Sunday, October 31, 2010

CCP Tears And The Big Fight in LXQ2-T

During Saturday's big fight in LXQ2-T, some players took the opportunity to pod some CCP developers.  Here is what those tears look like.
16:17:31 Notify Sqees <-42->(Vagabond) has started trying to warp scramble “CCP Atlas (BH Mega Cargo Ship)”
[16:22:41] CCP Atlas > that wasn’t very nice :’(
The important part is that Massively reported that the lag monster did not appear until 2400 ships arrived in system.  That is an impressive number.  And EveNews24 reported that the max number in system was 3212.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Operation Smile: We Are The World

This has been a pretty crazy week for me.  I get on the train at 8am, fire up the laptop, and pretty much keep working until at least 10pm.  When you get home from work between midnight and 2am every day, there is not much time to do things like play games or blog.  And sleep?  What is that?

But everything isn't all doom and gloom.  I had a friend at work who doesn't play video games send me the below music video.  He's probably under the impression that the people who make Eve Online are a bunch of carebears.  But I got a smile out of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CCP Adds Eve Voice To Eve Gate

CCP Priya published a dev blog Sunday about the changes coming to Eve Gate in the Incursion expansion.  Here is the part of the blog that I found interesting:

EVE Voice integration

We've been partnering with Vivox, which brings us EVE Voice, to create a first iteration of accessing EVE Voice through EVE Gate. This allows you to both listen and speak to your friends on the go, without having to load up a full EVE Client. Just  open EVE Gate, and you're all set!
This specific feature will not go live in conjunction with the Incursion launch but can be expected to be available just a few weeks after the expansion is in your hands. This is a very exciting feature we're really looking forward to bringing to you.
First, having had some experience with Vivox when SOE decided to integrate its Vivox voice service into the Station Launcher.  Quite frankly, SOE screwed up.  My guild was really starting to roll and we really liked the in-game voice system.  Then they decided to expand the capability to those outside the game and the resultant mess affected half the guild and we stopped doing big groups.  The experience led to so much frustration that we lost members and the guild never really did recover while I played.  I hope CCP does its implementation better.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Weekend In Space

This weekend I spent my gaming time solely in Eve Online trying to meet one of the goals I forgot to write down in August: jump clone capacity for the Khumaak Flying Circus.  Over the past two weeks I've concentrated on the task and managed to raise the corps standings with Eifyr and Co. from .85 to 5.10.  I'm amazed how fast the grind has gone.  I guess that is the result of doing level 3 kill missions with a Hurricane and Cyclone and level 3 courier missions in a Prowler.  Of course, I'm not salvaging, which speeds things up considerably.  

Why grind faction with Eifyr and Co.?  Here is the description of the company.  I'll let you decide why.

Eifyr was founded by the renowned biochemist Kolvil Eifyr, with a support from the Krusual tribe. The company has often been suspected of developing and manufacturing illegal neural boosters, but nothing has ever been proven. In any case, the operation of the company has always been a mystery to the public, and secrecy always breeds conspiracy theories.

I also went around and visited all of my research agents and collected up the datacores.  I also started working with a 6th research agent, which should bring my total up to 12 datacores a day.  Between the mission running and the datacores, Wandering Rose and Rosewalker now have 170 million isk.  Even better, the corp actually has the 1.5 million isk to pay the office bill next month.

What to do with all the isk?  According to my training plan for Wandering Rose, she will begin training Exhumers and Industrial Command Ships in two weeks.  That is 70 million isk in training books.  I've now got the isk to buy them with a nice cash reserve in case I suffer a ship loss.  Remember Eve Rule #1, never fly something you cannot afford to lose.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Eve Videos and Incarna

On Wednesday CrazyKinux came out with a list of his top 10 favorite Eve videosClear Skies and Clear Skies 2 didn't make his list because the characters are from Half-Life 2 and the shows felt more like Half-Life with an Eve twist.  That's a fair statement.  But that got me to thinking about the machinima possibilities when Incarna comes out next summer. With avatars in the game and with the imagination that Eve's video makers have already shown, will Eve videos begin to challenge World of Warcraft's hold on YouTube?  I'm willing to wager that by the end of 2011, CrazyKinux's list will have a lot more player-made videos on it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Operation Smile: 4WARD Tengu Commercial

I visited the CCP Games YouTube page and discovered that CCP has started to point out some of the player made videos.  I thought this 4Ward advertisement for its new line of Tengu strategic cruisers was first rate.  It almost makes me want to give up flying Minmatar.  On second thought, that would be silly.  But this is a great commercial.  Make sure to view it full screen in high definition.  It will be worth it.

Did I mention this was PLAYER made?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

EQ2 Finally Announces Server Merges

In a slight comedy of errors, SOE managed to send out emails to players announcing server mergers before posting the information on  Oops!  And actually, I found the email posted in the forums more informative than the official announcement or the more informative official forum post by Amnerys.  Beginning November 16th, the following servers will start merging and be no more:
  • Nektulos merged into Guk
  • Najena merged into Unrest 
  • Befallen merged into Oasis 
  • Blackburrow merged into Everfrost 
  • Mistmoore merged into Permafrost 
  • Kithicor merged into Butcherblock 
  • Runnyeye merged into Splitpaw (UK) 
  • Innovation merged into Valor (German)
Since all of my characters are on Permafrost, I'm just a little interested in the details.  Here are some facts only mentioned in the email.
*Character Names*
  • In the event of duplicate character names as a result of this server merge, priority will be given to the character who has logged in to the game within the past sixty (60) days; if both characters have logged in within the past sixty (60) days, then the character which has accrued the most gameplay time overall will retain its name. Other characters will have an "x" added to their names until a unique name has been determined.
  • Players with a character whose name has been affected by the server merge can type "/rename" in their in-game chat window and receive a one-time complimentary name change.
  • Guilds with leaders will be transferred intact; however, guilds without leaders will not be transferred and will be deleted as part of this event. If you belong to a guild on a merged world which currently does not have a leader and you wish to have the guild transferred as part of this scheduled server merge, please submit an in-game petition (/petition) in order to resolve this situation prior to the scheduled date of this server merge.
  • Priority for guild names will be given to the guild with the earliest guild creation date, with such guild keeping its name and the other guild having an "x" added to its name.
  • Guilds whose names have been affected by the server merge that wish to change their guild's name will need to use the in-game /petition� command.
*In Your Home*
  • All items in characters' homes will be inherited by the home's owner during the merge. If you have alts that own any items, have designated any trustees to your character's home or if you are a trustee in another character's home, please arrange for the appropriate owner to retrieve its items before the server merge begins.
  • After the merge any vendor items in your transferred character's house will need to be re-placed in your character's new home.
  • You can use the house vault of the character which is being transferred for storage. The items in your transferred character's house vault will remain associated with that character during the server merge.
  • As noted above, your transferred character's house items, including any vendor crates containing such character's broker inventory, will need to be re-placed in that character's new home.
  • Vendor Events (i.e. the logs of what was sold, to whom, when, etc.) will not transfer as part of the server merge.
  • Until your transferred character concludes a sale on the newly merged server, that character's Total Coin Gain will display 0. After that character makes a sale, it will display the sum of the total amount of coin that such character has gained on both servers.
I did a little checking and my main Rosemarie is still the highest level Rosemarie in the game.  However, there is a level 5 Rosemarie on Mistmoore that I have to beware of if I don't want a new name when I finally re-sub for the Velious expansion.  Looks like I may have to pay $5 and use the Passport service just to save my name.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Advertising World of Warcraft and Eve Online

One of the complaints I continuously heard while playing EverQuest 2 was that the SOE marketing department didn't advertise the game.  I haven't seen the reaction yet to Blizzard's advertising for Cataclysm on Fox's football broadcasts yesterday, but I will bet some of the veterans are not happy.

Of course, as Blizzard-Activision (as the company should be named) depends on World of Warcraft for so much of its profits, television advertising for the MMO giant makes sense.  And with the revenue WoW brings in, advertising on television is possible.

But lower cost options are available to game companies, as anyone who has seen the ads for F2P games on gaming sites knows all too well.  CCP has gone one step beyond that in looking for new players.  The Icelandic company is using Google Ads and its Adsense feature to advertise throughout the blogosphere.  And when I mean blogosphere, I don't mean just game sites.

One of the biggest websites in the political blogosphere is Instapundit, a site run by Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds.  When I visited the site this afternoon, I was greeted with this sight...

Those gifs look familiar
Followed by this...

Well, Glenn DOES like capitalism

I do believe that using Google Ads could have some drawbacks, although I think this juxtaposition I spotted a little later worked out well...

Not true, carebears are welcome in New Eden
But to see if the ads showed up on both sides of the political fence, I visited The Daily Kos, one of the largest liberal U.S. political blogs, and yes, Eve Online made an appearance there also.

Does Markos know he's promoting laissez-faire capitalism?
I'm actually glad that CCP has decided to advertise this way, because that means I see a lot fewer adds that would annoy me.  Now if SOE would just take the hint.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Upcoming Changes in Planetary Interaction

Next week my industrial pilot Wandering Rose will finally have the skills to conduct planetary interaction fairly well.  I know, I'm late, Incursion is set to launch in a few weeks.  What took me so long?  I heard the mini-game was a click-fest.  But according to the dev blog by CCP Omen, changes are coming and I'm wondering whether I should wait until the expansion comes out.  Here are some of the changes...
  • Upgradable Command Centers will allow players to increase and decrease the CPU/Power capabilities of their colony without having to tear it all down (existing undeployed command centers will be migrated to the new system).
  • Only the first Command Center must be bought and hauled in space, after that there is no longer a need to haul command centers in order to upgrade.
  • Surveying has been radically revamped and will allow players to create extraction programs that span anything from an hour to 14 days!
  • Extractors can now be moved when in program creation mode.
Apparently, the Council of Stellar Management has made some significant proposals that have influenced the direction the dev team is taking planetary interaction.  Nice to see they are having an effect on New Eden in a positive way.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hotfix for EQ2's Game Update 58

Okay, so SOE is not calling today's downtime for EverQuest 2 to install a hotfix an emergency.  And I guess that with all the content in Game Update 58 that more good than bad was introduced.  Feldon at EQ2 Wire even has a post on all the under-documented and stealth additions included in GU58.  But just when I'm wondering if I should spend some time back in EQ2, seeing the long list of things needing to be fixed is a bit discouraging.  It makes my decision to wait until the Velious expansion comes out look better every day.

Am I overreacting?  Perhaps.  I'll provide the notes for today's hotfix below and let you be the judge.

  • Fixed tooltips on the welcome window and marketplace window for item icons.
  • You can now set Auto-Roll options under Group Options (/groupoptions or Alt-O Group Options)
  • This will allow you to Auto Greed, Auto Lotto, or Auto Decline loot without having to press the button each time. (Auto Need is not available)
  • Fixed an issue where the client would incorrectly give a free disk space warning.
  • Mounts in the mount window will no longer show up for sale on a merchant.
  • Fixed a bug with the Ykeshan Bear not using the correct appearance when equipped in your mount appearance slot.
  • Daring Roundshield and Imbued Daring Roundshield should have proper protection values now.
  • Priests should no longer be able to equip the Daring Roundshield and Imbued Daring Roundshield.
  • Sifu’s Focused Leggings should now have stonewill 2 on them.
  • Bone Hilted Smasher should now have slayer’s conviction instead of defiant stand.
  • Kaborite Longbow should only have followthrough on it now.
  • Bonebreaker’s Edge should only have 1% riposte chance now.
  • Earthen Shard should now be flagged as fabled.
  • The house pet "a mini-cognatic bixie bopper" is now no-value.
  • The journal text for the quest "Into Crushbone Territory" has been corrected to reflect Tuathil Laeds current location in Greater Faydark.
  • The quest "In Search of the Feerrott" can now be completed by good characters.
  • Dying in Mistmoore’s Research Hall should no longer revive you in his Inner Sanctum.

  • Writ givers should now correctly open their dialog without opening a merchant window.
  • Anathraxxis Fetidspine should no longer spawn as the challenge mode version when you wipe on the normal version.
  • (Challenge Version) Treskar Throatpuncher’s Mana Soul now shuffles hate properly.
  • (Challenge Version) Deathbone Lord Krasick now spawns add waves more reliably.
  • Anathraxxis’ loot tables have been altered.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

EQ2X - Silver Members Can Buy From Broker

Here is something from Smokejumper that might get me to put down Dragon Age long enough to log into EQ2X again...
Silver members can now buy items from the Broker.

They still need to purchase broker credits to *place* items onto the Broker, but they now have unlimited capacity to BUY from the Broker.

(hat tip: Feldon)

I don't mind not selling on the broker.  It was the not purchasing that hurt.  And I bet Silver members not being able to buy hurt the Gold and Platinum members also.

But this change will not get me to give up any Eve Online time.  I've got another research agent to recruit!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Patch Day for WoW and EQ2

Tuesday's are usually patch day, and both World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2 are pushing out patches today.  The World of Warcraft patch, 4.0.1, will require 12 hours of downtime and is so big Blizzard pointed out the instructions to use the background downloader.  I couldn't find patch notes, but I did find a couple of forum posts about class mechanics changes, changes to glyphs and a cap on the number of members in guilds.  The last will affect not only The Instance podcast's AIE guild, but also an organization familiar to Eve players, the Mal'Ganis server's Goon Squad.

UPDATE: WoW Insider has a post on the patch.

Meanwhile, SOE's EQ2's GU58, Arcanum Revealed, is expected to only require two hours of downtime.  Feldon has posted the patch notes on EQ2 Wire already.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Travelling Salesman Problem In Eve Online

The Travelling Salesman Problem is an NP-hard problem in combinatorial optimization studied in operations research and theoretical computer science. Given a list of cities and their pairwise distances, the task is to find a shortest possible tour that visits each city exactly once.  In Eve Online, we call it picking up your datacores.

On Saturday I returned to New Eden needing to pick up datacores and facing the travelling salesman problem, with a twist.  All the very smart people who look into solving the problem never took into account the possibility that the salesman could get mugged and how to minimize that risk. What was the most efficient path to visit my research agents?  Thanks to the star map and the fact I only had to worry about visiting 4 stations, I was able to use a brute force approach.  With the parameters I set out, I came up with the optimum approach, but I will return to that subject later.

The first stretch of the trip took me 35 jumps.  Ouch!  But I needed the practice, since I was flying my Cheetah and between my trip to Bulgaria and playing Dragon Age, I was sadly out of practice flying stealthy.  After making my first pick-up (I thought), I felt ready to head into low-sec.

Now, one of the things I like about my research agent in low-sec is that the neighborhood is usually quiet.  Usually.  But when I jumped into the first system, I spotted a Unista.  So I said hi in local and he waved back, indicating that he probably wasn't hunting anyone.  But I did spot him on the outbound gate and he sure looked like a bait ship.  But since Eve University is a NRDS corporation, I decided to go ahead and make the jump, because there probably wasn't a pirate on the other side.

When I jumped through, I found out I was right.  No pirates but a 4-5 ship Unista gang that was jumping out of the system as I was jumping in.  Since this group looked like they meant business, I didn't wave and distract them and just proceeded to go to the station to make the next pick-up.  But it was only then that I realized I forgot to load the datacores I purchased at the first stop into my cargo hold.  D'oh!  Time to go back to the first station.

Remember I stated that the system was usually quiet?  When I jumped into the low-sec border region again, there were 2 Harbingers and a Hurricane at the gate with bad standings.  Since I wasn't scouting, I didn't look at them any closer and warped to a bookmark overlooking the outbound gate.  No one was at that gate so I quickly jumped through.

After picking up the datacores, I jumped back into low-sec to find, nothing.  The systems had returned to the level of activity I was used to and I zipped into the station, made the pick-up, and zipped out of low-sec. 

Having avoided getting mugged in low-sec, I ran into another problem.  After making the pickup at the third station I realized I was going to have more than 200 datacores.  A nice problem to have, except that my Cheetah's cargo hold only holds 200.  Solving the traveling salesman problem does no good if you input 4 stops but really need to make 5.  The fifth stop was to a station one system out of my path selling small secure containers, where I picked up two to increase my capacity to 240. 

I did discover one additional fact about my path.  The traveling salesman problem assumes only traveling to each city once.  But if I am willing to pass through the system where my low-sec agent resides twice, I can shave 14 jumps off my trip.  And that is a time saving this carebear may risk.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Questions For Recruits

I have a small, two member corporation that is so poor I usually have to put money in the corporate wallet every month.  But even I have been approached by someone asking to join the Khumaak Flying Circus.  Now, since this is Eve, trusting someone totally out of the blue is out of the question.  Good corporate leaders in New Eden live by that old Ronald Reagan statement, "trust but verify".  So I came up with some screening questions to ask.
  1. Why do you want to join Khumaak Flying Circus?
  2. What are you looking to accomplish in your capsuleer career?
  3. What are you looking to get from membership in KHA?
  4. What do you think you can contribute to KHA?
  5. Do you have any thoughts on the Amarr or the internal politics in the Minmatar Republic?
  6. When are you usually active?
  7. You know this is a very small startup, right?
If someone really wants to join the Circus, I wouldn't have a problem with it.  And if joining would advance a role-play story or something, I'd get a kick out of it.  But I do have to do some due diligence.  After all, we are talking about Eve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meanwhile, Back In Space

Eve Online is a virtual world, so that means life in space doesn't stop just because I'm playing Dragon Age.  Wandering Rose just finished learning Minmatar Frigate V, which means she's almost ready to start flying Cheetahs.  One of my goals this year is to get into hauling so I'd like my industrial pilot to be able to fly the Cheetah, Prowler and Orca.  The Cheetah and Prowler for smuggling runs into low-sec and the Orca for high volume runs in high sec.  Next on the list is learning Planetary Interaction skills to earn some more money and basic skills to make my ships more effective.

Rosewalker just finished Minmatar Cruiser V, which makes a lot of ships just a couple of hours training away.  Currently he is training Research Project Management IV to get another research agent available (that would make 6 across both accounts) and then some more skills before learning how to fly battleships.

CCP has not been quiet either.  While I marvel at the story in Dragon Age, the story of Pierre Allendreau and his "Liberty" pills continues.  In the next expansion, Incursion, the Sansha Nation will invade Empire space from wormholes and the residents of New Eden are preparing.  While the Gallente authorities frown on the suicide pill, many people are of the opinion it is better to be dead than Sansha.

And finally Eve Online Senior Producer CCP t0rfifrans released a dev blog on the new character creator that will be introduced in Incarna.  While the choices really won't matter until Incarna hits in the summer of 2011, I'm looking forward to playing around with the character creator.  This passage really has me interested.
The new character creator is more hands-on than the old one. We really wanted you to feel like you were sculpting the face yourself and tried to limit the amount of sliders as much as possible, putting sculpting of the face and body and posing of the face into the character model. In sculpt mode, you grab onto the nose and move the mouse to make it a bigger, push in the chin, pull the forehead and so on. Once you‘re done sculpting and picking clothes, hair and such, you use the same method for posing. You grab your eyes and move them to control where your character is supposed to look, you grab the mouth to make him smile, and pull on the eyebrows to make the smile look a little mean.
Oh, and one more thing before signing off.  This quote about test servers is all so true...

Singularity is our test server. We put things there to see how they break.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First impressions of Dragon Age: Origins

I have to admit something.  When I got back from Bulgaria, I didn’t immediately dive back into Eve Online.  Instead, I decided to check out a single-player RPG that I’ve heard a lot about, Dragon Age: Origins.  And so far the hype is justified.

I don’t call this a review, but I have played for 40 hours now and I think I may have some valid opinions on the game.  Just don’t ask me about warriors; I rolled a rogue to begin with, got discouraged at level 7 due to a choice I made, and then rolled a mage.  Knowing what I know now, I might either go back to a saved game with my rogue or start fresh with a new rogue.  Just remember, “Save Game” is your friend.

So here are my impressions so far.

Character creation:  For players of MMOs like EverQuest 2 or Vanguard, the character creation is pretty standard, although you cannot alter your body like you can in Vanguard.  I do have to say that I like the results I got in Dragon Age better than what I was able to produce in Fallout 3.  For my mage, if I had chosen a different hair-style, she would have looked just like my ranger in EverQuest 2.

Classes:  I like the class system in Dragon Age so far.  There are three basic classes: warrior, rogue and mage.  Within each class are 4 specializations, one of which you can learn at level 7 and another at level 14.  Unlocking a specialization is another story.  Some are learned from the NPC companions.  Some can be purchased in the capital.  And the arcane warrior specialization for mages I stumbled into while searching around a castle.

The party system:  Dragon Age allows the player to control up to 4 characters in a party. To aid in combat, you can script the actions of the NPCs in your party in a fairly simple interface.  I call it simple, but I’m still having some difficulty in getting the NPC rogue to use a bow properly.  Fortunately, I can take direct control of NPCs during battle to override the scripting.

One thing that I had to learn with the party system is that combat is not real time like in an MMO.  I can pause the action at any time using the space bar to not only cycle through the party members but to speed up my casting rotation.  I can also pause to find that pesky mage attacking me.  I've learned that mages are dangerous.  I can live with archers plinking away, but if I have a chance I'll try to target a mage with as much ranged dps as possible.

Another nice feature is that once a player collects more than 3 NPCs, called “companions”, the extra NPCs are not banished, never to be available again.  Instead, just leave them in camp and mix and match at need.  Then go back to camp to interact with them.  That leads to…

Actual role-playing:  I’ve played MMORPGs for years now, but I’ve never really seen role-play built into the story lines.  If you want to gain favor with someone, most times killing 1000 orcs will suffice, unless you need to kill 5000.  In Dragon Age, the player’s actions and words actually influence people.  What a concept!

Another thing about Dragon Age is players actually are expected to pay attention to the game.  I’m so used to playing MMOs where I can always go back to the chat logs or quest text to figure out all the clues that it was a bit of a shock to discover I missed something and couldn’t hear it again.  Needless to say, at that point I turned the television off.  I really don’t want some of these companions mad at me unless it is on purpose.

The holy trinity:  Yes, Dragon Age isn’t an MMO, but still follows the holy trinity of tank, healer and dps.  And if you want to add crowd control, the game provides that as well.  The game provides all three in the form of companions, but unless you want to be a spirit healer, make sure you head over to Lake Calenhad Docks and The Circle Tower after you are finished in Lothering.  You really, really need a healer in this game.  But if you are a spirit healer yourself, I think you are free to jump off the rails and go in any direction you want.  Just be warned that all actions have consequences.

The story:  The story of Dragon Age is really what hooked me into playing so much.  Or perhaps I should say the method of delivery of the story.  I absolutely love the cut-scenes.  I love the way my character (with all of my appearance choices) appears in the cut-scenes.  The game feels more like a novel or a good movie more than anything else.  And it is an interactive movie where the choices I make influence the story.  Yes, I checked.  Remember, “Save Game” is your friend.

Another part of the story is the background of the elves.  In how many fantasy worlds do you find elves as emerging from slavery under humans and confined to a ghetto when they are not acting as servants to those same humans?  Definitely not something I’m used to in a fantasy setting.

Oh, and humans?  If I want to play a louse, I’ll go ahead and play a human.  No one would notice because I would fit right in.  Actually, I think I’ll play a human once just to see if the scenes are slightly different when viewed as a human or an elf.  Maybe they really aren’t as bad as they appear.  But those human nobles I’ve run across so far don’t impress me at all, at least in a positive way.

Maybe the best thing I can say about Dragon Age is that the game is really different depending on the choices a player makes.  I was talking to a friend at work yesterday about the game and we have had two different experiences based on the races, classes and genders that we chose and the path we took when leaving Lothering.  Isn’t that what is supposed to happen in a role-playing game?