Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Having Two Accounts

I had a discussion last weekend with a guildie about having two accounts in EverQuest 2. She is one of those players who wants to experience all the content and her main after all her years playing EQ2 is level 55 but, counting collection turn-ins, has completed over 2500 quests. Three months ago she created a second account to take advantage of SOE’s recruit-a-friend offer and loves dual boxing. She recommended that if I ever got the money that I should try it myself.

The one thing that holds me back from dual-boxing in EQ2 is the fact that I have the SOE Station Access. A long time ago I looked at the Station Access as being the perfect solution to my desire to have all 9 crafting classes, since at the time I got it Station Access holders could have 10 EQ2 characters on an account. I never thought about dual-boxing because at the time I had never heard of it. Even after I heard of the concept, I never had the desire to because I only had one computer. That is until I bought my new computer this past spring and kept my old one up and running. Hmmm … two computers.

Now, I still want to keep my Station Access account. Not only because every so often I have an urge to poke around in Vanguard, but because with it I have member’s access in Free Realms. Okay, I haven’t played FR in awhile, but I have it. And if SOE’s upcoming games DC Universe Online and The Agency both wind up on Station Access, I have the feeling I’ll be very glad I have it.

If I want to dual box, I still have a couple of options available to me. The first is to play a free-to-play title like Runes of Magic. I still have a level 15/15 character in the game; although I have the feeling if I do start to dual-box that I should start from scratch. But I’m already involved in two worlds and trying out a third, especially another fantasy game, just isn’t appealing to me right now.

So that leaves my second gaming home, Eve Online, as an option. While I know a lot of players have two accounts so they can do cool stuff like scout out gate camps or have one for combat and the other for industry, the attraction to dual-box for me would be for mining. Now that I have all my EQ2 crafters up to max level with their epics, I can see myself mining in a Scythe (and later on a mining barge) and depositing the ore directly into a Mammoth, especially during football games. Kind of boring, I know. And if I actually purchase a second account I would probably come up with some creative ways of using the accounts than just mining. But for now I’m just starting out and mining still has a bit of an attraction.

Looking down the road a bit I hear there is the possibility of SOE adding character slots to the regular EQ2 accounts. What happens if they add 2 slots so the basic account has 9 characters? Do I drop the Station Access account and pick up a second account in either EQ2 or Eve? If SOE only adds one slot and offers character transfers between accounts, do I pay the money and start a second account with one of my crafters?

Or do I just give in and get a second Eve account while the difference in skill points isn’t too great? The question becomes important because when I logged in last night I was presented with the "Power of 2" promotion. I first heard of this during the Alliance Tournament 7 coverage on Eve TV but didn't really think about it at the time. CCP is marketing to players looking for a second (or third, fourth, or fifth) account a six month deal for $49.95. I'm really considering a deal that gets me a sub for less than $9 a month. But I only have until October 17th to decide.

So many choices; so little playtime.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Achievements and Chronomagic

This past weekend SOE held a bonus XP weekend in EverQuest 2 in which players gained a 40% bonus to all combat, AA, and tradeskill experience. What a perfect time to explore two of the new systems introduced into the game with GU 53, achievements and chronomagic.

The first thing I gave a good look at was the achievement system. Players can check out their status with achievements by opening the new and improved quest journal and going to the achievement tab. The interface is pretty basic, with a menu of categories that you can click on to view specific achievements. Flipping through the achievements I saw that completing some of the achievements gave appearance armor or plushies to put in homes. The prizes that I saw awarded were for clearing all the heroic or raid quests in a zone.

Now, when first opening the achievements tab don’t be surprised if all of the achievements you think you have accomplished are not recorded. The obvious one is if you accomplished something before the old AA system was put in place with Kingdom of Sky or if you ever hit the AA points cap where the game stopped recording your actions. But if a player is able to accomplish something in the future, past accomplishments were ignored and the counts set to zero. For example, my ranger is also a master alchemist who not only leveled almost exclusively doing tradeskill writs but got up to 30,000 faction with both Bathezid’s Watch and Riliss by doing those factions’ tradeskill writs. Imagine my disappointment when I opened the tradeskill achievements window and found my tradeskill combine count was zero. Well, I was planning on doing the tradeskill instances again to gear up my crafters for the expansion in February. I guess I know which toon I’m going to use to do it.

The achievements tab has another benefit I was glad to see. By looking at the tab I could see which zones I still had a lot of undone quests in. That was very important to me since I started the weekend with 197 AA points and wanted to know where to go to best take advantage of the bonus XP weekend. I noticed two things right away. The first was that I had only done a handful of quests in both The Thundering Steppes and in Nek Forest. I was a little surprised at that, especially given all the time I had spent in the Thundering Steppes. The second was that I did not have the achievement for doing all the quests in Everfrost. That surprised me until I remembered that Everfrost had undergone a revamp after I out leveled the zone and I never went back to do the new content with my ranger.

With the achievement tab giving me some ideas of places to visit, I proceeded to visit the chronomagic NPCs in Qeynos Harbor. On Saturday I decided to visit Nek Forest, so I decided to turn myself into a level 30 ranger because I didn’t want to give the mobs a break. Let me say that a mentored down level 80 ranger wearing tier 2 armor and using a fabled bow makes mobs die very fast. I’d say something was wrong with mentoring but I had the same experience with green tier 8 mobs in the Fens when I was doing the Order of Rime quest line. If anything is wrong, the problem lies in the itemization in The Shadow Odyssey, not the mentoring mechanic in chronomagic. With the ability to kill things at will, I went ahead and killed named mobs and completed quests until I finished up the last 30% of the AA point I was working on. Logging out with 198 AA points was a nice way to finish up the day.

On Sunday I decided I wanted to actually accomplish an achievement so I switched my attention to Everfrost, where I only needed 8 more quests to get the Everfrost Espionage achievement. So I spent my 5 gold pieces and 100 status points to set my level to 50 and headed off to Everfrost. Once again I felt overpowered as I did the quests. That is until I stumbled into both The Brood Mother and Snowflake in the same fight. Oh my gosh, what I fight! Yes, I won, which definitely proved I was overpowered, but I was starting to worry with the length of the fight and how I kept getting adds. I wound up getting the Everfrost achievement at the same time I got my 199th AA point.

I know for those who want to get their achievements, mentoring to a high level and waltzing through a zone sounds very attractive. But something tells me I’m going to wind up playing with the various mentor levels to find a more challenging experience. While going through a zone like a god smiting green mobs makes getting achievements easier, I’d really like to find out if I could walk into an instance full of yellow mobs and come out on top.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lost And Found

This past weekend was a bonus XP weekend in EverQuest 2 but I did manage to do a little mission running in Eve Online as well. I decided to continue with the level 1 epic mission arc which is 14 jumps from my home base in Minmatar space. Saturday went well, but on Sunday I ran into a mission I just couldn't handle. I should have known the mission was a little too hard for me after the first three times I failed to kill a drone in the room, but I went in a fourth time a little too recklessly and lost my Rifter.

Did I mention I was 14 jumps from my home base? I flew back in my pod to the local base where I was storing my extra ammo, salvage gear, cargo extenders and loot, picked up the Reaper you receive when you lose your ship, and flew back to Minmatar space with my tail between my legs.

Eve has a pretty harsh death penalty and it took some time to buy another Rifter and equip it the way I like. My budgeted time for Eve mission running time ran out doing the running around and it was time to move on to EQ2.

Just because I was playing EQ2 doesn't mean I wasn't also logged into Eve. I took my Mammoth to an out of the way asteroid belt and set it up for a little AFK mining. Well, I don't know if you can really call it AFK mining because I was reading the NPC corp chat while I was filling up my sales crates in EQ2. I'm glad I did because for some strange reason someone had a Rupture he didn't want and put it up for sale for 1 million isk. One million isk for the best non-faction tech 1 Minmatar cruiser? I'd been looking at cruisers and the Rupture was priced between 6-7 million isk in my local region. While others in the chat talked about the offer, I clicked on the link the seller pasted into corp chat, saw the offer was legit, and immediately bought the ship.

I have the skills to fly the Rupture, but not well. I know because I had already set up a skill plan using EveMon so I could properly equip and fly the ship. I still have a long way to go before I fly the ship into harm's way, but at least that's one expense I don't have to worry about.

Eve Online. I start the day doing well, lose my ship, then finish by practically stealing a cruiser because I maintain a sizable cash reserve and kept my eyes open while mining. Just another day in the sandbox.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Odds And Ends

Another Sunday, another collection of thoughts. The first is that it's nice to see Brent over at Virgin Worlds making an appearance again. Yes, he does a lot behind the scenes to keep Virgin Worlds up and running, but I've missed the Virgin Worlds podcast. His appearances on Gary Gannon's new video podcast GameBreakr at the Austin Game Developers' Conference were very welcome.

More Austin GDC coverage, at least of the Blizzard presentation, was discussed on The Instance #163. Randy also talked about getting into Eve Online and didn't like it too much. Here's a comment from the show thread from a listener named Pexxle:
"Great show over all, Completely agreed on the view of Eve Online, beautiful game-completely retarded. Being a PC gamer as well as Console, Eve caught my eye looking some thing akin to a “HomeWorld”…

During a WoW extended patch I began download which led to my 1rst experience of EO. It was like throwing a special-ed student into a calculus class. I think the UI is trash and overall control scheme is way too techy and wonky, Over kill…

So sad..

HomeWorld (”online”) it is not." (emphasis mine)

The only thing I'll say is that I'm enjoying my time in Eve, I'm starting to appreciate the UI as I continue to play with it, and that I didn't make that quote from a WoW player up.

Speaking of convention coverage, I'd been remiss in not listening to the post-apocalyptic coverage of this year's DragonCon on Through The Aftermath #19. At least Shaun was able to find out that the developers of Fallen Earth really aren't aliens.

From Channel Massive #105 came these words of wisdom from Mark on building a gaming computer:
"I get whatever I can to give me rock solid stability because at the end of the day I don't have a lot of time for gaming and I don't want to spend a lot of it sorting out technical problems.

If you become the definitive source for the latest NVIDIA GAGX 280 video card and all the problems that have ever occurred with it, you're probably not getting a lot of gaming time in. You should never be a definite source for any of this except for the games you're playing."
While the M Team was talking about building PCs, I also feel that way about games. If I hear I'm going to have to play around a lot with the settings, I'm probably not buying the game. Having to remember that I have to run EQ2 as administrator after I switched to Vista is about as technical as I want to get. I play techie at work; I play MMOs to get away from that world.

Speaking of EQ2, I'm still playing around with all the features that came with GU 53. I'm really liking the plastering of the heirloom tag on all those items and that some of the items that I had attuned and no longer use are now available to pass on to my alts. Next on the agenda is playing around with achievements and chronomagic.

On the guild front, our guild leaders appear to be happy in Aion. Reading Gordon's Aion post over at We Fly Spitfires gives me a little hope on reporting on the grind in the game, but the class archetype class progression that Gordon complains about would appeal to them. Also, they're Australian, so they probably haven't had to deal with the long queues I've heard others complain about. But I'm not holding out a whole lot of hope although we'll keep their characters in the guild just in case.

In Eve, I'm not playing as much as I'm really enjoying GU 53. I've done a couple more missions in tier 1 epic mission line available to new players after they complete the newbie missions. All I can say is I love my Rifter. The one thing I'm worrying about is that I am still in the NPC corporation. I don't know how long I can safely stay in the NPC corp without it looking strange. But I don't want to commit to a player-run corp with the guild situation the way it is in EQ2. Maybe I'll go ahead and join Eve University. While shooting things up in my Rifter is fun, I think I need to start thinking about setting up my industry now that I've got the skills to decently fly a Mammoth.

That's all for now. Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading Dialog: Repairing Spires in GU 53

I was making another visit to the Moors of Ykesha when I found a couple of new Quellithulians near the shard merchants. Something new? I thought I'd find out so I approached the leader of the little group.

"Hail, Suel A'jilbir," I greeted the Quellithulian.

"Ah, greetings my friend," Suel replied. "I am pleased you have come to see me. I am hoping I can borrow a moment of your time to provide me a service."

"Perhaps, what is it you are looking to have done?" I replied.

"I am pleased you asked!" Suel exclaimed. "You see, I need a shipment delivered to one of the material processors at the broken Ulteran Spires. They are in need of these materials, and I believe this would be a fine way for me to get what they need to them, and for you to contribute to the effort of fixing the spires."

"Materials?" I asked. "What are these?"

"Indeed! These are crates of prepared Kaborite - the material that provides the spires with their magical properties. They will need to infuse this into the spires to get them fully functional," Suel explained.

"Kaborite?" I asked, puzzled. "Where did this all come from?"

"Why, you adventurers brought them, of course. What did you think these Void Shards were?" the Quellithulian asked.

"Wait... what?" I stammered. "The Void Shards were Kaborite?" I usually sound more intelligent. Really.

"Indeed. I could discuss it in more detail, but the prepared Kaborite must be delivered," he said. "Would you be willing to take this to one of the broken spires in either Everfrost, Lavastorm, the Orcish Wastes, or the Loping Plains?" Suel inquired. "Just give it to the materials processor, and they will know what to do with it."

"Very well. I will take the Kaborite to the materials processor," I told him and left for the spire in Everfrost.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Impressions of GU 53

A game update day and I was stuck working late at work! Just my luck, although I did get to look at the forums and I saw people having problems logging in. Feldon over at EQ2 Wire had some coverage of that. But getting home at 9pm PDT gave me hope that I would be able to log in and do some adventuring. Or at least a little looking around.

I logged in as my woodworker Yonger and the first thing that greeted me was a screen telling me that my Character Development choices had been cleared and I needed to reselect them all again. I was anxious to check them out, but I really needed to check out my room in the inn. Sure enough I had a third room. I had to move a table and chair because they were blocking the door, but now I have three rooms. I'll have to do a little redecorating later, but the place has some new possibilities.

I then logged onto my level 80 ranger Rosemarie. Sure enough, all of my shard gear was in my inventory overflow, along with a couple of other pieces of jewelry. Another nice surprise was my Bloodwood Bow of Sternum Piercing was now unattuned again. That's one expensive bow I can pass onto an alt. For those crafters who may be wondering, none of my Far Seas crafting gear became attunable again.

I finally opened up my character development tab and reselected my grandmaster spells. Only two of them, Focus Aim IV and Crippling Arrow V, were critical. Focus Aim IV especially since if I didn't re-select that I would be left with an apprentice spell. Aargh!

For the Character Traits, I tried to make up for some deficiencies, like wisdom and divine resists. The traditions and innate abilities are a real improvement. A 5% run speed increase, tracking for my non-scout wood elves, and then stealth movement speed and poison proc increases. I'm liking it a lot.

I looked at my achievements, and to my horror I only have 9 of 20 completed! Oh the shame! How can I call myself a master crafts-elf? But I guess that's okay. I know have some more things to shoot for. Although going back through all 4 of the crafting instances might be a pain. Then again, I do need to gear up my alts for the crafting grind in the next expansion.

For the explorer, there is a list of places to visit. I thought I've travelled all over Norrath but there is a lot I've missed. In other words, I've missed a lot of discovery xp.

I still have to pick up the Rebuilding the Spires quests and figure out Chronomagic. Hopefully I can get out of work at a decent time to do some real exploring.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

EQ2's GU 53 Is Almost Here

If the schedule Kiara released on the forums is accurate, GU 53 will be live in a couple of more hours. I was talking to one of our newer guildies last night who didn't know about the game update (yes, not everyone reads eq2players or any other site) and he was pretty excited as I started to tell him what is in it.

I'm actually pretty excited myself. With any luck I can get out of work at a decent hour and start playing. The new racial traits for wood elves sound like a vast improvement on the old ones and a change has been made to targeting that sounds like it will make it safer to use my ranger macros that automatically switch me to ranged auto-attack after I use a melee combat art.

The only things I'm really worried about is a change to the range of my combat arts and the housing change of adding one room to some homes. I hope my ranged CAs are not getting nerfed and that I'm not going to walk into a home where everything is packed up. I hope it is a new room attached to the old setup.

I know with new things like the achievement system and self-mentoring there are bound to be bugs introduced with GU 53, but as long as the game works better than some of the servers where I work did last night, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

GDC 2009 Now Appearing In Podcasts

I'm in the brief period between the end of Eve's Alliance Tournament 7 and the launch of EverQuest 2's Game Update 53. I almost forgot that the Game Developer's Conference was taking place in Austin until I heard Jason, Mark and Noah making fun of Blizzard's keynote address on Channel Massive #105. So I headed over to Virgin Worlds and sure enough, Brent has come out of hiding and is doing some video coverage of the conference. He already has posted some puttering around on day 1 winding up with Gary Gannon as well as Darren Love's (Common Sense Gamer, Shut Up We're Talking) interviews with Eve Online's Senior Producer Torfi Frans Olafsson and KingsIsle Entertainment, the makers of Wizard 101.

I am a little disappointed that I can't find SOE Chief John Smedley's keynote address at GDC. If anyone knows where to find it, please let me know.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pandemic Legion Wins AT7

The news is a little late, but Pandemic Legion won Eve Online's Alliance Tournament 7. My favorite match was Pandemic Legion's semi-final match against Manifest Destiny. Pandemic Legion had run a stealth bomber set-up in the previous two rounds and would again in the finals, but in this match the champions came out with a Minmatar speed set-up. I wish that CCP had the videos posted because the sheer speed at which Pandemic Legion fought was awesome to behold.

The Minmatar setup wasn't just a gimmick, either, Pandemic Legion's Shamis Orzoz's explained:
"There was no one single team we were worried about, but we worried about somebody bringing a strong counter to the bombers. The best counter to the bombers was revealed by us in the semi-finals; the Minmatar team we fielded defeats the bombers 95% of the time. Also, the team we fielded in Match 2 beats the bombers about 70% of the time, so I was mildly concerned that somebody would find the counter in our own setups. Admiral Goberius came up with the bomber team and it took me nearly 2 weeks to come up with a counter, which is what I used in Match 2. Goberius has been running bomber fleets for months and months in regular combat, which is why he favoured them for the tourney as well. They are the most DPS per point you can get as long as you have the primary webbed/painted."
Congrats Pandemic Legion!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Odds And Ends

I'm watching the finals of Eve Online's Alliance Tournament 7 on Eve Tv and I love it. One thing I have to say after watching Pandemic Legion is Oh. My. God. I'm sure that Dillon Arklight and War Childe from the PODDED Podcast are very happy watching that setup. CCP is also trying to get a peak currency record on the Tranquility server and Eve TV is on its way to a record as well. I heard that Eve TV hit over 10,000 viewers during the round of 16.

The one thing about watching and listening to the tournament is I may decide to fly a Thrasher instead of trying to go straight to a Stabber or Rupture. I keep hearing that a Thrasher is a good mission running ship.

In EverQuest 2, the guildie I wrote about leaving the game let his account expire on the 17th and now the two guild leaders who were in the game when I joined my guild are now playing Aion. I can see interesting times ahead.

But the news out of EQ2 isn't all bad. I managed to hit the level cap on my carpenter, giving me a level 80 crafter for each tradeskill class. I'm hoping to finish the epic tradeskill quest line on my last three crafters by the end of the day. Just in time for the deployment of GU 53 on the live servers Tuesday.

Not much else. Just watch the round of 16 in AT7. Wow! I hope the rest of the tourney is this good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On The Eve Of GU53

Rumor has it that SOE is going to deploy EverQuest 2's Game Update 53 on September 22. Once that happens I can stop the holding pattern I've been in and start adventuring again. Yes, because GU 53 will introduce an achievement system, I have pretty much stopped adventuring on my own to avoid hitting 200 AA points. The problem with being so close to 200 points (I'm now up to 197) is that once a character hits 200 points, some achievements I would get credit for, like killing named mobs, stop being recorded. I really don't want to have to go back and kill things a second time just for the achievement. Not solo adventuring allows me to go out with guild groups with no fear of reaching 200 points.

So does that mean I have nothing to do in EQ2 this weekend? Of course not! My carpenter is now up to level 77 and I plan to get to 80 this weekend. And my armorsmith needs to start the tradeskill epic quest line. My sage has reached the Proof of the Pudding quest and if I can get the other two toons to that point, I'll be able to make all of the items for all three characters. I've got all the rares now except two ebon clusters.

Does this mean I won't do any adventuring this weekend? Not at all. The monthly Moonlight Enchantments live quest will be on the servers from 2am Pacific time Sunday to 2am Pacific time Monday. (That's the scheduled end of server maintenance Sunday to the end of scheduled server maintenance Monday for those of you who fly internet spaceships.) I'm thinking about running all eight of my crafting toons through the instances to get them some AA. Yes, guild tacticians are a wonderful thing.

Sounds like a full schedule. And I still need to run missions in Eve for some isk. I need to buy the Focus and Clarity skill books. According to EVEMon, I can shave 8 days off my training schedule if I improve my learning skills. Focus and Clarity are the last two I need to train up. If I run a couple more missions for local agents plus continue doing the newbie epic mission arc, I should have enough is to buy the books and have a comfortable reserve against unexpected losses.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Danelak Hosfoak

The story Master Woodworker Yonger Celli continues...

When I left Taskmaster Greeblentus’ tent near the bank, I had two new opportunities before me: Bathezid’s Watch or Riliss. Because of Greeblentus’ little restocking expedition, at least I had some first-hand information to go on. You can learn a lot about a society by the way they equip their forces. Riliss’ heavily armed and armored rhino cavalry indicated that the iksar city held more riches than Bathezid’s Watch.

But as I discovered, Riliss needed those forces for more than protection from the sarnaks. The iksars are slavers who make their money off the sweat of the frogloks who sheltered me. Did I want to work in the city that enslaves the only folk who showed me any kindness in the Fens? No. While I couldn’t fight the iksar, I could aid those that did.

But while being altruistic helps me sleep at night, aiding the sarnaks would also give me some tangible benefits as well. The chief benefit was the chance to learn the secret of making the Di’Zok long bow. As a woodworker, I was really interested in a bow that could defeat the kind of heavy plate the Riliss forces wore. Besides, although Rosemarie loved her Raincaller bow, my daughter really needed a new one.

So with the decision in place, I made the trip up to Bathezid’s Watch. Greeblentus’ pass got me past the sentries and into the crafting hall where I found Anuhadux supervising the activity. He was ready for me to help and gave me a recipe book to aid in making the things the sarnak needed, but no one would sell me the fuel I needed to make the items. So I decided a trip back to Qeynos was called for. You don’t think I was going to give my business to those crooks in Dreg’s Landing, did you?

So I went back to Qeynos, arranged for my family to take care of the business while I was away, loaded up my packs with all the materials and fuel I could carry, and headed back to Bathezid’s Watch. The trip was a lot quicker than before since not only could I fly from Dreg’s Landing to the entrance to the Fens, but from the Riliss guard tower just inside the Fens to the sokokar post at Bathezid’s Watch.

Let me tell you, Anuhadux kept me busy! But I did my work quickly and without complaint and eventually became accepted among the Di’Zok. One day I needed to use the forge and encountered one of the higher ranking sarnak crafters.

"Hail, Danelak Hosfoak," I said, greeting the sarnak at the forge.

"Greetings, are you interested in helping the Bathezid's Watch?” asked Danelak. Just because I was gaining a reputation with the lower level crafters didn’t mean I was well known yet. Another reminder I wasn’t in Qeynos anymore. “I'm just crafting some equipment to supply the encampment here, and I could use a hand with a few things. We're still struggling to supply enough goods to meet our needs. You look like an experienced crafter, I'm sure you know how it is," he said.

"I certainly know what you mean! Anything I can do to help?" I asked. I hope I didn’t sound too anxious to do something new.

"Oh, I don't like to complain, we'll manage, we Sarnak are a self-sufficient race,” he said proudly. “If you wouldn't mind, though, I could use a few items created. Doesn't really matter what, we're running short of everything! What's your specialty?"

"I'm a Woodworker," I told him.

"Excellent,” Danelak said, “then perhaps you could make me a few staves and wands, to supply our troops?" Notice how he didn’t ask for bows. Those Di’Zok long bows are good.

"I'll be right back with them!" I called as I headed to the woodworking table.

I’ll say this much. I like those Di’Zok merchants a lot better than those crooks down at Dreg’s Landing. Sure, they don’t talk to strangers but if they deal with you they’re honest. And after making Di’Zok items for so long, making Qeynos-style staves and wands was like a touch of home. After making ten of each I returned to Danelak.

"Hail, Danelak Hosfoak," I called out.

"Do you have the goods?" Danelak asked.

"I do,” I replied. “Here you are."

"Excellent!” he exclaimed. “These will be of much use."

"No trouble at all,” I told him. “Anything else I can do?"

"Not at the moment, I'm pretty busy finishing up this order and distributing the supplies you brought,” the sarnak replied. “Tell me a little bit about the rest of the Shattered Lands, though. We've been cut off from the other continents for so long, can you tell me what remains of the great old cities and crafting centers?" he asked.

"Ak'Anon has been overrun by clockworks who have renamed it Klak'Anon. Gnomish forces have withdrawn to a Gnomeland Security outpost in Steamfont," I said.

"Really? So many changes!” Danelak exclaimed. “What else have you heard?"

"Kaladim was sealed for many years and now it is overrun with kobolds and other sinister influences from the Underfoot," I told him.

"Really? So many changes! What else have you heard?" the sarnak asked.

"The gods begin to return to the world at last, surely you have felt their influence?" I asked.

"Really? So many changes! What else have you heard?" Danelak asked. I was beginning to think that while Danelak was a good craftsman, he wasn’t much of a conversationalist.

"Felwithe was perhaps isolated for too many years,” I continued. “The Queen has renamed it New Tunaria, and will not admit any deemed to be impure."

"Really? So many changes! What else have you heard?" Danelak asked.

"Rivervale and the Misty Thicket fell after the Zek wars and have been corrupted by evil forces,” I told him. “The halflings are struggling to rebuild their city but much of the land is still cursed."

"Really? How tragic!” Danelak exclaimed. “I have always wanted to visit Rivervale some day."

"Why on Norrath would a Sarnak want to visit Rivervale?" I asked.

"All the stories I've heard about the halflings mention their ability to craft fine items. It's said that they've always had quite an inclination towards tradeskills, you know,” the sarnak exclaimed. “Some say it's their natural fondness for food that leads them into fine cooking, and then other forms of crafting!"

"It certainly leads them into a lot of kitchens and taverns, anyway," I chuckled.

"There's one story I heard, about the Cabbageleaf family and some of the remarkable jewelry they learned to create,” he continued. “Perhaps if you're ever in Rivervale you should look them up. If you do learn more, please let me know."

"Maybe I'll do that if I happen to be passing by," I told the sarnak. I then bid him goodbye to finish the last of Anuhadux’s latest work order.

Previous posts
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger's Vacation
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Working for Teren's Grasp
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger Gets a Sokokar
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: New Lands, New Profits

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thoughts on Speculators in EQ2

Last week I wrote how SOE’s handling of broker speculators who engage in a practice that former EverQuest 2 producer Scott Hartsman has referred to as degenerate game play was one of several reasons a guild mate of mine is planning to leave EQ2. My guildie's view of SOE’s lack of desire or sheer inability to keep harm from coming to the game helped lead him to a complete loss of faith in the devs. Notice I say helped; when he was in a mood he could go on for 30 minutes about how the devs don’t get things right. But I’m going to concentrate on speculators because of the second MMO I play, Eve Online.

I’ve only played Eve for 5 weeks but as far as I can tell, unless you do something monumentally stupid like get elected to the Council of Stellar Management and then try to use insider information to make money, just about everything is fair in the marketplace. While some players take their combat to 0.0 space or become low-sec pirates, others stay in high-sec and conduct their fights in the corporate boardrooms and on the market. While EA/Mythic likes to say that war is everywhere in Warhammer Online, player vs. player action IS everywhere in New Eden. The only difference is some players use missiles and others use isk.

Now maybe that kind of thinking has corrupted me, but I’m not terribly bothered by the speculators. Yes, I complain when some slimeball jacks up the price of a rare I need to make a spell or an item needed to complete the Proof of the Pudding quest. Really though, that’s the game; live with it. If you don’t like it, go out and harvest your own crafting materials.

But EQ2 is not Eve and for a lot of players this type of play is comparable to griefing an entire server. For the longer term players, the game has changed greatly. It wasn’t until GU 37 when players could sell items from more than one character on an account at a time that some of the current practices became possible. Yes, a player could monopolize a small segment of the market, but I know of one player on my server who has used the max number of characters on three accounts (that my guild was able to identify) in his speculating activity. If a player were determined, having 100 broker boxes spread out over 3 accounts is not out of the realm of possibility if the speculator is willing to shell out 150-200 gold per week plus the cost of setting up 21 houses.

I guess if massive amounts of players go running to the developers and cry about how unfair the situation is, perhaps action will be taken. But something tells me that is not going to work. As I see it, the best solution available to the devs is to go back to the good-old-days when Scott Hartsman was still EQ2’s producer and only allow one toon at a time on an account to sell items on the broker. I can hear the howls of outrage from the player base in my head now. But that solution, while hurting the big speculators, will still result in prices staying high as the amount of goods sold on the broker declines. In fact, the prices may go even higher as reducing the number of broker slots will just result in a reduction in, not elimination of, market speculation. Do you really think SOE is going to risk a major uproar if the solution will not result in lower prices?

What might work is to import a little bit of Eve Online attitude into Norrath and for some guilds to turn into economic enterprises. While most servers in EQ2 are player vs. environment servers for combat, if a large guild or a guild alliance got together, they could use tens, even hundreds of players to engage in a little economic PvP on the broker. Why not? SOE has already introduced research assistants to add Eve-type time based skill advancement to EQ2. And with the introduction of mythical weapons, some guilds turned into mercenary units. Why not go the next step and introduce economic warfare against the broker speculators?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time and Eve's Missions

"There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time."

- Napoleon Bonaparte

While Napoleon Bonaparte came from an era before internet spaceships, many pod pilots can relate to the French general’s thoughts about time. While scammed isk can be re-earned and contracts put out on the scammer, time is precious in Eve Online and can never be regained. I’m not just thinking about the skill system in which your skills are learned in real time. I’m thinking about mission running where players receive bonuses if they finish a mission quickly and take faction hits if they fail to complete a mission within a set period of time. And as with other things in Eve, the timer is not based on game time. The clock is ticking even if you log out of the game. That mechanic gives server crashes and the daily maintenance a greater importance in the grand scheme of things if a player is depending on that quickness bonus.

I’ve played a few other MMOs (World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Runes of Magic and of course still play EverQuest 2) and given the trend of games to put in quest hubs for PvE content, I really don’t see other MMOs putting in time limits as a standard feature for quests. Think about it. How many players just want to go into a village, collect every quest possible (without reading any annoying quest text), and then go out into the countryside killing and pillaging? Or should I ask, how many players in a standard fantasy MMO want to follow one storyline at a time?

Now, I’m not saying that other games don’t use timed quests as a mechanic. Using EverQuest 2 as an example, I’ve done quests involving griffin eggs that I’ve had to deliver to griffin masters before they hatch in order to use flight paths in the Thundering Steppes and Nekulos Forest and done hundreds of timed tradeskill writs. In Warhammer Online, the public quest system uses timers in which to complete each segment of the quest in order to advance to the next. But I don’t recall taking faction hits for failing to finish a quest. The worst that happens is that you have to start the quest over.

While CCP’s carrot and stick approach to mission running is important, time plays another factor. Unlike other games, Eve’s missions can take a long time to run. Over the past weekend, I finished a tier 1 mission arc and the last two missions took me two hours each to finish when you include the time I took to salvage the ships I killed. And for me, the time I took to salvage the ships was worthwhile. The parts I received were worth over 1 million isk. With Eve, I’m finding that engaging in long periods of adventure does not require taking more than one mission at a time.

I shouldn’t denigrate the quest hub system too much. World of Warcraft led the way in giving players who only have 30 minutes or so to play content in the form of quick quests to perform so they could feel like they accomplished something. Part of the reason that players like quest hubs is that they don’t like having to run back and forth all the time. They want to stay out in the wilds adventuring. Considering that a lot of nights I only have an hour or less to play, I really appreciate not having to waste half my time running back and forth to quest givers. But I also feel that a system that encourages picking up and completing a quest to kill ten rats in town when I’m supposed to be delivering an important message to town B breaks the immersion and story-telling of a game. Doing something like that just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps I’m just too linear in my thinking but not disciplined enough to follow quest lines one at a time since developers have made doing multiple quest lines simultaneously so convenient.

I’m finding that while I started playing Eve to play the economic game, I’m enjoying myself doing the PvE content also. When I’m doing a mission arc, I only want to do one at a time. I really like following stories and the mission arcs give me just enough story in the description to make the story entertaining as well. A discovery I’m finding surprising considering Eve’s reputation for PvP combat in 0.0 space, but CCP’s developers seem to excel in time management. I may not be able to run missions during the week, but with CCP’s carrot and stick approach to missions, I’m not going to wind up with a journal full of uncompleted quests either.

Monday, September 14, 2009

About Those Cruisers...

Yesterday I wrote that I was feeling comfortable taking on NPC cruisers in Eve Online with my Rifter. Then I did a mission and discovered that the "boss" NPC cruisers are a LOT nastier customers than the trash cruisers that were in my way through the first four missions of the story line and the first three rooms of the instance. Oh, I managed to kill the boss cruiser, but not until I lost half my structure and was trailing flame.

The lesson from this? Never feel complacent in Eve. Never.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Odds And Ends

Just some random thoughts from the last week.

As much as I like the Alliance Tournament, this is the first weekend of the American football season, so I'll be watching that. Thankfully I can watch the matches at the Interstellar Correspondents' special AT7 site later. I won't feel guilt because the IC is posting the results almost immediately. And, of course, I can still listen to the matches on the radio.

On the podcast front, the opening skit for Through the Aftermath #18 is worth the download, even if you are not interested in hearing an in-depth review of Fallen Earth from two people who played the closed beta. As expected I loved Channel Massive #103 and Van Hemlock #67. I actually wrote down a few quotes from the Van Hemlock podcast that I liked.

Van Hemlock On Lord of the Rings Online:
How many heroic hobbits can you have? One. Me.

On disturbances outside the studio:
Jon: There are noisy children outside.
Van Hemlock: Oh dear. Get the sniper rifle.

On Jon's theory about how he gets re-interested in Eve Online when he starts getting tired.
Van Hemlock: Does reverse psychology work on yourself?
Jon: Yes.
Van Hemlock: Wow.
Jon: I'm really quite predictable.

I'd offer up some lines from Channel Massive but I try to keep the blog workplace safe.

In Eve Online, I really loved Darrin's post on Rifters on The Common Sense Gamer. Not least because I play a Minmatar and use a Rifter to run missions. I'm switching from shield tanking to speed and armor tanking. The whole armor tanking is taking some getting used to, but I'm not afraid of NPC cruisers anymore. Well, as long as they don't have frigate and destroyer support, that is. Combined arms isn't just a real world military tactic. NPCs using ECM to disrupt my targeting, on the other hand, is annoying, but I'm starting to develop tactics for that also.

Oh, and my training for Minmatar Industrial IV finished while I was writing this, so I'll be buying and equipping a Mammoth as soon as I post this. No more Wreathe!

In EverQuest 2, Feldon at EQ2Wire pointed out more Game Update 53 news, this time about a live event based on the ruined Ulteran Spires in Zek, Everfrost, Lavastorm and the Enchanted Lands. If you're interested in the latest feedback, head on over to the forums.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Alliance Tournament VII, Saturday of Week 2

Yes, I'm live blogging the Alliance Tournament today.

The announcement was just made that the Alliance Tournament will be delayed today because of server issues. The first two matches were completed before the delay was announced, with Scooty Puff Junior Alliance defeating The Star Fraction and Electus Matari defeating Sub Rosa Alliance.

I've been booted from the game along with several others, so I'm just crafting in EQ2 and listening to New Eden Radio now. Carebear Radio for the win!

Update: 15:55 GMT - Tranquility is down due to database issues. Right now I'm hearing the server will be back up at 16:15 GMT.

16:18 GMT - I'm back in the game. Waiting for everyone to get back online for the next match, Nebula Rasa vs. Intestellar Alcohol Conglomerate.

16:47 GMT - IAC's shield tanking Megathrons defeated Nebula Rasa. The schedule is going to be accelerated in order to make up time. Next match is United Corporations Against Macros vs. Night's Dawn.

17:03 GMT - Night's Dawn needed a flawless victory to have a chance to advance in the tournament and succeeded, dominating UCAM. Next match is The Honda Accord vs. Gentlemen's Club.

17:17 GMT - Gentlemen's Club had a flawless victory based on a high dps setup based on battlecruisers. Next up is SOLAR WING vs. RAZOR Alliance.

17:40 GMT - RAZOR almost had a flawless victory against SOLAR WING. The next match is Dystopia Alliance vs. Ivy League.

17:55 GMT - Dystopia beat Ivy League, but I'll want to watch this fight on YouTube. Next up is Blade. vs Pod Liberation Authority.

18:03 GMT - Still waiting for next match, but IC is posting results and ship losses in each match on their tourney webside here.

18:25 GMT - Blade won, but probably will not advance as PLA left the match with a Damnation on the field. Next up is Veni Vidi Vici vs. GOODFELLAS.

19:04 GMT - V3 defeated GOODFELLAS and only lost 1 ship. Possibly just ensured they'll get to the final weekend. Next match is Ethereal Dawn vs Circle-Of-Two.

19:14 GMT - Circle-Of-Two dominated Ethereal Dawn in a very quick match. Next match is Blanket Men vs. THE RONIN.

19:32 GMT - Blanket Men defeated THE RONIN. The next match is ISK Six vs. Brick sQuAD.

19:45 GMT - Brick sQuAD defeated ISK Six, but lost a lot of ships, giving ISK Six a chance to advance to the final weekend. The next match is R.E.P.O. vs. Against ALL Authorities.

20:04 GMT - Against ALL Authorities defeated R.E.P.O., but R.E.P.O. did significant damage to the AAA gang and probably ensured they will make the final weekend. The next match is Advocated Destruction vs. Morsus Mihi.

20:15 GMT - Morsus Mihi defeated Advocated Destruction. Last match is Unaffiliated vs. Ushra'Khan.

20:30 GMT - Ushra'Khan defeated Unaffiliated easily. I got called in from work so I have to conclude my blogging for today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where Were You?

I can remember where I was at approximately 7:55am eight years ago today. I had just gotten into my car to go to work and had turned my radio on to ESPN radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" show when I heard Mike Greenberg tell the audience that a plane had crashed into New York's World Trade Center. By the time I arrived at work the second plane had hit the Twin Towers. When I stepped out of the car around 8:30 I had entered a whole new world.

When I heard that the 9/11 attacks had been organized by Osama bin Laden, it was like one of my games had turned into reality. Back then I used to attend Origins and GenCon on a regular basis to play The National Security Decision Making Game. A game that puts players into real life political and military roles, the game reminds me more of the command post exercises I experienced in the Army than of a paper and pencil role playing game. And the central figure for one of those games a couple of years previously had been Osama bin Laden. In that game he was an irritating figure causing problems along the Afghan-Iranian border and the Iranians decided to take him out permanently. That wasn't so far fetched; the United Nations and United States prevented Iran from invading Afghanistan back in 1998.

I play MMOs in part to escape from the real world for an hour or two everyday. But today is one of those days where real life demands attention and remembrance. Each generation seems to have these events, whether it's Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, and now 9/11. So where were you when you heard the news?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

About to Lose a Guildie

I had a conversation with a one of the guild members who founded the EverQuest 2 guild I’m in last week. He told me he was going to leave the game. We talked a bit and he gave me some of the reasons for leaving the game.

The first was he has shoulder problems and playing the game for extended periods of time tends to hurt and he’s been advised to cut down on playing. This isn’t the first time this has flared up on him and apparently the problem has gotten worse.

The second reason he gave was that with the launch of The Shadow Odyssey the game has turned into a grindfest. I have to agree with that. The developers seemed to come at the expansion with a raider’s mentality that to get the best gear you need to perform some sort of massive grind. I think the process is called “gearing up”. But as we saw with the Order of Rime quest line, new solo content was also turning into that is full of grind also. He wondered if the grind is going to become a permanent part of EverQuest 2.

Another reason that he gave was that our guild leader rarely logs in to play anymore. Those two know each other in real life and have played many games together over the years. With all the other reasons he gave me, I can see why the absence of our guild leader would make a difference in not wanting to log into the game.

The fourth reason was probably the biggest reason, though. He just got tired of all the bugs in EverQuest 2. I think that the breaking point for him was the latest problem with the in-game voice. Before SOE launched the Station Launcher, voice chat was great and our small guild was finally hitting our stride wading through and defeating TSO instances. But when the Station Launcher was introduced, a lot of guildies, including all our Australian members, lost the in-game voice. And some of our members couldn’t switch to Ventrillo because of issues on their computers. So basically all the momentum the guild had built up stopped dead in its tracks and we were never able to recapture it.

The last reason is the clincher that guarantees that he won’t change his mind about leaving. He doesn’t trust SOE to be able fix things and introduce new content anymore. He was frustrated with SOE before the whole Vivox in-game voice chat fiasco with the small quality of life issues that kept cropping up. Some of those things may be fixed in GU53, but I don’t think he wants to stick around to find out how many new bugs were introduced.

I also know that he lost faith in SOE’s ability to stop player behavior that is bad for the game. In his mind speculators are absolutely ruining the economy. He has the resources, both in time and in platinum, to wage a personal war against speculators on the brokers, undercutting them when they attempt to corner the market on goods in an effort to make sure the speculators don't make an absolute killing from jacking up prices for the rest of the server.

Is his vision of speculators hurting the game’s economy, and therefore EQ2, valid? I know in Domino’s post on the forums about how she plans to change transmuting that at least one player opposed it because she was afraid that the changes would make it easier for speculators to corner the market and jack up prices to sky-high levels. And in the first part of the Scott Hartsman interview on No Prisoners, No Mercy #41, the former EverQuest 2 producer talked about emergent game play and used market speculation in World of Warcraft as an example of how emergent game play can turn into degenerate game play. With the way that selling things on the broker has changed over time in EQ2, a speculator with 3 accounts who makes 7 characters on each account can really inflate the broker prices on a server. That is not theory-crafting either; a player on my server speculates on crafting materials and collectables and the members of my guild have determined he has at least 3 accounts. The way prices decreased when he took a two week break in August was amazing. Just like in real life, speculators can really inflate prices.

I've held off writing this post hoping that he is going to change his mind. But I've been approached by another guild officer about this and plans are being made on how to proceed when he leaves. In many ways he built the guild and his leaving is going to leave a huge hole and not just because he was the guild tank. Just another reason I've been going up and down about EQ2 lately.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Stunning Ranger

Yesterday's post was a bit gloomy, but I've been feeling a little blah about EverQuest 2 lately. But last night I started to think about the self-mentoring option that will be coming to EQ2 in Game Update 53. Then I started thinking about some of the gear I have that I will probably start using again. I've always liked the idea of a stun build on my ranger, and with self-mentoring I'll definitely be using my favorite bow of all time, the Raincaller. And then I can pull my old Tribunal deity cloak out of storage for some additional stun power. Oh, the times I had using those two items in the Kylong Plains. If I go into a dungeon, I'd still be tempted to use Eagle's Talon for the zero meter range attacks, but I really, really loved getting Raincaller.

I already have put 5 points into decreasing the reuse timer for my Cheap Shot combat art 25% and 6 points into Point Blank Shot from the Predator tree, another stunning attack. I can make stupifying poison, an expensive option that I'm not sure I'd be able to use at lower levels for more stunning action.

I have a list someplace with all the stun gear I on my dream list that I'll have to pull out. I always wanted to have a stun build for my ranger and with the self-mentoring option coming in GU 53 I'll finally be able to build and use it. Maybe even create a second AA build designed for some greater defense or maybe even, dare I say it, a tanking build. Tier 2 shard armor might just make that possible.

A little thinking outside the box can bring some freshness to a game that was starting to feel just a bit stale. I'm starting to smile again just thinking about the possibilities.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dog Days Of Summer

I listened to the August 25th 2009 broadcast of EQ2's-day last night and the subject really hit some of what I've been feeling about EverQuest 2 lately. Titled "The Dog Days of Summer," Dellmon and Zanadi discussed how the game feels like it has slowed down, with enthusiasm for the waning not only with a lower population on the servers but within themselves as well.

Yes, I know that server populations always decline in the summer as people go out and enjoy the weather, vacations and whatnot. But some of what the hosts talked about is what I'm feeling as well. The expansion being pushed back to February, quarterly instead of monthy game updates and perhaps a swing by the developers way too far in the direction of grouping are some of what Del and Zan talked about.

I really recommend listening to the podcast if you are interested in EverQuest 2 because I think it is covering the mood in the game today. Of course, that mood will change once GU 53 comes out later this month. But until then, we'll still be in the Dog Days of Summer.

Note: Today is EQ2 night on Online Gaming Radio, with EQ2's-day coming on around 4pm Pacific and the Jethal Silverwing show following at 7pm Pacific.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Alliance Tournament VII Results, Posted by IC

I was going to start posting the results of the Alliance Tournament but I'm on-call today and I got called. So instead I'll suggest you go someplace a lot cooler to get your AT7 news. The Interstellar Correspondents have a website up devoted to bringing you the news about the Alliance Tournament news.

This website is amazing! Even if you don't play the game, you should visit this site to see how coverage of eSports should be done. If you click on the "Schedule", you will see each day's results, an article on the match, and a High Definition video. IC and Eve TV had posted all 32 matches held this weekend within 5 hours of the final match.

The URL for the site is You have to go over there and visit at least once.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Odds and Ends

Just a few items I don't think I'd write a full post on.

In Eve Online, I listening to the first day of Alliance Tournament 7 on Eve Radio and am currently listening to New Eden Radio for the second day. First, I'm amazed that the event is so big that 3 on-line radio stations, Eve Radio, New Eden Radio and Split Infinity Radio are covering the event. I haven't listened to the Split Infinity Radio coverage, but if you want all AT7 all the time, then tune into New Eden Radio. The Eve Radio coverage just covered the matches and switched over to music between matches while New Eden Radio has a panel of players talking about the tournament. I can't listen to the full coverage today, but so far I'm looking at listening to New Eden Radio next weekend.

Also, I'd like to say bravo to CCP who managed to get the first day's matches up on their channel on YouTube within 24 hours.

Due to the AT7 coverage, I haven't really listened to a lot of podcasts. Channel Massive #102 was interesting as Noah actually accused Jason and Mark of being too intellectual in discussing the episode's Blog-O-Steria. The discussion turned from theory posts to bloggers who want a lot of attention.

This week we saw the end of two podcasts. The new RealmsCast is now finished, with Beau wrapping his Free Realms coverage into Spouse Aggro, but Spouse Aggro is not a podcast I'd advise kids to listen to due to language. The second podcast is How I Wow due to Patrick Baja taking a job with Blizzard in Paris. Episode 21 has been posted with The Instance's Scott Johnson as the guest.

Friday, September 4, 2009

7th Eve Alliance Tournament Begins Tomorrow

I visited Virgin Worlds yesterday and found lots of podcast goodness. No Prisoners No Mercy, Ring Cast, Massively Speaking, Through the Aftermath and Shut Up We're Talking all had new shows posted. But the one that caught my eye was The Drone Bay. So I downloaded it and was reminded that the Seventh Eve Alliance Tournament starts tomorrow.

Running over the next 3 weekends, the matches will be broadcast live the first two weekends on Eve Radio, New Eden Radio and Split Infinity Radio. The final weekend's matches will be televised on Eve TV. I don't have a link for that, although this site might wind up being the place to go.

I did learn a bit about the tournament from listening to The Drone Bay #23. One thing I learned is that while the first two weekends will not be televised live, CCP plans to post the matches on their channel on You Tube, I didn't know that CCP has its own channel, but I do now.

One of the videos still available on the channel is Alliance Tournament 6's championship match. I've included it below. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

August In Review

With the beginning of September it is time to look at the top 10 most read posts on The Nosy Gamer according to Google Analytics.
  1. EQ2 Research Assistants My Way
  2. EQ2 Warning: Grey Shard Runs Now Officially An Exploit
  3. Order of Rime With A Side of Grind
  4. EQ2 Macro: Changing Clothes
  5. EQ2 Transmuting Without Breaking the Bank
  6. Confessions of a Grey Shard Runner: Implementation
  7. EQ2 To Copy WoW's Name, Gender Policy?
  8. Confessions of a Grey Shard Runner: Justification
  9. Thoughts on Test Notes for EQ2's GU52
  10. Are EQ2's Toons Fat or WoW's Anorexic
Like last month, the two most popular posts cover the mentor system and grey shard runs. I'm expecting grey shard runs to remain popular. In fact, with plans for a merchant to sell fabled gear found in TSO instances for 150 shards, I expect grey shard runs to remain a popular subject for the forseeable future.

A post I was proud of about the Order of Rime quest line moved up to the third spot. But the post I'm really glad to see make the list was the last post I wrote in July about making a macro. I'm really glad I'm able to help people with macros.

The list does indicate that people are looking up changes to EQ2. A post I wrote about name and gender changes back in March made the list as well as my transmuting guide and my thoughts about GU52. I'm pretty sure those people were looking for information about GU 53.

Overall though traffic fell in August with none of my posts written in August making the top ten. That was a bit of a wakeup call telling me I really need to get better. We'll see if I can step it up a notch.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Fifth Concord Briefing

One of the things that led me to play Eve Online were the stories coming out of null spec space. So when links to the CONCORD Outer Region Political Summary started appearing on the login screen, I was in heaven. For those of you who are still outside the game but love the stories, here's the 5th CORPS report.

CONCORD Outer Region Political Summary (CORPS) Briefing

>>DED CORPS BRIEFING Y111.08.08/Y111.08.21


Intense fighting continues to rage in the eastern regions of Scalding Pass, Wicked Creek and Insmother.

Insmother saw another sustained push by Red Alliance and their allies as the alliance Quarantine Zone was removed from the area. This leaves the R-CL2W constellation held by Atlas Alliance as the last cluster of stations in the region not under Red Alliance control.

Scorched Earth is being slowly evicted from Scalding Pass, the stations in the region being claimed by Minor Threat, Razor Alliance and Goonswarm.

The star system J2-PZ6 in Scalding Pass was the location of the most destructive capital ship battle so far in New Eden. Against ALL Authorities and Atlas Alliance engaged Razor Alliance, Goonswarm and Pandemic Legion capitals in a fight that lasted over two hours. Final counts listed the total loss of one hundred and sixty-six capital class ships for all parties involved, with the AAA-led bloc destroying more ships than they lost but Coalition forces holding the field. The end result of the battle was the taking of the Factory Outpost in J2-PZ6 by Razor Alliance the following day.

Tribute, long time home region of Northern Coalition member Morsus Mihi, saw one of the most destructive raids by a Black Ops squadron ever recorded. During a large mining operation in PNDN-V on the 15th of August, a group of twelve stealth bombers executed a single bombing run that left seventy-one Exhumers, Mining Barges and Industrial ships destroyed at a cost of only four ships lost. The landmark raid was conducted by The Initiative alliance and led by fleet commander Sister Bliss.

The occasional large scale skirmishes in Catch between powerful neighbors Against ALL Authorities and Curatores Veritatis Alliance have recently escalated into an all out territorial border war. One of the bloodiest battles in recent memory took place on the 15th of August in the Cold Steel Alliance held star system of 2J-WJY. AAA allies Atlas Alliance and Ushra’Khan clashed with Cold Steel Alliance and CVA in a day long battle that left more than 1400 ships on both sides destroyed.

This system connects directly to the AAA outpost system, ZXIC-7, and according to statements made by AAA is seen as a strategic threat. The objectives of the fight seemed to be the removal of Cold Steel’s ability to deploy a Cynosural Jammer, which was achieved. Of special note was the fact that all of the losses in this massive battle involving more than 600 recorded Capsuleer identifiers were sub-capital classes.

The region of Cloud Ring has once again become the focus of several alliances, with primary sovereignty holders Mostly Harmless engaged in a series of continual battles over high end moons against a combined force that includes Huzzah Federation, Cry Havoc, Sons of Tangra and Ev0ke. Statements from both sides of the fight indicate that the battles being fought do not seem to have any long term territorial goals and the station systems of Cloud Ring are, thus far, still firmly under the control of Mostly Harmless.

>> END
I'm not really sure if doing this is an excepted blogging practice, but this is the type of thing I loved to read when I was just watching from afar. Heck, this is the type of thing I liked reading back in my Army intelligence days. So you'll have to forgive me for posting this if it's wrong to do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thoughts on GU 53 Test Notes

I’ve been a little behind on posting my 2 copper pieces about the test notes for EverQuest 2’s Game Update 53. I don’t feel too bad since if you pay attention to the RSS feed on the left side of the blog you have been linked to the excellent coverage Feldon’s been providing on EQ2 Wire and you’ll be able to follow Stargrace’s experiences on the Test server on MmoQuests. But I really should post my own thoughts just so I can go back later and see if I was too optimistic or unduly pessimistic. So here goes.

Achievements – One can look at this as a long overdue expansion to the current slayer/wanted poster system in which players could go to the various wanted posters throughout Norrath to see how many monsters they needed to kill to get a title. But in reality, SOE is jumping on the achievements bandwagon started by Mythic with Warhammer Online’s Tome of Knowledge and copied by Blizzard in World of Warcraft. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I look forward to achievements as a way to get the last few alternate advancement (yes, they have been renamed in the patch) points I need. If anything, the achievement system will point out the places I can go to get those last few AA points. For more, check out Stargrace's post on achievements. And for those who can't wait to see what all the achievements are, you can visit Xalmat, who has compiled a very nice list. (Hat tip to Feldon).

Chronomagic – Yes! Self-mentoring so I can do the quests that I missed without all the mobs being grey. And I like the fact that the levels you can mentor to are multiples of 5. Yes, the fights will be harder than if you could pick any level you want and guarantee you will be 10 levels above the boss. But that should discourage some of the farmers out there.

Some of the associated items also have my full approval. 37 new daily missions? Combine that with the daily double missions in The Shadow Odyssey expansion and/or the 3 daily tradeskill missions in the Moors of Ykesha and people shouldn’t be able to complain too much about having nothing to do.

I also like the fact that the spawn rates of placeholders is being reduced. One, with all the people who will want to work on their achievements, I can see wanting to make the achievements more accessible. But quite frankly, I hated some of those camps.

Another thing I like is the adjustment of some of the mobs difficulty levels based on their loot tables. Having contested x2 and x3 raid mobs who did not have any chance to drop a fabled item was a bit frustrating. Upgrading the chance to gain a fabled item from the remaining mobs is just icing on the cake.

For more, check out Stargrace's post on chronomagic.

The Shard of Love – Yes, more group content. We were teased during the Erollisi Day event with the fate of Erollisi Marr and now we may get to find out the end of the story.

Racial ability revamp – I have 4 wood-elf characters and I approve of the changes I saw listed over on EQ2 Wire. Even for Yonger, my woodworker who I never plan on adventuring with. I don’t know how dark elves are going to take the changes.

One bad thing is that some things were taken out. Sarnaks can't breath fire, dwarves can't summon ale and halflings can't summon pie. No pie! Has anyone told Brenlo?

Feldon put together an awesome post on the racial revamps on EQ2 Wire.

Ranger/scout changes – I’m going to be a bit selfish here and look at what is going to affect my main character, a wood-elf ranger. First off, I like the racial bonuses I can get. Next, scouts automatically disarm chests when they open them. That gets rid of a couple of annoying mouse-clicks, but it also gets rid of just a little bit of immersion as well. I like the fact that examining my ranged combat arts will now display the correct critical bonus now. Not sure exactly what that means, but I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like.

Gorowyn – The promise of an easier to navigate Gorowyn is music to my ears. I can get to my necromancer’s starter home, the broker and the crafting stations, but anything else was a challenge. This is a change I’m really looking forward to.

The Heirloom Tag – GU53 promises to make greater use of the heirloom tag. What I think is going to happen is that a lot of raid loot is going to be given the heirloom tag. Raiders may wind up loving and hating this change. They will love it since players will not have to leave the raid, swap to an alt, then get back into the raid in order to give an alt the piece of loot. Raiders may hate the change since the devs may take this opportunity to make it difficult for raiders to sell “loot rights” to fabled gear. The last bit was speculation on my part because many players would consider that a nerf and I didn't recognize any nerfs explicitly stated in the test notes. We'll have to wait and see.

Unbound Elemental Essences – Unbound Elemntal Essences are those items that you get in Lavastorm for performing a couple of quests over and over and over. Sounds like shards except that shards are heirloom and require you go into instances. No longer. The elemental essences are now going to be marked as heirloom also. If I were interested in the things, I would say “it’s about time.” Although now that they are heirloom, maybe I will become interested just in case I actually get an alt high enough in level to use them.

PvP – I play on a carebear server, so I don’t know how the changes will affect gameplay. But from what I’ve read, I’d say the devs are trying to encourage more PvP action.

Player Housing – I like the fact that a room is being added to housing. My room in the inn is a little crowded. I’m hoping that I’ll get another room.

Spells – Once again I am going to be a bit selfish and look at the spells that will affect my main. The first is that Cheap Shot will become a bit more powerful against single up arrow mobs. The next is that group and self targeted buffs which do not expire will persist through death. That should speed up some things, especially for all those healer types who seem to have to recast a lot of things after they die. I’m not sure about the changes to the ranges of combat arts and spells to make them more uniform. I hope that won’t turn out to be a hidden nerf for rangers. I enjoy being able to hit things from over 50 meters away.

User interface – The user interface is getting a makeover with changes to the claim and threat windows as well as the changes that add the achievements into the quest journal. The devs have also added a mentoring window that will remind players to mentor when lower level characters are in a group. The changes sound like some nice quality of life improvements. Once again, Feldon is all over the subject and has more on EQ2 Wire.

Tradeskills – Being the rabid tradeskiller that I am, I saved the best subject for last. I didn’t think there was much for tradeskillers in this game update. Sure, my carpenter will be able to make stable-type stuff. And I’m a bit upset that the products of tradeskilling will no longer have the makers name on them. How am I supposed to be able to tell if someone is trying to corner the market (evil) or just making a lot of spells (very cool)? But the piece that floored me was that a player’s tradeskill level will count for purchasing racial traditions.

Holy cow! That may not mean a lot to most people, but I have 8 level 80 crafters and one level 70. I know that a lot of the racial traditions aid crafters, but can you image the head start in adventuring life my crafters are going to have if I decide to start adventuring with them? Imagine my level 12 wood-elf warden who just happens to be a level 80 provisioner who has completed the tradeskill epic line. I’ll be equipped with a cloak that gives me +800 vs. heat, the Earring of the Solstice that not only aids crafting but gives a good amount of in-combat power and health regeneration, and the racial traditions of a level 80 character. I’m hoping that I am a rare enough case that no one at SOE changes their minds about this one!

Now, this is not a comprehensive look at the GU53 notes that were posted on the forums. Bloggers like Feldon and Stargrace are doing great job providing the actual features. In this post I'm basically playing the role of one of cable news' talking heads. But if any of this peaks your interest, go ahead and take a look at the notes or even copy your character over to the Test server. This game update is sounding pretty good to me.