Friday Humor: SOW sue me

My wife works in the corporate world. I think its nuts in there, but she seems to enjoy it. But every now and then I can’t contain myself. All week she’s been muttering about a signed order for work that has been delayed over and over again. But of course, that’s a mouthful, and so, like everywhere else in this world, it gets abbreviated. So she was venting a little last night about how she couldn’t get a signed order for work and nobody was helping her, and so on.

I was a very good understanding husband. After all, I know exactly what a pain in the ass it is when nobody will give you a SOW and you have to stand around shouting and begging for one.

Five For Friday: Favorite Character Mechanics

I thought I might share this series with one of the things that drives interest in a game for me – interesting classes and class mechanics. This is one reason WildStar is not of interest to me while Elder Scrolls Online is – same old classes with same old three part skill trees vs. archetype + weapon + morph builds that change the way the game looks and unfolds in front of your eyes. This may be a reason TERA appeals to me too – the warrior is DPS and one of the healers is a pet class?! Love it! I like for fun little perks, utilities, and options to come into play. I like for norms to be twisted up a bit. I like to have a character that has something interesting or unusual to do in the game, even if that means they are not the best tank or healer or DPS player out there. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite character mechanics in the MMO field thus far:

1) “Avast matey, lower your flags, this ship be mine!” (‘Take Command of Ship’ Skill; Pirates of the Burning Sea)

My favorite character in PotBS has always been my Pirate – later, after the class break, known as the Cutthroat. And one of his fun abilities is to use this skill on a ship he has just successfully disabled:


Ships are hard to come by in PotBS, and they don’t necessarily need to be easy to come buy. Its like having a car in real life – you only need a new one every so often. But if you could get a new one, say, every year…for free…wouldn’t you want one? And that is the life of the Cutthroat. Eh, I’ve had this ship for a whole level – I want a new one! Of course the captured one only has 1 durability point (if you are defeated in combat, the ship is lost permanently), but if you were like me, you kept a stockpile of more than one on hand. Because some days you feel like a gun shooting frigate, and some days you feel like a boarding galleon.

2) “Whatya need? Supplies? Gear? Fireball tossing gems? Lemme summon one for you…” (Magician Class, Everquest/EQOA)

Take a gander at the base spell list, levels 1-65, for the Everquest magician. Notice anything? At level one, three spells, not to hurt things, but to get you food, water, and weapons. Level two: armor and bandages. Level six? A backpack. It gets better: arrows, spears, staves, armor for your mates, armor for you, jewelry, resistance items, mana to hp conversion rods, breathe underwater items, click-to-nuke charged items, weapons/armor/gear for pets. Hell, you can even summon your friends – poof! – to right in front of you. A walking, talking, one man fixer for the masses. The ultimate utility kit.

Everything you see here came from my magic.
Everything you see here came from my magic.

Of course, what killed the class, and the idea it brings to the table, was the move to bring characters home at the end of each night. When your group is logging off in the wilderness at their favorite mob spawn and grinding location, characters like the Magician are a godsend. They help you make camp and bring those basic supplies to keep you rolling longer. But none of those can compare to the rest xp that you get when you port back to town each night. After all, the real reason to camp in the wilderness is to be close to the action and cut down on down time. But double xp more than covers the transit time to your favorite spawn camp – particularly in MMO’s dominated with fast transit.

3) “If you build it, they will come.” (Necromancer Class, Vanguard)

Vanguard was the first MMO to move away from the idea of a simple summoned pet for a pet class. While you could certainly raise the dead in the traditional manner, Vanguard went beyond. You built your own Frankenstein. Dead bodies could be scavenged for parts, constructed and given to your persistent pet, turning it into a powerhouse that grew right along side of you. It dealt with a part of the lore of necromancers that other games had not touched on – that of true grave robber, visionary of giving life to the dead. It was an interesting take and a fun little side quest within the group. After all, what could be more character enriching than the experience of a group pulling down their new loot – sword, staff, or what have you, wild the mad necromancer just smiles and pillages the claws off the dead body, excited not for the gold and silver but the knicknack nobody else even noticed, that will make him that much more powerful.

4) “Dual wielding, healing, teleporting, pet class? Yeah, we got those.” (Disciplines, Shadowbane)

While some fun has been had with Wildstar’s system allowing you to chose a sort of subclass that unlocks new area quests, they don’t change the way your class is played, as Shadowbane’s original discipline system did. You had a base class, and advanced class, and then up to three disciplines you could stack on top of that. The end result was that you could build characters that might both be wizards, but with wildly varying skill rotations, abilities, and out of combat utilities. Both could hit you with a lightning bolt, but one might summon dark lords and dual wield swords, the other might run around healing and buffing his group. And the disciplines ranged from the ho-hum (Enchanter, Archmage) to the interesting (Bladeweaver, Traveler) to the WTF (Ratcatcher, Sundancer, Gorgoi). It was a lesson lost on PvP developers everywhere, who now seem to think that PvP can only be good and balanced if every character can be summed up in a class word and its abilities and strengths and weaknesses determined at a glance. In Shadowbane, those kinds of assumptions got you killed. Fast.

5) Attention! Party on deck! (Crews and Duty Officers, Star Trek Online)

Growing up, my favorite RPG series was Might and Magic. I loved rolling a party (sometimes naming characters after my buds) and having a grand adventure through fantasy, not to mention time and space (because Might and Magic wasn’t complete without laser guns appearing at some point). Later on RPG’s evolved, and you had only one character. And so when MMO’s hit, the same followed. But I miss the party system and the fun that could be had with some…well, what I will call “internal roleplaying” – fan fiction, having the universe personalized and come alive in your own head a little more.

And you know, there is only one MMO right now where you can play a fully fleshed out party of five, and where their skills and yours are usable, and where you can pick their race, class, and personality. And that is Star Trek Online. I mean, if you want to play a classic RPG, STO is sitting right there waiting for you, with fleshed out, well written, hour long quests (er, “episodes”) covering multiple story arcs. And if you want to play with a buddy, like I wanted badly to do with Might and Magic back in the day – team up, and you can each bring half your party (on the ground) or all of it (in space).

Truly, this is one of the under-appreciated aspects of STO. One that is not noticed, much less lauded, often enough.

We come in peace (Shoot  to kill)
We come in peace (Shoot to kill)

Day Three: My First Day in an MMO


If that’s not retro, I don’t know what is.  That is my first character ever in an MMO.  Sort of.


I had wanted to get into MMO’s but was nervous about how “hardcore” everyone kept telling me Everquest was.  With my first child and a move to graduate school both coming within six months time, I knew those days were probably behind me.   Enter Playstation’s version of Everquest, which was supposed to be more accessible to the common gamer.   And it just so happened a friend of mine was beta testing it – in those days a rare thing.   There was about a week left, so he let me borrow his whole system (keyboard too) and take it to my place to try it out and see if it was something I wanted to get into.   (By the way…what’s the statute of limitations for NDA breakage?  Because we totally did that).


I was hooked in the first hour, but I didn’t play beyond the tutorials and a bit of wandering.   I bought the game, ethernet adapter, and a new keyboard on my next payday.   So technically, that’s a picture of my second ever MMO character.


I still remember how I got butterflies in my stomach, exploring this virtual world, marveling at all the other people standing around with me in Fayspire and then Telethin.  I had started a Magician, but before long I saw a Ranger wander through dual wielding, and wondered how long it would take me to get one to level 20 so I could dual wield as well.    Thus the first symptoms of alt-itis developed early.  As did my first desired equipment – it didn’t take too long to see a Magician with a shield.  I went nuts.  A shield?  That was awesome.   Later I found out there was a dagger that had somehow been assigned the visual graphic of a short sword.  And I spent my later days in early Norrath looking like an Elven Fighter-Mage from early DnD, especially since I was the only mage I knew that took the time (and money) to keep a stack of throwing knives with me to supplement my DPS when my mana was low or I was waiting on a cooldown.


The very first vanity item for me:  The "invisible" mage-only shield.
The very first vanity item for me: The “invisible” mage-only shield.


That first day was incredibly memorable to me.  It actually hurts to think that I will never again roam the towers of Fayspire, accidentally aggro that giant elite/group encounter fish while swimming in the lake, or fight my way through the tunnel of orcs to the lands of the dwarves.  And if you play the theme song for me, I will stand mesmerized by PTSD-like flashbacks.



And I will do you one better – I also remember my very first loot drop.  Well, outside of vendor trash.  It was a magic staff called the Beanpole.   Adds to Intellect and Power and so on.  But the description said that it was enchanted to slowly cause the bearer to take interest in the world of agriculture, and it was said that the mage who created it lived out his later days blissfully farming.  Apparently the curse worked on me too.  I’ve had a strange attraction to farming and cooking in every MMO since that has offered it.


Mostly, after that first day, I am still impressed with how huge early Norrath was.   One of the early grinds was always opening up the caravan (fast travel) route from Freeport on the east coast to Qeynos on the west coast.    That run took at least an hour, maybe as much as an hour and a half.   I’m sure more recent MMO’s can boast of greater size in total across their zones, but I don’t think any, except perhaps Everquest 2, has overwhelmed me with how big it is in quite the same way.  And these days, with the removal of Qeynos and Freeport as starting areas, I’m not sure it has the same vibe either.

Four Years and Counting…

Yeah, I may as well go ahead and post it since Ysh outed me.  Its been a little over four years since I started this fun little adventure.  If I remember right, there are a couple of others who share similar dates. The stats will be a little off since there is an extra month in there, but what the hay – here ya go:

Quick Stats: 

Total Views:  93,987  (41,363 last year, 21,407 or so the year before)

Best Month:   9350 views in May, 2012  (2,947 last January,  2281 the year before)

Busiest Day:  971 views on  May 2nd, 2012 (602 last year, 270  the year before)

Top 5 Posts:  Tips and Tricks for World of Tanks, Naming Your Ship,  TERA Online Review, How Well Will the SWTOR Launch Go? That Depends on How Tolerant You Are, Naming Your Ship 2

Top 3 Most Popular Tags (By Game):  Star Trek Online, EVE Online, World of Tanks

* Note, views to my home page blow all of those away.  This is the up and down of not requiring you to “jump” after a break in the post.

Search  Terms that Make You Go Hmmm:

minecraft hotel lobby  (if you build it, they will come…)

hot jedi  (we’re not that kind of site really)

вестибюль гостиницы (Russian for hotel lobby…apparently I am source zero for hotel lobby information)

otel lobİlerİ (Turkish that time…)

tera character nude (Also about six variations of “tera online sexy” – are people this desperate for porn?)

star wars the old republic nude (I’m seeing a trend here…)

real world controversy (We have that in spades…)

Referrals and Referees:

Top 3 Bloggers Who Helped Me With Traffic:  Nil’s Blog, Bio Break, Stonee’s EQOA Blog

Top 3 Bloggers I Helped With Traffic: GCTAGN, Rowan

Again, theres much bigger numbers in the former than the latter…

Thoughts and Goals:

At this time last year I was still looking for my first level cap.    I got that not long thereafter!  And then once more in April when I did the same in Star Trek Online,  a month after I hit 30.  And STO may be the first game for a multi-cap as well – my Klingon character is a day away from the same Captain milestone.   I have been blessed to have a regular playgroup for a long while.  Starting last June and continuing straight on until this past July, when my little playing group folded its tents in TOR and took a little enforced break while one of the members prepares to head off to basic training, and when my beloved TOR guild shut its doors.  These days I am mostly guild oriented, chatting amiable with my 12th Fleet and Knights of Mercy friends, or some of that old Beskar crew in World of Tanks.  Sadly though – guild oriented does not always equal group oriented.

My vision this year is tilted backwards.  The only MMO I am looking forward to is ArcheAge, and there is little evidence that it will land here in the next year.  And my Beta stuff has slowed down – only one I’m actively involved in at the moment is MechWarrior Online, and for my two cents, once you take people’s money for the game, its not a Beta anymore, no matter what you want to classify it as.

That said, there are several games I want to revisit this year – EVE Online, and Vanguard.  Pirates of the Burning Sea and maybe a stint in Everquest, since I never could bring myself to log in and say goodbye to EQOA.


MMO’s: Rift (3 months), TOR (7 months), The Secret World (2 months), TERA Online (1 month), GW2 (1 month), STO (7 months), Istaria (1 month)

Other Online:  WoT (12 months), WoWP (2 months), MWO (1 month), Stronghold Online (1 month)

Alphas/Betas:  Dawntide, Heroes and Generals, MWO, WoWP

Table Top/RPG:  Call of Cthulhu, Mansions of Madness, Anima: The Card Game, Anima RPG, Hellas RPG, Houses of the Blooded RPG


Thanks to the Casualties of War crew for keeping the wheels turning all these years, especially Genda’s hard work, though I do miss his blogging (poke, poke).   Thanks also to my wonderful – dare I say – online family in Beskar, who made the last two years so fun.  And thank you to KoM and 12th Fleet for taking me in – here’s to the future.    And a big thank you, and congratulations to my brother and his then-fiance-now wife, for helping me make so many of my gaming dreams come true in the last year.  Big ups playa.

EQOA Is Closing Its Doors

First I got the email, and then I went immediately to see what Stonee had to say.  I agree with most everything he has to say.  I do commend SOE for giving us the rest of the month free.  I’m on the road until Friday, but you bet your boots I will be firing up the PS2 this weekend.


My first thought is wondering if there is a way I can rig the TV to take some screenshots.  There are so many places and things I want to capture before the place goes into the dark void of internet land.  (Wonder if they are wiping the servers or if  they might be willing to sell them…probably not, copyright info and all that jazz.)   Anyone have ideas on that?


Anyway, there is some grief there, but I’m holding it at bay with the simple thought that this game lived far beyond where I thought it would.  And that I had literally years to play the game and never did.  But then I hear the distinctive sound effects of the game (which I will be recording no doubt) and it shakes me a little.  The opening music, the confirmation “bloop” and so on.


And…I’m already wondering where I should be when the lights go dim.  For some reason it seems important to decide where to park my character when the game ends.  My old guild all jumped their characters into the volcano outside Klik’anon.  But I chose long ago to eschew that tradition.


Qeynos Prison seems appropriate symbolically – my characters trapped in bits and pieces, like Moriarty on the holodeck.   And because I spent so much time grinding there.  But then Highbourne cavernous secret cabal area under the main city was one of my main haunts.   And of course Darvar Manor was the social hub of the game when I was playing.  Or maybe I end where it all begin, the gleaming towers of Fayspire.


Anyway, I have some  time to decide.  If anyone wants to join me at the end, that would be neat.  The game deserves more of an ending than a few lonely old veterans solo at their favorites haunts, that’s for sure.


When I started the game, I chose Ferran’s Hope server, simply because the name appealed to me.  And perhaps that’s what hurts the most right now.  When the servers shut down, hope is gone.  I will never ago set foot in the land of Norrath as it existed 500 years before Everquest.


But perhaps its also a chance to explore what is, to me, the “future” Norrath, as it exists *in* Everquest.    Maybe hope is not gone after all.


Anyway, that’s enough for tonight, I’m getting all sappy.   I’m sure I’ll have another post on it later.

Epic Bunny Shot

I was excited by the email in my inbox last week proclaiming three free days of access to the original Everquest in celebration of their upcoming expansion (EQ2 – take note!).   I was excited because years ago, I bought the original EQ Trilogy for a penny at a GameStop that had it on the clearence rack.  It was marked $5 but when they scanned it it came up as a penny.  The look on the cashiers face was priceless.  I told the manager he called over I didn’t mind paying the five bucks, but he shrugged it off, and I handed over a penny.

You may wonder, outside of a great deal, why that was exciting?  Because it means that I have an actual EQ account – not a trial one – and so I was eligible for the free time.  And ever since last year, I’ve been wanting to try that famous 51/50 server that starts you at epic level.  I did a little of everything, but ultimately, I spent the three days with my two favorite classes, the original Magician and original Shadowknight – now much different (both of them) from their current EQ2 incarnations.

It was fun getting to play the epic versions of classes I’d really only played for any length of time in EQOA, which is in all reality a stripped down version of its big brother. So I was dying to play around with all of the summoning skills a Magician had access too.  And the first I just had to try was “Monster Summoning” – a sweet ability that calls a pet for you, but using the graphics load of the local surroundings rather than a set Elemental pet, which is the norm for the Mage.  In this way you can get all sorts of fun pets, without running around for hours unlocking stupid achievements and paying gold through the nose (WoW – take note!).

So I stepped out into the grove outside the recommended 51/50 starter city to take on some basic mobs, and I used Monster Summoning to call my pet – figuring I’d get one of flying lizards, snakes, or maybe even an undead fisherman.  But behold, I could not have imagined the awesomeness that awaited me, for I did not know that I was still in the same area as the peaceful gardens in the city.  Check it out:

Death awaits with....well, you know.

That, my friends, is pure win.  The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog himself, under my control.  I even look a bit like Tim the Enchanter, don’t I?  Totally made my weekend people.  The urge to grab a Station Pass is getting much harder to resist.

I also found that I missed some things from EQ that don’t show up alot in games anymore – requiring components for particularly powerful spells, the possibility of spells “fizzling,” limits on number of available abilities at one time, the wide range of thrown weapons, freeform NPC interaction using keywords, food and drink requirements.

I also found a few things I’m glad we have (mostly) left behind – corpse recovery, claustrophic city models, dos-era overhead maps, non-WASD movement, etc.

But mostly this is another chance for me to push my own particular MMO Design carp – the graphic on the screen and the numbers crunching in the game engine can be two entirely seperate affairs.  There’s no reason other than lack of creativity on the part of devs that would keep someone from playing a tank that looked like a wizard, or having a tank whose weapon stats reflect a legendary sword, while on screen it looks like a simple quarterstaff.  We’ve already seen the reverse and similar ideas in other games (LotRO in particular had to bend their classes in original ways), but honest to god free character development is still lacking.  Someone step up to the plate please.  Thx.

And, as a postscript, as of this morning, I still have access to EQ, even though my three days is long gone.  Not sure if its an intentional error or not, but I’m loving it either way!  So if you have an EQ account, check your sub status, it might still be active.

Escape to Norrath = Everquest?

So I’m still trying to figure out this EQ delim…dalim…problem.  So I’m off today, and I’m scouring the website while the baby sleeps (because when she is awake, she is way to cute to ignore) trying to find a solution.  And I’m checking the EQ trial pages – and there is only one EQ trial, Escape to Norrath, a limited, ten level, not on any server, special trial.  So there’s no way, right?

But then I read the fine print beneath (I’m good at that, I shoulda been a lawyer I guess):

If you currently have an EverQuest subscription or Station Access account, you already have access to these files and do not need to download these files. If you do not have EverQuest installed on your machine you may visit the Upgrade to EverQuest page to download Trilogy.

Well, well, well.  This is what I need.  So I follow the link…and discover that I was all wrong.  Escape to Norrath is also the Everquest Trilogy client!

Of course I’m hoping that since my account has additional expansions enabled, I’ll be able to get to them.  Especially since I don’t know where the new 51/50 server starts you out at.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

ETA:  I’m reading several blogs that are indicating that free game time is being handed out as incentive to rock the 51/50 server and keep it full…so I checked my account page again, and no love this time.  Strange.  They give you free stuff and don’t tell you, and then they tell you they will give you free stuff and don’t.