one hundred and seventy million mark I noted that I was in danger finishing up my benchmark metric of being able to fly all of the sub caps.  Last time I only had the Endurance and Prospect mining frigates, the Occator and Viator Amarr transport ships, the Loki strategic cruiser, and Marauders.  I can fly all of those now, which I think means I can fly all the sub caps.

Everything else on the Spaceship Command list is related to capital ships.  I suppose I could fantasize about flying all the capitals, but that seems a bit silly… and expensive.  Training up the Jump Freighter skill might be useful, since I have Caldari Freighter trained up already as well as the Navigation skills related to capitals.  That would give me the Rhea.

Maybe Spaceship Command will stop growing so much every time.  After I get the two remaining strategic cruisers to V, what else will I need.  Marauders IV maybe.  But after that, do I really need, for example, Black Ops V?

I suppose we’ll see when I hit 190 million skill points, which ought to come around some time in March of 2018.  And if you’re just dying to see what skills I have trained, you can see them all here.

Adding Up a Year of Pokemon Go

I was a bit late to the party.  While Pokemon Go kicked off in July of last year, I did not jump on the bandwagon until a month later.

It wasn’t so much a matter of not wanting to join the rush on day one… even if that meant experiencing all the day one issues… as it was the lack of a device.  I only joined the smart phone set in August of last year, having held onto my LG “it’s just a phone” for long past its expected life span.

But while I was late to join, I have hung in with the game longer than most, judging by the numbers.

My sticking with Pokemon Go has likely been for a few reasons.

First, I do love me some Pokemon, so I am definitely in the target audience.  Being able to go outside into the real world and catch Pokemon… or sit on the couch and do so, since they show up in our neighborhood… was an immediate draw.  It isn’t quite like the core RPG games, but it is close enough.

Second, like a lot of phone games, it is pretty low impact.  I do not spend hours a day playing.  If I have a free moment I might pull out my phone to see

Third, it probably helps that I live in a pretty target rich environment when it comes to Pokestops and gyms.  The campus I work on has five Pokestops and a gym along a half kilometer circuit that I walk during the day.  There are two parks near our house with Pokestops and gyms as well.

Fourth, the change that added the daily bonus for catching and getting a Pokestop sped up the leveling process just as I was hitting the steep slope in the game, taking the edge off of that.

Fifth, the change to gyms and how you earn coins has also boosted my activity.  I challenge a lot more gyms and earn a lot more coins these days.  In fact, I earn so many more in a week compared to the old gym style, that I wonder if Niantic has erred on the side of generosity.  I went from maybe 10 coins a week to 100-200 a week, even with the 50 coin daily cap.  Of course, having something of a captive gym at the office that I can hold for a day a couple times a week might make me something of an outlier.  Some times I want people to take it from me so I can collect the coins and start again.

Sixth, the game keeps all sorts of statistics, and I love me some useless stats!  I’ll get to those below.

And finally, my wife still plays as well, so it is something we talk about and do together, much to the annoyance of my daughter.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light in the land of Pokemon Go.  A year down the road I do have some gripes.

The game still sucks battery life like no other.  When out and active, it sucks down at least 2% of your battery every minute pretty reliably.

The game does not reliably count steps/distance walked unless it is up and active.  I can’t just walk, I have to have the game up and going and in my hand.  At least you can set it to black the screen out if you invert the phone, which reduces battery usage a little.

The variety of Pokemon in any given area is pretty limited.  I was all excited when we went to visit my aunt one day and discovered her location was a hotbed of Magikarp.  Unfortunately, we were visiting her to help her move, so I have no reason to visit there again, and it is an hour’s drive, so I am not wandering up there just for Pokemon.

Earning candies to evolve Pokemon that do not spawn in your area is a big pain.  I have only managed to evolve one of the three initial starter Pokemon to its final form.  And I am still 135 candies away from evolving a Magikarp into a Gyrados.

The candy mechanic in general doesn’t jibe with the core Pokemon RPG expectation that you just need to catch one rare and then you can train it up.  You need to catch many rares in order to evolve and train up your Pokemon.  But if they’re rare, you won’t be catching very many.

5km eggs are just shit.  Nothing new has ever hatched from one for me.  When I have a bag full of 5km eggs it is demotivating.  A 2km or a 10km egg will get me to walk extra laps at the office.

As much as I like the new gyms, and even the mechanics for catching the raid Pokemon, actually defeating and catching anything rare requires more people to show up than I have ever seen.  If my wife and I cannot take a gym raid down, it just isn’t going to happen.

No trading, no playing against friends (or spouses).

I still can’t reliably beat a CP 2800+ Blissey.  If I see one in a gym, I just keep walking.  And, of course, I am jealous that *I* don’t have one.

Anyway, a year has gone by, the game has mostly evolved for the better, and I still enjoy playing, so I will likely keep going for now.

Statistics

After a year of playing, this is where I stand.

  • Level – 29
  • Total XP – 1,791,678
  • XP to hit Level 30 – 208,322
  • Pokedex – 186 unique caught
  • Pokedex – 219 unique seen
  • Kanto Pokedex – 126 caught
  • Johto Pokedex – 60 caught
  • Total Pokemon caught – 3,389
  • Most often caught – Pidgey, 485 times
  • Highest CP Pokemon – Vaporeon, CP 2574
  • Total Pokemon evolved – 429
  • Pokestops visited – 3,053
  • Distance walked (with the app open) – 358.5km
  • Eggs hatched – 152
  • Gym Battles won – 237
  • Hours of Gym Defense – 352
  • Berries fed at Gyms – 74
  • Trained at Gym – 26
  • Gym Raids won – 3
  • Pikachu caught – 56

Types caught

These are the types of Pokemon I have caught, types being the key to the rock/paper/scissors aspect of Pokemon battles.

Pokemon can be of two mixed types, so if I catch a Hoothoot, I get credit for both a Normal and a Flying type.  As such, the numbers below add up to more than the total Pokemon caught/hatched listed above.

  • Normal Type caught – 1,740
  • Flying Type caught – 1,128
  • Poison Type caught – 699
  • Bug Type caught – 510
  • Water Type caught – 411
  • Grass Type caught – 292
  • Fire Type caught – 219
  • Ground Type caught – 196
  • Psychic Type caught – 172
  • Electric Type caught – 117
  • Fighting Type caught – 103
  • Fairy Type caught – 90
  • Dark Type caught – 71
  • Rock Type caught – 66
  • Steel Type caught – 26
  • Ghost Type caught – 20
  • Ice Type caught – 16
  • Dragon Type caught – 2

The two dragon type were a pair of Dratini I caught as a passenger driving through Oakland when we were stuck in traffic near the Bay Bridge.  As with the Magikarp, another situation I am unlikely to find myself in any time soon.

So that is the game a year in.

Prime Day and Amazon-a-versary

Today is Prime Day at Amazon, a day in which there are special deals for Amazon Prime members.

Prime Day 2017

The main deals are on Amazon products like the Kindle or the Echo.  Not exactly as interesting to me as the Steam Summer Sale, but I’ll go take a look all the same.

Today also happens to be an anniversary for me with Amazon.  Twenty years ago today, July 11, 1997, I placed my first order at Amazon.com.  You can go see all of your order history on your account page, which can be both fascinating and disturbing.

My order was for a book, because at the time Amazon was pretty much an online bookstore.  But they were expanding into music CDs as well.  The whole thing wasn’t profitable yet, but it was the dotcom era and people were interested in grabbing market share first and making money later.

That second bit was the catch of course, and the downfall of companies like Netscape.

I went to Amazon.com twenty years ago because they had selection beyond even the largest local bookstore.

Today the profitable enterprise that is Amazon it is my first stop for all sorts of things.  I recently bought a replacement filter for our refrigerator from them.  It has become to people today what the Sears catalog must have been for those in rural settings back towards the end of the 19th century, and then some.  They own Twitch and the Internet Movie Database and Goodreads and Alexa and Audible, each of which touches my online life.

Amazon is hardly perfect, but they do seem to be here to stay.

Two Years of Minecraft

Two years in and my general reflections on Minecraft haven’t really changed.  As I wrote last year, as a game it does scratch the exploration, building, and persistence itches, yet is often falls flat on the purpose front.

And so I do not spend much time building castles or villas or other grand living spaces, as once built there isn’t much you can do with them.  Instead I thrive on overland infrastructure, blazing trails, building roads, bridges, and rail lines, and making practical rest stop and production areas along the way.

This approach has led me to the inevitable laying of track along the north mansion roadway that I spent several months building.  Happened with the last road I built as well.

A new rail stop along the way

A fast horse is faster than a minecart for travel, and can go where you want, but you don’t need to manage a minecart.  A minecart doesn’t wander off… mostly… doesn’t need a corral, and won’t die in the middle of nowhere leaving you to walk home.  You just make another minecart or keep it in your inventory and when it is time to travel you put it on the rails and off you go.

So I am laying tracks.  Tracks require resources… iron mostly, of which I am perennially short.  But among the improvements I have done along the line at every rest stop is dig a mine and an auto furnace.  That can be slow going, but at many of the stops I piled up an excess of iron because I was mostly interesting in getting cobblestone to lay down the road.  So I have some resources to draw on… and Aaron gave me a few stacks or iron blocks, which got me quite a way down the line.

It does keep me logging in, which is the ultimate test.  As I have noted in the past, what I say I enjoy doesn’t always line up with what I will actually do, so I have to side with my actions as opposed to my intentions.  If I keep building road and rail projects, that must be what I like!

Not that the last year hasn’t delivered new things.  There were three updates to Minecraft which delivered  polar bears, llamas, and parrots… among other things.  They were:

All of which added things to the game that extended my play time with it.  Not bad.

So another Father’s Day has passes and I am still playing… and on the same world.  That means that my stats for that world are pretty much my overall stats for the game.  As I did last year, I’ll put up a few stats (after the cut) just to mark where I stand.

Continue reading

EVE Online Turns 14

May 6th has rolled around again and our favorite internet spaceship games turns another year older.  It has been 14 years since the game launched back in 2003 and a lot has changed along the way.  The game itself has changed and looks much different today, as old screen shots show. (Image below from this gallery of 2004 screen shots.)

War Drive Active… to the future!

And the world outside of the game has changed dramatically as well.  Back in 2003 EverQuest was the top MMORPG with 550,000 subscribers, while the following things didn’t really exits yet:

  • World of Warcraft
  • Second Life
  • Facebook
  • Orkut (Google’s first run at a social media site)
  • MySpace (didn’t show up until August 2003)
  • Twitter
  • Imgur (where those screen shots are hosted)
  • Smart phones
  • This blog
  • Tobold’s blog
  • WordPress.com, where this blog is hosted

What was even happening back then?  We were apparently hanging out on Friendster and GeoCities and maybe had heard about LinkedIn, which launched the day before EVE Online.

Also, I had a 2 year old child and was facing the prospect of turning 40 soon.  Now I’m past 50 and the child wants to learn to drive.  Oy!

Anyway, in the grand tradition of the game, CCP has a little something for capsuleers who play the game.  The full details are posted, but this is what you get on each account:

  • 1x Capsule YC119 Capsuleer Day SKIN
  • 1x Festival Launcher
  • 200x Barium Firework
  • 200x Copper Firework
  • 200x Sodium Firework

I am glad they keep giving us new festival launchers.  Every time we have a fleet doctrine with an empty high slot I slap one on there and inevitably lose the ship and the launcher with it.

The SKIN is nifty.  You don’t see capsules running around in my part of space… not for very long anyway.  But if you are without a ship you can go around with a sharp looking red and white paint scheme.

14th Anniversary capsule SKIN

You have until May 23rd to log in and redeem your gifts.  And even Alpha clone accounts get them.  I checked and redeemed them on my own Alpha account.  Another year down and a decade and a half of the game is just around the corner, a mere 364 days away.

A Decade on the Road to Mordor

Ten years ago today Lord of the Rings Online officially went live.

Happy Anniversary

LOTRO was one of the first MMORPGs to go through beta and launch while I was blogging, and certainly the first one I jumped into at launch during the reign of the blog. (I was watching Vanguard during beta as well, but was dissuaded by my experiences there.)  One of my earliest posts was a response to the idea of such a game trying to tell the story of the books.

Yahoo Headline 2007, before Yahoo became malware

The path for LOTRO from beta through launch and to today has been somewhat symbolic of the post-World of Warcraft era for MMORPGs.  It was driven along initially on the wave of WoW-subscription number induced euphoria, where the sky seemed to be the limit.

Then there was launch and the rush to play and the problem of the game simultaneously being too much and not enough like WoW.  There were some fun little quirky features, like titles you could earn for actions… though the fact that those were secret (or at least not documented or traceable anywhere in the UI) meant most players never knew about them.  It is hard to sell yourself as different when you hide things I suppose, and a decade later I don’t think I have a single one of those special titles yet.

Meanwhile, for those who rushed ahead, there was bemusement as content fell off a good ten levels before the cap.  Subscriptions fell off, complaints mounted, changes and updates went in, and Turbine went forward with plans for an expansion; The Mines of Moria.  That was an amazing and ambitious expansion.  I pre-ordered that as well back in 2008, though I did not actually get into the content for a few years and it was several years after that before I was out of the far side of those caverns.

LOTRO was also a leader in the conversion to a free to play model citing a huge boost in players and revenue to accompany the change.  They were also ahead of the curve when it came to the grim reality of such conversions.  Player expectations as to what “free” really means can be harsh, that initial surge of new players never lasts, and once you start down the cash shop path, forever will it dominate your destiny and development time.

More expansions came and again Turbine was in the lead with pre-orders and special editions with cosmetic fluff thrown in to entice more money out of players.  But eventually expansions stopped and all revenue focus went into the cash shop and new items and new currencies showed up.

Then they began to fall behind the curve of the industry.  They were not too late to the game with insta-level boosts, but they failed to grasp that people want such boost to get to the latest content, the NEW stuff.  Turbine thought boosting people to the first expansion and level 50 was enough.  That was a worst of all possibilities idea for me.  Moria was nowhere near the current content and the first 50 levels that get you there are some of the best, most charming, most memorable content in the game.  Skipping The Shire and Bree and the Forsaken Inn and Weathertop and Rivendell and the beautiful scenery of Middle-earth to head down into a cave for ten levels seems like insanity.

Eventually they figured that out and now you get jumped to Rohan with your insta-level boost, but I remain dubious about the idea as a general plan.  A seasoned player advancing an alt might take full advantage of the jump, but a new player is likely to be out of their depth.

And then there was the spin-off, where LOTRO and its sister, Dungeons & Dragons Online were folded into their own company by Warner.  Spinning of MMORPG divisions has been a thing, from Daybreak Games and its Norrathian legacy to Broadsword Games which keeps Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot going.

It has been a strange trip these last ten years.

But all of that was in the future back in April of 2007.  Ten years ago today I was in Middle-earth playing the game, having pre-ordered it.  That was back when pre-ordering could be done by buying a pre-order box off the shelf at Fry’s.  I still had to follow up and buy a retail box, but the pre-order box got me a head start and kept my account active for a while until I got the real game key.

And then, of course, there was the choice to be made as to which founder’s bonus to take.

Founders Choices

I went with the $199 lifetime subscription over the $9.99 reduced monthly subscription price which, looking back over a decade and more of MMORPG time, was probably the most sound investment I have ever made.  I have received more value for that money than I ever expected.

At the eight year anniversary I mocked the game a bit, pointing out that even by the longest measure… Frodo is warned by Gandalf to leave the Shire through to Bilbo and Frodo departing from the Grey Havens… the events of end of the Third Age in Middle-earth being reproduced in the game only took three and a half years.

At that point Minis Tirith was on the horizon still.  Two years later… again, more time than it took Frodo to get from the Shire to Mount Doom… and Mordor is in sight.  Update 20 brings players to the battle of the Black Gate.

Gandalf blazing in bleached white

I read about that and the tenth anniversary events and such and I feel like I should log in and take a look.  But then I read about the mix of joy and frustration with the anniversary events and remember that I am, as always, stuck behind several layers of content and I pass on to something else.

Look, could you just point me towards Mordor? I’m a bit behind.

This is ever the problem with MMORPGs that evolve through expansions and updates and levels and rigid layers of content.  I think I have patched up a few times since I opted for the Blessing of the Valar level boost, but every time I log in I look in my bags and cannot figure out what half the stuff in there is (the icons haven’t gotten any clearer in ten years while my eyesight has gotten worse) and the legendary weapon that the boost handed me… which isn’t ready to use, you have to find a vendor and go through some gyrations to make it work… and I wonder if I might just be better off rolling up yet another new character and playing through the first 30-40 levels yet again.  I think I must be close to 20 characters past level 30 at this point.

But Middle-earth yet abides, waiting for my return.  Some day that ring will be tossed into Mount Doom.  Of course, then we will have to get back to the Shire.  The tale isn’t done until the Shire has been scoured.

EverQuest Turns Eighteen

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

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

They can now buy cigarettes and vote

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

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

Being level 85 makes you heroic by default

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My past anniversary posts, just to keep track: