Tag Archives: Windows 10

Looking for a Path in Norrath Again

As it ever does, the coming of autumn turns my mind to Norrath.  There is certainly some association in my mind with there finally being a bit of a chill in the night air and nostalgia for what once was.

Of course, having a long running blog… the self-recharging epicenter of my of my nostalgia… as well as Daybreak talking about expansions and events and what not feeds into this need to return to Norrath, visit my house, and see what is new in the world… or what is old and memorable and still there.

Going to go see that bitchin’ Firiona Vie poster in my room

I will even have some time.  The war in EVE Online has reached its conclusion so, aside from move ops home, there won’t be much activity for a month or so, while I seem to have paused in Azeroth for the moment, as noted on Friday.  So Norrath could be a thing.  I have room on my calendar.

The problem is that EverQuest II has, over the years, accreted layer after layer of barriers seemingly designed to thwart any sort of easy return to the game.  As has been said many times over the years, EQII isn’t WoW.  But I still manage to forget exactly how determined Daybreak can be in blocking people from getting back into the game.

And this autumn there was an additional barrier on the way to Norrath.  Having upgraded my rig recently I was still in the process of finding out what worked and what did not after the move from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

EverQuest II started off in the not working column.  It crashed early and often.

That it was copied over from the old system meant that something might have gotten corrupted, so I renamed its directory and did a fresh install.  That did not seem to help.  Fortunately, having gotten ZMud to run on Win10 I knew I was not out of options.  Setting EQII to run under Win7 emulation and as administrator seemed to take care of the block on actually playing the game.  It has not crashed since.

Which left me with the old problems of what to do once I could play.  I see three possible paths forward.

Level 100

Over the years, through various boost offers, I have managed to accrue several characters at, or very close to, level 100.  The character I would consider my “main” is level 96.  I used a level 95 boost on him back in the day and actually played him enough to get within striking distance of level 97.  There are two other level 100 boosts and then the super-special level 100 boost from earlier this year.

They were handing out flying mounts with that boost

So getting a high level character isn’t a problem.  Figuring out what to do with one, on the other hand, seems to be a bit of a chore.  The last couple of times I have tried the in-game messaging has directed me in the wrong direction.  I certainly didn’t end up where many other people were playing.  But going out of game doesn’t seem to be much help either.  Googling what I should do in EverQuest II at level 100 gets me results like this:

  • A wiki article that directs me to an NPC that is no longer there
  • A wiki article that directs me to go back to the starting zone to run gray quests
  • A wiki article that tells me I need to learn two languages or I can’t play new content
  • A forum thread that calls level 100 boost “bait and switch” without very much in the way of push back

And I hate to say it, but those were among the more helpful, or at least on point, results I found.

Even if I can figure out where to go, there is the perennial problem of trying to figure out how to play a given class again, though that problem is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the last 100 boost I got had good enough gear that I could pretty much faceroll my way through anything I could find.

Start Anew

This is always an option, though it is one I have may have used a few too many times at this point.

On the upside, starting fresh does hit right at the nostalgia factor, especially if I start on the Fallen Gate progression server, which has the Isle of Refuge starting area.

The problem there is that I may have trod that path too many times at this point.  How many more times am I going to fight the orc on Zek or run through Feerrott trying to complete The Journey is Half the Fun?  And even when I throttle experience pretty heavily, diverting it to AAs, I will persist in leveling up faster than the content.  And then there is the need to completely re-gear every ten levels that becomes oppressive when you’re a level the market has forgotten.

And then, in the end, after moving through content I have done so many times I will hit a point where I will tire and stop, somewhere between the Desert of Flames and the Rise of Kunark if history is any indication, leaving me with yet another mid-level character.

Mid Level Options

The middle way is often the worst, and in Norrath it does tend to be a combo of problems.  I have an easy half dozen characters… probably more… situated between level 50 and 80.  I ought to be able to pick one of those up and carry on.  The double whammy here is that these mid-levels miss out on the old content nostalgia angle that I would get if I simply rolled up a new character but also face the age old EQII problem of having to relearn how to play the classes.

If I were to highlight a single problem that the game has, I would probably pick “too many damn skills” for every class.  I generally have to operate with three 12 button hot bars on my screen, which usually means I don’t have all the combat skills or most of the buffs/debuffs represented.

So this seems the least likely path forward.  I fear that my dual-baton wielding monk will never get any closer to level cap.

Finding a Path

So there I stand, looking for a way to proceed.   Subscribing isn’t an issue if that will make things easier to find, and the Planes of Prophecy expansion is half price, so if that was the way to go I would jump on board with it.

I am sure Bhagpuss will have a suggestion or two, but I an open to any advice on this front… as well as maybe a clue as to which wiki or site is the most up to date when it comes to EQII.

Hurry though.  That autumnal feeling doesn’t always last.

Windows 10, ZMud, and Other Options

Having gotten the new system up and running and most everything transferred over, it was time to start looking into what was working and what was not.

Some things I opted to install over from scratch anyway.  The Zinstall transfer utility copied things to the matching drives on the new system, but since I had a small SSD there, meant really for Windows, the page file, and whatever absolutely HAD to go on the C drive, that meant some software I wanted on the new, 1TB SSD would need a fresh install.  World of Warcraft and EVE Online were the primary candidates for that.

WoW was, of course, easy.  It installed, found my settings, and got on with life.  EVE Online though… well, I got it going, but the profile options it gave me all seemed to be very old.  I was only really worried about my overview settings, and now I have something that is at least a year old, from the point when you could only have six overview tabs.  But at least the settings were basically there, I just have to remember to go in and check the box for ship types that were added since that time when I pull up a pre-set.

Other things could just live where they were placed, so long as they ran.  So, for example, Steam and all my games from that live on the 3TB D drive.  The same with an assortment of other MMOs that I do not play currently.  Most seemed to work, though the copy process seemed to have broken things from Daybreak.  EverQuest and EverQuest II won’t run, erroring out when the launcher comes up.  Such is life.

And then there were the oddball things.  I have dragged a lot of stuff forward from computer to computer over the years.  I’ve dug out stuff from the late 80s when sorting through archived directories.  Most of that is made up of documents.  I think there are a couple in there that I might have copied from my Apple //e to my MacSE way back in the day.

But there are some old apps that I have carried forward or acquired.  There is a copy of Civilization II – Gold Edition that I had to pick up on eBay when I moved to Win7 64-bit and found that support for 16-bit executables, like my original copy of Civ II, wasn’t a thing.

And then there is ZMud, which has been around for a while.

ZMud – Version 7.21 from October 2005

I have been running a copy of ZMud since the late 1990s.  Back when I was working on Macintosh products a friend at Apple got me the Windows compatibility card so I could run Windows in a window and ZMud in that.  It was such a giant leap ahead of the terminal emulator I was running on the Mac.

Later, when Apple looked to be dying and Michael Dell was suggesting that the company ought to liquidate and give the money to the investors and having Mac experience on your resume was just slightly better than McDonald’s, I managed to find a spot in a company that enterprise software on Windows NT based mostly on my experience with telephony, modems, and ISDN.

Since I prefer to have the same setup at home as the office, I too moved over to Windows, and have been there ever since.  And so I could run ZMud natively.  Since I was playing TorilMUD as my main game, I invested a lot of time in customizing ZMud with triggers and shortcuts and aliases and such.

But most of the value in the client was in the maps.  When I do posts about zones and such in TorilMUD you can see screen shots of the maps.

Kobold Village – Surface Map

In a MUD you cannot “see” the terrain, you can only see what is in the room with you and the exits.  It can be hard to keep your orientation, especially when a wily zone designer doesn’t stick to an absolute perfect grid.  And while long experience with some zones means I have some paths memorized, a lot of my ability to get around in the world of TorilMUD depends on those maps.

So you can imagine the sick feeling I had when ZMud wouldn’t run on the new system.

Okay, I knew it wouldn’t run straight out of the box.  It is from a different era of computing.  But I had fixed it up and gotten it running before, the last time being less than a year back.  All I had to do was set it to run as Administrator and set the compatibility profile for Windows XP SP2 and I ought to have been set.

But then it still wouldn’t run.  It was throwing MDAC, or Microsoft Data Access Components, errors.  That was a different problem altogether.

ZMud keeps its maps and its character database in what we used to call the Microsoft Jet Database format.  That, too, is some pretty ancient technology and has long since been superseded in the Microsoft lineup, but the backward compatibility used to always be there.

Database problems are not my area of expertise.  I am the person they make the GUI admin tool for.  But I figured somebody else must have had this problem before, so started the Google trek to find a solution.  A few hours and several utilities later however, things did not look good.  I went to bed thinking all that data was lost.

However, something I did seemed to have done the trick and the one final shut down and boot made it take effect, because when I resumed the next day the client launched and I was able to log in.

Still, I feel I am on borrowed time with ZMud.  While I managed to get the MDAC error solved by whatever means, it still doesn’t launch correctly every time.  I suspect there is some conflict that comes with another app loads a particular DLL, though I have to narrow that down.  It does seem to run if I do a reboot and launch it first.

Zugg came out with a replacement for ZMud called CMud, which itself is now more than a decade old.  I have tried to move over to it, as you’re supposed to be able to transition your data from ZMud, however I have not been successful with that on a few attempts over the years.

One client out there I want to take a look into is Mudlet.  It looks a little more modern, but more importantly it looks like there is a path that allows you to move your ZMud maps and such into it.

And, if nothing else, TorilMUD has actually added some level of in-game maps.

The new map in the Hive of the Manscorpions

For now though I am setup again with ZMud so I can finish off a few more posts about zones I want to remember.

Friday Morning in a Hot Spell

It has been close to 100 degrees here almost all week… which is actually pretty normal in Silicon Valley at this time of year.  My memories from childhood and the start of school always included some really hot days a week or two into things, just in time to find that the air conditioning in one building or another had broken down over the summer.  And so my daughter gets to experience the same.

So in the cool of the evening I am throwing together a few items too short for posts of their own.  The return of bullet point Friday!

  • Asheron’s Busy Signal

Asheron’s Call was put into unsupported limbo, being free but essentially unsupported, by Turbine some time back.  Now we are getting a taste of what that might mean in the long term.  MMO Fallout reported earlier this week that the game had been brought down for maintenance a couple weeks back and failed to come up again and has been unavailable ever since.

asherons_call_full_logoThe thread reporting the problem has been updated and indicates that moving that transferring the Asheron’s Call to Turbine’s new data center, where the LOTRO servers are going as well, would be expedited, but that the game would not be up again until that happened.  The statement was that the game should be up by Friday.

They just did not say which Friday.

However, it appears it might be today, as people at the end of the forum thread are reporting that they can log in.  There has been no official announcement or update since August 31.

Addendum: Turbine posted about the servers being up on Facebook, though no word yet in the official forums, where players are looking for compensation for the down time.  I say refund them double their money!  Wait, the game is free?

  • The Wonder about Drunder

Daybreak announced their isle of misfit players, the Drunder prison server, back in August.  However, we haven’t heard much since.  Over at Atheren’s Adventures there was a report of a thread about the new server over on the Daybreak forums.

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

The thread kicks off with a post from somebody who has been banished to the new server and has found that it isn’t actually working yet.  How do you open a ticket on a server where you have been denied all support?  Anyway, there is clearly a hole in the system if people so banned can still post on the forums.  The rest of the forum thread is mostly scorn for cheaters, questions about what gets your there (as opposed to just outright banned), and why Daybreak has bothered with this at all.  Key comment from the announcement thread:

Update from drunder: server was a complete flop, no one plays there. Banned people continue to just make new accounts.

Still some of the old SOE “Hey, let’s just try this!” moxie left in Daybreak I guess.

  • Transfers Begin in Middle-Earth

The server consolidation effort for Lord of the Rings Online, which was referenced at the beginning of the year in the Producer’s Letter and for which we finally got some concrete details early last month, looks to be kicking off next week.

There is a post up on the forums indicating that the first two servers up for free, one-way transfers will be the US server Elendilmir and the EU server Estel.

Players on EU servers will be able to transfer to one of the following servers:

  • Belegaer
  • Evernight
  • Gwaihir
  • Laurelin
  • Sirannon

Players on US servers will be able to transfer to one of the following servers:

  • Arkenstone
  • Crickhollow
  • Gladden
  • Landroval

The US server Brandywine remains off the list of possible destinations for the time being.

  • Saying No to Windows 10

Long gone are the days when I would install a new operating system on day one or, heaven forbid, during beta.  I think the last beta OS I installed on a machine I owned was Mac OS 7.1, part of the System 7 chain of releases, and I regretted it.  I don’t even want to  get into the pros and cons of Windows 10.  I am happy and everything is working on Windows 7, so there is no reason to change.  I’ll move when I need to.

However, Microsoft seems quite intent on telling me about Windows 10 every day when I start up my system.  I am not interested in a “free” copy of Windows 10.

This, every single day

This, every single day

Finally sick of that, I decided to try to at least do away with that notification.  As it turns out, Microsoft slipped that in as part of the Windows Update cycle as KB3035583.  Uninstalling that update removed the daily reminder about Windows 10.

Unfortunately, Microsoft is so eager to hand out copies of Windows 10 that they might be pushing it to people who haven’t even opted in.  Just what I need clogging up space on my SSD.  Something else to fix.